§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 35 (First Registration of Occupiers).1201
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
moved in line 40, after "dwelling-house," to leave out to the end of the Clause and insert—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 an 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.
§ SIR FRANCIS GOLDSMID
said, it would be necessary to make an alteration in the words proposed to be added to the clause in order to make the language consistent with what appeared in the other clauses of the Bill. He moved to strike out the words "first registration of Parliamentary voters to be made after the passing of this Act," and insert, "first registration of Parliamentary voters to be made in 1863." The registration for the present year would have commenced before the Bill was passed.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, it was unnecessary to make the change proposed by the hon. Baronet. The words it was proposed should follow the original Amendment before the Committee, enacted that all the poor rates should be paid before the 20th of July, 1868. Therefore, the registration referred to did not apply to the registration of 1867.
§ Amendment proposed by Sir Francis GOLDSMID withdrawn.
§ Original Amendment agreed to.
§ Then the following conditions were added:—
- "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 the 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."
§ MR. DENMAN
said, the Committee ought not to be too hasty in inserting dates at that stage of the Bill, because the Committee might adopt the suggestion made the previous night in the course of the debate—that there should be a special 1202 registration for the purpose of bringing the Bill into immediate operation. If they inserted the proposed date it would prevent the Bill from coming into operation until the end of 1868. It might be very inconvenient for Parliament to go on legislating next Session with its death warrant actually signed. He therefore hoped the Government would consent to the postponement of the date of the Act coming into operation.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he hoped the Committee would pause before they acceded to that suggestion. If the House chose to pass a registration Bill they could do so; but the present Bill ought to be complete in itself. The Bill of 1832 contained no precedent for the course now suggested.
§ MR. DENMAN
said, the right hon. Gentleman seemed to misunderstand him. He did not wish to pass an incomplete Bill, but to leave the date open till the Bill was fully considered, and then insert it.
§ MR. ACLAND
said, he thought the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer reasonable. If it were thought necessary to provide for the contingencies of an early dissolution, this might be done by a separate Act.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, it appeared to him that the suggestion thrown out by his hon. and learned Friend was in no way inconsistent with the completeness of the measure. He simply proposed that the date should be left open till the Bill approached completion. The Committee would then be in a better position to fix the time when the Bill should come into operation, so as to promote an early election should it become necessary.
§ MR. MONK
said, he wished to call attention to the position in which the tenant would be placed by being called on to pay all rates in arrear. The arrears of the poor's rate, which might in some cases be considerable, ought to be made a personal charge on the landlord, and the tenant ought not to be saddled with their payment, although he might deduct them from his rent.
said, he was anxious to support what had been said by his hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). The words "which shall have been demanded" should be inserted after the words "poor rates which shall have become payable." This would bring the proviso into exact concurrence with the 3rd clause. This was a point, however 1203 of secondary importance. The other point relating to the question of dissolution was an important point. What he would suggest was, that they should leave out the words "20th day of July, 1868," for the purpose of inserting "the day appointed by this Act in that behalf." The Committee was not now in a condition to judge at what period this Act ought to come into operation. The practical effect of now fixing the 20th day of July, 1868, would be that the Act would not come into operation until the month of December, 1868, or January, 1869. At the time of the Reform Act it was justly and reasonably felt that there were several measures which ought, if possible, to be so conducted through Parliament as to take effect simultaneously, and likewise that the first election under that Act should come as soon as possible after the whole of these measures had been passed. Those measures were the English Reform Act, the Scotch Reform Act, the Irish Reform Act, and the Boundary Act. What happened at the time of the English Reform Act? The Act was passed on the 7th of June; the Boundary Act on the 11th of July; the Scotch Act on the 17th of July; and the Irish Act on the 7th of August. There might be other measures relating to bribery and the expenses of elections; but these stood in a different category. These four Acts were passed at convenient times—more convenient, probably, than was now practicable. But those Acts having been passed within a period of two months, the proceedings of the regular registration went forward in the regular manner, the dissolution took place in December, and the reformed Parliament met at the regular time. This was not to be expected now. It was not to be expected that the next Parliament would meet at the normal period. It might be a serious question whether the present case was so analogous to the case of the Reform Bill of 1832 as to make it desirable that the coming reformed Parliament should meet at an early period. In 1832 there was every expectation of that which was ultimately accomplished—the passing of the four Acts. Yet, so careful were the authorities of that day not to fetter the Prerogatives of the Crown with regard to dissolution, that they added to the Reform Act two sections, providing for an election taking place before the passing of the Boundary Act, and before the first registration under the Reform Act. On the present occasion eighteen 1204 months must elapse before the Act could be in force. The House had effected a greater change in the borough constituency than was ever effected before. That constituency would be doubled by this Bill. The Government asked the House to disfranchise certain boroughs on the ground of corruption, and he would be slow to withhold his consent to such a proposal. But when they came to the question of the re-distribution of scats, apart from the question of corruption it might be the judgment of the House, especially after the difficulty experienced in the last Parliament with regard to the grouping of small boroughs, that some of the small boroughs should cease to return Members of Parliament. Every one would agree that it would be wrong in any way to interfere with the Prerogatives of the Crown as to dissolution on any important question which might arise. It seemed to him that the combined result of these and other considerations was, that the House was not at present in a condition to make final decision with regard to the first registration, as far as time was concerned. He must reserve to himself the right to raise any question at the close of the Committee, or on the Report, where hon. Members would be for the first time in a condition to judge what course ought to be taken with regard to preparing for the time at which this Act was to come into operation. [The CHAIRMAN: Does the right hon. Gentleman move?] Not as hostile to the Amendment; but I move that we leave out "20th July, 1868," and insert the words "the day named in this Act on that behalf."
§ MR. GOLDNEY
said, he thought that as under the Bill payment of rates was required before a man's name could be placed on the register, it was necessary that the proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer should stand. If an earlier day were named persons would be unnecessarily pressed for payment of their rates. It was impossible that the Act could be brought into operation at an earlier date. No injustice would be done to any person by the adoption of the words proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which were in strict accordance with the Registration Acts.
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire merely proposed to postpone the insertion of the date, and the Bill would not be rendered incomplete if his Amendment 1205 were adopted. Circumstances might occur which would render it desirable that the proposed date should not stand.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, that this part of the Amendment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer had reference to the mode in which persons should pay their rates under certain circumstances. The Bill followed the course of previous Reform Bills in this respect. In the Bill introduced last year by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gladstone), the date inserted was "subsequent to the 10th day of June which first happens after the passing of this Act." The insertion of the date non-proposed would not preclude the House from having an earlier dissolution, if that were thought desirable. The Government had looked forward to a certain definite period as the probable one to which the House would continue to sit. If the Bill were proceeded with in its present form it was quite open to hon. Gentlemen to bring in a Registration Bill. Payment of rates under the Reform Act and under this Bill should coincide.
said, no doubt the House might, if it saw fit, take steps for accelerating a dissolution; but this was not the question. The question had reference to the fettering of the Prerogative of the Crown. In the case of the demise of the Crown, by Constitutional usage, the business of Parliament was immediately wound up. In such a case they might be placed in a very embarrassing position if a new election were to take place, with a vast constituency declared to be entitled to the franchise, and many boroughs disabled from returning Members by an Act which at the same time had not come into operation.
§ The words "and which have been demanded in the manner in this Act provided" added to the clause.
§ MR. LIDDELL
said, he wished to call attention to the fact that the clause required not only payment of poor rates up to the 5th of January, but likewise all arrears of rates which might have been due at any time previously. This seemed to him to be likely to be converted into a gross juggle. He should like to know whether the tenant would be liable for the arrears of the landlord, or whether his 1206 liability would be affected if the landlord were to give him notice to quit. An owner might deliberately allow arrears to accrue, and if a tenant were called upon to pay them could he recoup himself out of the rent.
§ MR. MONK
said, he thought the point was one of considerable importance. It would be a great hardship if a man should be called upon to pay £2, £3, or £4, the arrears of his landlord, merely because he made a claim for a vote. It was true that the power of recouping was given him; but under certain circumstances this might be of very little use. He therefore moved the omission of all the words after the word "January," in order to prevent the occupier being liable for rates previous to that date.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, the words of the clause applied only to the Parliamentary year, which was all that the Small Tenements Act applied to. Therefore the injustice would not be so great as it had been represented.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he doubled whether the operation of the clause would be so restricted as the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he would suggest the introduction of the words "for the year immediately preceding the 1st day of July." This was one of the difficulties in which the Committee were involved through not acting upon the conclusion, accepted on both sides of the House, that the compound-householder really paid the full rate.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that passing by the remarks just made, as he know that the hon. Member had a monomania on the subject, he accepted the Amendment of the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk), as he considered the objection well founded.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ MR. POULETT SCROPE
said, perhaps that was a convenient time to move the Proviso to Clause 35, with reference to rating in boroughs, of which he had given notice.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I rise to order. I wish to know, Mr. Dodson, whether you think there is 1207 any connection between this Proviso and the clause to which it refers?
§ MR. POULETT SCROPE
said, he thought the time for the introduction of the Proviso was most appropriate.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I am anxious to give every facility to the hon. Gentleman whatever may be his opinion. The subject he wishes to bring forward is one of large interest, but we must proceed according to some rule. There is no connection between this Proviso and the 35th clause, which refers to personal registration. We cannot add a Proviso to a Clause unless it refers to some preceding matter in the clause. It seems to me to be out of order to consider the Proviso.
