§ Order for Committee read.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ MR. DISRAELI
said: I wish to take the earliest opportunity of expressing the opinion of the Government respecting the clauses of this measure which were postponed the other night. I quite agree with many Gentlemen who spoke the other evening on the subject, that it is by no means expedient to disturb the distribution of electoral power which exists unless there is a prospect of considerable advantage being obtained; and I also agree that the distribution of seats in Ireland could probably not be very much changed, and that no very great benefit in strengthening the representation could be secured thereby. But, at the same time, taking a general view of the electoral system, and having 1763 to propose very extensive changes in England as to the distribution of seats, and some not unimportant changes of the same kind in Scotland, we did not wish to appear unwilling to consider the case of Ireland, although we knew it did not offer facilities for improvement in respect to the distribution of seats by any means equal to those presented by England and Scotland. We therefore gave our best attention to the subject, although the area was limited, and the means at our disposal comparatively insignificant. I can assure the House, if it be necessary, that in the project which we brought forward, and the proposition which we made, we were not for a moment influenced by any consideration whatever of party interest. And, although there may be even in this House some Members who are incredulous on the subject, I can say for myself and for my Colleagues that in regard to the distribution of seats, not only in Ireland, but also in England and Scotland, we never have been influenced by petty and contracted views of that kind. I have always thought it a great mistake, when considering these questions, to attempt to carry out any arrangement which could not fairly be justified, with the short-sighted notion of its serving some party interest or connection; because I have lived long enough to know that the opinions of individuals change in a very remarkable manner, that Liberal Peers sometimes become Conservative, and, I am sorry to say, decided Conservatives sometimes become very ultra-Liberals. Therefore, the only consideration with us has been whether we could practically propose any changes which would really improve and strengthen the representation. I flatter myself that, as far as England and Scotland are concerned, the results at which this House has arrived have greatly had that effect. With regard to our proposition in respect to Ireland, I regret to say that it seems to have found very little favour on either side of the House. I am perfectly aware what the cause is of that general dissatisfaction. There exists, very naturally, among those Gentlemen who are connected with Ireland a feeling that the borough representation should not be decreased. But we must, at the same time, see that the borough representation in that country has not that robust character which prevails in England and, to a certain degree, in Scotland. At the same time, it is a consideration of great importance that it should be a primary object, in the re-con- 1764 struction of our electoral system, that the civic principle should have as much development as we can give it, and I can only say that I trust the increasing prosperity of Ireland will develop that urban character with so much force in time that we shall have a representation of the urban interest more satisfactory than at present. But, under all the circumstances of the case, feeling that it would he unwise to make changes unless there was a general opinion that a great improvement would occur, and great advantage to the community accrue, Her Majesty's Government are not disposed to insist on the postponed Clauses 10, 11, and 12, and therefore I shall beg leave to move that they be omitted. In doing so I believe we shall he taking that course which will, on the whole, be most agreeable to the general feeling of the House, and be facilitating the progress of Public Business. With respect to the other clauses which have been postponed., my noble Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland (the Earl of Mayo) will take the earliest opportunity of stating what we propose to do in reference to them, and when they are disposed of we can proceed with the new clauses.
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ Clause 2 (Application of Act).
THE EARL OF MAYO
suggested to the right hon. Member for Louth (Mr. C. Fortescue) who had a Notice on the Paper providing for the union of the Queen's University with the University of Dublin for the purpose of returning a Member to Parliament, that it would be more convenient that he should put his proposition in the shape of a substantive Motion. With that view he begged to move the omission in the clause of all the words after the word "only." If the right hon. Gentleman's Motion should not he carried, those words might be re-inserted on the Report.
§ MR. FAWCETT
contended that there was no reason why the right hon. Member for Louth should not proceed with the clause of which he had given notice—namely, that the Dublin University and the Queen's University in Ireland should return two Members to serve in Parliament.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, he had no intention to withdraw his clause in reference to University repre- 1765 sentation in Ireland, and should bring it up.
§ Words omitted.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 9 struck out.
§ Clause 10 (Disfranchisement of certain Boroughs).
§ THE EARL OF MAYO moved that the clause be omitted from the Bill.
§ MR. J. GOLDSMID
entered his protest against the policy which was proposed, and wanted to know upon what principle the small boroughs of England had been sacrificed, while those of Ireland were not to be molested? In Ireland, too, the boroughs were much smaller than in England; and in the former country Kingstown was the only borough with more than 10,000 inhabitants which was not represented in Parliament. If these small boroughs in Ireland remained represented this would furnish a reason why the new Parliament should interfere with the Reform measures. The matter of Reform had been left much in the hands of the House, and he hoped that the House would take upon itself to disfranchise the small boroughs in Ireland. He should oppose the omission of the clause.
§ MR. PIM
said, he was well pleased that the Government scheme of redistribution was given up, as he considered it a very bad one. He particularly objected to the transfer of representation from the boroughs to the counties; but, as he understood from the speech of the Prime Minister, that all idea of such a transfer was now abandoned, he would merely say, that, while the proportion of county representatives in England was only 37 per cent of the whole, it was in Ireland at present 62 per cent of the whole; and, under these circumstances, he thought it a most extraordinary proposition to increase the number of country gentlemen, imbued with the same ideas and class prejudices, whichever party they might belong to, and close up so many of the avenues by which the trading and professional classes obtain access to the House. The line of 5,000 which had been adopted in England was no rule for Ireland. The small boroughs were, in fact, quite as independent as some of the larger ones. Mallow was quite as respectable as Athlone, and although the borough of Carrickfergus had a population exceeding 9,000 there were really only 4,028 persons in the town. It was in fact a small county. The only way, in his opinion, 1766 to render the small boroughs independent was to group them. This had been resorted to in Scotland and in Wales, and with success. English Members disliked the idea of grouping, and it appeared to be unpopular in Ireland also, but the Scotch and Welsh Members thought well of it. In fact, it was disliked by those who knew nothing about it practically, and approved by those who had experience of its working. Sir Hugh Cairns (now Lord Cairns), although opposing its adoption in England in 1866, had stated that when adopted in Scotland and Wales, "the object was to secure a borough representation, and that there could not have been such a representation at that time in Wales except by aggregating the towns which form these groups." Mr. Gladstone had also defended grouping as a "real Reform," conducing to independence and purity of election. He (Mr. Pim) had put on the Notice Paper, a plan of grouping. He did not expect that plan to be adopted, because he thought any plan to be acceptable to the House must emanate from the Government; but he had suggested that plan in order to show the effects of grouping if done on a large scale. By that plan 200,000 persons would be added to the total population of the cities and boroughs of Ireland, and the borough electors would be increased by about 10,000. This would strengthen these constituencies and take away any plausible excuse for transferring Members from boroughs to counties. Grouping was, in his opinion, the best mode of strengthening the borough representation of Ireland, and rendering it independent; but even as it now stood, if you will disfranchise the small boroughs, there were several large towns unrepresented. The claims of Kingstown were universally admitted, and there was Queenstown, and Fermoy, and Nenagh in the South, and Newtownards, and Lurgan, and Portadown in the North. Why not give Members to these towns instead of to the counties. It was not well to act in so important a matter in the total absence of any expression of public opinion, and there was no such expression in Ireland at present. In fact, the thoughts of the people of Ireland were so engrossed with the important question which had lately been brought before them, that they thought of nothing else. Therefore, while he regretted much that the City of Dublin should not get the third Member to which its population and its position as the capital fully entitled it, and while he thought a 1767 proper re-distribution of seats was of great importance, he could not regret that the Government plan had been withdrawn. Before sitting down he must advert to the claims of Ireland to an increased number of Members. If the whole number of 658 was divided among the inhabitants of the United Kingdom, it would be one Member for 44,000 persons nearly. This would give 132 Members as the proportion for Ireland. But even comparing Ireland with Scotland, Scotland had got seven additional Members this Session, making up the total to sixty, which was ten less than their proportion according to population—but, taking Scotland at sixty, Ireland would, on the same scale, be entitled to 113; so that we were now eight Members deficient of what we were entitled to on a comparison with Scotland. If some of these were given to us, the strong claims of the county of Cork to be divided into two ridings, with two Members each, might very properly be acceded to, as ought also those of the city of Dublin, and the town of Belfast. Mr. Gladstone, in the late debate respecting the county of Sutherland, had stated that "the principle of our representation is founded on the basis of population," and surely if this be a good argument for maintaining the property of a Duke, it is equally valid to support the claims of a nation.
§ COLONEL GREVILLE-NUGENT
said, he was opposed to the re-distribution scheme of the Government, and he was glad it had been withdrawn. There was no doubt that the case of Ireland was different from that of England, as there were not so many populous boroughs and large cities; but so far as such claims for representation existed, they ought to be satisfied. The population of Londonderry was 20,875, and it had only one Member, whilst Galway, with 25,000 inhabitants, had two.
§ CAPTAIN HAYTER
condemned the course taken by the Government in disfranchising a number of English boroughs, while they allowed such places as Mallow, Kinsale, Downpatrick, Dungannon, Portarlington, and Cashel to be represented. By adopting this course they forfeited all claim to be considered Reformers, and he was sure the first question for the new Parliament would be that of re-distribution of seats in the three countries.
§ Clause struck out.
§ Clauses 11 and 12 struck out1768
§ Clause 16 (Members holding certain Offices not to vacate Seats on Acceptance of another Office).
