§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 4 (Occupation Franchise for Voters in Counties).
§ *Amendment again proposed, in page 2, line 22, after the word "of," to insert the words "lands or tenements."—(Mr. Secretary Gathorne Hardy.)
§ Amendment again proposed to the said proposed Amendment, to leave out the words "or tenements," in order to insert the words "with a tenement erected thereon."—(Mr. Ayrton.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the words 'or tenements' stand part of the said proposed Amendment."
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The Committee will permit me to make a few observations. I have no right to do so; but it will facilitate the progress of the Bill if I make a few remarks with respect to the clause I put upon the table, in accordance with my engagement to the Committee, in reference to the compound-householder. Respecting this there appears to be a singular misunderstanding. Her Majesty's Government, in placing that clause upon the table, were of opinion that they were, not only in spirit, but to the letter, fulfilling the engagement which they had entered into with the Committee upon that subject. I am surprised that a sentiment to the contrary exists in some quarters upon our conduct with respect to this matter. When a great misapprehension arises it ought not to be permitted to remain. Whatever may be the differences in our political views, and the heat and asperity with which they are often pressed—characteristics which, on the whole, have not distinguished the present Session—there is one subject upon which, as between those who have the conduct of the business of the House and the House itself, upon which there ought to be the most implicit confidence. Unless upon the subject of the conduct of business there exists implicit confidence between anyone to whom it is intrusted—without reference to party — nothing but chaos and 1136 confusion can occur. Sir, I am not aware that at any period during the time I have had the honour to conduct the business of the House I have on the part of my Colleagues entered into any engagements which I have not endeavoured on their part scrupulously to fulfil. The other night our attention was called to the subject of the compound-householder by a Motion of the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Hodgkinson). It led to a very interesting discussion. There was not a formal, but an assumed, understanding as to what the general wish of the Committee was. On the part of the Government, I undertook, according to the etiquette which defines the duty of a Minister conducting a Bill, to carry into effect the Resolution at which the Committee had arrived. I placed on the table the clause—respecting which so much misapprehension exists—with the feeling that we had, not only in spirit, but to the letter, fulfilled our engagements to the Committee. The Committee will remember that the hon. Member for Newark, in a speech which showed much acquaintance with the subject, moved this proviso to Clause 30—Provided always, That except as hereinafter provided, no person other than the occupier shall after the passing of this Act be rated to parochial rates, in respect of premises occupied by him within the limits of a Parliamentary Borough, all Acts to the contrary now in force notwithstanding.Upon this proviso the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton), with characteristic acumen, which never appears to me more vigilant than when it touches subjects of local government, said he should like to have some explanation from the hon. Member for Newark as to what was meant by the words "as hereinafter provided." The hon. Member for Newark replied—He was perfectly well aware if his Amendment were agreed to it would require to be supplemented by some further provisions. Indeed, some had already been suggested by the hon. Member (Mr. Childers).It will be remembered that the provisions suggested by the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers), and which were on the Paper, recognised the expediency of requiring that every occupier should be rated, and also provided that there should be a permissive system of voluntary composition with the consent of the occupier. These were the provisions of the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers), which were to supplement the provisions 1137 of the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Hodgkinson), and which the hon. Member for Newark accepted as part of his plan. After the hon. Member for Newark sat down a very remarkable incident occurred. The right hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) addressed the House, in a speech not the least important of those which have emanated from him this Session. The observations he made were well considered, because the right hon. Gentleman spoke on a matter of great importance. He made a proposal of considerable magnitude to the Government. It was, he felt authorized to say, so far as the Bill of the Government was concerned, that in case the proposal of the hon. Member for Newark were accepted—he did us the justice to say, and said most rightly, we could accept it because it was in consonance with the principles of our measure—he should feel that—although some of his objections to the measure and its principles still existed—the mutual concession would be so satisfactory that, instead of the implacable hostility we were to experience, on a most important part of our measure, co-operation would be offered in the interest of peace. There can be no mistake, for the right hon. Gentleman made these well-considered remarks in reference to the proposal of the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Hodgkinson), as it was interpreted by the House, supplemented by the provision of the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers). He said—I think the rider of my hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) is a decided improvement upon the original and naked proposal of the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Hodgkinson)."—[3 Hansard, clxxxvii. 712.]I put the matter fully before the Committee, on account of the charges made against the Government. I wish that upon this matter, as between the Government and the House, there should be the most complete understanding. There can be no doubt what was the intention of the right hon. Gentleman, and of course it was the speech of the right hon. Gentleman which gave a colour to the future of the debate. There is no doubt what was the plan of the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Hodgkinson), and how it was understood by the right hon. Member for South Lancashire. There is a passage which proves it, and also more accurately and completely describes the plan of the hon. Member for 1138 Newark than any language I could use. The right hon. Gentleman said—My hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Mr. Hodgkinson) offers an extension of the franchise, liberal and, at any rate, perfectly equal, and which we cannot denounce as tending to corruption, because it will have the effect of placing upon the register such of the class of compound-householders as are the best entitled to enjoy the franchise; it will allow those who desire to become voters at the expense of the economical advantages of composition to pass into that condition, while those who prefer these economical advantages to the boon of the franchise will be enabled to act in accordance with their preference. Both parties would have their option.I beg the House to consider after that statement the clauses which I have placed upon the table. There can be no doubt that when the hon. Member for Newark made that proposal—a memorable proposal—on Friday week, he intended that it should be supplemented by what the right hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) called the rider of the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers). It was the proposal with that rider annexed which received the adhesion, the approbation, and the sanction of the right hon. Gentleman, and which was the foundation of the striking offer which he made to the Government and to the House. The instruction given to those skilful men who draw up clauses and Bills to be presented to this House was that they should fulfil to the letter and in the spirit the engagement which the Government had entered into with the House of Commons. The clause put upon the table entirely carries out that instruction. Section 3, which has been held up to public indignation, is merely the rider of the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers), without the slightest alteration. The whole submitted to the House is the arrangement suggested by the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Hodgkinson), supplemented by the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers), and ratified by the high approbation of the right hon. Gentleman. I wish the House clearly to understand this. I must say I am surprised that observations should have been made by Members of this House—not here certainly, but in another place—which would lead us to suppose, not only that the conduct of the Government has been a breach of faith, but that they have endeavoured by a cunning device to hoodwink the House of Commons into the adoption of something perfectly distinct from that which they had agreed to adopt. 1139 The hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill) was present during the whole of these transactions. He is a most assiduous attendant on his duties, much to his credit and to the advantage of the House. I am always glad to see him in his place, and I believe I saw him in his place on that occasion. He, with his acuteness, could not doubt the nature of the agreement to which the Government and the House had come. Yet the hon. Member for Westminster, who is, not merely a Member of this House, but a philosopher, a friend of wisdom and of truth, has thought it consistent with his ideas of duty to attend a meeting and if not to move at least to support or sanction a resolution to the effect that I, representing Her Majesty's Government, had committed a breach of faith with the House of Commons in this matter. If this had been mere criticism, however unjust, upon our measures; if it had been an attack, however culumnious, upon my Colleagues or myself, I should not have noticed it. But it appears to me of vital importance that, whatever may be our conflicts, whatever may be the heat of patties, there should be between the individual who conducts the business of the House and the House itself implicit confidence. I therefore felt it my duty to put myself right with the House, appealing to that verdict which I think every Gentleman, wherever he sits, must pronounce. I have only to add one remark. This clause with its sections has been brought forward in fulfilment of our engagement with the House. It was our intention, and I think we have accomplished it, literally and completely to express the wishes of the House as elicited that evening by the hon. Member (Mr. Hodgkinson). The policy before the House is the policy of the House of Commons, not of Her Majesty's Ministers. The House will have the opportunity of giving its opinion upon the subject. If this third section, which is now the object of such indignant reprobation in some quarters, and which seems to be discredited even by the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Hodgkinson), is to be rejected, let the House clearly understand that they are giving up a policy which upon Friday week was originated by the hon. Member for Newark, supplemented by the hon. Member for Pontefract, and ratified and sanctioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire. We had no discretion upon the subject. If 1140 we had disapproved that third section, still it was part of our engagement. If we had omitted that third section we might have been fairly charged by the right hon. Gentleman as having deviated from a portion of the arrangement which he thought of importance. The House will have an opportunity of deciding upon this third section. If the House does not approve the rider of the hon. Member for Pontefract, if the House altogether disapproves the scheme of the hon. Member for Newark, the hon. Member for Pontefract, and the right hon. Member for South Lancashire, the House will have an opportunity of expressing its disapproval. It is their policy, not the policy of the Government, and the Government lay no more stress upon it than that they agreed to it in order to give effect to an arrangement upon a difficult question, and that when they agreed to those terms they honourably endeavoured to carry them out. I trust, therefore, that the compound-householder will not be the subject of those prolonged and difficult debates which were anticipated. I may be permitted to make one remark upon the clause upon which we are now about to enter, with reference particularly to the inquiry of my right hon. Friend behind me (Sir John Trollope). That clause refers to the county franchise. I can truly say, on the part of the Government, that there is a most anxious desire to come to a settlement of this question of the county franchise in cordial co-operation with the House. We are most anxious to establish the county franchise upon a broad and popular basis. But what we want above all is that it shall be a county franchise—that it shall not lose its distinctive character. I thought it was to be regretted that the hon. Member, as it seemed to me, unnecessarily disturbed the old county franchises as settled by the Act of 1832, because I know that the more you interfere with them the more you increase the chances of opposition which measures like this must of course be prepared to encounter. But the House having decided in favour of the alteration of the measure of the hon. Member for Derbyshire, we bowed to the decision, and when the hon. Member for Glamorganshire followed this up with a Motion of the same character, I did not ask the House to divide upon the question. I desired, so far as I possibly could, to meet the wishes of the House. At the same time, 1141 I said that I accepted these changes on the understanding that the regulations which were established by the Reform Bill of 1832 should not be interfered with, and I reserved to myself the right of adhering to that understanding. I say this because, anxious as we are that the county franchise should be established upon a broad and popular basis, we are equally anxious to keep up its distinctive character. There is an Amendment on the Paper of the hon. Member for Bridgwater, which was adverted to by the hon. Member for Glamorganshire the other night, to which the Government cannot give their assent. It was a question discussed, and fully discussed, last year. It was proved in a manner completely satisfactory to the House that, if such a change occurred, a borough in a county could pour forth voters under the leaseholding qualifications equal in amount to at least one moiety of the existing constituency among which they were to poll, and that the distinctive character of country and urban constituencies would by such a process be entirely changed. If we adopt such a course we might as well put an end to the distinction between county and borough constituencies. Such a proceeding, I think, would be one to be deprecated, and I will at once say, wishing as far as I can to assist the progress of business, that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Bridgwater is one to which we cannot assent. I earnestly beg that the Committee will pause and well consider its consequences before they adopt this Amendment—that they will not upon the subject of the county franchise, or indeed upon any point arising out of this Bill, act with party precipitancy or with the wantonness which the supposed consciousness of a majority sometimes engenders among men of all parties—that they will consider the subject in a spirit of conciliation and cordial co-operation, and not come to a hasty resolution, the consequences of which must be seriously embarrassing. With regard to the question of my right hon. Friend (Sir John Trollope), I will say that in fixing £15 as the qualification for the counties we fixed upon the sum which was the nearest practical approach to the jury qualification for counties. But we never for a moment supposed that in any particular amount, whether £1 or £2 more or less, any principle was involved. What we had to do was to consider whether the qualifica- 1142 tion was really a county qualification. That is the point we always kept in view. I was not aware that the hon. Member for Kent (Sir Edward Dering) had withdrawn his Amendment, which I have heard spoken of with favour by Members on both sides of the House. So far as the Government are concerned, if their adoption of that Amendment would lead to a satisfactory and amicable settlement of this long-vexed question, they will not throw any obstacles in the way. I cannot sit down without once more earnestly pressing upon the Committee the propriety of endeavouring to settle this question with as little admixture of party feeling as possible. We must remember that the fate of measures does not merely depend upon the decision of the House, and that when measures of this character are before us it is wise to come to conclusions which will be generally acceptable to moderate men of all parties. I hope that the House, especially on this question of the county franchise, will meet Her Majesty's Government in that spirit of conciliation with which we wish to treat them on this subject. I have shown already, in yielding to the Motion of the hon. Member for Glamorganshire, and in adopting the suggestions which have been made by my right hon. Friend (Sir John Trollope), with respect to the amount of county franchise, that we are disposed to meet the Committee in a conciliatory spirit. Although I think it my duty to say that we cannot agree to the Motion of the hon. Member for Bridgwater, I have at least given the Committee the reasons which forced us to arrive at that conclusion. We are animated by no other wish than to establish the county franchise upon a broad and popular basis, retaining its distinctive character at the same time meeting the suggestions of hon. Gentlemen in the spirit they deserve.
