§ (The Lord Advocate, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir James Fergusson)
§ COMMITTEE. [Progress 18th May.]
§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed. "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 3 (Occupation Franchise for Voters in Burghs).
§ Clause 3, page 2, lines 5–11 omitted.
Amendment proposed to insert in lieu thereof the words—
Is and has been for a period of not less than twelve months next preceding the last day of July, an inhabitant occupier, as a lodger, of part of any dwelling-house, such part being of the annual value of ten pounds or upwards."—(Mr. Bouverie.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, he would suggest to the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie) that the best course would be to postpone his Amendment until the Committee had considered the proposed additions to the clause. The way in which this matter of the lodger franchise had been introduced into the English Bill, was by making it the subject of a separate clause; and he was perfectly willing to bring up a clause, in exactly the same form as that of the English Bill, conferring the lodger franchise in Scotch burghs.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
MR. CRAUFURD moved, in page 2, line 4, after the word "and," to insert the words—
Is and has been during that time entered on the valuation roll for such burgh as the inhabitant occupier of such dwelling-house or part of a dwelling-house.
His object was that the valuation roll should continue, as now, to be the basis of the registration.
THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, he was sorry he could not agree to the Amendment proposed. Its effect would be to limit, and that in a most objectionable manner, the franchise conferred by the Bill. The Valuation Act provided that there should 841 be put upon the valuation roll the names of all holders of tenements, including dwelling-houses, within the borough; but the 2nd clause of that Act concludes with the proviso—Provided always that it shall be in the power of such Commissioners or Magistrates, if they deem fit, not to insert in any Valuation Roll under this Act the names or residences of the tenants of any lands or heritages on rentals not amounting to £4 per annum.So that this Amendment would give the magistrates power to limit the franchise at their option. He thought that was not a proposition which would receive the approval of the House.
§ MR. CRAUFURD
said, he had no intention or desire to limit the franchise, and he believed that his Amendment would not have that effect; because the Valuation Act did not give the magistrates the option of removing persons from the roll, but only empowered them to remove the names of those who claimed exemption on the ground of inability to pay. The Amendment, taken in connection with other Amendments which he should propose in a subsequent clause, would not interfere with those of which the Lord Advocate had given notice.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
THE LORD ADVOCATE
Sir, I rise for the purpose of proposing the Amendments in this 3rd clause that stand in my name. On Monday last the Committee struck out the 3rd and 4th sub divisions of the clause. The 3rd sub-division is not of much consequence to the Scotch Bill, for there is no system of compounding in Scotland. In Scotland the inhabitants of all; dwelling-houses are liable to be put on the parish rate book, and therefore it is not material to go back on that decision of the Committee; but I think that the change effected in the Bill by striking out the 4th sub-division is one of material importance to the principle on which this Bill is founded. The Bill is founded on the same principle as the English Bill. In Scotland there is a power of exempting persons from payment of the poor rate upon the ground of their poverty or inability to pay; and in order to bring the Scotch Bill into harmony with the provisions of the English Act, we; propose a proviso which is to be found in the Notice Paper. This proviso contains three branches. The first runs in this 842 way: — It is provided that no man shall under this section be entitled to be registered as a voter,Who shall have been exempted from assessment or payment of poor rates on the ground of inability to pay.The second runs thus—Or who shall have failed to pay, on or before the first day of August in the present or the twentieth day of July in any subsequent year, all poor rates (if any) that have become payable by him, in respect of said dwelling-house, or as an inhabitant of paid burgh, up to the preceding fifteenth day of May.The third is—Or who shall have been in the receipt of parochial relief within the twelve calendar months next preceding the said last day of July.The first and third branches of this proviso received the assent of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who were of opinion that such a provision would be right and proper; and therefore I apprehend that I need not address the Committee at any length in support of these propositions—namely, that a man excused from payment of rates in respect of his being a pauper is not a proper person to exercise the franchise, and, in like manner, that a person in receipt of parochial relief is not a proper person to exercise the franchise. But respecting the middle proposition—namely, that any person who shall fail to pay his rates shall not be entitled to vote—there occurred some doubt. Thinking that the person who fails to pay is as little to be trusted as the man unable to pay, I see no ground for making any distinction between the two. By the Scotch Poor Law Amendment Act, Section 24, passed in 1845, it is expressly provided, in respect to the election of Poor Law Guardians, that any person exempted from payment of rates or assessments for the relief of the poor, on account of inability to pay, or who shall not have paid his rates and assessment, shall not be entitled to vote. This is therefore not altogether a novel principle in our law; and when we are establishing a new franchise for Scotland, we should make no distinction between the two countries, and should endeavour, as much as possible, to make the legislation for the two countries conformable. It is not necessary for me to trouble the Committee further, for I have reason to think that this Amendment will receive the support of hon. Gentlemen opposite. I shall not therefore trespass further on the attention of the Committee. 843 Amendment proposed,in page 2, Clause 3, line 13, after "voter," insert—Who shall have been exempted from assessment or payment of poor rates on the ground of inability to pay; or who shall have failed to pay, on or before the first day of August in the present or the twentieth day of July in any subsequent year, all poor rates (if any) that have become payable by him, in respect of said dwelling-house or as an inhabitant of said burgh, up to the preceding fifteenth day of May; or who shall have been in the receipt of parochial relief within the twelve calendar months next preceding the said last day of July: Provided also, That no man shall under this section be entitled to be registered as a voter."—(The Lord Advocate.)
MR. J. B. SMITH
said, that in England every householder was assessed to the poor rates, and he understood that to be the case in Scotland. ["No, no!"] Then how could the law in England and Scotland be the same? He wished to know whether every householder in a burgh in Scotland was not entitled to be placed upon the rate book?
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, that such was his understanding of the law. Under the 40th section of the Poor Law Act tenants of all lands and tenements without limitation were directed to be placed upon the poor rate book, and he knew of nothing in the law of Scotland which prevented the operation of that section in that country.
§ MR. MONCREIFF
said, he thought it only reasonable that he should explain what appeared to him to be the position of the Bill with regard to the Amendment now proposed, and of the Scotch Members with regard to it. The other night the House came to a very important vote, after a full discussion, and in a remarkably full House. That vote was taken upon the 3rd and 4th sub-divisions of the burgh enfranchising clause, which made payment of poor rates a condition of the possession of a vote. The House came to the conclusion that those two sub-divisions ought not to remain in the Bill. The Amendment under which this Resolution was come to had been placed on the Paper by his right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie), and had stood there for a considerable time along with other Amendments. Now, it seemed to be suggested the other day that the Scotch Members had some design in this, and that their object was to put the Government in an embarrassment. He could only say that nothing could be further from their intentions. He did not mean to say that if they had supposed the Government would 844 take this seriously to heart, that would actually have made any difference in our course. But he did say it had never entered into their minds for a moment that upon a subject of detail of this kind such a course should have been adopted by the Government—first, in consequence of the experience of last Session; and, in the second place, in consequence of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman when the Bill was introduced. They looked upon this as a matter of detail only. They thought they were at liberty to deal with details, and accordingly that Motion was put upon the Paper simply as part of the Amendments we thought necessary in order to make the Bill acceptable in Scotland. He was anxious that it should be clearly understood what were the matters that appeared in their opinion to be very objectionable in these two sub-divisions, and they were two separate elements of the franchise. One was, that the rating of an occupier should be essential to his possession of the franchise; and the other, that he should have paid his rates before the 20th of July. In regard to the first of those, the Scotch Members held a very strong opinion. Looking at the subject in connection with the provision of the Bill, their view was this, that, by making the fact of being rated the principle of the franchise, and by the subsequent clauses of the Bill, you introduced the rating principle into Scotland, and that an interference with the free action of the parish authorities was thereby occasioned which could not fail to create much inconvenience. That was altogether apart from the principle of the personal payment of rates. That was another, and an important matter; but what they were anxious for was that there should be no interference in this Bill with the action of the parish authorities in matters of rating. In England a very different state of things existed. In England there was, he believed, no other general valuation of the property of the country but that which was used for the imposition of the poor rate; and accordingly in 1832, under the Reform Bill, the overseers of the poor were made those who were to work the machinery of the Reform Act; not that there was the slightest connection between the working of the franchise and the poor rate, but because the machinery of the one happened to be convenient machinery for the other. But in Scotland the thing was entirely different. In 1854 the Valuation Act was passed, and in that measure it 845 was declared that the assessment should be levied in accordance with the provisions of that Act. He had always regretted that on that occasion they did not take the opportunity of doing away with the provisions in the Poor Law Act of 1845 in regard to making deductions from gross revenue. In 1856, as a complement of the Valuation Act, the Burgh Registration Act was passed; and in 1861 his hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire (Sir Edward Colebrooke) carried the County Representation Act, also based upon valuation; so that the result was that up to the present time the Rating Act and the Franchise Acts in Scotland were totally different. The proposed plan of registration certainly afforded a great deal of convenience, as the assessor had only to take the valuation roll and select those who were entitled to the franchise. The best thing they found in the Bill was that the parishes were only bound to rate every person appearing on the valuation roll, and to exercise a certain power of exemption when they considered it necessary. It had been the practice in Scotland, up to the present time, to exempt in the different parishes, according to the views of the Parochial Board, all persons assessed under £4, sometimes under £3, and sometimes lower. There was, in his opinion, no necessity for dealing with that matter in this Bill. It could only produce confusion. The original provisions in the Bill, objectionable as they were with regard to burghs, were still more objectionable with regard to counties. There were a great many parishes where there was no poor rate at all; and not only that, but there was no general valuation of what was called rateable value, and so the right hon. and learned Lord (the Lord Advocate) was obliged to resort to the invention of a rating solely for the purposes of this Bill. However, he had no doubt that his right hon. and learned Friend, were it not for the symmetry he intended to produce, would agree with him in repudiating it. What was proposed to be done under these circumstances? The Scotch Members placed the Amendment on the Paper objecting to the principle upon which these sub-divisions were basde. There was a second matter—he meant the payment or non-payment of rates imposed, which was totally different from making the rating the basis of the franchise. A "hard and fast line" might have been drawn at £5, £4, or £3, and they might still have objected to it; but if any man 846 had not paid his rates, he should not be allowed to appear on the roll or vote, and in the same way in the Reform Act, as there was no general poor rate in Scotland, non-payment of assessed taxes was considered the first and proper disqualification from coming under the Bill. However, he believed that from the time the Bill passed till now that had not been effected. He had no respect for the opinion that, if a man did not pay the poor rates, he should not be placed on the roll. The payment of the poor rates, it was said, was the test of his fitness. Why, he might not have paid his police rates, his rent, his Christmas bills, and he might be in arrears to everybody around him; and yet he might have paid the poor rate. He thought that part was I entirely nugatory. Since the vote of the other night, there had been a general feeling upon his side of the House, not only on the part of Scotch Members, but among their English friends, that they might as well avoid having a crisis on this matter. They certainly did not expect that the armour against which all the ordinary missiles of the Opposition had been directed in vain was to be penetrated by a dart from the Scotch Members. That being the feeling of the House, it was thought desirable to see whether they could not come to an arrangement, and obtain some concession at the hands of the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate. They accordingly communicated with his right hon. and learned Friend, and he was happy to say he received their propositions in a spirit of the greatest fairness, and the result of their negotiations was this—that the right hon. and learned Lord Advocate on the one hand would give up the end of the 16th clause by which he compelled the parishes to rate every one upon the roll, and that he would also give up the 18th clause, which provided regulations as to the rating of persons omitted from the roll of assessments; and he proposed to bring up a clause providing fur the rectification of errors in the case of persons improperly exempted. So much for the burgh franchise. Well, with regard to counties, his right hon. Friend undertook to abandon the rating, and to adopt the rental qualification—a very proper concession—for the provisions of the Bill as it stood were utterly impracticable. At the meeting of the Scotch Members to-day, they unanimously resolved to agree to those terms. He thought he had satisfied the Committee 847 that the Scotch Members had solid grounds for the objections they had made, and, later, for the arrangement they had come to with the Government. They had been met by the Lord Advocate in the fairest spirit, and he hoped the Committee would ratify the understanding which had been arrived at.
§ MR. HODGKINSON
said, he wished to call attention to the fact that there was a considerable variation in the Scotch and English Reform Bills in the time allowed for the payment of rates. He could see no reason why the 15th of May should be fixed as the time up to which rates must be paid in Scotland, while in England it was the 5th of January. He could not understand why the rein should be drawn tighter in the case of one country than it was in the case of the other, and he therefore trusted that the dates would be made in both cases the same.