THE EARL OF MAYO
proposed to omit this clause, and to make provision for it in the Registration Bill.
§ Clause struck out.
§ Clauses 17 and 25 struck out.
THE EARL OF MAYO
proposed to insert the following clause after Clause 26:—(In certain boroughs, occupiers of lands, &c., the owners of which are now rated, shall be entitled to be registered if the rate due for the year 1868 has been paid before the first day of July.)In the Boroughs of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Belfast, and Waterford, every man who would be entitled to be registered at the next Registration of Parliamentary Voters, under the provisions of section three of this Act, in respect of the occupation of lands, tenements, or hereditaments (for which the owner at the time of the passing of this Act is liable to be rated to the poor rate instead of the occupier), if he had been rated to the poor rate in respect of the said premises and had duly paid the said poor rate, shall, notwithstanding that he has not been so rated, be entitled to be registered at the next Registration of Parliamentary Voters, subject to the following condition:—That all poor rates in respect of the said premises which have become payable after the first day of July, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven, and before the first day of January, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight, have been duly paid on or before the first day of July, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight.
§ Clause brought up, and read a first time.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
thought the clause very objectionable. Those persons in the five largest cities in Ireland had been hitherto exempted from the payment of rates that were usually paid by occupiers. He objected to remove the burden of paying these rates from the owners to the occupiers. He thought the payment of rates should not be enforced the first year.
MR. SERJEANT BARRY
said, he objected to the clause on the ground that it made the possession of the franchise in the five boroughs, as regarded occupiers below £8, depend upon an act being done by other persons over whom the persons affected could have no possible control. And, further, it required that the rates should be paid by the 1st of July, though it was perfectly certain that the Bill itself could not become law by that time. He would propose, as an Amendment, to leave out all the words in the clause after "Waterford," and insert others which would give the vote in the first year with- 1769 out the payment of the last rate. It appeared to him that this would meet the justice of the case.
THE SOLICITOR GENERAL
said, that the clause was drawn up precisely on the same model and contained the same provisions as the clause which it was proposed to insert in the Boundary Bill for England. The principle of all the Bills was that no person was entitled to be registered in respect of the occupation franchise unless he had been rated and had paid his rates; but, as in certain cases there were some occupiers who could not have the opportunity of paying the rates, it would be impossible, if some indulgence were not given, that they could vote this year. If, however, the Amendment of the lion, and learned Gentleman were adopted, the electors in question would have an advantage over other people.
§ MR. MONSELL
urged that it was alto gether unfair to put it in the power of another person, who might be of different politics, to deprive his tenants of their votes by not paying the rates.
THE EARL OF MAYO
said, that the 1st of July was the last day for paying the rates, and he believed that the rates were all paid by this time. The fact was, it was not in the power of any landlord to disfranchise his tenants, because everything the landlord had was liable for the rates, and it was not to be conceived that he would subject himself to penalties for the sake of depriving his tenants of the right to vote.
§ MR. SULLIVAN
said, that he held in his hand a letter which stated that a large amount of rates due by landlords in Dublin remained unpaid up to yesterday. If that were the case, was it not a monstrous thing that a landlord, by keeping the rates unpaid until the 2nd of July, might have it in his power to deprive his tenants of their votes?
THE EARL OF MAYO
said, he was prepared to agree to the proposal of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Serjeant Barry) on the understanding that it applied only to the rate which had just been struck, and not to any future one. He admitted that there was some force in the argument that persons might otherwise be disfranchised through causes beyond their 1770 own control, and he did not wish to place any unnecessary obstacle in the way of their getting upon the register. He thought the object in view might be obtained by adopting the former part of his clause, and omitting the condition that rates payable between the 1st of July, 1867, and the 1st of January, 1868, should have been duly paid before the 1st of July next.
§ Clause read a second time, and ordered to stand part of the Bill.
MR SERJEANT BARRY moved to amend the clause by striking out all the words after the word "Waterford" in line 1, in order to insert the following words:—
So far as regards the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight, and so far as regards any subsequent year until a new rate shall have been made and a register of voters formed in respect of such rate, the occupiers of lands, tenements, and hereditaments in the Boroughs of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Belfast, and Waterford, respectively, rated at the net annual value of less than eight pounds and more than four pounds, shall be entitled to be put on the register of voters, and to vote for the Election of Members of Parliament for such Boroughs respectively, notwithstanding that in the last rate for the time being the immediate lessor of such lands, tenements, and hereditaments shall have been rated in respect thereof, and notwithstanding that any rates made on such immediate lessor shall remain unpaid.
§ Clause brought up, and read a first time.
THE EARL OF MAYO
said, be would agree to the clause if it was understood to apply only to the rate that had been struck, and not to future rates, He should, however, prefer to have the words of his own clause, which, without the condition appended, would carry out the intention of the hon. and learned Member.
MR. SERJEANT BARRY
said, it would be necessary, either in this Bill or in the new Registration Act, to provide machinery for having the names of these occupiers furnished to the proper authority, so that they might be placed on the register.
§ MR. SERJEANT GASELEE
said, he did not know whether Members sitting below the Gangway were supposed to take any part in the debate; but for the last half hour there had been such a conversational tone maintained between the Gentlemen on either side of the table that not one word had been heard below the Gangway. Hon. Members sitting there did not know what was the Question before the House, for the Bill had been so altered that they 1771 did not know whether it was the Irish or Scotch Reform Bill. If right hon. Gentlemen would condescend to direct their not very powerful voices to below the Gangway, instead of looking so complacently upon one another, hon. Members in that part of the House would be able to take part in the debate. If this were the Irish Reform Bill, it was a mere farce to go on with it, for the re-distribution scheme had been given up. ["Question."] He had, with the help of the Scotch Members, disfranchised the small boroughs in England, and he wished to do a similar good for Ireland. ["Question."]
The Question is not the disfranchisement of any boroughs in Ireland. The Question is "That the clause, as amended, be added to the Bill."
§ MR. SEBJEANT GASELEE
said, it was no wonder he did not know what the Question was. The exertion of hon. Members in speaking so low must have been very great, and they would doubtless require some rest, and he would therefore propose that the Chairman should report Progress. He would not press his Motion; but he hoped that hon. Members would not speak so low.
§ Clause, as amended, added to the Bill.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, he had now to propose a new clause of some importance in connection with University representation. In doing so he was actuated by no unfriendly feeling towards the University of Dublin, but rather the reverse, his object being to strengthen and improve the University representation and at the same time remove a grievance which was now felt by between 700 and 800 qualified graduates in not possessing a share in the University representation of Ireland. The graduates in the Queen's University would have preferred a separate representative in that House; and when he was a Member of the late Government he had the pleasure of making a proposal that they should elect a third University Member for Ireland. This proposal was, however, made in connection with very extensive changes proposed to be made in the Queen's University in Ireland, the intention being to place it on a wider basis, and to make it, in fact, a kind of London University for Ireland. He should not feel justified in renewing that proposal on the present occasion. The Committee had no scheme of distribution of seats before them, and he would now ask them to admit these 1772 700 or 800 graduates within the very ample representation of the University of Dublin. He used the word "ample "advisedly, as would be seen by comparing; the University constituencies of the three Kingdoms. By a Parliamentary Return it appeared that the constituency of the University of Oxford consisted of 4,190 voters, being one Member to 2,095 electors. The University of Cambridge consisted of 5,440, being one Member to 2,720 voters. The University of Dublin consisted of only 1,870 electors, or one Member to 935 voters. This was within nine of the number of the voters of Dublin University in 1834, when two Members, instead of one, were given to the University. In the London University in 1866 the number of graduates of Convocation standing was 1,700. He contended, therefore, that there was ample room within the Irish University representation for the admission of the respectable body of undergraduates whoso cause he was then pleading, and also ample room for an increased number of graduates, both in the one University and the other, even supposing the changes that were now mooted were carried into effect. Dublin University had the advantage of great historical renown, magnitude, and importance; but there was much less difference between it and the Queen's University than was commonly supposed. Neither of the Irish Universities could be said in the main to be, like those of Oxford and Cambridge, Universities on the collegiate footing. The Queen's Colleges were not, in the Oxford sense, Colleges for residence. Trinity College, Dublin, which was deemed to exist on the Oxford collegiate footing, comprised but a very small portion of the undergraduates of Dublin University. The total number of undergraduates in the University of Dublin in the year 1851–2 was 1,217. Of these only 118 resided in the College; 581 more lived in Dublin and its suburbs, and attended lectures, and the remainder, 518, resided elsewhere, and merely came up for the examinations. In Michaelmas Term, 1851, the total number of students attending lectures was 411; of whom only 313 were allowed credit for attendance. In Hilary Term, 1852, the number was 361, and in Trinity Term, 1852, it was 196. The smallness of the number arose from the fact that degrees in Arts in the University of Dublin could be obtained by examinations only. Thus, the University of Dublin, as far as it performed the functions of a collegiate University like 1773 Oxford and Cambridge, provided for the discipline and residence of only 118 of its; undergraduates, while with respect to 518 it was on the footing of the Queen's Colleges or the Scotch Universities; and in regard to 581, it was upon the looting of London University, giving degrees solely on the passing of certain stated examinations, and not requiring either attendance at lectures or residence in College. There was no such violent contrast between the two Irish Universities as that which was last year described as existing between the Universities of London and Durham; and the parallel was much stronger between them and the Scotch Universities, which had just been united for the purposes of Parliamentary representation. Last year they gave London University one Member, while Dublin University now enjoyed two. Again, London University and the Scotch Universities having now received Parliamentary representation, the want of such representation would now be felt by the Queen's University in Ireland as a much greater disadvantage and grievance than heretofore. There were other proposals on the Paper for attaining the same end as he contemplated. Among them was the proposal of the hon. and learned Baronet (Sir Colman O'Loghlen), which he believed would not be pressed, for depriving the University of Dublin of one seat and giving it to the Queen's University. That was a more violent plan than his, and not likely to be as acceptable. Then the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) proposed the grouping of certain small Irish boroughs in order to obtain an additional seat for the representative of the Irish Universities. The plan of grouping having, however, been given up, that proposal was out of the question, and his own proposal was, he thought, the most natural mode of doing some justice to that body of Irish graduates which could be suggested. Although, no doubt, they would prefer separate representation, yet they would admit that his plan was not unimportant to their academical interests. It would increase the dignity of the Queen's University, while it would also improve the University representation of Ireland generally. It would likewise considerably strengthen the lay element in the constituency, a matter of no slight importance; and it would compel the Members for the Universities to take into account the opinions and interests of a wider and much more varied class than they had now to consider. He believed that his proposal, 1774 while removing the grievances under which a body of Irish graduates now laboured, would strengthen the University representation of Ireland by adding to it some of the best educated men of the country. With these views he confidently moved his clause.