§ MR. J. STUART MILL
I hope the Committee will kindly indulge me for a few minutes. No one, so far as I am aware, on the occasion to which the right hon. Gentleman has alluded, charged him with having broken faith with the House or with the country on the subject of the compound-householder. I most explicitly acquitted him of having done so. If such a charge has been made I most willingly admit, and justice would compel me to admit, that he has most clearly and satisfactorily answered it. I was well aware that the shaft with which he had trans- 1143 fixed us was taken from our own quiver. When the Amendment of the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) was announced, I felt, and said, that if it were carried it would entirely destroy us—that we should be obliged to begin again at the beginning and fight the whole battle over again. If that Amendment had proceeded from this part of the House I should have opposed it, and I shall oppose it now. I had not in my mind that my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Mr. Hodgkinson) had expressed concurrence in that Motion. I now remember that he did concur in it. But the Committee know that he withdrew that concurrence by placing a fresh Amendment of an entirely different character on the Paper. As the right hon. Gentleman has done me the honour to attend to what I said in another place, he no doubt is well aware of the reasons why I think the 3rd and 4th clauses are entirely inadmissible. I have said this to set myself right with the right hon. Gentleman, against whom I have always endeavoured to avoid saying anything personally offensive. On the occasion referred to, I spoke with studied moderation.
§ MR. CHILDERS
said, that as the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had done him the honour to allude to an Amendment he had placed on the Paper with reference to the 3rd clause, as an addition to the proposal of the hon. Member for Newark, he hoped the Committee would allow him to say a few words in explanation. But he was surprised to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer describe the proposals of the Government, as if the House or individual Members had some special responsibility for them. He understood the other evening that the intention of Her Majesty's Government with reference to the abolition of the compound-householder, and the conditions upon which that abolition was to be founded, was to return to their original policy, and he was therefore entitled to expect that the original proposals of the Government would be carried into effect rather than any suggestion from an independent Member. As to his former Amendment, his own position in the matter was clear enough. When he put it on the Paper he had not the least idea that the abolition of the compound-householder would receive any general support from either side of the House. He looked upon the Amendment of the hon. Member for Newark in the light of a 1144 forlorn hope. Knowing that the abolition would be attended with considerable difficulty, he thought he should not be wrong if he attempted to some extent to smooth away the difficulty. The compound system had been adopted in a large number of parishes within Parliamentary boroughs; there were great financial advantages attaching to the system; and there was considerable public feeling on the subject. In order, therefore, to assist his hon. Friend the Member for Newark, he proposed some provisoes which would enable the compounder, when it was an undoubted advantage to him, to continue to compound. His anticipations had been pleasurably disappointed. When he came down to the House on that celebrated Friday evening under the belief that the compound-householder would be very strenuously supported, he found to his great gratification that the original policy of Her Majesty's Government would be adopted. Therefore it was not necessary for him to take any steps with reference to the Amendment he had put on the Paper, and which he had formally and cheerfully withdrawn. However, he did not blame the Government. They had shifted their ground so often that they could hardly be expected to remember what their original policy really was; and in this, as in other cases, they naturally thought that they were only yielding to the opinions of others. At the same time, he must point out that the clauses of the right hon. Gentleman differed in two material respects from what he proposed. In the first place, he proposed his Amendment to assist his hon. Friend in getting rid of a system which had been adopted in a certain number of parishes and which applied only to those parishes. But the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman would enable it to be carried out in all parishes. In the next place, he took it for granted that the compound-householder would be abolished from the passing of the Act, and that the first General Election would be carried on upon the basis of all rated householders being on the Parliamentary register. He proposed that those who were so rated and upon the register might have the power, if they should be so minded, to accept the compound system and disfranchise themselves. But the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman had this proviso attached to it—That nothing in this Act contained shall affect any composition existing at the time of the passing of this Act, so, nevertheless, that no such 1145 composition shall remain in force beyond the period of twelve months from the time of the passing of this Act.The effect of that proviso would be that after the passing of the Act the first General Election would take place on a register which did not contain the compound-householder. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not persevere in that proviso, which was diametrically opposed to the universal opinion of the House, that the compound-householder system should be got rid of, and that all compound-householders at the time of the passing of the Act should be on the register.
§ MR. HODGKINSON
said, that this was neither the time nor the occasion to discuss what had taken place the other night. When the proper time came he had no doubt that they would be able to show that the 3rd and 4th clauses brought up by the right hon. Gentleman were quite untenable. What he rose for was to remove a misapprehension under which hon. Gentlemen seemed to labour that he was a party in any way to the supplemental Amendment of the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers). He had seen the Amendment of his hon. Friend, it was true, and had read it in a very cursory manner but did not approve it. When he had concluded his observations in the evening in question the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) asked what he meant by the phrase "hereinafter provided," and he answered that if the principle of abolishing compounding were adopted by the House it would be necessary to supplement this clause by another, with respect to existing arrangements, or it might be that the House would adopt the Amendment of the hon. Member for Pontefract. But then, as now, he entirely disapproved that Amendment.
Confining myself almost entirely to the retrospective question, I must begin by confirming, as far as my recollection goes, every word that has fallen from my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Mr. Hodgkinson). Following him in the debate I certainly did not understand him at all to have accepted the Amendment of the hon. Member for Pontefract. I understood him to say that either the Amendment of my hon. Friend (Mr. Childers), or the subject-matter to which that Amendment related, would be left for discussion, that he desired not to close the 1146 door against that discussion, and had consequently inserted the words, "except as hereinafter provided." As regards the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I will trouble the Committee for only a few minutes, on account of the important part I am myself made to play in it. I have not the least hesitation in saying that there is no charge of breach of faith that can lie against the right hon. Gentleman. It was perfectly open to the right hon. Gentleman, as to any other Member of the House, to do whatever on consideration he might think fit with regard to the Amendment of my hon. Friend (Mr. Childers), and with regard to any collateral considerations which might attach to a proposal so important, and involving so much complicated matter as that of the hon. Member for Newark. While the right hon. Gentleman is entirely justified in repelling and repudiating any charge of breach of faith, he puts his argument, I think, too high when he says that he would have been guilty of breach of faith if he had not incorporated the rider of my hon. Friend in his plan. What took place on that occasion? We had be fore us the proposal of the hon. Member for Newark, with the alternative of adopting or not adopting such a rider for the purpose of allowing voluntary composition as was suggested by my hon. Friend. I have no doubt that I expressed the opinion of that rider which has been quoted by the right hon. Gentleman. What, however, the right hon. Gentle man accepted was not the rider of my hon. Friend, but the proposal of the hon. Member for Newark. The rider was not under discussion, and unless I am mistaken it was hardly mentioned through out the night's debate. What we under stood from the right hon. Gentlemau—though he did not so express himself as to limit his liberty—was, that he accepted in principle—with reserves as to the necessary means of giving it execution—the proposal of the hon. Member for Newark. Though there are certain advantages which will be secured by my hon. Friend's rider and by the plan the Government have adopted, I was glad that the right hon. Gentleman on the part of the Government apparently accepted the proposal in its simplicity and breadth, without reference to the rider. It is plain that the proposal as it now stands, independently of the important differences which my hon. Friend has pointed out, is one which al- 1147 though it is a very great improvement on the provisions of the Bill as they stood before, is very far short of the improvement which the Chancellor of the Exchequer would effect if he would accede to the hon. Member for Newark's plan in its original form. It is liable to this objection, that it tends to disturb the relations between the occupiers and the owners of houses by bringing the questions of the franchise into those relations. That, Sir, I think, would be a very unfortunate occurrence. I cannot help hoping from the tone of the right hon. Gentleman, and from his being obviously free to take what course he thinks fit, that he will accede to the wish expressed by Gentlemen on this side of the House, and, as far as I know, the view of Gentlemen opposite, that he will relieve us from the whole of these difficulties, and establish a complete and entire severance between every question relating to compounding and every question relating to the franchise. It will become the duty of the Committee, after having effected that—if it shall be effected—to consider whether there are or are not means by which many of the conveniences of the payment of rates through the landlord may be retained without interfering with the franchise. The object to be attained is to establish that severance in its complete form. The hon. Member for Newark was, I confess, much wiser than I was in his view of the subject. I rejoiced therefore in the acceptance of the plan, as I understood, by the right hon. Gentleman without the addition proposed. Fully admitting his freedom—as I claim my own—to take whatever course he thinks fit, I hope that as a matter of policy and prudence, for the sake of giving satisfaction to the country and attaining many of the main objects proposed by this Bill, he will still be inclined to embody his original policy in the Bill without any of those conditions which would prevent the full and unimpaired attainment of those objects.
I beg to remind the Committee that the clause before us is Clause 4. The Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to make a statement, which is now concluded. In that statement he had occasion to make a retrospect of what took place on certain proposals respecting compound-householders. That retrospect caused certain explanations from hon. Members, and those explanations having been given, I think it would now 1148 be for the convenience of the Committee that the discussion should be confined to the question before us. The Question before the Committee is this. The right hon. Member for Oxford University (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) has proposed in Clause 4, line 22, after the word "of," to insert the words, "lands or tenements." The hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) has proposed, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, the omission of the words, "or tenements," in order to add the words, "with a tenement erected thereon." The Question I have to put is that the words "or tenements" stand part of the proposed Amendment.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he should withdraw his Amendment, with the view of substituting the words, "a messuage separately or jointly with any land." What had occurred on the previous evening was this. It was considered that the qualification originally proposed was indefinite, and it was struck out. Words were proposed to be substituted, but were not inserted by the Committee. After that was decided, some new words were proposed very hastily by the Secretary of State. But the words "lands or tenements" proposed to be inserted by him had no certain or definite meaning, and did not supply a sufficient qualification for the exercise of the county franchise. They might be construed to mean £10 issuing out of land to be held or enjoyed from year to year. He had proposed to negative those words, in order to substitute others. But now he intended to withdraw the words he had proposed, and to substitute "a messuage separately or jointly with any land." A messuage included not only a house, but every appurtenant to a house—a garden, farm buildings, and anything held in connection with the enjoyment of the house. It was desirable to have the property on which the qualification was founded easily ascertained. There were great objections to the words proposed by the Secretary of State, because it would open the door very wide to the manufacture of faggot votes by the owners of land. Any one possessed of a large landed estate might enfranchise a number of his friends by allowing them a nominal occupation, and, without residing in the county or ever seeing the land, they might, on going through certain legal forms, obtain votes. Both sides of the House were equally interested in preventing such a manufacture 1149 of votes. The ground on which it was suggested that the words should be adopted was that in some cases farms might be let in one county and a certain quantity of land might be attached to them situated in an adjoining county. But he believed that, as a matter of fact, they would not find a case where a farm extended into two counties, unless it was a farm of very considerable dimensions. ["Oh, oh!"] There might be a few cases, perhaps; but he doubted very much whether there would be half-a-dozen in each county, and in some counties there would be none at all. In the case of large farms extending into two counties, the holding would be enfranchised in each county through the operation of the Reform Act. He thought they ought to frame a definition of the franchise in order to meet such purely exceptional cases, especially when it might lead to the wholesale manufacture of votes. He believed the opposition to the words "dwelling house" arose through a misapprehension of the subject. All that was proposed was that it might be a house or building and appurtenances. The proposal rendered it necessary that a person should have a house in a county connected with the land which he enjoyed, and there would therefore be a much larger amount of association with the county in which he had to vote. He thought hon. Gentlemen opposite ought to support the proposal. The Amendment of the Secretary of State applied to an occupation of £12 yearly, making it more objectionable than it would be if it applied to an occupation of £50, involving a larger amount of property. He would at present withdraw his own Amendment, in order that the Committee might divide upon the question of whether they would adopt the words proposed by the Government or not.
§ Amendment to proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ SIR JOHN TROLLOPE
said, that if the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets were adopted not only would a large number of county voters be disfranchised, but also a much larger class of very respectable dwellers in towns who occupied lands beyond the boundary of those towns. Nothing could be more natural than that dwellers in large cities and towns should like to take a small piece of land beyond the boundaries for the purpose of keeping a couple of 1150 cows, or growing a little hay, and other purposes of that kind. These occupations were not made for the purpose of getting votes. No landowner in his senses would ever cut up his property into small fractions in the manner described by the hon. and learned Member, for the sake of giving certain persons votes. The hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir R. Palmer's) futile brain alone could imagine that such a manufacture of votes would be carried on. With regard to the borough with which he was connected it was by no means unusual for tradesmen to take fifteen or twenty acres of land in the precincts of the town. He would ask Liberal Members whether such men would not be quite as competent to have county votes as the £4, £5, or £6 dwellers in towns would be to enjoy the borough franchise? They were as independent in their principles as any householder in any town. He altogether deprecated this disfranchising principle. Some hon. Gentlemen thought that some territorial aggrandizement and electoral power would be exercised over this class of voters, but on this point he could quote an example in his own county. A gentleman who was a relation of the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) and bore the same name, had a farm outside a large town and cut it up into small plots. His object was — not the manufacture of votes—but he was induced to take the course he did because by that means he could obtain for the land three or four times as much money as he got for it as a farm. The class of men who occupied these plots of land were a valuable and independent class of county voters. Of this he could easily give a proof. There were at least 100 plots of land cut out by the gentleman he had referred to, and who being a Liberal opposed him at his first election. But the rentees of the plots of land were men of intelligence and education, and therefore nine out of ten of them voted for him. He could not bring forward a case which showed more clearly that that class of men were not to be biased by the political principles of their leaders. The hon. and learned Gentleman was wrong in supposing that he was doing an act of utility by trying to disfranchise people who would exercise a wise and proper discretion in voting.