It is for the Committee to say whether they will go on to the consideration of this Amendment or not. The Chancellor of the Exchequer having applied to me on a point of order, whether this Proviso can be moved as an Amendment to the Clause, I am bound to say that, consistently with the rule of Committee, it can. The rule is, that any Amendment relevant to the subject-matter of the Clause can be moved. This is a clause primarily relating to registration, but it is a system of registration depending upon, and intimately connected with, rating. A Proviso with respect to rating cannot be said to be irrelevant to the subject-matter of the clause.
I suppose the right hon. Gentleman intended that the Clause might be reverted to at another time. [The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER assented.] If that be so I think we may consider whether the discussion on this Proviso ought to be proceeded with or postponed. I think it would be the lesser of two evils to proceed with it now. It may be taken as a new clause before the postponed clauses; there being a precedent for such a procedure.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he objected only because, taken in connection with the present Clause, the Proviso might be taken to apply only to the first registration, which was not the object of the hon. Member. He was not aware of the precedent quoted by the right hon. Gentleman for the course he had suggested.
said, the only precedent was that of the present Session in connection with the Mutiny Bill—a precedent which it would not be for the convenience 1208 of Committees to make permanent. It would be more convenient to deal with the Proviso as an Amendment to the 35th Clause.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
said, it appeared to him they should deal with this subject now, and conclude it before they proceeded further.
§ MR. POULETT SCROPE
said, that when the Small Tenements Act was passed he offered for adoption a principle which he believed to be a right solution of a considerable difficulty. Last night they had effected a complete revolution in the system of rating, erased altogether the system of composition, and came back to the state of things which existed before the Small Tenements Act passed. It was always difficult to determine, in the case of occupiers of houses rated at very low figures, who should be excused and who should pay. In his capacity of magistrate the most harrowing cases connected with this subject had come before him in the shape of persons pleading their poverty as an excuse for the non-payment of their rates, as well as applications for warrants by overseers to seize the furniture of those poor people. There was a class of persons just superior to that of paupers, with regard to whom it was almost impossible to expect that they would pay poor's rate. The Sturges Bourne's Act permitted Justices, with the consent of the overseers and churchwardens, to excuse persons from the payment of rates on the ground of poverty. Such excusals had a demoralizing effect, for these poor people were forced to exhibit their poverty in an exaggerated form, and this was the first step towards seeking parish relief. In 1850, he proposed that the occupiers of tenements under £4 annual value should be excused from the payment of rates. That proposal, however, did not meet the approval of Parliament. At that time the erection of cottages was much objected to, and the man who built them was looked upon as a nuisance instead of a benefactor. Under the influence of this feeling, Parliament passed the Small Tenements Act. The preamble of that measure ran thus—Whereas the collection of rates from the Occupiers of small tenements is difficult, expensive, and almost impracticable.He should have thought that the natural conclusion from such a premiss was that the class of such occupiers should be excused. If that course had been taken Parliament would have only followed the precedent 1209 of the Queen's taxes. Thus the house tax was not leviable on any tenement under £20 a year, and the income tax was remitted in the case of persons whose income was less than £100. It would be very hard indeed to reconcile those exemptions with exaction of the poor rates from persons whose rent was only a shilling or two a week. The window tax and other assessed taxes had also been limited in the same way. The difference in the mode of the treatment of the poor and the wealthy classes in this respect would be exemplified by calling attention to the way in which a very large class liable to be rated to the relief of the poor escaped payment. Ten years before the passing of the Small Tenements Act it was found that that class of property culled "stock-in-trade," consisting of the stock of wealthy shopkeepers, farmers, and manufacturers, was liable to be rated. Thereupon, Parliament passed in hot haste, and without discussion, an Act for exempting that enormous amount of property from its legal liability. That Act had been passed from year to year ever since. Was it just to exempt this property, and yet to rate the miserable cottage of the man who could only afford to pay a shilling or two of rent a week? He thought it discreditable to exempt stock-in-trade, funded property, and commercial capital, because it belonged to a class of persons whose influence was felt in this House, and yet to continue the liability of the poor cottager. The whole of the commercial capital of the country was exempt, and all he asked the Committee to do was to treat the poor man as fairly. By means of the screw the landlords of small tenements got all the rates from the tenant, and paid only a portion of it over to the parish. But now that Parliament was about to abolish the system of compounding, how was the practice of exemption to be carried out? In all the parishes in which compounding was in operation there would be a large class of small tenants from whom the rate would now be demanded. Hitherto they had apparently paid no rate—the rent had been fixed so as to include it—and, of course, a great many of those persons would ask to be excused. Unless they were excused the Act would become exceedingly unpopular. His proposal, then, was to exempt the very low class of tenements from rating altogether. By doing so, moreover, they would get rid of the difficulty of defining what a "house" was. The 1210 other day it was proposed to define a house as containing at least two rooms and a certain amount of cubic space, but that would be a very bad way to get out of the difficulty. The mode he proposed would be far better. It was said that by exempting dwellings of this description they would encourage the erection of a poor class of houses. If what was meant by that was that they would encourage the erection of a class of houses for the poor, he believed his proposal would have that effect, and that it was very desirable that it should, as the poor man would then have a greater amount of accommodation placed at his disposal. The rate upon small houses was an impediment to building, for if the landlord built he had to pay under the Small Tenements Act a tax of from 10 to 20 per cent on every house. If, on the other hand, the tax came out of the occupier's pocket, he had a worse kind of house than he might otherwise obtain, because he could not afford to pay a larger sum. It was said that it would add to the burdens of the ratepayers. That was an objection of a selfish character. The additional burden would be inconsiderable. The number of rated houses in the different boroughs his proposal would cover was about 300,000. The rate made upon them, at an average of £2 10s., would only amount to a percentage of 3½ upon the total value of the property assessed. When they took into account that of the amount assessable half was avoided by the mode in which the valuation was taken under the Small Tenements Act and other local Acts, and that of the rest a very large number was excused, it would be found that the sum actually collected at considerable risk did not exceed 2 per cent. That was a small amount of sacrifice for the ratepayers to make in return for the great boon that would be extended to their poorer neighbours. If the number of those driven to pauperism under the present system were taken into account, the burden on the ratepayers would be found to be still lighter. With regard to the effect of his proposal upon the franchise he had little to say. It must be obvious that according to the principle of the Bill those who were exempted from rating must be excluded from voting. The result of his Amendment would be that a class of unskilled labourers — numbered at about 240,000—persons generally deemed unfitted for the franchise, would be shut out, 1211 not by "a hard and fast line" set up for the purpose of excluding them, but by way of compensation, in freeing them from an onerous local tax, which they would be glad to accept in return for a denial of the franchise. They would thus obtain a Stopping place for the franchise which he, though an old Reformer, thought very desirable. He moved, as an addition to Clause 35—That no person, whether an owner or occupier of a dwelling-house within a Parliamentary borough, the rateable value of which shall be less than £4, be hereafter rated to the relief of the poor in respect of such dwelling-house.