§ Clause (In all future Parliaments the University of Dublin and the Queen's University in Ireland shall jointly return two Members to serve in Parliament for said Universities,)—(Mr. Chichester Fortescue,)—brought, up, and read the first time.
THE EARL OF MAYO
said, it seemed to have been agreed, by the almost general consent of the Committee, not to entertain now any question with regard to the redistribution of seats; but the Amendment was a proposal for re-distribution. It was one of an objectionable character; for it was like a proposal to join the London University with one of the older Universities for the purpose of representation, and such a proposal, when made last year, did not find much favour, while the proposal to join Durham University to that of London was opposed by the Liberal party. The Amendment proposed to join for the purposes of representation two bodies that were essentially distinct—which had different opinions upon almost every subject; and whose combination could produce nothing but discord. The strongest argument against the proposal was that it was not demanded by anyone connected with these two bodies. A distinguished and influential member of Convocation of the Queen's University had written to him—The project of uniting the constituencies of the two Universities as proposed was discussed among ourselves the other day at a committee of Convocation, and unanimously condemned. I do not think a single voice was raised in its favour. We should nominally have two representatives who would virtually represent another institution.He had always entertained the opinion that if it were possible it would be desirable to bestow Parliamentary representation on the Queen's University, and he would have proposed to give it in the re-distribution scheme which had been submitted to the House but for the pressing claims of the large populations. In any future scheme the claims of the Queen's University must be considered. It would now give a constituency of 880, but in a few years it may be expected that the increase of Members would give a large and independent constituency. The present arrangements with regard to the qualifications for voters for 1775 the Dublin University were not altogether satisfactory. The voter must be an M.A., and pay £5 for registration and £9 10s. on taking the degree, so that it cost £15 to become a voter of the University. Hence the disparity between the roll of Masters and that of electors, the latter containing 1,870 names, and the former the names of 1,496 additional who did not possess the franchise. He was empowered by the authorities of the University to say he should be prepared, when the Registration Bill was before the House, to make an alteration in the system which had hitherto prevailed in the University of Dublin. He would propose a clause to give the franchise to every M.A. on taking his degree, without requiring as a condition the payment of any registration fee. The list of M.A.'s would then be the electoral roll. Seeing that the Board of Trinity College were prepared to make so large a concession, and that neither University favoured the Amendment, he hoped the Committee would pause before adopting it, for it would not add to the weight of the representation of Trinity College, nor meet the case of the younger institution.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, he wholly dissented from the position of the noble Lord, that because the Government had abandoned their scheme of re-distribution they were not to form any new constituency. A more miserable confession of pusillanimity had never proceeded from a Treasury Bench. But how did that confession contrast with the spirit of the right hon. Gentleman at the Head of the Government at Merchant Taylors' Hall the night before, in which, describing the magnificence of the edifice the Government had reared, and the new system of Parliamentary Reform which was to leave its stamp of glory on their names for ever, the right hon. Gentleman spoke of "a political settlement which has successfully reconciled the traditions of our ancient country and the requirements of modern times." The Government had abstained from interfering about six miserable boroughs, which, taken altogether, would not make one good constituency. The noble Lord laid the whole stress of his case on the fact that Trinity College did not wish for that which was proposed. Of course it did not, for it was one of the closest corporations ever known. What was it except the representative of that Established Church which we were determined to do away with? What were the Members for Trinity College chosen 1776 for except to be the adherents and mouthpieces of the Church about to be destroyed One of its Members was a steady opponent of every measure which had for its object civil and religious liberty—[" No!"]—and the other was the Law Adviser of a Tory Government—the fourth in succession. "All honourable men" doubtless; but if the University of Dublin rested its claims to representation upon the fact that it always sent here a mouthpiece of the Irish Church and a Law Officer of a Tory Government, the sooner that confederation was broken up the better. If the proposal was to give a representative to the Queen's University he should oppose it, believing that there ought to be but one University degree in Ireland, to be conferred alike on Protestant and Roman Catholic, and which would stamp those who obtained it; and that the representative should neither be necessarily Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Presbyterian; but one representing the intellectual eminence of Ireland. This proposal had the true ring and stamp of Liberalism upon it, and he trusted that everyone would vote for it as giving a fair representation to the intellectual genius of Ireland.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. WABREN)
, in opposing this Motion, said, he did so far more in the interests of the Queen's University than in that of the University which he represented. If the constituencies of the two Universities were joined there would be an overwhelming preponderance of electoral strength in the University of Dublin; but you would introduce an element of discord and of rivalry; the greater University, triumphing over the smaller one, would make itself obnoxious to it, and feelings of antagonism which did not now exist between the two institutions would be sure to prevail. Another objection was that, the Queen's University being thus overborne in election contests, the governing body of that University would be under a constant temptation to increase the number of its members by lowering the standard of its degree. In short, nothing was to be gained by giving to the graduates of the Queen's University that which they were unwilling to take, and, indeed, were wise enough to disclaim. No petition had been presented in favour of this proposal; no meeting had been held in support of it; it was the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. Fortescue), and his alone. The Queen's University desired 1777 to have a Member of its own, and he hoped the day would come when it would have I one.
§ Question put, "That the said Clause be read a second time."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 1 73; Noes 183: Majority 10.
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, he understood that the Government were not averse, while opposing the grouping together the University of Dublin and the Queen's University, to give the latter representation. He himself, indeed, did not think that the proposal which had just been rejected was the best for giving effect to that object, and he would therefore move that Portarlington, the smallest borough in Ireland, be disfranchised, and the seat taken from it conferred on the Queen's; University.
§ COLONEL FRENCH
then rose to move a I clause which stood on the Paper in his I name, but was interrupted by
§ MR. FAWCETT
, who asked the Chairman to be good enough to inform him in what terms his Motion should be couched to render it formal?
The proper way for the hon. Member to proceed is to frame a clause giving effect to his intentions. He can then move the second reading of that clause.
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, that by the assistance of a Friend a clause embodying his views had been placed in the hands of the Chairman. He begged, therefore, to move that it be now read a second time.
said, that the clause was not ready when the hon. Member for Brighton concluded his speech, and that the hon. Member for Roscommon (Colonel French) had just risen to move a clause of which Notice had been given. Under these circumstances the hon. Member for Roscommon would have the right to move his clause first; but the hon. Member for Brighton would be at liberty to move his clause afterwards.
§ MR. FAWCETT
thereupon stated that he should move his clause as soon as he had an opportunity of doing so.
pointed out that the convenient course had been usually adopted in Committee of considering the new clauses 1778 in the order in which they stood upon the Paper. On the present occasion, however, the clause of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Louth (Mr. C. Fortescue) had been taken first, under circumstances which the Committee would remember. But, as that had been disposed of, it was natural to revert to the ordinary course of taking the clauses as they stood upon the Paper; and therefore the hon. Member could not move his clause first, except by the common consent of Gentlemen who had clauses on the Paper preceding his. If those Gentlemen wished to move their clauses first they were at liberty to do so. The first clause on the Paper was that of the hon. Member for Athlone (Mr. Reanlen).
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
rose to move the clause of which he had given notice. Its object was to assimilate the law of England and that of Ireland with respect to the expenses of clerks of the peace. In England the clerks of the peace were entitled not only to be repaid the sums expended by them, but were also entitled to reasonable remuneration for their time and trouble in performing the services and duties imposed upon them in regard to the registration of voters. This was not the case in Ireland, and he therefore begged to move the following clause:—(Definition of the word "expenses.")The word 'expenses' contained in section seventy of the Act of the thirteenth and fourteenth years of the reign of Her present Majesty, chapter sixty-nine, shall be deemed to and shall include and apply to all proper and reasonable fees and charges of any clerk of the peace of, or acting for, any county, county of a city, or county of a town, or by any clerk of the peace of, or acting in or for, any borough situate in a county at large, to be hereafter made or charged by him in any year for his trouble, care, and attention in the performance of the services and duties imposed upon him by the said Act or by this Act, in addition to any money actually paid or distributed by him for, or in respect of, any such service or duties as aforesaid.