§ MR. G. YOUNG
said, that his learned Friend (The Lord Advocate) had stated that by the law as it at present existed every householder was to be put upon the register and would then be qualified to vote provided he paid his rates. He could only say that he did not so interpret the existing law, however it might be altered by the provisions of this Bill. It was true that by the Poor Law Act of 1845 the assessor for the poor rate was required to make up the roll of all ratepayers including the occupiers of all kinds of houses; but by the Valuation Act of 1854 it was provided that the names of all occupiers, being mere tenants of lands and tenements let at a rent not amounting to £4, should not be inserted in the valuation roll, and that in all cases where any lands or heritages should be let at a rent not amounting to £4 per annum, and the names of the occupiers thereof should not have been inserted in the valuation roll, the proprietors of such lands or heritages should be charged with and have to pay the whole of the assessment on such lands and heritages, but should have relief against the tenant for payment thereof. It was analogous to the law of the compound-householder, there being a provision in Clause 31 to the effect that where the rent was under £4 the landlord should pay the whole of the assessment, including the assessment for poor rate, not only his own half as landlord, but also the tenant's half. The landlord had a statutory right to recover from the tenant. He wished to know whether these tenants would be regarded as tenants paying their rates, or 848 would a tenant so situated be denied the franchise? He also asked whether a change in the law of rating was intended. The requisition that the names of all the small tenants should be placed on the valuation roll seemed to imply that this was so, and that in future the rates would be assessed one-half on the landlord and one-half on the tenant. But if this were done the landlord would pay his part, and the tenant's half would be lost to the parish except where political strife induced agents to manufacture voters. He noticed that the proposed Amendment disfranchised those who had been "exempted from assessment or payment of poor rates. "Exemption from assessment" was scarcely grammatical. Besides, the exemption was not from the imposition. The assessment was made, and the person was afterwards exempted from payment. The clause seemed to require amendment in another respect. As it now stood it might be held to disfranchise for ever every householder who had at any time been exempted from paying poor rates. He presumed that that was not the meaning of his right hon. and learned Friend; but that the exclusion was intended to apply only to the year in which such exemption took place. His last question was as to whether those who were partially exempted from payment of rates would be disfranchised? The common mode of exemption was not total but partial exemption, and it would be unjust that such partial exemption should work disfranchisement, because a very large number of householders paid a reduced rate on their holdings, which, however, amounted in actual cash to a great deal more than the full rate of many another householder.
§ MR. HIBBERT
said, he thought that the word "assessment" should be omitted. He assumed that a person who was relieved from paying a part of his rates would be disfranchised, and very properly.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, he would propose to leave out the words "assessment or." The Amendment would then read smoothly, and the grammatical criticisms would no longer apply. Now that they had taken the Land Valuations Act they had nothing to do with the Poor Law assessment, and anything which related to that should be left out altogether. Then, as to the suggestion which had been made that the 15th of May should be left out, and the 5th of January substituted, as in the English Act, he thought it was of no great importance; but still it would be 849 an improvement if the words were as in the English Act, because in Scotland the practice in the boroughs was to lay on the poor rate for twelve months, from the 15th of May in one year to the 15th of May in the succeeding year; so that if the rate were to be laid on exactly on the 15th of May everybody would be disfranchised, because nobody could have paid that rate. He did not think the thing had ever occurred, or was ever likely to occur. But no possible inconvenience could arise if the 5th of January was substituted for the 15th of May. Practically, the rates were collected long before the 15th of May; but if the; 5th of January was put in it would be no disadvantage, and there would be no danger of the rate being laid on in May, and thereby disfranchising a whole constituency. Then, in reference to the criticism that parties might be exempted partially from the poor rates. He bad never met with anyone who was partially exempted from poor's rate. He believed such cases very rarely arose; but if a person were exempted from even a tenth of his rate he would properly be disfranchised. He hoped the learned Lord Advocate might leave out the words "assessment or," and put in the 5th of January instead of the 15th of May, and then all possible objetions would be removed.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
said, that the practice as to assessment was diverse, in some cases the assessment being from May, in others from November. In the one case the time was too short; in the other much too long. He thought it desirable that the Government should consider whether there should not be some fixed date—say the 5th of January; and, if not, whether it would not be better to dispense altogether with a clause which would operate with such inequality as that under discussion.
said, the object of the Government was to assimilate this Bill to the English Bill so far as regarded the ratepaying clauses. The most direct way of accomplishing that object, as there were places in Scotland not assessed to the poor, would be not to specify poor rates, but to make the franchise depend upon the payment of any burgh rates whatever. In the city which he represented, besides 4,236 £10 householders, in 1867 there were 265 at £9, 332 at £8, 415 at £7, 324 at £6, 912 at £5, 1,428 at £4, the total assessed to taxes for municipal purposes at and under £10 being 9,323. Of 850 these 1,121 were rated under £4. The payment of any other rate would be just as good as a poor rate for a test of the qualification to vote. All that ought to be required was that a tenant should be rated and pay his rates by a certain day. If he did not, let him by all means be disfranchised. He ought not, however, to be disfranchised permanently, but only for that year. A certain time—say five or six months—should be allowed, during which he might be at liberty to pay his rates and re-claim the franchise. He thought the 5th of January would be the most convenient date to adopt.
§ MR. ELLICE
said, he must express his regret that the settlement existing under the 2nd and 31st clauses of the Valuation Act was to be disturbed. He did not think the Parochial Board was the best body to determine what exemptions should take place. He preferred leaving that duty to the Commissioners of Supply in counties, and to the magistrates in boroughs, who were popularly elected, and were not such exclusive bodies as the Parochial Board. The Valuation Act, which had been in existence for fourteen years, had worked most satisfactorily. In the Scotch burghs there were large numbers of tenements which could scarcely be dignified with the name of houses. He thought the clause would require some further revision, and he earnestly hoped the Lord Advocate would take the matter into his consideration, and accede to the Amendment of which he had given Notice, after the words "inability to pay," in line 3 of the Lord Advocate's Amendment, to insert the words "or whose names shall not have been inserted on the valuation roll."
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, he regretted that he could not accede to the Amendment of the hon. Member for St. Andrews (Mr. Ellice), which was not consistent with the spirit either of this or of the English Bill. Its object was to go back upon the decision of the House, that it should not be in the power of magistrates to disqualify. It would, in fact, make that compulsory which was at present optional, and would draw a fixed line at £4. It would be still more objectionable if it were not a fixed line. However, that Amendment was not at present before the Committee, and he had only mentioned it because it had been just referred to by the hon. Gentleman. Some criticisms had been made by the hon. and learned Member for the Wigton burghs (Mr. G, Young). 851 Now, he was not aware whether the hon. Gentleman had been present at the meeting held that afternoon. [Mr. G. YOUNG: No!] He was glad to hear that, and he must confess that the hon. Member did not appear to be actuated by the spirit of the meeting. At the suggestion of a hon. Member opposite he had assented to the introduction of the words "assessment of;" but finding that objections had been raised against them, he should now offer no opposition to their omission. With reference to another suggestion made by the hon. Member for the Wigton burghs, he might remark that he had no objection to its adoption. He referred to the proposed insertion after the word "who," of the words "at any time during the said period of twelve calendar months." That would effect an improvement, and make the meaning of the clause more clear. According to the custom in Scotland, poor rates were laid on at Whitsuntide. They were collected after Martinmas, and if they were not paid before February diligence or execution issued; so that by Whitsuntide it was ascertained who were the defaulters from whom payment could not be obtained. There was no further assessment until October, when the valuation rolls were made up. Therefore, no persons would be affected by his Amendment except those who were in arrear, against whom execution had been issued, and who were returned as defaulters. He had been asked by the hon. Member for Wigton whether the £4 line did, or did not, apply to the poor rate. In Scotland, it was optional to exclude from the valuation roll tenants under £4; but there were very few burghs—probably not six-sevenths of the whole — which availed themselves of the option, and he held that where this was done, collectors for the parochial authorities were bound by the 40th section of the Poor Law Act to place on the rate books all the tenants without exception. It was quite true that the 1st section of the 31st clause of the Valuation Act had this effect—that where the option had been exercised of excluding from the valuation roll those under £4, then the proprietors should be required to pay the whole of the assessment on such lands or tenements. But the poor rate was really a personal tax. The value of the tenement was merely the measure of the liability of the person to pay. The 41st clause contained this provision—"That nothing should exempt any person or pro- 852 perty not previously exempt, or liable to assessment." The 31st clause did not apply to poor rates, especially when taken in connection with the 41st. He therefore begged to submit that a correct view had been taken of this matter, and that the clause, with the Amendments he was ready to accept, would give effect to the views of the House.
§ MR. MONCREIFF
said, that questions of mere phraseology were necessarily left open, and his impression was that the clause would require some revision to make it work satisfactorily.
§ MR. G. YOUNG
asked, whether the Amendment was intended to include partial as well as total exemption?
§ Clause, as amended,agreed to.
§ Clause 4 (Ownership Franchise for Voters in Counties).
SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE moved, in line 21, to omit the word "and," and insert the words—
2. Has had a residence within the County in his own occupation during the twelve months next preceding the last day of July.
The object of the Amendment was to prevent the creation of faggot votes which had been resorted to in some of the Scotch counties, and in one instance to such an extent that the resident voters could be easily swamped by those who were nonresident. It would be in the recollection of hon. Members that a similar Amendment was rejected on the English Bill of last year, chiefly because it would have a disfranchising effect. The question was one which was quite as important as affecting Scotland as England; because in the former country, as in the latter, power was held by persons wholly unconnected with the counties, but who, through manufacturing interests and general influence over the burghs, could affect an election; and this gave great umbrage to those who took part, naturally took part, in county elections. Now, he hoped to be able to induce the Committee to give a favourable consideration to his Amendment. In the first place, his proposal did not require, as that of last year did, that a qualifying residence should form a part of the occupation; and next, it applied to the property qualification, and not to the occupation. The Reform Act of 1832 was full of abuses like
this, and they had accumulated with respect to pocket or rotten burghs in such a way that, by the influence of those burghs, county elections were often carried. He thought his Amendment would recommend itself to the Committee, and he therefore begged to move it.
§ MR. BAXTER
said, there was considerable force in what had fallen from his hon. Friend, and he sympathized very much with the objection he had taken to the clause as it stood, because there could be no doubt that in former times in Scot land advantage was taken to create faggot votes to a great extent; but he had a strong feeling that with the enlarged constituencies, and the new franchise, those faggot votes would not be created nearly to the same extent. Besides, he could not help feeling it would be rather ungracious, without strong reasons, to adopt for Scotland a different principle to that laid down in the English Act. He wished also to keep to the old lines of the Constitution — that the votes for counties should be based on ownership. He hoped the hon. Baronet would not divide the Committee on the question.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, he was sorry he could not agree with the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter). There was nothing so common as for men to begin by praising something, and ending by giving their votes against it. The hon. Member for Montrose said that the hon. Baronet had a capital case, and yet he was going to vote against him. If the Committee would take into account the smallness of the Scotch counties—[Mr. BAXTER: Some of them.] If you will allow me, there were several of these small counties that could be overpowered by the extraneous voters of Edinburgh and Glasgow—that is, the electors of these counties might be overpowered by them. Why, there were many counties in Scotland which might be much more appropriately called parishes. No doubt, it was quite true that in the great English counties of four or ten times the magnitude of the small Scotch counties, there was a foreign element introduced; men living in London had votes in Lancashire, Leicestershire, and other counties. It did not follow that that element could be safely imported into the small Scotch counties. It certainly did deteriorate, and in certain cases overpower, the resident electors. He could mention a case where a considerable majority voted for a candidate, but the people of the county were overpowered by 854 voters from the city he had the honour to represent. Now, he thought that was a bad state of things, and should not be allowed to exist.
§ MR. H. BAILLIE
said, he trusted that the Committee would not agree to a proposal for disfranchising a large portion of the proprietors of land in Scotland.
§ MR. SINCLAIR AYTOUN
said, he would give his vote to any Amendment; which would prevent the creation of faggot votes. Surely the hon. and learned Gentleman who sat on the Treasury Bench could draw up such a clause. But he could not admit that, because faggot votes had been created in Scotland in a few cases, an enormous number of bonâ fide voters should therefore be disfranchised. There were, as the hon. Member for Edinburgh had truly observed, counties in Scotland which might more properly be called parishes from their extreme smallness. Again, if the Amendment were adopted the anomalies between the county franchise in England and Scotland would be such as ought not to exist.
§ MR. CUMMING-BRUCE
hoped that the Amendment would not be accepted by the Committee. There were no electors more independent than those of the small counties.