§ MR. HIBBERT
said, he should oppose the Motion of the hon. Member for Stroud, and exceedingly regretted that these attempts at limitation of the franchise should continually proceed from the Liberal side of the House. This was an attempt to limit the franchise, and it proposed to interfere with the principle of local rating. He objected to the proposal on two grounds. It would lead to the creation of a class of pauper householders fulfilling none of the duties of citizenship, and therefore not placed in the position in which the House desired to place them. It was for the advantage of the country that every man should pay a poor rate. Moreover, by relieving a large class of owners and holders of property from rates, a greater onus and burden would be thrown on the ratepaying portion of the community. The hon. Member said the effect of his Motion would be to improve the homes of the poorer classes. He feared that no such result was to be looked for, and that the entire benefit would go into the pockets of the landlords. Some years hence, possibly, advantages to the tenants might accrue. But the immediate benefits would all go to the landlord. In practice, it was one of the bad results of the working of the Small Tenements Acts that it tended to the creation of a worse class of dwellings for the working classes to live in. Persons building houses with a speculative object and finding that buildings of a certain class would fall within the provisions of the Small Tenements Act took care to erect these dwellings accordingly. A gentleman who had paid great attention to the subject of the dwellings of the labouring classes — Mr. James Hole—in his Homes of the Working Classes, published under the sanction of the Society of Arts, said—One circumstance which has tended to stamp an interior character on cottage dwellings has 1212 been the temptation to cottage builders to build houses not exceeding 3s. per week in value. The landlord is able to compound for the payment of the rates, provided the gross rental does not exceed £7 4s. per year (rated at 1s. 6d. off equals £6) and as the reduction for compounding is considerable (£50 per cent) there is a direct inducement to builders of cottages to construct them of a value not exceeding £7 4s. Either this exemption should be abolished altogether or the limit fixed higher, since, owing to the greatly increased cost of building, a house at £9 is now scarcely as good as one at £6 was at the time this exemption was made. Its effect therefore is to deteriorate the quality of the houses just as the cost of building increases.If the Amendment were adopted the houses of the poor would be ten times worse. Another argument in support of this Amendment was supposed to be based on the Scotch system. But the Scotch law was merely permissive, declaring that—It shall be lawful for the parochial Board of any parish or combination to exempt from payment of the assessment, or any part thereof, to such an extent as may seem proper and reasonable, any persons, or class of persons, on the ground of inability to pay.Another Act, passed in Scotland, called the Valuation Act, took £4 as the value, enacting that—In all cases where any lands or heritages shall be separately let at a rent not amounting to £4 per annum, and the names of the occupiers thereof shall not have been inserted in the valuation roll, the proprietor of such land and heritages shall be charged with the whole of the assessments; and every such proprietor may reimburse himself from tenants, if and in so far as such assessments may by law be properly chargeable upon such tenant.In Scotland, moreover, the figure was a £4 rental, so that if it was proposed to assimilate the English system to it the Amendment should contemplate a £3 rating. But he objected to any line at all affecting boroughs. This £4 rating would be equal in effect to a £6 rental. Under the Bill of the Government, in the borough which he represented, 15,000 occupiers would be eligible to obtain the franchise. The Amendment of the hon. Member would strike off something like 15,000 of these at one blow. The Government had come forward with a liberal and most generous offer of household suffrage, and it was not the part of Liberal Members to weaken the effect of that proposal. The single condition of payment of rates which had been insisted on would remove the very class that the hon. Gentleman so much wished to keep off the register. As to the apprehensions excited about the relief of persons from 1213 the rates, thousands of persons were constantly relieved under the present system and nothing was ever heard about them. He trusted the Government would not accede to the proposal.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE
If the desire of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down could be carried into effect, and every person in these boroughs could be rated and have a vote, there would be some standing ground for the argument which he set up. But the actual state of the case is different. As a matter of fact, a very large number of persons must always be excused from paying their rates. You can no more get rates out of them than you can water out of a flint. The question we have to look in the face is this—how is the process of excusing persons from rates to be carried out? One of the great points that induced the House to come down to household suffrage was the hope of—to use a popular phrase — finding bottom; something to stand upon; something that everybody knew and could recognise. But in truth the bottom that you stand on at present—that, at least, you profess to have found—is as uncertain and shifting as a sandbank. The suffrage now depends upon the goodwill and pleasure of the overseer. [Cries of "Hear!" and "No!"] The person at present charged with the duty of deciding whether a person is or is not to be excused from the suffrage is the overseer. No doubt there is an appeal. But in the first instance the duty lies with him. The question you have to decide is, whether you think it more desirable that Parliament should fix a point at which excusal of rates shall commence, or whether that point shall be fixed in each individual borough according to the will and pleasure of the local authority. The hon. Gentleman cites his own recent experience as a proof that excusal of rates could be carried out without difficulty wherever required, and that no danger on that point need be apprehended. But he has never had any experience of what will happen if rates are excused in a borough where a large number of those excused would otherwise have had the suffrage. The excusal of rates on the part of the overseer or local authority will henceforth become a great political act. It will alter the condition of the register. It will affect the balance of parties. It will decide whether the Liberal or Conservative candidates—or whatever else may be the names of the parties then—shall be returned. This crucial Act—this power 1214 which will decide the character of your House of Commons, which will give a tone to your legislation, you are proposing to leave to the exclusive discretion of the local authority. This is not a proposal for the restriction of the suffrage. It simply proposes—by putting the franchise on a plain and straightforward footing — that Parliament shall decide what is the point at which the excusal of rates shall commence. Another point we are bound to take into consideration is this. A considerable number of these householders are—to borrow a phrase already used in these debates—trembling on the verge between pauperism and independence. When the question comes of paying these rates, do you imagine that those men who can pay their rates this year, but who may not be able to pay them next year, will not be the first of those on the register to accept the aid of anybody who will pay their rates for them? Are you not, by forcing these men on the rates, really creating a vast market for corruption, and laying bare an enormous field for the operation of registration societies and electioneering agents? I should have been better pleased if the proposal had assumed a form in which it was impossible to cast in the teeth of its mover that it had a disfranchising operation. I should have preferred if he had fixed the limit £1 higher, and accepted the Amendment of the hon. Member for Finsbury, so that every one who chooses to pay his rates should have a vote. But there should be no room for the discretion, or, perhaps, the capricious and sometimes corrupt action of local authorities to decide who should or who should not come on the register. I cannot understand the argument that the landlord will get the benefit of the remission, You are well accustomed to the remission of taxes in this House. We have often discussed who will be benefited by these remissions. I have imagined that it was one of those axioms which no one disputed in this House that the person benefited would be the consumer. What is a landlord but a tradesman in cottages? and what is the tenant but the consumer of the cottages? Do you mean to tell me that in this one case, and this one case only, you remit a tax the benefit of which will accrue to the tradesman and not to the consumer? Before you advance so startling a paradox produce something more than mere assertion. It is a departure from all the rules on which your financial policy has been 1215 based. We should not shut our eyes to the fact that the multiplication of dwellings is one of the great social wants and necessities of the day. Any measure which has the effect of removing what is at present a serious national disgrace, and may in a few years become a serious national danger, is not to be regarded with indifference by this House. I hope the House will not reject the Motion of the hon. Gentleman. If the principle is accepted, we can afterwards decide whether modifications removing every kind of disfranchising operation should be adopted or not. If you do pass the Motion, every fair judge will recognise that you are only acting in conformity with the principle on which your taxing system is adjusted. There can be no defence of a system of taxation which, when it touches all classes of the community, especially the richer class, stops short of a certain line, and when it touches the very poorest goes down to the very bottom. How can you defend the contrast between the law of income tax, the law of house tax, and the law of rating? You cut your line short at £100 for income tax, and at £20 for house tax, but in* rating you go down to the very bottom. The usual practice of this House has been, that if we did depart from our usual financial principles, it was in favour of the poor and not of the rich. But if you maintain the system which you now have before you, you will be departing from your principle in favour of the rich and against the poor.
Differing as I do from the noble Lord, I hope that the House will reject this Motion. I do it upon this ground. A question of this importance, if entertained by the House at all, ought not to be mixed up with this franchise question. It ought to be dealt with on separate and independent grounds. That is my first objection. My second objection is that the House has deliberately, after long consideration, determined to have no "hard and fast line." Therefore, I should be stultifying myself and acting a not very honest part if I were now to assent to a "hard and fast line," which would only have the effect of disfranchising a large number of persons. These grounds alone would be sufficient to induce me to vote against this Motion. But I vote against it also upon the broad ground that it is unjust. The principle of our law has always been that the poor man, the widow, and all those persons who were unable to pay their rates should be excused. You cannot say 1216 that because a person happens to live in a house 5s. above or 5s. below £4 he is able or unable to pay his rates. These matters give some little trouble, but not much. Persons whom their neighbours believe to be very poor—the poor man, the widow, and the helpless—those who live on parochial relief, used to be struck off the rates with scarcely any trouble. Now and then the overseers objected, but not often. The noble Lord seems to have a poor opinion of the local authorities; but he need have no fear that they will strike people off and lose the rates from any: political motive. My experience leads to no such conclusion. For anything wrong you must have a combination between the overseers and the justices of the division. The fact of the overseers or the vestries striking off those who do not pay does not exempt the overseer from the onus of collecting the rate. He is liable to the auditor for the amount of the rate, unless that striking off is brought to the notice of the magistrates of the division. They consent, after hearing any objection that may be made, to give validity to what has been done. Therefore, I cannot believe there is any risk of these corrupt practices. We are taking a step, and I rejoice in it, for going back to the old footing of our law. The poor and helpless may be excused. Those who are not poor and helpless may pay their proper share of the burden. That is the old and honest principle. The more it is looked at and discussed the more sound it will appear. There may be economical reasons for giving greater facilities for the collection of rates in large than in small towns. It is very tempting to the local authorities, but I believe it has introduced a good deal that is vicious in principle. I hoped that last night we had got rid of that respectable individual the compound-householder for ever. But he is cropping up again under different disguises. I hope the House will agree to the principle they have established, that they will have no "hard and fast line" of pauperism; that they will not degrade a man by calling him a pauper because he happens to live in a house below £5 or £6. Leave every man to weigh his own weight. If he is able to pay his rates, let him pay them; if not, let the proper authorities excuse him.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, it might be for; the convenience of the Committee if he explained the proviso of which he had given notice, in case that of the hon. 1217 Member for Stroud were carried—namely, that the landlord should pay half the rates on all tenements under £4. The right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) objected to draw any "hard and fast line." Were they not engaged in fixing "a hard and fast" line last night in fixing the county franchise? What were the whole of the fancy franchises but a "hard and fast line?" It was very easy to affix a nickname, but this nickname ought not to have the weight of a straw with the Committee in such a matter. His hon. Friend (Mr. Hibbert) thought it very hard that any restriction of the franchise should come from that (the Opposition) side of the House. But did any one imagine that they would have before them a Bill giving so extended a franchise as that proposed by the present measure? Were there ten men in the House, who, at the end of the last Session or at the beginning of the present, imagined that such an extended franchise as that in the Bill before them would be proposed. No one who took part in the debates of last year advocated the rights of man and the general enfranchisement of the people, or anything like it. The whole of the arguments of the most advanced Reformers, such as the hon. Members for Leeds and Bradford (Mr. Baines and Mr. W. E. Forster), took an entirely different direction. Every borough in the kindom had a stratum of persons scarcely removed from pauperism. No one yet had said a word in favour of enfranchising that portion of the population—the most ignorant, the most dependent, and the most venal. The proposal of the hon. Member for Stroud had been objected to as tending to encourage the erection of a miserable class of houses, and as likely to bring in a pauper class of occupiers. It had also been declared unjust to relieve the lower kind of houses from taxation, and thus to increase the burdens of other occupiers. Those objections did not apply to the proviso of which he had given notice—namely, that the landlords of houses below £4 should pay half the rates. In Ireland the owners of such houses paid the whole rate, which system worked extremely well. He should have proposed its adoption had he thought the Committee prepared to accept such an innovation. He should therefore suggest that the landlord should pay half, which would be about the same amount that he was now charged under the composition.
