HC Deb 29 June 1871 vol 207 cc746-862

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [22nd June], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair;" and which Amendment was, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will, upon this day three months, resolve itself into the said Committee,"—(Mr. Cross,)—instead thereof.

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

Debate resumed.


said, he wished to make one or two remarks on what had already occurred during the progress of this discussion. In an earlier stage of those proceedings he had ventured to say that the inevitable consequence of passing a Ballot Bill would be an immediate dissolution of Parliament, because there was no instance to be found of a self-condemned House of Commons continuing to carry on the business of the country. But the Prime Minister took exception to that assertion, and did him the honour to attribute his remarks to a dread of meeting his constituents. Now, it would be an act of extreme presumption on his (Mr. Bentinck's) part if he were to assume the favourable result of any meeting which might take place between himself and his constituents; but he felt bound to say that, considering that the right hon. Gentleman himself had been rejected by every constituency he had ever represented, and that there had been strong objections manifested towards him by his present constituents, he (Mr. Bentinck) thought he might, without presumption, venture to hope that his political prospects were, at least, as good as those of the right hon. Gentleman. Another remark which surprised him fell from the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli). That right hon. Gentleman, in answering a statement made by the Prime Minister, said reform had recently been largely dealt with. The statement was perfectly true; but considering, to use the mildest term, the unfortunate part which the right hon. Member had played in this large dealing with reform, he was surprised that the stings of political conscience—if there were such a thing as political conscience—should not have prevented the right hon. Member from adverting to the subject. One other statement had also been surprising. It had been said by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. Cross) that in Australia there was neither Liberals nor Conservatives. When he heard that remark he confessed that for the first time in his life he felt a longing to be an inhabitant of that country, because he assumed that Australia must be under the good old rule of Whigs and Tories, and all those most flagrant violations of political propriety which had shocked the moralists of this country in recent years could not occur on that happy soil. One recent convert to the Ballot (Mr. Leatham) had used the happy expression that the question of the Ballot had invaded the Cabinet. That was one of the happiest modes of expressing a sudden conversion that he had over heard. In old times, when Members of the Treasury bench voted that to be white which they formerly declared to be black, they were liable to have their proceedings called by various ugly names—such as political tergiversation, political profligacy, and even the uncomfortable word "ratting" was sometimes applied. All these phrases were now done away with, and when Members of the Government changed their opinions it would suffice to say that they had been "invaded" by another view of the question. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) adduced amongst other arguments in favour of the Ballot the experiences of other countries in regard to that system. He (Mr. Bentinck) could see no cogency in such logic. Did the hon. Gentleman wish the proceedings of the House of Commons should become assimilated to those of the American Congress? Would the House be improved by that? If that was one of the things he had in view it appeared to him to be the strongest possible argument against the Ballot. But there was a difficulty which had not yet been dealt with. Secret voting was so distasteful to the majority of the people of the country that it would, in many constituencies, be scouted with contempt. How were they going to deal with that state of things? Was there any provision made in the Bill for the case in which a constituency—regarding it as the initiation of an unmanly practice—should unanimously, or almost unanimously, refuse to comply with secret voting? Were they about to enforce penalties against those who would not register their votes in secret? He had listened with great attention to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board (Mr. Stansfeld), and he (Mr. Bentinck) was bound to say that a more unwilling advocate he had never heard in his life; everything the right hon. Gentleman uttered being, in fact, opposed to secret voting. The right hon. Gentleman said the system was right except in cases where bribery occurred. But was any hon. Member prepared to suggest the possibility of a state of circumstances under which secret voting would not be accompanied with bribery? That disposed of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman also said that the system of secret voting produced tranquillity at elections; but he (Mr. Bentinck) must say that, from all accounts, it appeared that the scenes of turmoil and confusion occurring at contested elections in America were more discreditable than any that occurred elsewhere. The real remedy to prevent disturbance at elections had been suggested a hundred times, and it simply consisted in having resort to the system of voting papers. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board went on to refer to evidence in favour of the Ballot, and quoted Sir James Fergusson, who stated that the system of Ballot was susceptible of manipulation. That, no doubt, meant that the Ballot would lead to every possible kind of bribery. The right hon. Gentleman also quoted Governor Du Cane, who strongly recommended that provision should be made for a scrutiny. Now, he (Mr. Bentinck) apprehended that if a scrutiny were made possible, the system of secret voting came at once to an end. Whether hon. and right hon. Gentlemen gave their own opinions in favour of the measure, or quoted those of others, the defects of the system were alike made manifest. There were three points to which he wished to refer. It was said, in the first place, that the Ballot would do away with intimidation. It might suppress intimidation, and if that would be its only result he would be one of its strongest supporters, believing as he did that the greatest amount of intimidation was practised in large towns by those who were classically termed "roughs," and in the sister country by those who were disaffected to the Government. The next question was that of personation, which would undoubtedly be greatly facilitated by secret voting. With open voting this was all but impossible; with secrecy it was easily perpetrated, constantly attempted, and generally a success. Then came the real gist of the matter—bribery, which, in his opinion, was the pivot of the entire subject. Was any man so guileless as to suppose that where one person had something which he wished to transfer, on which another set value, and for which he was ready to pay, the transfer would not take place? The only effect of the Ballot would be to increase hypocrisy and render impossible the detection of bribery. When Mr. Berkeley used to bring forward his Motion in favour of occult voting, hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury bench voted steadily against it. On the last occasion when Mr. Berkeley brought forward his Motion, a paper was put into his (Mr. Bentinck's) hands prepared under the impression produced by the large majorities who supported the then Member for Bristol, that he might at length succeed. In this paper the full details of a system were given by means of which, under the Ballot, bribery could simply and successfully be carried out. Some able and not over scrupulous person in a borough was to undertake for a certain sum to return a candidate. For this purpose he was to come to an understanding with, if possible, a majority of the constituents; but if not, with as large a number of voters as possible, that if so-and-so were returned they were to get a certain sum, and that if he was not returned they would get nothing. That system would be in operation if this Bill were passed. His regret was that he did not keep the paper, which he certainly would have done had he foreseen the conversions which had since taken place in high quarters. After the debate in which he had produced that paper, and when going into the Lobby with many rigid hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Ministerial bench, a noble Lord who was now a distinguished Member of the Liberal party in the other House, turned round and said to him—"You are quite right in what you stated. Arrangements have been made for carrying out this system, and I myself have had the same paper sent to me. Everything you have stated was perfectly true." He (Mr. Bentinck) asked hon. Members whether they were prepared to support a measure the only effect of which would be to give bribery a full swing and prevent the possibility of its detection? A good deal had been said in the course of this debate about party feeling; he could only say that his objections to the Ballot were not based on any party feelings. If it was a question of a vote for the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister he would give the measure his support. But if, on the other hand, it was a measure to bring the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire into office, he (Mr. Bentinck) would oppose it as he was doing now, and for this reason—bad as the present state of things was—he thought it would be still worse under the other circumstances, because the right hon. Member for Buckinghamshire always advocated when in office the principles which he attacked when in Opposition, and were he now on the Treasury bench he would be introducing the very measure they were now opposing. So that in that case they would have two front benches to contend against. He could not do better than conclude by reading the words of a statesman whose opinion would be listened to on both sides with respect—he meant the lamented Lord Palmerston. In speaking on the last occasion when Mr. Berkeley brought forward his Motion for the Ballot, Lord Palmerston said this— I maintain that if the Bill were carried, and if the Ballot were enjoined by law, it would be degrading and demoralizing to the people of this country. You would turn your electors into lawbreakers or hypocrites."—[3 Hansard, clvii. 955.] He need not say, after that statement by Lord Palmerston, the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the present Government voted against the Bill. He again asked those Members of the Liberal party who had always strongly opposed bribery and corruption whether they were prepared to support a measure the only results of which would be to perpetuate them without the possibility of detection.


Mr. Speaker—Sir, able, exhaustive, and I think I may add exhausting as have been many of the speeches addressed to its on this occasion, I own to a feeling of disappointment that this debate has been taken on one clause of the Bill alone. It has been restricted entirely to the mode of taking the poll. Now, I am not content to discuss so large a question as this on so small a matter. What is the title of this Bill? It is the "Elections (Parliamentary and Municipal) Bill, to amend the laws relating to procedure at Parliamentary and Municipal Elections, and for other purposes connected therewith." Now, I beg the House to recollect that this is the first instance, according to my experience, in which any Government has attempted to deal with the mode and manner of conducting municipal elections—a most important thing, as connected with Parliamentary elections. Sir, this is not a mere Ballot Bill. It is a Ballot Bill, and something more; and I must protest against discussing so large a measure merely with reference to one point—that of secret voting. Now, the speech, the sensible and able and fair speech of the hon. and learned Member for South-west Lancashire (Mr. A. Cross) exhausted the subject so far as regarded the mode of taking the vote; but I regret to say he passed over nominations, the cost of elections, and the prevention of corrupt practices as mere minor points in this Bill. For my own part, I consider these points quite as important for our consideration as the mode of taking the poll; and with the leave of the House I shall introduce a novelty by discussing some of those points which hitherto have been entirely passed over. This is a Bill to re-construct the whole of our electoral system, Parliamentary and municipal, and I say it ought to be discussed and judged of as a whole, not merely as a question of detail. What is the question which was very well put by the hon. and learned Member for Southwest Lancashire (Mr. A. Cross)? He said the question they had to decide was how to secure the best representation of the people and the best composition of this House, so that the voter may vote securely. Well, I think in undertaking such a task it was a very wise step to include municipal elections. And why? Nobody can deny that the municipal election is the cradle of the Parliamentary procedure. In all cases where municipal contests are conducted by corrupt means, Parliamentary contests are conducted by the same means. I have had experience of municipal elections. I know the cost of being a town councillor. What is it? It is a low rate where the town councillor is elected by the application of 5s. in hand and a dinner to the electors. I have known a town councillor, for the pride of appending T.C. to his name, spend £1,500; and I know that there is, where this gentleman lives, an ascending scale for one desirous of being an M.P. He does not get in for that sum. The man who votes for 5s. for a candidate for being town councillor, puts 10 per cent on for one ambitious of being a Member of Parliament. The same corrupt means used for the election of the town council are organized for the return of the borough Members. The constituency is debauched at the core by the municipal elections, and I say it is a wise and a statesmanlike measure to deal with municipal elections in conjunction with Parliamentary elections. Now, Sir, so much for the title of the Bill. I think Clause 2 merits some consideration of this House. Clause 2 deals with the whole system of nomination days. Who that has ever stood a contested election where parties ran high, but must confess that the most exasperating formality is that of the nomination? What is it but a Saturnalia for all the roughs and rowdies of society, where freedom is only recognized by its shrieks—where, if there is equality, it is the equality of tumult and disorder? I maintain that nomination day is at the root of all the evil. What is it? Bribery commences at the very outset on the nomination day. I am speaking of those who have not got snug seats. How does bribery commence? Does not every hon. Gentleman know beforehand the pains taken to secure what is called "a hearing?" I have found among my legitimate expenses the hiring of an audience to listen to my oration, and I have suffered most severely from the efforts of my enthusiastic partisans, who, to keep silence, made such a commotion that neither side could be heard. That is what was called "securing a hearing." I paid £85 on the last occasion to secure a hearing in the town of Waterford, and was not allowed to speak a word. So much for securing "a hearing." Then there comes another thing on nomination days—it is thought necessary to have the show of hands. How is the show of hands secured? Very much in the same way that the hearing is secured. But one example is worth ten speeches. Let me give the House an example how the show of hands was secured at the Norwich election on January 6th, 1871. When a Committee sat on the Norwich Election Petition, Mr. J. Young was examined as to the proceedings of the Liberal Committee in the election of 1866. "Mr. Coaks inquired—'What about the show of hands on the nomination day?' Something was said about the cost. Sir William Russell asked—'Is it legal?' Witness recommended, if legal, the show of hands should be procured, as it would add to the prestige of the popular party. Mr. Coaks was examined. He said he felt strongly on this point, as the Liberals had always made a point to get it; in 1865 they spent £34 with this object." So much for the show of hands; and this was called freedom of election. Can there be anything more disgraceful than keeping nomination days for this purpose, and calling it freedom of election? There is in the Bill another excellent clause, to which no allusion has been made—I refer to that which prohibits the hiring of rooms in public-houses. We hear a great deal about the Ballot, but not about these useful provisions which the Government has introduced into this Bill, and which I hope they mean to carry. I hope they are not going to take them out and leave us with a Ballot Bill pure and simple. I can conceive of nothing more useful than a clause which will forbid the hiring of rooms in publichouses. Then there comes a very important point to all of us—that of expenses. What is the cost of a seat under the present system? Do hon. Members send in all their expenses? I have reason to suppose I did not. By your present system men of moderate fortunes and prudent habits are prevented coming forward for large constituencies. Why? Because the expense for a seat is so great. Take, for instance, the City of Manchester, so worthily represented by the hon. Baronet (Sir Thomas Bazley). If a candidate for that city wishes to send out circulars, what do you suppose the postage and printing comes to? Why, between £300 and £400. That is a pretty large item in what you call legitimate expenses. Again, take the matter of hustings; you may with advantage copy something from Ireland in that respect. We have no hustings there; there are none erected; there are no out-door nominations. But in Marylebone, which is said to be a pure borough, where there is no bribery, when a candidate comes forward he must give a guarantee to the returning officer that he will lodge £800 for the expenses of the hustings. The consequence is, that candidates for such places are restricted almost entirely to two classes; they are either very rich men, who pledge themselves to nothing, and are ready to pay anything, or they are poor men, who will spend nothing and will swallow anything. I ask hon. Members if they are content that nomination days and the expenses of elections shall remain what they have been, and whether this Bill will not effect a great improvement in them? If these expenses are to be put upon the county and the borough rates, it will make people look after the cost of elections, and we shall have no leviathan stepping in and endeavouring to swamp a constituency by the length of his purse. I now come to the subject of Clause 3, the mode of taking the vote, of which we have heard so much, which I shall endeavour to avoid repeating. I am not one of your recent converts to the Ballot, made by either miracle or pressure. I am not one of those who have exaggerated either its faults or its vices; I have always thought that both were overdrawn and much exaggerated. What was the origin of this Ballot? Even if it comes into play I cannot think human nature will be changed; but I believe human comfort and civil order will be promoted. I heard an hon. Friend of mine talking of a day of humiliation when the Ballot came into play. I think the humiliation to us is that this measure was not passed long ago. That is the humiliation I feel, and not that we are about to do tardy justice to the suffering voters of this country. There is no principle in- volved in the mode of taking the poll. I hold that the mode of taking the poll is merely an arrangement to be used or not as circumstances may require. We hear sometimes that the Ballot is an un-English plan; that is what men always say of things which are not according to their ideas. We may call the Revolution of 1688 un-English, because it was led by that enterprising and uninteresting person William III. The introduction of the Ballot into this country is not a thing of recent date. It is the fashion to say that it is recent, and that it is copied from America. America copied it from us. I find from the old City records that the Ballot was used in the election of aldermen as long ago as 1526; and in 1637 there was an Order in Council about the Ballot which is not generally known. The Ballot came from Holland. It was introduced into this country by a company of merchant adventurers, great traders, who had factories in Holland. It was owing to one Meissenden, who was a deputy of this association at Delf, and who was forced upon them by Laud and Charles I., that the Ballot was introduced into England. They wanted Meissenden to be elected for Rotterdam; the company were opposed to this, they voted against him, and he was defeated. Charles I. sent for the list of voters, and it was handed to him; but there were no names upon it, for the voting was by Ballot. Here, then, is a most extraordinary thing discovered by the researches of Mr. Hepworth Dixon, and only lately made public. It is an Order in Council of Charles I., which I cannot resist reading to show his idea of the Ballot, which was very much the idea of the hon. Gentleman who spoke last in this House, although that is the only similarity I see between them. The Order in Council is dated Hampton Court, September 17, 1637, and it reads thus— His Majesty, this day sitting in Council, taking into consideration the manifold inconveniences that may arise by the use of balloting-boxes, which has of late begun to be practised by some corporations and companies, did declare his utter dislike thereof, and with advice of their Lordships ordered that no corporation, &c., either in City of London or elsewhere in His Majesty's kingdom, shall use, or permit to be used, in any business whatsoever any balloting-box, as they tender His Majesty's displeasure, and will answer the contrary at their peril. The King found the Ballot so inconve- nient because he could not foist his spy deputy upon the merchant adventurers. Let the House recollect that vote by Ballot has been adopted by every European country, and in most of our colonies, and I have never heard that there has been any desire on the part of those countries to recur to open voting. A great deal has been said on the question whether the vote is a right or a trust; but I do not mean to go into that, for it strikes me that it is a mere disputation, fitter for a debating society than for the House of Commons. The hon. Member for South-west Lancashire says that the voter is a trustee for the nation at large; and I want to ask him this question. A trust is exercised solely for the benefit of another person; how is that to be enforced? Will he propose to enforce that trust by compulsion and intimidation? These are the very things we are doing all we can by our legislation to prevent. I say there cannot be a trust which cannot be enforced. I want to know what reason there is why the vote should be open? If publicity involves danger to the life or the limb of the trustee, it behoves this House to provide means by which that trust shall be exercised secretly and in security. I cannot understand how secret voting can be contrary to the Constitution. The only Acts I have been able to find on the subject are that of Edward II., which deals with Parliamentary voters, and says "that no man shall be brought to vote by force of arms or menace," and and that of Henry IV., which says that "in presence of full county, the elector shall vote freely and indifferently." How is a man to vote freely and indifferently if there are men waiting to break his head? I say this House is bound to enable men to vote freely and indifferently by giving them the protection of secret voting. France has been referred to; and I say, so far as I have been able to understand anything, you would have had no Conservative minority at all in the late Chamber if there had not been vote by Ballot. We have heard a good deal about America; and what is the evidence as to the working of the Ballot in America? A Committee which sat upon this subject in 1835 examined M. de Tocqueville, than whom they could not have had a better witness: and this is part of the examination— Do you think that secret voting in America is required to protect the electors against the state of popular feeling?—Answer. Yes, in America tyranny can only come from the majority, and their secret voting is an important security against the tyranny of the majority, which is the greatest evil that attends a purely democratical form of Government. I say, as our Government is becoming every day more democratic, it is necessary to protect voters against trades unions, and, in short, against mob tyranny; and it is impossible you can do that unless you alter the mode of taking the poll, and introduce secret voting without scrutiny. Italy has also been referred to; but this evidence was given by a Minister of Italy, Signor Valerio, in 1857— Was the Government on one hand and clergy on the other prevented by use of secret voting from controlling the elections?—Answer. I believe that many agriculturists, artizans, and shopkeepers would not have dared to vote openly against candidates proposed by the priests and aristocracy, on whom they are dependent. Can anything be more satisfactory than that? I cannot understand what alarms hon. Gentlemen. My own feeling is that the Bill will have a strictly Conservative tendency, and will do more to protect the Conservative party than any measure which has yet been brought forward by their own leader. The question has arisen whether bribery has decreased or not? Some hon. Gentlemen are of opinion that it has decreased; but my own experience does not lead me to that conclusion. I believe if bribery is less open, it is more subtle— For Satan now is wiser than of yore, And tempts by making rich, not making poor. The purchase system is not confined to the Army, nor is over-regulation price either. Had the men who during the last 50 years have been made Peers and Baronets through a species of bribery, performed any distinguished services, or had they been of any use to society? No. They had spent their money in elections; and that is the way in which Peers and Baronets are made. That is why there is such a rush to get into this House on the part of millionaires. They begin by promoting what is called the good of the part. And what does that result in? The promotion of an individual. And then we visit it upon the humble men who want the money with which the place has been flooded; and then we send the honourable flooders to what is called "another place." I find that the first record of bribery in this House is dated 1571. That bribery consisted of the giving of a great deal of money to Members of the House to influence their votes with reference to local and private Bills. To such an extent had that system risen in the time of Charles I. that Lord Clarendon mentions it in his History. He states that all public business was put aside in order that the Members might scramble for the money given to influence their votes with reference to local and private Bills. The question is this—What is likely to be the effect of the Ballot on bribers? I am ready to admit that I do not think the Ballot will eradicate bribery. But it will make bribery more dangerous; and I do not think any man, however bold or however profligate, will be induced to spend money for which he is not certain whether a return will be made. There is a very curious instance of this. Formerly a place in Suffolk sent a Member to this House. It is called Sudbury. There never was such a place as Sudbury for bribery. No man could be returned for Sudbury at a less cost than £8,000. I have found a curious bit of evidence as to what was the notion of the voters in Sudbury as to the effect of the Ballot on them. Dr. Mitchell, a Government Inspector, in reporting in 1840 on electioneering abuses, stated that the voters of Sudbury were by no means friends of the Ballot, and that when a candidate at the election of 1835 declared he was a determined supporter of vote by Ballot in order to put an end to bribery, there arose a tremendous commotion in the borough, and an immediate cry of "No Ballot, no Ballot! I think the people of Sudbury were very good judges of what the Ballot would do. So much for the English side of the business. A very pertinent question was put by the hon. Member for South-west Lancashire to this effect—How will the Ballot improve the representation of Ireland? That is a very difficult question to answer; because there are two points of view as to what improvement may be, and it is very difficult to adjust the focus of one's glasses so as to get an impartial view of English ignorance and Irish prejudice. The case of Westmeath has been adduced. I know something of Westmeath. It is my firm conviction that if the voters of Westmeath at the last election could have recorded their votes by means of the Ballot, and had thus been able to go to the poll freely, that election would not have resulted in the triumph of the hon. Member who now sits for Westmeath. I know that if in the contest for the county of Waterford we had had the Ballot, instead of winning at the risk of my life by a miserable majority of 8, I should have won by 120. But my voters were afraid to go to the poll. When they did go to the poll they were so beaten and so ill-used that they declared to me they would never vote again. But we have had the experience of the Members for Trinity College, Dublin. Two more able or more respectable Members do not exist in this House. But I must demur to the electioneering experience they have derived from representing Trinity College, Dublin. They come from a happy land, where care is unknown. What do they know further than off collegians firing off squibs and crackers on their return? The junior Member for the University (Mr. Plunket) has praised Whig measures, but he has a strong aversion to Whig men. Now, I am not aware of any place in Ireland which returns Whigs but one, and that is the University of Dublin, and I will say of them— O fortunati nimium, sua si bona nôrint! Do not talk to me of experience derived from Trinity College, Dublin. Take any locality in Ireland where there has been a contest, and both sides will complain of coercion, one of the landlords and the other of the priests. Well, Sir, will this Bill have any influence in tranquillizing them? The misfortune of the Irish elector is this—that, with all his many virtues, he has little or no regard for individual freedom of opinion. Independence at elections is looked upon as a crime; it is, as independence has been said to be in this House, a thing which cannot be depended upon. No man in humble life dare be independent. He is a marked man; and I have known men persecuted to such an extent that they have been obliged to sell their farms and leave the country on account of their votes. Would secret voting do any good under such circumstances? There is a great difference between an election in England and an election in Ireland. In Ireland a man is put upon the voters' list compulsorily. He is compelled to have a vote, and very often to use it when he is utterly indifferent to it. In England you march out all the troops when there is an election; in Ireland you march in the troops, and every town is proclaimed to be in a state of siege. The unfortunate voters go up to the poll frightened out of their wits with a large escort of cavalry and police. They vote at the peril of life and limb. I have seen it myself. I remember finding a most extraordinary item in my last election bill—namely, "for two sets of teeth, £12 10s." I was so alarmed that I asked my adviser whether it was legal, and he said it was, for the men had lost their teeth in my defence, and some were walking about quite prepared to lose another set in the same way. And these came under legitimate expenses. Mark you, we have nothing of that sort in England. This is called a light affair; but I have known men lose the use of their limbs; I have known two instances where men were killed and carried away and quietly buried, and nobody over heard anything more about them. That is the history of an Irish election. Now, I say it is a positive cruelty to thrust a vote upon a tenant which entails upon him the miseries without the glory of martyrdom, unless you intend to give that man the protection of secret voting. The consequence of the present state of things is that our system of election is hated by the people. They wish voting to be done away. What occurred at the last election for the county of Tipperary? In that county there are 10,000 voters upon the register. How many of them do you suppose voted at the last election? 4,000. The rest of them stayed at home, and I do not blame them, for they would have met with a most warm reception if they had attempted to go to the poll. The junior Member for the University held it out as a deterrent effect, that if the Ballot were introduced in Ireland, the great majority of the Irish Members would be Nationalists. If that proves anything it is that the men returned now are not returned by the free choice of the people. But I deny that. I believe that, with secret voting, there would be a great chance, especially in the counties, of men connected with the counties and of moderate Irish opinions being returned. At any rate, we ought to see whether the Ballot would have that effect, because no man who has lived in Ireland can deny the strong feeling of nationality which exists in the Irish mind, and no man knows better than I do that that feeling is not to be smoothed down or got rid of by measures extorted by Parliamentary necessity. The Irish are looking for something more, whatever that may be. There are many interpretations of home rule. If home rule means local government for local purposes, and if for Imperial purposes the Crown is kept as it is, I see no great objection to home rule. But, unfortunately, that is not the idea of home rule entertained by ardent enthusiasts. Home rule with them means secession, and if it comes to secession I say this—great as is my desire to be in this Parliament, proud as I am of my connection with Ireland, and more particularly of the constituency that I represent, ready as I am to make some sacrifice, I am not ready to make a sacrifice of principle, and I say to them in the words of Sir Richard Lovelace— I could not love thee, dear, so much, Loved I not honour more. Therefore, when you talk to me of home rule, I say "Define what home rule means." Do not let us Irish Members go over in a body without knowing exactly what home rule means; do not let us give way to the screw that is put upon us. I go for home rule under proper circumstances and reservations; but I abhor secession, because I know the first thing would be the military subjugation of Ireland. I have been induced to make these remarks in consequence of what was said by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Maguire), and I thank the House for having listened to me so long. I support this Bill as a whole because I believe it is for the interest of civilization and the country, and that it will bring orderly and quiet elections. I rejoice that secret voting is included in it, because I believe it will be a protection, not—as was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University (Mr. G. Hardy)—for the mean, the cowardly, and the dishonest; but for the educated, independent, and law-abiding electors.