§ MR. G. MORRIS
seconded the Motion. The justice of the case required that these officers should be paid.
§ Clause brought up, and read a first time.
THE EARL OF MAYO
said, he was unable to assent to the insertion of the clause which related to the clerks of the peace for all the counties in Ireland. Those gentlemen were already remunerated suffi- 1779 ciently for the work they performed, the arrangements as regards their duties in connection with the electoral lists having been settled by the Act of 1850. He had not heard that there was any indisposition on the part of gentlemen to fill vacancies when they occurred, through a feeling that the remuneration was insufficient. He thought there was no ground whatever for making an addition to the local taxation by increasing the remuneration of this particular class of officers.
§ SIR COLMAN O'LOGHLEN
regretted that the noble Earl (the Earl of Mayo) would not agree to the clause, as, in his opinion, there ought to be no difference made in this respect between England and Ireland. If the salary were only one-half its present amount there would be the same number of applications for the situations when vacant.
§ LORD JOHN BROWNE
reminded the House that the question of the remuneration of clerks of the peace in Ireland had been under the consideration of the Grand Jury Committee upstairs, who, if those officers were not sufficiently paid already, would, in all probability recommend the in crease of their salaries.
§ MR. SERJEANT ARMSTRONG
said, he saw no objection to giving power to the Grand Juries, whose interest it was to keep down the county expenditure, to consider whether or not some reasonable allowance should be made to the clerks of the peace in consideration of the extra duties imposed on them.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. WARREN)
, observed, if the Amendment should be carried the clerks of the peace in Ireland would be entitled to an increase of salary, and from the inquiries which he had made he saw no reasonable ground for additional payment.
§ MR. BAGWELL
said, he did not believe there was any class of officers in Ireland who deserved less to have an increase of salary. It was generally a complete sinecure, and the holders of the 1780 office got deputies to discharge the duties, to whom they paid a small salary.
THE O'CONOR DON
said, he could not see that the salaries of these gentlemen ought to be at all increased. The exact salaries were fixed at a time when the criminal duties to be discharged were very much greater. The salary now remained the same, though the duties had been much diminished.
§ MR. BARROW
contended that the clerks of the peace were entitled to additional emoluments for increased duties.
§ LOUD JOHN BROWNE
said, if the salary of the clerks of the peace was to be increased, so also should that of the clerks of the unions, as the increased duties would equally fall upon them.
§ Clause withdrawn.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
intimated that he should again propose the clause in the event of the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member for Roscommon (Colonel French) being carried.
SIR COLMAN O'LOGHLEN moved the following clause:—
(Freemen's franchise abolished, saving rights of existing freemen.)
After the passing of this Act no person shall be entitled to vote at the Election of a Member to serve in Parliament for any city or borough by reason of being a freeman of such city or borough, save and except those who at the time of the passing of this Act shall have been actually enrolled as freemen on the freemen's roll of such city or borough.
The hon. and learned Member said the number of boroughs where the freemen's franchise existed was only 21. In 10 of those the number of freemen did not exceed 10; in two it was under 30; and in three it was under 100. In Drogheda it was 143; in Cork, 254; in Waterford, 350; in Galway, 453; in Carrickfergus, 752; and in Dublin 2,602. He objected to the freemen's franchise in Ireland because it was a relic of the old ascendancy system, which had operated to the great detriment of the country. The freemen exercised a most powerful influence on the elections for the city of Dublin. The candidates who expected to obtain their suffrages had to go to "the Aldermen of Skinners' Alley," dressed in orange sashes and belts, or they would have no chance of obtaining their votes. He did not know whether the hon. Member for Armagh (Mr. Vance) still preserved the orange sash and belt he were on such visits, when, in conjunction with Sir Edward Grogan, he
represented the city of Dublin; perhaps they might also be useful for the electors of Armagh. There was no reason why freemen should not have votes as ratepayers; but one great objection to the present system was that while ratepayers were bound to pay their rates by a particular day, freemen avoided the payment of rates; and they were also privileged to have a separate polling-booth for themselves. Bribery and corruption prevailed in every borough where freemen existed. In Dublin elections a certain number of freemen must be bought whoever might be the candidate. Every election petition that had been presented charged bribery to have existed to an enormous extent. In Galway, too, it had always been the custom to pay the freemen so much per head. His clause would enact that after the passing of this Act no freeman should be enabled to vote except those actually on the roll. The freeman franchise was a remnant of Orange ascendancy in Ireland, and therefore he hoped the House would do away with it, saving the rights of existing freemen.
§ Clause (Freemen's franchise abolished, saving rights of existing freemen,)—(Sir Colman 0'Loghlen,)—brought up. and read the first time.
§ MR. VANCE
said, he did not think that at the time the Notice was put upon the Paper that the hon. and learned Member; for Clare (Sir Colman O'Loghlen) seriously intended to bring the subject forward, because he had always expressed himself: opposed to disfranchisement. He did not see why an exception should be made in the case of Ireland in respect of the freeman franchise. This franchise had not been interfered with in England; and the hon. and learned Baronet was the last man whom he should have suspected of a wish to disfranchise any class of the citizens of Dublin. In that city there were many Roman Catholic freemen who had not shown them themselves favourable to him when he was a candidate for Dublin; but he should not like to see them disfranchised nevertheless. The hon. and learned Baronet objected to political power being continued in hereditary succession; but was not legislative power so continued in the other branch of the Legislature? He hoped that within the next few days the other House would give another proof of the advantage of hereditary powers in legislation. After one of his elections for Dublin there was a 1782 petition against his return in which the conduct of the freemen was greatly impugned. That petition came in due course before an; Election Committee composed of three Gentlemen from the Opposition and two from the Ministerial side of the House. That Committee acquitted the freemen of Dublin of any corruption or any improper practices, and, finding the conduct of those electors perfectly pure, the Committee unanimously refused to report against the freemen. The hon. and learned Baronet had given the House an amusing account of a society, styled "The Aldermen of Skinners' Alley'." He (Mr. Vance) belonged to that society, and he could assure the House that the hon. and learned Baronet was inaccurate as to his description of their sashes. They had no uniform, but they bad principles which he was afraid would exclude the hon. and learned Baronet from the privileges of membership. The origin of the society was this—When James II. abdicated the Throne of this country and went to Ireland, he found in Dublin a Protestant Corporation. He determined to substitute for it a Roman Catholic Corporation; but the Protestant Corporation, unwilling to lose their regalia and paraphernalia carried them to a. place of retirement in Skinners' Alley. The Aldermen of Skinners' Alley were a society which met annually to commemorate that event, and he could assure the House that it was a society of which no Protestant need be ashamed. The only case that the hon. and learned Baronet had made against the freemen of Dublin was that the majority were true Conservatives.
§ MR. G. MORRIS
said, that in the borough of Galway, which he had the honour to represent, the freemen constituted about a third of the constituency. That they were not hereditary Orangemen was shown by the fact that only about thirty of them were Protestants, while the remaining 400 and odd were Roman Catholics. No doubt the freeman system in Galway had its origin in the wish to encourage a Protestant settlement in that town. There was a recital to that effect in the Act of Parliament; but about the year 1842 a change was made, by which Roman Catholics were admitted to the freedom of the town. If they were to compare the sums expended on elections in Clare as against the expenditure for a similar purpose in Galway, the latter would come out of the ordeal very well. It had been stated that he was the first Member returned for Galway without bribery. Now, he had succeeded a very 1783 near relative in the representation of that borough; and he had personal knowledge of the fact that 92 per cent of the electors had voted for his relative. Two petitions had been presented against his return, and not only had those petitions been declared groundless, but the Committee had given his relative costs on the ground that they were frivolous and vexatious. He himself had been returned for Galway without a contest at all. On those facts he thought that he was entitled to submit that the electors of Galway were not as black as they were painted. This was intended to be an enfranchising and not a disfranchising Bill, and he therefore regretted that attacks having for their object to disfranchise existing classes of voters should have been put forward, and that from the Liberal Benches. The hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Pim) thought that Galway, with a population of 25,000 or 26,000 was not entitled to a second representative; and the hon. and learned Baronet the Member for Clare (Sir Colman O'Loghlen) proposed at one sweep to do away with one-third of his constituents. If anything could confirm him in the view which he entertained that he was sitting upon the right side of the House, it would be the fact that attacks like these upon his native town had proceeded in both cases from the Liberal Benches. He trusted that the Government upon this occasion would support the freeman franchise.
§ MR. MONSELL
said, he thought the case against the freemen had been so clearly established by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Clare that he would not have thought it necessary to address the House but for the observations of the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. G. Morris) and the lion. Member for Armagh (Mr. Vance). The hon. Member for Galway had contended that the freemen of Galway were not a corrupt class. In answer to that he would refer to an extract from the Report of a Committee appointed to try the election in 1857, which stated that while many of the voters had eloped the number of those who would be got at and who were proved to have been bribed was 179, of whom all but four were freemen. Even the hon. Member for Armagh spoke of the purity of the freemen of Dublin, and said the Committee appointed to try his election for that city decided that there had been no bribery. That was perfectly true; but the Committee also reported that promises to bribe on the hon. Mem- 1784 bers behalf had been made and votes given on behalf of those promises, though the hon. Member most properly refused to make the promises good. But passing to the merits of the question, he was very anxious to hear from the hon. Gentleman opposite how he could support the freemen. He had all along laid down residence and the personal payment of rates as the test of qualification for the franchise. Now, when the franchise was reduced to a £6 rating, what necessity would there be for freemen who, if respectable at all, would possess the franchise in right of their residence? Those freemen were very different from the same class in England. In England only admission was by birth or servitude. In Dublin there were 2,858 freemen, and of these 1,755 were admitted by birth, in right of their grandfather, as the daughters of freemen, and other modes which were not recognized in England, and which were at variance with the ancient practice in Dublin. On these grounds he trusted the Committee would put an end to the system.