§ MR. RUSSELL GURNEY
said, in reference to the fears entertained by the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets, that this measure would encou- 1151 rage the manufacture of votes, that having acted as a revising barrister for many years, when party feeling ran high, and every effort was made to place voters' names on the register, he did not remember a single case during that period where a vote had been manufactured in the way alluded to by the hon. and learned Member. That was not the way in which faggot votes were manufactured. If a landlord wished to make votes, he did so by the creation of life rent-charges, and other persons effected the same object by means of 40s. freeholds. He ventured to say that for one county vote manufactured in the way suggested by the hon. and learned Gentleman at least 100 were manufactured in the ways to which he had just referred.
§ Original Question put, "That the words 'lands or tenements' be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: — Ayes 255; Noes 254: Majority 1.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
moved to insert after the words "lands and tenements" the words "with a house."
§ Amendment proposed, after the word "tenements," to insert the words "with a house."—(Sir Edward Colebrooke.)
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 254; Noes 264: Majority 10.1153
|Acland, T. D.||Buller, Sir E. M.|
|Adam, W. P.||Butler, C. S.|
|Allen, W. S.||Buxton, Sir T. F.|
|Amberley Viscount||Calcraft, J. H. M.|
|Anstruther, Sir R.||Calthorpe, hn. F.H.W.G.|
|Antrobus, E.||Candlish, J.|
|Armstrong, R.||Cardwell, rt. hon. E.|
|*Ayrton, A. S.||Carnegie, hon. C.|
|Aytoun, R. S.||Castlerosse, Viscount|
|Bagwell, J.||Cave, T.|
|Baines, E.||Cavendish, Lord E.|
|Barclay, A. C.||Cavendish, Lord F. C.|
|Barry, A. H. S.||Cavendish, Lord G.|
|Baxter, W. E.||Cheetham, J.|
|Bazley, T.||Childers, H. C. E.|
|Beaumont, H. F.||Cholmeley, Sir M. J.|
|Biddulph, M.||Clay, J.|
|Blennerhasset, Sir R.||Clement, W. J.|
|Bonham-Carter, J.||Clinton, Lord E. P.|
|Bouverie, rt. hn. E. P.||Cogan, rt. hn. W.H.F.|
|Brady, J.||Coleridge, J.D.|
|Brand, rt. hon. H.||Collier, Sir R. P.|
|*Bright, Sir C. T.||Colthurst, Sir G. C.|
|Bright, J.||Colvile, C. R.|
|Briscoe, J. I.||Cowen, J.|
|Bruce, Lord C.||Cowper, hon. H. F.|
|Bruce, rt. hon. H. A.||Cowper, rt. hon. W. F.|
|Bryan, G. L.||Craufurd, E. H. J.|
|Buller, Sir A. W.||Crawford, R. W.|
|Cremorne, Lord||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Crossley, Sir F.||Hurst, R. H.|
|Davey, R.||Hutt, rt. hon. Sir W.|
|Davie, Sir H. R. F.||Ingham, R.|
|De La Poor, E.||Jackson, W.|
|Denman, hon. G.||Jardine, R.|
|Dent, J. D.||*Jervoise, Sir J. C.|
|Dering, Sir E. C.||Johnstone, Sir J.|
|*Dilke, Sir W.||Kearsley, Captain R.|
|Duff, M. E. G.||Kennedy, T.|
|Duff, R. W.||King, hon. P. J. L.|
|Dundas, F.||Kinglake, A. W.|
|Edwards, C.||Kinglake, J. A.|
|Ellice, E.||Kingscote, Colonel|
|Enfield, Viscount||Kinnaird, hon. A. F.|
|Erskine, Vice-Ad. J. E.||Labouchere, H.|
|Esmonde, J.||Layard, A. H.|
|Evans, T. W.||Lawrence, W.|
|Ewart, W.||Leatham, W. H.|
|Ewing, H. E. Crum-||Lee, W.|
|Eykyn, R.||Leeman, G.|
|Fawcett, H.||Lefevre, G. J. S.|
|Fildes, J.||Lewis, H.|
|Finlay, A. S.||Lloyd, Sir T. D.|
|FitzGerald, rt. hon. Lord O. A.||Locke, J.|
|Lowe, rt. hon. R.|
|Foljambe, F. J. S.||Lusk, A.|
|Fordyce, W. D.||M'Laren, D.|
|Forster, C.||Maguire, J. F.|
|Forster, W. E.||Marjoribanks, Sir D. C.|
|Fortescue, rt. hon. C.S.||Martin, C. W.|
|Fortescue, hon. D. F.||Martin, P. W.|
|Foster, W. O.||Matheson, A.|
|French, rt. hon. Colonel||Matheson, Sir J.|
|Gavin, Major||Merry, J.|
|Gibson, rt. hon. T. M.||Milbank, F. A.|
|Gilpin, C.||Mill, J. S.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W.E.||Miller, W.|
|Gladstone, W. H.||Mills, J. R.|
|Glyn, G. C.||Mitchell, A.|
|Glyn, G. G.||Mitchell, T. A.|
|Goldsmid, Sir F. H.||Moncreiff, rt. hon. J.|
|Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.||Monk, C. J.|
|Gower, hon. F. L.||More, R. J.|
|Graham, W.||Morrison, W.|
|Gray, Sir J.||Nicholson, W.|
|*Greville-Nugent, A.W.F.||Nicol, J. D.|
|Grenfell, H. R.||Norwood, C. M.|
|Grey, rt. hon. Sir G.||O'Beirne, J. L.|
|Gridley, Captain H. G.||O'Brien, Sir P.|
|Grosvenor, Earl||O'Conor Don, The|
|Grosvenor, Capt. R. W.||O'Donoghue, The|
|Grove, T. F,||Ogilvy, Sir J.|
|Hadfield, G.||Oliphant, L.|
|Hamilton, E. W. T.||Onslow, G.|
|Hankey, T.||Osborne, R. B.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Otway, A. J.|
|Hardeastle, J. A.||Owen, Sir H. O.|
|Harris, J. D.||Packe, Colonel|
|Harrington, Marquess||Padmore, R.|
|Hay, Lord J.||Palmer, Sir R.|
|Hay, Lord W. M.||Pease, J. W.|
|Hayter, Captain A. D.||Peel, A. W.|
|Headlam, rt. hn. T. E.||Peel, J.|
|Henderson, J.||Peto, Sir S. M.|
|Heneage, E.||Philips, R. N.|
|Henley, Lord||Platt, J.|
|Herbert, H. A.||Potter, E.|
|Hibbert, J. T.||Potter, T. B.|
|Hodgkinson, G.||Pryse, E. L.|
|Hodgson, K. D.||Proby, Lord|
|Holden, I.||Rebow, J. G.|
|Holland, E.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Rothschild, Baron L. de||Torrens, W. T. M'C.|
|Rothschild, Baron M. de||Tracy, hon. C. R. D. Hanbury-|
|Rothschild, N. M. de|
|Russell, A.||Trevelyan, G. O.|
|Russell, H.||Vanderbyl, P.|
|Russell, F. W.||*Verney, Sir H.|
|Russell, Sir W.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|St. Aubyn, J.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Samuelson, B.||Vivian, Capt. hn. J.C.W.|
|Saunderson, E.||Waldegrave-Leslie, hn G.|
|Scholefield, W.||*Warner, E.|
|Scott, Sir W.||Weguelin, T. M.|
|*Scrope, G. P.||Western, Sir T. B.|
|Seymour, A.||Whatman, J.|
|Seymour, H. D.||Whitbread, S.|
|Shafto, R. D.||White, hon. Capt. C.|
|Simeon, Sir J.||White, J.|
|Smith, J.||Wickham, H. W.|
|Speirs, A. A.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Stacpoole, W.||Winnington, Sir T. E.|
|Stanley, hon. W. O.||Woods, H.|
|Stansfeld, J.||Wyvil, M.|
|Stone, W. H.||Young, G.|
|Stuart, Col. Crichton-||Young, R.|
|Sykes, Colonel W. H.|
|Synan, E. J.||TELLERS.|
|Taylor, P. A.||Colebrooke, Sir T. E.|
|Tite, W.||Agnew, Sir A.|
|Adderley, rt. hon. C. B.||Bruce, Sir H. H.|
|Annesley, hon. Col. H.||Bruen, H.|
|Anson, hon. Major||Burrell, Sir P.|
|Arkwright, R.||Butler-Johnstone, H. A.|
|Baggallay, R.||Campbell, A. H.|
|Bagge, Sir W.||Capper, C.|
|Bailey, Sir J. R.||Cartwright, Colonel|
|Baillie, rt. hon. H. J.||Cave, rt. hon. S.|
|Baring, T.||Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.|
|Barrington, Viscount||Clive, Capt. hon. G. W.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Cobbold, J. C.|
|Barttelot, Colonel||Cochrane, A.D.R.W.B.|
|Bateson, Sir T.||Cole, hon. H.|
|Bathurst, A. A.||Cole, hon. J. L.|
|Beach, Sir M. H.||Conolly, T.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Cooper, E. H.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Corrance, F. S.|
|Beecroft, G. S.||*Corry, rt. hon. H. L.|
|Bentinck, G. C.||* Courtenay, Lord|
|Benyon, R.||Cox, W. T.|
|Beresford, Capt. D. W. Facke-||Cranborne, Viscount|
|Bernard, hn. Col. H.B.||Curzon, Viscount|
|Bingham, Lord||Dalglish, R.|
|Booth, Sir R. G.||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Bourne, Colonel||Dawson, R. P.|
|Bowyer, Sir G.||Dick, F.|
|Brett, W. B.||Dickson, Major A. G.|
|Bridges, Sir B. W.||Dimsdale, R.|
|Bromley, W. D.||Disraeli, rt. hon. B.|
|Brooks, R.||Du Cane, C.|
|Browne, Lord J. T.||Duncombe, hon. Adm.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Duncombe, hon. Colonel|
|Bruce, C.||Dunne, General|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Huddleston, J. W.|
|Dyke, W. H.||Hunt, G. W.|
|Dyott, Colonel R.||James, E.|
|Eaton, H. W.||Jolliffe, hon. H. H.|
|Eckersley, N.||Jones, D.|
|Edwards, Sir H.||Karslake, Sir J. B.|
|Egerton, hon. A. F.||Karslake, E. K.|
|Egerton, E. C.||Kavanagh, A.|
|Egerton, hon. W.||Kekewich, S. T.|
|Elcho, Lord||Kendall, N.|
|Fane, Lt.-Col. H. H.||Kennard, R. W.|
|Fane, Colonel J. W.||King, J. K.|
|Feilden, J.||Knightley, Sir R.|
|Fellowes, E.||Knox, Colonel|
|Fergusson, Sir J.||Knox, hon. Colonel S.|
|*Fitzwilliam, hn. C. W. W.||Lacon, Sir E.|
|Langton, W. G.|
|Floyer, J.||Lanyon, C.|
|Forde, Colonel||Lascelles, hon. E. W.|
|Forester, rt. hon. Gen.||Leader, N. P.|
|Fort, R.||Legh, Major C.|
|Freshfield, C. K.||Lefroy, A.|
|Gallwey, Sir W. P.||Lennox, Lord H. G.|
|Galway, Viscount||Leslie, C. P.|
|Garth, R.||Liddell, hon. H. G.|
|*Gaskell, J. M.||Lindsay, hon. Col. C.|
|Getty, S. G.||Lindsay, Colonel R. L.|
|Gilpin, Colonel||Long, R. P.|
|Goldney, G.||Lopes, Sir M.|
|Gooch, Sir D.||Lowther, J.|
|Gore, J. R.O.||MacEvoy, E.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||M'Kenna, J. N.|
|*Gorst, J. E.||Mackie, J.|
|*Grant, A.||M'Lagan, P.|
|Graves, S. R.||Malcolm, J. W.|
|Gray, Lieut.-Colonel||Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.|
|Greenall, G.||Manners, Lord G. J.|
|Greene, E.||Meller, Colonel|
|Gregory, W. H.||Mitford, W. T.|
|Grey, hon. T. de||Montagu, rt. hn. Lord R.|
|Grosvenor, Lord R.||Montgomery, Sir G.|
|*Guinness, Sir B. L.||Mordaunt, Sir C.|
|Gurney, rt. hon. R.||Morgan, O.|
|Gwyn, H.||Morgan, hon. Major|
|Hamilton, rt. hn. Lord C.||Morris, G.|
|Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J.||Naas, Lord|
|Hardy, rt. hon. G.||Neeld, Sir J.|
|Hardy, J.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Hartley, J.||Newport, Viscount|
|Hartopp, E. B.||North, Colonel|
|Harvey, R. B.||Northcote, rt. hn. Sir S.H.|
|Harvey, R. J. H.||O'Neill, E.|
|Hervey, Lord A. H. C.||Packe, C. W.|
|Hay, Sir J. C. D.||Paget, R. H.|
|Heathcote, Sir W.||Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Henley, rt. hon. J. W.||Palk, Sir L.|
|Henniker-Major, hon. J. M.||Parker, Major W.|
|Patten, Colonel W.|
|Herbert, hon. Col. P.||Paull, H.|
|Heygate, Sir F. W.||Percy, Mjr.-Gen. Ld. H.|
|Hildyard, T. B. T.||Powell, F. S.|
|Hodgson, W. N.||Pritchard, J.|
|Hogg, Lt -Col. J. M.||Pugh, D.|
|Holford, R. S.||Read, C. S.|
|Holmesdale, Viscount||Rearden, D. J.|
|Hood, Sir A. A.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Hope, A. J. B. B.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Hornby, W. H.||Robertson, P. F.|
|Horsfall, T. B.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Hotham, Lord||Rolt, Sir J.|
|Howes, E.||Royston, Viscount|
|Hubbard, J. G.||Russell, Sir C.|
|Salomons, Alderman||Torrens, R.|
|Schreiber, C.||Tottenham, Lt.-Col. C.G.|
|Scott, Lord H.||Treeby, J. W.|
|Scourfield, J. H.||Trevor, Lord A.E. Hill-|
|Selwin, H. J.||Trollope, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Selwyn, C. J.||Turner, C.|
|Seymour, G. H.||Vance, J.|
|Simonds, W. B.||Verner, E. W.|
|Smith, A.||Verner, Sir W.|
|Smith, J. B.||Walcott, Admiral|
|Smith, S. G.||Walker, Major G. G.|
|Smollett, P. B.||Walrond, J. W.|
|Somerset, Colonel||Walsh, A.|
|Stanhope, J. B.||Walsh, Sir J.|
|Stanley, Lord||Waterhouse, S.|
|Stanley, hon. F.||Welby, W. E.|
|Stirling-Maxwell, Sir W.||Whitmore, H.|
|Stopford, S. G.||Williams, F. M.|
|Stronge, Sir J. M.||Wise, H. C.|
|*Stuart, Lieut.-Col. W.||Woodd, B. T.|
|Stucley, Sir G. S.||Wyld, J.|
|Sturt, H. G.||Wyndham, hon. H.|
|Surtees, G. F.||Wyndham, hon. P.|
|Surtees, H. E.||Wynn, C. W. W.|
|Sykes, C.||Yorke, J. R.|
|Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Thorold, Sir J. H.||TELLERS.|
|Thynne, Lord H. F.||Taylor, Colonel T. E.|
|Tollemache, J.||Noel, hon. G. J.|
§ [Members marked* did not vote in the previous division.