§ MR. MONCREIFF
said, he had a very strong opinion upon the question raised by his hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire (Sir Edward Colebrooke); but he was of opinion that the practice of creating faggot votes had not been carried to so great an extent as was thought. So much difference of opinion existed, even among hon. Members on that (the Opposition) side of the House upon the question of residence, that he thought his hon. Friend would exercise a wise discretion in withdrawing the Amendment. It was desirable; that they should be as unanimous as possible, in order to complete the work which was before them.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
said, he did not concur in the objections urged against the Amendment, and therefore he would not withdraw it. He would prefer to have it negatived rather than take that course. This was a subject which would crop up again.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ MR. CRAUFURD moved, in line 25, to leave out the word "clear," so that it should remain "yearly value" simply.855
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
opposed the proposition on the ground that the clause as it stood was in accordance with the provision of the English Act of last year. However, as he did not think it a matter of much consequence, he would agree to the proposition.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. M'LAREN moved to omit the words "five pounds" and to substitute "forty shillings." As they had to submit to pay poor rates as in England, they had a right to claim the 40s. franchise as in England.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, the Amendment would not have the effect of extending the English franchise to Scotland, for the 40s. English franchise referred only to freehold property. The difference proposed to be made would add some thirty voters only in the whole of Scotland.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE moved to omit the following words at the end of the clause:—"As also of the interest of any heritable debt affecting the said lands and heritages." It very frequently happened that small houses were built with borrowed money, and the clause, as drawn would deprive the owners of such houses of the franchise.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, that a creation of faggot votes took place last year in Renfrewshire, which could not have taken place if the interest of the borrowed money had had to be deducted.
§ MR. BAZLEY
thought the clause, as it stood, would be the only preventive of faggot vote-making. It was a fact that the mortgages of small properties were in the hands of the district banker, who had entire command of the votes.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
thought the clause as it stood would prevent the creation of faggot votes, properly so called.
§ MR. MONCREIFF
asked if it would be desirable for the assessor under this clause to go rummaging through every person's property. In the case of persons who had borrowed money the factor or local agent might put a claimant for the franchise into the witness-box, and call upon him to state the amount of burdens upon his property, thus causing great expense and annoyance. He entreated his right hon. and learned Friend not to insist upon this provision.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
contended that they would not establish a beneficial franchise if they gave facilities for making improper votes, and therefore he hoped the Amendment would be rejected.
§ MR. CRAUFURD
declared that if the words proposed to be omitted were left in, they would disfranchise practically a large portion of £10 holders.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ Clause 5 (Occupation Franchise for Voters in Counties).
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE moved to leave out the word "rateable," in line 43, and insert "yearly." He hoped the Government was disposed to make some concession on this point.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, the Government were willing to assent, in substance, to the alteration proposed, which, it was alleged, would have the effect of removing some inconvenience that was apprehended. In at least 100 parishes of Scotland there were no poor rates, and no rateable assessment. The Bill proposed to secure a uniform assessment, and that the full value return should be given of all property, with a net assessment also, between £12 and £50. As, however, it seemed that that would be objected to, the Government had thought it right to give way; and he therefore proposed to substitute for the words "rateable value of £12" the words "annual value of £14 or upwards, as appearing on the valuation roll of such county," that amount being the equivalent for a £12 rating.
§ Amendment of The LORD ADVOCATE agreed to.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
, who had given Notice of a Motion to leave out snb-divisions 3 and 4 of the Clause 7, said, that he should not press it, understanding that the Lord Advocate was about to bring forward an Amendment on the same subject.
THE LORD ADVOCATE moved an Amendment to leave out from "3. Has" to "may" in line 7, and insert—
Provided, That no man shall under this section be entitled to be registered who shall have been exempted from assessment or payment of poor rates on the ground of inability to pay; or who shall have failed to pay, on or before the first
day of August in the present or the twentieth day of July in any subsequent year, all poor rates (if any) that have become payable by him in respect of said lands and heritages up to the preceding fifteenth day of May; or who shall have been in the receipt of parochial relief within twelve calendar months next preceding the said last day of July.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ MR. CRAUFURD
said, that with a view to prevent the creation of faggot votes, he begged to move to add at the end of the clause the following words:—Provided, that no man shall, under this section, be entitled to be registered as a voter by reason of his being a joint owner or joint occupier of any lands or heritages.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
said, this matter stood on a somewhat different footing from those fictitious properties which had just been considered. There could he no more legitimate title to the franchise than the joint occupancy of a farm. A farmer very often wished that his son should be associated with him, and, in fact, family arrangements were frequently dependent upon it. The question was altogether apart from faggot votes, and he could not consent to the Amendment.
§ MR. DALGLISH
said, that from his own personal experience he thought it desirable that the Amendment should not be pressed.
§ MR. MONCREIFF
said, there would be an opportunity of discussing the question more at large upon the clauses to be brought up at a later stage, and recommended his hon. Friend to withdraw his Amendment for the present.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 6 (Restriction on Number of Votes in City of Glasgow).
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
suggested that the clause should be so worded as to apply to any three-cornered constituency, since it was possible that Glasgow might not be the only one in that position.
§ Clause postponed.
§ Clause 7 (Electors employed for Reward within Six Months of an Election not to vote).
§ SIR ANDREW AGNEW
suggested the omission of the word "agent." It was desirable that an agent should be a gentleman of social position. He usually was so, and he ought not to lose his vote through acting in the capacity of agent.
§ MR. BAXTER
said, these disqualifications were decided upon in the case of the English Bill, after full discussion.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 8 (Universities to return Two Members).
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, the clause raised the important question of distribution of seats, which had never been properly discussed by the House or the Committee. He thought they ought to have from the Government some explanation as to the places which they proposed to disfranchise before they entered upon the question of the allotment of the seats. They ought, in fact, to catch their hare before they cooked it. The hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) had made a very objectionable proposal in regard to the distribution of seats. A counter proposal of a still more objectionable character had been made by his hon. Friend (Sir Rainald Knightley). Another proposal, which stood in the Bill as it was originally framed, was more objectionable than either of the others. In his opinion the proposal of the Government to increase the number of Members of that House was one of the most dangerous ever submitted to a Legislative Assembly. A fourth proposal, with which he largely concurred, and of which the hon. Member for Devonshire (Sir Lawrence Palk) had given Notice, had not yet been brought before the Committee. He objected to any and every proposition which had either for its immediate or ultimate object to make any addition to the monotonous and one-sided character of the representation of Scotland. He appeared before the Committee in this respect as the Scotchman's friend. In the first place, he would submit that the claims of Scotland to representation at the expense of England could not be made out when the representation of certain parts of the kingdom was considered. The West Riding of Yorkshire had claims to a considerable addition to its representation. Its population amounted to about half the population of Scotland.
§ MR. CANDLISH
rose to Order. The hon. Member was not confining himself to the clause now before the Committee.
The clause was 859 called on, and the hon. Member proposed to make some observations on it. I assume that he is going to conclude with a Motion.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
contended that his remarks were germane to the question whether there should be two Members for the Scotch Universities. His objection was to any proposition the object of which was immediately to make an addition to the representation of Scotland at the expense either of England or Ireland. The West Riding of Yorkshire, with half the population of Scotland, had twenty-two Members, while Scotland had fifty-three; and four Members at least were due to the West Riding before it could be placed on an equality with Scotland. And yet it was proposed to take a seat from Northallerton, which was in the county of Yorkshire, and to give it to Scotland. Ever since the time of the Picts and the Scots there had been nothing more unjustifiable. The hon. Member for Montrose made a raid on the northern counties; but he (Mr. Lowther) could not assent to a Motion for taking a seat from so populous a district and giving it to Scotland. He might also cite the case of the County Palatine of Lancaster, the population of which was about five-sixths of that of Scotland, and the representation of which was miserably inadequate. According to the standard set up by the hon. Member for Montrose, a balance of eleven Members ought to be given to Lancashire to bring that county up to the representation of Scotland. Representation and voting power were two very distinct things. The numerical force of Scotland in the divisions of that House was a very different thing from the fair and adequate representation of all classes and sections of the community. For a very long time the Executive of Scotland had been actually unrepresented in that House, and very great inconvenience had been caused to the Government thereby; and had it not been for the volunteered good offices of the hon. Members for Ayrshire and Peeblesshire, the inconvenience would have been still more serious. After a very considerable interval the Scottish Executive was represented in that House; but the Lord Advocate found a seat for one of those very English boroughs (Thetford) which had fallen within the devouring grasp of the hon. Member for Montrose. He maintained that a fair and complete representation of Scotland was not to be expected from the scheme of the hon. Member.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, he intended to propose that the clause be postponed, in order that the Committee might receive information from the Government as to the constituencies that were required. He protested against any attempt to diminish the English or Irish representation for the sake of Scotland.
§ Moved "That the Clause be postponed." (Mr. J. Lowther.)
§ MR. BAXTER
said, he hoped that the Government would not listen to the proposal of the hon. Member for York (Mr. J. Lowther). The Scotch Reform Bill had been brought in in the second week of the Session, and the Scotch Members had been kept week after week in expectation that progress would be made with their Bill. Yet now, in the fourth week of May, the hon. Member made a proposal which was equivalent to asking the Government to drop the Bill for the present Session. The hon. Member had, in fact, delivered that night the speech he ought to have made last Monday. The hon. Member was now too late. He trusted that if they did not finish the clauses that evening, they would get through the Committee on an early night.
§ SIR LAWRENCE PALK
said, he wished to treat Scotland with perfect fairness in this matter. The question decided the other night was merely this, that certain boroughs in England should be disfranchised. Scotland, from some source or other, was to receive seven additional Members, and he should be prepared to assist in giving Scotland that number. But he protested against the assumption that the decision come to the other night was that seats should be taken from England and given to Scotland.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, that the observations of the hon. Member for Montrose were tantamount to a confession of the weakness of his cause, or else he would not have been in such a hurry to pledge the House beforehand to a general Resolution, before they had considered the details upon which it ought to have been based. The disfranchisement of the seven boroughs, which had been affirmed so hastily the other night, was the abandonment of one more of the principles of the Reform Bill, formally acquiesced in by the Government, although directly in face 861 of the declarations from the Treasury Bench last year, that no centre of representation was to be taken away. If they wished to carry Reform to a successful issue, they would have, in cold blood, to re-consider the hasty and unwise decision to which they had arrived the other evening a little before eight o'clock, at the summons of empty stomachs, when, rather than let their dinners spoil, they had wiped out seven English seats. This was not so inconsequential a proceeding as it might at first sight appear, for it ought not to be forgotten that, excepting in the case of penal disfranchisement for corrupt practices, no precedent for the abolition of boroughs could be found, except in the one great settlement of 1832. Still, all that had been done on that night was to pass a Resolution, which the House might or might not embody in a clause; and accordingly it would be only decent to wait till it could be proved that there were other constituencies ready and fit to be put in the place of those which had been condemned, before settling the terms of that clause. It was disgraceful to Parliament to proceed in the haphazard way they were doing, and with reference to the Motion before them, he was of opinion that they ought to have the special seats to allot, before allotting them. As it was, they were acting the part of the spendthrift who made his engagements before he had calculated his assets. They ought to learn a little homely prudence, and be sure that they had a balance at their bankers' before proceeding, as they were doing, to draw cheques. There was one point on which he differed toto cœlo from the hon. Member for York. His hon. Friend characterized the proposal of the Government to increase the Members of the House, as one of the most dangerous in its nature which he had ever heard of. He (Mr. Beresford Hope) was unable to regard the proposal in that light, and he regretted the want of courage with which the First Lord of the Treasury had allowed his own bantling to be bolstered without saying a word for it. It had never been fairly brought forward; it had never been argued in the House; and the objection to a moderate increase stood, in the absence of any reason in its behalf, a mere relic of an outworn superstition. There was nothing hallowed in the present number of 658 which had come about by pure haphazard. At the beginning of this century the House was increased by 100, as it had 862 been at the beginning of the 18th by forty-five; again, to go no further back than the 17th century, James I. had created the constituency which he had the honour of representing, together with that of the sister University; while it was not till after the Restoration that in the reign of Charles II. the County Palatine, and the city of Durham respectively, acquired the right to return Members. It was a mere figment of the imagination to suppose there was anything sacred or immutable in the actual number of Members; and the Government was much to blame for not having fairly challenged the consideration of the question.
§ MR. HAYTER
concurred with the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down in thinking it impossible that they could enter upon the question of the distribution of the seats before they had the seats to distribute. Their present position reminded him of the old adage, "Ex nihilo nihil fit." He hoped that the Government, whether they now went on with that question, or postponed it to a future day, would take into their consideration the fact that the vote of last Monday broke up the arrangement relating to the re-distribution of seats arrived at by the Reform Bill of last year, and converted into waste paper certain of its clauses and schedules.
§ MR. SMOLLETT
said, he should support the Motion of the hon. Member for York (Mr. J. Lowther). It appeared to him that the time had come for reporting Progress. The concessions made by Gentlemen on the opposite side had enabled the franchise clauses of the Bill to be discussed, and they had now arrived at the re-distribution of clauses, which he considered by far the most important part of this measure. As it now stood, seven seats had been allocated, he must say, in a very unsatisfactory manner. But the time was come when the Lord Advocate ought to rise and tell them how he meant to allocate the ten seats apparently placed at his disposal by the vote of the other night. He suggested that the whole of the re-distribution clauses should be withdrawn, and others, embodying a new and improved scheme, should be substituted; otherwise, he believed the re-distribution would be taken out of the hands of the Ministers, and transferred to Gentlemen oppposite. With a little more concession on both sides, it was his belief that a more satisfactory measure might be framed. If the Lord Advocate would give more atten- 863 tion to the great towns of Scotland—such as Glasgow and Dundee—a great improvement might be effected. He must re-model altogether the groups of burghs as they now stood, for the present groups were a disgrace to the Scottish representation. They contained numerous small villages and hamlets which had no right whatever to urban representation. These should be eliminated from the groups as they now stood, and new life infused by adding large towns which had grown up within the last thirty years. Unless some such arrangement were made, in his opinion, the Bill would never give satisfaction; but, by making these changes, it might be brought into a state which would be accepted as creditable in Scotland both by the agricultural and the manufacturing districts. He trusted that the Lord Advocate would withdraw these clauses and bring forward a new scheme giving to Scotland ten Members instead of seven.