§ MR. HUBBARD
said, that the right 1218 hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire had so great an antipathy to "a hard and fast line," and to the Small Tenements Act, which he described as "the invention of Old Nick," that he was apt to exaggerate the faults of both. He (Mr. Hubbard) supported the proposal of the hon. Member for Stroud, on the ground of its social and economical advantages, and on the ground of its political convenience. As to the first. A house rated at £4 was rented at £5, or about 2s. a week, and that sum was the utmost which the best unskilled labourer could afford to pay. Houses of less rent were occupied by persons who could not do more than support their families, and who ought therefore to be exempt from the payment of rates. The benefit of such a remission would probably at first be pretty equally divided between the land lord and the tenant. But as time went on the law of supply and demand would result in the occupier enjoying the entire benefit. Instead of inferior houses being encouraged, 2s. a week houses would in a short time rise in value 5 or 10 per cent on account of their being exonerated from the burdens now resting upon them. It is true that there would be a temptation to erect houses of greater capacity, but of inferior quality, so as to bring their rent just below the taxing line, but the labouring classes would be materially benefited. As to a "hard and fast" line, there was al ready such a line for Imperial, and why should there not be for local taxation? The right hon. Member for Oxfordshire seemed to regret those old patriarchal times when the overseer of the parish considered the circumstances and needs of every one of the parishioners, and if his bowels of compassion were touched by the needy circumstances of any individual, he excused him from the payment of his rates. But those times had altogether gone under the system of union rating. Individual and local supervision no longer existed as they used to do. On the grounds of social and economical advantage, there fore, there was everything to favour the Amendment before the House. On the ground of political convenience it might be said that there would be some danger of restricting the franchise by agreeing to the Amendment. But it would really extend the franchise to all those who had the education and independence to vote aright. It would only exclude those who existed among the lower depths of ignorance, venality, and poverty. It was on these 1219 grounds that he supported the Amendment.
I do not know whether the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Poulett Scrope) intends to divide the House, but if he means to do so I should like to state the views I take of this matter. It is rather late to be discussing now any question connected with the borough franchise. In the year 1858, during the period between the Sessions of 1858 and 1859, I addressed large meetings in some of the large towns of Great Britain on this question of the franchise. It is an interesting fact which I commend to the consideration of hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer—so enthusiastically supported by Gentlemen opposite—is, as regards the borough franchise, precisely that which I then recommended. On looking to the 23rd clause of my Bill, I find it does exactly what the Bill of the Chancellor of the Exchequer does. I proposed to strike out the figure 10 from the borough franchise clause in the Reform Act, and that is what this Bill proposes to do. My Bill does not include warehouses, shops, counting-houses, and so forth. But as regards the occupation of dwelling-houses it is precisely what I then proposed by my Bill. At the end of the clause it provides that those excused from the payment of rates on the ground of poverty, or who had not paid their rates on the 20th of July, should not be allowed to vote. It is likely that the Chancellor of the Exchequer—willing to learn from all quarters—had this clause before him when he prepared his Bill. On another occasion, when discussing the borough franchise it might be wise to propose, I made a proposal, with the view of meeting the susceptibilities of some gentlemen who thought that I went a little too far, find said it would be satisfactory if a line were drawn in England as is drawn in Scotland as to rating, and that the franchise should be given freely to all above that line. I am ready to say now, as I said earlier in the Session, that if a proposal of that kind were made to the House, and if the House accepted it, I should consider it a satisfactory arrangement that would have given us a just and true representation of the population of all the boroughs in the kingdom. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and hon. Gentlemen opposite have thought proper to propose a different measure, founded on a different principle, 1220 which they have supported most warmly with a most powerful party combination. It would be impossible for me now to go back to restrictions which hon. Gentlemen opposite—who considered this question as a great party—evidently consider to be no longer desirable. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has proposed the extremest measure of franchise in boroughs that I ever recommended in public or in private. I think it would be most ungrateful and most unhandsome in me willingly to say anything against that proposal, or to withdraw my most cordial support from the Bill, as far as the borough franchise is concerned. This proposal of the hon. Member for Stroud is one that would restrict the franchise to some extent. I am sorry the discussion has turned upon the question on whom should the rate full, because we are not discussing a question of rating but a question of franchise. In some boroughs the adoption of the proposal of the hon. Member for Stroud would cause a considerable limitation of the franchise proposed by the Bill. I am so satisfied with the proposal in the Bill that if I had at any time the slightest preference for these restrictions I would not now raise the question, but would accept that which hon. Gentlemen opposite and a large majority of the House agree to accept. I am quite willing to admit, as I admitted before, that a certain, or rather uncertain, number of persons of the very lowest class will be admitted to the suffrage under the present Bill, to whom the franchise will be of no advantage at present. I believe that their admission to the constituent body will not greatly improve the constituent body. That is a fact which I think every Member, whatever his political opinions may be, will be willing to admit. ["No!"] But I beg hon. Gentlemen to remember that the same thing may be said of every constituency you might form. I am quite sure that amongst the present borough constituencies—in all the boroughs at least with which I am acquainted where there have been contested elections—there are a few men troublesome to both parties, and whom both parties would wish to see in any other borough. I think, however, that an extension of the franchise so wide as this Bill proposes will have an advantageous effect on the whole class of individuals included in its provisions. It will become the interest of all persons higher in social position and better informed in politics to forward all 1221 measures for instruction that will tend to elevate the lower class of constituencies created by this Bill. As the general effect of giving the franchise is rather to make men better than worse, I should be sorry to take any part at this stage of the proceedings that would lessen the largeness of enfranchisement which the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman proposes. Throughout the country the proposal for the borough enfranchisement is giving general—I might say universal — satisfaction. I bear, even, that the supporters of the right hon. Gentleman opposite have turned round with him, and see the question in a light entirely different from that in which it appeared to them last Session. I will not taunt hon. Gentlemen with the change they have undergone. It is one of the marvels of our time. It is one that will be of great advantage to them and to the country. If I might be allowed once more to give them a small bit of advice, I will do so. Look back to last Session. You will see that you did not endeavour carefully to examine the proposal of the right hon. Member for South Lancashire. If you had understood it then as well as you understand it now, and could have divested yourselves for a single night of party spirit, and of that submission to the Chancellor of the Exchequer which is such a remarkable quality amongst his followers, you would have agreed to the proposal of the late Government. ["No, no!" from the Ministerial side.] Some eminent men amongst you have said it, and I believe it to be true of most of you. If you had accepted the Bill of the late Government, what has been done now would have been done by two steps instead of one. Two steps that might have extended over twenty years. When you came to the second step, you would have found the population more intelligent and more instructed than now. I am not certain—with the Conservative sentiments which I have never concealed—that in view of the future good government of the country it might not have been better that we had taken those two steps. But following your leaders — whose object I think was to dislodge the Gentlemen now on these (the Opposition) Benches—["No, no!" from the Ministerial side]—you would not bring your own sense and intellect to consider the question, and you have been led into what I might call, but will not call, a course of party action and of faction. ["No, no!"] If hon. Gentlemen deny it, they may call it anything else they 1222 like, but they have been led into a position that is in some degree humiliating, and all will admit extraordinary. There will be other questions before the House. I hope that in the next Session, and in future Sessions, they will refuse to take a part in reference to the questions that shall be submitted to them similar to that they took last year in regard to the measure submitted to them by the right hon. Member for South Lancashire. Do not take a similar course because your leaders want to get on the Treasury Bench, and tell you that it is a holy cause in which they are engaged. Use your own intellect. Treat the questions that hereafter may be introduced by hon. Gentlemen sitting here as we have endeavoured to treat the question which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has introduced to us. When we get rid of the question of party the Bill goes through the Committee night after night with the greatest ease. When the spirit of party is taken away the scale drops from our eyes—we see the question in its true light, and there is not so much difference between the two sides of the House as may be thought. I accept most heartily the generous proposal for the extension of the borough suffrage of the Chancellor of the Exchequer supported by hon. Gentlemen opposite. It will be found hereafter that they have given a great and good thing to the country. I, who probably have given more time and labour to the question than any man in the House, thank them from my heart for the conclusion at which we have been able to arrive.