HC Deb 11 June 1868 vol 192 cc1444-7

rose to move the following clause:— Whereas the county of Sutherland does not now contain but is capable of containing a sufficient number of independent owners or occupiers to form a fit constituency for the exercise of the franchise, the right of the county of Sutherland to return a Member to Parliament shall from and after the passing of this Act be suspended until Parliament shall otherwise direct. The proposal that Sutherland, with only 181 electors, should retain its Member, had never been brought before the House in its naked deformity. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) had said a great deal of what Sutherland was not, but might be; and this clause was exactly in conformity with the right hon. Gentleman's views, for it proposed the suspension of the seat until these bright prospects were realized, and Sutherland became really less of an estate and more of a county. At present, in an electoral sense, it was nothing but a stagnant pool. The number of its voters and its population had declined; and the next lowest county population in Scotland was that of Bute, which had 510 electors against 181 in Sutherland. Even if Caithness were added to Sutherland it would still be in population and electors among the four lowest of the Scotch counties. He was not adverse to the representation of the agricultural population of Scotland, and no class of men would return better Members than the Scotch farmers, but they were not represented in this case. He protested against the sort of compromise that had taken place on this question. Parliament had taken the nomination boroughs from the English Dukes, but the Scotch Dukes were archdukes, whom nobody seemed to dare to look in the face. He hoped that the House would not allow any Duke, Scotch or English, to make a solitude and call it a county. If ten Members were prepared to go into the Lobby with him he would go.


seconded the Motion.

Clause brought up, and read the first time.


wished to say a word or two. He never gave a vote in that House with more pleasure than the other night, when this question was brought before them; nor did he ever hear a speech with which he so entirely disagreed as with that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire. There was not a single argument in it which the duty of a Liberal Member would not lead him to oppose, All the arguments which applied to small English boroughs like Honiton and Arundel applied with far greater force to the county of Sutherland. By retaining a nomination county like this Parliament was encouraging the aggregation of large landed estates, because the possession of such estates was thereby associated with political power. From what he had heard he doubted whether out of the constituency of 181 there were twenty independent electors in Sutherland, and he (Mr. Fawcett) was determined to challenge a division. The great question of re-distribution had yet scarcely been touched, and it would be useful, in the Reformed Parliament, to have a case of this kind to give point to the argument.


protested against imputations on the independence of the Scotch tenantry, who were not so subservient to landlord influence as some Gentlemen wished to make it appear.


said, he was one of those who supported the union of Sutherland with Caithness; but, as the House had expressed an opinion against that, he hoped his hon. Friend would not put the House to the trouble of a division upon a clause, the effect of which would be to deprive Scotland of one Member.


said, he could not support the Motion in its present form, as in its present form it would extinguish a Member. It did not propose to unite Sutherland to another county, nor to give its Member to another constituency, as was proposed on former occasions. But if the hon. Member would alter his Motion he would support it.

Motion made, and Question, "That the said Clause be now real a second time," put, and negatived.

MR. CRAUFURD moved the following cluase:— (Register of voters under this Act to be the register for election of town councils.) The register of voters for each burgh made up in pursuance of the Registration Acts and this Act shall be the register of voters for the election of the town council in such burgh under the Acts third and fourth William the Fourth, chapters seventy-six and seventy seven, and twentieth and twenty-first Victoria, chapter seventy, section eight; and every man who is registered as a voter in such register shall be entitled to vote in the election of the town council of such burgh in pursuance of the provisions of the said Acts."'

Clause brought up, and read the first time.


said, he could not agree to the insertion of such a clause in this Bill which proposed to deal only with the election of Members of Parliament. The matter of the municipal franchise had been considered by the Government, and they were of opinion that a separate Bill should be introduced on the subject. In a great many boroughs the Parliamentary limits and municipal limits were different, and it would be necessary to delay the municipal elections, as the Register would not be completed in time for these elections, which take place in the beginning of November.


asked if the Lord Advocate would introduce a Bill this Session?


said, that the matter would be taken into consideration.


said, they should have a positive pledge from Her Majesty's Government that they would bring in a Bill this year.


urged the importance of providing for the election of municipal representatives as soon as possible.


said, that the House ought to receive an assurance from the Government either that they would accept the clause or make the necessary provision by a separate Bill for the re-election of the municipal body.


said, that the Lord Advocate had already given on assurance that the subject should be attended to.


said, that as the election to the municipal body would no longer be made from the electoral roll, it was necessary that a supplementary Bill should be introduced if his hon. Friend's clause was not accepted.


repeated that the question could be most conveniently dealt with by a separate Bill.

Motion made, and Question, "That the said Clause be now read a second time," put, and negatived.

Schedule A (Boundaries of Glasgow) agreed to.

Clause 10 (Boundaries of Glasgow) struck out.

Clause 16 (Dwelling Houses to be specially entered in Valuation Rolls).

Amendment proposed,

In page 6, line 12, after the word "occupiers," to insert the words "and the names of all such tenants and occupiers shall be transferred by the parochial board to the poor rates assessment roll."—(Mr. M'Laren.)

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.

Bill to be read the third time upon Thursday next, and to be printed. [Bill 166.]