§ MR. PIM
said, he believed it was the intention of the Reform Act of 1832 that the anomalous right of freemen to vote should be gradually extinguished. The ordinary franchise was now so low that every respectable man could obtain a vote. The only objection to the Motion of the hon. and learned Baronet (Sir Colman O'Loghlan) was that it did not protect inchoate rights, and he (Mr. Pim) would therefore propose, at the proper time, to add to the Motion an Amendment to preserve these lights. He would vote for the second rending of the clause proposed by the hon. and learned Baronet, and when the second reading was carried he would move the addition of the words—And those who shall claim their freedom within twenty-one years from the passing of this Act, if the claim be on account of birth, or within seven years, if the claim be on account of servitude.With this Amendment he thought the proposal would be a just one, and he hoped the noble Lord, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, would accede to it.
THE EARL OF MAYO
desired to remind the Committee that throughout the discussions on the Reform question the House had invariably adhered to the principle of refusing to consent to any proposal which would have the effect of disfranchising any body of electors. The proposal now under consideration would, he believed, destroy a long existing franchise on very insufficient 1785 grounds. It appeared to him that the principal objections of the hon. and learned Member for Clare to the freemen was the same as the objection of the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. C. Fortescue) to Trinity College, that they sent Members to that House who were opposed to them on politics. That was a curious objection to come from Liberal Members; but he was sure it would have no weight with the Committee. The number of freemen in Ireland were 4,900, and of these there were 2,500 in Dublin. This was a proposal to disfranchise about one-sixth of the constituency of Dublin, and one-third of the constituency of Galway. In Waterford, too, it would disfranchise nearly one-third, certainly one-fourth of the existing constituency. On all former occasions the House had refused to destroy this franchise; for, though the Reform Act of 1832 certainly did place it under restrictions, its abolition was never contemplated. Inasmuch as the House had hitherto refused to destroy this franchise, he certainly could not think that the House would consent to deal with this last of the measures affecting the representation of the people in a manner different from those which had already been finished, and he trusted, therefore, that the Committee would negative the proposition.
said, he was of opinion that no one who considered the subject in its true bearings could doubt the advisability of adopting the proposal now before the Committee. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen said "Oh, oh" so loudly without knowing one iota of the subject. In 1857 an election had taken place in Dublin, and there voted for two of the candidates 6,027 persons of property, station, and position, and those candidates had in the number 728 freemen. There were two other candidates who obtained the votes of 3,267 persons of property and position, and the votes of 3,800 freemen. So that the property votes were disfranchised by the votes of the freemen, who contributed nothing to the taxation of the city, or, indeed, to taxation of any kind. The Government had hitherto congratulated the House on having established the representation on the basis of taxation; but no argument of that nature could be urged in favour of the retention of this franchise. Indeed, in the city of Dublin the freeman vote was simply outrageous. Hon. Members might talk about its being hereditary; but the "grand birthright," as it was termed, according to legal definition, was 1786 derived from men who stedfastly refused to create any freemen who were not Protestants, or any Protestants whoso opinions differed from their own. Of 2,858 freeman, no less than 1,755 were admitted to the vote in consequence of marrying daughters and granddaughters of freemen. When a right existed flowing from so corrupt a source, it ought not to be allowed to continue. lie was certainly not previously aware that the hon. Member for Armagh (Mr. Vance) was an Alderman of Skinner's Alloy; but he could not compliment the hon. Member on Laving transferred the saturnalia to that place. He was one of the candidates who obtained the votes of the 3,800. Every man of common sense would see that the proposal ought to be adopted, and he therefore trusted that it would receive the consent of the Committee.
said, he understood the object of the legislation of the last two years to be to enfranchise, not to disfranchise. When that House was asked last year to disfranchise the freemen of England they had refused to do so, and he should refuse to disfranchise the freemen of Ireland upon the present occasion, The right hon. Member for the county of Limerick (Mr. Monsell) said that some of the freemen of Ireland had wives who might use their influence to make them vote a particular way; but surely it was not an enormity for a man to vote in the way he was required by his wife. One of the privileges that a lady obtained by marriage was the power of influencing her husband in many things, and surely the right hon. Gentleman would not disfranchise all the freemen of Ireland because they had the good taste to get married. But the right hon. Gentleman went a step further, and complained that many of the freemen were guilty of the enormity of having fathers and grandfathers. The right hon. Gentleman said that the freemen had swamped the voters who exercised their votes under a property qualification; but he forgot to mention that in future that property qualification would consist simply in having occupied for a twelvemonth a tenement valued at £4 per annum, whereas the freemen were usually members of corporations who took a pride in being placed upon the register as freemen. Believing that the present Bill was framed for the purpose of enfranchisement, he refused to consent to its being converted into a disfranchising instrument.
said, the right hon. Gentleman had one, and one only, fundamental argument against the proposition which had been made from that (the Opposition) side of the House. He says that the Reform Bill was a Bill by which they enfranchised, but did not disfranchise. [Mr. HENLEY dissented.] He (Mr. Gladstone) took direct issue with the right hon. Gentleman. They disfranchised by the English Reform Bill a great number of persons who possessed the franchise. He could not be aware of this—that when they extended the suffrage in towns they disfranchised a great number of persons. It was true that it might be said that while, on the one hand, these people were deprived of their county votes, they obtained a borough vote; but what became of the leaseholders in towns who were deprived of their vote without receiving any franchise in return? Did the right hon. Gentleman shake his head now? No, he did not, because he could not deny that the statement he had made was correct. When the House had seen occasion to abolish any particular franchise it had not been deterred from so doing by the mere cant word '' disfranchisement." What was the difference between the cases of the leaseholders and of the freemen? The noble Lord (the Earl of Mayo) had said with great truth that at the time of the passing of both the last Reform Act and the Reform Act of 1832 the House refused to disfranchise the freemen; but that circumstance was owing to the existence of a party in the House which was willing to trade upon the favour of this particular class of voters in the expectation of making capital out of them at the next election. The exertions of that party were aided by those of a number of weak brethren on the Opposition Benches, who assisted to postpone the period of the destined immolation of this class of voters—one of the least creditable of the episodes in connection with the last Reform Bill. The real question to be determined on the present occasion was whether or not the freeman franchise operated beneficially to the country. At one period, undoubtedly, it did operate beneficially to the interests of the country, as it afforded a means, and the only means, of the opinions of the working classes being in any way represented in that House. But now that the broad principle of household suffrage had been adopted, there was no longer any reason for maintaining this particular franchise, which every Member 1788 in that House must know was a fertile source of corruption. The statistics of last year demonstrated that the freemen of England were a most corrupt body, and the case against those of Ireland, he presumed, would be still stronger. It had been shown that in all boroughs where the £10 householders had been tainted with corruption the freemen had been still more tainted with it. The franchise of the freeman was calculated to give a man an idea that the franchise was a property, and not, as they were so fond of saying when arguing on the ballot, that it was a trust. Why should a man obtain the freeman's franchise because he had married the daughter of a freeman? Could they conceive of anything more calculated to give him the idea that it was his property? This he would say—that the mode in which the House treated a subject of that kind would always be more or less a test of its earnestness in regard to putting a stop to corruption, and they never would extinguish corruption at elections so long as they continued a franchise which gave to the working classes the notion of property. The £10 franchise in England and the £8 franchise in Ireland might be pleaded, because those figures admitted but a moderate proportion of the artizan class to the franchise, and it became desirable to give a freeman franchise. But what became of the argument now, when they had carried the franchise down to the meanest tenement that payed a rate? He was bound to say that, in a case of this kind, it was the Legislature who chose to keep up a franchise of that kind who were far more responsible for the consequences which occurred than the unfortunate men who yielded to temptation. He should certainly support the clause.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
remarked that the observations of the right hon. Member for South Lancashire with respect to the corruption of freemen at the last election could only refer to the cases of the boroughs of Lancaster, Totnes, Great Yarmouth, and Reigate. It might be useful to remind the House of the exact state of the case. Out of the 1,473 registered electors in the first of these boroughs 1,006 were freemen; and therefore it was not extraordinary that a large proportion of the corrupt electors of that borough were freemen. In the case of Totnes only half a dozen out of the 400 electors were freemen; and therefore no very large proportion of the corruption in that borough. 1789 could bare been attributable to freemen. In the case of Reigate, there was not a single freeman upon the register; and in the case of Great Yarmouth, it would be recollected that some years since the House in its wisdom thought fit to strike at the root of corruption by disfranchising the freemen of that borough; and therefore those persons could scarcely be held responsible for the corruption that had occurred subsequently to their disfranchisement.
said, he had not the figures by him at that moment; but he could tell the hon. Gentleman that he was not so entirely unaccustomed to the handling of statistics as to be misled by the gross proportion as between freemen and householders which he had quoted in the case of Lancaster. The comparison he drew was not between the gross number of guilty freemen, and the gross number of guilty householders, but between the proportion of guilty and innocent freemen and the proportion of guilty and innocent householders; and, if the hon. Gentleman would take the trouble to refer to authentic documents, he would find that they would bear out what he (Mr. Gladstone) had stated.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Lowther) had given some electoral facts with regard to England; he would give one; fact with respect to Ireland. A Parliamentary Commission reported on the Galway election, in 1857, that 179 voters in the borough had been guilty of receiving bribes, and that of these 179 voters there were only four who wore not freemen.