said, he desired to call attention to the manner in which this question had been treated by the Government during the last two Sessions. At the commencement of the Session of 1869 Her Majesty's Government were advised in the Speech at the opening of Parliament to recommend that Parliament should inquire into the present modes of conducting Parliamentary and Municipal Elections, and consider whether it would be advisable to provide any further guarantees for their tranquillity, purity, and freedom. A Committee of considerable weight and authority was accordingly appointed, on the Motion of the Prime Minister, who entered fully on the whole question, and it was not too much to say that Her Majesty's Government practically delegated the authority to inquire into the matter, and people had expected with him that the Bill now before the House would be in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee. The Committee recommended that the law relating to the obtaining of seats by corrupt practices should be placed on the same footing in Parliamentary and municipal elections. They recommended a considerable multiplication of polling places in counties, and that better provision for the recovery of damages in cases of destruction of property by riotous mobs during the time of election be introduced; and, finally, although they recommended the inviolability of the vote, they, on the Motion of the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whitbread), introduced a proviso that there should be an exception in cases where bribery or personation had been proved. Now, he had to ask if the Bill before the House contained any one of these proposals. On the contrary, it contained proposals which were negatived by the Committee, so that it might be fairly asserted that the Bill did not represent the opinions of that important Committee, but was merely a Bill forced on the Government by the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) and the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett). He had said the Committee was an important one; but he did not know if the epithet was applicable, for he thought there was some force in the remark which was made out-of-doors that, the Committee was appointed in order to afford some reasonable excuse for the conversion of the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) and the right hon. Member for Morpeth (Sir George Grey) to the principle of the Ballot, to which they had been so long opposed. In discussing the question of the Ballot, which he thought was by far the most important proposal in the Bill, he could not disguise his satisfaction that they had passed the period of second readings of Bills which had only been introduced to be withdrawn, and had now before them a scheme for voting by Ballot. He could hardly call it a complete scheme when he looked at the 20 pages of Amendments with which the Notice Paper had been crowded by hon. Members on the Government side who supported the Ballot on principle. It had been generally admitted in this debate, and universally admitted by the Members of the Government, that open voting was in itself preferable to secret voting, and therefore he would not attempt to argue that question. It must be clear to everyone that if secret voting offered an opportunity for fraud by allowing the voter to deposit two papers in the Ballot-box, no elector could vote twice at the same time if he gave his vote vivâ voce; therefore, primâ facie, open voting was better than secret voting. But Her Majesty's Government had recommended secret voting as a remedy for the evils of intimidation and bribery, which they declared prevailed to an extent never before witnessed, and which they declared also could be remedied in no other way. He would therefore show, first, that if the Ballot were secret it would not put a stop to intimidation and bribery; and, secondly, that the Ballot, though it would be legally secret, could not in this country be practically secret, and therefore it would not only not stop those evils, but, in addition, it would give rise to others, from which up to the present time we had been free. With regard to bribery, the Committee had reported that county elections were, in the main, free from bribery. In the case of small boroughs nothing could be more easy than for a candidate to make a bargain with the leader of a club that he should pay a certain sum of money to the voters for his return. The noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland said on Monday last that that could never go on, because the leader of a club of voters would take the promises of both candidates; but he seemed to forgot that the money would be paid conditionally on success, and as regarded the man who failed he would know better next time, and offer a higher price. The hon. Member who had last spoken said that secret voting would era- dicate bribery and make it more dangerous. He quite agreed with the hon. Gentleman that it would make bribery more dangerous, but in this sense—that the persons who had been bribed would never be found out. In the case of large borough constituencies, an arrangement with a club of voters such as he had described would be impossible owing to the number of voters; but even if that were so, bribery would still exist in such large constituencies. Why, had hon. Members so soon forgotten the result of the Election Petition for Bristol? On that occasion a test Ballot was conducted with perfect secrecy; voting was confined to members of the Liberal party, and what was the result? Mr. Baron Bramwell's statement of the case was that on the occasion of that test Ballot, and after the receipt of the writ for the election, two agents of Mr. Robinson gave trifling sums to voters to vote for him in the test Ballot, and one agent gave drink to voters for the same purpose; some of the voters so dealt with voted in the test Ballot for Mr. Robinson; others voted for the other candidates. But did the uncertainty of the vote stop the giving? The giving of both money and drink was solely for the purpose of bribery and of inducing the men to vote in the test Ballot. Surely after that they would not hear much more of the abolition of bribery in large boroughs by secret voting. Hon. Members opposite were disposed to admit that secret Ballot would not put a stop to bribery, and he would notice the words which were addressed to the Committee by one of its members (Mr. John Bright), who had always been a consistent advocate of the Ballot, and which were afterwards inserted in the Report. These were to the effect that the Ballot would secure a greater degree of freedom and purity than was secured under the present system. And if he rightly understood the Vice President of the Council in his speech on the introduction of the Bill, he only considered that the Ballot would prevent bribery where the voter was bribed to vote against his opinions. He entirely agreed with what the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) had stated, that where one man was willing to give money for a vote, and another man was ready to give a vote for money, no legislation on the part of that House would be sufficient to prevent bribery. One of the witnesses from Australia (Mr. Guerdon) stated before the Elections Committee that in one of the Australian colonies a candidate had paid a sum of money for the conveyance of voters to the poll, although he could not possibly find out how they were to vote. And Mr. Wilson, of Tasmania, admitted, in a paper recently laid before the House, that a wealthy candidate or committee-man might sometimes offer a poor elector substantial inducements to vote in a particular way under the secret Ballot which prevailed in that colony. Turning to the question of intimidation, he did not think there was any point on which so much exaggeration had been used as on that. The hon. and learned Member for Taunton (Mr. James) the other day told the House that he would not have supported the measure were it not for the immense increase of intimidation. But if intimidation prevailed to the extent which some hon. Members appeared to suppose, he should be inclined to conclude that the spirit of liberty was so nearly extinct in this country that no change in our system of voting could possibly revive it. However, he believed it could be distinctly shown that intimidation was powerful only when there was no potent feeling on the other side, and that the slightest breath of popular excitement would be sufficient to sweep it away like a straw before the wind. Now, what was the case in Ireland? The Committee reported in very strong terms upon the prevalence of intimidation in that part of the country, and the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in his speech on Monday, stated that the present system of Irish elections was a disgrace to a civilized community. But what were the real facts which had lately happened there? They had always heard that intimidation in Ireland was the intimidation of the landlords on the one side, and the priests on the other. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin University (Mr. Plunket) the other night had very well told the House that the provisions of the Land Bill had effectually taken away the power of intimidation from the landlords. And with regard to spiritual intimidation, was there a constituency in the whole of Ireland supposed to be more under the dominion of the priests than Meath, and what happened there under the system of open voting? Why, the popular candidate was returned in spite of the priests. ["No, no!] Well, if hon. Members said no, he could reply that that was stated in all the papers. Again, what happened in Westmeath? When the two candidates started, one of them was certainly supposed to be more the favourite of the priests than the other; but the priests found that the only way they could maintain their cause was by going in favour of the Nationalist candidate. It hardly seemed that the Ballot was necessary to put down either the landlord or priestly intimidation in Ireland. But even if it were, did any hon. Member think that spiritual intimidation could be stopped by secret voting? That was a point that scarcely needed argument. If a man believed that in a future state he would be punished unless he voted as his priest told him, he would vote in that way, Ballot or no Ballot. As to the English counties, it was said in former times that landlord influence prevailed there to a dreadful extent. They had not heard very much of that during recent debates, and the reason was because everyone was convinced that the feeling of the county constituencies was essentially Conservative. If they wanted an old Tory, they must look for him among the men who hated change, were jealous of the towns, and averse from centralization. Landlords and tenants voted together because they were bound by the same sympathies and interests, and where those interests differed on any important question the tenant would be found, as in Scotland, ready to take an independent course. What landlord in his senses would turn out a tenant for voting against him? If the tenant was a good one, the landlord would lose just as much as an employer by dismissing a good workman. And not only would the landlord lose in pocket, but his party would also lose in political influence. The Ballot would never prevent an intimidator from saying to a voter—"You shall work for my party, you shall canvass for my candidate, and support him at public meetings;" and if the elector voted for the other party at the poll, did hon. Members think he would be able to keep his secret? After the election, what would be easier than for a landlord or employer who had a great many tenants or workmen, voters in a particular district, going around and asking each how he had voted, and comparing the results with the published results of the poll, which would infallibly tell in cases where they formed a large proportion of the voters how they had voted. All the Ballot would do in that way was to afford excuse for suspicion where at present no suspicion arose. The honest voter, who wished to vote with his landlord or employer from personal attachment, which might be stronger with him than political opinion, would be subjected to suspicion, and in that way infinitely more trouble and discomfort would be caused than could be saved by doing away with intimidation. They had been told—and it was a curious instance of the argument from a less to a greater—that the secret Ballot had succeeded in Australia, and therefore must succeed here. He wished to attach every possible weight to the evidence which emanated from men who had sat in that House, and whose conduct there freed them from any suspicion of being prejudiced in favour of the Ballot. They had testified to the success of the Ballot in Australia; but they had other evidence on the point. Some years ago a gentleman, who then, as now, was a Member of Her Majesty's Government, said— For several years he had given but one vote upon this subject, and that was for the Ballot. Since that time, however, he had thought much on the Ballot, and the more he thought of it the less he liked it. These objections had not been lessened, but increased by his Australian experience at the Colonial Office. … The circumstances of Australia were so different from the state of things in the old country that no safe conclusion from the one was applicable to the other. The right hon. Gentleman who used those words was then Under Secretary for the Colonies, and now held the office of President of the Board of Trade. The right hon. Gentleman had changed his opinions on this subject twice already, and it was to be hoped he would change them again. He did not want to taunt the right hon. Gentleman. He would merely point out that the right hon. Gentleman was either right in the opinions he had quoted, or he was wrong. If the right hon. Gentleman was wrong, then colonial experience was not always so very valuable. If he were right, no word could express the matter better than he had put it. In almost every point the state of the Australian colonies offered scarcely any analogy to the state of this country. He would take one point—the anxiety of the rich to enter into Parliament. That was the case in this country, but not in Australia; and, indeed, all the evidence was to the contrary effect. He had himself heard that a rule in a leading Australian firm was that no partner should demean himself by entering any of the Colonial Assemblies; and, as a rule, the rich in America took very little part in politics, either as candidates or electors. There being payment there for Members, the majority of them were elected from among those who had failed in other pursuits. Some years ago Lord Lytton delivered a speech in that House in favour of the Ballot, though he had changed his opinions since, and in Rome he said that the Ballot was not effective against bribery. All barriers were in vain against the enormous fortunes and gigantic ambition of the patricians who came to the elections laden with the spoils of exhausted nations and devoted the plunder of other countries to the corruption of their own. And if we turned to the present state of our own country that description would not be so very inapplicable. So long as that House was the most powerful Assembly of its kind in the world—so long as men of the highest position and the greatest intellect desired to serve their country there—and so long as seats within those walls afforded passports into society, so long would wealthy men spend large sums to get into Parliament. They had in this country what they had not in Australia, persons ready to bribe, and others ready to be bribed; and, beyond that, we had in this country long traditions of bribery. In Australia the working classes were so independent, and were in the receipt of such good wages, that bribery would be no inducement whatever to them to give their votes. Look at the comparative position of England and Australia in reference to area and population. New South Wales had a population of 500,000, and as many square miles of territory; Victoria, 715,000 population, and 87,000 square miles; Tasmania, 100,000 population, and 26,000 square miles; South Australia 163,000 population, and 383,000 square miles; whilst England and Wales had more than 22,000,000 of population, and only 58,000 square miles of territory. In support of his second position, that a so-called secret Ballot could not be kept practically secret, the hon. Baronet quoted statements to the effect that in South Australia from 300 to 500 voters signed a requisition to a candidate, and so showed where their sympathies lay; that in Victoria the electoral agent of a candidate for a new constituency foretold within three votes the result of an election; and the statement of Lord Canterbury that in Victoria very few persons availed themselves of the secrecy of the Ballot. The great body of our race, both in England and in Australia, were much too independent to be anxious for secrecy; and they would not conceal their votes. At the election of the School Board last autumn in London the election was open in the City of London, and secret throughout the rest of the Metropolis. It was conducted with a very considerable amount of order, except in Lambeth, where there was considerable rioting during the evening, and the Ballot-boxes had to be protected by the police. But wherever you went that day you heard men openly saying for whom they voted, and showing their papers to one another, and to the agents of the candidates at the polling-places. They really could not bring about secret voting, and if there was not secrecy, then the Ballot would be of no use at all. From our own country he would turn to one whose electoral system could fairly be compared to that of England—he meant the United States. He ventured to say that in the United States they had never been able to arrive at a secret Ballot, and the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles Dilke) expressed that opinion before the Parliamentary Committee. This failure had not been because they had not tried to obtain secrecy. In Massachusetts, according to the original constitution of the State, the polling was secret; but it was found that fraud arose, and then the alteration was made that the paper should be placed in the box unfolded, so that practically the vote was given openly. It happened, however, that the heads of some large manufacturing firms were accused of intimidation, and a proposal was carried for a secret vote, the voting paper to be placed in an envelope and then placed in the Ballot-box. It was feared, however, that this would so encourage fraud that they did not agree to the proposal, and the system of voting at that time in Massachusetts, though legally secret, was practically open. In Rhode Island there was secret voting from 1851 to 1854; but the inhabitants seemed to have become satisfied that such a course of proceeding was ineffectual or inexpedient, and now it was open to the voter to vote secretly or not. The Government supplied the envelopes that contained the secret voting papers; but comparatively few such envelopes were now applied for, and the number was decreasing year by year. In Now York State the voting was practically so open that a skilful election agent could tell immediately on the closing of the poll, within 5 per cent, how the voting had gone; and yet in that State there was a provision that the voter should put his paper into the Ballot-box in such a way as to conceal it from the returning officer and from the bystanders. This proved that they could not have secresy under the Ballot. Now, what was the result of the Ballot as to bribery and intimidation? In America it was impossible for landlords to intimidate tenants, because there were no tenants to be intimidated; or for employers to intimidate workmen, because the demand for labour was so much in excess of the supply that the workmen had it all their own way, and the employer, unless in exceptional cases, had no practical control over workmen. But there was a kind of intimidation that was extremely prevalent, and that was the intimidation of the mob. Respectable voters were driven from the poll by roughs, the opinions of the voters being sometimes known, but more frequently suspected. In Rhode Island also it was said that the number of those who could be bought was enormous, and many more could be influenced in various other ways, so that the State could be carried by any party who could furnish the necessary funds and the necessary influence. Professor Morse had been quoted to show that corruption was almost unknown in the United States. But this must be a play upon words. In the sense in which we used the word, corruption might be almost unknown, because in those large constituencies it did not pay to bribe individual voters with sums of money. Candidates could spend their money better in providing drink, or in inducing persons to commit frauds. There was also another mode of corruption in America, of which we happily had no ex- perience. It was not always the candidates or the party who provided corrupt means. Corruption was carried on at the expense of the public and of the State. A system under which every person holding office, from the President to a policeman, was subject to the result of an election, afforded the strongest inducement to persons of all ranks to work for their party in the hope that either they or their friends might be elected to office; and when put into office they took care to reward themselves for their work. Every thinking man in America was of opinion that this was one of the most infamous systems ever introduced into the Government of a country. Intimidation and corruption of certain kinds being thus shown to exist in America, were there no electoral evils from which we were free? A gentleman of Philadelphia, who had been a voter for 30 years, declared that he should prefer a trial of open voting, as the frauds under the present system there were such that the result of the election seldom reflected the popular will. He was aware that the system of registration in America was open to the greatest abuses; but many frauds were also to be traced to the absence of any kind of scrutiny—the very system which the Government recommended in this Bill. The Ballot did not prevent Election Petitions in America; there were as many in proportion to the number of representatives as in England. The Report of the Committee of the House of Representatives stated that, as under the Ballot the vote could properly be known only to the voter himself, the fact must be determined by circumstantial evidence. This statement referred to a contested election in Ohio, where, therefore, members were actually unseated upon evidence which must often be of the vaguest description—so vague that in this country hon. Members admitted it would not be sufficient to induce a landlord to turn out a tenant, or for an employer to dismiss a workman. This state of things in America had led several States to adopt a system under which a scrutiny was possible. He had the honour of meeting Mr. Carr, a Member of the House of Representatives of Indiana, and for many years Member of the Committee of Elections, and he said that it had been found that in contested Election Petitions there was every rea- son to suppose that persons who swore they voted for A had in fact voted for B; but the Committee had to take the oath of the voter as outweighing the circumstances. In Illinois the power of having a scrutiny had long existed, and the evidence showed that it was absolutely necessary that there should be such a power if fraud was to be kept down. As to personation, it existed both in New South Wales and Queensland, and in the former it was largely increasing. In neither State was there a power of scrutiny. In Victoria there was such a power, and the evidence of its working was that it had not tended to diminish the security to the voter, nor was there any reason to suppose that the power of identification was over used for purposes not contemplated by the law. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. E. Forster) admitted that safeguards were required against personation; but said it was not more dangerous under secret than under open voting. But in the one case you had means of detection which were impossible in the other. Where a well-known Conservative elector was personated by a man who voted for the Radical candidate, a case of suspicion at once arose which would not exist under the Ballot. There was one clause of that Bill which he looked upon with great suspicion, and that was the one which imposed a penalty upon those who improperly accused others of personation. But such penalties would make men very cautious how they made accusations of this kind, and the result would be that offenders would seldom be proceeded against. Charges of personation were made in the interest of the candidate who had suffered from them; but under a system of secret voting neither candidate would have any inducement to prosecute, because neither candidate would have any means of knowing with certainty how any man voted. The right hon. Gentleman also alluded to the use of forged papers, and said he had guarded against that fraud by the provision that the voting papers should be stamped. That arrangement might prove some protection; but still there would be no means of proving that the paper which any voter put into the Ballot-box was the same as the presiding officer had given him. In the case of the School Board elections he knew that it was perfectly possible for the voter to walk out of the booth undetected; but, whatever effect the provision might have in other respects, it would be no guard against any returning officer who might be tempted to commit fraud himself. He failed to perceive any provision in the Bill to prevent the tampering with the voting papers. It was all very well to say that after the election the Ballot-box would be taken away and sealed up with the seals of the candidates; but there was nothing more easy than to take an impression of a seal, open the Ballot-box, and re-seal it. There were hundreds of ways in which a fraudulent or unscrupulous returning officer might evade all the provisions put into the Bill to protect a voter against fraud. The hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. R. Torrens) stated before the Committee which sat on this subject that the candidates in South Australia had complete confidence in the returning officer appointed by the Crown. In that happy country such confidence might prevail, though it did not exist in France under the Imperial régime, nor was it likely the Nationalist candidates in Ireland would have confidence in the returning officers nominated at Dublin Castle. The returning officers for boroughs in England were the mayors, and the election of mayors and town councillors depended more and more on political grounds and less on their fitness for the office. Was it to be supposed that Radical voters would on all occasions have implicit confidence in the conduct of a Conservative mayor, who appointed his assistant returning officer and the poll clerks. What happened across the Atlantic? In New York the poll clerks were appointed by non-political bodies, yet they were admitted to be open to fraud, the agents of one party bribing the agents of the other. New York was peopled by much the same race as a large portion of our constituent body; and what was to prevent the same practices being resorted to here? It had been said that the wealthiest and most educated class in the country were so debased in political principle that they only cared to intimidate all those whom they had under their influence; that the mass of the population were so ignorant and incapable of exercising the franchise properly that they wanted protection against the temptation of bribery; and that they were so steeped in hypocrisy as to pretend to support one political party and on the polling-day to vote for another. It was also said that honour had left the earth, and had taken up her abode in one class, and that class was the class of returning officers; and yet it was remarkable that a scrutiny should be objected to because they might reveal the names of half-a-dozen voters who required protection. A great deal had been said about freedom of election; but was it freedom of election if a voter could not prove to his own satisfaction that he had voted for the candidate whom he wished to support? The House might now, or at some future day, pass the Bill; but if there was any reality in the danger he apprehended it would not be long before the electors would find that secrecy had been converted into an engine of fraud, and that secrecy had been purchased at far too dear a price. This system of secrecy was foreign to the habits of England, and, repeating words used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer a short time back, he said—Non sic fortis Etruria crevit. Our ancestors won their liberty in the light of day. We enjoyed an electoral system which was free, because it was essentially public, and we might in future be left to the mercy of the decision of a tribe of officials, who were but men, and who would be subjected to every variety and amount of temptation of which human ingenuity was capable—temptation which would be irresistible because it would be impossible if they yielded to it to find them out. He admitted to the full the evils of bribery and intimidation—he regretted their prevalence; but he would trust for their suppression to the spread of education amongst the people and the growing influence of public opinion, largely increased as it had been by the extended suffrage which had been recently bestowed upon the people. He was anxious that the franchise freely given should be freely exercised; but he feared that there would be evils in the future even greater than bribery and intimidation—far more dangerous to electoral freedom—and that was an organized system of fraud; and it was because there was that danger, because in the Bill he found everything to favour such a system and nothing to check it, that he most cordially gave his vote against the Bill.