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The hon. Member for Binning, ham has favoured us with one of those speeches of incoherent conciliation which he has lately bestowed very liberally on the House. It appears that a few short months ago the hon. Gentleman was in favour of a proposal similar to that put forward by the hon. Member for Stroud this afternoon. But he says that circumstances have changed during these last few months, and his opinions have changed with circumstances. The hon. Gentleman tells us that in 1853 he proposed — where he proposed it I know not; certainly not in this House—a measure of Parliamentary Reform similar to that now under the consideration of the House—as far as the borough franchise is concerned—and that it was not very well received by this side of the House. But 1853 is a long time 1223 ago. [An hon. MEMBER: 1858.] It is a long time since 1858. If the hon. Gentleman has found it necessary to change his opinions on this important subject in three months, I think he might have charitably presumed that hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House would change their opinions after ten years—if, indeed, he can prove that their opinions have been changed at all. ["Oh, oh!" from the Opposition.] Certainly, my right hon. Friend the Member for Oxfordshire, to whom, I suppose, the hon. Member principally addressed his observations, has only advocated, reiterated, and enforced in the present Session the same opinions on the borough franchise which he had before advocated in this House. Therefore, I fear that the hon. Member for Birmingham has not that privilege of originality which on all questions respecting the distribution of political power he ever arrogates to himself. The hon. Gentleman says we have changed our opinions since last year. What opinions have we changed since last year? This is a question as to the re-construction of this House. The second reading of the Bill of last year was not opposed—its principle was acknowledged. Is that the evidence of change? When you brought forward a particular plan for the re-construction of this House, we opposed it because we thought that it was imperfect in its conception, crude in its details, and uncertain in its results. At the same time, we acknowledged the necessity of Parliamentary Reform. Now that we are placed in a position in which we are called upon to enforce a policy to which we then gave our adhesion, we have brought forward a measure which is distinguished by characteristics of excellence which yours did not possess. I trust that nothing will induce the Committee to support the Motion of the hon. Member for Stroud. It is a Motion which, if adopted, will shake and disturb everything that we have settled in the preceding part of the Session. We believe—I most earnestly believe—that as far as the borough franchise is concerned—and we must remember that we are talking now of the borough franchise, and must not allow ourselves to be led away at this point to the consideration of other franchises—we have settled it on a principle which is intelligible, which is safe, which is popular, and which offers a prospect of permanence. That principle is the principle of rating. But what do you now propose? You propose that a great portion of the ratepayers 1224 of the country should be placed by our legislation in such a position that they cannot avail themselves of the political privilege conferred upon them on the condition that they should be rated and should perform the duties which devolve upon ratepayers. On what ground is it that the occupant of a dwelling rated at £4 is to be deprived of the privileges you are now bestowing upon the rest of his fellow-citizens? It is on the assumption that he is a man who in reality does not pay his rates. That is at the bottom of all the arguments we have heard. His rates are to be paid for him. He is a person so far in the position of a pauper that you cannot assume that he is a responsible person in the sphere of life in which he is placed. But the facts of the case are not so. The class who live in £4 houses pay their rates with more punctuality than the class who occupy houses which are rated at a higher figure. ["No, no!"] You say "No!" Let me call the attention of the Committee to one or two instances. Take Bury, for example. It is the first on the list. The total number of male occupiers under £4 is 1,162. Of these there are only 112 who are excused from the payment of rates. Take Cheltenham. There are 340 male occupiers under £4,296 of whom are excused from payment. But if you go to the total number of male occupiers between £6 and £10 you will find that there are in Cheltenham 1,398, and that 746 of them are excused from payment of rates. Of course, I only have a Return of the places which are not under the Small Tenements Act. But the persons rated at £4 pay their rates with more punctuality than the classes who are rated at a higher figure. Here is a most remarkable case, and one which will be particularly interesting to the hon. Member for Birmingham, because it will give him more confidence in that "residuum" to which he has so often alluded. In Rochdale, the total number of male occupiers rated under £4 is 2,043; but of these only twenty-five are excused from payment of rates.
What the right hon. Gentleman has stated is quite true; but the rates for all the workmen's houses in Rochdale are paid by the landlords.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I am extremely glad to hear it. Now, Sir, what is really the point for us? Why should the Committee, after accepting a principle upon which the borough franchise should be founded, now suddenly adopt a Motion which will shake and enfeeble that principle which the Committee have adopted by a decided majority, and in which the country places confidence? That principle will, I believe, lead to peace, security, and satisfaction. I fear that we shall be undoing much of what has been already done, and the spirit of our recent and well-considered legislation will be weakened and enfeebled if we adopt the proposal of the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Poulett Scrope).
I am extremely sorry that in the course of the interesting discussion on the Motion of my hon. Friend anything should have happened to drive us into a field which I, in common, I believe, with most Members of this House, have been most unwilling during the present Session to enter. Although we have had warm and sharp contests on the merit of this Bill, I think I can say, with strict and literal truth, that I never by word or by insinuation raised any question in regard to the consistency or inconsistency of Her Majesty's Government and of hon. Gentlemen opposite. For that I take no merit. I think it is obvious that by recalling past scenes and occurrences we should not have promoted, but impeded, the settlement of this question of Parliamentary Reform. I had hoped that we should have been permitted to pursue that course of abstention. But after listening to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman [A cry of "The Member for Birmingham!"] I have arrived at the conclusion that it is impossible to give them that kind of confirmation which they would receive from silence. The right hon. Gentleman distinctly challenges our judgment on the consistency of the course he took this year with that he took last year. With regard to the course he has taken this year—though I think with my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham that there are circumstances connected with the condition of the lowest classes of householders which would have made me glad to see an intermediate region established beyond which, for the present, votes should not extend—yet, looking at the Bill of the Government as a whole, I cannot hesitate to say that it confers a large, a liberal, and an equal enfranchisement 1226 upon large masses of my fellow-countrymen who are perfectly qualified for a wise and honest exercise of the franchise. Therefore I will not call in the aid of the microscope to determine whether, with a stricter hand in this quarter, or in that, limitations should be applied. There has been a considerable deviation from the old and accustomed cautious and progressive legislation which has distinguished Parliament in former times. But if that be a fault, it is one which I have not the least doubt the good sense of the community and the strong social influences and invaluable traditions of this country will effectually correct or keep within limits compatible with the safety and the health of the community. But the right hon. Gentleman has raised a most needless question by calling upon us to listen to his assertion that the framework of this Bill is consistent with the acts and declarations of himself and his Colleagues on different occasions. I regret the necessity under which he places me. But my regard for historical accuracy, or, at any rate, my sense of the necessity of clearly representing this matter, induces me to endeavour to refresh the right hon. Gentleman's recollection. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to say that if last year, instead of proposing a franchise limited to occupations of £7, we had proposed to extend the franchise to all householders without distinction we should have had his support. But if, during the anxious discussions of four months, the right hon. Gentleman then held the opinions which he now tells us he held, how was it that in the midst of the controversy he never even glanced at them? The other night, when my right hon. Friend the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) addressed the House, he did so amid the dead silence of the party opposite. But what was the case last year when the right hon. Gentleman spoke? His remarks were greeted with cheers from at least 200 throats, which could hardly have emitted louder tones had they been formed, not of flesh, but of brass. Why was it that neither the right hon. Gentleman nor any of his Friends told us that the fault of our proposal was, not that it was too large, but that it was too small? The right hon. Gentleman thinks he escapes these difficulties by telling us that he held last year the opinions on which he has acted this year. Instead of escaping the difficulties he increases them. If he held these opinions it was his duty to 1227 have declared them. The right hon. Gentleman says that the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) has upon all occasions propagated and defended the doctrine of household suffrage. I listened to the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman last year, and I do not recollect that the right hon. Gentleman upon any occasion, when he actively and powerfully shared in the opposition to our Bill, stated that he would be ready to withdraw that opposition if only instead of a £7 occupation franchise we would propose household suffrage. [Mr. HENLEY: I told my constituency in 1865 that I went for household suffrage.] All I can say is that I am at a loss to reconcile the right hon. Gentleman's conduct in this House with the declaration which he says he made to his constituency. The right hon. Gentleman has been challenged by me as to his conduct in this House. I made no charge against him with regard to his promises or his declarations to his constituents. What I wish to insist upon is this. If these opinions were held respecting household suffrage, as we are now told for the first time they were, by the party opposite, they ought to have proposed it as the basis of a settlement of the question of Parliamentary Reform. But is that all? Is it only the opposition to the Bill of 1866 upon which we stand? Are there not positive declarations upon this subject from influential poisons? What said the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer in discussing in 1865 the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines)? The right hon. Gentleman said—I have not changed my opinion upon the subject of what is called Parliamentary Reform. All that has occurred—all that I have observed—all the results of my reflections, lead me to this more and more—that the principle upon which the constituencies of this country should be increased is one not of radical, but I would say of lateral reform—the extension of the franchise, not its degradation. Although—I do not wish in any way to deny it—we were in the most difficult position when the Parliament of 1859 met, being anxious to assist the Crown and the Parliament, by proposing some moderate measures which men on both sides might support, we did, to a certain extent, agree to some modification of the £10 franchise—yet I confess that my present opinion is opposed, as it originally was, to any course of the kind."—[3 Hansard, clxxviii. 