HC Deb 04 March 1879 vol 244 cc137-256

, in rising to move— That, in the opinion of this House, it would be desirable to establish throughout the whole of the United Kingdom a Household Franchise similar to that now established in the English boroughs; and that it would be desirable so to re-distribute political power as to obtain a more complete representation of the opinion of the electoral body, said: The Resolutions which I have the honour to again bring before the House are so important, and so intimately connected with every part of our political system, that those who advocate them have never any difficulty in finding something new to say; but, on this occasion, there is a special reason why the debate will be regarded with interest in the country. Unless the letter of the Constitution is to be insisted on in a manner which—such was the wisdom of our ancestors—is almost without a precedent, this will be the last occasion on which the present Parlia- ment will have an opportunity of declaring whether it is just and expedient to exclude so very large, and so very deserving and valuable, a portion of the population from any share in the government of their own country. That is the question on which, as far as domestic legislation is concerned, the forthcoming General Election will infallibly turn. The right hon. Gentleman who represents the University of London (Mr. Lowe) tells us that there is no real demand for this extension of the franchise. What the outward and visible signs of such a demand are to be I hardly know. In the last authentic utterances of the right hon. Gentleman, he appeared to think that we ought to wait for a civil war. Then, he said, it might be wise to concede somewhat. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), who is the most promising, if among the very most recent, pupils of the right hon. Gentleman, will be content with what he calls "popular tumults." He thinks we shall be justified in taking action when there has been nothing more serious than another disturbance in Hyde Park. Sir, those of us who were present at the scene on that Sunday in Hyde Park, during the debate on the Vote of £6,000,000—the most vulgar and ruffianly proceeding that ever disgraced a great capital—will not be inclined to take the advice of the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman. And let me say that such advice is curious, as coming from one who is for ever preaching the necessity of keeping up the high standard of English statesmanship—this advice to postpone doing justice, and passing what we believe to be a salutary reform, until we have had broken windows, and are afraid of having broken heads. No; I can tell the right hon. Gentleman a much better test of whether there is a demand for this measure or no. Let him go, not to this Radical constituency or that, but to any borough in England, Scotland, or Ireland, which is of a sufficient size to entertain a healthy and genuine public opinion, and let him ask the constituency to return him as a Liberal who is opposed to the extension of the county franchise. No; Sir, the people who are determined to get the franchise extended are not the sort of men who pelt each other in Hyde Park; but they are the sort of men who know very well how to use the Constitutional means by which a free people can obtain what they want. When the present House was chosen, there was very little enthusiasm for these Resolutions outside the House, and still less inside it; but this Parliament, if it has done very little else for the opinions which we on these Benches hold, has, at any rate, done this—that it has matured this question, and brought it from the condition of a not very popular theory to be the most formidable and practical reality. When it was first brought forward in the last Parliament its supporters could only muster 70 votes; and though a good deal of attention had been called just then to the rural districts by the strike of the labourers in Warwickshire, I must frankly confess that I seldom remember a debate which fell more thoroughly dead. But two years afterwards, in this Parliament, we secured 173 votes, and were beaten by only 115. Then the majority fell to 102, and then to 99. Then came the great conference of delegates in Exeter Hall, which was pronounced by the Chairman, the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), as equal in weight and importance to any public meeting or conference of his time; and, under the impression, as I greatly believe, of that remarkable manifestation of the genuineness of the demand for this great reform, our numbers so increased that, if at any time a General Election changes 30 seats—and who can say that such a result is outside the probabilities of politics?