§ Agnew, Sir A., Akroyd, E., Bass, A., Dillwyn, L. L., Foley, H. W., Mackie, J., Morrison, W., Roebuck, J. A., voted with the "Noes" in the previous division.]1155
§ [Members marked* did not vote in the previous division.
§ Buckley, E., Dunkellin, Lord, Lloyd, Sir T. D., voted with the "Ayes" in the previous division.
§ Salomons, Mr. Ald., Smith, J. B., voted with the "Noes" in both divisions.] (Numb. 61, 62.)
MR. LOCKE KING
said, he moved the substitution in the clause of the word "ten" for the word "fifteen," in order that the county qualification might be reduced to £10. There were many reasons why the Committee should adopt that proposal. The principle of the reduction of the county franchise for which he had contended for so many years having been admitted, all they now had to do was to settle the question of the figure to be adopted. If there were any injustice, anomaly, or absurdity in the present state of the franchise, it was to be found first and foremost in the condition of the county franchise. If they compared the number of Members who represented the counties with those who represented the boroughs, a great disproportion would be found to exist. There was also a great disproportion in the number of electors in boroughs and counties compared with the population in each. The county population was, in round numbers, 11,000,000, while the borough population was only 9,000,000, and yet the number of electors in counties was nearly the same as in boroughs. It was this anomaly, injustice, and disproportion which had caused all the trouble 1156 which the Government had experienced. He believed that if at an early period they had dealt with this question and had given an extension of the county franchise, they would not now find themselves committed to what he might call this democratic change with regard to the borough franchise. He must tender his thanks to the hon. Baronet the Member for East Kent (Sir Edward Bering) for not having persevered with his Amendment fixing the franchise at £12. That was a figure wholly unknown in all the discussions which had taken place in reference to the county franchise, whereas the £10 was a good, honest, and constitutional figure, with which they were familiar for years, and which had been adopted in every Reform Bill that had been introduced except one. He could not help thinking that the figure of £15 in the present Bill had been put in at random, with no intention that it should be persevered in if opposed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Bill of 1859 adopted the £10 as the figure of the county franchise. It was true that the right hon. Gentleman afterwards said that in proposing £10 he likewise proposed to confer other franchises at the same time. But had they not in the present Bill other franchises with a vengeance? Were not the doctors, the clergymen of all denominations, the lawyers, and, above all, the schoolmasters to be enfranchised? Here were companions enough to look after the unfortunate ten-pounder whom he proposed to enfranchise. It was impossible, after having gone so far in the way of democracy in regard to boroughs, to hold back with respect to counties, and not give them the liberal measure which he proposed in 1859. If they were to adopt a £15 franchise for the counties, while they were to have a borough franchise which was to be little short of universal suffrage, an enormous disproportion would exist between the condition of the two great divisions of the constituencies, and between the number of persons which would in each of them be enfranchised. While they were making so great an advance in the direction of democracy in the boroughs, it would be impossible for them to maintain the county qualification at so high a figure as £15. If they adhered to their present proposal upon that subject, they would leave the Reform question unsettled, and would have to encounter a renewed and vigorous agitation for the removal of a manifest anomaly and injustice.
§ Amendment proposed, in line 23, to leave oat "fifteen" and insert-"ten."—(Mr. Locke King.)
§ SIR THOMAS LLOYD
said, he was about to trespass on the kind attention of the House only for a few minutes, as minutes were precious at this period. As a representative of a county constituency, he regarded the concession offered by the Government as a handsome one, and which they on that side of the House ought to accept. Had the alternative offered to the House been as between £15 and £10, he should have had no hesitation in voting for the latter figure; but as a fair compromise had been offered by the Government, he should support the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in favour of a £12 franchise. He had no fear of a large reduction of the franchise. Some weeks ago, when the debate on the Reform Bill commenced, he remembered hearing an hon. Member opposite the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Butler-Johnstone) say, in a speech long and interesting, that the "Cavaliers" of the House had reason to fear the consequences of this Bill. He was one of the cavaliers of that House. As a cavalier he differed from the hon. Member in his view of this measure, and did not share in his fear. The influence of the country gentlemen of England rested on a more solid basis than that of any electoral franchises. That influence reposed on the tradition of centuries, on identity of interests and friendly intercourse. A country gentleman, one of large territorial possessions, living with his people, and, as Queen Elizabeth used to say, for his people, wielded an influence superior to any other class in this or in any other nation in the world. This Bill was a great and comprehensive measure, and the most liberal ever offered to Parliament. He wished to bear testimony to the great forbearance, exquisite tact, sound judgment, and great courtesy with which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had conducted this great Bill.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, Government had made a very large and liberal concession to numbers, and they ought not now to be expected to ignore the claims of property having its fair share of representation. The effect of a £10 franchise would be, in many counties, entirely to supersede the present county representation. Those £10 occupations were found either in the immediate neighbourhood of Parliamen- 1158 tary boroughs or within the limits of unrepresented towns. When the excitement of present events had gone by, the old duty of the drag-chain would have to be resumed, and the influence of the country party would have to be used to check anything like rash or hasty legislation. This was not a time to weaken the influence of county constituencies. He trusted the House would hesitate before it entertained any proposal which would tend so largely to lessen the legitimate influence of property. This was not a question of numbers, but of interests. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire had described the lowering of the county franchise as being only the completion of the representation of the middle class. He (Mr. Liddell) did not want to argue this question merely as a class question. He was not one of those who thought that one class of Englishmen would necessarily rise against any other class and overwhelm them. But he wanted to argue the question as one of interests, and where interests and feelings were identical, they should endeavour to secure identity of representation. He hoped that the county representation would not be handed over to the towns, as it inevitably would if the £10 proposal were acceded to. No doubt this would not be the case in the purely agricultural counties; but these formed a very small proportion of the counties of England. He earnestly hoped they would bear in mind that by infusing this large amount of town element into the counties, property would be deprived of its legitimate influence in that House. He trusted, therefore, that the Amendment of the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Locke King) would not be adopted, but that the Committee would rather agree to the compromise suggested, though for himself he preferred the original figure proposed by the Government as a liberal and sufficient extension of the county franchise.
The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has taken up some phrases which I thought the House had got rid of. The Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke very much some years ago about the identity of interests and the representation of interests and so forth. But the House has passed all that a good way. These phrases, which never meant much in the past, mean nothing at all in this Session. My hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey (Mr. Locke King) 1159 must admit that a reduction of the franchise from £50 to £15, or £12 to £10 in counties, is a large reduction. But we are not frightened at that; we have seen such a wonderful change with regard to the boroughs. It is impossible for any Member to alarm the House with regard to the change proposed in the counties from £50 to £10. Unless Gentlemen opposite are absolutely—I was going to say lunatic in the course they are taking with regard to the boroughs, there can be no impropriety and no danger in the proposal of my hon. Friend with regard to the counties. It is worth their while to consider whether they would like the county question to be discussed again at a very early period. ["No!"] I think hon. Gentlemen will admit that last year, when the proposal was for a £7 franchise in the boroughs and a £14 franchise in the counties, that it would not have been very easy to provoke any movement in the country for a reduction in the county franchise which did not include a further reduction in the borough franchise. But now, as you are endeavouring to make the Bill, you have no value whatever in the boroughs. A man who pays a rent of £2 in a borough, if his rate is paid, and that rate is not a composition rate, will have a vote. Take the borough—if it is to be called so—the borough of East Retford, which runs down nearly to the walls of Doncaster. ["No!"] I do not know how far it is from Doncaster; but it is not too far for the Doncaster people to hear of it. In East Retford an agricultural labourer living in a house of £3, £4, or £5 rental per annum, if he pays his rates, or if his full rate be paid, will have a vote under this Bill. Every householder in the town of Doncaster, under the clause as it is now drawn, will have a vote if he lives in a house rated to the value of £15, which will be for the most part about a rental of £20. If the proposal of my hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey be accepted, his rateable value of £10 would mean in all probability a rental of £13 or £14. Therefore, in this small agricultural district, which you call a borough, you give to every man of £2 or £3 rental a vote, while in this considerable town of Doncaster you only give it to every man who lives in a house of £14 or £15 value. I put it to hon. Gentlemen opposite whether it is not advisable for them at least to accept the lowest proposal before the House, with 1160 the view of withdrawing as much as possible from the county voters the sense of inequality and injustice under which they will live if you establish this low franchise in the boroughs and maintain a high franchise in the counties. I am quite satisfied if you were to take the franchise proposed by the right hon. Gentleman in his Bill, or even that which I understand he has proposed now—for I was not in the House when he spoke—a compromise between the £15 and £10 franchise—I believe that in the first Parliament elected under this Bill you would have my hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey (Mr. Locke King), or some one treading in his footsteps, proposing that the county franchise should be brought down lower, and arguing it on the ground that you have so greatly reduced the borough franchise. There is no reason you can offer to the inhabitants of counties why they should be disfranchised if they do not live in a house of £15, when if they lived in a £2 or a £3 house in a borough they would have the franchise. I am not about to assert that the difference between £12 and £10 is very great, or that it will make any sensible difference in the addition to the representation. All I want is to advise hon. Gentlemen to do that which now seems most likely to tend to a settlement of the county franchise, as they are manfully endeavouring to come to some permanent settlement with regard to the borough franchise. Seeing that all over the country—and judging from former Bills—particularly the Bill of 1859 of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, there had been a general belief that £10 should be the highest sum fixed for the county franchise, I believe if you take £10 you will find yourselves in a position of much more permanent settlement than you will if you take £15 or £12. That is all the real unanswerable argument I have to offer. I do not pretend to say the difference between £12 and £10 is very essential; but I believe that £10 is better because it is £2 lower, and infinitely better because it meets generally the view of the country, and leads you to a point of more permanent settlement than if you fix the franchise at any higher sum. With that argument, which will recommend itself to the minds of many Gentlemen here, and I hope to that of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I should be very glad indeed if the House would accept 1161 the proposal of my hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey.