Mr. Speaker—the hon. Baronet, Sir, who has just sat down (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) has blown both hot and cold with regard to American examples. He began by admitting that America had not a secret Ballot; but he then went on to quote the perversions of the American system as specimens of the state of things which would here be created by the Ballot. America has, like France, a form of voting which is secret only if the voter wishes that it should be secret, and therefore American example is worthless, for it has no bearing on our case. The American Ballot is not necessarily secret, and if it is worth adopting the Ballot here it is worth going further than this, for permissive secrecy gives no sufficient protection against intimidation. I might, Sir, say the same of the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University (Mr. G. Hardy) in reference to Rome. I speak with all deference; but I was always taught to believe that at Rome the voters came to the poll in batches, and when actually in the booth consulted one with the other as to how they should vote, and then cast their votes together. So much for Roman and American examples. Then, Sir, the hon. Gentleman attacked the Government for introducing an inviolably secret Ballot, and for going beyond the Report of the Committee. The Committee did certainly recommend that scrutinies should continue to be possible, but they so tied up and limited the scrutiny as to make it necessary either to adopt the cheque-book plan of the noble Lord the Secretary for Ireland, or the bakehouse plan of my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham), or some other intricate contrivance, before a scrutiny could be held at all. But the Government have had a year to reflect, and have naturally asked themselves whether a scrutiny is necessary, and now they offer us an inviolably secret Ballot. As, Sir, in conjunction with my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. R. Torrens) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. James), I had the honour last year to propose to move in this direction, I, for one, am prepared to defend their step. If any hon. Member should rise in his place and should say that which no one as yet has said in this debate—namely, that he is for the Ballot, but against abolishing the scrutiny, then I would ask him, what plan he would propose. The gist of the matter is not the chance that the discovery of votes may take place under such a provision, but the danger that the beneficial results expected from the Ballot may not arise from it if the voters think—however foolishly—that a discovery of votes may take place. When, for instance, you make a man vote with cheques out of a cheque-book, numbered on their backs, and having counterfoils numbered on their faces; when the voter has to show the number on the back; when he is told that afterwards the deputy returning officer will have to place the papers on their faces and look only at their backs; but that, on the other hand, the returning officer, when the papers come to him, will have to place them on their backs and look only at their faces; I doubt whether the voter will feel persuaded that there is no danger of secrecy being invaded under such a plan. Besides, even if the voter were inclined to believe in the Ballot at first, he would not be allowed to believe in it long. Those whose interest it might be that he should not believe would soon begin to go about and say, with a wink and a shrug of the shoulders—"Oh yes, of course it's 'secret,' but everybody knows how everybody else votes, all the same." When the poor voter asked how that could be, the answer—a Quaker's answer—would of course be the question—"Why did they number your tickets, then?" I doubt whether an intimidated voter would make much of a reply. When we inquire if a scrutiny is really needed, we find at once that the fight is over personation. Hon. Members opposite get up one after another and say that personation would be increased by the Ballot, and the hon. Baronet the Member for East Gloucester (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) says so, too. Let anyone who thinks so go and talk to an old election agent. They all will tell you the same thing. They will say—"Personation is an imaginary danger." They say—"It is a House of Commons danger"—not a danger which exists in the constituencies; a danger conjured up for the purpose of debate. Now, the hon. Gentleman opposite—who has conjured it up for the purpose of this particular debate—has quoted American example. I have already said that America has not a secret Ballot. Each State has its own system, and the systems agree only in this—that not one is absolutely secret. Still, he has referred to American example, and has followed the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. B. Hope) in quoting Mr. Hankol. Now, I do not wish, to say anything hard of Mr. Hankol; but those who heard him will bear me out when I say this much—that Mr. Hankol was called to damage the Ballot and succeeded only in damaging himself. He ascribed to the Ballot all the corruption of South Carolina before the War—which is to throw a heavy weight upon its shoulders—and he traced to it in particular the personation that prevailed. He admitted, however, a little later, that the State had no registration system. So much for Mr. Hankol. Now, where can personation largely exist? In small wards or small boroughs the voters are too well known for personation to be attempted; but in big boroughs—to have any effect that is worth plotting for, and worth paying for, and worth running serious risks for—it must be done on a very large scale. It never has been so done. You cannot instance an election in England where the cases of personation were proved to have been more than a very few. Just now I asked, where are you to personate? But I will go on to ask, who you are to personate? Look at the danger of personating a man with several qualifications. Such a man, being rich, is well known, and his class is a very small one, which makes it useless to personate them. Personating a man who is going to vote on the same day in the same ward is very dangerous work indeed. Even if the man is not known to the rate-collector—not known to persons specially selected on account of their knowledge of the ward as agents for the purpose of detecting personation—still there is the risk of the other man being present at the same time. The two risks jointly are enormous. The agents for the detection of personation need not be named till the day of polling, so that for aught that the personator can tell he may find his next-door neighbour there to watch him. It is generally well known in the ward who is absent and who is bed-ridden, and the dead men will be few if you pass our much-needed Registration Bills. In all these cases, too, the risk will be no greater under the Ballot than it is now. The only difference is that you will not be quite so certain that on petition you will be able correctly to amend the "tally" or return. Of how little moment is this fact, I would ask? For years past there have only been two cases—that of Taunton, and that of Bewdley—where the return was altered, and in those cases the same result would have been brought about under this Bill. Remember that you have one most valuable new power given by this Bill—namely, that of striking off as many votes from the "tally" of a candidate as personated votes are found to have been procured for him. You might go even a step further:—you might say that when personated votes—procured or not procured—are proved to have been given—numerous enough to turn the election if all given one way—that in such cases there should be a fresh election. I have one thing more to say upon this score. Those who are opposed to the abolition of scrutinies, on the ground that you would have an increase of personation, must take care lest we be forced soon to go further than they would like, and prohibit the most fruitful of all causes of personation—namely, the voting of non-resident electors. I dare say that my own case is no unusual one; but everyone knows his own case best. I vote in nine constituencies, returning 20 Members to this House. Many of the elections take place on the same day. See what an opening for personation is thus afforded. I can offer no defence for such a state of things; but it is one which, if we throw out this Bill, we shall very soon be called on to defend. Now, Sir, those who attack the Government for making scrutinies impossible are bound either to produce a plan for combining scrutiny with Ballot, or else to declare against the Ballot altogether. Well, Sir, they have made choice of this last alternative. They have—through the voice of the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. G. Bentinck)—attacked the Ballot upon moral grounds, and attacked it also on the widely different ground that it will not have the good effect that is looked for from its adoption. With the leave of the House, Sir, I would wish for a very few moments to examine both these points, and, in the first place, that of the results of the Ballot, The hon. Member for South-west Lancashire, Sir, has done me the honour to quote my evidence as to the insufficiency of the Ballot to cope with bribery. Well, Sir, it is true that on this one point of bribery I do hold an opinion at variance with that of many of my Friends. If hon. Members ask in what manner, under the Ballot, bribery can take place, I will beg leave to tell a story. In the days of George II., a great Court lady—whom I will not name, but who had much influence with the King—betted a certain clergyman £5,000 that he would be made a Bishop. He lost, and paid his money—yet did not seem altogether displeased at this transaction. Well, Sir, will not voters bet with "Men in the Moon" about a particular candidate's return, and will it not then be their interest to vote for the return of that candidate—who will not be sorry to lose his bet, if only he contrives to win his seat? Promises of payment conditional on a candidate's return amount to the same thing. The common-place answer that people are too shrewd to pay money when they do not know how the bribed man will vote, is worthless as applied to this form of bribery, because by a conditional promise you make it the interest of every voter to whom such a promise is made to vote himself for his briber, and even to procure by similar bribery other voters to vote too. There is but one real answer that can be made—namely, that the facility of detection will be considerable, because conditional bribery must be worked through a man whom the voters can trust. Such a man, no doubt, is hard to find; but I fear that he can be found, and the voters will trust anybody rather than trust nobody at all. I repeat that there is reason to fear that the Ballot will not put down bribery in those small boroughs which already are corrupt; but I shall not have the cheers of hon. Gentlemen opposite when I say that the natural remedy is to do away with the small boroughs themselves. Now, Sir, the question is, whether there are not ample grounds for thinking the Ballot necessary even if it would not put down bribery? There is something that it would suppress—it would suppress intimidation. It has been said that, compared with intimidation, bribery is a small and a decreasing evil. The evidence taken by the Committee shows that this is true. I need not go into the cases. Blackburn alone would be enough; Cheshire is enough; Wales is enough; Ireland is enough. The great danger of intimidation of the Blackburn type is that it does not admit of absolute proof. Work is slack; it is impossible to prove that the men discharged have been picked for political purposes. Besides, there is intimidation that is no intimidation. You will find, for instance, in the building trade, that in boroughs where there are sharp contests, nine foremen out of ten will vote the same way as the master, though, probably, not a word has passed between them. You may say that it is the duty of voters to make sacrifices. But they do make sacrifices. If they did not, a good many of my hon. Friends in this part of the House would not be here, and several hon. Gentlemen on that side would not be there, for I do not pretend to say that the intimidation is all on one side. They do make sacrifices; but you have no right to call upon them to make those sacrifices unless stern necessity compels you so to do, and that necessity is wanting here. I think, Sir, that the Ballot will put an end to intimidation, and many hon. Gentlemen opposite, by quoting Mr. Mill, and by taking the moral objection to the Ballot, seem to think so too. Mr. Mill never denied that the Ballot would have this effect, and if hon. Gentlemen think that the Ballot would do no good, why should they resort to the moral argument at all? But, Sir, I cannot help thinking that, on the one hand, the moral argument has not been sufficiently answered in this debate; and that, on the other, it is capable of refutation. The moral objection, Sir, rests upon the notion that the voter is directly responsible to certain other persons, and that this responsibility is a dead letter unless those other persons can test him by his recorded vote. What other persons? There is a good deal in this objection when used by those who are in favour of a restricted franchise. They say, fairly enough, that if there are persons capable of exercising a sound political judgment and a wise political control, who are excluded from the franchise, the voter should be made by publicity responsible to that opinion and judgment and control. But, why exclude these persons from the franchise? On the other hand, the objection is a weak one when made use of against those of us who are in favour of a widely extended franchise. There are many who think that the franchise should be extended to all who are personally capable of forming a political opinion. Towards whom, then, from this point of view, is the voter's responsibility to exist? There is, however, Sir, a further argument of Mr. Mill's against the Ballot to which I must refer. At the time that Mr. Mill—from having been a friend—became an opponent of the Ballot, he was for a limited franchise; and when he became an advocate for an extended franchise, he ought perhaps, logically, to have returned to his former view. But he was unfortunately tempted to go beyond the argument that I just now stated, and to lay down a general proposition, that even under universal suffrage publicity would still be desirable. He said that, in his opinion, men would not cast their votes as honestly in secret as in public. He put the case of a repudiating State. Almost every voter might see his private interest in repudiation; and whereas in public his vote might be an honest one, in private he might go wrong. There are many answers that may be made. One is, that few scoundrels would be deterred by publicity in a country where the majority of voters were as great scoundrels as themselves. Another is that free institutions could not be maintained at all in a State in which the majority of the voters at the polls were scoundrels such as these. Another is that against a few cases of dishonest secret votes—which if given publicly would be honest—you have to set off many dishonest votes given under publicity, which if given secretly would be honest. This is clearly true when intimidation prevails; but even putting intimidation out of sight, there are dishonest public votes which might be honest private ones. Take, for instance, that of the man who, because his father was a Tory, or who, because his grandfather was a Whig, voted with his family party, well knowing that his honest vote would be given the other way. There is, however, a far more complete answer than any of these to the moral argument against the Ballot. Mr. Mill, when he stated it, admitted that at some times and places the Ballot might be a lesser evil than coercion. I do not know, indeed, how the contrary opinion could be maintained. On any other supposition you might have an Elective Chamber, which would represent the opinion of a small minority of the people. You might have laws passed by that Chamber in defiance of the wishes of the great ma- jority. But, if you make this supposition—if you admit that at some times and places the Ballot might be the lesser evil, then, I would ask, is not this country one of those places, and one of those times the present? To what, after all, amounts the moral objection? The Committee expressed it thus. They said that those who hold it believe "that the act of voting is a public duty, and should involve a public responsibility." We accept that definition; we admit that it is a public duty; and we admit that it should involve a public responsibility. But, it is because we admit this responsibility, that we argue that you should above all take care that the public receives the true opinion of each voter, and not a repetition by that voter of the opinion of some one else. There are many of us who, although we sit upon these benches, hardly look upon the Ballot as a measure to protect the poor and dependent voter in the exercise of a right. We look rather at it as a measure to secure the proper fulfilment by the voter of a duty towards the State. It is admitted that at present intimidation often prevents the voter from performing the duty that is thrown upon him by the State. If so, you are bound to see that he is put in a position which will enable him to perform that duty by giving his suffrage for the man who, in his honest opinion, is the most fit to compass the good of the whole land.


said, he was not in the House when the hon. and learned Member for Taunton (Mr. James) spoke the other evening in the course of this debate, and he had been somewhat astonished since at hearing one of the statements made by that hon. and learned Gentleman. The hon. and learned Gentleman referred to the Conservative Members for Staleybridge, Ashton-under-Lyne, Stockport, and Preston, as all having changed their opinions and become converts to the Ballot. The hon. Members for Staleybridge, Ashton-under-Lyne, and Stockport were not converts, for they all came into Parliament in favour of the Ballot, and, therefore, there was no change of opinion, and as for himself (Mr. Hermon) the representative of Preston referred to by the hon. and learned Gentleman, he had never been in favour of the Ballot, and he still remained opposed to it. He was astonished to read the following passage in the report of the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Taunton— No hon. Member could be unseated unless either he himself or his agents had been guilty of undue influence. But the offence was never committed by a Member or his agent, but by employers of labour interested in the candidate's success or defeat. On the part of the employers of labour, he indignantly denied the correctness of that assertion. If the hon. and learned Member were practically acquainted with the character of the Lancashire operatives, he would never have put such a stigma upon them. Members did not come to the House exactly in the character of delegates, bound by every expression winch might have fallen from them at the hustings; but for himself he could say that if he should change his mind on any vital point, he would at once resign his seat, and ask his constituents to elect some one who would represent their opinions more correctly. In his case there had been no change of opinion; but perhaps the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) had misinterpreted what he said last year when the hon. Member proposed to take a division on a Motion for Adjournment as a division upon the Main Question, and he protested against that, stating that he should vote simply on the Adjournment, without committing himself on the Main Question. As to the general question of the Ballot, he believed that the people generally were not in favour of this measure. He found that out of a population of over 30,000,000 people there had been presented in favour of this Bill only 40 Petitions, to which were attached 7,500 signatures, and he maintained that there would have been fifty times that number if the country had been in earnest about the matter. It was singular that while the competition for admission to the Strangers' Gallery of the House often necessitated the use of the Ballot, there was no necessity to resort to it on the night this Bill was introduced. He objected to certain details of the Bill. For instance he objected to ten voters nominating a candidate, which was equivalent to singling out ten men as the only men who should declare their votes. He objected to secret voting because it was at variance with open speaking and public discussion; it would interfere greatly with the social advantages which were derivable from both Liberal and Conservative clubs as scattered up and down the country; and it would in time become a crime for one man to declare that he read The Standard, or for another to avow his preference for The Telegraph. The voters would never feel sure under the Ballot that their votes were duly recorded, and the unsuccessful candidates would never feel quite certain that they had received fair play. These were some of the serious evils in the Ballot which induced him to oppose it.


said, that on behalf of the important constituency which he had the honour to represent, he begged to offer to Her Majesty's Government his best thanks for the excellent and comprehensive Bill now under consideration. Since its introduction he, in conjunction with his hon. and learned Friend and Colleague the Solicitor General, had been taking what an hon. Friend of his below the gangway so poetically called a "bath of liberty" with his constituents, and he could assure the House that it afforded them much satisfaction that their Members had so good a towel as this Ballot Bill to dry themselves with, after performing their ablutions. He had subsequently passed his Easter holidays amongst them, and almost the universal question asked him by those whom he met was whether the Government were really in earnest in their intention to carry the Bill this year. In fact, so great was the interest which the City of Exeter had always taken in the question, so great was its anxiety to be insulted, as the hon. Member for South Northumberland (Mr. Liddell) informed the House that it was by this Bill, that he believed that if Parliament in its wisdom should determine that before the Ballot was adopted universally it should be tried experimentally in certain districts, or even in one single place, it would only be too happy to offer itself for the purpose of having performed upon it the experimentum in corpore—he would not say vili in the case of so ancient and distinguished a city, but nobili. On the occasion of the introduction of this Bill, the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. G. Bentinck) stated his opinion that if the decision of the House upon the subject of the Ballot were taken by Ballot, a large majority would be recorded against the measure. Although he de- nied altogether the accuracy of this opinion, he must say that if it was accurate it offered the strongest argument which he had yet heard in favour of the Bill; for what was it but saying in other words that they, the Members of the Liberal majority, and those hon. Gentlemen opposite who, though not in very large, yet in increasing numbers, were prepared to support the Ballot, did so, not because they were in their hearts and consciences convinced that it was a just and proper measure, but because they were compelled so to vote by the pressure of the constituencies behind their backs. Now, if ever there was a question which was a constituencies' question as distinguished from a representatives' question, a question in respect of which the constituencies had a right, he would not say to dictate to, but to enforce and enjoin upon their representatives in the strongest possible manner their own opinions, it was this very question of the Ballot, for it was not a question as to how they, Members of Parliament, should record their votes in that House—for they were one and all agreed that it would be on all grounds highly improper and impolitic for them so to vote—but it was a question as to the manner in which, and the machinery by which, the electors of the country should take advantage of that great privilege which the Constitution had conferred upon them. And one reason why he especially supported at any rate the experiment of the Ballot, was that it was essentially a question of machinery, and one not involving any vital constitutional principle whatsoever. He also supported it because it was an experiment from which we could at any time retrace our steps if it were proved to be unsuccessful, and return to the present system of open voting. It was not like those great political measures from which, when once taken, there was no possibility of retreat. It was not, for instance, like that famous and fatal "leap in the dark" which hon. Gentlemen opposite took four years ago on the subject of Reform, at the bidding of their Leaders, which was avowedly intended to "dish the Whigs," and had only succeeded in "dishing" themselves, and which had landed them maimed, mutilated, and bleeding upon the opposite benches, from whence he saw but little chance of their being able to leap back again to the enjoyment of the fleshpots of Egypt, or the comfortable repose and luxurious case of the front bench below him, upon which the Member for West Norfolk some time ago descanted so pathetically, with trembling voice and streaming eyes. They had been often told in this debate that the Ballot was a failure in America, and that therefore it ought not to be adopted in this country. His answer to that was that there were Ballots and Ballots, and that it by no means followed that because the Ballot was a failure in the United States—if, indeed, it were so—the entirely different system of secret voting proposed in the present Bill would be a failure in the United Kingdom. At any rate, he could point to the entire success which attended it in the Australian colonies, as shown by the remarkable paper which he held in his hand, where the five Governors of those colonies (three of whom—Lord Canterbury, Sir James Fergusson, and Governor Du Cane—had been distinguished Conservative Members of that House) had given such conclusive testimony on the subject, and he was not surprised that hon. Gentlemen opposite had dealt so "gingerly" with that document. He would also point to the successful working of the Ballot in almost every civilized country. Why in France, even in the darkest days of Imperialism and Ministerial control, no Government ever succeeded in ascertaining how any individual elector voted. Evidence on this point would be found in Mr. Berkeley's speech on the Ballot in 1866. But not to go out of this country for examples, he would point to the success which had attended the test Ballots in Manchester and Bristol in 1869, and the still more recent case of the Metropolitan School Board elections; and he must say that, considering the highly Conservative result of those elections, he was astonished that hon. Gentlemen opposite did not pluck up their courage and make up their minds to swallow not only without repugnance, but with real avidity, the delicious potion which was offered to them in the shape of the present Bill. As to the effect of the Ballot in checking intimidation, it seemed to him that the question scarcely admitted even of argument, and in fact all the hon. Gentlemen opposite who had spoken gave up the point, and the reports from the Austra- lian colonies confirmed the fact. It was true that the election Judges had informed the late Committee that hardly any cases of intimidation had been proved before them. He should, indeed, have been surprised if it had been otherwise. Intimidation was precisely one of those offences of which it was almost impossible to obtain legal proof, owing to the subtle form which it usually assumed. He would mention a case within his own knowledge, in which a Member of that House was concerned, whose authority he had for mentioning it. There was a town in this country where there was a large railway locomotive establishment. Most of the men in that establishment were Liberals, and had promised their votes to the Liberal candidate at the last election. The head of the railway staff, who resided 150 miles from the place, was a strong Conservative. A few days before the election he sent down an emissary, who told the men that the Tory candidate was a great friend of his, and that he was very anxious for his success. A few minutes afterwards the emissary said incidentally to the men, when going round the yard, that the directors had resolved on a reduction in the staff, though he did not know the exact extent—a statement, bye-the-bye, without foundation. The men put these two remarks together, formed their own conclusions, and many of them, for fear of losing their places, broke their promises and voted for the Tory, happily without procuring his return. Now, this was just one of those cases of subtle and undefined intimidation which the Ballot would effectually cure, but which no law could possibly reach, although it was quite as effectual—if not more effectual—for its purpose, as the grossest and most direct intimidation. With regard to bribery, assuming that the Ballot would not entirely cure it, it would at any rate make it more difficult and more uncertain. The briber would have to bribe for the "double event" of the elector voting for his candidate, and for that candidate being successful, and the price of votes would accordingly rise in the market. And it would be found in many cases that the bribable voter, who had often a political conscience and real political opinions, would vote for the candidate whom he approved, and trust to the chapter of accidents that the candidate on the other side, on whose behalf he was to be bribed, would be elected, and he himself consequently receive the bribe offered conditionally on that event. The Governors of South Australia, Tasmania, and Queensland, had all reported that the Ballot had greatly checked bribery, and it was obvious that it would at any rate put an entire end to the description of bribery known as "afternoon" or "3 o'clock bribery." He (Mr. Bowring) quoted the case of Sir George Jenkinson, the defeated Conservative candidate for Nottingham in 1866, who, in his farewell address, said— That if the Ballot would prevent" (as it obviously would) "such wholesale purchase of votes as took place between 2 and 4 o'clock, he for one would vote for that measure, for no evil could equal the one of wholesale and open venality. That hon. Baronet had now been promoted to the rank of a Tory County Member, but he felt justified, after reading that extract, in challenging him to accompany him into the lobby on that occasion. He would admit that he had no abstract predilection for the Ballot, but he supported it because of the far greater evils which, even if it were itself an evil, it would cure. This was a case in which one ounce of practical experience was worth whole tons of theoretical argument, and on that ground he did not attach the weight which he otherwise should do to the well-known opinions of Mr. John Stuart Mill and the Rev. Sydney Smith, nor would he quote against them the equally great authority of Mr. Grote—whose death at the moment when the principle for which he contended was about to triumph, the country had such reason to deplore—or even seek to invoke the ghost of the late Mr. Henry Berkeley. As to Mr. Mill, he was not aware whether the result of the last Westminster election had had any effect in altering his opinion against the Ballot; but if not, all he could say was that it ought to have had that effect. With respect to the witty Canon of St. Paul's, no one admired more than he did the humour of his treatise on the Ballot, and yet at the very moment when he wrote it he found him addressing one of his fair correspondents in the following words—"I have written a pamphlet against the Ballot, very clever of course; but the Ballot will come, write I never so wisely." In this, as in so many other matters, the Rev. Sydney Smith showed himself a true prophet. He might now, perhaps, be allowed to contribute his own ounce of practical experience in the matter. When he was invited to contest the representation of Exeter, he knew that he had what President Lincoln called a "big job" before him; he had to endeavour to win for his party a seat which had been in the undisturbed possession of the opposite side for generations, and he had to oppose a leading and popular Member of the then Government in the person of its Attorney General. He therefore determined to institute an exhaustive personal canvass of the whole constituency of 5,000. He did not employ a single paid agent, and even his own professional agent refused to accept any remuneration for his services. He held his own canvassing books, and entered no elector as intending to vote for him, unless he gave him a positive promise to that effect, confirmed by shaking hands, not only with the voter, but with the votor's wife. He might mention, however, that he did not feel it necessary to kiss all the babies. Those electors who refused to pledge themselves, or who gave doubtful or hesitating answers, were entered by him as intending to vote against him. The result of his canvass was that he found a majority of nearly 700 pledged in his favour. When the day of polling arrived, however, that majority was broken down to 29, while 91 per cent of the whole constituency voted. The number of broken promises amounted to between 300 and 400. The subsequent publication of the poll-book had enabled him to ascertain who the voters were who had thus broken their pledges, and he was able to state positively that nearly the whole of them consisted of those poorer classes who were unable to resist the influences brought to bear upon them, and to which the Ballot would apply an effectual remedy. He had since conversed with many of those voters, who bitterly expressed their regret at the cruel necessity which had compelled them thus not only to break their promises, but to vote against their real convictions, constituting two distinct offences against morality. If the Ballot were adopted, a man might indeed still break his promise, but he need no longer vote against his conscience, and even from this low point of view there would in future in his case be only one offence against morality instead of two. And he had always contended that it was far better in the interests of the public at large that a voter should break his promise and vote according to his conscience than that he should keep his promise and vote against his conscience—lamentable as are both alternatives. It was true that if the Bill passed, we should no longer know how individuals voted, unless they chose to make their votes public; but we should know accurately what was much more important — namely, the real verdict of every constituency as a whole, and what was more important still, the verdict of the country at large. It seemed to him that the time was extremely opportune for passing the Bill, because there was no immediate prospect of a General Election. But municipal elections took place every year, as well as 20 or 30 bye-Parliamentary elections, and it was very desirable to try the Ballot in these cases, so as to get the machinery in good working order, and amend it, if necessary, before the next General Election. He would not contend that the case of balloting at the clubs offered any real analogy to the Ballot now proposed; but the club Ballots showed that when the upper classes desired secrecy for their own purposes they did not scruple to employ it, and certainly the secrecy of the Ballot at the clubs was impenetrable. He had never been even asked how he had voted at the elections at the clubs to which he himself belonged. He considered the present Bill to be an improvement over that of last year, because it included the case of municipal elections; it relieved candidates from the legal and hustings expenses, and, most of all, it provided for absolute secrecy. On the other hand, it seemed to him to require amending in various particulars, and he had placed certain Amendments on the Paper to carry out his views; but so great was his anxiety to see the measure passed, that if his Amendments were likely to cause delay or to lead to any discussion, he should at once withdraw them; and he strongly appealed to those friends of his who had also prepared Amendments to adopt a similar course. After pointing out that under this Bill the election Judges appointed in 1868, with salaries of £15,000 a-year, would find their occupation, like Othello's, gone, and urging the Government to utilize their services in some other manner, the hon. Gentleman said that he did not care to inquire what might be the political results of the adoption of vote by Ballot. It was possible—many persons thought it more than probable—that they would be very different from those anticipated by the particular political party which had hitherto furnished the main body of the supporters of secret voting. All he desired was that the electors of this country might henceforward be enabled to record their votes without fear or favour, and without the slightest admixture of any improper influence whatever. Speaking for himself personally, he could with truth assert that if the result of the adoption of secret voting should be to prove that he was mistaken in the strong opinion which he at present entertained that the political principles which he was proud to profess were in entire accordance with those of the vast majority, not only of the population—for of that he had no doubt—but of the electors, of the ancient city which he had the honour to represent, most cheerfully should he submit to any decision adverse to himself thus arrived at, as he should be aware that for the first time for many a long year—aye, for generations—that decision would have been arrived at without bias, fairly, freely, honestly. In his own name, and in that of his constituents, he begged to give his hearty support to the Motion that Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair.