—a new House of Commons will, before it has sat half a Session, be committed to the extension of the suffrage to the county householders. And this great change has been brought about, not by the usual processes by which questions are forced upon the attention of the House of Commons—by setting up newspapers and distributing pamphlets, and raising great subscriptions and forming extensive and powerful associations. Nobody has been threatened, nobody has been bullied, nobody, I earnestly trust, has been bored. Gradually, and almost insensibly, an honest and spontaneous change of belief has stolen over the minds of public men. Gentlemen who, in the intimacy of pri- vate conversation, used five years ago, or three years ago, to express themselves unfavourable to seeing the question stirred, now convinced, I cannot but think by hearing in a succession of debates how much is to be said for these Resolutions, and how very little can be said against them, freely acknowledge that the time has arrived when the question should be settled. This side of the House is unanimous on that point—if there ever was such a thing as unanimity in politics; and the excluded class of our fellow-countrymen may now rest confident in the assurance that if ever the Liberal Party come in again they will bring in with them the county householders. And there is a special reason why this reform, which has long been recognized as ultimately certain, has of late become imminent and pressing. It is the only remedy—at least, the only remedy that there is a chance of Parliament being induced to adopt—for an abuse which has long existed, but which has only of late been brought into such prominence that we have no choice but to deal with it. Last year I described to the House the system of faggot-voting in Scotland, and explained how the small, but very intelligent, resident constituency of Selkirkshire and Peeblesshire was swamped by a troop of Highland lairds and Edinburgh Writers to the Signet, who never came to the neighbourhood, except when they were summoned at the time of a General Election to vote down the real wishes, the real sentiments, the real public opinion of the two counties. That description, which attracted attention in Scotland—where it was well-known that Selkirkshire and Peeblesshire were only an exaggerated instance of what was going on in every Northern county where parties were evenly balanced—as far as this House was concerned, fell upon deaf ears. But in politics, if you only stick fast to a principle, time is quite sure to bring its revenges, and between last Session and this events have occurred which have placed the question of faggot-voting in the very fore-front of Scotch grievances; and it is a grievance which has all the more chance of being removed, because it possesses the rare and peculiar advantage of being capable of being understood by Englishmen. On the 18th of January last the following letter was addressed to a gentleman in Glasgow; and I may say, before I read it, that its writer attempted to allege that it was a private letter; but upon its having been proved that he was mistaken, he made a complete and frank apology in the public newspapers:— Scottish Conservative Club, Edinburgh, "18th January, 1879. Dear Sir,—In view of Mr. Gladstone's proposed attack upon Mid-Lothian, a number of gentlemen interested in the success of Lord Dalkeith are acquiring qualifications in the county. I should be glad if you could take one also. They consist of dwelling-houses, well built and finished, and cost from £120 to £360 per vote. The rents are expected to yield quite 6 per cent. You would be joint-owner with another person. Those gentlemen who have already purchased are satisfied that the investment is a sound one. As the transactions must be carried through this month, an answer in course will be obliging. Yours sincerely, E. ADDISON SMITH. Now, the last sentence in Mr. Smith's letter well deserves the attention of the House. The list of voters is made up between July and October, and everybody who desires to be placed on the list of voters as proprietor or as life-renter on house property, must have been registered and officially recognized as such for at least six months before the 31st July. And, therefore, he must have been registered by the 31st of January; and it is during the week that precedes the 31st January that these gentlemen flock to the registry office, who have purchased property or burdens upon property, not for the sake of an investment, but for the sake of a vote. Mr. Craufurd, the late Member for Ayr Boroughs, who, since Mr. Horsman dropped the question of fictitious voting, has been the leading authority on the subject, states that an almost infallible test of a vote being a faggot-vote is the date on which the qualification was registered. Mr. Craufurd states that he looked in the Register of Sasines for Peeblesshire for the date of no less than 34 deeds which he suspected to be of a political character, and he discovered that every one of these deeds had been signed on the 28th, the 29th, or the 30th of January. Well, Sir, never during that very significant period of the year was the Registrar so busy as towards the end of last January. The good seed which Mr. Addison Smith had sowed so diligently over Scotland, England, aye, and Ireland too, brought an abundant and an immediate crop. Between the 14th and 31st of January no less than 94 votes were manufactured in the county of Mid-Lothian alone—votes that answer all the conditions which go to make a faggot-vote of the purest and most unmistakable type; and it is said that there were 26 other faggot-votes made which did not require the ceremony of registration. Let hon. Gentlemen reflect what it is that at the next General Election we one and all of us wish to get from Mid-Lothian; and I am not addressing myself to one side of the House or the other. I am not making a Party speech. We want to know what the population of a Scotch county—as intelligent a population as any in the world—think on the policy of the last six years, and what they wish to be the policy of the next six years. Now, in order to