§ COLONEL FRENCH
said, that if ten Members were to be taken from small English boroughs, he saw no reason why they should not be given to large unrepresented towns in England instead of being transferred to Scotland. He thought the claim of Ireland to increased representation was greater than that of Scotland. Ireland, from her population and taxation, was entitled to twenty-seven additional Members. There were towns in Scotland which had not 1,000 voters each. The number of voters in the Scotch counties was particularly small; and he had himself given notice of a Motion that no county which had less than 1,000 electors should be entitled to send Members to this House. If boroughs with only a few voters were disfranchised, why not counties also? Peeblesshire and Selkirkshire had only 500 voters each, and there was the nomination county of Sutherland with only 180 electors. The number of county electors which would be added to the constituency of Sutherlandshire under the present Bill would not amount to 300, three-fourths of whom were on the property of the Duke of Sutherland, to oblige whom the Leaders on both sides had coalesced to support this scandalous blot in the Scottish representation. He therefore asked whether English towns would tolerate the transference of their representation to Scotland. He considered the Motion of the hon. Member for York (Mr. J. Lowther) a very reason able one, and he should therefore support it.
§ MR. CUMMING-BRUCE
said, he had witnessed with regret the success of the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter). It might have been a good party move; but he thought at the time that it was likely to end in Scotland receiving no additional representation at all. He was present in the House when the present Prime Minister, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, stated that it was his determination to avoid any measure proposing a diminution of Members for England, and that declaration was received with universal acclamations of approval by English Members, which induced one to think that the determination would be maintained. It would be an act of the greatest possible injustice to disfranchise ten small constituencies unconvicted of any crime whatever. He was unwilling to get rid of small constituencies, because he considered that they sent most valuable representatives to that House; and he had not forgotten the eloquent defence of them made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone). He quite agreed with the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Beresford Hope) that the objection that had been made to the increase of the numbers of the House was a mere bugbear; and whether the increase should be seven or ten did not greatly signify. He should be extremely sorry if the Committee did not affirm the proposition to give two Members to the Universities of Scotland. England had four or five University Members; Ireland had two; and why should not Scotland, with her four Universities, have two Members also? He was sure the Scotch Universities would return most valuable Members in connection with education, literature, and science. But while he thought they should insist on having two Members for the Scotch Universities, he did not wish to get them at the expense of the small boroughs of England. They must eventually increase the numbers of the House; and he hoped English Members would not do Scotland the injustice of limiting her representatives to the present number. Everything pointed towards an increase in the numbers of the House. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire would disagree from that proposition. Looking to the increase of the population and the wealth of the country, as well as of the private business of the House, he thought that ten additional Members were scarcely adequate to the 865 necessities of the case. The Scotch Members were often congratulated on their being able to form a snug little Parliament of their own; but that certainly could not apply to the present case, as they had great reason to complain that they had not been consulted regarding the arrangement of seats proposed by the Bill.
Until about an hour ago, when the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) rose, I was under the impression — the happy impression—that there was a general conviction in the Committee, as in the House, that we ought, if possible, to go on find make progress with this Bill. A Motion more disappointing than that of the hon. Member for York (Mr. J. Lowther), and supported by speeches more disappointing, I can hardly conceive; because not only do they attempt to go back on propositions deliberately affirmed by the House, but they attempt that in the way; most inconvenient—not by challenging a direct issue, but by voting the postponement of the clause; and why? Because, says the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge, the conclusion was arrived at before dinner. The hon. Member thinks it exceedingly improper to arrive at any conclusion before dinner. His speech was founded on this proposition—and those, which followed were founded on the same doctrine—that the number of the Members of this House ought to be increased, and that that is the proper way of finding additional Members. Now, if that is the course to be adapted, let it be proposed distinctly —not under the form of a proposition that leaves everything completely in the dark. But if that question is to be raised again, it is going back on what was almost unanimously settled. For what happened last week? The right hon. Gentleman the First Minister of the Crown has certainly done all in his power, and made every effort he could make to induce the House to find the additional Members for Scotland by increasing the number of Members in the House, but he very fairly acknowledged last week that he found that to be impracticable. He conceded in the most express terms the point in dispute. He expressed a rather feeble preference for the proposal of the hon. Baronet the Member for Northamptonshire (Sir Rainald Knightley) over that of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter), but he acquiesced in the result. Under these circumstances, when the disposition to increase the numbers of the 866 House, entertained and promoted by the Government so far as could be by the exercise of their fair influence, has been deliberately and finally abandoned, with a frank admission, on account of their discovery that it was opposed almost universally to the feeling on this side of the House, and likewise to the feeling and opinion of n considerable number on the other side, I must say, if we are really to satisfy the country, by making progress in this Bill, that ought to be regarded as a settled question. My hon. Friend she Member for Montrose, at all events, has done all be could to bring this matter to a straight and speedy issue; and I think we may fairly ask that we should he allowed to go forward, either proceeding on the power taken by my hon. Friend in the instruction granted last week, or in some direct manner having his proposition over thrown and she vote of the House last week reversed.
MR. R. J. HARVEY
said, he believed that, although Scotland might be satisfied, England would never consent to the taking of ten Members from English boroughs and transferring them to Scotland. That would be a great breach of faith so far as the English county Members were concerned, who had been induced by the promises held out in regard to the re-distribution of scats to consent to the Bill of last year. In his county two Members had been taken away from Great Yarmouth and one from Thetford, and now it was proposed to take away the other Member from Thetford.
§ MR. H. BAILLIE
said, the Government had proposed to give seven additional seats to Scotland, and what the Committee desired to know was what was to be done with the remaining three seats placed at their disposal by the Motion of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter). A rumour was afloat that an arrangement had been come to between the Scotch Members and the Government, by which the whole ten seats were to be given to Scotland, instead of some of them being allotted among the large towns of this country. He wished to know from the Government whether that report was correct or not? Perhaps on the whole it would be better that the question should be postponed in order to give the Government an opportunity of re-considering the matter.
§ MR. MONCREIFF
said, this was a Motion to delay the consideration of this clause upon a. matter which be understood had been agreed upon by both sides of the 867 House. If the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury would only get up and state what were the intentions of the Government upon the question there would be an end of the matter.
§ MR. SANDFORD
said, that he thought the Motion of the hon. Member for York a fair and consistent Motion. The hon. Member had not been fairly treated by the right hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone). Although power had been given to the Committee to deal with the ten seats, yet the boroughs to which they belonged had not yet been disfranchised. It had been distinctly understood on that side of the House that only seven of those ten Members were to be given to Scotland, and it yet remained to be decided what was to be done with the remaining three seats. If any understanding had been come to between certain parties in that House that the whole of the ten Members were to be given to Scotland, that was no reason why such an agreement should be binding upon the whole House. Members on that side of the House had happily not yet arrived at that stage of subserviency. They were at perfect liberty to discuss the propriety of that arrangement.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, the right hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Moncreiff) has blamed me for not addressing the Committee before upon this Question; but the fact is that I have risen two or three times for that purpose, and on one of those occasions I gave way to the eloquence of the right hon. Member himself; his remark, therefore, was somewhat superfluous. The hon. Member for York (Mr. J. Lowther) has made a Motion to which I cannot assent. I thought to-night was to be an eminently practical night, during which we were to make some considerable progress in passing the Scotch Reform Bill, and securing that early appeal to the country on another question which nobody in this House is more anxious to hasten than are those who have the honour of being Her Majesty's Ministers. The hon. Member for York said he did not clearly know what we were called upon to vote for with regard to the re-distribution of seats, and it was impossible for us to go on with the discussion of re-distribution. It was upon that ground that he moved that the consideration of the clause should be postponed—he said it was impossible to go on without a plan. But the hon. Member has a plan of re-distribution before him— he has the Bill upon which we are now in Committee, and which contains many 868 propositions which may be modified—as most propositions are—in Committee, but which are certainly distinct propositions. The hon. Member says we are not justified in apportioning the new seals in Scotland until we have determined upon the means by which those new seats are to be secured. In laying down that proposition the hon. Member assumes that an increase in the number of the Members of this House is impossible. The Bill, however, was originally framed upon a contrary assumption. There is something very contradictory in the speeches and opinions of hon. Members on this side of the House, who seem to be not unfavourable to an increase being made in the representation of Scotland, while at the same time they tell us that we must not in any way infringe upon the amount of representation at present enjoyed in England, nor yet increase the number of the Members in this House. These views appear to me to involve a representative problem very difficult of solution. I am anxious to induce the Committee to arrive at such a frame of mind as will insure that if we do not to-night completely settle the question we may at least come to a point where we may fairly see before us a speedy settlement. In that hope I will endeavour to lay before the Committee the views which I, who have naturally considered this question not a little, entertain respecting it. In the first place, I must say that I know of no arrangement existing between Her Majesty's Government and the right hon. Gentleman or any party in this House; and therefore the indignation of the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Sandford) upon that head was altogether unnecessary. The Committee will recollect that when I first introduced this question of the representation of Scotland, with the view to make it more considerable and more effective I proposed a scheme by which that representation would have been increased by seven Members, and these Members were to be divided between great civic communities, counties, and the learned bodies, and certainly, considering the limited means at our disposal, that plan promised to be an effective one. Under that plan, however, the seven additional Members so given to Scotland were not to be taken from Scotland or Ireland, but were to be provided by increasing the number of the Members of this House to that extent. I have never heard myself any argument against that plan for provid- 869 ing the additional Members; but I know there are many plans not successful in this world against which no arguments have ever been offered. I agree with the right hon. Member for South Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) that there is no cabalistic charm in the number 658, as he told us a few years ago, I agreed with him then upon that point, and I agree with him now upon it; but unfortunately he does not now agree with me. What would have been the effect of giving seven additional Members to Scotland? Why, it would have increased the representation in the country of the great towns and of the considerable counties, and it would have given for the first time representation to those learned bodies of which Scotland is justly proud. By carrying into effect that scheme the balance of representation between England and Scotland would have been changed, and changed to the advantage of Scotland in no inconsiderable degree, but in a degree which we believed justice would have authorized us in proposing, and which we thought the feeling in England would have tolerated and perhaps have welcomed. But when you change the process, and propose that the seven additional Members that are to be given to Scotland are to be taken from England, you are in fact giving fourteen Members to Scotland as far as the balance of influence is concerned. I do not at this time wish to enter into the merits of such a proposition as that to which I have referred; but I do wish to point out to the Committee the very essential difference between the two propositions, which the Committee should calmly consider before arriving at a decision upon the question. I say this because I have observed in the discussion upon the subject that the difference between the two propositions has not been recognized, and that the question has been looked upon as one merely of providing the additional representation for Scotland, either by adding to the general representation of the House, or by deducting a certain number of seats from the aggregate representation of England. There being, although not an avowed, unquestionably a general feeling in this House that the number of its Members should not be increased—I may state that the number of Members of this House has been repeatedly increased, and that it has never been increased without our representation being rendered more efficient. We had to re consider this Bill in this view: Was it just that the representation of 870 Scotland should remain unaltered? After so large a settlement as that which has been made in the last two years in the electoral system of this country, it would, I think, have been a mistake not to have made some increase in the representation of Scotland; and, in spite of the difficulties we have had to encounter in carrying this into effect, I still adhere to that opinion. Now, upon this subject two proposals have been made— one by the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter), and the other by the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Sir Rainald Knightley). I believed both those plans to be unwise, and preferred the original plan of the Government, which was well-matured and well-considered. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire says that, though disapproving both these plans, the Government expressed their willingness to adopt whichever the Committee might decide upon, I cannot help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman misapprehended what I said. What I stated was that the Government disapproved both those plans; but that if the Committee decided in favour of one of them we would consider its decision, and endeavour to make such n proposal founded upon it as, in our opinion, would probably be satisfactory. These, I believe, are the exact words I used, and I am prepared to act upon them. Well, what is the position of Scotland at the present moment with regard to an increase in its representation? I am sure that unless the Scotch Members act with discretion and caution — and it is, perhaps, superfluous to suggest to Scotch Members that they should act with discretion and caution— we shall have some difficulty in making that increase in the representation of Scotland to which I, for one, am sincerely favourable. Let us look at the materials before us. Is there any possibility by a re-arrangement of the present representation of Scotland of rendering that representation more effective? My own opinion is that that is not altogether a result of which we need despair. For example, I would take the two counties of Selkirkshire and Peeblesshire, and I am prepared to unite those two counties, which now send one Member each, and give the remaining Member to a group of Border burghs, as has been proposed this evening. That is one change which, though not adding to the representation of Scotland, is likely to make that representation more effective. But we now come 871 to the number of Members we are prepared to add to the representation of Scotland. I will state to the Committee the views which Her Majesty's Government entertain on this subject, and I shall be very happy if those views are accepted by the Committee. I am prepared to support an increase of seven Members to the representation of Scotland; and I may remark that adding seven Members according to the original scheme of the Government, and according to the schemes now popular in the House, are two things essentially different, because in the one case the addition was simply an addition of seven Members, whereas in the other it is really an addition of fourteen. I do think that, after what has occurred on this question, as practical men, we ought to overcome any prejudice or difficulties that may interfere with our dealing with this subject, and not to hesitate to support an addition of seven Members to the representation of Scotland. After listening to the suggestions which have been made, I would myself propose that these seven Members should be apportioned in this wise —I would still increase the representation of the three great counties of Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, and Aberdeenshire, as before suggested, and I would add to the representation of Glasgow and Dundee. The claims of Dundee are, I admit, strong, and may be urged with a force which it is difficult to resist. That will take five Members. We have proposed to render the existing representation in one direction more efficient by adopting the suggested union of Selkirkshire and Peeblesshire, and bestowing the Member so obtained upon a group of Binder burghs; and I am still of opinion that it would be wise on the whole to give two Members to the Universities of Scotland. That is a point upon which the Committee can clearly give its opinion. Though the Government think it better to give two Members to the Universities; of course they would listen and give attention to the opinion of the Committee on such a point. We would, of course, prefer to give the additional representation to Scotland by adding to the numbers of the House; but as I cannot flatter myself that that could be done, I would accept the principle laid down by the hon. Member for Montrose in his Instruction. That principle I would apply to the extent I have indicated, but not further; because if you chose to proceed further in its application, I say the claims of England are too great for me to disregard. But, bearing in mind how much we have to 872 do, how short a space of time we have to do it in, and what great issues depend upon our completing this group of legislative measures upon the electoral system of the country, I recommend the Committee not to enter upon the question of dealing with the representation of England. You may to a certain extent be disturbing the settlement which we have arrived at with regard to England by dealing with those seven boroughs, but you can deal with them in legislation in the Scotch Bill. You do not disturb the English Bill; but if you apportion the three other boroughs which you are called upon to disfranchise, and which I see no reason for disfranchising, to meet the demands for representation in England, you must disturb the English Bill, and by so doing yon will open a question which you will find it very difficult to close. If you desire to act in a practical spirit with a view to bring these great measures to a completion, I earnestly recommend you to accept the views which, on the part of the Government, I now express for the representation of Scotland. We will give you our earnest support in carrying them into effect, and if you accept them you will, I believe, attain your great objects — increased representation to your great counties, increased representation to your great towns of Glasgow and Dundee, and ample and adequate representation of your seats of learning. You will attain those great results, and you may attain them quickly. I trust, therefore, after tills declaration of the intentions of the Government, that the Committee will proceed tonight to the consideration of the increase to the two Universities, and proceed to that consideration with spirit and with effect.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
said, he regarded the proposals now submitted to the Committee by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government as a totally distinct and new set of proposals. He thought it necessary that they should have some time to consider them; or, if the Committee proceeded at once to their consideration, it ought to be on the understanding that the right hon. Gentleman submitted the scheme now laid before the Committee in a distinct shape as a substitute for that made in the Bill. The scheme was, no doubt, preferable to the one submitted by the Government last year; but still he trusted the Committee would accept the proposal made by the hon. Member for Montrose, which involved a very small addition to that proposed by the right hon. Gentleman oppo- 873 site, and which was a concession that the Members from the North thought they were entitled to ask at the hands of the House.