said, he wished, having been one of the Members of the Committee appointed to inquire into the Ballot, to make some observations, though he felt the question had been so fully argued on that side of the House that he should be content to have remained silent were it not for the remarks of the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland in regard to the Irish elections. He wished at once to state that notwithstanding that he held clearly defined opinions, he entered on the Committee determined to vote according to the evidence, a remark which it was the more important to make, because one or two of the strongest contested clauses of the Report of the Committee were carried only by a majority of 1, he himself being prevented from being present by indisposition. It seemed to him and to many other members of that Committee that nearly all the faults which were alleged against the present mode of conducting elections were susceptible of being cured by simple remedies other than the Ballot. The first remedy that had been proposed was that of the votes being given by voting papers. To an extent, however, it might be admitted that this proposal was objectionable. The second remedy was that of closing publichouses during the poll; the third, the abolition of nominations; the fourth, the non-publication of the numbers during the poll; and the fifth—the most important of all—an increase in the number of polling-places. All or any of those remedies might be adopted independently of the Ballot. The non-publication of the poll would prevent what was called "3 o'clock" bribery. With regard to the fifth mode, he knew counties in England where, when there were only three or four polling-places, much confusion existed, but where since the magistrates added largely to their numbers everything went on quietly. Sir George Lewis, in pronouncing his condemnation of the Ballot, had stated his belief that it would by no means secure secrecy of voting, because the political views of most persons were well known by those around them, and it was scarcely to be conceived that a man would pretend to hold opinions other than his own for the mere purpose of preventing his neighbours from knowing which way he voted under the Ballot. In the case of Ireland, the political opinions of a man were almost a part of his faith, and it was perfectly well known which way a man would vote before he went to the poll. A great deal of evidence had been given before the Committee with reference to the conduct of Irish elections, and no person felt more deeply than he did the scandal resulting from large bodies of troops and police being present during the elections. But the Ballot would not put a step to that, for it was proved before the Committee that the troops were necessary to enable the people to come to the polling-place, and they would still be necessary if the Ballot was brought into existence. Lord Strathnairn stated that the people would not have been allowed to come to the poll in the Sligo election, as the supporters of the Liberal candidates would prevent them, unless the troops were there. This the Ballot would not prevent. The only way of doing it was to increase the number of polling-places. He must remind the House that when Lord Mayo proposed to increase the number of polling-places in Ireland two years ago, hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite had objected to the adoption of such a course. He hoped that, whether the Ballot were adopted or not, Her Majesty's Government, would, at all events, take care that the number of polling-places should be increased. In reference to the manner in which the observations of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) with regard to the Irish Church Act had been misrepresented, he wished to explain that all the hon. and learned Member had said was that it would be as well to make the best of that measure now it had become law. The noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland appeared to think very lightly of the possible entrance of 80 or 90 Irish Nationalists into that House; but if such a body were once to be admitted, he must ask the question put by the Duke of Wellington—"How can the Queen's Government be carried on?" And he thought it would be a very difficult one for the Government to answer. He should be the last to wish that the Irish voters should be influenced in an unfair manner; but if the legitimate influence of the landlord and of the clergy, which represented education and property, was to be altogether withdrawn, the ignorant electors would be guided solely by an unscrupulous Press, such as existed in some parts of that country, and such as the noble Lord had found it necessary to place restrictions upon. He believed the fear of such a large number of Nationalists entering that House was premature. He did not think there would be anything like that number. It was more probable that there would be 50 or 60 Irish Members on one side and 40 or 50 on the other, and then the Representatives of Ireland would be so equally divided that they would practically have little or no influence at all on the Government of the Empire. What, he asked, was a Nationalist? It seemed to him that he was a man who had not thought over what was likely to be the result of his views and opinions, because if he had done so he would see how im- practicable and impossible they were. The people of Ulster, he believed, would not go in for Nationalist principles, because one of the objects of the Nationalists was to have denominational education. He did not think the Ballot ought to be looked upon as a political question; but he could not see that it was at all necessary for curing the evils which undoubtedly existed to some extent in connection with elections, and which he believed could all be cured without it. After being condemned as it had been by Lord Palmerston, Lord Russell, Sir George Lewis, and other high authorities, it was astonishing that the Ballot should now be taken up as a Cabinet question. He could only account for the conviction now entertained by many on that subject in three ways. In the first place, many persons on reading the accounts of the bribery, intimidation, and other evils attending elections were so impatient that, although those evils were now gradually decreasing, they flew to the Ballot as a means of extirpating them. In the next place, some men accepted the Ballot because they thought it would help, or at least would not hurt, their party; and lastly, some advocated it because it would settle the question. Now, he maintained that that was not a question which pressed or was one of any very great interest, and the idea of adopting a thing that was wrong because they thought they would settle the question by it was most absurd. In conclusion, he hoped the House and the country would pause long before assenting to that measure, which would be very difficult to work, and was utterly at variance with the whole spirit of our free institutions.


admitted that he was a comparatively recent convert to the Ballot; but experience had convinced him that it was necessary if the present enormous election expenses were to be reduced, and for that reason he should vote for the Bill. In his own case his election expenses were £700 in 1864, when there was no contest. In 1865 his and his Colleague's expenses were £6,000; and his opponents' were £6,000, besides £2,500 that was disallowed. Three years afterwards he had another contested election, and his and his Colleague's expenses were £12,000, and his opponents' were £15,300. In all the above cases he had quoted only the published expenses, and he need not say that the actual cost was never less than the published returns; and he unhesitatingly declared, in answer to the challenge of the hon. and learned Member for South-west Lancashire (Mr. A. Cross), that he believed the money was fairly spent. The major part of the money went in canvassing, and as long as that practice was allowed large expenditure would be common, and the doors of the House would be shut to comparatively poor people. Even in the recent short contest for Durham the expenses of the successful candidate were published at £1,200, and of the unsuccessful one at £600. He believed that the Ballot would considerably reduce those expenses, and he should therefore support the Bill.


said, that it would no doubt be found, as had been anticipated, that on the division on this question many hon. Gentlemen on both sides would be found in the same lobby with those from whom they ordinarily differed. He protested against any attempt being made to bribe Members on that side of the House by the statement that the Ballot would not be dangerous to Conservative interests, because the Conservatives had never based their opposition to it on the narrow ground that it might turn to the advantage or disadvantage of a political party. They opposed it because they objected to its essential principle, because it removed the voter from those influences of publicity to which he ought to be subject, because it shrouded in mystery the most solemn act which as a citizen he could be called upon to discharge. The argument that the suffrage was a trust was rather an artificial one, something like the social compact; it did not seem to come home to us. But he agreed entirely with Mr. Mill that the duty of voting should be performed under the eye and criticism of the public, not because the suffrage was a trust which the voter hold on behalf of the non-elector, but because, being a public act, he was bound to perform it for the good of the community, and in the full view of the community. It was said that the arguments used in support of the Ballot outside the House did not justify its adoption in the House. But if the object of the Ballot was to free the voter from the pressure of external influences, would not the Home Secretary have been very glad to submit his Licensing Bill to Members who were free from the influences brought to bear upon them by the temperance societies on the one hand and by licensed victuallers on the other? Some persons might say that if votes had been given by Ballot in the House of Commons, the decision on the Reform Bill of 1867 and upon the Irish Church Bill might have been different. At all events, taking one of the points which had arisen incidentally out of the Irish Church question, he thought it could not be doubted that if the vote of hon. Members had been taken according to their real convictions, concurrent endowment would have been passed by large majorities. Three evils beset our electoral system—treating, bribery, and intimidation. Now, the Ballot could not possibly prevent treating, which was expected to exert nothing more than a general influence in favour of candidates. It could only prevent a corrupt bargain directly made between the candidate and the voter. Clause 27 of the Bill, forbidding committee meetings in public-houses, would do something to put down treating. As to bribery, he might remind the House that Lord Macaulay did not agree with Mr. Grote on the effect of the Ballot, which he considered rather as a remedy for intimidation. The effect of the Ballot would be to change the character of bribery rather than to diminish it; the constituency would be gained over in the mass instead of in detail. That was very much the tendency of the evidence given by the hon. Baronet (Sir Charles Dilke), and it was borne out by the testimony of the late Mr. Coppock, who had large experience of elections, and who said that as candidates were now found willing to give £3,000 or £4,000 upon the chance of their return, they would be willing to give £5,000, £6,000, or £7,000 when it could be made a certainty, the money not being paid till the seat was secured. In his opinion the real source of bribery was political apathy. People who did not care on which side they voted, would vote either for the candidate who paid them best, or in accordance with the wishes of their masters or landlords. On the contrary, if they had strong political convictions they would vote accordingly. The Rev. Mr. Jones, a Dissenting minister in Monmouthshire, gave evidence that in 1858–9 there had been a great majority for the Tory candidate; but at the last election the Tory candidate never even went to the poll. This showed that in mere questions between the "ins" and the "outs" the people took very little interest; but when a question such as that relating to the Irish Church was raised, the strong anti-endowment feeling of the people was stirred, and they acted upon their convictions. Many Members were disposed to take a very loose view of this question of the Ballot, and to say that if it were carried things would go on very much as they did at present. But Gentlemen who believed that they could evade responsibility by such a line of conduct were very much mistaken, for measures once passed by the House were attended with results which could never have been anticipated. When the Reform Bill was under consideration in 1867, very much the same kind of language was used as that now employed in speaking of the Ballot; but since that time the Church Establishment in Ireland had been destroyed, and principles had been laid down which, if pushed to their legitimate results, would destroy every religious Establishment in this country; and the principles of land-tenure in Ireland had, moreover, been revolutionized in a manner which might one day re-act upon this country. Lastly, a measure of education had been passed which—he said it to the credit of the householders' Parliament—would not have been passed, he believed, by any previous Parliament. Anyone comparing the present Parliament with that of 1869 must see how wide the difference was; yet the change which had occurred would be as nothing compared to that which must occur if the Ballot were to be adopted. The experiment had never yet been tried of conducting an election in which, as Lord Macaulay put it, there would be no influence, legitimate or illegitimate. In quiet times, political tendencies under the Ballot would drive hither and thither; but in times of passion decisions would certainly be arrived at which nobody could look forward to with pleasure. Having quoted a passage from the writings of Mr. Mill to the effect that 30 years ago the Ballot might have guarded the voter against evils then threatening him, while the greatest evil now to be guarded against was the selfishness of the voter himself, the hon. Member invited the House to forecast to some extent the future, and see what would be the probable result of the Ballot. Under it, in the first place, no adequate security was provided against the evils of personation. Twelve months ago both the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland and the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham) proposed measures having for their object to guard against personation; but for some reason, which had not been sufficiently explained, those securities had dropped out of sight. The correspondence relative to the Australian colonies showed that under the Ballot system personation was a thing of frequent occurrence, and in proof of this assertion the hon. Member read passages from the communications of Lord Belmore and Governor Du Cane. He admitted the force of the argument made use of by the Vice President of the Council, that the time to detect personation was before the voter gave his vote. But if this were so, it became clearly indispensable that by the multiplication of polling-places facilities should be granted for detecting fraudulent voters. Having represented a small borough for some years he knew the practical impossibility in such places of polling fictitious votes; and there was this additional consideration in favour of establishing numerous and localized polling-booths, that those would render unnecessary the payments for conveyance of voters to the poll, always a fertile source of corruption. It was plain, upon the evidence, that the Ballot in Ireland, while it would diminish legitimate, would not diminish illegitimate influence. Mr. Norwood, one of the witnesses, declared that, from the unbounded influence which Roman Catholic clergymen exercised over their flocks, if they were to ask a man how he had voted he would immediately declare what he had done. The Ballot, therefore, while it would secure freedom against the landlord, as against the priest, would not be secret voting. Having accordingly swept away the influence of the Protestant clergyman and the landlord in Ireland by this Bill, the people would now be handed over to the dominance of a religious caste. Ten thousand times greater evils were to be expected from the establishment of such a system than from any evils which bribery or intimidation could produce. The Ballot, again, would enormously increase the influence of the various small but active political sections of the community, which our great party organizations had hitherto controlled and kept in check. It would be found impossible in practice to return from one constituency two, three, or four representatives possessing similar views; for the elections would be at haphazard, and each political section would concentrate all its strength upon the particular candidate favoured by it. The late Mr. Cobden had been of the same opinion, and plainly declared that the adoption of the Ballot would lead to the splitting up of constituencies into wards, each returning but a single Member. The Bill contained valuable provisions, not connected with the Ballot, that would tend to diminish bribery and corruption, and he thought it but fair to express plainly his approval of those parts of the measure. For instance, the abolition of public nomination would be a great boon. Everyone knew the candidates a long time before the nomination. Nomination, as now carried on, was a useless form, and productive of great expense. The nomination day was an idle day, and after the nomination the electors did not know what to do with themselves. They were brought to the hustings at the expense of the candidates to swell the majority, and he thanked the Government for having introduced the abolition of the nominations in public into their Bill. When the proper time arrived he should state his objections to the system of paid canvassers, and he believed that if the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles Dilke) persevered in his Amendment he would receive support from many independent Members who sat on the Opposition side of the House. In his opinion, the Ballot was a superstition of Liberalism. In 1848, when the middle classes rallied round the Monarchical institutions of the country, Mr. Hume introduced what he called the Lesser Charter, two articles of which had been already enrolled in the Statute Book—namely, the abolition of the property qualification and household suffrage. Mr. Cobden said the Ballot and triennial Parliaments would be immediately carried. But who wanted triennial Parliaments? Who was there who would not regard triennial Parliaments as an intolerable evil? He regarded the Ballot in the same light. If this Bill were so extended as to include in its operation the proceedings within the House itself, hon. Gentlemen opposite who now intended to vote in its favour would decline to do so—a fact which exhibited, in marked contrast, their Parliamentary opinions and their real convictions. He sincerely trusted that the House would consign to oblivion this superstition of Liberalism.


, as an Irish Member, wished to treat the subject from an Irish point of view. The Committee on Parliamentary Elections reported that under the present system there existed in many Irish boroughs and counties no such thing as freedom of election. In that opinion he entirely concurred, and therefore he should cordially support the measure now under discussion. He had no wish to curtail the legitimate influence of the landlord; but this would continue after the operation of the Ballot, which would only operate to destroy for ever the influence that was illegitimate. In the case of the Sligo election he had stumbled on a tenant who had produced to him a letter by his landlord which was produced in Committee, to the effect—"I shall carefully watch how every tenant votes, and it will greatly influence me in all future transactions with him." After that would any gentleman tell him that that was not landlord intimidation? The very character of landlord intimidation was such that it was impossible to prove it in a court of law. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin University (Mr. Plunket) said there could not be intimidation now since the Land Bill was passed. But notwithstanding the Land Bill there was still one form of intimidation which it did not touch. The Land Bill did not cover cases of eviction for non-payment of rent. Now, as the custom in Ireland was for half-a-year's rent, or hanging gale, to be always in arrear, when a tenant who had not voted with his landlord went up with his half-year's rent, never expecting to be called on for the remaining half-year's, he could be met by the landlord turning round and demanding payment for the whole year, and the tenant must either pay or the landlord would evict him. They had, therefore, to pause before coming to the conclusion that the Land Bill was a perfect remedy for landlord intimidation. As to mob intimidation, a great deal of that had sprung up with the consent of the tenants themselves, and it was not uncommon for people to go about the country at night, and take tenants out of their beds and give them a friendly shaking that they might be able to go to their landlords next day and say they had been threatened. At the last Sligo election, at the request of a person in the county, 20 companies of military and 1,120 constabulary were employed, not in escorting voters who wished to be escorted, but in carrying off voters about a week previous to the polling, in order that they might be locked up in houses where no one without the permission of the landlord could see them. On the day of polling they were brought up to the poll, with the landlord on one side and the agent on the other. That was nothing new in Ireland. That was done in the name of the freedom of election—because we were so manly that we could not tolerate secret voting. The present system caused disaffection to the Government. The people believed they were bound to go with the Army. It had been objected that the Ballot would leave spiritual intimidation untouched; but no system of voting, whether secret or open, could affect in the slightest degree the influence which the opinion of the priests exercised on the minds of the voters who asked them to advise how they should vote. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin University had said that if this Bill passed there would be 60, 70, or even 90 Nationalists returned from Ireland to that House. Now, if those who wanted "home rule" formed a majority of the electors of Ireland, no doubt a large number of Nationalists would come to that House, whether there was secret voting or not. The only difference would be that with secret voting they would be returned in a peaceable and orderly manner; with open voting, amid scenes of disorder, confusion, and riot. On the other hand, if those in favour of "home rule" were but a minority of the electors of Ireland, then the best protection against the secret societies would be the Ballot, for wherever secret societies existed, though the members were few in number, they were able to influence the bulk of the electors, who were afraid to go openly against them. If Parliament wanted to compete with the secret societies in Ireland, the only way to do it was by the secret vote.


said, that the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had painted a very sad picture of political life in Ireland. He had told the House that what with the landlord on the one side and the mob on the other, the voter was totally unable to exercise his right of voting freely. It was to be regretted, however, that the hon. Member had not continued his argument, and shown in what way secret voting was to alter this state of things. Considering that they were now drawing to the close of a Session not very conspicuous for practical legislation—in point of fact, a Session notorious for barren results—it was to be regretted that the short time left at the disposal of the House should be taken up by the discussion of a measure which could not be considered pressing, and which, if it had its proper title, should be called "A Bill for enabling the people of this free country to conceal their political opinions." He had generally understood that a Government, in bringing forward important measures, and in the preference which it gave to those measures, would consult, to some extent, the requirements of the country, and allow some pressure from without to be brought to bear before proceeding to make a fundamental change in one of the great institutions of the country. If there had been any pressure it certainly had not come from without. It might have been within the Cabinet; but no one could say that the public Press had goaded on the Government, nor had Members any intimation through the usual channels that the country demanded this measure. The Petitions presented in its favour had been very few, and he was not at all satisfied that the Government were justified by any public demand for this Bill in casting aside or throwing overboard measures of the greatest importance to the social welfare and the commercial interests of the country. He referred to two measures, the one connected with the sale of intoxicating drinks, which, without even testing the opinion of the House, the Government had deliberately thrown aside, and that in the face of pressure from without such as we have rarely known; and the other a measure dealing with the shipping interest, for which the country had been pleading for years. Three Bills in succession had been introduced on that subject, but only to be subject to the announcement from the Government that they must pass over to another Session. These were measures which might fairly have taken precedence of this question. ["No, no!] He could not expect that all hon. Members should assent; but some at least agreed with him that the selection of this measure at the close of the Session was ill-timed, and as such was not satisfactory to the country, though it might be to the majority of the Members of that House. In taking exception to the Bill on the ground that there was no pressure from without, and that the country viewed it with indifference and apathy, he would be met by the argument that for 30 years this question had been before the House, and had been discussed year after year. But hon. Members who had more experience of the House than himself would remember that for a long time its discussion was regarded as a source of amusement; and that it was not until Her Majesty's Government took it up, bare and worn-out as the question was, that it acquired anything like solidity, and that the country really felt that Parliament was called upon to make a great and fundamental change in our institutions. If there was one thing more than another which was admitted in the course of the debate, and which a large amount of confirmatory evidence had established, it was that there had been a great improvement in the manner of exercising the franchise, and that year by year, owing to the growth of public opinion, to a better tone in regard to our moral and political obligations, and possibly also to recent legislation, elections in this country had become more and more pure. He would admit that there were, unfortunately, exceptions. We had 2,000,000 of voters, and probably 1 per cent of the number was corrupt. He felt, therefore, he was justified in saying that exceptions of that kind were not of sufficiently grave a character to hang a strong argument upon in favour of an entire and complete subversion of our elective system. The exceptions were confined very much to our smaller constituencies; but he would appeal to hon. Members to say whether those constituencies were not gradually im- proving and following the example of the larger towns, which were comparatively free from impurity? He would ask the Government to place a little more faith in our recent legislation and the improved tone of those whom he must call the corruptors of public morality; above all, to place more faith in the people, and to give more time for the spread of the improvement to which he alluded. To quote his own experience, he might mention that the town with which he was connected numbered some 500,000 inhabitants; that the number of voters was some 40,000; and that at the last election some 33,000 or 34,000 of that number exercised the right of voting between the hours of 8 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. The contest on the occasion was an unusually severe one, because, unhappily, sectarian prejudice was mixed up with political feeling; but it was remarkable that, nevertheless, scarcely an angry word was heard to have been uttered during the day, that the most perfect order and freedom prevailed at the polling-booths, and, stranger than all, that scarcely an intoxicated man had been seen in the streets that evening. Lest he should be accused of exaggeration, he had taken the precaution to ascertain whether his impressions were correct, and he had obtained a return from the head constable of Liverpool, which showed that the number of persons who had been booked as drunk in the week before the election was 207, the week of the election 223, and the week after 301. Now, in that constituency he felt bound to tell the House there was no need of the Ballot. He did not think that under any system of voting which could be devised by human ingenuity a result more satisfactory than that which he had just described could be produced, and he hoped that before the debate closed hon. Members opposite who represented large constituencies would favour the House with the results of their experience and free their constituencies from the suspicion that impurity and intimidation existed there. One of the questions which had been put to him by his constituents was whether he was of opinion that the franchise should be exercised vivâ voce or by Ballot, and he adhered to the opinion which he had always maintained that the Ballot afforded no remedy for the evils com- plained of. The defeated candidate, however, on the occasion to which he was referring, was an advocate of the Ballot, and yet he was defeated by something like 1,700 votes. In Manchester, too, the gentleman who was at the head of the poll was not an advocate of the Ballot; he was, on the contrary, opposed to it. Thus in Liverpool and Manchester, constituencies numbering not far from 1,000,000, or one-twentieth of the population of the entire country, Members were returned pledged to oppose a Bill such as that before the House. However well the machinery of the Ballot might have answered some years ago, when great intimidation prevailed, and there was not that liberty of action and freedom of thought which now existed, it was not, in his opinion, at all suited to the present day. We had happily, he believed, arrived at a time when anybody who attempted to intimidate would be simply punishing himself; and as to having recourse to corrupt practices, the exposure which inevitably followed would to a great extent, if not entirely, put an end to them. The real remedy for the evils complained of, so far as they existed, was a higher development of our moral and political tone, improved education, and a loftier standard of public duty. To seek to stop corrupt, influences by means of the Ballot was like attempting to stop the mountain torrent where it trickled into the lake. The evil must be grappled with at the source, not at the termination. He wished, in the next place, to say a few words with respect to the Committee which had sat upstairs, and of which he was a Member. The evidence given before that Committee was probably slightly in favour of the Ballot, yet there was a great deal of evidence against the adoption of the system. It should also be borne in mind that the evidence produced in favour of the Ballot was mainly due to the efforts of an organized society, while on the other side there were merely volunteers, or such witnesses as individual Members of the Committee might have happened to know as likely to come before it. The year previous to that on which the Committee closed its labours it occurred to him that the inquiry had been of a very superficial character; and he had, accordingly, moved a Resolution to the effect it should, before concluding the inquiry, seek in other countries in which the Ballot was in use some fuller evidence. That Resolution was, however, negatived, as was also a similar Resolution which referred to the fact that evidence had been received from only two or three of our colonies in the following year. Now, the Report of the Committee was based very much on evidence which had been received from Australia, where, as was well known, there was no such public interest taken in politics as in this country. The Governor of South Australia, indeed, had alluded to that in particular, and had stated that not more than 60 per cent of those who were entitled to take out a right of voting ever took sufficient interest in the matter to ask to have their names placed on the register. Reports had been obtained from the Governors of our Australian colonies generally, as to the working there of the Ballot. Why, then, he should like to know, was no attempt made to ascertain the state of feeling on the subject which prevailed in the great Dominion of Canada, which lay side by side with a country in which the system had been thoroughly tested, and which was inhabited by a large number of French Canadians, who entertained sympathies favourable to French institutions? If the Government had called for the views of the Canadians on the question, they would have been informed that no later than last Session a Bill had been introduced into the Legislative Assembly for the purpose of changing the mode of voting from vivâ voce to the Ballot, and that it had been rejected by a large majority. He would now turn to the United States. America always used to be put forward as their great guide on this question; but now it suited the advocates of this change to ignore altogether the operation of the Ballot in the United States, and to say that Australia should be their guide in bringing about this great change. Now, he held in his hand the Report of the Committee which inquired into the New York election frauds in 1869. The Committee declared that these frauds were so varied in character that they comprehended every known crime against the elective franchise; that they corrupted the administration of justice, degraded the judiciary, defeated the execution of the laws, subverted for the time being in New York State the essential principles of popular government, robbed the people of that great State of their rightful advantages in the election of President, vice President, Governor, and other officers, disgraced the most popular State in the Union, and encouraged the enemies of Republican government to decry its institutions as a failure. More recently still the Governor of New York, in his Message to his House of Assembly, said that all laws and measures to aid in establishing purity of election would fail if they did not reach this great evil, that no power would guard the Ballot-box if the voters were influenced by the corruption of money. It was money, not measures, that secured the result of an election. This influence pervaded all society, and it was practised with impunity because the offenders could not be convicted and punished. From the impression that he derived from a personal visit to that country very recently, however, he was bound to say that in this country individual corruption was more frequently practised than in America; but in America it was the corruption of party platforms, and through the operation of the Ballot the independence of the voter was lost, because it passed into the hands of committees and party wire-pullers. These influences managed elections and they corrupted the constituencies. He noticed with regret that there was not in America the same ambition among the leading men to enter public life that existed here. On the contrary, there they rather shunned taking part in Parliamentary representation, and he hardly met an enlightened citizen who did not join in the regret caused by this circumstance. He feared that in our own country the Ballot would cause a worse state of things than existed at present. He was bound to say, however, that when he went into the West and got among the farmer class he found an entirely different state of things to what he had seen elsewhere; and it was, in his opinion, of great value to that country that it had so steadying an influence in the farmer class. He passed some time in Kentucky, where he was astonished to find that the institution of free voting was practised as in this country, and the feeling there was that there was less corruption, quite as much freedom, and quite as much quietness in the elections as in those States where there was secret voting. The people said they should be sorry to change their system of open voting for secret voting, and his impression was that in Virginia the same system prevailed. Whilst condemning secret voting he must, however, say that it conduced to great quietness in time of elections, and he had no doubt that it would prevent intimidation if there should be any attempt to practice it. In Cincinnati where an election was going on he should scarcely have known it, and therefore he admitted that the Ballot produced quietness and order in elections. He could not, however, see how the Ballot would in any possible degree prevent bribery and corruption, on the contrary, he was firmly convinced that it would increase bribery and corrupt influence. It could not be otherwise, because bribery and corruption were now practised when the voter gave his vote in the face of day, and it was clear to his mind that these influences would be increased and aggravated if the vote were given in secret, without the possibility of the bribery being detected. The Committee upstairs recommended that the result of the poll should not be publicly announced, and that publichouses should not be used for committee-rooms. If these and other suggestions were carried out elections might be made more orderly than they now were, without the necessity for the Ballot. What reasons were there for bringing in this Bill at this moment? They had been told it was no party question, and in one sense this was probably right, for it was difficult to say what might be the result. A working man in his town informed him the other day that the effect of the Ballot on his constituency would be bad for him, because the voters would not take the interest in elections that they had hitherto done, for, said he, so long as they could have their fights and their contests—[Cheers]—he did not mean physically, but morally—so long as they could have their struggles in support of their convictions, and showed to their follow electors how they recorded their votes, they had an interest in the election; but now that they were to have secret voting, nothing, said his informant, would induce him to give up his time and his pay to record his vote. It was important for the future of this country that they should induce every man who was capa- ble of giving a conscientious and deliberate opinion upon the public questions of the day to do so, rather than that he should take no interest in them. There were no doubt reasons of party exigency which had induced the Cabinet to bring forward this measure. There were some, indeed, who said that, while the Irish Church Bill had been introduced to cement a party and the Irish Land Bill to ingratiate a party, the Ballot Bill had been brought forward for the purpose of satisfying, he would not say a disorganized, but a dissatisfied party. He thought it unfortuate that there were indications of any influence being at work except that resulting from the real requirements of the country. They all ought, in their representative and individual characters, to endeavour to throw over those private and individual feelings, and take their stand upon the broad question of what does the country want, and he could not help thinking that in the long run any Government would find that to be their best policy, rather than narrow it to one of party interests. The introduction of the measure had been ill-timed, and it would have been wiser, after the political revolution that took place two or three years ago, if they had given the country a little rest. There existed symptoms of disquiet, and the proposal of this measure would only pander to the desire for change. In the highest interests of the country it would have been wise, at any rate, to postpone the measure to a later period. He was satisfied in his own mind that the measure of the Government would not remedy, but would rather aggravate, the evils complained of; and he was convinced, too, that it would not tend to elevate the habits or character of the people of this country, either morally or politically. He had, therefore, made up his mind to record his vote in favour of the Amendment.