1701.]The right hon. Gentleman thus declared that his opinion had been—and after a short lapse from virtue in the summer of 1859, under peculiar circumstances, it had returned to be—that any modification of 1228 the £10 franchise, in the nature of a reduction of it, was inadmissible. The right hon. Gentleman says now he stands upon the principle of rating, but does not the £10 franchise? [An hon. MEMBER: No!] I see the hon. Member thinks he has a port of refuge open to him. Does not the £10 franchise stand upon the principle of rating? It stands upon the principle of rating to the same degree, certainly to no greater degree, than does the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman. What we have done now is as nearly as possible simply to reduce the £10 franchise of the Reform Bill. What we pleaded was that there should be special consideration of the case of the compound-householder. The House determined not to give that special consideration in the shape of an exceptional provision. But it has given it, and given it in the largest measure, in a measure going beyond all that I had hoped, by abolishing wholly the system of compound-householding. There are others besides the right hon. Gentleman. But who are those apostles of household suffrage that adorn the Treasury Bench? Can one be the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Lord Stanley), who, during a discussion this year upon Reform after the resignation of office by the noble Lord opposite the Member for Stamford (Viscount Cranborne), declared in his place, and received much credit from the House for the declaration, that it was impossible for the present Government, consistently with their conduct and convictions, to be parties to any proposals for Reform more popular and democratic than those introduced by the Government last year? What was the doctrine of the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for India (Sir Stafford Northcote), who this year has enlarged much upon the subject of consistency? ["Question!"] If the hon. Member who cries "Question" had made the same cry when the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was speaking, I should not have the smallest disposition to contend with him. As it is, I beg his indulgence for two minutes longer. The Secretary of State for India has entered upon this subject with that frankness and ingenuousness which becomes him. He was charged with having last year declared against the lowering of the franchise. He says—I did, and, instead of pleading guilty to inconsistency, I claim the highest credit for consistency. I decline to sit in the white sheet. 1229 This is not a Bill which lowers the franchise. We refuse to lower the franchise. We take in certain selected persons, it is true, those virtuous and almost angelic ratepayers who may happen, by their misfortune, to be under the £10 line; but this is not to be called lowering the franchise.That was the declaration made by the right hon. Baronet during the present discussions. Does this Bill lower the franchise now? What else does it do but lower the franchise from the limit fixed by the Act of 1832? The great change effected by this Bill, as has been stated by the hon. Member for Birmingham, is that it strikes £10 out of the clause of that Act, and removes altogether the pecuniary limit. It is quite true, it is within our recollection that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when seeking to re-assure the more jealous mind of the noble Lord the Member for Stamford, did himself declare in this House that Her Majesty's Government never would propose household suffrage pure and simple. Perhaps the present Bill is quite consistent with that decimation. ["Yes!"] I shall be very happy to hear the right hon. Baronet, who is so great on consistency, upon that point. All I can say is this. I do not debate whether or not it is household suffrage pure and simple. But it is a Bill that satisfies the most ardent aspirations of those who have had household suffrage pure and simple before them many years. I willingly and very gladly leave this subject, into a partial notice of which I have been provoked. I think I may say driven, by the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman. I would say a few words upon the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Poulett Scrope). I think the degree of favour with which the proposals to establish a line for the borough franchise were received in the early part of the Session may have very naturally led my hon. Friend to make the suggestion he has made. When I consider that this suggestion embraces questions of great economical interest, while it is also available for a political purpose, and further that my hon. Friend is one of the highest authorities in this House or out of it, in our generation, on the whole of this class of questions, I cannot feel surprise or regret that he should have submitted his proposal to the House. At the same time, I think my hon. Friend would do nothing to promote the adoption of his own economical views, by leading us to the issue of a division, on the proposal he has made. The right hon. Gentleman the 1230 Chancellor of the Exchequer is not quite accurate in his impression with respect to the number of persons that are likely to come upon the register at the point indicated by my hon. Friend. I ventured last night to say that none of us were aware of the extent to which the practice of the payment of rates by landlords in this country is carried. The right hon. Gentleman fell into a trap from being totally unaware of it in the case of the town to which he referred. This is a subject of so much importance, and it illustrates so well the Motion of my hon. Friend, that I will venture to place in juxtaposition with that case, another case, and to point out to the Committee the immense difference that arises, according as the rate is by voluntary arrangement paid by the landlord, or collected from the occupier. In Rochdale the whole rate is collected from the landlord. The number of persons excused is so small that they may almost be put out of view. That is because the rates are collected by the parish from the landlord. It is not the compound rate, but it is the full rate that is paid. My hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Mr. J. B. Smith) told us the other night how very well the system of the collection of rates worked in Stockport. He congratulates himself upon the great addition that will be made to his constituency if the Bill passes. Let me direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to these cases, and the contrast between the case of Stockport and that of Rochdale, both being inhabited by populations of nearly the same class. In Stockport there are 2,798 burgesses and 1,391 electors. That is to say, there are 1,407 more burgesses than electors. All these 1,407 we may take to be under the line of £10. The number which will come on the Parliamentary roll will be somewhat greater than that. What proportion does that number bear to the gross number of occupiers under £10? [Mr. J. B. SMITH: What year?] Exactly as it stands in the blue book. The Return is for 1865–6. It is curious to observe the number of male occupiers under £10. The total number of male occupiers in Stockport is 8,952. The number at and over £10 is 1,695. Therefore the number under £10 is 7,257. These the hon. Member (Mr. J. B. Smith) considers a normal example of the principle of ratepaying. The number of burgesses is only 1,400, or about one-fifth. Hon. Gentlemen cannot but be struck by the interesting contrast between this case and 1231 the case of Rochdale. This is due in the main, if not altogether, to the fact that voluntary arrangements are made in Rochdale for the payment of rates by the landlord, while in Stockport the rates are collected from the occupiers individually. In some cases my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Poulett Scrope) would disfranchise a considerable number of persons. In other cases I do not think that the number he disfranchises would be large. His plan would have considerable incidental advantages. But I am clear that my hon. Friend (Mr. Bright) arrives at a wise conclusion when he says that there is no sufficient case for disputing the plan offered by the Government, or for raising this issue at so advanced a stage of the Bill, considering bow fully the Government plan involves the attainment of most of the substantial objects for which we on this side of the House have contended.
MR. J. B. SMITH
said, that when the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) referred to the small number of burgesses in Stockport he must remember the operation of the three years' residence restriction, and how very much the burgess roll had been affected by the cotton famine. Thousands were disfranchised because they were unable to pay their rates. He was informed that in his borough, where every person paid his full rates, if this Motion were carried, one-sixth of the rates would be sacrificed. He would not stop to ask into whose pockets this money would go. But clearly the parishes could not do without these rates, and if one-sixth were struck off, somebody else must pay. In Stockport 93 per cent of the full rate was collected at an expense of 3 per cent. Such a state of things was very encouraging. One of the great advantages of paying the full rate in this way was that it became the interest of a large class of persons to see that the system was well managed. He hoped that the Committee would not assent to the Motion.
§ MR. POULETT SCROPE
said, he was aware that his Motion had been brought forward too late. If it had been proposed a month or two ago he should have obtained greater support than the Committee was now disposed to give it. Under these circumstances, he should not press the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, he would withdraw his Amendment on Mr. Scrope's 1232 Motion "that the landlord shall pay half rates on all tenements under £4." The theory of hon. Gentlemen opposite now seemed to be that the Constitution of the country could be best maintained by making its foundations to rest not on wealth, character, and education, but on poverty, venality, and ignorance. Their theory might be a sound one, but if so history had been written in vain.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clauses 36 to 43, inclusive, postponed.
§ Clause 5 (Educational Franchises for Voters in Counties and Boroughs).
§ MR. POWELL
said, he proposed to omit the words "or a male person who," in the 43rd line, as superfluous.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, it was necessary to retain these words, having regard to the Amendment proposed on a former occasion by the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill), and rejected by the House.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, that if the view of the noble Lord were correct they had already given the franchise to women under the 3rd clause. He hoped the words would be retained.
§ VISCOUNT AMBERLEY
said, that he thought the Amendment was perfectly right. If they took the clause with the rest of the Bill, they would see that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with his liberal notions, had intended to confer the franchise upon all householders, irrespective of sex.
§ MR. DENMAN
said, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would best consult his own interest by omitting the words "male person." He voted for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. Stuart Mill), but still believed that the Bill as it stood gave the female suffrage. There was nothing in the Bill to prevent the operation of the 13 & 14 Vict.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he did not rise to express an opinion upon the female suffrage—though that was a question upon which he might express an opinion without being accused of changing his views. He thought that the words "male person" were entirely unnecessary, as they were covered by the preceding nominative. With regard to the point to which the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Denman) had referred, an hon. and learned Friend of his had wished to to combat it, but owing to professional 1233 engagements he had never been able to be present in the House when the matter arose.
§ The words "male person who," struck out.