§ SIR LAWRENCE PALK
said, he was sorry that he could not he a party to any such compromise as that which had been suggested by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government. He strongly opposed the principle of giving one single seat from the representation of England, after that representation had been settled in a measure which had received the consent of both Houses of Parliament, which had received the consent of the Queen, and which was now the law of the land, and he should feel it his duty to divide the House upon the proposal. He was ready to support the agreement come to last year to add to Scotland's Members but only by voting for an increase of the House, a proposition against which no valid objection could be urged.
said, he could quite, understand the remark of the right hon. Gentleman behind him (Mr. Bouverie) that the Government had made a proposal involving points now to them, mid which might require further time for consideration; but he was in no difficulty in that respect himself. He had had the plan of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) before him for some time, and being quite satisfied with it was prepared to vote for it. Though the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman was an improvement on the original scheme in the Bill, he saw one fundamental objection to it. He would not outer into controversy respecting any eulogy he had delivered on old nomination boroughs, which served a purpose very different from the use to which the present small boroughs are put. But he was quite convinced that the general judgment of the country having approved the vote of the House by which the extinction of ten utterly insignificant places of only formal representation was decreed, it would be highly unsatisfactory to the country were they to recede from any portion of that vote. If they came to the conclusion that ten seats should not be given to Scotland, it would be hard to restore to life the ten burghs that had been smitten. But he thought the claim of Scotland to ten more Members had been fairly made out, and he was afraid a grievance would remain behind if the ten scats were cut down to the measure of the right hon. Gentleman. With regard to the arithmetical calculation of the right hon. 874 Gentleman, he could not admit that taking seven seats from England and giving them to Scotland would be tantamount to giving Scotland fourteen Members; for if the seven Members were added to the House, Scotland would have 60–665 ths of the House, while if the seven Members were taken from England's, Scotland would have 60 658ths. That was the whole difference.
§ MR. J. HARDY
said, that Devonshire would be robbed of six Members if the Scotch seats were to be supplied from England in addition to the disfranchisement of Totnes, and the disappointment of having the promised representation of Torquay unfulfilled. The right hon. Member for Smith Lancashire (Mr. Gladstone) seemed inclined to explain away his expression of opinion on the value of small boroughs; but he asked the Committee to listen to his words. "Through the medium of small boroughs," said the right hon. Gentleman —You introduce those calm, sagacious, retired observers who are averse from the rough contact necessary in canvassing large bodies… If that one ingress is to be the suffrages of a large mass of voters, the consequence is a dead level of mediocrities, which destroys not only the ornament but the force of this House, and which, as I think, the history of other countries will show is ultimately fatal to the liberties of the people.That explicit declaration needed no comment.
said, he had heard with amazement the proposal of the First Minister of the Crown to withdraw the second Member promised to Aberdeen, with its 90,000 inhabitants, and, as he had shown, nearly 9,000 prospective electors. The assertion of the right hon. Gentleman, that giving seven of England's Members to Scotland would be equal to parting with fourteen, could be supported only on the presumption that Scotland was hostile to England, and that in all divisions its Members would be found in the Opposition Lobby.
§ COLONEL FRENCH
asked, with reference to the Prime Minister's proposal to join two counties, what he intended to do with Sutherlandshire and its 180 voters?
said, he hoped the now Scotch Members would not be taken from England; but if it must be so, he thought it very hard that the proposal of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) should be preferred to that of the hon. Baronet (Sir Rainald Knightley).
said, it was not competent to the hon. Member to discuss the merits of any plan as opposed to the Instruction given to the Committee.
said, he hoped that, whatever was done to satisfy Scotland's claims, the representation of the Eastern Division of Somersetshire, which was the wealthiest and most populous portion of that county, would not be diminished.
Sir, I am not quite sure whether the hon. Member for York persists in his Motion for the postponement of the clause. I heard that he was about to withdraw it.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
I wish to consult the convenience of the Committee, I rather mistook the course I intended to take.
That is not a very definite answer. I was rather surprised at the language of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, and at the language of some Members opposite, on this question. They seemed to me to forget that Scotland is part of the United Kingdom; that, in point of fact, Scotland is only a name which we give to the Northern portion of this island; and that if you transfer Members to places north of the Tweed it is only the same as if those places were north of the Thames, or north of the Humber. Nothing could be more unconstitutional and nothing more unfortunate than to deal with this question as if we were giving some portion of our power as English Members to another and scarcely a friendly power which dwells in the Northern part of the island. Now, in the Bill of last year, hon. Gentlemen opposite, following the advice of the right hon. Gentleman, agreed to give three Members to three new boroughs in the county of Durham— to Darlington, Stockton, and, I think, the Hartlepools. Well, but suppose that these three boroughs had been north of the Tweed, what would have been the difference? In point of fact, you are discussing a matter which does not exist, and you are frightening yourselves with a phantom in which there is nothing whatever substantial; and I protest, in the name of every man who wishes for the unity of the kingdom, against the contention in which the right hon. Gentleman has indulged— and I am sure he knows a great deal better— that in taking seven or ten Members from England and putting them to the north of the Tweed, you are aggrandizing Scotland at the expense of England. 876 The hon. Gentleman who represents Dumbartonshire (Mr. Smollett)— I think there is a dispute about the county he represents — laments, I know, very much that the boroughs of Scotland have passed into the hands of the Liberal party, and he knows also that gradually the counties in Scotland are also passing into the hands of the same party. That is literally what you fear, but it is really a very foolish fear; for, after all, the Scotch Gentlemen on this side of the House are merely going a little in advance of you, and you, under the Leadership of the right hon. Gentleman, make progress which to us is highly satisfactory. Therefore there is nothing in this terrible spectre which you are raising up. The hon. Member for Roscommon (Colonel French) has got some notion very likely that some harm is being done to Ireland. But even if the taking of a few Members from England and giving them to Scotland were a harm to England, that could not at all injure Ireland. I do not know anyone more disposed to do justice to Ireland than the Scotch Members in this House. I hope the Committee will take my advice in the matter, and give up all idea that they are about to engage in a transference of power when they take Members from boroughs which, wherever situated, are no true representation, and give them to any real constituencies in any part of the United Kingdom. Now, as to these ten boroughs which are in question, and the disturbance of which appals the hon. Member for Devonshire (Sir Lawrence Palk), I will give you an illustration. The borough which I am permitted to represent contains, I believe, somewhere about 57,000 householders. If you will take all the householders that exist in these boroughs, you will find that, adding them all together, they amount to no more than 7,000. And what I have said of Birmingham, of course, applies to Manchester, Liverpool, and Glasgow. In point of fact, each of those great towns has a number of householders equal to 50,000 more than the whole of those small boroughs which it is proposed to disfranchise. Now, on that fact I wish to make one appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite. One of the great arguments of the right hon. Gentleman in asking you to agree to an extensive measure of household suffrage last year, and the argument which prevailed with you was, that it was better to settle the question, in the hope that there would be no further disturbance. Now, I ask you, 877 when you are about to pass a Scotch Bill, is it not wise that you should make a redistribution of seats that to the people of Scotland would appear in some fair degree satisfactory, so that you may not, the moment the new Parliament meets, have the whole question re-opened? If I were a Member of that side of the House— of course it is difficult for me to imagine that — but if I were a Member of that side of the House, and were afraid of progress, of that terrible thing which is called democracy— which means, I believe, generally equal representation— what I should do would be this: I should support the right hon. Gentleman in making the most comprehensive settlement of this question which is possible during the present Session; because there cannot be the smallest doubt that the people of England— unless they have degenerated from their forefathers, unless they have no regard for fairness or freedom— will never consent that there should be the enormous discrepancies which now exist between the representation of these great constituencies and these very small ones, which really are no representation at all. And really I argue that, if you knew your own business and worked your own principles, and maintained your own views, you would agree to a measure which the people of Scotland generally, and their representatives in this House, are willing to accept, rather than pass so small a measure that it will satisfy nobody, and will involve a re-opening of the whole question in the very next Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman is in a difficulty which we can all see. I presume that, if till the Gentlemen who sit behind him would fairly trust in his sagacity on this question, he would agree to the proposition of my hon. Friend the Member for Mont-rose. He knows that it is a very reasonable proposition, and that it is more likely to close this question than any smaller plan will be. Therefore, if you will not make a disturbance about it, I have not the smallest doubt that he would agree to that proposition. Now, after having last year done so much, after the House has shown so great a disposition to support the right hon. Gentleman, why should you, on a matter like this, make a settlement which will he no settlement, and by agreeing to the Motion of the hon. Member for York, prevent the further progress of this Bill at the present time. I think the proposition of my hon. Friend is moderate and reasonable, and I hope the Committee will agree to it.