said, although the question of the Ballot was one in which he felt deep interest, yet but for the accident that he had charge of the Bill, he should not have thought it necessary to address the House, especially as the debate, which had been carried on with great ability on both sides, was not one which the friends of the Ballot could look upon with regret. His hon. Friend who had just spoken must excuse him for not going into the grounds on which the Government had given up certain measures, as that was a matter apart from anything now before the House. Against the evils said to be attached to the system of voting in America security was taken by the mode of Ballot proposed in the Government Bill, and he would remind his hon. Friend that the two States to which he alluded as having maintained open voting were the two States where slavery had been long upheld. He agreed with his hon. Friend that the machinations of the wire-pullers formed one of the greatest dangers of America; but he believed that the Ballot which it was proposed to establish would tend to defeat such machinations if attempted in this country. His hon. Friend asked why was the Ballot before the House at that moment? and to that question he answered that the Bill was introduced almost immediately after the meeting of Parliament; and from the time of the delivery of Her Majesty's Speech until then it had been well known that the Government thought it their duty to press with all power and earnestness for a settlement that Session. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. G. Hardy) expressed surprise that the Liberal party in that House were combined on that question as they had never been combined before. The explanation was perfectly easy. Hon. Members opposite said that that question was viewed by the country with apathy and indifference. He was convinced that there was no question on which the country at that moment felt more or as much interest. ["No, no!] When hon. Gentlemen said "No," they, no doubt, spoke from their experience of their constituents; but they (the Ministerialists) must be allowed to appeal to their experience, and after all they were at the present moment, as had been often acknowledged, a majority in that House. It was no wonder that the majority of the House were strongly in favour of the immediate settlement of the question, because they knew that the majority of their constituents were in favour of its immediate settlement. He did not believe any hon. Member on either side of the House doubted that if from any accident whatever connected with that question, or any other, they were to go back to their constituents, that House would be replaced by one in which there would be a different feeling on that question, or that the new Members would not come there determined to settle it. The right hon. Member for Oxford University might have had no difficulty in discovering that the Reform Bill which the Conservative Government brought forward, and which the Liberal party had helped them to pass, had made the majority of the constituencies of the country, who before were not in favour of the Ballot, the friends of the Ballot at the present time. The Government felt that the question must now be settled, because it had been acknowledged on both sides of that House, and in both Houses of Parliament, that if there was a question which pre-eminently concerned the constituencies, and upon which their views and wishes ought to be considered, it was the mode of conducting elections. He was not surprised that the new voters, and especially the poorer portion of them, were in favour of the Ballot. The reason might be wrapped up almost in a sentence; it was that they wished to be let alone, and to vote just as they might think fit. Let hon. Members opposite try and put themselves in the position of one of the poor new voters. The voter found a now right given to him, or acknowledged, and found a new duty imposed upon him; he had to exercise this right to perform this duty — he (Mr. Forster) was not going to enter into the disputed question of the trust—but he found that this vote was an object of desire to other men; that men wanted to get that vote for their own purposes, and that they were stronger and more powerful than himself; and he claimed to be allowed to vote in secret because he wanted to exercise his right and to do his duty in accordance with the dictates of his conscience and without being tempted by rewards, bullied by threats, or teased by solicitations. This was the real secret of the desire for the Ballot among an immense majority of the new constituents, and it seemed to him perfectly natural that they should seek to obtain it. With such persons the Ballot was not a more Shibboleth of party, or a kind of superstition; they wanted it simply as a protection, and many of the arguments which had been used on the opposite side would be almost unintelligible to them. It was well known that there was nothing so likely to stop trade as a feeling of uncertainty about the delivery of goods. A man would not like to put down his money in a publichouse for a pot of beer if he thought that it might be drunk by somebody else—and to his mind it had always appeared that the Ballot would be the greatest blow at bribery, as well as the greatest protection against intimidation. There had been an air of unreality about the debates on that question. He thought he would not be convinced—in fact he was not quite sure that his moral sense would not be shocked to see the anxiety which appeared to be felt by hon. Members to hold up public opinion as a tribunal of appeal on which he might rely. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University said the other night that any public opinion was good. He was not sure the right hon. Gentleman would hold to the words, but he noted them down at the time, and he found, on referring to the usual mode of correcting them next morning, that he was quite correct; but he was sure the right hon. Gentleman did not mean to draw the same inference from it that a working man would draw. It showed, however, how dangerous this kind of argument was of holding up public opinion as a tribunal by which he should be guided; in other words, that public opinion must bring him to vote according to his conscience. What would be his reply? That he wanted to be left to his conscience, without any power to coerce or persuade him. They must have power to coerce, to bribe him, because he would not have public opinion to act on him. What was public opinion to him? It was the opinion of the landlord, who might raise his rent—of his employer, who might turn him off—of a trade's unionist or a member of some secret society, who might denounce him. That was the way in which public opinion bore on him, and no argument as to the necessity of bringing him before it would in the slightest degree diminish his desire to obtain the protection of the Ballot. He might be told that this was unreasonable. Now, he was not going to read extracts; but it did surprise him that those who took part in the Committee should come forward and speak of the evils they had to guard against as if they were not great evils. In the Report made by the Committee there was a complete, candid, outspoken acknowledgment that in both municipal and Parliamentary elections there were these evils to con- tend against — at municipal elections bribery to a great extent, intimidation perhaps not to so great an extent; and at Parliamentary elections, intimidation to a greater extent and bribery to a less extent. He could read extracts from the earlier clauses of the Report unanimously agreed to by the Committee, which completely acknowledged these great evils; but the Members of the Committee, who spoke from the other side, told them that these evils were ceasing and need not be guarded against by the Ballot. It was remarkable there was not the slightest allusion in the Report to this hopeful result. He did not find that one of those Members had ever made such a proposition during the deliberations of the Committee, or had over expressed such hopeful views as the result of their careful investigations that they believed the evils of bribery and undue influence were diminishing and would soon disappear. He was surprised that his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. A. Cross) who made the Motion they were now discussing with such moderation and ability had not brought forward the opinion he now expressed so strongly at the time the Report was being drawn up. His hon. and learned Friend said they were advancing steadily towards purity and freedom of election — and the words were impressed on his (Mr. Forster's) memory by the cheer of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), for this was the first time he had ever heard that hon. Gentleman acknowledge that progress had been made in anything—but they did not find anything of that kind in the Report of the Committee. Were the evils against which they had to contend really diminishing? He saw influences in favour of purity and freedom of election. There was the Bill they passed last year. He was hopeful of the result of that Bill; but he certainly could not put off the reform of the electoral system till they saw such a result. In addition to that there was, no doubt, much progress in prosperity, in political knowledge, and political accountability; he trusted also there was an increasing independence among the great body of voters. But there were other influences which must not be forgotten. Side by side with the increased prosperity of the working classes there were great accumulations of wealth. Every wealthy man would be more and more powerful and more anxious to realize that power. [Cheers.] He was delighted to hear hon. Members opposite concur in that opinion. In addition to that there was the danger alluded to by the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves), the consciousness of which danger he viewed in a different light from the hon. Member. He would not now discuss the question arising between the employer and the employed. He would only say that he looked forward to the Ballot as a means of enabling them to enter upon the consideration of these questions in the hope of a beneficial result. He would take a single illustration. Large employers of labour, who were attaining great wealth, were anxious to obtain power in that House. Now, was it to be supposed that they would be able to use it without some counteraction on the part of those whom they employed? What would be the result? There would be wealth on one part—organization on the other. He trusted, after the settlement of this question, that on all class questions there would be as little of those opposing class forces brought to bear upon them as possible. The belief was generally entertained that the protection of the Ballot would prevent these opposing forces being brought into contact, because both the possessor of wealth and those who hoped to effect organizations would find that the power to use these forces had been considerably diminished by the existence of the Ballot. So far from agreeing with the hon. Member for Liverpool that the time was ill-chosen for legislating on this subject, he thought that it was peculiarly opportune, and that the passing of the Reform Act made it the more expedient that the first Household Parliament should adopt the Ballot for the householders who had returned them before the next election. There might be some increase of danger, and possibly of disease, in the extension of the suffrage; but he did not regret it for a moment; he did not share the opinion of the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. G. Bentinck) in his rebuke of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire for deserting Conservative principles. He cared not whether the effect was to help Conservatives or Liberals; it was necessary, and true Conservative policy, to preserve the in- stitutions of the country, and the Conservatives might thank their leader for not putting the party in hopeless opposition to the progress of the nation and to that extension of the suffrage for which the time had come. It was impossible to have that measure—as it was impossible to have others, in this world—without its dangers, and one of these was the increase of the number of persons liable to be bribed or unduly influenced; and it was this that made the remedy now proposed more urgently necessary. There was one special reason why the passing of the Reform Bill should be followed by the passing of the Ballot. The principle of the Reform Bill was, that every householder in England ought to have a right to self-government. Surely it would be most dangerous to mock them with the gift, and to take back with one hand what they gave with the other. They had no wish to make it a mockery; but they had undertaken a duty which they could not perform without making some sacrifice. He believed that the extension of the suffrage was the fulfilment of one of the most deeply-rooted sentiments of free Englishmen—that in this free country every man should have his right to a share in the government, and exercise his vote in perfect freedom. He expressed his deep regret that just at the time they were considering the immediate settlement of this question, in which the lamented Mr. Grote took so deep an interest, he should have been struck down; and he could not resume his seat without quoting the words used by that Gentleman when he spoke in bringing forward his last Motion on the subject, and which were the exact expression of his own sentiments. What Mr. Grote said was this— I am persuaded that the right of the country to the free and conscientious expression of opinion from every qualified elector, poor as well as rich, and the right of the elector himself to express such opinion at the poll without hindrance or injury, is among the most deeply-rooted of all our national convictions; and to convert this right from a cherished fiction into a useful reality is the claim and virtue of the Ballot. If you refuse the Ballot yon virtually discountenance free and public-minded voting. He could hardly expect hon. Members opposite to acknowledge that. ["No, no!] For vast numbers of the community you decree the continued reign of corruption and intimidation. ["No, no!] You keep alive a poisonous state, which infects the life-blood of our representative system; against this poison the Ballot is the only antidote, and as such I commend it to your favourable decision. I know not whether you will reject it now; but I am sure you will not reject it long. With these words Mr. Grote ended his speech before he left the House in 1839. [A laugh.] That was a statement of truth which, to his mind, was not to be denied—he expected a smile when he gave the date—a prophecy as yet unfulfilled. Would that it had been fulfilled. Had the Ballot been passed when Mr. Grote asked the House to pass it, much animosity between classes, much bitterness of feeling, much injury to individuals, would have been prevented. Why had that prophecy not been fulfilled? Why was the Ballot not passed when Mr. Grote made that speech? Because at that time, and almost until now, the power of electing Members of this House rested mainly with those who preferred the old system of open voting, and preferred the possession of the power to bribe and to coerce. The vote they should take that night would insure the immediate, though long-deferred fulfilment of that prophecy, because the power of election now rested with those who, since the passing of the Reform Bill of 1867, were able to say to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, and those on the Liberal side who had helped him to pass that measure—"You have given us the right to vote; you have acknowledged our right to vote; we desire and demand that this vote shall be free."