§ MR. A. EGERTON
said, that the remarks of the hon. Member for Birmingham as to the disparity between the counties and boroughs were really an argument for a uniform franchise. The hon. Gentleman who had brought forward the Amendment advocated the £10 franchise because he thought it was an excellent figure at which to fix it. But he forgot that that £10 figure was not now the same as it was formerly. The hon. Member further declared that if they did not accept this £10 figure universal agitation would be the result. He (Mr. Egerton) did not expect that if this Bill were carried in any shape, agitation would be entirely done away with. As long as agitators existed, not only in the House but out of it, agitation would continue. Even when household suffrage was arrived at, there would be agitation for residential manhood suffrage. However, the grounds for agitation would be removed, though agitators would still exist. These agitators might call spirits from the vasty deep, but they would not come. There was very little difference between £12 and £10. He should support the former. He should be very glad if £12 were accepted as a compromise, because it was virtually the figure of last year. Those who supported it then could not vote against it now.
§ VISCOUNT GALWAY
said, that the contrast between East Retford and Doncaster was not a fair specimen of the operation of the Bill, since the former borough included a wide agricultural area.
§ MR. PEASE
said, there were a number of towns with populations ranging from 32,000 and 16,000 to 10,000 and 8,000, either in his own county (Durham) or the one adjacent, which would not be Parliamentary boroughs, and the people of which would be discontented with their position. In these towns the only persons who had votes possessed them under the county franchise. If the Amendment reducing that franchise to £10 were not carried, a strong feeling of discontent would be fostered among the inhabitants of those towns. Keeping this fact in mind he had no alternative but to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for East Surrey, and to adopt the lowest possible county franchise that would be applicable to those towns. In the year 1859 the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself supported a £10 county franchise, 1162 and the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India (Sir Stafford Northcote) was also in its favour. They should not now hesitate to accept it, otherwise there would be growing discontent among towns such as he had referred to.
§ MR. PUGH
said, he rose to express a hope that the Government would find it to be consistent with their duty, as he was sure it would be consistent with their inclination, to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for East Surrey. This was no new question to them—it had been discussed on many a well-contested field, and the principle had been adopted in previous Reform Bills. The Parliamentary horse had looked at, had not shied at it—at all events, no one had been thrown. But the circumstances under which they now discussed it were altogether new. The Government had recently sanctioned, with the approbation of the House, an unexampled extension of the franchise in the boroughs, and he concurred with those who thought that the principle should be carried out, and that there should be a corresponding, or at least a considerable, extension in the counties. The rural districts had of late years had many disappointments, but in the midst of them all—Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified,Their loyalty they kept, their love, their zeal.Let the Government now show their confidence in them. Let them accept this Amendment, though coming from the opposite side of the House. Its Leader had often said that they wished for no party triumph, that they appealed to the House, and the House had nobly responded to their call; he thought it would be a gracious concession on their part if they were to accept the present proposition. They were now carrying out principles and doctrines often asserted, often consistently supported, within those walls — principles and doctrines of which the excess alone was dangerous, but the foundations of which were laid in unquestionable truth. The Government did not wish for a triumph over their opponents — if they might judge from the language of Lord Derby and the Chancellor of the Exchequer — nor did they wish for any triumph over the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire. ["Oh, oh!"] He believed there was not a man in this House or in the country who would not willingly see him in any position to which his great abilities unquestionably entitled him. 1163 They knew that he had lost his seat for Oxford, and they thought that quite enough. ["Oh, oh!" and laughter.] Sat Priamo patriœque datum; and it was no disparagement to those who might come after him, either now or in future years, to say that that classic — that almost sacred ground—so proud, so justly exulting in the genius, the eloquence, and the intellectual power of its sons—might wait some time before it was represented by another superior to him in those qualifications—Nee Romula quondamUllo se tantum tellus jactabit alumno!He would not trespass any further on the indulgence of the Committee. He wished success to the Government in the arduous contest and amid the difficulties by which they were surrounded. He hoped that by a judicious union of conciliation on the one hand, and firmness on the other, and by the aid of the united wisdom of Parliament, which they had ever invoked, they would be enabled to bring this great question to a satisfactory and triumphant conclusion.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he hoped that there was no mistake as to a statement he made earlier in the evening. He stated then that from the strong expression of feeling which had reached him from his own side of the House and from a portion of the other side, Her Majesty's Government were prepared to agree to the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for East Kent (Sir Edward Dering), and to substitute the figure £12 for that of £15. If it were the pleasure of the Committee, Her Majesty's Government were prepared now to accept that figure, for they believed that good reasons might be given, especially on an occasion like the present, for parties agreeing to a compromise on the question. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) referred to certain expressions used by him (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) last year, and said they were now discarded as unmeaning. They were not discarded by him, and he hoped they would not be discarded by the House. There were various interests in the country, and if those interests were fully represented, then, and then only, an efficient and complete Bill would be passed. The expression had therefore a very distinct meaning. He ought to notice an observation made by the hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Locke King) that he was in- 1164 consistent in opposing a £10 county franchise now, when he had himself proposed it in his former Reform Bill. If the hon. Gentleman would accept the conditions on which he proposed the £10 county franchise in 1859, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) would agree to his suggestion. If the hon. Gentleman would not accept this, there was no ground for the charge of inconsistency as to him (the Chancellor of the Exchequer), though it might possibly be against the hon. Member. He hoped that the Committee would resist the proposal of the hon. Member for East Surrey, and that, if possible, they would agree to the compromise he offered without a division. It was a serious question, and it did not altogether depend even upon the opinion of the House. He wished the Committee, while there was still time, to see if they could not, by their vote, arrive at a temperate and moderate conclusion, with a view to prevent obstacles which might occur, which might prove injurious to the future progress of the Bill. He thought it would be one of the most successful evenings in which the Committee had been engaged, if, without a division, they could agree to accept the £12 county franchise. The arguments on which the hon. Member for Birmingham based his preference for a £10 franchise were—he said so with great respect—quite futile, and would be equally efficient if used against £10. The question was not one to be settled by argument. It was not a question of principle. It must be settled by the general opinion of moderate men of all parties, who would accept the present proposal as a fair and adequate solution of this long disputed problem. He believed that his proposal would be generally acceptable, and therefore he hoped the Committee would agree to it.
said, that technically the question before the House was not whether the county franchise should be £10 or £12, but whether it should be £15. Probably it would, however, be more strictly correct to assume the £15 franchise as disposed of, and virtually negatived, and if so the question might be assumed to lie between the £10 and £12 franchise. In the little he had to say he must express his entire concurrence—he might say verbum pro verbo—in the argument of the hon. Member for Birmingham. His hon. Friend did not attempt to magnify the difference between £10 and £12 into a principle, but he 1165 supported the £10 franchise upon the ground of its greater promise of durability. He was not prepared to accede to the doctrine of his hon. Friend and Colleague (Mr. A. Egerton) that it did not matter which figure they adopted with the view of preventing agitation, because they would always have agitators. Whether they would prevent agitation depended upon the judgment with which the House shaped its measures. He would not say that if they adopted the £10 county franchise discontent and agitation would be absolutely extinguished; but there was a prospect that they would be so insignificant that they would not seriously disturb the country, and the House might overlook them. He did not think in settling this question — as he earnestly wished to see it settled—that it would be desirable so to do it, as that agitation should be renewed at an early date, or that the House should leave such a question for renewed agitation as disturbed the settlement of 1832. What was found to be the weak point of the Act of 1832? It was the county occupation franchise which admitted the principle of an occupation franchise, but which left too broad a gap between that and the occupation franchise of boroughs. He was afraid that the same thing might happen again. The difference between the two figures now before the House was not great, but it would be a far wiser conclusion, in order to prevent a renewal of agitation, if the House were prepared with anything like a general assent to support the £10 franchise. His hon. Friend and Colleague had paid the late Government the compliment of founding his advocacy of the £12 franchise upon the fact that it was the proposal made by them last year. It was nearly co-extensive with the proposal of the Bill of last year, but the present was founded upon rating value, while the late Government founded their proposal upon clear annual value. No doubt, a rating franchise of £12 was pretty nearly equivalent to a £14 franchise of clear annual value. But they took their ground upon the £14 county rental with reference to the borough franchise of £7 rental. They proposed it under the impression that, if there were to be a distinction between the counties and boroughs, it should not be less than that. The House had now, however, gone far lower than £7, and had given the franchise to the very lowest tenements upon which rates and rental 1166 were paid. There was therefore a very considerable enlargement of the interval between the occupation franchise in boroughs and counties. To maintain a great interval between the two occupation franchises became more difficult every year, because there was a tendency, especially in the manufacturing districts, to a diffusion of the best description of the artizans throughout the counties. Though they might get rid of the inconvenience and pressure to some extent by enfranchising new boroughs, that was a very incomplete operation, because there would still be considerable masses of diffused population unaffected by it. Heartily wishing that the £10 franchise might have been adopted, and intending, if his hon. Friend went to a division, to vote with him, he would at the same time recommend his hon. Friend (Mr. Locke King) to accept the proposal of the Government, and agree to the £12 franchise for counties. The difference was not such as would justify a division.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he must oppose the proposal of the hon. Member for East Surrey, as it tended to give still greater influence to the town population, which was already over-represented. There were 11,500,000 inhabitants in the counties, and only 9,500,000 in the towns; whereas the former had only 162 Members and the latter 334. If therefore the House was going so nearly to equalize the franchise, it ought to be prepared also to do something in the direction of equalizing the representation. As he understood the hon. Member would not press his Amendment he would not pursue the subject.
MR. LOCKE KING
said, that he would accept the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. At the same time, he thought that if he had not moved £10 they would not have been offered £12.
§ Motion agreed to: "fifteen" struck out, and "twelve" inserted.
§ MR. HENRY BAILLIE
moved the insertion of the following proviso:—"Provided always that one-half the occupation should be in land not built upon." He said, he thought he might venture to assume the general feeling in the House to be that in any change which it might be deemed expedient to make in the Constitution of the country the representation of classes should be preserved. In consequence of the changes about to be made 1167 in the borough franchise the lower classes would be very largely represented in the boroughs. The middle classes looked to the counties for their representation. He believed that two-thirds of the electors in the counties were 40s. freeholders. You could scarcely have a lower qualification if you were to have a franchise at all. It might have been a good franchise at the time it was established, but it had been lowered by the alteration which had taken place in the value of money. As the House were now about to legislate for the future as well as for the present, they must consider the great change which would be effected by the lowering of the occupation franchise in counties from £50 to £12. This would introduce into the franchise the occupiers of houses irrespective of land. The consequence would be that the holders of this franchise would quite swamp those who were connected with land. He wished to know whether that was the object of hon. Gentlemen opposite? The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had more than once insisted—and he had never heard his argument denied—that the urban population was much more largely represented than the rural population. By this change they would give a still greater preponderance to the urban, at the expense of the rural population. The object of his Amendment was to retain the character of the county franchise, which had always been in connection with the land. The hon. Member for Birmingham said, that as the borough franchise had been reduced, there ought to be an equal reduction in the counties. But there was no parallel between the two cases. The Constitution had provided a distinction between the franchises in counties and in boroughs, and they would depart from the principles of the Constitution if they abolished that distinction and established a uniform franchise all over the country.
§ Amendment proposed, line 24, at end of paragraph 2, add "Provided always, that one-half the occupation shall be in land."
said, he heartily concurred in the Amendment. The grievance of the agricultural interest was that it was not then properly represented, and this would put them in a worse position than ever. The hon. Member for East Surrey (Mr. Locke King), for instance, was a county Member, but he owed his return 1168 to the electors of Southwark. There were many other county Members in the House who owed their return to the electors of the towns. The counties were not represented according to wealth and population in proportion to the boroughs.
§ MR. D. ROBERTSON
said, he could have hardly conceived it possible that such a Motion could be brought forward. It would disfranchise a numerous body of men as fairly entitled to the vote as any landowner in the kingdom. It was to these occupiers that land was indebted for its increased value. That increased value arose from the towns, so to speak, walking into the counties.