assist us in arriving at this result, four persons who had not votes for Mid-Lothian, acquire property there between the 20th and 25th of January last. They acquire a cottage and a shop in the village of Wester Duddingstone. Two of them take a cottage in common, and the names of these lowly cottagers—who would not even be qualified under my Bill, which would require them to have a cottage a-piece—are Frederick Spencer Hamilton, commonly called Lord Frederick Spencer Hamilton, and Lord Claud Hamilton, Privy Councillor, residing not in Mid-Lothian, but at 83, Portland Place, London. The two gentlemen who keep shop together are Lord Ernest William Hamilton, lieutenant in the 11th Hussars, and William Alexander Baillie-Hamilton, clerk in the Colonial Office, residing not in Mid-Lothian, but at 22, Green Street, Grosvenor Square, London. And these are the people who, next Autumn, or in the Spring of next year, will settle on which side the voice of Mid-Lothian is to be given in the Counsels of the nation; while the real cottagers and the real shopkeepers of the country stand by with their hands in their pockets, and have no more to say to the election than if they were the horses that drag the voters to the poll. Now, let us go a little lower on the list. Here is a yard or back green, being part of a cot tenement of land on the south side of the High Street of the town of Dalkeith. Now, on the 30th of January last the Duke of Buccleuch burdened this precious spot with a life-rent payable to five persons. Now, if this transaction was not connected with politics, it could have only one meaning. It would mean that the Duke of Buccleuch was in want of ready money; and that money was so tight in his own neighbourhood, that he was forced to apply to five different parties, and to look for those parties at a distance. For who are these five parties? They are Lieutenant-Colonel John Francis Oust, late of the Grenadier Guards, at present residing at Harewood Bridge, Harewood, Leeds; the Hon. James A. Douglas Home, barrister-at-law, of the Inner Temple; Captain George Robert Hope, of the Royal Navy; Herbert James Hope, residing in London; and Edward Stanley Hope, barrister, in London. There you have the Professions fairly represented, and you have more than the Professions represented. You have the Civil Service represented, too, for, almost contemporaneously with his name appearing in the newspapers as having spent £100 or £150 in purchasing a life-rent which gave him a vote for Mid-Lothian, Mr. Edward Stanley Hope was appointed Junior Charity Commissioner of England and Wales, with a salary, I suppose, of £1,200 a-year. The longer I live in public life, the more I am impressed by the diversity of ideas which different men hold as to what is becoming and what is the reverse. Sir, these are strong cases, and hon. Members may suspect that I have picked with some care the instances which would produce most impression upon the House. But as I look up and down the list, the difficulty is to find not a strong case, but a weak one. As I take one group of names after another, it is not easy to say who of these faggot-voters has less connection than another with the rural districts of Mid-Lothian, or who of them has less right than another to speak in the name of those residents of Mid-Lothian who, under the unjust system of political privilege, against which this first Resolution is directed, are not permitted to speak for themselves. Here is a piece of one acre and a bit in the parish of Cockpen, which gives votes to six Edinburgh lawyers and two Roxburghshire bankers. Here are a lot of half-built houses in Myrtle Terrace which give votes to no less than 19 Baronets, lawyers, major-generals, retired surveyors of stamps and taxes, eminent Scotch divines, ready to lay down their lives and their money for the maintenance of the Establishment, resident in Fifeshire, Cumberland, Lanarkshire, Stirlingshire, Peeblesshire, Perthshire—anywhere but in the rural parts of Mid-Lothian. And it is not only the clergy of the Scotch Church. Here we have the hon. and rev. Charles Dundas, Rector of Epworth, and residing at the Rectory there—I do not think we have any rectors in Scotland—and Henry Dundas, his son, residing with him, jointly, and the longest liver of them. These two gentlemen, during the last few days in which they could contrive to foist themselves upon the constituency of Mid-Lothian, became possessed of a triangular piece of ground in the parish of Dalkeith, which went by the name of Gallowshall. Sir, I have but slight acquaintance with the noble Lord who at present represents Mid-Lothian; but that little has inspired me with a great respect for him. No one, if the noble Lord will allow me to say so, is a better judge of the tone and temper in which a public man conducts political controversy than an opponent who is connected politically with the same neighbourhood, and a more fair and temperate Party speaker than the noble Lord does not exist in the South of Scotland. The noble Lord knows much better than myself what sort of men the inhabitants of the rural districts in the South of Scotland are—how frugal, how industrious, how loyal in every sense of the word, how solidly and rationally educated, how admirably worthy of being—as they are not now—full and complete citizens of a free country. Those districts are identified with the name of the noble Lord, and the name of his family, in a manner that