§ MR. VANCE
said, in regard to Galway, he might remind the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. Fortescue) that since the year 1857 two petitions had been presented against the sitting Members for Galway: and so much had the freemen improved that not a single charge of corruption had been established against them.
§ MR. G. MORRIS
said, that in 1865 two petitions were presented against the Members returned for Galway. It was shown that 92 per cent of the constituency had registered their votes, and after a thorough inquiry the petitions were declared frivolous and vexatious. That took place ten years after the occurrence upon which the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. C. Fortescue) had relied for proof of the unfitness of the Irish freemen to retain their; franchise.
§ Question put, "That the said Clause be read a second time.''
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 109; Noes 155: Majority 46.
§ MR. FAWCETT
proposed that Portarlington be disfranchised, and that its Member be given to the Queen's University. He should much regret the absence from the House of his right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Lawson); but he thought the Queen's University was justly entitled to representation, and as the Government had objected to the proposal to unite it with Dublin University the only alternative was to provide it a Member at the expense of the smallest borough. the population of Portarlington was under 3,000, there were only 106 electors, and at the last election his right hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Lawson) was returned by 46 votes—35 being given to the other candidate. The Queen's University, on the other hand, though only established a few years, would form a constituency of nearly 800, comprising a considerable portion of the intelligence of the country, and with an annual increment of 100 or 150 the number would probably increase in six or seven years to 1,500. This was not merely a question of re-distribution, but of enfranchisement; and persona who had passed through a curriculum as severe as that of Oxford or Cambridge ought not to be debarred a privilege that would be enjoyed by every University of the slightest consequence in England and Scotland.
§ Clause (In all future Parliaments the Queen's University in Ireland shall return one Member to serve in Parliament for such University, and the borough of Portarlington shall cease to return a Member to serve in Parliament for the said borough,)—(Mr. Fawcett,)—brought up, and read the first time.
THE EARL OF MAYO
stated that the redistribution portion of the Bill having been abandoned, the Government could not entertain this proposal.
§ MR. CHICHBSTER FORTESCUE
advised his hon. Friend (Mr. Fawcett) not to press his proposition, the present not being a final measure with regard to Irish representation, and the University question being still unsolved.
§ MR. FAWCETT
, contending that his proposal involved an important principle, felt bound to take the sense of the Committee upon it.
§ Question put, "That the said Clause be read a second time: "—The Committee divided:—Captain Grosvenor, one of the Members for the City of Westminster, came to the Table, and stated that having been in the House when the Question was put, but not having heard it, he had not voted:—Whereupon the Question was again stated to him, and being informed by the Chairman that he must vote, he declared that he voted with the Noes:—Ayes 55; Noes 210: Majority 155.
§ COLONEL FRENCH
rose to move the following clause:—(Occupation franchise in counties.)From and after the passing of this Act, the first section of the Act of the thirteenth and fourteenth years of the reign of Her present Majesty, chapter sixty-nine, and all other sections or parts of the same Act which relates to or affect the franchise conferred by the said first section, or the registration of voters upon whom it is conferred, and in which are the words 'twelve pounds' in reference to the said franchise, shall be read and construed as if the words 'more than eight pounds' had been used and were substituted in the said first and other sections, instead of and for the words' twelve pounds,' so and in such manner that subject to all the provisions of the said Act, the occupation of lands, tenements, or hereditaments rated at the net annual value of more than eight pounds shall be as effectual to qualify any man to be registered as a voter, and when registered to vote at any Election of Members to serve in Parliament for any county in Ireland to be held after the passing of this Act as the occupation of lands, tenements, and hereditaments rated at the net annual value of twelve pounds and upwards was before the passing of this Act; and in all provisions relating to such occupation, registration, or voting, and in all lists, returns, precepts, notices, or other forms made or issued in pursuance of the provisions of the Registration Acts, the words 'more than eight pounds' shall, when necessary, be substituted for the words 'twelve pounds.'The hon. and gallant Member complained that while the Bill made but a slight addition to the borough franchise in Ireland it left the county franchise wholly untouched. He asked the House for no favour—justice alone he sought. If the House was governed by principle or consistency they could not refuse to deal with Ireland in this matter in the same spirit as they had dealt with England and Scotland. He asked Members to forget the insinuations that had been made that his object was to destroy the influence of the landed interest. Ireland had long been unfairly treated in regard to the county franchise; its ancient 40s. freehold franchise—one as old as that which existed either in England or Scotland—having 1792 many years ago been entirely swept away: in England the 40s. franchise left untouched. About 120,000 40s. freeholders were disfranchised in one day, and the constituency was reduced from 260,000 to 140,000. In 1850 an Act was introduced when Lord Russell was at the head of the Government to amend the representation of the people in Ireland. Then a new county franchise was established, based upon rating, under which all occupiers rated at £12 per annum were qualified to vote. All the £50 and £20 voters, who were entitled to vote for their lives, were erased from the franchise roll by this measure. He now desired to reduce that qualification from a £12 to an £8 rating. While large extensions of the suffrage were granted last year in both the boroughs and counties of England, and were this year in course of being granted to Scotland—170,000 added to the counties in England, and 400,000 to the boroughs, and in Scotland more than 100,000—the Bill now before the House proposed to concede only an insignificant extension of the Irish borough franchise, and denied the least extension whatever of that of the counties. Was this Bill conceived in the same spirit as that in which England had been dealt with? Neither in principle, in spirit—nor, in fact, was there any resemblance between the two measures. In 1850 a majority of 96 Members in this House decided in favour of an £8 rating franchise in Ireland. Sir Robert Peel, who was absent from the division, took occasion to say £8 was the proper figure, and that he was prepared to vote for it. A rating of £8 in Ireland bears the same proportion to the wealth of Ireland as a £12 rating does to the wealth of England. On an average the number of rated tenements in England per cent was 5,500; in Scotland, 11,500; in Ireland, 11,000. England and Scotland got an increase of 700,000 or 800,000, Ireland but 33,000. Never during our connection with this country have we been allowed a fair representation. In the Lords this was altered to £15, but a compromise was agreed on, and a £12 rating franchise was ultimately adopted. He had been assured that an £8 rating franchise in Ireland was equivalent to a £14 or £15 franchise in England; and he thought therefore that such a limit might be safely re-imposed. The entire number of voters who would be added to the constituency by dealing liberally with Ireland in this way would be about 32,000; and he did not see how 1793 hon. Gentleman opposite would be able to justify themselves with their consciences or their constituencies if, having reduced the county franchise in England and Scotland, they did not also reduce it in Ireland.
§ Clause brought up, and read the first time.
THE EARL OF MAYO
said, that if the proposal of the Government with regard to the Irish county franchise was to make any substantial difference between the county franchises in England and Ireland, there would be great weight in what had been said by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who had just sat down. The result of passing the Bill before the House would be that the county franchise in Ireland would be placed on precisely the same footing with the county franchise in England as fixed by the Bill of last year. The fact was that Ireland had anticipated England in this matter. In 1850 an Act was passed which created for the first time in Ireland an occupation franchise, fixed at £12. So it had remained ever since, and had given general satisfaction. The effect of this change was an enormous enfranchisement in Ireland, the number of county voters being raised from 41,000 to 176,000 or 178,000. When, therefore, it was said that no provision had been made for the extension of the county franchise in Ireland, the fact was lost sight of that a very large extension had already taken place—a larger proportional extension, he believed, than had been effected in England by the Act of last year. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman had not shown that there was anything in the circumstances of Ireland to justify a lower county franchise than in England; and his proposition rested principally upon the difference between valuation here and in Ireland, which he said had the effect of placing the franchise in Ireland at a higher figure than in England. In 1852 it was enacted that valuation in Ireland should be based upon the value of agricultural produce, and also upon the principle adopted in this country; but, although there was a difference in the process between the two countries, the result in both was very nearly the same. The scale of valuation for produce laid down in 1852 was somewhat too low. It was conceded on both sides that the basis of the valuation was not a satisfactory one, and it would be absolutely necessary for the Government in power next year to propose great alterations in it. In the Bill of the hon. Mem- 1794 ber for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) introduced last year, the value of agricultural produce as a basis of valuation was given up as untenable, and the annual letting value was substituted free of rates and taxes, and with deductions for expenses, insurance, and repairs. It was necessary to remember that the earlier valuations were affected by the average of poor rates for three years; and, the average having fallen, a corresponding variation had been made. That applied to a great part of Ulster, which had been more recently valued, and where flax was not included in the Schedule of agricultural produce. At present the valuation crime as near as possible to that of this country; but with regard to the counties which were first valued, some change in the system of valuation must shortly be made. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had declared it was necessary, and the late Government had recorded their opinions in a Bill. The alleged difference between the systems of valuation in England and Ireland fell to the ground, and no case had been made out for the exceptional course proposed. It was the duty of the House to maintain the county franchise in Ireland as nearly as possible at the same point as in England; and he believed that that equality would give Ireland as many votes in proportion to its population as England and Scotland had. There was really no substantial reason for the difference proposed.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, that the noble Earl (the Earl of Mayo) had forgotten that this was an economical question as far as concerned the two countries. Did £12 rating in England represent the equivalent of £12 rating in Ireland? It was not the figures we had to deal with, but the persons; and the £12 occupiers in the two countries belonged to different classes. It could not be maintained that £100 at the West End of London was equal to £100 in a provincial town. On that principle, when this House fixed the occupation franchise for Ireland at £8 the Lords raised it to £15, and £12 was adopted as a compromise. Valuation in England was fixed by local authority on the principle of the letting value. This must necessarily give ft higher valuation than fixing it for the purposes of taxation; and it was admitted that the present valuation for taxation in Ireland was far below the letting value of the land. Apply that with the economical reasons stated to the figures 1795 before the House, and the franchise mu9t be reduced to £8 or £9.