§ MR. POWELL
said, he had had communication to-day with a gentleman who was intimately acquainted with what were called "middle-class examinations," and who held that such a designation was not satisfactory. In that opinion he entirely agreed. He therefore proposed to omit from page 3, line 1, the words "senior middle-class examinations or" and to insert instead the words "local examinations for senior students not members of the Universities held by." He thought that the wishes of the Government to enfranchise such candidates would be met by the Amendment he proposed.
said, that in the borough which he represented great interest was felt in the substitution of the word "local" for "middle-class," which latter term was held to be objectionable. His (Mr. White's) constituents objected to the term "middle-class" and wished for the words "local examination," as used by the delegates of Oxford and the syndics of Cambridge. Brighton was full of educational establishments, and the heads of those establishments objected to the words "middle-class" as applied to their pupils. He had therefore put an Amendment on the Paper. As the proposal of the hon. Gentleman was more full and precise, he begged to withdraw his own Amendment in favour of that of the hon. Member.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
said, that the hon. and learned Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer) was about to take the opinion of the Committee on the whole clause. Many hon. Gentlemen thought it desirable to give votes to members of the bar, attorneys, medical men, and others who had a recognised position, which could be ascertained on referring to the registers of the bodies to which they belonged. All those who were of that opinion, however, would not say that travelling Masters or Bachelors of Arts from the Universities should be permitted to go about the country, examine persons, and give them the right to vote. It was a totally new thing in our Constitution to delegate the power of conferring a vote upon somebody of whom the House knew nothing, and upon conditions of which they were equally ignorant. Was there a Member of the House who knew 1234 the requirements of a senior or middle-class examination, whichever it might be called? Were they to allow members of Universities to go around the country, examine boys at private schools, and give them a certificate conferring a vote for the rest of their lives? Such a proposal seemed to him so unlike any hitherto made on Constitutional grounds, that if the Committee would support him, he would take a division on the subject.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, that the right hon. Gentleman was not the first who had taken exception to the proposal for giving the franchise to those who passed these local examinations. He thought the notion so undesirable that he had already protested against this particular franchise, at the risk of being a little irregular, on the second reading of the Bill. It was true that at one time he had advocated some fancy franchise, but it was in view of the old restricted suffrage, and as supplementary to it—now everything was changed. They had already travelled a good deal beyond household suffrage, for they had a lodger suffrage too. If this provision passed likewise they would be nine-tenths on the way to manhood suffrage. They had taken some securities in the case of the householder and the lodger. The householder must pay his rates, and both householder and lodger must have resided for a certain time. But what security had they with respect to the description of voter whom it was proposed by this clause to enfranchise? That person need not pay either rates nor rent. He might be the most noted frequenter of the neighbouring police-court. But, having once obtained a certificate he had a vote for life, and for any part of England, provided he was not in a prison or a lunatic asylum. He might live in Middlesex till he had made it too hot to hold him and then move on to Yorkshire; but wherever he pleased to dwell the noble savage went forth with the brand of the voter upon his forehead. This, forsooth, was called a Conservative safeguard. A little judicious cramming under a judicious crammer, three months training, and three days answering questions, would enfranchise the middle-class examination voters in every borough and every county, irrespective of any local attachment or any properly qualification. He opposed this particular proposition as injurious to the whole body politic, but he also opposed it in particular, as dangerous and degrading 1235 to the Universities, and to their own legitimate constituencies. Nothing would bring the Universities so low, or imperil so much their legitimate privileges of voting in their own constituencies and of returning their own distinctive Members, as making use of them as catspaws for so mischievous an extension of the franchise, as giving votes all over England to those examiners.
§ MR. ACLAND
said, that he would oppose this clause altogether. He had seen with perfect astonishment the Government introduce it, but he supposed it had been done to give satisfaction to somebody. There was no such thing as "middle-class" examinations. Though there were various names for the same thing, that name had never been accepted. Unless they were prepared to go into the question raised by the hon. Member for Hull (Mr. Clay) last year, and constitute an educational franchise generally, it would be preposterous to give to boys for life who had just left school and were without local connection the right of voting.
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, that whereas a man might become a barrister by eating so many dinners and keeping so many terms, certificates at local examinations could only be obtained by satisfying examiners who were among the most distinguished scholars and leading men at the Universities. The examinations were conducted with the utmost fairness. They were no more likely to be tampered with than the regular University examinations. The hon. Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Beresford Hope), who had spoken of the noble savage bearing the brand of enfranchisement, should remember that he himself as a voter for his University bore the same brand. This clause would enfranchise many young men of intelligence who would not easily gain a vote in any other way. He would therefore entreat the Chancellor of the Exchequer to adhere to it. The right hon. Gentleman was winning more and more the hearty gratitude of the Radicals. He began to perceive more plainly every day that proposals of disfranchisement came from that (the Opposition) side of the House. They would be carried were it not for the courage of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who had managed this Bill with a manliness which had won him his lasting gratitude.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he found himself in this position, that the details of the clause, to which he was opposed 1236 altogether, were now being criticized. It seemed to him that no part of the clause deserved the support of the Committee. He had given notice of proposing its rejection altogether. The reasons which influenced him in taking that course would, he thought, considering the altered circumstances of the case, have some weight with the Government, These fancy franchises were first introduced into the Bill proposed by Lord Aberdeen in 1854. But that Bill did not propose, as did the present, to grant household suffrage, qualified only by rating, and to superadd the enfranchisement of lodgers. It was therefore natural that some supplementary franchises should at that time be thought of. Again, the Bill of 1859 did not propose to loner the borough franchise. Fancy franchises were naturally introduced into those measures as supplementing a limited degree of enfranchisement, and they naturally found a place in this Bill as originally framed, since it contained the dual vote and did not include lodgers. The objects, however, which they were designed to answer were now clearly at an end, for they would enfranchise very few persons who would not be qualified either as householders or lodgers. Now they had got rid of the dual vote and established a lodger franchise the motives for this franchise no longer existed. It was therefore very undesirable to introduce a new point of departure from the general principles of the Bill. If the Government attached so great a value to a rating franchise, why divorce from that one public duty, which they had been setting up for the purpose of the franchise, one privileged and exceptional class? But they also gave up the principle of the real local connection, the principle on which the borough and county franchise had hitherto rested, and on which it would rest if these classes were omitted. For what conceivable reason on earth should a man have a vote for a county because he happened to be an attorney or a barrister? There was no principle whatever in the proposal, but there might be considerable future danger. What was the principle of selection? Were they educational franchises, official franchises, or what were they? If these franchises were educational they would be logically bound to extend them, so as ultimately to enfranchise every man well educated for his station. The development of this principle would lead to manhood suffrage in embryo, because he hoped the time was not far distant 1237 when every person in the kingdom would be able to read, write, and cipher, the qualifications proposed last year by the Bill of the hon. Member for Hull (Mr. Clay). If the principle were let in at all, it would lead to every man well educated for his station having a vote, and the seed once sown would certainly in time bear fruit. Why privileged professions should give a vote he could not understand. Their position in society would make them either householders or lodgers. Why should the House give them, over and above that, political superiority over their fellow-countrymen? If it was to be put upon superiority of intellect or established character, why should it not be given also, as one hon. Member suggested, to the officers of the army, navy, and Volunteers? Why not, as he would say, to artists, to authors, or to members of learned societies, to civil engineers? Why not put barrister's clerks, as well as banisters, on the electoral roll? Why not put on law stationers, and the members of many of the more intellectual trades — opticians, mathematical instrument makers, booksellers, and the like? He need not go through the catalogue. It was plain that if they were in this way to put certain classes on to the electoral roll, on the ground of their personal qualifications, they would not be able long to shut the door against others who might think themselves equally qualified. Then look at the way in which this was to be done. Every instance showed that they were stumbling among rocks without knowing what they were about. It was proposed to give a vote to the graduates and Masters of Arts in all the Universities in the kingdom. He did not know how his right hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Cardwell), or his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Powell), would like that. Did not the House see that they would thus swamp the constituencies in these towns by the resident graduates of the Universities? And why should they? They had each their own separate representation, and they were very well represented. The Scotch Universities, if the Scotch Reform Bill passed, would also have their own Members. So, under this Bill, would the University of London. What conceivable reason could there be for conferring a dual vote on the graduates of the Universities? They would, in giving votes to those who passed the Oxford and Cambridge local examinations, do even 1238 worse than this. They would nits up the good and useful endeavours in which the Universities were engaged for the extension of education with the means of manufacturing votes, depreciating the value of the good they were doing by mixing it up with that for which it was never intended. He came to another point. The vote was to be conferred on ministers of religion. By this clause priests and deacons of the Church of England were elevated on a pedestal not only above other electors, but above all other ministers of religion. It was proposed that all priests and deacons might vote in any county or borough where they were resident. One hon. Gentleman proposed that the same privilege should be extended to Roman Catholic priests and deacons. But the ministers of other denominations were only allowed to vote if they had a spiritual charge, and, in their case, it was limited to one assistant with the principal minister. The clause thus contained a graduated scale of partiality in favour of the clergy of the Church of England, who were to be admitted on better and easier terms than the ministers of other persuasions. He thought he had said enough about serjeants-at-law or barristers. He could not see why they should be treated better than others. Then it was proposed to admit medical practitioners and certificated school masters. Why should the Committee of Council be converted into a machinery for the creation of voters instead of attending to the proper business of extending education? Why, as one Notice on the Paper inquired, should medical practitioners vote, and pharmaceutical chemists not vote? He would not now go into the next clause. They had already practically admitted all these classes. He thought he had given good and sound reasons why the whole of this clause should be omitted, and he would conclude with this one word. They were not providing for a want. By the household franchise and the lodger franchise they had opened the suffrage to all who desired to have a vote, but by introducing this new principle they would unsettle the settlement, and open a new door to agitation.