I shall make no apology for detaining the House for a few minutes before it proceeds to a division upon this question. Without for a moment denying the importance of arriving at a timely settlement of it, I venture to submit one consideration, which outweighs in my mind the pressure for any hasty decision of the matter—and that is the consideration that we are engaged in the discussion of a question which lies deep at the root of our electoral system. Whatever the decision of the House may be—whether it be for good or ill—it is, at all events, a decision which will deeply affect the constitution of this country for years to come. It is one of the first duties of this House, not only to respect as far as possible the public opinion that hon. Members may gather from their constituents, but also to perform a part of, at least, as much importance—namely, to assist by our discussions in forming and guiding the opinions of those who have sent us here. I confess I was disappointed when the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President spoke of the motives which led to the introduction of this Bill. As the first and principal reason for proceeding with it the right hon. Gentleman said the feeling of the constituencies and of the people was in favour of it. I am not prepared to question the accuracy of the right hon. Gentleman's information as to the opinions of the constituency of Bradford, nor do I undervalue the statement which he makes with so much confidence as to the opinions of the constituencies at large. It may be that that statement will entirely outweigh the evidence upon which the House is rather accustomed to rely—namely, the expression of opinion in the Petitions which are presented. I am not disposed to undervalue the 45 Petitions which I am told bear 7,500 signatures in favour of the measure, and I will accept the statement that is tendered to the House by so high an authority as the right hon. Gentleman against the negative evidence derived from the paucity of Petitions. But though I was sorry to find that the right hon. Gentleman, who is so well qualified to argue this question upon its merits, should take, as his principal ground, what he said was the opinion of the constituencies of the country; yet I was relieved when within a few sentences the right hon. Gentleman gave an antidote to his doctrine. He rebuked my right hon. Friend (Mr. G. Hardy) for saying that any public opinion was good. Having placed the case of the Government in connection with this Bill on the alleged fact of its being approved of by the great mass of the Liberal electors, the right hon. Gentleman told us at the same time not to take mere public opinion as sufficient ground for our proceedings. I hope, then, that we are free to set aside for the moment, as the governing consideration for the passing this measure, the mere expression of public opinion which he fancies he has discovered in the constituencies of this country. Because I am far from admitting that the mere fact that the right hon. Gentleman, and those Members with whom he is associated, form a large majority of this House, and that the Ballot is one of the articles of their political creed, is sufficient to prove that the majority of the electors are in favour of the Ballot. The last General Election, Sir, is not so far back as to make us forget the circumstances connected with it. That election turned on a great number of considerations. We were told that the one great question before the country was the Irish Church Establishment. There were supplementary questions in regard to the condition of Ireland, the tenure of Irish land, and the system of Irish education, before the country, and something, I remember, was also said upon the question of administrative economy. The Ballot, however, was by no means one of the popular questions which were then submitted to the electors. So much for the opinion of the public. But we are bound to discuss this question upon its merits. If that be so, there is a special obligation upon us sitting upon these benches to examine the second ground which the right hon. Gentleman put forward as a reason for proceeding with this Bill, when he said the pressure for the Ballot at this moment originated in the passing of the Reform Bill introduced by the Government of Lord Derby—a measure which gave a new colour to the constituencies of this country, and rendered the adoption of the Ballot on many accounts absolutely necessary. Now, I venture to remind the House that in the measure passed by that Government, of which I had the honour to form a part, we had not neglected to consider that on which so much stress has been placed—namely, that by the introduction of a large number of new electors into our system it was possible that fresh cause might be given to fear the effects of those evils that already prevailed. We were aware that it would be said, with much plausibility and even with much ground, that the large increase of the electoral body might give a stimulus to bribery and intimidation. We therefore did not neglect those matters, but endeavoured to provide against them. Coupled with that measure of Reform was another, designed for the express purpose of detecting and preventing corruption and intimidation at elections, for we did not throw a large body of new electors into the old system without endeavour- ing to accommodate that system to the now conditions, but while we largely increased the constituencies we provided more stringent measures for the prevention of electoral corruption. We did not stop there, for although the House was not pleased to accept the proposals that were made to it, that Government introduced into their Bill for largely extending the franchise clauses that were framed with a view to prevent these special evils which the House has been told with much confidence the Ballot would certainly prevent. We proposed that votes should be taken by voting papers. Now, those clauses indicated our sense of some of those mischiefs upon which great stress has been laid by the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his Friends. We sought thus to provide against disturbances at the polling-places and to check bribery, especially at the last hours of election, whilst endeavouring at the same time to bring to the poll the largest number of electors possible. It was not the opinion of this House, or of the one that preceded it, that that measure should be adopted; but we stand here to say that we did not overlook the difficulty. We still believe that the remedy we proposed was a more apposite and more perfect remedy than this, and that it would to a very great extent have diminished and, perhaps, have gone far to cure the evils which are now complained of so far as they are curable, without involving the objections and difficulties which we say lie in the way of secret voting. Now, I venture to say—and I will draw my argument from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman himself—that that to which we really look for the preservation of a healthy state of opinion, and for the exercise of the franchise in a honourable, fair, and beneficial manner by the people of this country, is to these two causes which he himself has adverted to as likely to be the most productive of benefit to this country—I mean the increasing impendence and intelligence of the voters, and the free interchange of thought. So far from this measure which is now before us tending to facilitate and advance the independence of the voters and the interchange of thought, it will have a directly opposite result. I believe it will fail altogether in the object at which it professes to aim—the securing of that independence; and I believe it will most materially operate to prevent the free interchange of thought. I hear it said by hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, who advocate this measure, that we who oppose it confess that it will afford protection against intimidation. I, for one, confess nothing of the sort—I entirely deny it, and maintain that the power of intimidation, though it may change its character and its form, will be as great under this Bill as it ever was before, and it will be even greater, because it will be freed from that which is a counter check to intimidation—I mean the interchange of thought. Now let us look at this question of intimidation. What is it that you mean by that phrase? Let us look at the precise way in which you use it. Here is an employer who intimidates his workmen—exercising such a pressure on them that they will not venture to give a vote contrary to his wishes for fear of losing their employment. But how could the Ballot act in such a case? The Ballot, to be effective, must protect the voter throughout his whole connection with his employer—not only at election times, but at all other times. The voter must be careful to abstain from any expression or interchange of opinion with his fellow-workmen, or with anyone, or else his political views and bias are known, and if he happen to entertain Conservative opinions while his employer, let us suppose, is a Liberal, the employer himself, or his foreman, or the agent of the party will say—"That man must not vote, or else he will be sure to give his vote against us. We know his opinions, and we must exert a pressure to keep him from the poll." How are you to get rid of that sort of intimidation under the Ballot? You do not get rid of it, but you bring the pressure to bear exactly on the wrong men—on the intelligent men who have formed opinions, and who are able to express and defend them. You destroy the weight which those men have among their fellow-workmen by the free interchange of thought—those are the very men who, if intimidation is to prevail at all, will be exactly the men whom you will keep from the poll. But there are other forms of intimidation. We hear of mob intimidation; but have not the mob a pretty good idea of the people who will be likely to vote against them—respect- able people who may have taken part in discussing the various questions of the day, and who may have adopted particular views on points which interest the masses—for instance, on the question of capital and labour, or on some matter like the licensing system? You do not, I say, get rid of intimidation by this measure, you do not get rid of its 50,000 different forms — even if you get rid of that intimidation which you say the employer may exercise on individual workmen. But what do you lose by it on the other hand? All the free interchange of thought which is the real education of the political men of this country. When we extended the franchise we looked forward to the influence of education—of a free education—in the future which would enable men to understand and take an interest in the questions of the day, and to give their votes not for personal and private but for public intcrests—not for private affection, but with regard to the public opinion of those whom they respect. I have heard some hon. Gentlemen on the other side ask—"What do you mean by this public opinion which is to do all this good?" Why, Sir, I mean that public opinion which keeps a man from voting through mere spite or ignorant motives, and which induces him, whether he is right or wrong on particular questions, to give his vote for some public reason. That is the sort of thing we want to encourage in this country, so that all men shall take an interest in the political work they have to do. Then what else do you do by this measure? You lose the example given by courageous votes openly recorded. The workman who has to leave his place because he has voted against his employer may be a sufferer—and I admit that it is our duty to prevent that form of suffering as far as possible—but after all he is also a martyr, and does great good by testifying to a principle. ["Oh, oh!] Hon. Gentlemen opposite may laugh; but let me ask them whether they themselves do not bring forward cases of this sort, and appeal to these men as martyrs in the cause of the Ballot. Remember the position of my argument. I do not say that you are not necessarily, after full consideration, to adopt this measure; but I say you are not entitled to adopt it for the reasons which have been given. I am now asking you not to be so very tender with regard to these cases as to say that because a man might possibly suffer he, therefore, ought not to be called upon to exercise a political duty—whou you admit men to the franchise you call upon them to exercise a duty. We are all called upon to exercise duties in our various ways, and in the exercise of them we sometimes have occasion to imperil, and even to sacrifice, our own interests. I do not undervalue the sacrifice of the poor man who injures himself by giving a vote which is distasteful to his employer; but I say that, in the condition of this country, the quality which you should cultivate among your people is that of political courage. A measure which is founded upon a denial of political courage is not only un-English, but it is un-patriotic, because it deprives us of that which I believe to be the mainstay of the country. When we look round and see the example of other countries, and the misfortunes that have happened to them, I say boldly that those misfortunes are attributable, above all things, to a want of political courage, and it is a most serious matter that we should give countenance to a measure to discourage that quality which I say it is above all things desirable to cultivate. Now, we are told that the Ballot is needed to put down the evils which attend our electoral system. I am far from denying that these evils still prevail, and are of a serious character. I am far from discrediting any attempt to put them down; but I ask you, instead of "flying from evils you know, to those you know not of," to adopt another maxim well known in America, and "fight this battle out on your own line"—the honourable, and I hope successful line of appealing against selfish and degrading influences to the healthy influence of public opinion, by endeavouring as far as possible, to detect and prevent electoral corruption and intimidation, and by bringing the power of public opinion, through the Press and every other organ of opinion, to bear on those who try to misuse the advantages they possess. I should be the last man in the world to stand up for intimidation, which, in my opinion, is a most disgraceful feature in any society; but you may put it down partly by rigorous measures of detection, repression, and punishment, and still more by making those who practise it ashamed of themselves. Have we made no pro- gress in this matter within the last 30 or 40 years? Do yon believe that intimidation, bribery, and undue influence of all sorts are looked upon as coolly now as at the time when Mr. Grote made that prophecy? I greatly doubt it. I should be very sorry, indeed, if I believed that undue influence were as rife in this country now as they were 30 or 40 years ago; and I say, with reasonable measures of precaution, with a due system of repression by law and discouragement by society, and with a constant appeal to public opinion to condemn those men who abuse their natural advantages for the purposes of bribery and intimidation, the evils pointed at—especially those evils which occur on the day of election—may be reduced to a minimum. You will not do this by the Bill, because you will not get rid of the causes of the evil; you do not go to its root. You cannot test whether bribery has been committed or not, and as long as there are candidates who are willing to pay for a seat in Parliament they will find means of paying for votes. While there are persons inclined to resort to intimidation, they will find out a way by which to accomplish their ends. As we say in the West—"a man is a difficult animal to fence against," and unless you go to the root of the evil you will discover the force of this proverb. I want you to go to the fount and source of what you want to abolish, and make intimidation disgraceful as you are making bribery disgraceful. I believe that the steps you have been taking will, if you persevere, make bribery come to be held in detestation, and ultimately annihilate it. But should you adopt the course which you are now asked to follow you will shut yourself out from being able to discover it, and while you cut it down in one direction fresh shoots will be thrown out in another. We have had reference made in this debate to what takes place in America. But the right hon. Gentleman gels up and says—"Our Bill will defeat those American evils." I do not believe a word of that. I had an opportunity of being present in the City of Washington at an election which took place in that city. I saw the process there, and the way in which a certain kind of Ballot is defeated by the ingenuity of those indefatigable persons who are called election agents here, but who pass under another name on the other side of the Atlantic. In that election everyone voted by open tickets—that is to say, every man had a ticket put into his hand at a window, with the names printed on it. He took it from whichever candidate he wished, and handed it to the poll-clerk. The ticket of one candidate was white, and that of the other chequered. You say that is open voting. ["Hear, hear!] Not quite; because the agents on one side placed the name of the Republican candidate on the Democratic ticket, and those on the other the name of the Democratic candidate on the Republican ticket—that is to say, committed a fraud; and sometimes they contrived to get a man to put a wrong ticket into the box, and once there it was beyond being objected to; and the votes were given sometimes against the knowledge of the voter. What I wish to point out is, that where a man made his vote secret he did so by a fraud, a thing which, I think, we should not like to encourage. Again, the numbers were announced throughout the election at every hour of the day. But I do not speak alone of the Washington election. What struck me more was an election which took place in another State, and which created a great deal of interest. I mean the election of the State officers in Connecticut. This is one of the New England States, and is, therefore, not open to the charge which the right hon. Gentleman brings against Kentucky of having supported slavery. A large number of persons who were not connected with Connecticut, went into that State from the Association known by the name of Tammany in New York. They exercised every sort of bribery and intimidation; and it was alleged that a large sum of money was expended in order to carry the election on a particular side. I cannot say whether those charges were true. But they were believed. Now what did take place was this. When the Ballot-boxes were opened it was announced, in the first instance, that the election had fallen on one candidate. After a time it was announced that it had fallen on another. Then an allegation was made that the Ballot-boxes had been tampered with, and on the matter being inquired into by a committee it reduced itself to this particular form. It was said that in one district 594 votes were found in favour of a particular candidate, and it was al- leged by his friends that the real number was 694, and that 100 votes had been abstracted from the urn. This gave rise to a good deal of speculation and to much commentary, and a great many bets were made on the subject in New York. Well, a peculiar course was taken to decide the question—a course which the right hon. Gentleman has not provided for in his Bill, but which it may be necessary to provide for should the Bill be proceeded with. They called up the voters from the particular district, and swore them as to whom they voted for. The result was that they satisfied themselves that the Ballot-box had been tampered with, and they came to the conclusion that the candidate who appeared to have only 594 votes was in reality entitled to more, and he was returned. I merely mention this fact to illustrate the ingenious methods by which elections are effected under the Ballot in America. I have been told of numerous other practices. For instance, private firms sometimes require that voters under their control shall place particular marks upon the tickets, ascertaining when the Ballot-box is opened whether the votes have been given according to their wishes. I do not maintain that provision may not be made against these specific frauds; but you cannot tell the thousand and one other frauds which the ingenuity of men who are determined to beat your system will suggest. I would earnestly impress upon the Government this consideration—which was put forward by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South-west Lancashire (Mr. A. Cross) in his speech—that if it is of great importance to secure the honesty of those who vote, it is above and beyond all things important to secure confidence in those who manage the machinery of elections; and that if it is possible that imputations can be made against the officials, that Ballot-boxes have been tampered with, and that frauds have been committed in taking the votes, you shake confidence to a degree the mischief of which far exceeds that arising out of any instances of intimidation or bribery which can be brought forward. Sir, I do not suppose that there would be any such misconduct on the part of those who would be the public officers in this country. But I say it would be always impossible to prevent people imputing such misconduct, and, therefore, it would be impos- sible to give that confidence which arises from being able to prove how every vote has been given. I earnestly entreat the House to be careful how they introduce and pass a system of this kind without providing in some manner or other for the subsequent identification of the votes. I really am ashamed to trouble the House at such length. I have ventured to speak upon this subject because I really feel that it is one which goes deep into our national character, and affects deeply the national institutions. I listened with pleasure to such observations as those which fell from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board (Mr. Stansfeld), and others who have addressed the House, wherein they have spoken of this as a measure the passing of which they would regard as a humiliation, and which they looked upon as a choice of two evils. Now, I do not say that it may not be proved ultimately that some such measure as this is needed. And if such should be proved to be the case after full evidence, of course it would be our duty to adopt the best course open to us. But what I say is, that at present no such evidence has been adduced. At present what is certain is, the evil which would follow. The good that you think you are about to do is problematical. I say you have not proved your case, and you are about to disturb an experiment which we are now making to put down the evils of our electoral system in a legitimate way, by bringing public opinion to bear on them—by endeavouring to educate the voters and render them more independent, and by seeking to punish any transactions of a questionable character. It is perfectly possible, if you think it desirable, to introduce measures which will meet the main and more obvious blots in the management of elections. It is easy by some system of voting papers to secure all you desire. [Dissent.] I prefer myself to try the system as it stands. But I say if I find that the system as it stands is open to those charges it may be our duty to give the protection which voting papers would give. But this I maintain, that under no system is it probable that you can introduce any arrangements which can compensate by any advantages they may bring for the great disadvantages you will introduce if you pass the Ballot without a power of scrutiny. If the House decides on going into Committee the question of a scrutiny is the main point to which our attention must be directed. But I earnestly press the House to pause before going into Committee. Though the question has been so long before the country, it is not yet ripe for decision. The right hon. Gentleman appeals to public opinion. Public opinion how formed? Formed upon the discussions which he has referred to, which took place some 30 or 40 years ago, kept up only by Motions in this House, for the question has never been treated seriously, and never been made the subject of an earnest debate. ["Oh, oh!] I do not deny that able speeches have been made and frequent divisions taken; but I say the matter has never been treated with the earnestness and the seriousness with which we treat subjects brought before us when a measure is introduced by a responsible Government, and which is the only way that I believe a subject so important should be dealt with. Those debates, at least, had none of the importance and seriousness of this one. This is the first discussion, I believe, even on the principles of the Bill; certainly it is the first of any length upon the details of it. Under these circumstances, I think our constituents have the right to demand not only that we should give expression to their fully formed opinions, but also that we should enlighten and instruct them upon the difficulties of the question, which they do not thoroughly understand, and that we should not divide upon a subject of such importance until after full and serious debate, and until it has been subjected to the enlightened opinion of the country.


I think that those who have just listened to the speech of my right hon. Friend will not only admit that it has been characterized by the fairness and the absence of passion which—with perhaps one exception—have distinguished the opposition to this measure, but likewise—which cannot but be satisfactory to the supporters of the Bill and to the Government—that that speech in no small degree assumed the character of a plea for time. My right hon. Friend says the matter has not been sufficiently discussed; he will not bind himself to the proposition that it may not be ultimately necessary to have recourse to secret voting; and in the latter part of his speech he pointed to the main strength of his objection, not to the principle of the Bill, but to the fact that the Government proposes a Ballot which cannot be followed by a subsequent scrutiny. Now, however important that question may be—and the Government have a fixed opinion upon it—I am glad to perceive that the principle of the measure is, at any rate, not very far from finding access to the mind of my right hon. Friend, as judged by his language this evening. My right hon. Friend perceives—in common with the whole House—the intimate connection between the subject and the recent extension of the suffrage. Thirty years ago the argument on the question was treated as an argument already exhausted, and I shall endeavour to be mindful of that fact in such remarks as I may make this evening; but the position of the question has certainly undergone a great change. Critical remarks have been made upon a statement of mine last year, made briefly and concisely, respecting the great alteration we had brought about in the franchise, and the effect of that alteration on the question of secret voting. I see nothing to retract in that language. It is a great mistake to suppose that the use of the phrase "a trust" in reference to a vote has been confined to the opponents of the Bill; it was an expression repeatedly used by Mr. Grote himself. The illustration of the question by reference to trusteeship was not to be literally construed, but was in the nature of a general analogy, largely affected by the changes which have occurred; for if we look at the two extremes of the scale, there cannot be a doubt in the minds of many men that in some cases secret voting is perfectly allowable, and in others it is utterly intolerable. In the case of a club, the severity of the inconvenience that would follow upon open voting is not to be compared with the severity of the inconveniences resulting from open voting in the case of political elections. There cannot be a doubt that the members of a club are justified in establishing a secret vote; but if we take the House of Commons the doctrine of the trust is so broadly applicable that I cannot conceive any hon. Member can gravely propose to us, whatever he may do in the way of irony and sarcasm in the Notice Paper, that we should vote in secret in the House of Commons. These are the two extremes, and as we pass by degrees from one extreme to the other—from the small body exercising great powers on behalf of vast numbers to the small body exorcising powers only on behalf of itself—it is evident that our conclusions must undergo regular and modified progression. We have modified the franchise greatly, and we have enlarged the principle more than we have enlarged it in fact. I was represented the other day as having hinted that the Government meditated fresh proposals on the subject of the franchise. I was astonished at that construction being put upon my words. I stated the other day what I have stated before, and what I re-state now—that, in my opinion, the principle of the recent measure for the extension of the franchise reaches much further than the measure itself, and that the time will come when it will be carried to its legitimate conclusions. The Government are not so free from other political engagements, and their hands are not so empty of important work, as that they should ever dream of making it their duty to deal with that subject. But upon that great extension of the franchise — that doubling of the constituencies—two consequences followed. In the first place, the analogy of the trust—which was the main support of the argument in favour of open voting—is greatly weakened; but, quite apart from that, another consequence has resulted, of which the right hon. Gentleman himself is perfectly conscious. At the commencement of his speech he admitted—nay, he boasted—that on the introduction of the present franchise the Government, of which he was a Member, was well aware that fresh provisions would be requisite in respect of the purity and freedom of election. He admitted the Government of the day saw that necessity before them, and he says they endeavoured to meet it. How did they do so? By two or three secondary enactments to which I need not now refer, because they do not touch the heart of the case. The chief measure by which they proposed to meet it was the introduction of voting papers. The introduction of voting papers was rejected by Parliament, and, therefore, my right hon. Friend has, by his own admission, got before him this necessity for new measures to secure freedom and purity of election, which, he says, he foresaw must arise out of the Franchise Bill for which he was responsible. He, however, proposes no such measures, and refuses to join in the measure we propose. [An hon. MEMBER: The Bribery Bill.] The Bribery Bill was a measure having relation to the disposal of seats, and nobody will say that such a Bill was to be considered as dealing with the question of freedom of election. My right hon. Friend himself did not say so, though an ingenious gentleman has just said so for him. My right hon. Friend referred to voting papers. [Sir STAFFORD NORTHCOTE: And the other measure also.] My right hon. Friend in his speech certainly indicated that it was on voting papers that he placed the most reliance for the freedom and purity of elections under his Reform Bill. But what was the fact as to these voting papers? The Reform Bill introduced into the constituencies—and that is the vital and fundamental change that has been effected—a vast number of comparatively helpless and dependent electors, who could not possibly have the same means of defending their freedom of election as their stronger brethren, and the Government of the right hon. Gentleman proposed to meet that alternative by the introduction of voting papers, which themselves would have been the most formidable engine for invading the independence of these very voters, and for reducing them to utter helplessness. [An hon. MEMBER: No, no!] The hon. Gentleman says "No, no;" but why will he not allow some freedom of opinion instead of projecting his audible contradictions into the middle of the House? Though he seems inclined to allow no opinion except his own he must remember that the House of Commons voted against those voting papers upon the grounds which I have indicated, and I believe and affirm that which is the sentiment of a large majority of hon. Members in this House when I say that those voting papers, introduced at a time when my right hon. Friend admits they saw the necessity for now provisions to secure freedom of election, were rejected, because, instead of tending to promote freedom and independence, they tended to reduce to greater helplessness every voter who had already the slightest element of weakness in his political constitution. Therefore, I think we have some claim on the support of my right hon. Friend. When his Government introduced the Reform Bill it would only have enfranchised 121,000 electors; but as it passed through the House it assumed very different dimensions, and at last it grow into a gigantic measure, and instead of enfranchising 121,000 persons—[An hon. MEMBER: "Question, question!] I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon. I believe I am speaking to the question. I believe I am speaking strictly to the question, and if the hon. Gentleman chooses to rise and to point out in what respect I am not speaking to the question, let him do so. I was saying that the Reform Bill of my right hon. Friend grew to admit to the franchise 1,000,000 of electors, and the necessity for providing greater security for the freedom and purity of elections grew in proportion; therefore, I repeat that my right hon. Friend himself by his own argument has furnished us with a strong ground for insisting that even if he does not approve of the principle of the Bill we now propose, yet he must admit that a great need exists, and that we ought to propose some means to meet it. Again, reverting to the Ballot, I think it is impossible for us to suppose that we have a monopoly of the political wisdom of the world. It is quite true that we have prided ourselves on the publicity of our system of conducting elections. All our prejudices and prepossessions are in favour of that system, and it is only on examination of the question that we are induced to part from them. On examination of the system, we are compelled to admit that it has been attended with scandals and disgraces such as have marked the conduct of elections in no other country in the world. I mean particular scandals and disgraces, and not such as affect the constitution of the system in its entirety. Those scandals and disgraces may be described as enormous labour, enormous expense, frequent riot and disturbance of the peace—in Ireland habitual riot and disturbance of the peace—extensive bribery, extensive intimidation, and the impression that intimidation still more widely exists or is practised. If we claim, as in some respects we have a right to claim, to be the political leaders of the world on the matter of representative institutions, I think we must admit that these, at least, are points on which not only could we not expect others to follow our example, but on which it might be well for us to consider whether we have not something to learn from them. We have covered the world with our colonies, and every colony, as it has been founded or has grown to freedom, has adopted the system of secret voting in elections. Are we to be told that with those colonies there is no political courage? I am not aware of anything that would justify anyone in saying that with regard to what was once our colony, but is now the United States, or with regard to our more modern colonies, anything has been lost of the masculine character of Englishmen. Nay, more, I think my right hon. Friend, who has recently with so much patriotism visited America, would be the last man to assert that the people of that country—who in principle, at least, have given in their adhesion to secret voting, however defective their machinery may be—are in any respect less worthy of the character of possessing freedom, independence, and boldness than we are ourselves. Everyone of our colonies has adopted this system. ["No!] What colony have we which has not adopted it? [Sir STAFFORD NORTHCOTE: Canada.] Well, I will leave that, and speak of the case of foreign countries. In many European countries new Constitutions have been founded, and free government has taken root, and I believe in everyone of those countries, without any conspicuous exception, this system of secret voting has been adopted. I think the weight of authority is no inconsiderale element in determining a case of this kind with respect to the effectiveness of secret voting in curing those great and glaring evils which attach, and confessedly attach, to our own established system. The hon. Gentleman said that those evils are diminishing, and the argument on the other side has mainly depended upon that assumption. But what authority is there for saying so? Here is the Report of the Committee. We may speak of that or of our own experience, and I say that I know no reason for asserting, as far as general experience is concerned, that these evils have diminished in this country. At least, what will you say with respect to intimidation? Has there ever been in the memory of any of us a case so painful as that of Blackburn with regard to the intimidation of voters. [Mr. BIRLEY: Oh, oh!] There is no doubt the hon. Gentleman who says "Oh" is aware of some such case; but I am aware of none. [Mr. BIRLEY: I am sure the case of Blackburn is not the worst.] I speak from the evidence adduced before the Committee from the documents printed in Blackburn, and signed by parties; and I do not believe that any defence has ever been set up by the parties who first moved in the case of Blackburn, except the allegation that the other party was just as bad, and if so, the circumstance, far from being a reply to, is only a confirmation of my assertion. But it is much more important to refer to the testimony of the Committee. If these evils have diminished, why have not the Committee reported the fact? If there be those who sat on the Committee, and who think these evils have diminished, why did they not ask the Committee to report the fact? There is not, either in the Report itself or in the Motions or Amendments through which the discussion of that Report passed, the slightest trace of any attempt to establish the proposition that these evils had diminished. What does the Committee say to intimidation?— It is certain that whether intimidation is extensively practised or not, the fear of it widely prevails among that class of voters who are liable to its influences. There exists during the canvass in most boroughs a system of working upon voters by private considerations, interest, hope, or fear for political purposes, and this system enables undue influence, if in a modified form, to be constantly practised. That is the Report of the Committee for England. Now, what is their Report for Ireland?— Organized mobs also appear to be an almost generally recognized part of the system of conducting an Irish election. The employment of troops in aid of the police is the ordinary rule at an Irish election. Notwithstanding these precautions scenes of violence, including loss of life, are not unfrequent. I am selecting passages as I go along; but I do not think that I misrepresent in the slightest degree the tenour of the Report— We are convinced that, under the present system of conducting elections, there exists in many boroughs and counties in Ireland no real freedom of election, and we consider that some change is urgently required. That is the unanimous Report of the Committee. And it is under these circumstances that the hon. and learned Gentleman the junior Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Plunket) makes a touching appeal to us. After the great legislative measures of last Session—and I thank him from the bottom of my heart for the sagacious as well as candid admission he made with regard to those recent measures—it is singular, indeed, that he should, under the circumstances and with this Report in his hand, address to us an appeal beseeching us to spare Ireland the agitation and disturbance which would follow the introduction of secret voting. We have heard of acts of gross cruelty perpetrated in the name of religion, and of horrible crimes committed in the name of freedom; and now the hon. and learned Gentleman appeals to us in the name of tranquillity and repose to suffer the continuance of a system under which in Ireland, owing to the constant prevalence of riot and disturbance, we are unanimously told by our Committee, that in many boroughs and counties there is no such thing at all as freedom of election. I really think hon. Gentlemen must see that, under these circumstances, it is too late to say—"We are now passing through an experiment; wait for more experience; we have only been debating this subject for 40 years; we have plenty of time on our hands; it is a God-send to have anything to fill up our vacant hours; and therefore let us postpone the subject in order that it may be dealt within future years." On the contrary, we say that so far from being ill-timed, the time chosen for the introduction of this measure is eminently appropriate, because it comes at a period when we have no distinct proof of the diminution of the disposition to abuse power either by the use of money or by threats; and when in respect to the composition of our constituency it is perfectly undeniable that we have introduced into it largely classes of voters far less able than those who formerly constituted the mass of the body to defend themselves against such undue proceedings. I am not at all ashamed of having said, and I say it again, that this is a choice of evils. I do not say that the proposal for secret voting is open to no objections whatever. I admit that open voting has its merits as well as its evils. One of its merits is that it enables a man to discharge a noble duty in the noblest manner. But what are its demerits? That by marking his vote you expose the voter to be tempted through his cupidity and through his fears. We propose by secret voting to greatly diminish the first of these evils, and we hope to take away the second. We do not believe that the disposition to bribe can operate with anything like its present force when the means of tracing the effect of the bribe are taken away, because men will not pay for that which they do not know they will ever receive. We are strongly convinced that, with regard to intimidation, the effect will be still more marked. My hon. Friend thinks it is enough for him to say that he denies this. He may deny it; but we have in our hands the Report of a Committee, including hon. Gentlemen who sit near him, and who agree to the Report. What do they say on the subject of the tendency of secret voting with regard to bribery and intimidation? The right hon. Gentleman stands upon theoretical arguments, and a most ingenious argument he has used to show how the over-looker in a mill will find out the opinions of a man and will endeavour to keep him from the poll. But we are not reduced to standing merely upon these fine-spun theories, for we have here the unanimous testimony of the Committee— We have endeavoured to extend our inquiry beyond the theoretical arguments which are usually employed by the advocates and the opponents of the Ballot, and to ascertain how it has worked in the British colonies and in foreign States where it has been adopted. With this view we have examined witnesses from Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania. We have also received evidence as to the system in France, Italy, and Greece. The weight of this evidence has been to prove that in those countries where the system of the Ballot is in operation the poll is taken without intimidation, riot, or disorder. That is important evidence against my right hon. Friend, who give us his opinion without having taken any evidence at all. This is the unanimous opinion of a Committee impartially constituted from all sides of the House. [Mr. ASSHETON CROSS: I believe I moved an Amendment at the end.] I rather think not. Did anybody support it? My impression is certainly that there was no vote taken upon either of these paragraphs. I believe I am justified in quoting it as the unanimous opinion of the Committee. But is it really true that all the good of open voting will be taken away by the introduction of the Ballot? Why is every man to conceal his political opinions? What is the Ballot? The Ballot is not a compulsion to conceal your vote, or a compulsion not to declare your vote. Why are we to suppose that independent electors will adopt a more covert line of political action than they do now? The Ballot gives virtually an option of secret voting to those who may desire it. Let us consider how this would work, and consider it with reference to the three classes of electors. First of all, with regard to that very large proportion of the electors of this country who are both honest and independent. So far as they are concerned, I take it that the difference will be extremely small. They will make known, I believe, as thoroughly as they do now, the sentiments they entertain, and I am not aware that their position will be altered. We sometimes hear an argument on the other side that the most honest men could not be trusted, as if honour in men was quite impossible. As regards these men, I am not aware of any change that will take place in consequence of the change in the mode of voting. Then I take the bad men, those whom the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. B. Hope) calls liars and sneaks. He said undoubtedly that the Ballot would convert whole constituencies into liars and sneaks. All the constituencies of the world, pretty nearly, with the exception of Canada, have been converted into liars and sneaks! Why is there to be a demoralizing influence on the character of good men? If you ask me as to bad men, I freely admit that the Ballot would give them additional opportunities of evil. It will be possible for a scoundrel to profess love and attachment at the moment when he is gratifying, so far as voting enables him to gratify, hatred or spite. But we are not now legislating for convicts. We are not dealing with subjects of a penal law. We are legislating for a high-spirited, upright, and industrious community. A bad man is an exception in such a community, and not the rule. In addition to the two classes I have mentioned, there are large bodies of men who, being honest, are nevertheless dependent and weak. What happens to these men under the system of open voting? Bribery and pressure brought to bear upon them. Do you think that falsification will be confined to the Ballot. Under secret voting falsification will be confined to bad men; but with the facts before us, what number of weak men, what number of men unable to become martyrs, what number of men who cannot bear the apprehension of losing their custom and their livelihood with the loss of bread for wife and children, what number of these are there who not only tell a lie but act a lie, in consequence of that invasion of conscience which the system of open voting both permits and facilitates? As to voters who dissemble, the saying Quod non es simulas, dissimulasque quod es, is applicable to a far larger number under the system that now prevails than it would be under a system of secret voting. One word in answer to the argument of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. G. Hardy), who said that at present it is the individual that offends, and that the law at any rate is pure. That appears to me the exact converse of the truth. When, unfortunately, you have a large number of weak and dependent voters it is the law that becomes the stumbling-block; it is the law that leads the voter into temptation, and makes him offend by exposing him to a pressure which, as a rule, he cannot—and you cannot expect him to be able to—meet. It is all very fine for us to stand here and talk of the nobleness and beauty of acting up to our convictions, and voting openly, as we think right. That is, no doubt, a very noble and beautiful thing, and hon. Gentlemen here may easily do it. But to do that in the station of life to which probably now a majority of our town voters belong is a very different affair; and my right hon. Friend himself has said it requires the courage of a martyr. But you have no right to expect from the ordinary average wayfarer in this world, earning his bread by his labour from day to day, to be either a martyr or a hero. If you choose to put upon him the discharge of duties which in his circumstances, though not in themselves, are so difficult that you cannot expect him to meet the demand made upon him, then you, more than himself, are the occasion of his fall. On the contrary, when you enact secret voting you simply give to that class of men the means of protecting themselves. Under that law the bad man may avail himself of its shelter in order to pretend to feelings which he does not entertain. But he does that voluntarily; he cannot be compelled to do so. The law is good, and the abuse is in the individual; whereas now, although I do not deny that the abuse is that of the individual, the law offers the occasion for the abuse, and is responsible for the greater part of it. I think, then, we may fairly say without exaggeration—in fact, it stands on the unanimous Report of the Committee of this House—that, as compared with those evils which mark our system of elections, secret voting offers a very considerable balance of good. When my right hon. Friend near me (Mr. W. E. Forster) in his able speech referred to the opinion of the voters who now have been admitted to the exercise of the franchise in towns, he did not intend to refer to it as apart from the merits of the case, and I have endeavoured to show that their opinion, with respect to which, as a matter of fact, I apprehend there is no doubt, is well founded in the facts of the case, because it is founded in their consciousness of weakness, and in their desire to be let alone, and to be placed in a position where they may freely exercise the franchise we have given them. It is admitted, at all events, that by this Bill we may get rid of riot and disorder. I am sanguine enough to hope, not that we shall at once get rid of canvassing, but that in all possibility it will receive its death blow, and that that which has hitherto been the proud privilege of one constituency alone in this country, the constituency of the University of Oxford, will gradually come to be the rule of all the constituencies, because if canvassing is attended with incidental advantages—and that I do not deny—it is a matter in which the evil very greatly outweighs the good. With reference, then, to riot and disorder, the case is almost admitted. With respect to bribery and intimidation, I must appeal partly—mainly, perhaps—to the opinion of the majority of the House; but undoubtedly I found that opinion on the Report of the Committee; and I claim also that we have from the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and especially from the speech of my right hon. Friend (Sir Stafford Northcote), a clear admission that in the position of the constituencies as it has been recently regulated, there is an increased necessity for provisions for a system of purity and tranquillity at elections which we are attempting to make what my right hon. Friend has admitted to be necessary, but for which he does not attempt to provide. Let us therefore go forward without the least hesitation in the work which, be it recollected, this Parliament began from the very moment it commenced its sittings; and let us now endeavour to present the people of England with what I at least believe to be the valuable gift—though it may not be obtained without certain sacrifices—the valuable gift of a law which will enable them, when they proceed to the exercise of a great constitutional power, to deal with it, not merely as a possession, in too many cases nominally their own, but in reality held at the will of another, but as a possession which they are to administer according to their own sense of public duty, and in every sense as absolutely free.