will be remembered—such is the spell of literary genius—when half the dynasties that now govern Europe will be forgotten. Is he willing to see the population of these districts, being what it is, being what he knows it to be, gagged, and silenced, and powerless, as unworthy to have a share in the government of their own country; and this while a troop of English rectors and ex-lieutenant-colonels of the Guards come down once in every six or seven years by the night mail to say who is to sit for such counties as Selkirkshire, Roxburghshire, and Mid-Lothian? I believe it to be acknowledged on both sides of the House that this state of things is an abuse. No one, so far as I know, attempts to defend it on its merits, except one noble Lord, who argued that the constituency ought to be swamped by voters who did not live in the county, in order to save it from the folly of choosing a Member who had no landed property in the county. We have been told before, and I suppose we shall be told again, that faggot-votes were made by the Liberals as well as the Conservatives. Well, Sir, if that is the case, all I can say is, so much the worse, and so much the more does the existing state of things require to be mended. I am not enough of a moralist to argue the question whether this Party or that is justified in making the most of a bad system to its own advantage; but I boldly and unhesitatingly maintain that the guilt and scandal of a bad system lies with the Party which refuses to remedy it. What, then, is the remedy for this great evil which we all condemn? As long as the county franchise is to so large an extent a property franchise, there is, in my opinion, no direct remedy whatsoever. The revising barrister cannot enter into the question of the motive with which a man has purchased a property, and inquire whether he made the purchase as a profitable transaction, or for the purpose of obtaining a vote. Nor, as long as matters remain as they are, is it easy to insist that the owner of a freehold or a life-rent shall reside for a certain part of the year in the county for which he claims to vote. That would have the effect of converting what is now a property qualification into a pure and simple residential qualification. There is one practical remedy, and one only, and that lies in the proposal now before the House. Give votes to the people who ought to have them, and you will cease to be troubled by the people who ought not. When every householder whose rates are paid has a vote for the county, the abuse of faggot-voting will die away from the root. Even now, as we are told by a most accomplished master of the art, it is getting very difficult to find people who will undertake the expense of buying a vote and undergo the trouble of exercising it. Just think what that trouble is. It is no light thing for an elderly gentleman, however deeply convinced he may be that he is doing his duty to his country, to travel from Edinburgh into Ayrshire, then to cross the sea to and from Bute, then vote in Stirlingshire or Dumbartonshire, and reach home only to start on a fresh campaign in the Highlands, or the Border counties. That is all very well as long as he is one among only 500 or 600 voters who go to the poll; but when everyone of the genuine residents has the suffrage as well as himself—when, instead of exercising the 500th, he exercises the 1,500th part of the voting power of the county—he will soon find a better investment for his money than buying half-shops in Dalkeith and half-cottages in the Western Highlands. Pass these Resolutions, and the House of Commons will very soon have heard the last of faggot-voting. Sir, I notice that when hon. Members are asked at public meetings whether they will vote for household franchise in the counties, they are in the habit of replying that they will support it when it comes in the shape of what is called a well-digested scheme introduced by a responsible Government. Sir, if hon. Members really and sincerely desire to see the franchise extended, surely their best course is to say so plainly by voting for as simple and straightforward a Resolution as ever was laid before the House of Commons. If hon. Members are too coy and delicate to ask for the extension of the franchise, they must not expect the Government to force it upon them. Nothing can be more evident than that the present Ministry is trifling with the question. When the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer was speaking last year, I, who am a great admirer of the thorough and practical manner with which the right hon. Gentleman treats matters with which he intends seriously to deal, was almost astonished at the meagreness, and, I must say, the inaccuracy, of some of his remarks. Almost the only argument that he used which had anything tangible about it, was the contention that if we extended the franchise we should have to re-distribute seats, and that if we re-distributed seats, we might have largely to diminish the Representation of Ireland. This argument depended upon a statement made earlier in the debate by an hon. Member who had announced with great confidence that if seats were re-distributed in proportion to the electors, 55 Members would have to be given to Scotland, and 40 would have to be taken from Ireland, in order that Scotland might have 115 Members and Ireland 61. This conclusion, the hon. Member supported by a very long and imposing series of figures, by means