§ MR. CORRANCE
* Sir, when I last had the honour of addressing this House upon this subject, I ventured to explain what were my real sentiments respecting this question of Reform. Such explanation is not uncalled for on this side of the House, I admit. Sir, by an hon. Member who spoke next I was told that Reformers such as I was (or as we were), would find that in this country we should fetch a very low price. As regards myself, and the opinion I expressed, I have no doubt the hon. Gentleman was right. He is, no doubt, better informed upon such a point than myself; no doubt better able to reduce to a proper and practical commercial value any political sentiment, as a means of acquiring a seat. Let me confess my inexperience in such matters, and also scarcely my regret that I have not hitherto had an opportunity of putting my votes to so practical a test. But, Sir, as regards those who were thus otherwise alluded to, let me say this, that I cannot help thinking that the hon. Gentleman will ere this have discovered his mistake. Sir, I am quite aware that I may be subject to-night to the same reproach, and I have no hope that the views I shall express upon the matter now before us will be such as will meet with the assent of the hon. Gentleman or his Friends. With them this county franchise is a sore point, for it actually returns landed men—those men, in fact, who were so classically described by the hon. Member for Nottingham as an omnibus full of heavy stupid country squires. Well, Sir, I have not the least desire to join issue on so trivial a point; it is sufficient that I share the distinction of the reproach. But, Sir, we are about to reform ourselves, and it is, perhaps, not unnecessary that we should take some securities against those terrible catastrophes 1169 which are wont to attend rash efforts—that we may, in fact, escape the fate of the compound-householder, who has lately been improved off the face of the earth. Sir, there must have been many who were impressed with the gravity of the proceedings of Monday last, when the compound-householder was laid to rest for the last time, none can say the rites were not be-fittingly performed, though perhaps but few were then aware of what we have since learnt—that we attended the obsequies of the English Constitution itself. Never was nobler funeral oration pronounced than that which we heard from the eloquent Member for Calne; never since the days of Pericles one more appropriate to such an occasion as this. He seemed, Sir, to hear the crash attending the wreck of Empires and of nations lost; to stand among the skeletons which strewed the highways of the past, to see the ships which drifted with the dead to ports where all was dumb. There is, indeed, enough to moralize upon in this. For weeks, may months, this compound-householder has occupied all Parliamentary minds; among British worthies he has held the first place in a transitory interest, which one moment has destroyed. And yet, Sir, it is in no mean company that he is gone, with Peers and Paladins around him, slain at this last great battle; his barque is thrust out from the land not alone—Call not him alone who liethLow among the gallant slain;Call not him alone who diethSide by side with gallant men.Lo the ship has ceased her striving,Till on ocean's verge arriving,Sudden sinks the Viking's Pyre.—Ha. cons, gone.But, Sir, these are things of the past; they should not further occupy our time, of which they have, perchance, even now, taken over-much. Sir, up to this time the attention of this House has been so specially directed to this matter, that perhaps this question of the county franchise has scarcely received its due share. It is certainly of not less importance than that of the boroughs, if due regard be paid to the less noisy and pretentious claims of population or wealth. This, I think, I can undertake to show. Concerning this county franchise then, let me call the attention of the Committee to certain facts—facts calculated to throw some light upon the effect of this clause. We are deficient in statistics, and I am unable to afford any comprehensive data as to this; 1170 but since the introduction of this measure I have been able to collect a few, which I will read to the House. It must be remembered that it is my object to show the relative proportions of those thus newly enfranchised in respect of land, and those who as urban citizens have it not. I take two acres of land with house as my test of this. The Returns are from three unions within the county I have the honour to represent, as follows—namely:—
Now, Sir, what will be the effect of this, both as regards the nature of the constituencies and the interests represented? It must be remembered that this example is furnished from an unselected area in a very rural county, in which the town element is by no means strong. Inferentially the Committee will easily judge what in some other cases would be the result. That the constituencies will become urban under another name with interests identical in most respects with that of its borough town. One thing must, I think, be admitted—that in most cases these constituencies must lose their distinctive feature as any representation of a landed class. In many they will become the representatives of amalgamated towns. In ray own county the number of represented and unrepresented towns stands thus—
£ £ With two acres of Land. Without. Plomesgate 12 to 15 14 59 Samford 12 to 15 12 40 Blything 12 to 18 35 79 Total 61 176 Plomesgate 15 to 50 161 79 Samford 15 to 50 59 44 Blything 15 to 50 149 214 369 337 Plomesgate 12 to 50 93 218 Samford 12 to 50 228 249 Blything 12 to 50 71 84 392 551
1171 I know I may be told, "Oh, but they will return the same men through the influence of position or wealth." There is some reason to doubt this; but even admitting this, will these same men feel themselves as free as heretofore to advocate the interest of a class who have lost their political force. Once more, I think not. Perhaps, however, it may be said that this landed interest is too strong already in this House, and wonderful are the statistics quoted of the number of those who may be called landed proprietors in this House. A Mr. Cracroft has lately told us that there are 500 such, connected by what he justly calls imperceptible ties, in the House. Sir, let me confess I am not a student in parvo, nor versed in microscopic observation; but I think that we may safely infer that when the tie is imperceptible the duties of such towards this interest would be what the lawyers call, of imperfect obligation. No doubt the term landed proprietor admits of wide application, and is as true of the possessor of a flower-pot in fee simple as the inheritor of a dukedom; but, Sir, these niceties need not disturb our calculations when we come to things more practical, and we know at least that it is not from such that the landed interest will receive its support. Why, Sir, would a manufacturer deem his interests safe in the hands of a farmer if he had a hand-loom in his back parlour? Certainly not; and if he did he should scarcely consider him a man of sense. No, Sir, from such landed proprietors as these we know pretty well what to expect. We shall have their good words and some excellent advice; but when it comes to a question of interests, scarcely ever their vote. Let the malt tax, which we lately discussed, speak for this. I have heard the legislation on cattle plague adduced as a proof of the undue influence of landed interests in this House. I thought, Sir, that it had been under the influence of experience and common sense that these were past. I at least will not claim any exclusive possession of such qualities for any class, or as only existing on this side of the House. One thing is most sure that if unwise, then the folly has been European; if foolish, most unusual in results. As a proof of landed power the illustration is ill-chosen at least. But, Sir, it may be said that I draw too harsh a line between class and class, interest and interest, in this case. Let us examine it on this side. It may be held 1172 desirable that representation should rest upon a broader base. That all classes should meet at one common polling-booth and there record one common vote. That county and town should meet. Now, Sir, that in such constituencies as these will be found, in no unhappy association, all the varying elements of English social life I will freely admit. That they will be at least fair exponents of English feeling I cannot deny. That some constituencies will be thus improved and strengthened I confess. They will be such constituencies as anyone of us might be proud to represent. You may still call them county, but they will form electoral districts in fact. Now, to this have hon. Gentlemen given due consideration — sufficient weight? It seems to me that they have not. Have they asked themselves how far such a system is compatible with that which exists? If they, do so it appears to me that in approving this they utter a condemnation on that, and they must admit that if partially applied, it reduces this measure to a series of incongruous parts. Why, Sir, what is this system upon which the representation is based. It is one of narrow class interest, of which the borough system forms the principal and most exclusive part. And in what proportion does this exist. Well, Sir, some figures will show this. In these great electoral districts which you now propose to make you will have a population of 11,000,000; in the borough, scarcely 8,000,000; of electors, according to late Returns, 540,271; in boroughs, 489,166; of rateable value, £6,000,000; in boroughs, 3,394,902; to represent these Members, 162; in boroughs, 334. A monstrous disproportion which you make no effort to amend. Do you think that these great constituencies you propose to make will accept such a settlement as this. They will not be worthy of the franchise if it be the case. If you approve of the principle of mixed interest, can you approve of this? Do you not obviously make the better subservient to the worse. Last year, it was held necessary to lay the Bill, in its entirety, before the House; what was the reason for this? Surely that we should have an opportunity of considering each detail in due respect to the whole, both as regards the franchise and the re-distribution of seats. Have we such a Bill before us now? It is so assumed at least, and I can see no congruity between its parts. In the Re- 1173 form Bill of 1832 how was this question dealt with? Why, a large borough system, close and exclusive, was swept away. They were venal, or corrupt, or under influences which rendered freedom of election a farce, and as such they were justly condemned. Now, Sir, does no such thing now exist? Look at the petition list of this House. From that side of the House we hear much of bribery and corruption, and the means of cure suggested are, no doubt, excellent specimens of the way how not to do it. But, Sir, let me ask where does this bribery exist? Is it in the county representation, or the borough? Is it South Lancashire or Lancaster in which the ten righteous men only could be found? Why, Sir, I agree with the Member for Nottingham thus far, that of that borough system bribery and corruption lie at the very root, and that of the thirty immaculate Members he mentions, I would hold that at least twenty-nine are or must be county Members; the one remaining of course is his own seat. His great experience must have assured him of this. We are told that by this Bill we increase the venal class. I do not doubt it in the least. And so it must be in any possible case. Extend the borough franchise and you extend the venal class, and also that in the larger towns the power of the independent and middle classes is lost. Under this Bill its expression will be found in the counties alone—alone in the vast disproportion I have shown to exist. Is this a result we desire? Is it one of which we approve? I confess I do not. Can there be any settlement of the question thus—any just settlement which we can accept? It seems to me against all reason and common sense. Well, Sir, under these circumstances it has seemed to me desirable that the attention of the House should be directed to this. It is by far the greatest change this Reform Bill will effect. There are no longer counties, if you accept this clause. They are electoral districts in the widest sense. Deal with them justly as such. You have realized Bentham's ideal so far; give him also the scope he requires—namely, 400 seats out of 600, and let the rest be the chief towns of the counties or divisions, with some regard to population or wealth. As the hon. Member for Birmingham has said we have made some progress, and possibly begin to see some things clearer than we did; but he admits the force of this. Finally, at least let me I say this—in this portion of the present 1174 measure I can see no congruity of parts. If we accept this basis for the county franchise, then we cannot accept the borough system which exists. If the electoral district meets our views, then the borough stands condemned. There is no relation between these parts. But if, as heretofore, it is assumed that interests shall find their level in the House, I must hold that in this franchise no settlement of such a question can be found. It is wholly one-sided and utterly unjust, as the following figures will show:—
UNREPRESENTED. REPRESENTED. Bungay 3,805 Ipswich 37,950 Beccles 4,266 Eye 4,500 Halesworth 2,382 Southwold 2,032 Lowestoft 10,662 Woodbridge 4,513 Hadleigh 2,779 Needham Market 2,000 Framlingham 2,500 Aldborough 1,500 36,428 42,450 Saxmundham not known. Approximately.
|Inhabited Houses||2,290,061||Inhabited Houses|
|1 Member to||70,541||1 Member to||25,834|
§ MR. BEACH
said, it was generally admitted that £50 was too high a figure for the county occupation franchise. The man who occupied a house at £30 or £40 felt as the man who occupied land of similar yearly values. He hoped that this Amendment would not be pressed. It would be most ungracious if, after making so large a reduction in the county franchise, they now made it a condition that half the occupation should be in land.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, the Amendment, if pressed, would lead to great difficulty in respect to registration. The point could be dealt with when the Committee came to consider that part of the Bill which related to the distribution of seats.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
said, he would, on a future occasion, move the proviso which stood in his name in the form of a separate clause.
§ MR. COLVILE
said, he would bring forward his Amendment on the present clause at a later stage of the Bill.
§ MR. POWELL
said, he would propose, as a matter of form, words taken from the 20th clause of the Reform Act, which was discussed at some length. The words were these—Provided always that no person being only the sub-lessee or assignee of any under lease shall have a right to vote at such election in respect of a term of sixty years unles he shall be in actual occupation of the premises.1175 As there was an objection to his Amendment being discussed without notice, he would withdraw it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
Sir, I move that the clauses to 34 be postponed, in order that we may take the 54th clause.
§ MR. DENMAN
said, he presumed it was the intention of the Government to postpone all the clauses relating to other matters, and to proceed with the clauses relating to the borough franchise. But he wished to remind them that Clause 33 referred to the borough franchise, and that he had given notice of moving an Amendment to it. It would repeal a clause of 6 Vict. c. 18, s. 79, which was passed in consequence of the inconvenience experienced under the Reform Act from the necessity of bringing up persons to vote at elections at a great expense, and would restore the objectionable law that existed up to that period.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
Clauses 34 and 35 have a direct bearing on compound-householders, and it is considered desirable that we should dispose of this question as quickly as possible. There are other clauses relating to the borough franchise, but it is impossible to pick them out and dispose of them before we consider these clauses I have mentioned. The clause to which my hon. Friend refers is an important one, and no doubt a discussion will arise upon it; but at present it would withdraw our attention from the main subject.