§ MR. OSBORNE
said, he was sure the great majority of the Committee would agree with him in the opinion that one of the most unpleasant ways of passing a hot summer evening in the month of June was in discussing the clauses of a so-called Irish Reform Bill. [A laugh.] He said "so-called "Irish Reform Bill, because he believed that in the minds of the tenant-farmers of that country—and especially of persons who lived in it but were not connected with it by representation—the measure was neither desirable nor desired. It was, in fact, altogether an ignis fatuus; for the re-distribution portion of it, its only good feature, had been entirely wiped out. That being so, his right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Roscommon (Colonel French) proposed to reduce the county franchise from £12 to £8, and if that reduction would really confer a free and independent franchise, he should give the proposal his support. He had, however, his doubts upon that point. He believed that the true reform which was wanting in the constituencies in Ireland was not so much the lowering of the franchise as protection to those by whom the present franchise was held, and he was strongly of opinion that if it were reduced from £12 to £8 without such protection to the tenant, a positive injury would be done him by the Bill. Why did he take that view? It was very much the fashion in that House to grow enamoured of the principle of rating. That was the principle which prevailed in Ireland, but how did it operate? There existed there unfortunately a self-registering system, under which the tenant was left no option. His name was placed on the register, contrary in most instances to his own feelings, especially if he happened to have no lease. His interests dragged him one way, his convictions another. If he voted in the South of Ireland, where by conviction he was generally opposed to his landlord, in accordance with his conviction, he sometimes received notice to quit. If he voted according to his interests what was the result? Why that his priest gave him another notice to quit, having reference to another world. Such were the consequences produced by the self-registering system, the system of rating to which hon. Members had become so partial, and it was quite clear that between the landlord and the priest the vote which it was sought to confer upon him would be 1796 a positive curse to the tenant who had no lease. Such was a short statement of the real state of the case, and he challenged any man connected with Ireland to gainsay it. But what was the evident remedy for the evil to which he referred? It was while gifting the tenant-farmer with that damnosa hœreditas, which he would, he contended, find a vote to be when he had no lease, to accompany it with the safeguard of the ballot. He would by that means be protected against both the landlord and the priest; but without such protection the reduction of the franchise to £8, or £5, or £4 would be a mere farce, for the tenant had no will of his own. He was driven like a serf to the hustings between two powers—the ecclesiastical and the lay.
§ MR. GREGORY
maintained that the proposed reduction of the franchise would have the effect of placing the counties in Ireland below the bar of public opinion, and said he felt perfectly convinced that the result in Connaught, at all events, would be to hand over the representation to a certain number of large landowners with a small and miserable tenantry. At the present moment a General Election was impending in Ireland more momentous in its character than any which had been held since the days of Catholic Emancipation; and he did not believe that any landlord in that country would be so mischievous or so daring as to endeavour to control his tenants in the exercise of the franchise. [Mr. OSBORNE: Lots.] The retribution would fall upon their order if they did so; but, be that as it might, one thing, at all events, was quite clear, that it was not the tenant with good means who could stand out against his landlord who would be influenced in giving his vote, but the poor miserable tenant on whom his right hon. and gallant Friend sought to confer the franchise. Entertaining that view, he felt it to be his duty to oppose the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's Motion.
§ MR. O'REILLY
said, that after instituting the most careful inquiry into the subject, he had come to the conclusion that the change which his right hon. and gallant Friend advocated would, if carried into effect, result in no party advantage whatsoever. He adeed, his own experience had shown him that the poorer class of tenantry in Ireland were prepared to display ns much independence in contested elections as those who occupied a higher social position. The re-distribution of seats had been left to a future Parliament—the freeman's franchise 1797 had been left to a future Parliament. ["No, no!"] He repeated the assertion. He knew that a desire existed that it should Dot be left to a future Parliament, and that the present vote should be considered final, but that vote would be challenged hereafter. He might further observe that the deduction from the value of agricultural land in England was never more than 15 percent, whereas from the official reports of the valuations in Ireland it would be seen that it would amount to 25 per cent, so that a £10 rating in Ireland would be equivalent to at least a £12 rating in this country.
§ LORD JOHN BROWNE
said, he was of opinion that a compromise might be advantageously arrived at. He believed there was no strong or general feeling in Ireland on the subject of the county franchise, either one way or the other, and that many of the Liberal party in that country thought it would not serve Irish interests to lower the county franchise to £8. The Irish Liberals were generally of opinion that if any considerable extension of the franchise were made, it would be desirable to divide the large counties, such as Cork, Galway, and Mayo, as the expense would be so great that none but very rich candidates would be able to stand for them. Many hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House were adverse to the proposed reduction of the franchise, but they did not like to vote against their party. For his own part he thought it would be better to compromise the matter by fixing the county franchise at £10.
Some statements hare been made in the course of this debate the effect of which will be to justify those who decline making any Motion for the improvement of this Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham (Mr. Osborne) takes a very despairing view of the measure, which he regards as containing no provisions of any value; and my hon. Friend is consistent, for in his opinion the only thing to be done is to give to the electors the protection of secret voting. Now, I can easily understand the course of those who with my hon. Friend think that such protection ought to be given; but as I have never supported secret voting in England, I should hesitate to introduce it into Ireland in this exceptional way, and therefore I cannot walk in the footsteps of my hon. Friend. Much has been said about the dependence of the Irish voters, and I have no doubt it hag been said with a great deal of truth; but, at the same 1798 time, it must surely be admitted that those statements have been somewhat highly coloured. At any rate, there are on record some facts which history has commemorated, and I may say made immortal, for at one General Election a greater triumph was achieved in Ireland through the medium of the people themselves than can, perhaps, be pointed out in any General Election with regard to any portion of the United Kingdom. I own it appears to me that my hon. Friend the Member for Longford (Mr. O'Reilly) is perfectly right in his general doctrine, that the extension of the franchise tends to create a stronger and a healthier state of public opinion, and as I have an Irish Reform Bill before me—although, as my hon. Friend truly remarked, it contains much that stands over for consideration by a future Parliament—I do not feel justified in passing by a point of such importance as the county franchise without making an honest endeavour to place the measure on something like a satisfactory footing. Therefore, I have to ask myself in what position we shall leave the county franchise if we leave the Bill as it now stands? I am not at all bound by the Bill of 1866, for our position is greatly changed since then by the fact that in dealing with England and Scotland we have adopted a far wider basis than was then proposed. We must, therefore, observe a certain proportion in dealing with the case of Ireland. If we pass this Reform Bill as it at present stands, I apprehend it will contain no other great provision by virtue of which it can claim the honour of sisterhood with the Bills for England and Scotland but that which provides for an extension of the franchise to a comparatively limited number of persons, and it appears to me a very doubtful question indeed whether Parliament ought to allow the country to suppose for one moment it imagines that by passing a Bill of so limited a scope it has disposed of the question of Reform for Ireland. Now, what is the relative position of the Parliamentary franchise in England and Ireland? If this measure passes as it now stands, you will leave the franchise in Ireland higher at three points and lower at none than the franchise in England and Scotland. In the first place, you will leave the franchise higher in the boroughs, because the "hard and fast" line, of which we have heard so much in reference to England, has been adopted for Ireland. Then rating is carried down to a certain point at 1799 which rating and the franchise are stopped together, so that no one inhabitant of Ireland living in a house under £4 will he enabled to vote, while to the multitudes in England and Scotland living in houses under £4 you have given the franchise. And when we come to the county franchise, which in Ireland is the most important, we find that the most popular form of the county franchise in this country—namely, the 40s. freehold—does not exist in Ireland at all; and therefore there is to be in England a low popular franchise, of which no counterpart exists in the sister country. As to the occupation franchise the noble Lord (the Earl of Mayo) has admitted that under the semblance of apparent parity there is a real difference between the occupation franchise in England and that in Ireland. He has admitted that the occupation franchise in Ireland at £12 is higher than the occupation franchise in England, not only on every fair ground which we ought to take into consideration as to the relative wealth and poverty of the two countries, but that it is also equivalent to a higher figure on account of the low scale of population and of agricultural produce in Ireland. The noble Lord says, however, that any Government which may be in Office must pass an Act to alter the valuation of land in Ireland, and therefore he remarks there will virtually be a considerable addition made to the present constituencies. My answer to that is two-fold. In the first place that is an argument which is utterly valueless as regards the valuation in the present year; and in the next place I am not by any means so sanguine as the noble Lord respecting the time when the alteration of the valuation is to take place. He says it must be done almost immediately, whatever Government may be in Office. Now, I know that when we were in Office it was a matter of such formidable difficulty that, though we were most anxious to carry a Bill on the subject through the House we did not even make the attempt. And why, may I ask, has not the noble Lord done it? He has been in Office for two years, and has had every motive to do it; but nevertheless the valuation of Ireland still remains unamended. That being the case, I must say I do not place so much confidence in the sanguine expectations of the noble Lord as I might have otherwise done. In regard to every important point it is proposed that we should leave Ireland with a higher franchise than that which 1800 has been given to England and Scotland. Now, to me that is not satisfactory, for I cannot help thinking that the figure of the franchise should be somewhat lower in Ireland than in this country. I think you ought to look not merely at the absolute position of the men who are to vote, but also at the relation between the number of the persons enfranchised and the number of the total population. Now, how does that stand? The voters in Ireland were, I think, about one to twenty-six of the population at a time when the voters in England—not allowing for double votes—were about one to twenty or twenty two. But we have now enormously increased the English constituencies. We do not, indeed, know the precise extent of the increase, but it may turn out that the voting body will present almost as high a proportion as one in ten of the population. And yet it is proposed that we should maintain in Ireland substantially the same proportion as now exists—namely, one voter in about every twenty-five of the population. Supposing that the Motion of my right hon. and gallant Friend be carried you will make a total addition of between 60,000 and 70,000 to the present electoral body in Ireland, which will make the proportion about one in twenty of the population. Now, I cannot think that that will be an unreasonable extension of the franchise in Ireland. The noble Lord has referred to what was done in 1850. In that year an effort was made to prevent what I may call the almost total extinction of popular representation in Irish counties; for the object of the Act of 1850 was not to do for Ireland what we have lately done for England and Scotland, but to bring Ireland up to the position which it was felt she ought to occupy in relation to the Acts passed for England and Scotland in the year 1832. What is this alarming—this astounding proposition of the hon. Member for Roscommon? Why, it is the £8 franchise proposed by a Whig Government of a mild and moderate character in 1850, adopted at that time by this House and sent to the House of Lords, and it only failed to become law because the House of Lords declined to entertain it. One person, who has ceased to be among us, but whose authority is still great—Sir Robert Peel, who was no revolutionary statesman—said—I am one of those who are in favour of an extensive franchise, and if I had had the opportunity of giving my vote on a former occasion, I should have given it in favour of £8 as against £15.1801 I hope hon. Gentlemen will lay these words to heart, so that when this Bill passes from the doors of this House, it may in some particular be more worthy of the object at which it professes to aim than in its pie sent condition it is.