of which he had persuaded himself, and had apparently contrived to persuade the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that if we gave a vote to every house in Scotland and Ireland, the country which contained twice as many houses as the other would be entitled to half as many Members. Sir, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with his experience and sagacity, ought to have felt certain that there must be some radical error in the calculation in order to bring about such a monstrous conclusion; and I will venture to say that such a blunder was never made in the House of Commons since the day when an hon. Gentleman, who had been astonishing his audience by his assertions with regard to the agricultural produce of the country, discovered, towards the end of his speech, that he had all along been mistaking bushels for quarters. Sir, this hon. Member, whose statement as to the representation of the country was adopted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had been calculating the number of electors who would vote in Ireland and Scotland under a system of household suffrage in the counties on the base of the number who at present vote in the towns; but the hon. Member was unaware of the fact, which I should have thought by this time was familiar to all of us, that while household suffrage exists in the Scotch burghs, the Irish borough franchise is limited in such a manner as to exclude something like a majority of the householders. The number of electors in the Irish boroughs, under a franchise which is in no sense household suffrage, is no test whatever of the number of electors who would be on the roll if household suffrage became the law of the land. The real truth is, that whether we take the test of population or the test of the number of inhabited houses, Ireland would gain rather than lose in any fair re-distribution of seats. I am ashamed to detain the House by going through the form of refuting an allegation that, perhaps, I ought to have left to refute itself; but some respect is due to any argument, however flimsy, which is employed by the Leader of the House to dissuade the House from voting for a proposition against which no genuine and serious argument can be found. It is not by elaborate and whimsical statistics that you will persuade the rural householders that they are properly represented. An English county election, as at present conducted, is the most remarkable of political operations. When a contest takes place during the existence of a Parliament, the eyes of the whole nation—sometimes, as in the case of Buckinghamshire two years ago, the eyes of the Continent—are directed upon the district; but the mass of the people who live in the district have nothing to do with the business of the election, except to look on like any other spectators. Nobody appeals to them; nobody canvasses them. They go for nothing in the calculation of election agents. Members of Parliament, the most influential who can be found, are brought down from a distance, and make eloquent speeches, but those speeches are not addressed to them. Look at the election for North Norfolk. I read with admiration the vigorous speeches by which the hon. Member for South Norfolk (MR. Clare Read) did so much to secure the election for the Government which he quitted so honourably and supports so chivalrously; and I admired the ability of those speeches none the less because they were so exclusively addressed to convince the few who had votes, with little or no reference to the many who had none. The hon. Gentleman's speech at Great Yarmouth, addressed nominally and ostensibly to the whole constituency, was, in truth and in fact, as much a farmer's speech as if it had been made at a 2s. ordinary or market day in a county town. I can find in it one reference, and one only, to any legislation, past or future, undertaken for the benefit of the great mass of our rural population, and that is a condemnation, wholesale and most emphatic, of the Act by which every locality was forced to provide education for the agricultural labourers. If every respectable father of a family had a vote, such an appeal as that will hardly be made with success in a future county election. And as it is outside the House, so within these walls. When any class of the existing county electors have a grievance, that class never wants champions in the House of Commons. I do not speak of the gentry. They are here to take care of themselves. If any question is brought forward on a Wednesday which affects the county clergy, there are always plenty of county Members to talk about it, and, if necessary, to talk it out. If the interests of the tenant-farmers are concerned, you, Sir, find it difficult to select among a crowd of county Members the Gentleman who is to play the part of the farmers' friend. But how is it with the agricultural labourer? What are the measures which have affected—or that, if carried, would affect—the agricultural labourer the most? Take the legislation with regard to the preservation of commons, and the conditions on which they are to be permitted to be enclosed. It is not easy to name any class of business done within these walls which more nearly touches the interests of the agricultural labourer; and the hon. Gentleman who is conspicuous among the group of Members who have vindicated those interests is not a county Member, but the hon. Gentleman the Member for Beading (Mr. Shaw Lefevre). Take the question of securing sufficient schooling for the children of the labourer, and preserving them from extreme and premature toil. A Bill securing those objects to a certain extent has been passed with the consent of the House; but the hon. Member who started the question was not a county Member, but a borough. Member—the hon. Gentleman the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett). The only Division, as far as I know, which has been taken on the question of extending to the cottages of villagers the same salutary regulations which are provided for the inhabitants of towns by the Artizans' and Labourers' Dwelling Act was taken on the Motion, not of a county Member, but of my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (MR. J. Cowen). The only voice which has been raised against the most demoralizing and indefensible form of truck that ever has existed in this Island—the cider truck in the Western counties, and the beer truck elsewhere, the payment of the agricultural labourers' wages in spirituous liquor, instead of in honest money, against which the labourers themselves, whenever they have an opportunity, earnestly protest—was the voice, not of a county Member, but of my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella). And we ought not to talk—as we are apt to talk—as if this was a question only of legislation. It is a question of administration likewise. If it is hard for the county householder not to have a voice in saying what laws he wants made for him, it is at least as hard and at least as humiliating that, at a crisis in foreign affairs, he should not have a voice in determining on which side his country should fight, or whether it should fight at all. During the last 12 months we have begun two great wars, and have very nearly been involved in a very great war indeed; and the question whether those wars were just or unjust, necessary or unnecessary, has never been submitted, directly or indirectly—and under the existing franchise cannot be submitted—to the class upon which, of all classes, the burden of war falls the heaviest. What are the classes which in time of war are called on for the heaviest sacrifices? We know what some people mean by sacrifices. A friend of mine who had spoken on the Eastern Question—I will not say in what sense—received a letter of remonstrance of rather an abusive type from a very well-to-do gentleman, which concluded with these words— You may imagine how strongly I feel on this subject when I tell you that I have written this during my dinner-hour. That self-sacrificing patriot, no doubt, was a voter, and had his say in the question whether or not we should go to war with Russia; but the people whose sons, if such a war took place, would die by thousands, and who themselves would be thrown out of work by hundreds of thousands, and if the war was prolonged, by millions—the people to whom the price of bread really matters, and whom the taxes on tea and sugar pinch—they would have no voice in the matter. When a great war breaks out 10,000 or 12,000 families, and as time goes on, 20,000 or 30,000, will at once be reduced from comfort and plenty to something near beggary by the calling out of the Reserves: 20,000 or 30,000 respectable and hard-working men will lose situations which, in the depression of trade that follows a great war, they are certain not to be able to recover; and not one of those poor fellows, if he lives outside a Parliamentary burgh, will have anymore voice in determining' the policy for which he bleeds and suffers than if he were a soldier of the Russian Reserve instead of an Englishman. What do hon. Gentlemen who talk of the despotism of the Russian Government and the helplessness of the Russian people say to that? Sir, on a great occasion the noble Lord at the head of the Government wrote a famous letter which met with the warm approbation of hon. Members opposite. When a strong opposition arose in the country against the Afghan War, the noble Lord refused to receive a deputation composed of private individuals. Her Majesty's Government, he wrote, would be prepared to advise Her Majesty to make certain communications to Parliament. The noble Lord said— This would appear to be a not less satisfactory and scarcely less Constitutional mode of meeting the occasion than a process of Memorials and Deputations. Sir, in whatever spirit the noble Lord may have written these words, there is no question as to the justice and the wisdom of their substance. Parliament it is that should have the final judgment in these high matters of peace and war. It is Parliament which alone has the right to say whether the money of the nation is being spent, and its blood has been bidden to flow, in a just and righteous cause. But it is a sin and a shame that the House of Commons, on which these grave responsibilities are devolved, is one in which neither vote nor voice is given to two-fifths of the taxpayers and the householders of the country; and any hon. Member who desires sincerely to correct that great abuse will not fail to vote for the Resolutions which I now proceed to move.