§ MR. DENMAN
On the condition that we are not to be considered as prejudging anything not contained in the 34th clause, I agree.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
We are not to consider that everything connected with the borough franchise is thus disposed of, but we say it is necessary to settle those clauses which contain the essence of the question before us.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he wished to inquire when the second part of the Bill relating to the re-distribution of seats was likely to be proceeded with.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
When the 34th and 35th clauses are disposed of, we will return to the 5th clause, and there will then be no interruption to the continuity of the discussion on the Bill.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
We will take the part of the Bill to which the hon. Gentleman refers as soon as we can. I certainly would not enter into the re-distribution clauses within an hour of the time for the adjournment of the House. I do not apprehend that to-night there will be any question about it. I shall take care to consult the feelings of the Committee before I enter into any new topic.
§ Motion agreed to,
§ Clauses 4 to 34, inclusive, postponed.
§ Clause 34 (Occupier may claim to be rated in order to require the Franchise.)
§ MR. HODGKINSON
I have an Amendment on the Paper having for its object the total abolition of compounding for rates within Parliamentary boroughs. I propose to introduce a similar Amendment at the end of Clause 3. The Chancellor of the Exchequer having approved of the principle of my Amendment, I withdrew it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer undertook to introduce clauses carrying out the principle of my Amendment, and these clauses have been introduced. Two of the clauses are, in my mind, objectionable; but, as I understand and believe, they are to be withdrawn, I think it unnecessary to press the Amendment in my name on the Paper. On the understanding that the Clauses 3 and 4 introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer are to be withdrawn, I withdraw my Amendment.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
I wish to point out that unless some alteration be introduced into this clause the effect of it as at present drawn will be to continue the compounding system for the whole year. Consequently, the claims under the first registration will have to be in the objectionable manner first proposed by the Bill.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Order is the first duty of private individuals and public assemblies. Therefore I will move my Amendment. But for the acceleration of business I may say that I have not withdrawn the 3rd and 4th clauses, because I wish to have an expression of opinion on the part of the Committee on the subject. I have put them on the table because I thought there was embodied in them the general opinion of the House. If that be not so, I lay no I stress upon them. The suggestion made 1177 by the hon. and learned Member for Richmond is perfectly correct, and I shall propose that nothing in the Act contained shall affect any composition existing at the time of the passing of the Act, but that no composition shall remain in force after the 29th of September next. It will be necessary to bring in a new 30th clause to carry out that which I will lay upon the table to-night.
§ Amendment proposed, in line 29, after the word "rated," to insert, "at the time of the passing of this Act to the poor rate."—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)
§ MR. AYRTON
It is necessary that we should make some reference to the Composition Acts, and I would suggest to the Solicitor General to introduce a clause for the purpose. As far as I can discover there are numbers of them throughout the country.
§ MR. DENMAN
I do not know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer has directed his attention to the clause as originally proposed by the hon. Member for Newark, who consulted me when he resolved to introduce a proposal to abolish the compound-householders. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman would think there would be any difficulty in adopting the words as originally proposed by the hon. Member for Newark, because that would be the best mode of doing what we all agree should be done. The words of that clause would enable Parliament to do what the Small Tenements and Compounding Acts enable two-thirds of the ratepayers to do. That is, it would enable Parliament to repeal the Small Tenements Act, except as regards rates actually made and still pending. It would not do now to enable two-thirds of the ratepayers to bind one-third when it is a question of the franchise. What difficulty is there in Parliament's assuming the power possessed by those two-thirds? Why should it not be done by a vote of the Legislature instead of the ratepayers?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The matter is not so easy as the hon. and learned Gentleman supposes. You might repeal the Small Tenements Act, but you could not repeal all the local Acts, because they embrace other topics besides rating, such as lighting, cleansing, &c. It is therefore impossible to repeal the local Acts, and we think it 1178 will be better to adopt the uniform arrangement we have suggested.
§ MR. DENMAN
said, that the clause of his hon. Friend (Mr. Hodgkinson) only proposed to repeal the local Acts as regards rating, and was confined to that one object.
§ MR. HIBBERT
said, that if the 3rd and 4th sections of the right hon. Gentleman were omitted very much the same operation would be effected by the other clauses as that proposed by the Amendment of the hon. Member for Newark. He did not believe that there was any disagreement of opinion as to the object to be obtained. Referring to what was said at an earlier part of the evening by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it appeared to him that the right hon. Gentleman was endeavouring to meet the views of those who sat on the Opposition side of the House. He thought that the clauses of the hon. Member for Pontefract were objectionable from the first. He trusted that the hon. Member for Newark would agree to the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and so put an end to the compound-householder.
§ SIR LAWRENCE PALK
said, he thought it somewhat extraordinary that an Act for the reform of the constituency of England and the enlargement of the representation of the people should be made a means of making a large and extensive alteration in the rating of houses under the Poor Laws of the country. He could not but think that if they-too hastily repealed those laws respecting compound-householders great confusion and difficulty would arise, especially in large towns where there was a great advantage in compounding. He was perfectly willing to free the compounder from compulsion. He never could understand why the man who paid the rates in his rent was not as eligible for the franchise as the man who was under a lower rent and paid the rates directly to the collector. The man who paid his rates in his rent might be more worthy to obtain the franchise than the man who paid a lower rent, but paid directly the full rates. It might be his stupidity, which the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Osborne) attributed to the Conservative party generally, but he could never understand the difference between the one class of ratepayers and the other, so far as the claim to the franchise was concerned. The whole system of compound rating ought to receive considerable attention, 1179 and it could not be disposed of simply by a few words inserted in a clause of a Bill for the enlargement of the franchise.
§ SIR ROBERT COLLIER
said, he suffered from the same stupidity in regard to this question as that of the hon. Baronet in failing to understand the reason why a difference should be made between the two classes of householders referred to in regard to the possession of the franchise. The question, however, then was as to the wording of this clause. It appeared to him that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had overrated the difficulty of dealing with the local Acts upon this subject of rating. He was, however, inclined to think that the words of the Chancellor of the Exchequer did all that was required, and he saw no reason why they should not be adopted by the Committee.
§ MR. NEATE
said, that as they were about to take a step in the dark into household suffrage, the time was now come when the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought to give them some general idea of what a house was. In his judgment, and that of many other hon. Members, the pecuniary test was the best, but by the tactics which had been pursued on both sides of the House the majority had been precluded from expressing that opinion. He was not prepared for this measure of extensive democracy and household suffrage without some test; it would, in his opinion, be a very great mistake.
put the Question, Clause 34, page 11, line 29, leave out after "where" to end of Clause, and insert—The owner is rated at the time of the passing of this Act to the poor rate instead of the occupier in respect of a dwelling-house or other tenement situate in a parish wholly or partly in a Borough, his liability to be rated in any future poor rate shall cease, and the following enactments shall take effect with respect to rating in all Boroughs:1. After the passing of this Act no owner of any dwelling-house or other tenement situate in a parish either wholly or partly within a borough shall be rated to the poor rate instead of the occupier except as hereinafter mentioned.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he had no objection to this first proposal, having in view the words at the end of the clauses, namely—Nothing in this section contained shall affect the liability of any owner to be rated instead of the occupier, under any Act in respect of any dwelling-house wholly let out in separate apartments or lodgings.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Words added.1180
then proposed the 2nd section of the Amendment—2. The full rateable value of every dwelling-house or other separate tenement and the full rate in the pound payable by the occupier and the name of the occupier shall be entered in the rate book.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, that the words "he shall be rated as an ordinary occupier," which were in the general sections of the Bill, were not used in the present clause. It seemed to him desirable that the same words should be used throughout.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he wished to ask why was he put into the other clause? If the words had no meaning they should be excluded.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, that in the two sections of the clause the full rateable value was to be put on the dwelling. That was exactly the same rate that would be paid by an ordinary occupier.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Words added.
then proposed the 3rd section—With the joint consent of the owner and occupier given in the form marked in the Schedule hereto, the overseers or other authority empowered by law to make the poor rate shall rate the owner instead of the occupier, and may compound with the owner for the rates, in conformity with the provisions of any statute for rating the owners instead of the occupiers in force in the parish at the time of the passing of this Act, or in conformity with the provisions of the Act of the Session of the thirteenth and fourteenth years of the reign of Her present Majesty, intituled 'An Act for the better assessing and collecting the Poor Rates and Highway Rates in respect of Small Tenements,' where the same shall have already been or may hereafter be adopted by the vestry; but no occupier of any dwelling-house or other tenement the owner of which is rated with the consent of such occupier as aforesaid shall be entitled to be registered as a voter for any Borough.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he had given notice to move its rejection, and to substitute for it a provision which would enact that, if the occupier of a house let for a shorter term than one year should omit to pay any rates due, the owner should after two months become liable for them. It was evident that some provision of the kind was needed. The whole thing was in a transition state, and it would be necessary to do something to enable the guardians of parishes properly to administer their 1181 affairs now that their former arrangements were so much interfered with. It had been stated that the 3rd section of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Amendment had been placed on the Paper because the Government had presumed the Motion made by the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) was approved by the Opposition. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Pontefract, however, was regarded by all with whom he had communicated on the subject with perfect horror, as infinitely worse than the original provisions of the Bill with regard to the compound-householder. The question now, however, was what could be done to meet the new difficulty that presented itself. The moment they went below a yearly tenancy, and the periods of rating and rental were not coincident, the difficulty would begin. When the owner chose to let his property from week to week the occupier could no longer be regarded as permanently available to the collector of the rates for the proper discharge of the liability, and therefore the owner ought to be responsible for the rates. This question was quite independent of that of composition, and he did not think that the proposal which he wished to make would have any effect upon the franchise. At all events, there was no reason why a person who had got sufficient time to pay his rates, and from whom the rates had been duly demanded, should have a vote. The section violated every principle for which that side of the House had been contending, and would satisfy no principle for which hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side had been contending. There was only one redeeming provision with respect to composition, and that was, that neither the owner nor the occupier had anything to do with it, the authorities alone having the power of determining the composition. The proposed clause would allow the ratepayer to decide whether the composition should be paid. While he did not support the principle of composition or accept the proposal that it should be abolished, he wished to point out one important point, and that was, How were the rates to be collected? That in the metropolis was a grave question. As regarded the letting of houses by the year, there ought to be no difficulty at all, for the tenant was supposed to be a responsible person, and he did not see why the owner should incur any obligation as to the payment of rates. But below a yearly tenancy a difficulty would arise, for the 1182 periods might not be coincident with the periods of rating. In that case the owner ought to be responsible. Again, if the owner let his house in separate apartments, there was no tenant co-extensive with the liability of the house, and the landlord ought to be liable. He submitted to the Chancellor of the Exchequer the propriety of adopting the provisoes of which he had given notice. These provisions would relieve the metropolitan and other large boroughs of a great difficulty in the collection of rates. He considered the principle of the Chancellor of the Exchequer unsatisfactory, because it revived the principle of composition, which must either be retained as a whole or abolished altogether.
§ MR. HODGKINSON
said, he thought the Committee must be nauseated with the compound-householder. There were good reasons why this third provision should not be retained in the clause. In the first place, instead of abolishing the compound-householder, it would continue him in a more objectionable form. In the next place, it would cause considerable pecuniary loss to the parishes. It would enable the landlord to dictate to the tenant whether he should be rated or not. It would allow him to choose the particular class of tenants who should be admitted to the franchise. The tendency of the proposal would be to place on the register what had been called the "residuum" of voters. The landlord would naturally avoid compounding for those by whom he would be likely to lose. He would not be willing to let the better class of artizans pay their own rates. In that case the percentage he might gain would not go into his pocket. The general objection to the clause was that it would place the franchise at the disposal of the landlord, who might extend it or refuse it at his pleasure.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Though sympathizing deeply with the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) I am not prepared to carry my sympathy with him to a Quixotic point. I may therefore, without personal offence to the hon. Gentleman, say that we will not insist upon the 3rd or even the 4th section. With respect to the observations of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Tower Hamlets he has spoken upon a point that is not strictly before the Committee. But I acknowledge the justice and the force of the hon. and learned Gentleman's observa- 1183 tions, and have, to a certain extent, anticipated them by the proviso I have placed upon the Paper.
§ 3rd and 4th sections withdrawn.