§ MR. WALPOLE
Sir, I quite agree with the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) that it is not desirable that the Chairman should report Progress. We ought to endeavour to arrive, if possible, at a fair and reasonable settlement of the question of the representation of Scotland, But with the other observations of the hon. Gentleman I cannot at all agree. One of the arguments which he has brought forward is the disproportion of large boroughs like Birmingham and the small boroughs which it is sought to disfranchise, and the hon. Member says, "Surely, it is unreasonable that you should refuse to make a settlement of the question by getting rid of these small boroughs." Now, if this argument is good for anything, we ought to reconsider the whole platform of our representation. One of the principles of the Bill of last year was that no borough was to be disfranchised. The more material argument, however, which the hon. Member addressed to us is the great importance of settling this question in a manner which shall be fair and just towards Scotland. Now, I entirely concur in the remark which has been made by many hon. Gentlemen in the course of this debate, that Scotland has a fair claim to additional representation. I should be very glad to see that claim fully satisfied; but when the hon. Member for Birmingham reasons that we are to come now to a settlement of the question, allow me to remind him that this question must now be considered as part of and a continuation of the argument which we had last year with regard to the scheme for a complete reform of the representation in every part of the kingdom. I agree with him that Scotland is as much a part of the kingdom as any county in England, and that therefore we ought to entertain no jealousy about transferring, if it be reasonable, the representation from one portion of the kingdom to the other, even though it goes beyond the Tweed. But the question before us is really this— When you had your Reform Bills before you last year, including the Scotch Bill, which contemplated an addition of seven Members to this House, you did not pause for one moment in settling the question of re-distribution for England; but you went on the supposition that that re-distribution was a settlement of the question as far as this portion of the kingdom is concerned. I think we are quite as much bound to I maintain that settlement as to extend additional representation to that part of 879 the kingdom which is north of the Tweed. How, then, are we to reconcile these differences? Unfortunately in consequence of the Motion brought forward on Monday evening, a change was made with regard to the re-distribution of seats, without any determination being come to as to what the re-distribution should be. The consequence is that you have had in the earlier part of the evening to reverse the vote which was come to on Monday, because it was contrary to the principle on which you proceeded last year with reference to rating, and you are now going to adhere to a vote which reversed the principle you agreed upon last year that there should be no disfranchisement. However anxious I may be to give additional representation to Scotland, I think I am quite as much bound to adhere to the settlement we deliberately came to last year, and I therefore cannot vote for reversing it.
§ MR. WALROND
hoped this would be treated as an Imperial question, He was ready to admit that they ought to legislate upon the same principles for all portions of the United Kingdom; and therefore he should support the Motion of the hon. Member for Devonshire (Sir Lawrence Palk).
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he thought the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) a most judicious one, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would place the substance of it in a distinct form before the Committee, he thought the proposal to give ten seats to Scotland would never become law.
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, he had no wish to postpone the clauses, although the more he looked at them the less he liked them. His only object having been to elicit the opinion of the Government, he would withdraw his Motion and support the Motion of the hon. Member for Devonshire (Sir Lawrence Palk.)
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. BAXTER
said, he would now move an Amendment to insert in line 10, after the word "shall," the words having reference to the Scotch University constituencies—Return one Member to serve in Parliament, from and after the end of the present Parliament the City of Glasgow shall be divided into two divisions in the manner specified in Schedule () hereto annexed, and each division shall return two Members; the City of Edinburgh shall return three Members; and the Town of Dundee, the City of Aberdeen, and the Counties of Lanark, Ayr, Aberdeen, and Perth shall each return two Members to serve in Parliament.880 He said the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had placed the Scotch Members somewhat at a disadvantage by making an entirely now proposal for the re-distribution of the seats for Scotland, he was glad that the right hon. Gentleman had given up one part of his former plan— namely, that of eliminating small places from the counties with a view of making the counties purely agricultural. He (Mr. Baxter) was entirely opposed to a "hard and fast line" between the constituencies. He entirely differed from the right hon. Gentleman's statement — that to take seven Members from England in order to add them to Scotland gave an additional representation of fourteen Members to Scotland. Even if that were so, Scotland with only sixty Members would still be greatly under-represented. There was a vast disproportion between the representation of England and Scotland; and the Scotch Members would be wanting in their duty if they did not appeal to the sense of justice of the House of Commons upon the matter. The Government proposed to give two Members to the Scotch Universities. He believed the majority of Members on that (the Opposition) side of the House, were opposed in principle to University representation altogether; because they believed it to be indefensible, and because they had not seen much to admire in its practical operation, either in England or Ireland. The Members of the Scottish Universities objected very much to the proposal to divide the Universities into two constituencies. He had heard from an eminent gentleman connected with the Universities that, rather than have two Members on the plan proposed by the Government, they would prefer to be represented by only one Member. He (Mr. Baxter) proposed a single Member as a compromise. With regard to the Amendment he now moved, he had endeavoured to discard party considerations altogether, and his proposal was based on population, wealth, and the number of electors. There were four large cities and four large counties in Scotland; and what he proposed was to give them an adequate representation. He would divide Glasgow, which contained one-seventh of the population of Scotland, into two districts, with two Members for each, and to give an additional Member to each of the following places: — The towns of Edinburgh, Dundee, and Aberdeen, and the counties of Lanark, Ayr, Aberdeen, and the agri- 881 cultural county of Perth. This plan would get rid of the Boundary Commissioners, and expedite the passing of the Bill. He thought the Government had met them very fairly, and he had nothing to complain of in their conduct. The only difference between them was that, while the Government proposed to give Scotland seven additional Members, he proposed to give her ten. The more the right hon. Gentleman looked into the question, the more he would agree with the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) that Scotland was entitled to larger representation.
Amendment moved, in Clause 8, line 19, after "shall," insert—
Return one Member to serve in Parliament; from and after the end of the present Parliament the City of Glasgow shall be divided into two divisions in the manner specified in Schedule () hereto annexed, and each division shall return two Members; the City of Edinburgh shall return three Members; and the town of Dundee, the City of Aberdeen, and the Counties of Lanark, Ayr, Aberdeen, and Perth shall each return two Members to serve in Parliament."— [Mr. Baxter.)
§ LORD ELCHO
said, he thought his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) was wrong in saying that the Universities would prefer one Member to two.
§ MR. BAXTER
explained that the Gentleman he had referred to said the Universities would, of course, prefer two Members; but, rather than have them in the way proposed by the Government, they would prefer only one.
§ LORD ELCHO
said, there could be no doubt that those interested in the Scottish Universities were strongly in favour of two Members, on the ground that when they were adding so much to the democratic element in that House, it was desirable, as a corrective to the preponderance of mere numbers, that they should give weight to the sort of men who would be likely to be returned from those seats of learning. He was disposed to agree with what had fallen from the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Walpole), that, considering what was done last year, it was a strong measure to re-open the question of re-distribution. Between the Motion of the hon. Baronet (Sir Rainald Knightley) and that of the hon. Member (Mr. Baxter), the House had had a choice of evils, and he had voted against the latter Motion. In his opinion, they had now gone too far to retract; and therefore, 882 although in principle his right hon. Friend was right in standing by the English Bill, still, the House being now in a false position, he thought a fair compromise was offered by the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. VANCE
said, that a too ready assent had been given to the principle of giving additional Members to Scotland. He did not think that country was entitled to any additional representation at all. By the Reform Act of 1832 Scotland obtained more than its fair proportion of representatives. According to the Census of 1861 Scotland had a, population of 3,066,000, and Ireland 5,800,000, or nearly double. Scotland had 53 Members, and Ireland 105, so that upon the ground of population Scotland was abundantly represented already. Again, it taxation were taken as a, basis of representation, the metropolitan districts, whose wealth was greater than that of all Scotland, must be entitled to more Members than Scotland possessed. He thought the Amendment involved a breach of faith with those Members who had voted for the English Reform Bill of last year. But if the House decided on giving seven additional Members to Scotland, he protested against their being taken from England. The vote for disfranchising the ten English boroughs was a purely accidental one, and the claim of Scotland for ten additional Members was perfectly ridiculous. The Whig Government, in their Reform Bill of 1866, proposed seven additional Members for Scotland, and that proposal was adopted by the present Government without due foundation.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, the question before the Committee was, whether the Scotch Universities should have two Members or only one. There was a general concurrence of opinion that Scotland was entitled to some additional representation. The proposal of the Government was that the Universities should be divided— Edinburgh and St. Andrews returning one Member, and Glasgow and Aberdeen the other. He should much wish to know the name of the person who made that singular communication to the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter), he concluded that he must be an English student attending one of their Universities. That proposed division was approved by the Senatus Academici and the Councils; and the only question was, whether the Universities should have two representatives or one. Now, the constituency of 883 Cambridge University was 5,000; that of Oxford. 3,786; Dublin, 1,702. Each of these Universities returned two Members; and London, with a constituency of 1,000, was to return one. Now, the constituency of Edinburgh and St. Andrews would be 5,000, and that of Glasgow and Aberdeen 4,000, each with one Member. Having regard, therefore, to the number of voters, the proposal that the Scotch Universities should between them have two Members was a very moderate one. As to the proposed division, it was thought that some jealousy might probably exist between Edinburgh and Glasgow; and it was therefore much better that the interest of each of these Universities should be attended to by a separate Member.
§ MR. LAING
said, he was entirely in favour of the general principles of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) giving ten more Members to Scotland. He thought that the largo towns had an incontestable right to increased representation, while, on the other hand, he had a strong feeling in favour of giving two Members to the Scotch Universities. Now, he thought that there was a mode of reconciling the claims of both these interests. When the Committee remembered that the county of Sutherland contained only 181 voters, might they not with perfect propriety group it with the adjoining county of Ross, which was not a large county? He thought the representatives of Scotland would not be doing their duty if they allowed the representation of the Scotch Universities to be cut down from two to one, leaving a separate representation to such a county as Sutherland?
MR. GRANT DUFF
suggested that the hon. Member (Mr. Baxter) should accept the proposal of the Government to give two Members to the Universities, and should omit that part of his Motion which claimed an additional Member for the county of Perth.
§ MR. DALGLISH
said, as far as he was able to understand, the people of Scotland objected to the Scotch Universities having one-thirtieth of the representation of Scotland, As the English Universities had only one-hundredth of the English representation, and the Irish Universities only one fifty-fifth of the Irish representation, he thought that the Government proposed too large a representation relatively for the Scotch Universities.
§ MR. BAXTER
said, he had not intended 884 to raise the issue as to whether the Universities should have two Members or only one Member. He should therefore omit the words of his Amendment which related to the Universities, and also adopt the suggestion of his hon. Friend the Member for the Elgin burghs (Mr. Grant Duff), and leave out Perth from his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment proposed, in page 3, line 20, after the word "Parliament," to insert the words—
The City of Glasgow shall be divided into two divisions in the manner specified in Schedule () hereto annexed, and each division shall return two Members; the City of Edinburgh shall return three Members; and the Town of Dundee, the City of Aberdeen, and the Counties of Lanark, Ayr, and Aberdeen shall each return two Members to serve in Parliament."— (Mr. Baxter.)
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the proposed Amendment divided itself into several distinct propositions, which he submitted ought to be put separately.
said, there was no necessity for putting each of the propositions separately, inasmuch as they had all been moved as one Amendment, and it was open to any hon. Member to move to amend the proposed Amendment.
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, he thought it would be advisable to have the question relating to the representation of the Scotch Universities — the question raised by the clause itself— disposed of in the first instance.
§ MR. MONCREIFF
said, that the Amendment just put by the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) was essentially a redistribution scheme; and therefore he thought it would be better to have it put as a whole.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
suggested that the hon. Member for Montrose should allow the latter part of the clause to be carried before he added his Amendment.
§ MR. BAXTER
said, he did not wish to prejudge the question of the representation to be given to the Universities. His object was to have a decision on the question whether Scotland was to have seven or ten additional Members.
§ MR. POWELL
asked the Chairman whether, if the proposition regarding the 885 number of Members for the counties and towns named in the Amendment were negatived, there would be any difficulty in moving subsequently that the towns and counties should have additional Members?
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
said, he did not think it would be convenient to decide the case of all those counties and towns en bloc. He was of opinion that the question relating to the Universities should be disposed of in the first instance.
, in reply to Mr. POWELL, said, that if a given proposition were negatived that same proposition could not be raised again.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
asked whether, if the Committee decided against the proposition of the hon. Member for Montrose as a whole, a proposition to give a second Member each to Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, Aberdeenshire, and the town of Dundee, could be again raised?
said, that would depend on whether the subsequent proposition was for another scheme of re-distribution. Last year, in the Committee on the English Reform Bill, a Motion was made to give a third Member to each of six large towns. The Committee negatived that Motion; but afterwards, by a subsequent clause, the Committee decided on giving a third Member each to four of those towns. This was held to be a different proposition from the previous one.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
proposed, as an Amendment to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter), to leave out the words "be divided into two divisions in the manner specified in Schedule () hereto annexed," in order to insert the words "return three Members to serve in Parliament." He wished to explain his Amendment, which was, that instead of giving four Members to Glasgow, which had not been done in the case of any of the large towns of England, they should give it three Members, in the same way as Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham
Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, by leaving out the words—
Be divided into two divisions in the manner specified in Schedule () hereto annexed," in order to insert the words "return three Members to serve in Parliament." — (Mr. Secretary Gathorne Hardy.)