, in rising to second the Resolution, said, that his hon. Friend (MR. Trevelyan) had dealt with the criticisms that had been offered to the first of the Resolutions last year. He had done full justice to the clever speech of the hon. Member for West Gloucestershire (MR. R. E. Plunkett). That hon. Member had contended for the introduction of an educational test. But, on a Select Committee, over the deliberations of which he (Sir Charles W. Dilke) had presided, which had sat in 1876—the Committee on Parliamentary and Municipal Elections—the Opposition had, on the Report, recommended the abolition of the special facilities which now existed, and which the evidence had shown to be greatly abused, for the voting of voters so absolutely illiterate, and, at the same time, so stupid, that they could not, after full previous instruction, make a cross opposite to the right name. Who had opposed that paragraph of the draft Report? The majority of the Conservative Members of the Committee. The paragraph was, however, carried, on a division, by 9 to 6, and reported to the House. Who had refused to act on it? The Conservative majority. He hoped that they would hear no more about illiteracy in these debates. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had appeared last year to be alarmed about the great number of new voters who would come upon the register under the first of the two Resolutions of his hon. Friend. No doubt, a large number of suburban voters would get upon the register, who ought, however, by the admission of all the Conservative speakers, to be on it. He confessed, on the other hand, that, as regarded the agricultural labourers, his fears were in the opposite direction. He did not think that enough of them would get upon the register to make any sensible change. A vast number of them would be disqualified by the arrangements made with regard to the rating of their houses, and a great many by the receipt of medical relief. It was not of the receipt of relief in any form by the men themselves, but by their wives or children, that he was afraid. He held in his hand a letter which would show what he meant. He would name the writer privately—he held a high position in the borough from which he wrote. The letter was as follows:— My dear Sir,—There were 104 names struck off the list of voters for the borough of—, at the last Revision, by Mr.—, the Revising Barrister, chiefly, if not wholly, on the ground of medical relief. Thirty-six of them belong to the parish of—. The books of the parish doctor were produced, and their names were found there, although the only medical relief they had received was a box of pills, which, in the case of some, were given by the doctor to the wives when he met them on the highway. He inquired after their husbands, who were at work, and in their usual health. A certain steward—a well-known violent Tory partizan—induced his employer to pay a doctor for her tenantry, lest the Liberal Party should, after the foregoing example, make reprisals.—Yours faithfully,—. That showed how much could be done by a judicious use of the principle of disqualification by medical relief, to thin the "million and a-half of new voters" of whom the Chancellor of the Exchequer was afraid. A Party which would act as he had described, and which also objected in London to the votes of men who had been forced, against their deliberate wish, to send their children to small-pox hospitals for the sake of isolation, on the ground that the father had "received parish relief," would probably have no scruple as to keeping agricultural labourers off the register in a similar way. He thought that a man who was independent enough to resist both temptation and pressure, and clever enough to avoid the traps which would be set for him by deceit, and to get upon the register, might be safely declared by anticipation well worthy of the franchise he would receive. He would be a better voter than the majority of those whose names were at present to be found upon the county registers. He had carefully examined a great number of those registers for himself. Besides the squires, and the rectors and vicars, and the farmers, who were rightly there, he found the parish clerks and sextons—but seldom the curates, who were less trusted by the Tory Party—the gamekeepers, coachmen, gardeners, beershop-keepers, farriers, mole and rat-catchers, and a great number of hangers-on, or persons under influence. Many such were over-rated in order that they might get upon the register, with an understanding that they were to receive coals, wood, rabbits, and other perquisites, to make up for the extra rate. There were also, not only in the Scotch and Welsh, but even in the English counties, a vast number of "faggot-voters." There were a couple of hundred leading Conservative partizans, many of them Members of that House, who had sham qualifications in half the doubtful counties. Those faggot-votes could never be extinguished so long as the present special county franchise continued to exist, and was accompanied by power to be registered and to vote in an unlimited number of different constituencies, and by permission to candidates to pay the travelling expenses of voters. The result was, that county elections averaged in cost £10,000 a-side, and that the representation of many counties was falsified in that House. The Liberal Party could not pause in their endeavours to induce the county to adopt an uniform franchise so long as these abuses continued, or such as had been seen last year at Exeter, when 33 of the tenants of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and of other Tory landlords, residing in the county round that city, claimed to be put on the borough register for rents of two guineas each