§ MR. AYRTON
moved to insert the following words:—Where the dwelling-house or other tenement shall be let to an occupier for a shorter period than for a year, the owner as well as the occupier shall be rated to the poor rate in respect thereof, but the liability of the occupier to pay the rate shall not be thereby affected; and in case the occupier shall not pay the late within two months after the same shall have been demanded of him, as hereinafter provided, the owner shall pay such rate.
said, it appeared to him that his hon. and learned Friend had associated two subjects which ought to be dealt with distinctly. Still, the first part of his hon. and learned Friend's Amendment raised a point untouched by the proposal of the Government. No doubt a very broad distinction might, and for all practical purposes ought to be drawn between houses held on long and short tenures. To the man who paid his rent every quarter or half year it could be no hardship to meet the demands of the rate collector, but to the weekly tenant it was otherwise. The laying by money which was natural in the one case would be a matter of great difficulty oftentimes in the other, and consequently to the weekly tenant it was of great importance that his weekly payment should dispose of all his liability in respect to his house. The adoption of any other plan would be attended with inconvenience. The parish would have to look after tenants of a very unsatisfactory character, and there would be great difficulty in arranging the amount of the rate to be borne, on the expiration at intermediate times, by the incoming and the outgoing tenants. The imperative nature of these considerations had led to the payment of rates through the landlord to an extent, especially in boroughs, of which the House had but little idea. His hon. and learned Friend had framed his Amendment in such a manner that the tenant incurred all the liabilities which Her Majesty's Government thought ought to fall upon him in order to entitle him to the exercise of the franchise, He hoped, therefore, that the proposal would be acceded to.
said, he took rather a different view of this proposal from that taken by the right hon. Gentleman. It 1184 seemed to him that if this Amendment were not agreed to, the landlord and tenant would be left exactly in the same position as they were before the composition system began, as respected the parochial authorities. The effect of it, if passed, would be that in certain cases where the tenant took what in his part of the country was called a "moonlight flitting," and did not pay his rate, the landlord, who in all probability would lose a portion of his rent, would be called upon to pay the rate. His own feeling was that the power on the part of the parish to obtain payment of the rate from the occupier was sufficient to make it unnecessary to entertain any very great sympathy with the parish in the matter. That portion of the Amendment which stated that if the tenant were not to pay the rate within two months after the same shall have been demanded, the owner should pay the rate, would not be reasonable. The tenant, so far as the question of the franchise was concerned, would not be at liberty to pay his rates until the 20th of July, and the period at which it would come upon the landlord would be some time after the 20th of July. So that the tenant, during all that time, would have a chance of paying it. He did not want to raise any objection to the Amendment if the Committee should think it was necessary, but that part of it would require to be altered.
§ MR. DILLWYN
said, he thought it would be unfair that the owner should be made liable as well as the occupier, when the power of collecting the amount was taken away from him.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, he believed that the Amendment would revive the difficulties between owners and occupiers which had pervaded these discussions. He was not in the House when the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Newark was discussed; but when he heard of the decease of the compound-householder he had rejoiced at it, and had thought that the calamity, if calamity it was, was not one to be deplored. He had been astounded at the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets, who, if he understood him aright, had spoken in favour of the compounding system. The matter was one for arrangement between the occupier and the owner. The Committee proceeded too much on the notion that the two classes could not settle their own 1185 affairs. He believed that was a matter which the parties might be left to arrange between themselves. As long as the man paid his full rate he could not see that it made any difference whether he paid it himself or through his landlord, for, in the latter case, the landlord could only be regarded as his agent. The objection which the Government had entertained to the payment of compounded rates through the landlord was due to the fact that men would get on the register without paying the full rate, and that persons therefore paying unequal rates would be equally entitled to the franchise.
§ MR. J. STUART MILL
said, that in addition to the objection mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman, the Amendment would place the weekly tenant of a dwelling-house in a worse position than the weekly tenant of a lodging who would not have to pay any poor rate.
§ MR. CANDLISH
said, he wished to know the meaning of the words "separate apartments," in the second part of the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets, and also in the proposal of the Government. He wished to know their meaning as distinguished from lodgings, as he was apprehensive that they might operate against the enfranchisement of a class of occupiers—those occupying portions or "flats" of houses, though each "flat" had a separate door and was divided from the other portions of the dwelling—whom the House had already declared ought to be enfranchised. The words were ambiguous, and unless their meaning was explained, he should move their omission from the clause.
§ MR. THOMAS CHAMBERS
said, that the question which arose with regard to the metropolitan parishes was not the question of compound-householders, for in many districts the Small Tenements Acts were not applied at all. Under certain local Acts, however, no less than 77,749 occupiers of £10 and upwards, gross estimated rental, were rated and in an analogous position to compound-householders elsewhere. In any case where an owner was rated instead of an occupier, the owner should be made liable for the rates, provided the occupier did not pay them. That would protect the parish in the case of insolvent or dishonest occupiers, who would not pay the rates. It would also carry out the first proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that all 1186 occupiers not rated must come forward and claim to be rated, in order to acquire the franchise.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, that on the Government must rest the responsibility of reverting to the system of collecting the rates from the occupiers, which experience had proved to be impracticable, and which Parliament had admitted to be so. After the statement of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) the Committee would have to consider whether they must not strike out the words of the 3rd clause from which all this embarrassment arose. How could the Government insist on the personal payment of rates, and then when they came to the consequences disclaim all that they had said before?
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, that there had not been any inconsistency on the part of the Government. They had objected to the occupier paying the composition rate because that would have left the present system in full operation, and he would not really have been a ratepayer at all. But there had been no controversy as to the fact that a person paying the full rate by other hands than his own to all intents and purposes paid it himself.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ MR. AYRTON
moved to insert—Where the dwelling-house or tenement shall be wholly let out in separate apartments or lodgings, the owner of such dwelling-house or tenement shall be rated in respect thereof to the poor rate.
§ MR. CANDLISH
said, he would repeat his question, and inquire the meaning of the words "separate apartments." He would urge the propriety of providing for the occupants of "flats," of which there were many in Northern boroughs.
said, he wished to ask whether the Government intended to withdraw their proviso, that existing compositions should remain unaffected for a period of twelve months.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, that proviso was intended to keep alive anything existing under the present Acts of Parliament, whereas the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets proposed to enact something new with respect to houses let out in separate apartments or lodgings. His Amendment standing first, the Government were quite willing to accept it, it having much the same meaning as what they proposed. With regard to "flats" this depended mainly on the definition of a house. Where they were separately 1187 rated they would be treated as separate tenements.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, that it would be well to wait for the interpretation clause which the Attorney General had promised to prepare. The interpretation clause, which was to define what a house was, should also define what was meant by a separate apartment.
said he wished to know who would be rated in the case of a man owning a house but living altogether away from it, not even keeping a servant there, and letting the ground floor to A and the first floor to B. Would the owner be rated, or either, or both of the tenants A and B?
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, the discussion that had arisen upon this subject showed the prudence of postponing the endeavour to define the meaning of the words "dwelling or dwelling-house" until they came to the interpretation clauses. When the question as to the definition of a separate apartment came to be considered it would be entirely under the control of the Committee.
said, that as the clause depended entirely upon the meaning which was to be attached to those words, it would be inconvenient to postpone defining their meaning.
As I understand the difficulty of the hon. Member for Sunderland, it is this. By this clause the owner—meaning the person who is actually the owner, or may be a kind of middleman who lets a house in apartments to a party of lodgers—is to be rated, and those who hold the apartments as lodgers are not to be rated, and that none of those lodgers will get a vote under this Bill. It may be that a person who does not live in the house may be rated and have a vote, while all the occupiers are excluded from the vote.
§ MR. CRAUFURD
said, he thought that the effect of the words now under consideration would be to disfranchise every barrister in Lincoln's Inn.
§ MR. DENMAN
said, he would suggest the insertion of the words, "such apartments or lodgings not being a house or dwelling-house such as are hereinafter defined."
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, that 1188 as the clause stood the landlord would get the benefit of the composition rate, whereas under the Amendment he would not. The Government proposal was based on what they found in local Acts, with regard to which there had been decisions of the Courts of Law.
said, he thought that, after all, it might be as well to postpone the decision of the Committee upon this subject until they came to discuss the interpretation clauses.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he declined to accept any responsibility for having selected the words in his Amendment which he had taken bodily out of one of the Government Amendments. If the clause were adopted as it stood, it would revive the system of composition, and among one class only.
§ MR. SERJEANT GASELEE
said, that the words used by the Government were perfectly correct. They were settling a Reform Bill, and not the differences of parishes and vestries. He would suggest that both clauses should be omitted.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he would suggest as a mode of removing the difficulty that the words of the hon. and learned Member should be adopted with the following variation:—"Apartments or lodgings nut separately rated."
§ Amendment withdrawn; then another Amendment containing the alteration proposed, put and agreed to.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
moved the following Provisoes:—
- (1.) "That nothing in this Act contained shall affect any composition existing at the time of the passing of this Act, so, nevertheless, that no such composition shall remain in force beyond the period of twelve months from the time of passing of this Act.
- (2.) "That nothing herein contained shall affect any rate made previously to the passing of this Act, or any such existing composition entered into as last aforesaid, and the powers conferred by any subsisting Act, for the purpose of collecting and recovering a poor rate, shall remain and continue in force for the collection and recovery of any such rate or composition.
- (3.) "That where the occupier, under a tenancy subsisting at the time of the passing of this Act, of any dwelling-house or other tenement which has been let to him free from rates is rated, and has paid rates in pursuance of this Act, he may
1189 deduct from any rent due or accruing due from him in respect of the said dwelling-house or other tenement, any amount paid by him on account of the rates to which he may be rendered liable by this Act."
§ On Question, "That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill,"
§ MR. SERJEANT GASELEE
said, that it was quite impossible to know what was going on. He had not heard a word of the last two or three speeches.
§ SIR RAINALD KNIGHTLEY
said, that for some time past there had been confidential communications passing across the table. Those hon. Members who sat below the gangway heard nothing of what had passed. He moved that the whole clause be now read by the Chairman.
§ LORD HENRY THYNNE
said, he must remind the Chairman that it had been moved that the clause should be read. No one sitting below the gangway had heard for some time what was going on.
said, he begged to point out to the Committee that the Motion that the clause be read from the Chair was not a Motion which could be recognised in a Committee of that House, nor one that could be put from the Chair. Nevertheless, if the Committee thought that it was for their convenience that the clause, as amended, should be read, he was perfectly ready to read it.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, that if it was the general wish it might be reasonable that the clause should be read.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he thought that they should not be too severe in the application of their rules. If any Member was not cognizant of the details of the clause the Committee would no doubt be obliged if the Chairman would read it.
§ Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 35 (First Registration of Occupiers).
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that in consequence of the course that had been taken it had become necessary to re-construct Clause 35. He 1190 had mentioned a few minutes ago that he should move to report Progress at this stage. But the Committee seemed indisposed to adopt that suggestion, and it would therefore probably be better to go on. He would read the clause as it had been altered:—Where any occupier of a dwelling-house or other tenement (for which the owner at the time of the passing of this Act is rated or is liable to be rated) would be entitled to be registered as occupier in pursuance of this Act at the first registration of Parliamentary voters to be made after the passing of this Act, if he had been rated to the poor rate for the whole of the required period, such occupier shall, notwithstanding he may not have been rated prior to the twenty-ninth day of September one thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven, as an ordinary occupier, be entitled to be registered subject to the following conditions:—
- (1.) "That he has been duly rated as an ordinary occupier to all poor rates in respect of the premises, after the liability of the owner to be rated to the poor rate has ceased under the provisions of this Act.
- (2.) "That he has before the twentieth day of July one thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight, paid all poor rates which have become payable from him as an ordinary occupier in respect of premises up to the preceding fifth day of January, together with all arrears of poor rates, if any, due from the owner before his liability to be rated ceased as hereinbefore mentioned."
put the Question that after the words "dwelling house" in the original clause the words "or other tenement" be inserted.
§ SIR FRANCIS GOLDSMID
said, he thought that some explanation should be given of the reason for inserting these words.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, he wished to ask for a fuller explanation of the clause. Was he to understand that a new voter in the first batch was to be admitted upon paying one quarter's rate only? If a compound-householder ceased to become a compounder on the 1st October, and paid rates up to the 5th January, would he become entitled to vote under this Bill?
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
But what rates would he have to pay before he could be registered in July, 1868.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, his noble Friend had rightly interpreted the effect of the clause. The 1191 rates were to be paid up to the 5th January.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he wished to ask, whether the clause was so framed as to make it possible to have a first registration before 1868, in the event of the Bill not passing in time to admit a registration at the ordinary period.
said, he thought it without precedent that a clause should be brought up without notice. He did not think it possible to have a clause better drawn for its purpose; but as it was brought up without notice, and determined a point of importance on which the Committee had never entered yet—namely, whether it was desirable to have the first registration under the Bill in July, 1868, or whether, as he believed was done under the Reform Act, there should be a special registration for the purpose—he suggested that further time should be allowed for its consideration.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, it was not his wish to proceed further to-night; he went on simply in deference to the wishes of several hon. Gentlemen.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, there was another point connected with what the right hon. Gentleman opposite had said, which would have to be very carefully considered; and that was, whether the time which was allowed at present between the 20th of July and the end of July was at all sufficient for a proper registration. If anybody expected that the Bill would pass in time to permit a registration on the 20th of July next, he must be sanguine, indeed.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, he would urge that the consideration of the clause should be postponed. He had received representations from the Clerks of the Peace Association, stating that in consequence of the additional number of voters, the existing staff would be totally insufficient.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow at Two of the clock.