§ MR. CARDWELL
It is quite true that the great towns in England did not get four Members; but if you will take Liverpool, 886 associated with the town of Birkenhead; if you will take Manchester together with Salford, which forms part of it; you will find that Manchester and Liverpool have five Members.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the said proposed Amendment."
§ The Committee divided: — Ayes 222; Noes 261: Majority 39.889
|Acland, T. D.||Crossley, Sir F|
|Adam, W. P.||Dalglish, R.|
|Agnew, Sir A.||Davey, R|
|Allen, W S.||Davie, Sir H. R. F.|
|Amberley, Viscount||De La Poer, E.|
|Anstruther, Sir R,||Denman, hon. G.|
|Ayrton, A. S.||Dent, J. D.|
|Aytoun, R. S.||Dering, Sir E. C.|
|Bagwell, J.||Dilke, Sir W.|
|Baines, E,||Dillwyn, L. L.|
|Barclay, A. C.||Dixon, G|
|Barnes, T.||Duff, M. E. G.|
|Barry, C, R.||Duff, R. W,|
|Bass A.||Dundas, F.|
|Bazley, T.||Edwards, C.|
|Beaumont, H. F.||Edwards, H.|
|Beaumont, W. B,||Eliot, Lord|
|Biddulph, M.||Ellice, E.|
|Biddulph, Col. R. M.||Enfield, Viscount|
|Blake, J. A.||Erskine, Vice-Ad. J. E.|
|Blennerhassett, Sir R||Esmonde, J.|
|Bonham-Carter, J.||Evans, T. W.|
|Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P.||Eykyn, R.|
|Brady, J.||Faweett, H.|
|Brand, rt. hon. H.||Fildes, J.|
|Bright, J. (Birmingham)||FitzGerald, rt. hn. Lord O. A.|
|Bright, J. (Manchester)|
|Buller, Sir A. W.||Foljambe, F. J. S.|
|Buller, Sir E. M.||Forster, C.|
|Buxton, C.||Forster, W. E.|
|Buxton, Sir T. F.||Fortescue, rt. hn. C. P.|
|Calcraft, J. H. M.||Fortescue, hon. D. F.|
|Candlish, J.||Gavin, Major|
|Cardwell, rt. hon. E.||Gilpin, C.|
|Carnegie, hon. C.||Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.|
|Carter, S.||Gladstone, W. H.|
|Cavendish, Lord E.||Glyn, G. G.|
|Cavendish, Lord F. C.||Goldsmid, Sir F. H.|
|Cavendish, Lord G.||Goschen, rt. hn. G. J.|
|Chambers, M.||Gower, hon. F. L.|
|Cheetham, J.||Gower, Lord R.|
|Childers, H. C. E.||Gray, Sir J.|
|Clay, J.||Gregory, W. H.|
|Clement, W. J.||Grenfell, H. R.|
|Clinton, Lord E. P.||Greville-Nugent. A. W. F|
|Cogan. rt. hn. W. H. F.||Greville-Nugent, Col.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Grey, rt. hn. Sir G.|
|Collier, Sir R. P.||Grove, T. F.|
|Colthurst, Sir G. C.||Hadfield, G.|
|Cowen, J.||Hardcastle, J. A.|
|Cowper, hon. H. F.||Harris, J. D.|
|Cowper, rt. hon. W. F.||Hartington, Marquis of|
|Craufurd, E. H. J.||Hay, Lord J.|
|Crawford, R. W.||Hay, Lord W. M.|
|Cremorne, Lord||Headlam, rt. hn. T. E.|
|Heneage, E.||O'Reilly, M. W.|
|Henley, Lord||Owen, Sir H. O.|
|Hibbert, J. T.||Padmore, R.|
|Hodgkinson, G.||Paget, T. T.|
|Hodgson, K. D.||Palmer, Sir R.|
|Holden, I.||Parry, T.|
|Holland, E.||Pease, J. W.|
|Horsman, rt. hn. E.||Peel, A. W.|
|Howard, hn. C. W. G.||Pelham, Lord|
|Hughes, W. B.||Philips, R. N.|
|Hurst, R. H.||Pollard-Urquhart, W.|
|Hutr, rt. hn. Sir W.||Potter, E.|
|Jervoise, Sir J. C.||Ramsay, J.|
|Kennedy, T.||Rawlinson, Sir H.|
|Kinglake, A. W.||Rebow, J. G.|
|Kingscote, Colonel||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Kinnaird, Hon. A. F.||Robertson, D.|
|Knatchbull-Hugessen, E||Russell, A.|
|Labouchere, H.||St. Aubyn, J.|
|Laing, S.||Samuda, J. D'A.|
|Lamont, J.||Samuelson, B.|
|Lawrence, W.||Saunderson, E.|
|Lawson, rt. hn. J. A.||Scott, Sir W.|
|Layard, A. H.||Seely, C.|
|Leatham, E. A.||Shafto, R. D.|
|Leatham, W. H.||Sheridan, H. B.|
|Leeman, G.||Sherriff, A. C.|
|Lefevre, G. J. S.||Simeon, Sir J.|
|Lewis, H.||Smith, J.|
|Locke, J.||Smollett, P. B.|
|Lorne, Marquess of||Speirs, A. A.|
|Lusk, A.||Stansfeld, J.|
|M'Laren, D.||Stone, W. H.|
|Maguire, J. F.||Stuart, Colonel C-|
|Marshall, W.||Sullivan, E.|
|Martin, C. W.||Sykes, Colonel W. H.|
|Matheson, A.||Taylor, P. A.|
|Matheson, Sir J.||Tite, W.|
|Melly, G.||Trevelyan, G. O.|
|Merry, J.||Vanderbyl, P.|
|Milbank, F. A.||Villiers, rt. hn. C. P.|
|Mill, J.S.||Waldegrave-Leslie, hon. G.|
|Mills, J. R.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Warner, E.|
|Moncreiff, rt. hon. J.||Western, Sir T. B.|
|Monsell, rt. hn. W.||Whalley, G. H.|
|Moore, C.||Whitbread, S.|
|More, R. J.||White, J.|
|Morris, W.||Whitworth, B.|
|Morrison, W.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Murphy, N. D.||Winterbotham, H. S.P.|
|Neate, C.||Woods, H.|
|Nicholson, W.||Young, G.|
|Nicol, J. D.||Young, R. |
|Norwood, C. M.|
|O'Brien, Sir P.||TELLERS.|
|Ogilvy, Sir J.||Baxter, W. E.|
|O'Loghlen, Sir C. M.||Graham, W.|
|Adderley, rt. hn. C. B.||Barnett, H.|
|Akroyd, E.||Barrington, Viscount|
|Annesley, hon. Col. H.||Barttelot, Colonel|
|Antrobus, E.||Bateson, Sir T.|
|Arkwright, R.||Bathurst, A. A.|
|Bagge, Sir W.||Beach, Sir M. H.|
|Bagnall, C.||Beach, W. W. B.|
|Bailey, Sir J. R.||Bective, Earl of|
|Baring, H. B.||Beecroft, G. S.|
|Baring, T.||Bentinck, G. C.|
|Benyon, R.||Gore, J. R. O.|
|Beresford, Capt. D. W. Pack-||Gore, W. R. O.|
|Gorst, J. E.|
|Bernard, hn. Col. H. B.||Graves, S. R.|
|Bingham, Lord||Greenall, G.|
|Bourne, Colonel||Grey, hon. Thomas do|
|Brett, Sir W. B.||Griffith, C. D.|
|Brooks, R.||Grosvenor, Earl|
|Brown, J.||Gurnev, rt. hon. R.|
|Browne, Lord J. T,||Gwyn, H.|
|Bruce, Major C.||Hamilton, Lord C.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Hamilton, Lord C. J.|
|Bruen, H.||Hamilton, Viscount|
|Buckley, E.||Hankey, T.|
|Bulkeley, Sir R.||Hardy, rt. hon. G.|
|Burke, Viscount||Hardy, J.|
|Burrell, Sir P.||Hartley J.|
|Butler-Johnstone, H.A,||Hartopp, E. B.|
|Capper, C.||Harvey, R. B.|
|Carington, hn. W. H. P.||Harvey, R. J. H.|
|Cartwright, Colonel||Hay, Sir J. C. D.|
|Cave, rt. hon. S.||Hayter, A. D.|
|Cave, T.||Henniker-Major, hon J. M.|
|Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.|
|Clive.Lt.-Col. hn.G. W.||Herbert, rt. hn. gen. P.|
|Cobbold, J. C.||Hervey, Lord A. H. C.|
|Cole, hon. H.||Heygate, Sir F. W.|
|Cole, hon. J. L.||Hildyard, T. B. T.|
|Connolly, T.||Hogg, Lieut.-Col. J. M.|
|Cooper, E. H.||Holford, R. S.|
|Corrance, F. S.||Hood, Sir A. A.|
|Corry, rt. hon. H.L.||Hope, A. J. B. B.|
|Cox, W. T.||Hornby, W. H.|
|Cubitt, G.||Horsfall, T. B.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Hotham, Lord|
|Davenport, W. B.||Howard, Lord E.|
|Dawson, R. P.||Howes, E.|
|Dickson, Major A. G.||Huddleston, J. W.|
|Dimsdale, R.||Hunt, rt. hon. G. W.|
|Disraeli, rt. hon. B.||Ingestre, Viscount|
|Doulton, F.||Jardine, R.|
|Dowdeswell, W. E.||Jolliffe, hon. H. H.|
|Du Cane, C.||Jones, D.|
|Duncombe, hon. Adm.||Karslake, E. K.|
|Duncombe, hon. Colonel||Karslake, Sir J. B.|
|Dunne, rt. hn. General||Kavanagh, A.|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Kekewich, S. T.|
|Dyke, W. H.||Kelk, J.|
|Dyott, Colonel R.||Kennard, R. W.|
|Eaton, H.W.||Keown, W.|
|Edwards, Sir H.||King, J. G.|
|Egerton, hon. A. F.||King, J. K.|
|Egerton, E.C.||Knight, F. W.|
|Egerton, Sir P. G.||Knox, Colonel|
|Elcho, Lord||Knox, hon. Colonol S.|
|Fane, Colonel J. W.||Laird, J.|
|Feilden, J.||Langton, W. G.|
|Fellowes, E.||Lanyon, Sir C.|
|Finch, G. H.||Lascelles, hon. E. W.|
|Fitzwilliam, hon. C. W. W.||Lechmere, Sir E. A. H|
|Floyer, J.||Legh, Major C.|
|Forde, Colonel||Lennox, Lord G. G.|
|Fordyce, W. D.||Lennox, Lord H, G.|
|Forester, rt. hon. Gen.||Liddell, hon. H. G.|
|French, rt. hon. Colonel||Lindsay, hon. Col. C.|
|Freshfield, C. K.||Lindsay, Col. R. L.|
|Galway, Viscount||Long, R. P.|
|Garth, R.||Lopes, H.C.|
|Gaskell. J. M.||Lopes, Sir M.|
|Goddard, A. L.||Lowther, J.|
|Goldney, G.||Lowther, W.|
|Gordon, rt. hon. E. S,||M'Kenna, Sir J. N.|
|Mackinnon, Capt. L. B.||Severne, J. E.|
|Mackinnon, W. A.||Seymour, G. H.|
|M'Lagan, P.||Simonds, W, B.|
|Mahon. Viscount||Smith, A.|
|Mainwaring, T.||Smith, S. G.|
|Malcolm, J. W.||Somerset, Colonel|
|Manners, rt. hn. Lord J,||Somerset, E. A.|
|Martin, P. W||Stanhope, J. B.|
|Mayo, Earl of||Stanley, hon. F|
|Meller, Colonel||Stanley, Lord|
|Miles, J. W.||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir W.|
|Miller, W.||Stopford, S. G.|
|Moffat, G.||Stuart, Lieut-Col. W.|
|Monk, C. J.||Stucley, Sir G. S.|
|Montagu, rt. hn. Ld. R.||Sturt, H. G.|
|Montgomery, Sir G.||Sturt, Lieut.-Col. N.|
|Mordaunt, Sir C.||Surtees, C. F.|
|Morgan, hon. Major||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Morgan, O.||Thompson, A. G.|
|Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.||Thompson, M. W.|
|Neeld, Sir J.||Thorold, Sir J. H.|
|Neville-Grenville, R.||Thynne, Lord H. F,|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Tomline, G.|
|Newport, Viscount||Tottenham, Lieut.-Col. C. G.|
|Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.||Treeby, J. W.|
|Trevor, Lord A. E. H.|
|O'Neill, hon. E.||Turner, C,|
|Paget, R. H.||Turnor, E|
|Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.||Vance, J.|
|Palk, Sir L.||Vandeleur, Colonel|
|Parker, Major W.||Verner, E. W.|
|Patten, rt. hon. Col. W.||Walker, Major G. G,|
|Paull, H.||Walpole, rt. hon. S. H,|
|Pemberton, E. L.||Walrond, J. W.|
|Pennant, hon. G. D.||Walsh, hon. A.|
|Pim, J.||Warren, rt. hon. R.R.|
|Powell, F. S.||Waterhouse, S.|
|Price, W. P.||Welby, W. E.|
|Pugh, D.||Williams, F. M.|
|Read, C. S.||Wise, H. C|
|Rearden, D. J.||Woodd, B. T.|
|Robertson, P. F.||Wyld, J.|
|Royston, Viscount||Wyndham, hon. H.|
|Russell, Sir C.||Wynn, Sir W. W.|
|Salomons, Mr. Aldrmn.||Wynne, W R. M.|
|Sandford, G. M. W.||Wyvill, M.|
|Schrieber, C.||Yorke, J. J.|
|Scott, Lord H.||TELLERS.|
|Scourfield, J. H.||Taylor, Colonel|
|Selwin Ibbetson, H. J.||Noel, hon. G. T.|
§ MR. DISRAELI
said: I would express a hope that after this decision the Committee may be induced to adopt the plan of the Government. I trust, upon reflection, they will find it the best way to expedite business, and that which, upon the whole, will best meet the opinions and feelings of the majority of the Members.