asked the permission of the House to make a personal explanation. He said the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had made a statement which, he was sure, quite unintentionally, had misrepresented his speech the other evening. Owing to the late hour at which he spoke, the report did not agree with what he said. The right hon. Gentleman adopted the error in the report, and referred to him as having given an approval to his Irish policy. When he spoke the other evening, the words he used were these— He did not wish to be misunderstood. He had always opposed the Church Bill, both for what it did, and for what it threatened, but knowing that this evil had been committed, he did desire to reap the good that might follow. He had afterwards gone on to say that good would follow, not as overbalancing the evil, but as some set-off against it.


said, he would have been extremely grieved to misrepresent the hon. and learned Member, and he made his remarks on what fell from him sufficiently general that he might not misrepresent him. But in his reference to Ireland, where he predicted good, the hon. and learned Member had referred to the Land Bill as well as the Church Bill.


I hope the House will not think it unreasonable that I should rise and ask their attention for a short time, as my conduct and my remarks have been made the subject of many observations from more than one Member of the Cabinet, and the right hon. Gentleman himself. I trust you will not think it unreasonable that at the end—not at the end, but at this period of a protracted debate—I should request the permission of the House to make some observations on a public subject of paramount importance. We had early in the evening an able and agreeable speech from the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne), in which he treated us to several archæological details with respect to the antiquity of the Ballot. The hon. Gentleman corrected those cruder assumptions which had been prevalent on both sides of the House that the Ballot is an innovation, and that it had been introduced to political consideration only very recently. He referred in dealing with the subject to a proclamation. [Mr. OSBORNE: An Order in Council.] Well, there is very little difference between a proclamation and an Order in Council, and the hon. Gentleman referred to this Order in Council in the days of Charles I. with the view—the admirable view—of identifying the opinions of those who sit on this side of the House with the political sentiments of that Monarch. He, accordingly, was cheered by his friends; but I would suggest to him that if he had continued his archæological researches on this subject, he would have been able in a more authentic mode to find some very instructive information on the question of the Ballot with regard to this House. He would have discovered, if he had referred to the Journals of the House at a period not very distant from that from which his Order in Council dates, that it was proposed that Members of Parliament should be elected by the Ballot-box; that a Motion to that effect was made, discussed, and negatived by a considerable majority; more than two to one. That occurred in the most memorable Parliament that ever sat in England—the Long Parliament. Now, whatever may be our opinion of the conduct of many public questions by the Long Parliament, all of us will, I think, agree that its Members were as a body devoted to public liberty, and that it was an assembly of Englishmen which showed a greater capacity to govern probably than any Parliament which we ever had. Yet the Resolution which I have just mentioned was that at which it arrived. It is unnecessary, therefore, to go back to the times of Charles I., for we can appeal to our own Journals and the proceedings of the most memorable Parliament which ever sat in England, and there we shall find a condemnation of the Ballot. But it may be said that the discussion to which I am referring was held in 1650, and that the vote was taken when the Long Parliament was in its decline, and had lost many of its greatest ornaments. Well, it is true that Hampden and Hyde were not Members of it in 1650, and that it had been deprived of the services of Falkland and Pym; but they left men of great mark behind them, men in many respects their equals; several of whom were their pupils. And if some distinguished men were absent, the political experience of those who decided on the question of the Ballot had been, at all events, very much increased, for among those who took part in the debate were Levellers, Antinomians, Fifth Monarchy men, and members of that celebrated society which only a few days previously arrived at the conclusion that it was contrary to the first principles of Christianity to pay rent. That experience, in my opinion, compensated for the comparative thinness of the ranks of the Long Parliament in 1650, and the absence of some of those distinguished men who were once its greatest ornaments. Well, with this increased experience they came to the decision I have mentioned, and they arrived at it because they were of opinion that the franchise was a great political privilege granted to the elector by the Commonwealth for the common good, and that there was no security for its full enjoyment and exercise except publicity. They wished it, therefore, to be exercised, not to satisfy the self-complacency of the individual, but with a due respect for common sense and the public opinion of the country, and influenced by all those doctrines and all that discipline of party which they believed to be one of the best securities for public liberty. The men of that time were devoted to principles of Democracy, but they had the advantage of being acquainted with its errors and even with its excesses. But they felt there was in the great principle of Government they upheld—the Democratic principle — something which in their eyes excused many errors and palliated many excesses, and that was the public spirit it created in a community, and without which it believed that no community could prosper. But what is now the system we are recommended to adopt? We announce ourselves as trembling at the accession of Democracy. It is from our fears of Democracy that we are recommending this new policy. Yet we are professing a plan which allows Democracy to commit all the errors which the Long Parliament was aware of, and all the excesses which were practised by them at the very time they conducted this debate, and we are taking steps to destroy the very principle which, in their view, compensated for these errors and excesses, and was the best security for public liberty. I remember the modern origin of the question of the Ballot, and it happened in this wise:—The Reform Bill of Lord Grey was carried by the English counties. At the dissolution of 1831 I am not sure that a Tory county Member kept his seat except the noble Lord who filled the seat which I now occupy, and who fortunately remained in Parliament, and proposed the Chandos Clause. The managers of the Liberal party, who were then men of great energy and acuteness, but not particularly acquainted with rural life, assumed, as a consequence, that the county Members would always be ready to support what they called a Liberal Government, and that the same demonstration in favour of their principles which carried the Reform Bill might always be relied on. They were, therefore, extremely disappointed when, after the first election under the new Act, they found that a great many Conservative county Members were returned. Of course, it was necessary to account for a consequence so mortifying and so disappointing; and it was decided that it resulted from coercion of the new class of county voters, the £50 tenants-at-will, admitted under the Chandos Clause. I have no doubt there were many worthy men who were extremely ignorant on this subject, but were perfectly sincere in their asseverations, and I have no doubt there were other men who were not ignorant but found it convenient to join in the same chorus. In that way a public cry was raised, and it raged for about 20 years, that Members in this House were returned by the coercion of landlords, through the influence of the Chandos tenant-at-will clause. That was the origin of the cry for the Ballot; it was upon that new state of affairs that Mr. Grote principally founded his demand for the Ballot in his first speech; and this was the reason that, year after year, you had Motions made in this House to reduce the county franchise and terminate the coercion of the landlords. I never for a moment gave the slightest credit to that clamour. Looking at the statistics of the county constituencies, it appeared to me perfectly impossible that the views which were then held out by what was called the great Liberal party in this respect could have any foundation. What were the facts? There were more than 500,000 of county voters, and at no time did the number of the registered tenants-at-will exceed more than 100,000. How was it possible that 100,000 tenants-at-will could control the voice of 400,000 freeholders? But if we admit that those 100,000 tenants-at-will, instead of being generally loyal and independent men, were really under the control of their landlords, we must remember that the land of England is divided between the two great parties in the country, and therefore the united decision of this body of 100,000 tenants-at-will never could be brought in favour of one particular policy; but those men would always be ranged in antagonistic camps. As time went on these views began to prevail. But when the Act of 1867 was passed, and 300,000 voters were admitted to the county franchise, representing all the various elements of the counties and all their various trades—and, as I have had occasion to show to the House, there are more trades carried on in the counties than in the towns, and some of them on an extensive scale—when this multitudinous and multifarious body of men were brought into the county franchise, and the election took place, there was the same result, which perhaps was rather aggravating. There was an end of a delusion which for 25 years had been the principal foundation of this claim for election by Ballot. Here we now have a debate, which has lasted three nights, on the vote by Ballot, and no Member who has addressed the House has even hinted at, or alluded to, the subject which used to be the avowed and principal ground for this great change in our constitutional system. It has taken 25 years to show the absurdity and complete hollowness of that plea, which vexed Parliament and the country for so long a period. No one pretends now that any change in the Constitution is required because squires have coerced their tenants-at-will, and by coercion have overpowered the will of 100,000 tenants, of 400,000 freeholders, and of 300,000 miscellaneous voters in the counties. What do we hear of the landlords of Scotland? I have not heard that the oppressive conduct of the landlords of Scotland has influenced the elections in a manner which calls for the interference of the House in the establishment of the Ballot. I have not heard that the influence of the Scottish lairds has been so overwhelming that it is necessary for us to take care that something else is represented in Scotland besides the interest of the landlords of that country. I should say I wish the Scotch landlords would use a little more of their influence, and a little less of something else. Well, there is the Irish landlord. You have had the squire, the Scottish laird, and now the Irish landlord. The conduct of the Irish landlord was of so decided a character, so hostile to the liberties and rights of the electors, that it was a figure always painted and always brought to our convictions. But nobody pretends now that the Irish landlord can perform any of these acts which I dare say were falsely attributed to him, and all will agree that—to quote the favourite expression of the right hon. Gentleman — in consequence of "recent legislation," certainly the Irish landlord may be considered as innocuous as the English landlord or the Scotch laird. Well, then, the whole framework upon which this great constitutional change was recommended, and which in old days was to save us from the deleterious coercion of the proprietors of land upon their tenants, actually disappears from the scene under the influence of the Parliamentary conscience and conviction. But the scene is changed. It is not the landlord who tyrannizes over his tenant any longer—it is our own friend the manufacturer—that mild and prosperous, truly liberal, and enlightened man, who was always voting for the reduction of the county franchise. He is brought forward to us now as the oppressor of those whom he employs, and it is to guard against his influence—his injurious, and perhaps unprincipled influence—that we must entertain the Ballot. I have listened to the speeches in this debate, and I confess myself inclined to hesitate in my decision in this respect. One gentleman rises and says—"You see how necessary is the Ballot; there is a General Election;" and the picture drawn reminds us of that famous work of art in which a great actor is between two geniuses—there is the employer on the one side and the foreman on the other, and the workman between the two is asked for his vote. Who, under such influence, can be considered a free agent? Who, in such a position, can be called upon to register his decision as to the policy of the country? But then the speaker is followed by another hon. Member, who says—"The Ballot is wanted decidedly in the towns; but it is wanted to protect the employer and the foreman from the influences of the organized mechanics. Were ever two such contrary reasons given for the change that is now recommended? I come to this decision—that the employer of labour in towns, and the foreman, and the mechanic are all quite strong enough to take care of themselves. I will not say that there is no class in the country that is in favour of the Ballot. I think that if you were to go to the rural districts, and ask the population there whether they required it or not they would hardly listen to you while you spoke to them. I believe that the great centres of industry in the towns—certainly the working classes—are too independent to care for the Ballot. But there is a class who always want the Ballot, and that is the small tradesmen in the towns. It is a respectable class—a class of many virtues, but I do not think it is a class that ought to give a tone to the political life of the country. I say this the more because it has always appeared to me that the desire of the Ballot by the class of small tradesmen is founded upon a perverse and even morbid sentiment. No trade has so great vicissitudes as the retail trade; the retail trader is the victim of the caprice of his customers; he is subject to the adroit competition of unscrupulous rivals, and sometimes he is assailed by the emulation of co-operative stores. The consequence is that the vicissitudes of the retail trader are very considerable, and when the small tradesman makes up his accounts and he finds that he has lost a customer here and a customer there, the way in which he accounts for it is not by considering the caprice of human nature or the skilful competition of his rival, but by remembering some promise which he made, and which he did not fulfil at the last General Election. It is a mania, a weakness which pervades the class; they really believe that Mr. Blank and Lady Dash have withdrawn their custom because a year ago they gave an ambiguous answer to an appeal; while the persons themselves no doubt have entirely forgotten the incident, have withdrawn their custom for an entirely different reason, and are probably dealing with a tradesman of entirely different opinions from themselves. So much for intimidation. You have given up the old story of the great intimidation exercised by the proprietor of land over the tenant. ["No, no!] Well, who are the proprietors of land who practise it? [An hon. MEMBER: The Welsh.] I see no results in the Welsh counties to give you an idea that the proprietors of land are as powerful as the occupiers of land. I believe there is as much independence in the Principality as there is in any part of England; and, therefore, I cannot see that it is necessary, or that it is there thought necessary, that we should change the law of the country in order to protect those who hold opinions they cannot openly proclaim. Generally speaking, the great source of complaint on which you found your recommendation of this vast change, so far as the influence of the landowners upon the tenants of Wales is concerned, is blotted out of the book. When you come to the towns, it is quite clear from this discussion there is no case whatever. I believe that the honest industry of the working classes in the towns, especially the great ones, has an influence more powerful than anything that can be brought against them. But we are told that there is a great deal of bribery, and I am sorry to hear from some of the most authoritative champions of the Ballot that we must prepare for a great deal of bribery even if the Ballot is accepted. I will not pretend that I think the public morality of England is unimpeachable, for no doubt it is not altogether free from some amount of cant; but I venture to say it has an absolute quality, and a negative one. I think you must look, generally speaking, to the public morality of the country to prevent bribery, to check drunkenness, and to put an end to many anomalies and injurious circumstances with which legislation cannot skilfully or adequately deal. I think few will deny that public opinion in this country is with respect to bribery in a much more healthy condition at the present time than it was 10 years ago; but I make this admission frankly, that from peculiar circumstances bribery is a crime with which you are occasionally obliged in this country to deal by legislation, because political bribery or Parliamentary corruption is a fitful quality in England. It comes, perhaps, periodically, but at particular times in our history. Whenever a very powerful and wealthy class arises in this country—and in a country of great commercial enterprise and energy, and where wealth is accumulated rich classes will periodically appear — nothing can prevent it asserting a claim to the possession of political power; and whenever a new class of that kind arises you always find that bribery is rife when an election is held. It was so in the time of Sir Robert Walpole, when there were the Turkey merchants, men who had made great fortunes; they attacked all the boroughs, and turned the country gentlemen out. Then followed the Nabobs—men who had made great fortunes in India, and after them came the West Indian planters, and, in the time of that war, the Government loan merchants; but I believe that at no period has this country ever been more free in its Parliamentary affairs from bribery than it was in the years that immediately preceded the Reform Bill of Lord Grey. It happened to be in a time of tranquillity, when no great changes were occurring, and when no new class was treading upon the heels of those in power, and when the elections of Members for this House were purer than usual. It shows that we are not making progress; but that it is a fitful influence in our political life—namely, the employment of corrupt means to obtain a seat in this House. We have had the age of railway directors; we have had the age of the great contractors for public works; and we have had the age of nuggets; and, in the experience of Gentlemen now sitting in this House, we have had elections which were a disgrace to the country. But yon have dealt with these evils as you maintain efficiently, by means, or what is termed, in the fashionable phrase of hon. Gentlemen opposite, recent legislation. The hon. and learned Member for Taunton (Mr. James), who addressed the House with so much ability the other evening in favour of the Ballot, although I thought he accumulated very adroitly many arguments which, in my opinion, would have led to a conclusion different from that which he drew from them, as well as the noble Lord the Postmaster General [Laughter]—really the Members of Her Majesty's Government change their places so often that it is difficult sometimes to remember what office they hold—as well as the noble Lord the Chief Secretary for Ireland were wrong in testing the character of the Act of 1868 against bribery by instituting a comparison between the efficiency of an investigation conducted by a Parliamentary Committee and a judicial investigation conducted by the Judges of the land. For myself, from my own experience in Parliamentary Committees, I must say I prefer a judicial investigation. But the character of the investigating tribunal in that Act is but of secondary importance. What was so efficient in that Act, and what dealt such a deadly blow against bribery, and what, if persisted in, will terminate bribery altogether, was the provision which insured a local investigation of the matter. It is the provision for local investigation which has so greatly checked bribery, and which I believe, with the experience to be gained in another election, we shall recognize as having effectually terminated it. I will not make any remarks upon the opinions of the Judges which have so often been referred to in the course of this debate, and will merely say that I have had on the subject of the Act of 1868 a very extensive correspondence, and frequent communications with election agents holding opposite political views, regarding the improvement which should be made in the procedure in elections. But there is one point on which they all agree; they all say that if we uphold this law so far as regards local investigation, bribery must be put an end to, and that immediately. I believe it received a deadly blow at the last General Election. Even hon. Gentlemen opposite will admit that—al- though political passions ran high, and the struggle was great throughout the country, there never was a General Election in which there was less bribery known, and I believe at the nest Election you will find that the law has been still more efficient. Well, it is under these circumstances that you are asking us to make a great change in our constitutional system, in order to terminate an evil which I maintain that you have powerfully and effectually grappled with; and if anything can invalidate the influence of that Act, it is, perhaps, your having recourse to election by Ballot; because, no doubt, with respect to bribery, as with respect to personation, the difficulties of detection will be much increased if you have secret instead of open voting. Then, as regards intimidation and as regards bribery; taking a large and general view of the subject, all those circumstances which, 30 or 40 years ago, although they might not have adequately proved its necessity, yet justified the proposal of secret voting, have either entirely ceased or have been encountered in a manner which must insure their vanishing from our political practices. Well, it is unnecessary for me to dwell on the question of personation, because every gentleman who has reflected for a moment on the subject must feel that personation, at any rate, must be much more easy under secret than under open voting. I thought that the argument of the hon. and learned Member for Taunton on this head was singularly unsatisfactory as far as the result he wished to establish went. The hon. and learned Gentleman said— Why, you see what few scrutinies there are; and because there are few scrutinies there must be little personation. Of course, under an open system of voting, there must be a limit to personation; and, of course, there would, be few scrutinies, of which people are not very fond. But it appears to me that, in the exact ratio in which it is easy to detect personation under open voting, it will be difficult to detect it under secret voting. Nor can I understand where we are to find the Quixotic individuals who will pursue the secret personator any more than the secret bribee—who will take the trouble of finding an inducement for any person to convict shadows so flimsy as those who will indulge in these practices under the cover of secrecy. Then I want to know where are the substantial grounds upon which we are called to make this great change. I wish the House to observe that the Prime Minister and the Vice President of the Committee of Council have not placed the expediency of sanctioning this great change in our constitutional system either upon intimidation, bribery, or personation. They have really not condescended to bring forward those pleas as the solid foundation of their advice. They have only one cry, and that is—"recent legislation." It is in consequence of recent legislation, says the Prime Minister; it is in consequence of the Reform Act of 1867, says the Vice President of the Council—that Act which, he always informs us, he had great pleasure in assisting me to pass; but I do not understand that pleasure was shared by the Prime Minister, or that he contributed to that assistance. Well, the Prime Minister has, since the passing of that Act, very decidedly and repeatedly informed us that, in consequence of recent legislation, exemplified in the Reform Act of 1867, the position of the question of the Ballot has been largely altered. The right hon. Gentleman for 40 years opposed the Ballot in this House on the ground, asserted by Lord Palmerston, that the franchise was a trust. I will not outer into the argument whether the franchise is a trust or not, but will take the evidence of the right hon. Gentleman. He opposed the Ballot for 40 years, because he had looked upon the suffrage as a trust; but in consequence of recent legislation—that is, the Act of 1867—he says the trust has ceased to exist; it is no longer a trust. Now, let us see whether there is any foundation for this statement. When the right hon. Gentleman announced his conversion, he said— The position of the question has been very largely altered by the extension of the constituency. Let us consider what that extension is; it is an extension nominally from a £10 suffrage to household suffrage, but really, virtually, and in principle an extension that is unlimited. When we have adopted household suffrage, we have, I think, practically adopted the principle that every man who is not disabled in point of age, of crime, of poverty, or through some other positive disqualification, is politically competent to exercise the suffrage,"—[3 Hansard, cciii. 1030.] That is a statement of very great importance coming from such a quarter; and it is of the highest interest to the House that it should have before it the fact that the right hon. Gentleman, after having for 40 years opposed the Ballot on the ground that the suffrage was a trust, has changed that opinion in consequence of the Reform Act of 1867 having conferred what he regards as virtually an unlimited suffrage, and therefore the franchise can no longer be considered as a trust.