§ Question put, "That the said Clause be read a second time."
§ The Committee divided:—Aves 205; Noes 241: Majority 36.
§ MR. BRADY moved that the Chairman do report Progress.
§ MR. DISRAELI
hoped, considering the comparatively early hour, they might be allowed to proceed with the other clause.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Brady.)
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 79; Noes 289: Majority 210.
§ MR. BERKELEY moved to report Progress.
said, that the Committee having just divided on that Question, it could not be put again now.
§ MR. BRADY
rose to move the following clause:—And, in order to enable the electors to exercise the elective franchise according to their conscience, be it Enacted, That their votes at all Elections of Members to serve in any future Parliament shall be taken by ballot.He said that, notwithstanding the impatience manifested on the Ministerial Benches, he was emboldened by the importance of the subject to ask if any extension of the franchise could satisfy the just claims of the Irish people without the security of the ballot? The House having rejected the Motion for the reduction of the county franchise from £12 to £8, was an additional reason for granting this security. He begged to move that the House do now adjourn. [" Chair, chair!"] He should move instead that the Chairman do now leave the Chair.
§ MR. DISRAELI
From communications that have reached me the last ten minutes, I understand the Amendment of the hon. Gentlemen is now the only one left for us to discuss. Hence, I think the Committee will see that it is most important we should if possible close this matter to-night. At the same time, I am very desirous in every way to meet the convenience of the hon. Gentleman and of the Committee. I am perfectly ready either 1802 to listen with patience to a discussion of the subject now, or, which would perhaps be the best way, the hon. Gentleman might not insist on moving this now clause now, but might bring it up on the Report, and obtain for it upon that occasion a fair and patient discussion. Such an arrangement certainly would very much facilitate the progress of Public Business, and I should be perfectly ready to facilitate in every way the discussion of the Question.
§ MR. BERKELEY
said, he hoped his hon. Friend the Member for Leitrim would adopt the suggestion which had just been made to him.
§ MR. BAGWELL
said, that Members on that side were as anxious as the Government to bring the debate to a conclusion; but he begged to state that the question of the ballot in Ireland stood in a different position from what it did in England.
said, the hon. Member could not proceed to discuss the question of the ballot, no Motion upon that subject having yet been made. The only question at present before the Committee, was the Motion that he do leave the Chair.
§ MR. BAGWELL
said, he did not at all wish to discuss the ballot but merely to say that, being a very important question, it was difficult to discuss it at that hour of the night. On the other hand, to bring up the clause on the Report was ns much as to say that they were not to discuss it at all.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he thought the right hon. Gentleman was justified in proposing that they should not proceed now, but that the question should be raised on the Report, in order that it might be discussed on a future day. But he thought they were entitled to an assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that the Report would be considered at such a period of the evening as to enable the question to be discussed.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he should not think of bringing on the Report of the Irish Reform Bill, especially under the circumstances adverted to, at any other than a reasonable hour. His object in making the suggestion was to insure to the hon. Member an opportunity for a fair discussion of his proposal, which he seemed to think it was not likely to obtain at present.
§ MR. OSBORNE
thought the hon. Member for Leitrim was making a very great mistake. He never would have again a similar opportunity. Certainly it was not likely that upon a topic of equal importance he would never again address so large a House. He believed the question was thoroughly well understood, though he did not know what its fate might be. He himself should vote with him, and the advice he gave was this—let there be a short discussion, and let them go to a vote that evening.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
begged the hon. Member for Leitrim (Mr. Brady) not to allow himself to be drawn into giving up the question, as he would never get such another opportunity. As the hon. Member valued the question, and was anxious that the proceedings in that House should not be misunderstood in Ireland, he (Sir John Gray) pressed him to go on with the question. They had now a large House, and he ought to have the question fairly discussed and voted upon, in order that he might ascertain the opinion of the House whether the Irish people, whom they preferred to enfranchise, should be free to give their votes, or merely the puppets of those who exercised an unfair authority over them.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
MR. LAWSON moved the following clause:—
No person who shall after the first day of August, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight, be elected, made, or admitted a freeman of any Borough returning a Member or Members to Parliament otherwise than in right of birth or servitude, shall be entitled as such to be registered as a voter, or to vote at any Election of a Member or Members for any such Borough; and no person after the passing of this Act shall be entitled to be registered as a voter, or to vote as a freeman in respect of birth, unless his right be immediately derived from some person who was a freeman, or entitled to be admitted as a freeman, previous to the first day of August, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ SIR JOHN GRAY
said, as no other Member was disposed to move the addition of this clause, he rose to move in the words of the Notice which had been given—And, in order to enable the electors to exercise the elective franchise according to their conscience, Be it Enacted, That their votes at all Elections of Members to serve in any future Parliament shall be taken by ballot.At so late an hour he should not trespass 1804 further on the attention of the Committee, but simply move the addition of the clause.
§ Clause (Voting to be by ballot,)—(Sir John Gray,)—brought up, and read the first time.
§ MR. KENNEDY
seconded the Motion. The great difficulty in dealing with Ireland was to know what was wrong with the country, and what remedies were really required. No information worth having could be gained on those points at present, for the majority of the representatives under the present system were mere delegates returned to represent class opinions. The House would never be able to pass ameliorative measures for Ireland until the electors of Ireland were enabled to vote freely.
§ THE O'DONOGHUE moved that the Chairman report Progress.
§ COLONEL W. STUART
, having remarked that it was evident the Irish Members did not desire to discuss the question, interpreted the desire for the ballot in Ireland as part of a scheme for handing over the people bound hand and foot to the priesthood, for it was evident the ballot would be no protection against the priests.
§ MR. CRUM-EWING
said, the Committee was as able to vote on the question at once as it would ever be; everyone's mind had been made up long ago on the question.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, he had thought the suggestion he made to the hon. Member who gave notice of the Motion (Mr. Brady) was accepted by him and by the Committee. ["No!"] The alternative course was to proceed with the debate, which the Government was perfectly ready to do. The state of Public Business made it very undesirable to report Progress, and he was quite sure the hon. Member for Tralee (the O'Donoghue) would on reflection act in accordance with the general wishes of the Committee, because that was a course he always pursued. He promised hon. Gentlemen that in the event of the matter being postponed, the Report should be brought up at a sufficiently early hour to permit them fully to discuss the question at that stage.
§ MR. CHICHESTER FORTESCUE
said, he hoped the Committee would either allow the question to stand over, or proceed to a division.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question put, "That the said Clause be read a second time."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 126; Noes 225: Majority 99.
§ MR. BRADY
gave Notice that, on the bringing up of the Report on the Irish Re form Bill, he should move the clause of which he had given Notice—And, in order to enable the electors to exercise the elective franchise according to their conscience, Be it Enacted, That their votes at all Elections of Members to serve in any future Parliament shall be taken by ballot.
SIR HERVEY BRUCE
said, that at that late hour of the night he would not press the clause of which he had given Notice, Although the clause was of importance, still it was of greater importance that progress should be made with the Bill.
§ Schedules agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Monday next, and to be printed. [Bill 179.]