§ MR. J. GOLDSMID
said, that as household suffrage had been conferred on every household, and the lodger franchise on every lodger, this clause was wholly needless, and more, it was pernicious in character. Why should he, a barrister, be 1239 admitted to have a vote in the county of Lancashire, whilst a veterinary surgeon, who passed an examination that neither he nor many others would have passed, was refused the vote. The clause had been drawn most crudely. He was in favour of household suffrage, but not of any suffrage which did not rest on a sound principle, whether that of personal rating or any other. Why should an ordained priest or deacon be enfranchised for the City of London? What interest had he in the City of London? Again, they knew that every gentleman who passed a degree of M.A. was qualified to vote in his own University. He (Mr. Goldsmid) was qualified to vote in the University of London, but why should he have a second vote. The proposal conferred duality of voting on education.
said, that the more he thought and the move he heard of this clause the more he was of opinion that its disadvantages exceeded its advantages. Any possible gain that might accrue to a few persons would be far overbalanced by the inconveniences arising out of the introduction of a new principle into the constitution. If this clause passed, it would not shut the door against the claims of those who fell short of the line drawn, and it would thus lay the ground for future agitation. His great object in supporting the Bill was to take away the trade of parties who lived on agitation—to cut the ground from under their feet, and to prevent them from going on. But if they admitted these personal qualifications they would give a handle for agitators to take up on some future day. The great advantage of this Bill, which it was now sure would be passed, would be to stop agitation. But if this principle were agreed to, he feared it would prove a kind of seed which would grow rapidly and develop itself to an extent which they could at present hardly conceive. He would therefore be unable to support the clause, and he would be very glad if the Government did not press it.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
The Committee will remember that when this clause was introduced the lodger franchise did not form a portion of the Bill. By its introduction much of the ground that we originally intended to cover has naturally been included. What we have before us is part of the original Bill. The Government, therefore, will not trouble the Committee to give any expression 1240 of opinion upon this particular clause.
§ MR. WYLD
said, that every liberal proposal of the Government was opposed from his (the Opposition) side of the House. Whatever might be the fate of this clause he honoured the right hon. Gentleman for having been the first to recognise the principle that intellect and education were superior to the mere ability to pay for a lodging.
§ Clause negatived.
§ Clause 6 (Pecuniary Franchises for Voters in Counties and Boroughs).
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, the same objections applied to this clause. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed also to omit it.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I think this clause depends on entirely different principles from the former. The savings batiks' clause has often been under the consideration of Parliament, and is a clause so venerable, that we ought not to deal with it cursorily. It is a clause which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire has always sanctioned, and it has been included, I believe, in every Reform Bill for some years past. The same observation applies to the deposit of £50 in the funds. It also has been under the consideration of Parliament. With regard to the qualification conferred by the payment of direct taxation, I should suggest a modification of that clause, resting the qualification solely on the payment of income tax.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, he moved that the clause be struck out. After what had fallen from the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), he thought they were entitled to consider that this clause involved the same principle, and ought to share the same fate with the last. It was manifest that this enfranchisement depending on the possession of personal property was a departure from the principles they had laid down, and would tend at no remote period to disturb the settlement. How arbitrary also was the selection of this description of property. The first was the possession of £50 in the savings bank. It was true that this was proposed in the Bill of last year. But the Bill of last year did not give household suffrage. The House had now done that which made it quite unnecessary that they 1241 should go on with lateral franchises. These, when first proposed, were only intended to answer a supplementary purpose. When he had proposed to give a vote to persons having a shop in a borough it was refused, though it might contain much more than £50. The shopkeeper was excluded unless he also had a house. The possession of £50 in savings banks was, perhaps, the lowest description of possession of personal property. It was generally held by persons who were, no doubt, most respectable in their stations, but who were generally in a dependent position. For the second franchise they selected the possession of £50 in the public funds. The 30s. fundholder was to be put on the same level in a county, as the 40s. freeholder; though from copyholders and householders a qualification of much higher value was required. He supposed that to hold money in the public funds was held to constitute the discharge of a public duty, which was not the case with the holders of £50 in joint-stock banks, Indian stock, and other classes of investments, as these were not to give a vote. But was any man so blind as not to see that this would lead to the demand of every man who had £50 in any shape to possess a vote? He now came to the third point—the payment of direct taxes. This was quite different from rating as a basis for the franchise. The principle of rating was permanent, it marked the discharge of a public duty, and there was no reason to expect the time would ever come when local burdens would be dispensed with. But if they married the franchise to the payment of taxes then it would happen that every reduction of the public burdens might disfranchise whole classes of the community. The right hon. Gentleman intimated that he intended to confine his proposal to the income tax, but the income tax was one which it was always hoped the House would one day get rid of. Nothing could be more contrary to sound policy than this system of marrying the franchise to the income tax, as it would increase the difficulties of its removal. Why should payment of income tax be of more political value, than payment of other taxes? Or, if all direct taxation were to give a vote, is it possible to doubt, that the claims of those who pay as much or more by indirect taxation would soon have to be considered. What these fancy franchises were wanted for at first was the dual vote. But the dual vote was gone. He agreed with the 1242 right hon. Member for Oxfordshire in opposing this attempt to disturb the final, permanent, and liberal settlement proposed by the Bill.
§ MR. CRAWFORD
said, he wished to ask what machinery the right hon. Gentleman proposed, whereby an owner of £50 stock might make his claim? What proof would a revising barrister in Cornwall require? Would the Bank of England have to send their books all over the country? or would they have to keep an extra staff of clerks for the purpose of making affidavits to be sent all over the country?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
In answer to the technical inquiry which has just been addressed to me by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London and Deputy Governor of the Bank, as to the machinery by which we propose to carry this franchise into effect, I would refer him to the schedule of the Bill, and at the same time express to him my sense that from the kindness and obliging character of the Governor and Company of the Bank of England, of which my official life has given me experience, they will find no difficulty in carrying it into effect. With regard to the clause itself, I wish to state generally the view we take of it. I have been very much struck by the expressions of the hon. Members for Brighton and Bodmin (Mr. Fawcett and Mr. Wyld), and I am obliged to them for having done justice to the feelings of the Government. I wish it to be understood that if I do not insist on this clause, it is chiefly in deference to the influence in this House of the reactionary party. I admit, however, that in coming to that conclusion I am influenced also by two other considerations. The first is that this is the first day we have had experience of the new system of conducting morning sittings, and we naturally wished to test its efficiency. It is not yet seven o'clock, and we have done a great deal. It appears to me that the experiment has been eminently successful. With the assistance of the House for a few minutes more, our success must not only be distinguished but triumphant. I discover that if Her Majesty's Government, in deference to the reactionary party in the House, do not press the 6th clause, we then come to the 7th clause respecting the dual vote, which I have already given up, not in deference to the reactionary party, but in deference to a distinguished Member of the Conservative party. If the Committee 1243 will do me the honour to refer to the Bill, they will find that the first part of the Reform Bill will then have gone through Committee. Under those circumstances, I will not give the Committee the trouble to divide.
§ Clauses 6 and 7 negatived.
§ Clause 8 (Disfranchisement of certain Boroughs).
§ MR. SANDFORD
moved that the Chairman report progress. He said he had risen when the Chairman was putting the Question on Clause 7 for the purpose of calling attention to the fact that the Government were abandoning provisions which, in the first instance, they had put forward as safeguards. He objected to business being gone through by mumbling across the table. The Bill, as it now stood, had the character of "disgusting monotony" which the right hon. Member for Oxford University (Mr. Gathorne Hardy) attributed to the measure of last year.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he wished to ask the Chairman of the Committee whether he had put the Question that Clause 7 stand part of the Bill, and had declared that it had been negatived.
said, the Question was distinctly put by him. He rend out the number of the clause, and the marginal note, and he put the Question that the clause stand part of the Bill. There was not a single "Aye," but some very loud "Noes."
§ SIR EDMUND LECHMERE
said, that when the Question was put the hon. Member (Mr. Sandford) rose to address the Committee. Not seeing him the Chairman went on to negative the clause.
§ MR. SANDFORD
said, it was exceedingly disagreeable that these differences should be perpetually arising. The other evening a clause was altered in consequence of the muttering across the table, not a syllable of which reached hon. Members below the gangway. He intended to have expressed certain opinions on the subject, and have put certain questions to Her Majesty's Government with reference to it. He should not have allowed the clause referring to the compound-householders to have been settled and got rid of without taking the opinion of the House upon it. On the present occasion, when the Question was put that Clause 7 should stand part of the Bill, he rose to address the Committee; but notwithstanding the Chairman's desire to be fair and courteous, he did not hear or 1244 see him (Mr. Sandford) at the moment he rose to put the Question, and the clause was negatived. He wished to have put several questions to Her Majesty's Government with reference to the present Bill and the Bill of last Session, relative to the course that was pursued with regard to the latter. When the Reform Bill was introduced they were given to understand by the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford that it was founded within the four walls of the Resolutions. Those Resolutions provided some compensation for the extended suffrage which had been conceded. He wished to know now where those compensations were? It was extremely difficult to proceed with the Bill at that hour (quarter to seven o'clock). Knowing that several hon. Members wished to take part in the discussion, he moved that the Chairman report Progress.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.