I never said that.


I take the language from the official report.


I did not say it was no longer a trust.


Well, the right hon. Gentleman begins to acknowledge it is a trust. I think I have stated the case fairly. I have taken your language from the authoritative and corrected reports.


Not corrected.


I think they ought, to be corrected, then. However, there is no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman opposed the Ballot on a particular principle, never mind what; but at present, as he says, all the circumstances have changed, and the change involves, according to his own admission, an "unlimited" extension to the franchise. Now, let us see, in the first place, what is this change, because we are told constantly, not only in this House, but out of it, and especially by the Vice President of the Council, who speaks in the most awful and solemn tones, in different parts of the country as well as in his place in Parliament, that some tremendous revolution has occurred; that this is the householders' Parliament, and that we are no longer elected upon the old principles of the British Constitution. An hon. Member who addressed the House in a very able speech has also given a description of the Parliament of 1865, and contrasted it with that of 1868. The Parliament of 1865, according to him, represented the golden age of Parliaments. It was worth while then to be a Member of Parliament. You had a dignity and a position then as a representative of the people. What a contrast to the present Parliament! No sooner, he says, was the Act of 1867 passed than the Parliament of 1868 began the work of revolution by disestablishing the Irish Church. My hon. Friend, however, quite forgets that in the golden age of which he speaks the Parliament elected in 1865 by the old constituencies passed the Resolution for disestablishing the Irish Church by an immense majority. I must therefore vindicate what I think, on the whole, is a very innocent Parliament from these imputations. The present Parliament may have committed errors; but that is the result of the pledges made on the hustings through the impolitic vote given by the Parliament of 1865. Now, we have a very late Return of the constituency of England. It is a registration under the new Act in 1868. I only take England, because there are no Returns of the constituencies in Ireland and Scotland. If I could give the constituencies there also and base my statement on the constituency of the United Kingdom, the view which I wish to place before the House would be greatly enforced, because the constituency of Scotland and England does not bear so near a relation to the population as the constituency of England and Wales. Taking England and Wales alone, I find that in 1868 the constituency was upwards of 2,000,000, or 2,000,000 in round numbers. This was the nominal state of things; but 10 per cent must be deducted for plural votes and other casualties of the registrar, which would leave the constituencies, under the new system, for England and Wales 1,800,000. Now, what is the population of England? We have now the advantage of discussing this question with the results of the now Census. The population is now 22,700,000 in round numbers. Well, at the first blush a constituency of 1,800,000 for a population of 22,700,000 has not, I think, a very revolutionary aspect. But from this population there must be deducted the females and minors, which leaves a male adult population of 5,753,000 with a constituency of 1,800,000. Well, I ask the House whether I shall pursue the analysis? I ask whether those facts justify the statement of the right hon. Gentleman? I ask the House whether the right hon. Gentleman, who, for 40 years, opposed the Ballot because the suffrage was a trust, can find in these figures any vindication of the change in his opinion to the view that the franchise is a trust no longer? The analysis, however, must be pressed a little further. I am aware I am trespassing upon the House at this late hour; but I feel bound to pursue this analysis. This 1,800,000 must be divided fairly between the old and the new constituencies. If the number be rigidly divided the majority would be with the old constituency. The new constituency I have to deal with amounts to 900,000; but from that you must deduct the 300,000 voters who have been added to the county franchise, for they, at any rate, do not constitute the revolutionary element which has occasioned the change in the mind of the Prime Minister. There will then remain 600,000 electors, of whom 300,000 were proposed as electors in the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman brought into this House as the organ of Lord Russell's Government, and night after night the right hon. Gentleman expended all the resources of his inexhaustible eloquence in proving to us that their introduction to the franchise would be most beneficial and pure, and he made the proposition consistent with his conviction that the franchise was still a trust. Well, then, it is because the last 300,000 voters have been admitted that the right hon. Gentleman has found a ground for this monstrous conversion. But why were they admitted? Because by admitting those 300,000 men you placed your franchise on a fixed principle, and I believe an enduring one—not on a £10, an £8, a £7, a £6, or a £5 qualification, which would have shifted every year, but on a fixed principle and on an enduring foundation. What are those principles? Are those men caught in the street and allowed to put their names on the Parliamentary register without qualification? Why, there is not a single elector who has not more than one qualification before he can exercise the vote. Even the householder of the town must have a house, he must be rated, and he must have a very long residence before he can exercise the vote. With regard to the other electors the qualifications are higher and more various. All this is in complete harmony with the principles of the English Constitution, and there is not a single voter who is not a qualified voter and who does not vote in virtue of a qualification which it is not easy to obtain without a character and without energy. Here, Sir, I must say that in all the exaggerations which I traced in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman to-night I heard nothing more monstrous than his description of the Bill of 1867. He said that when we made our first proposition we only proposed an addition of 120,000 voters. [Mr. GLADSTONE: I ought to have said borough electors.] No doubt the right hon. Gentleman ought to have said so; but that is a very important qualification. However, I have something more to say. I remember the speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman on the subject of borough voters, when, with that mixture of genius and vexation which inspired him during the whole of that Session, he did make a monstrous calculation that the borough voters only amounted to 120,000. Still no one in the House, except the right hon. Gentleman himself, accepted that calculation. I say there was no time when under the Bill of 1867 the increase of the constituency would have been less than 500,000, and, therefore, nothing can be more disingenuous than that statement of the right hon. Gentleman, though I ought not to say so, as he has now corrected it. So much for the real position which Her Majesty's Government have taken up with regard to the question of the Ballot. They are recommending it to us not for any of the reasons which influenced Mr. Grote. I knew well Mr. Grote. He was an admirable man, and long my colleague in affairs not less interesting than those which occur in this House. I remember I was also in Parliament with him many years, and I remember his conduct on this question. I say without hesitation that all the considerations that existed and influenced Mr. Grote when he urged the Ballot have ceased to exist. The Government have brought forward this question solely on the ground that it has been rendered necessary by recent legislation, and I think I have shown to the House to-night how flimsy and how utterly fallacious is that plea. It was said that among the other evils which the Act of 1867 would produce it would bring in a very dangerous Parliament. It was said—"You will have men who, the moment they take their places, will gives Notices of Motion hostile to the institutions of the country. You will have a period and a Parliament of great restlessness, of great innovations, of attack upon all establishments." I am bound to say that, so far as the Members of the new Parliament are concerned, I do not think that those predictions have been at all verified; I think they have shown themselves to be men of temperate opinions and that they have originated no violent Motions of that character. But there has been one exception in this matter. There has been one Member of Parliament who from the moment he took his seat in it has taken every possible opportunity of oppressing and alarming the public mind with reference to organic changes, and that has been the Prime Minister of England. It was always so from the moment that the Bill was passed; he was always ready to Hint a doubt or hesitate dislike. He began on the hustings, agitating the country against those very clauses which now, he says, have led to so much mischief, and on which last year he told us that household suffrage in the counties would be the inevitable result. [Cheers.] I do not think when you have household suffrage in the counties I shall hear that cheer. You wished me to reduce the county franchise. I took you at your word, and recommend you as a friend not to pursue that plan. The right hon. Gentleman the other day talked very glibly of Parliamentary questions which probably would occupy our attention—the nature of the franchise, the distribution of seats, and, above all things, the boundaries of boroughs. [Laughter.] I certainly understood that the right hon. Gentleman was himself about to consider the expediency of taking up those questions. I was glad to hear his disclaimer, which, I suppose, is a good disclaimer so far as this Session is concerned. But I must say that I do not think it the duty and part of the Prime Minister of this country to be perpetually dwelling upon the subjects calculated so much to disturb the mind of the country. I think that questions of organic change ought to be dealt with by a person in the position of the right hon. Gentleman with great reserve. But in the present state of affairs, with the recent changes that have occurred, it appears most unwise on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to be encouraging the House to deal speedily with questions of this character. I am myself alarmed at the course which the right hon. Gentleman indicated. I believe that both in the House of Commons and the country generally there is a conviction that with regard to the franchise, the distribution of seats, and boundaries of boroughs, I will not say a final, but as permanent a settlement has been made as can be devised by the experience of Parliament. Well, if it be not a wise thing in one occupying the elevated post of the right hon. Gentleman to countenance and encourage such discussions, and such feelings on matters of the kind, I think that this is a time when, above all others, in which it would have become the right hon. Gentleman to have been more reserved. Why, the whole of Europe has not yet recovered from one of the most violent convulsions that ever occurred, and can we suppose for a moment that we have seen the ultimate results of the great events that have happened on the Continent? It would be taking but a superficial view to suppose so. For we are in the infancy of its consequences. New systems of government, new principles of property, every subject that can agitate the minds of nations, have been promulgated and patronized with more effect by sections of the people, especially during the last six months, than hitherto; and it is at the very time when the principles of government, the principles of property, all those things upon which liberty and order alike depend, are called in question, that the Prime Minister of England seizes the opportunity of intimating to the Parliament of this country that there are questions which must occupy their attention, which must greatly affect the distribution of power, which must affect even the principle of property. For the right hon. Gentleman chose this happy season only a few weeks ago to say that the tenure of property was a question which must be considered in the House of Commons. Well, I protest entirely against such a course. I do not think it worthy of the right hon. Gentleman, and I think it most injurious to this country. This arrangement about the Ballot is part of the same system, a system which would dislocate all the machinery of the State, and disturb and agitate the public mind. If, therefore, for no other reason, for that alone I shall resist it under every form and in every manner. But I know tonight we may have to encounter an apparent defeat. [A laugh.] Yes, there is a mechanical majority, a majority the result of heedlessness of thought on the part of Members of Parliament who were so full of the Irish Church and of questions of economy at the last election that they gave pledges in favour of the Ballot without duly considering the question. There are a great number of Gentlemen who when they came into Parliament were opposed to the Ballot, but who in a conciliatory age like this have put aside their opinions, and heedlessly adopted this doctrine. These are the elements of which the mechanical majority is composed; and however triumphant that majority may be to-night, its triumph will be only for the moment. There is a celebrated river which has been the subject of political interest of late, and with which we are all acquainted, which rolls its magnificent volume, clear and pellucid in its course, but which never reaches the ocean; it sinks into mud and morass, and such will be the fate of this mechanical majority. The country is entirely against the proposed change. The conscience of the country is against it. We have had no exhibition out-of-doors of any feeling in favour of it. It is an old-fashioned political expedient; it is not adapted to the circumstances which we have to encounter in the present; and because it has no real foundation of truth or policy it will meet with defeat and discomfiture.

MR. J. FIELDEN moved that this House do now adjourn. He did so because the subject was one of great importance, and he wished to take part in it, which he understood he could not do according to the Rules of the House if he were to move the adjournment of the debate and a division was taken on the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That, this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Fielden.)


said, he hoped the Motion would not be agreed to. The hon. Gentleman was a good deal younger man than many other hon. Gentlemen present, and was perfectly able to continue the debate even at 2 o'clock in the morning.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 218; Noes 340: Majority 122.

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

MR. KNIGHT moved that the debate be now adjourned.


seconded the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Knight.)


opposed the Motion.

Question put, and negatived.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

The House divided:—Ayes 324; Noes 231: Majority 93.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.

Bill considered in Committee.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Tuesday next, at Two of the clock.

Acland, T. D. Brocklehurst, W. C.
Adair, H. E. Brogden, A.
Akroyd, E. Brown, A. H.
Allen, W. S. Browne, G. E.
Amory, J. H. Bruce, Lord C.
Anderson, G. Bruce, rt. hon. H. A.
Anson, hon. A. H. A. Bryan, G. L.
Anstruther, Sir R. Buckley, N.
Antrobus, Sir E. Buller, Sir E. M.
Armitstead, G. Bury, Viscount
Ayrton, rt. hon. A. S. Cadogan, hon. F. W.
Aytoun, R. S. Callan, P.
Backhouse, E. Campbell, H.
Bagwell, J. Candlish, J.
Baines, E. Cardwell, rt. hon. E.
Baker, R. B. W. Carington, hn. Capt. W.
Barclay, A. C. Carnegie, hon. C.
Bass, A. Carter, Mr. Alderman
Baxter, W. E. Cartwright, W. C.
Bazley, Sir T. Castlerosse, Viscount
Beaumont, Captain F. Cave, T.
Beaumont, H. F. Cavendish, Lord F. C.
Beaumont, S. A. Chadwick, D.
Bentall, E. H. Chambers, M.
Biddulph, M. Chambers, T.
Blennerhassett, Sir R. Cholmeley, Captain
Bolckow, H. W. F. Cholmeley, Sir M.
Bonham-Carter, J. Clay, J.
Bouverie, rt. hon. E. P. Clifford, C. C.
Bowmont, Marquess of Cogan, rt. hon. W. H. F.
Bowring, E. A. Coleridge, Sir J. D.
Brady, J. Collier, Sir R. P.
Brand, rt. hon. H. Colman, J. J.
Brand, H. R. Corrigan, Sir D.
Brassey, H. A. Cowen, J.
Brassey, T. Cowper, hon. H. F.
Brewer, Dr. Cowper-Temple, right hon. W.
Bright, J. (Manchester)
Brinckman, Captain Craufurd, E. H. J.
Bristowe, S. B. Crawford, R. W.
Dalrymple, D. Hartington, Marquess of
Dalway, M. R. Haviland-Burke, E.
D'Arcy, M. P. Headlam, rt. hon. T. E.
Davie, Sir H. R. F. Henderson, J.
Davies, R. Henley, Lord
Dease, E. Henry, M.
Delahunty, J. Herbert, hon. A. E. W.
Denman, hon. G. Heron, D. C.
Dent, J. D. Hibbert, J. T.
Dickinson, S. S. Hoare, Sir H. A.
Digby, K. T. Hodgkinson, G.
Dilke, Sir C. W. Hodgson, K. D.
Dillwyn, L. L. Holland, S.
Dixon, G. Holms, J.
Dodds, J. Horsman, rt. hon. E.
Dodson, J. G. Howard, hon. C. W. G.
Downing, M'C. Hughes, T.
Dowse, R. Hughes, W. B.
Duff, M. E. G. Illingworth, A.
Duff, R. W. Jackson, R. W.
Dundas, F. James, H.
Edwardes, hon. Col. W. Jardine, R.
Edwards, H. Jessel, G.
Ellice, E. Johnston, A.
Enfield, Viscount Johnston, W.
Ennis, J. J. Johnstone, Sir H.
Erskine, Admiral J. E. King, hon. P. J. L.
Ewing, A. O. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Ewing, H. E. C. Knatchbull-Hugessen, E. H.
Eykyn, R.
Fagan, Captain Lambert, N. G.
Fawcett, H. Lancaster, J.
Finnie, W. Lawrence, Sir J. C.
FitzGerald, right hon. Lord O. A. Lawrence, W.
Lawson, Sir W.
Fitzmaurice, Lord E. Lea, T.
Fitzwilliam, hon. C. W. W. Leatham, E. A.
Fletcher, I. Leeman, G.
Fordyce, W. D. Lefevre, G. J. S.
Forster, C. Lewis, H.
Forster, rt. hon. W. E. Lewis, J. D.
Fortescue, rt. hon. C. P. Lloyd, Sir T. D.
Fortescue, hon. D. F. Loch, G.
Fothergill, R. Locke, J.
Fowler, W. Lorne, Marquess of
Gavin, Major Lowe, rt. hon. R.
Gilpin, C. Lubbock, Sir J.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Lush, Dr.
Gladstone, W. H. Lusk, A.
Goldsmid, Sir F. Lyttelton, hon. C. G.
Goldsmid, J. MacEvoy, E.
Goschen, rt. hon. G. J. Macfie, R. A.
Gourley, E. T. Mackintosh, E. W.
Gower, hon. E. F. L. M'Arthur, W.
Gower, Lord R. M'Clure, T.
Graham, W. M'Lagan, P.
Grant, Colonel hon. J. M'Laren, D.
Gregory, W. H. M'Mahon, P.
Greville, hon. Captain Magniac, C.
Greville-Nugent, hon. G. F. Maguire, J. F.
Marling, S. S.
Grieve, J. J. Martin, P. W.
Grosvenor, Capt. R. W. Matheson, A.
Grosvenor, hon. N. Mellor, T. W.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Melly, G.
Grove, T. F. Merry, J.
Guest, M. J. Miall, E.
Hadfield, G. Milbank, F. A.
Hamilton, J. G. C. Miller, J.
Harcourt, W. G. G. V. V. Mitchell, T. A.
Hardcastle, J. A. Monk, C. J.
Harris, J. D. Monsell, rt. hon. W.
Morgan, G. O. Shaw, R.
Morley, S. Shaw, W.
Morrison, W. Sheridan, H. B.
Mundella, A. J. Sherlock, D.
Muntz, P. H. Sherriff, A. C.
Murphy, N. D. Simon, Mr. Serjeant
Nicholson, W. Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.
Nicol, J. D. Smith, E.
Norwood, C. M. Smith, J. B.
O'Brien, Sir P. Stacpoole, W.
O'Conor, D. M. Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.
O'Conor Don, The Stapleton, J.
Ogilvy, Sir J. Stepney, Colonel
O'Loghlen, rt. hon. Sir C. M. Stevenson, J. C.
Stone, W. H.
Onslow, G. Storks, rt. hn. Sir H. K.
O'Reilly-Dease, M. Strutt, hon. H.
Osborne, R. Stuart, Colonel
Otway, A. J. Sykes, Colonel W. H.
Palmer, J. H. Synan, E. J.
Parker, C. S. Talbot, C. R. M.
Parry, L. Jones- Taylor, P. A.
Pease, J. W. Tollemache, hon. F. J.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Torrens, W. T. M'C.
Peel, A. W. Torrens, R. R.
Peel, J. Tracy, hon. C. R. D. Hanbury-
Pelham, Lord
Philips, R. N. Trevelyan, G. O.
Pim, J. Vandeleur, Colonel
Platt, J. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Playfair, L. Vivian, A. P.
Plimsoll, S. Vivian, Capt. hn. J. C. W.
Potter, E. Vivian, H. H.
Potter, T. B. Waters, G.
Power, J. T. Wedderburn, Sir D.
Price, W. P. Weguelin, T. M.
Ramsden, Sir J. W. Wells, W.
Rathbone, W. West, H. W.
Reed, C. Whalley, G. H.
Richard, H. Whatman, J.
Richards, E. M. Whitbread, S.
Robertson, D. White, hon. Colonel C.
Roden, W. S. White, J.
Rothschild, Brn. M. A. de Whitworth, T.
Russell, A. Williams, W.
Russell, Sir W. Williamson, Sir H.
Rylands, P. Willyams, E. W. B.
Salomons, Sir D. Wingfield, Sir C.
Samuda, J. D'A. Winterbotham, H. S. P.
Samuelson, B. Woods, H.
Samuelson, H. B. Young, G.
Sartoris, E. J.
Seely, C. (Lincoln) TELLERS.
Seely, C. (Nottingham) Glyn, hon. G. G.
Seymour, A. Adam, W. P.
Adderley, rt. hon. Sir C. Barttelot, Colonel
Allen, Major Bateson, Sir T.
Amphlett, R. P. Bathurst, A. A.
Annesley, hon. Col. H. Beach, Sir M. H.
Arbuthnot, Major G. Beach, W. W. B.
Archdale, Captain M. Bective, Earl of
Arkwright, A. P. Bentinck, G. C.
Baggallay, Sir R. Bentinck, G. W. P.
Bagge, Sir W. Benyon, R.
Bailey, Sir J. R. Beresford, Lt.-Col. M.
Ball, J. T. Bingham, Lord
Baring, T. Birley, H.
Barnett, H. Booth, Sir R. G.
Barrington, Viscount Bourke, hon. R.
Bourne, Colonel Hamilton, Lord C.
Bright, R. Hamilton, Lord G.
Brise, Colonel R. Hamilton, I. T.
Broadley, W. H. H. Hamilton, Marquess of
Brooks, W. C. Hardy, rt. hon. G.
Bruce, Sir H. H. Hardy, J.
Bruen, H. Hardy, J. S.
Buckley, Sir E. Hay, Sir J. C. D.
Burrell, Sir P. Henley, rt. hon. J. W.
Buxton, Sir R. J. Herbert, rt. hon. Gen. Sir P.
Cameron, D.
Cartwright, F. Hermon, E.
Cave, rt. hon. S. Hervey, Lord A. H. C.
Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G. Hesketh, Sir T. G.
Chaplin, H. Heygate, Sir F. W.
Charley, W. T. Heygate, W. U.
Child, Sir S. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Clive, Col. hon. G. W. Hill, A. S.
Clowes, S. W. Hodgson, W. N.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Holford, J. P. G.
Collins, T. Holford, R. S.
Corbett, Colonel Holmesdale, Viscount
Corrance, F. S. Holt, J. M.
Corry, rt. hon. H. T. L. Hood, Cap. hn. A. W. A. N.
Crichton, Viscount Hope, A. J. B. B.
Croft, Sir H. G. D. Hornby, E. K.
Cubitt, G. Hunt, rt. hon. G. W.
Dalrymple, C. Jenkinson, Sir G. S.
Damer, Capt. Dawson- Jones, J.
Davenport, W. B. Kavanagh, A. MacM.
Dawson, Colonel R. P. Kekewich, S. T.
Denison, C. B. Kennaway, J. H.
Dick, F. Keown, W.
Dimsdale, R. Knight, F. W.
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. Knightley, Sir R.
Dowdeswell, W. E. Knox, hon. Colonel S.
Duncombe, hon. Col. Lacon, Sir E. H. K.
Du Pre, C. G. Laird, J.
Dyke, W. H. Langton, W. G.
Dyott, Colonel R. Laslett, W.
Eastwick, E. B. Learmonth, A.
Eaton, H. W. Legh, W. J.
Egerton, hon. A. F. Legh, Lt.-Col. G. C.
Egerton, Sir P. G. Lennox, Lord G. G.
Egerton, hon. W. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Elcho, Lord Lindsay, hon. Col. C.
Elliot, G. Lindsay, Col. R. L.
Elphinstone, Sir J. D. H. Lopes, H. C.
Feilden, H. M. Lopes, Sir M.
Fellowes, E. Lowther, Colonel
Fielden, J. Lowther, J.
Figgins, J. Lowther, W.
Finch, G. H. Mahon, Viscount
Fitzwilliam, hon. H. W. Malcolm, J. W.
Floyer, J. Manners, rt. hon. Lord J.
Forester, rt. hon. Gen. Manners, Lord G. J.
Fowler, R. N. March, Earl of
Gallwey, Sir W. P. Matthews, H.
Garlies, Lord Meyrick, T.
Gilpin, Colonel Milles, hon. G. W.
Goldney, G. Mills, C. H.
Gooch, Sir D. Mitford, W. T.
Gordon, E. S. Monckton, F.
Gore, J. R. O. Montgomery, Sir G. G.
Gore, W. R. O. Morgan, C. O.
Graves, S. R. Morgan, hon. Major
Greaves, E. Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.
Greene, E. Newdegate, C. N.
Gregory, G. B. Newport, Viscount
Guest, A. E. Noel, hon. G. J.
Gurney, rt. hon. R. North, Colonel
Hambro, C. O'Neill, hon. E.
Paget, R. H. Starkie, J. P. C.
Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J. Steere, L.
Palk, Sir L. Straight, D.
Parker, Lt.-Col. W. Sturt, H. G.
Patten, rt. hon. Col. W. Sturt, Lt.-Colonel N.
Peek, H. W. Sykes, C.
Pell, A. Talbot, J. G.
Pemberton, E. L. Talbot, hon. Captain
Percy, Earl Taylor, rt. hon. Colonel
Phipps, C. P. Thynne, Lord H. F.
Plunket, hon. D. R. Tollemache, J.
Powell, W. Trevor, Lord A. E. Hill-
Raikes, H. C. Turner, C.
Read, C. S. Turner, E.
Round, J. Vance, J.
Royston, Viscount Verner, E. W.
Sackville, S. G. S. Verner, Sir W.
Salt, T. Walpole, hon. F.
Sandon, Viscount Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Saunderson, E. Walsh, hon. A.
Sclater-Booth, G. Waterhouse, S.
Scott, Lord H. J. M. D. Welby, W. E.
Scourfield, J. H. Wethered, T. O.
Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J. Williams, Sir F. M.
Wilmot, H.
Shirley, S. E. Winn, R.
Simonds, W. B. Wyndham, hon. P.
Smith, A. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Smith, R.
Smith, S. G. TELLERS.
Smith, W. H. Cross, R. A.
Somerset, Lord H. R. C. Ridley, M. W.
Stanley, hon. F.

House adjourned at a quarter after Three o'clock.