§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. SERJEANT SHERLOCK
, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, said, that its object was to assimilate the franchise in Ireland for municipal purposes to that which now applied to Parliamentary purposes. In most of the corporate boroughs in Ireland the qualification for a burgess was higher than that required to vote for a Member of that House, and he sought to remove that anomaly. The City of Dublin had petitioned against the Bill, but he thought the House would consider that exemptions should be avoided. The hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt) had brought in a Bill for assimilating the law of Ireland to that of England in respect to municipal elections. That Bill stood for Committee on the 10th of July, and it had been suggested that this Bill, if read a second time, should be committed on the same day, so that they might be taken together.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Serjeant Sherlock.)
§ MR. BUTT
said, he thought it probable that many hon. Members would be surprised to know that in Ireland, which was the poorer country, the qualification for a burgess was higher than in England. By the Municipal Act it was provided that in England the qualification should be given for any amount of rates and continuous occupation for three years. In Ireland the qualification, however, was fixed at occupation for one year of a house and £10 a-year, with some deductions for insurance and repairs, making the qualification practically £8 or £9 a-year. The City of Dublin had, however, under a special Act of Parliament, adopted the English franchise in 1849; but in 1869 a change was made in the English franchise, reducing the qualification to continuous occupation for one year. In Dublin, however, three years' occupation was still necessary; and in all other corporate places the qualification was the 1656 high one he had described. The Bill he had introduced was intended to amend that state of things. The Bill now before he House would introduce a totally new Principle into the Irish municipalities, and allow lodgers, freemen, and non-resident persons with the property qualification to vote for members of municipal corporations. Although all the corporations of Ireland disapproved of it; yet he would not seek to prevent the Bill going into Committee; but he thought the simpler and better course to have taken would have been to endeavour to pass a law to assimilate the qualification in Ireland to that of England.
§ MR. VANCE
said, he objected to the principle of both the Bills which had been mentioned, and would point out that in Dublin, where the English franchise prevailed, the discussion of politics was carried to such an extent by the members of the corporation, that one of he aldermen had given notice of his intention to draw the attention of the council to a recent decision of a learned Judge.
§ MR. M'MAHON
said, he trusted the Bill would be considered in Committee with the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt), and would remark that they could not prevent by law the introduction of politics into municipal discussions.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. DOWSE)
said, he could not assent to the second reading of the Bill merely to place it alongside the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Limerick (Mr. Butt) in Committee, because he thought it might embarrass the consideration of the question; and he was of opinion that it contained no proposition which was not capable of being introduced by way of Amendment into the Bill which had already been read a second time. He hoped, therefore, that the hon. and learned Serjeant would withdraw the Bill. He did not 1657 think an extension of the municipal franchise in Ireland should be made in that direction; although he admitted that the franchise was at present indefensible. On one occasion a man said to him—"I do not know, Sir, why I am fit to vote for you as a Member of Parliament, and yet am not fit to vote for a greengrocer as Town Councillor. "He could not conceive any reason for that state of affairs, and thought the municipal franchise of Ireland ought to be assimilated to that of England. A defect of the Bill was, as had been stated, that it would allow non-resident persons, lodgers, and freemen, to vote at municipal elections, and therefore he thought it should not be pressed.
§ MR. SERJEANT SHERLOCK
said, that in consequence of the suggestion and argument of his right hon. and learned Friend, he would beg leave to withdraw the Bill.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Bill withdrawn.