§ On Question, "That those words be there inserted,"
§ MR. MONCREIFF
I would suggest that the best course is to report Progress. I think it is a very fair subject for consideration what course we ought to take, and I do not think it is reasonable in the 890 right hon. Gentleman to ask us to go on to-night.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
The right hon. Member opposite, I understand, wishes us to report Progress. But I trust, at all events, that nothing will be done till the words are inserted upon which the Committee has just divided.
That is a most proper proposal. But I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will remember that the plan of the Government has never been put upon the Paper, It was stated verbally to night; but we have had no opportunity of considering it. I think it is quite plain that the Committee, by the vote at which they have just arrived, have made it useless for the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) to propose the next portion of his Amendment, relating to Edinburgh. But we ought to have the plan of the Government before us in an intelligible shape.
§ MR. DISRAELI
The proposal of the Government is no new plan, and it is perfectly intelligible. I must say I think this is a favourable opportunity for making progress with the Bill, and that we ought not to report Progress at such an early hour. Unexpected business came on at the commencement of the evening, and prevented our entering at once upon the discussion of this measure; it is now only twelve o'clock, and I really do not think the opportunity ought to be wasted. If the right hon Gentleman thinks that the plan of the Government, which involves only a few and simple alterations of an original proposal, requires to be better understood, there can be no objection to that. But allow me to say that there is a great deal to be done before those provisions are reached. Let us, having begun with it, at least dispose of the scheme of the hon. Member for Montrose; so that when we do meet again, if it be thought necessary to devote another evening to the subject, the opinion of the Committee may be finally taken upon those points only which it is thought necessary to reserve. I cannot consent to report Progress at twelve o'clock.
said, he should in many case divide the House upon the proposition relating to Aberdeen.
§ MR. BOUVERIE
Sir, I thought the right hon. Gentleman's proposal a reasonable one in itself, that after this division we should consider whether we could not adopt his scheme. The right hon. Gentleman no doubt wishes to be very fair in his dealings with the Scotch Members; but it is a 891 little hard on us that we should be requested at once to adopt a scheme which we never heard of till this evening, and which is not upon the Notice Paper. A great part of this scheme was to found anew group of Border boroughs, and to unite two of the smaller counties in the South of Scotland; but the names of the boroughs have not yet been stated. The hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) may be unwilling to press his Motion further, if time be allowed him for consideration; and on the part of the right hon. Gentleman it would be but fair to give us time to consider his proposals. If these be put upon the Paper, when we meet on Thursday I hope there will be a good chance of despatching the business in the course of the evening.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
Sir, it is true that the proposals of the Government as stated this evening are not formally upon the Paper; but everything which my right hon. Friend has stated is in the Amendment of the hon. Member for Montrose. If therefore you leave out everything relating to Edinburgh and Aberdeen, the Amendment of the hon. Member for 'Montrose will carry everything that has been proposed by my right hon. Friend. I do trust, therefore, the Committee will resolve to finish that portion of the business.
§ MR. ELLICE
, with a view of carrying matters to a satisfactory conclusion, hoped the hon. Member for Montrose would accede to the proposition of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and allow those points to be inserted as to which there was no dispute.
§ MR. PEASE
said, that according to the Instruction moved by the hon. Member for Montrose, the Committee had power to deal with ten seats. Only seven of these were provided for by the plan of the Government. Were the remaining three seats to be left in abeyance, or what was to become of them? An answer to that question would probably affect the votes of some hon. Members sitting near him.
§ MR. BAXTER
regretted very much the decision at which the Committee had just arrived; but felt it his duty to defer to such a plain expression of opinion. It would not be, he thought, consulting the interests of Scotland and of the Liberal party, or taking a proper course, if he were to put the House to the trouble of dividing again with regard to Edinburgh and Aberdeen. He still hoped the right hon. Gentleman would re-consider his determination to give only seven representatives to Scotland.
§ Amendments made; words inserted,892
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY moved to omit from the Amendment the words "the City of Edinburgh shall return three Members."
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, he hoped the Government would re-consider this point. Three Members had been given to Leeds, which had a population not much larger than Edinburgh, while its wealth and taxation were very much smaller. Edinburgh also contributed more to the taxation of the country than Birmingham and than Dublin, which were to have three Members, and as the capital of Scotland its claims ought to be considered.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I am quite ready to consider the case of Edinburgh without any prejudice, and without being in the least influenced by the late division. Everybody admires Edinburgh, and everybody respects the representatives of Edinburgh, even though they may not sit on our side of the House. I do not think these questions ought to be decided entirely Depopulation; but I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman that the population of Edinburgh is equal to that of Leeds, since, according to the last Returns, Edinburgh has 168,000, while Leeds has 207,000. [Mr. M'LAREN: I said it was not much larger.] Then, I do not exactly understand why the name of Leeds was introduced. We are virtually giving an additional Member to Edinburgh by giving a representative to its University, and Edinburgh is also indirectly represented by the port of Leith. Therefore the population of Edinburgh will be represented under our new system by no less than four Members. Under these circumstances, I cannot accede to the hon. Gentleman's suggestion.
§ MR. BEECROFT
said, he wished it to be understood that Leeds had a much larger population than Edinburgh.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Moved to omit the words "the City of Aberdeen."
Sir, at this time of night, or rather morning, and with Members long wearied, I cannot expect any arguments of mine to be listened to; if they were gospel-truths they would be unheeded; but a grievous injustice is about to be inflicted. Here is Aberdeen, with its 90,000 inhabitants, its progress in wealth, its great intelligence, the seat of a celebrated University, and the seat of 893 active shipbuilding and manufacturing industry; and yet it is proposed to strike it out of the Amendment that would give it an additional Member. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire proposed his measure of Re form, Aberdeen was put down for an extra Member in an official Return delivered in the morning; but before the day was out Aberdeen disappeared from a second official Return, and Edinburgh was substituted. Under these circumstances I hope and trust that the right hon. Gentleman, if he will not permit the question of Aberdeen to be postponed, will consider its claims to one of the three spare seats which will be available. One word more— the ten boroughs that have been disfranchised contain 2,300 electors, while Aberdeen has 4,236; to call this a just system of representation is absolutely a mockery.
§ Amendment agreed to.
Amendment proposed after the word "Parliament," to insert the words—
The City of Glasgow shall return three Members to serve in Parliament; the Town of Dundee and the Counties of Lanark, Ayr, and Aberdeen shall each return two Members to serve in Parliament.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE
proposed the insertion of words providing that a Member should be returned jointly by the Universities of Edinburgh and St. Andrews, and the other jointly by the Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen.
§ Motion agreed to.
THE LORD ADVOCATE moved to add to the 8th clause the following words from the end of the 9th clause: —
And the City of Glasgow, until otherwise directed by Parliament, shall comprise the places mentioned in Schedule (A.) hereto annexed.
§ MR. ELLICE moved that the Chairman report Progress.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
said, that the question before the House was without a precedent in the English Bill, and demanded the serious consideration of the House.
§ MR. BAXTER
said, that if the Amendment of the Lord Advocate was persisted in they would have to consider the vote to which they had recently come. He objected to taking the small towns out of the county of Lanark.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, that he should have been content to leave the matter to the Boundary Commissioners, only it was impossible for them to deal with it. The better plan would be to deal with the matter by a separate clause.
§ MR. DALGLISH
said, that if any alterations were made in the boundary of the suburbs of Glasgow he should move that they have a Member totally independent of the city of Glasgow, as part of the lower ward of Lanarkshire.
§ Motion, to report Progress, withdrawn.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ SIR LAWRENCE PALK
, in rising to move the proviso of which he had given Notice, said, that by reason of the vote arrived at the other night, as he thought upon unfair grounds, ten English boroughs had been disfranchised. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government had since proposed to give seven of these ten seats to Scotch burghs. When once a bargain had been arrived at in that House it ought to be maintained with honour on both sides, and last year an honourable bargain was thus made that the additional seats for Scotland should be obtained by a small addition to the number of Members of that House, and should not be taken either from English or Irish boroughs. To support this assertion he would read an extract from the speech of the hon. Member for Wick (Mr. Laing), who said he assumed that the demand of Scotland for additional seats would be met by making a small addition to the number of Members of that House. On the faith of that understanding he and others had voted for the Government; but if he had been told that the additional Members for Scotland would have been taken from England, he, for one, would have strongly opposed the Reform Bill of last year. He did not wish to have the vote of the other night rescinded; but so long as many important districts of England were not fairly represented, he could not consent to give those scats to Scotland. He could not suppose there was any difficulty in increasing the number of Members of that House. The House was already too small, and a plan had been proposed for largely increasing its accommodation, so that he could not suppose an addition of seven votes furnished a reason why a pledge given on both sides of the House should not be kept. The Reform Bill of last year was treated on both sides as a final measure, and. as such, was 895 agreed to by both Houses, and received the assent of the Crown. If, however, before its provisions come into operation an attempt was made to upset it by a vote on another Bill, what hope could there he that the settlement could possibly stand? Conceding, as he did, that seven additional seats should be given to Scotland, he hoped the House would agree to accept the alternative proposed by the Government last year, that these seats should be found by an addition to the seats of that House. In that case the ten boroughs disfranchised by the recent vote of the House might be given either to English counties or to some of the largest English towns.
§ Amendment proposed, at the end of the Clause as amended, to add the words "Provided the representation of England and Ireland be not thereby diminished."— [Sir Lawrence Palk.)
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, I am not at all surprised that my hon. Friend should call attention to the peculiar condition in which the Committee are placed with respect to the settlement made last year. But I must remind my hon. Friend the Member for Devonshire (Sir Lawrence Palk) that if he accepts, as he seems disposed to do, the vote of the House the other night, by this proposal to apportion these representatives to other ports of England, he really reopens the whole question, and disturbs the settlement of last year. Now, although I regret that the basis on which our present Bill for Scotland was founded was not agreed to, yet by taking a certain number of scats from England and giving them to Scotland you do not re-open the English Bill; whereas, if you follow the scheme of my hon. Friend you do re-open the whole question of the English Reform Bill, chaos will come again, and instead of arriving at the settlement which has been promised we should embark on "a sea of troubles," and our course might end in disaster. I agree with my hon. Friend in his general views and feelings on this subject. I should be glad if I could have obtained that advantage of increasing the representation of Scotland by adding to the Members of this House; but I found that this was not possible. We have been engaged on this work for two years. It has been a very severe and difficult labour, and I think that, on the whole, we have arrived at a conclusion which will be satisfactory to the country. Both sides of this House acting with considerable unanimity, 896 we felt that, with regard to this question of the increase of Members for Scotland, it was impossible strictly to adhere to the proposal of last Session. But we must look at the whole question as practical men, and see whether, by mutual concession and compromise, we can bring about a satisfactory result. Well, I do not think my hon. Friend need feel dissatisfied on the whole with what has occurred. There has been shown on both sides a very fair anxiety to bring matters to a conclusion. The conclusion is a temperate and a moderate one. It really satisfies all the just claims of Scotland, and satisfies them in a way which peculiarly recommends itself to me— although, of course, I should have preferred my own suggestion — upon this ground, that it does not re-open the English Bill. I hope this will be well weighed by my hon. Friend the Member for Devonshire; and I trust, if he gives his consideration to it, with that mature judgment which I have seen him display in many instances, that, having asserted his principle, in which I entirely sympathize, he will not, after what has occurred this evening, place the Committee under the necessity of dividing, but will feel that we have brought this matter to a settlement which the country will recognize as adequate to the occasion.
MR. BERUSFORD HOPE
said, he trusted that the hon. Member for Devonshire (Sir Lawrence Palk) would divide. The Amendment, in fact, raised an important question of principle— that of the number of the House of Commons— which they had not yet had an opportunity of discussing.
said, he regarded the proviso as only rendering still more bitter the pill which the Members for the small English boroughs, of whom he was one, had to swallow.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The Committee divided:— Ayes 95; Noes 262: Majority 167.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.