for a single house, and so to falsify the opinion of the city of Exeter at the next Election. They were well aware by what means the Conservative Party tried to prevent the adhesion of the country to these reforms. It was the habit of Conservative speakers to proclaim that the result of them would be a large measure of penal disfranchisement. As a fact, there would be no disfranchisement at all. All that could happen in any case would be the loss of an unduly great political influence—not its total loss. No voter would cease to have a vote were their reforms adopted; but he might, in some cases, receive a county vote in exchange for his vote for a borough. He now would leave this branch of the subject with the remark that he and his Friends would continue to believe that the burden of proof lay on those who would exclude—on those who would refuse—the franchise in counties and in towns not specially represented to men in a precisely similar position to those to whom they had given it in other towns, arbitrarily selected. The hon. and learned Member for Salford (Mr. Charley) had told them last year that the extension of the franchise in the counties, without a re-distribution of seats, would be a cruel farce. He entirely agreed with him. The two reforms must go together, or, at the least, the first must quickly be followed by the second. In Ireland, however, the Conservative Party had increased the inequalities of representation by changes in the franchise; and, though pledged to a re-distribution, had never attempted to carry out their promise. Still, he could assure the hon. and learned Member that he felt with him so strongly that one of the chief reasons for which he supported an even franchise was that it was a necessary first step to re-distribution. In the debate of the previous year—and his hon. Friend (Mr. Trevelyan) and he himself (Sir Charles W. Dilke), having to speak first, were of necessity compelled to turn to it for the arguments of their opponents, the Mover of the Amendment to the Resolutions, the hon. Member for West Gloucestershire (Mr. R. E. Plunkett), had said— People talked of the great Reform Bill and the good it did.… Would anybody presume to say that, reading the grounds on which the claims for that Reform Bill were based, he saw such grounds for one now? Could anyone advance arguments now which those who carried that Reform Bill would have deemed sufficient."—[3 Hansard, ccxxxviii, 192.] He (Sir Charles W. Dilke) accepted that challenge. He would take up the glove which the hon. Member had thrown down. He would attempt to make a complete answer to the question of the hon. Member. They had been brought up, all of them—Conservatives and Liberals alike—to look upon the days before 1832 as days of electoral darkness, and on the days since 1832 as days of electoral light. They had had books written for them as histories of the great Reform, from which they had been led to think that the borough constituencies before 1832 had contained only from 2 to 12 voters each, and that the populations of the great towns went wholly without representation. Now, it was true that there had been but 7 voters at Gatton, and 11 at Old Sarum, but those had been exceptional cases, even in the old days. In a good many boroughs the elections had been in the hands of the Corporations; but there were a vast number of boroughs which had had a substantial number of electors, and which were much larger than the smallest boroughs of the present day. It was a remarkable fact that, in spite of the increase in the population, some boroughs before 1832 had had as many electors as they had now. A few had had more. The constituency within the boundaries of which they were now assembled had had 16,000 electors in 1831, and had but 18,000 now. The Resolution of his hon. Friend, with regard to the franchise, had been so drawn as to point specially to the case of Ireland, and to call the attention of the House to the fact that there was a different borough franchise in Ireland to that which prevailed in England at the present day. Now, in 1831, in Ireland, there had been a great number of borough electors. If they omitted from their list the boroughs in which the Corporation had made the return, they would find that in the boroughs of Athlone, Carrickfergus, Clonmel, Cork, Downpatrick, Drogheda, Dungarvan, Kilkenny, Kinsale, Limerick, Lisburn, Londonderry, Mallow, New Ross, Newry, Waterford, Wexford, and Youghal, considered together, there were very considerably more electors in 1831 than there were at the present time. It would be seen that Reform in Ireland had been of what might be called a thoroughly Irish nature. He did not quote figures in any attempt to maintain the paradox that the electoral condition of the Realm before 1832 was fairly satisfactory. On the contrary. It was worse than any electoral system that the world had ever seen, unless it was their electoral system of the present time, which suffered candidates who polled 21,000 votes to be defeated, and candidates to be elected who polled 76, and which had lately returned to that House by a majority of 5, and by a total poll of 95, a gentleman whose vote that day would tie that of each of several Members who represented 23,000 voters a-piece. The increase of population in the Metropolitan and manufacturing districts had so increased their electoral anomalies within the last few years, that he replied to the hon. Member for West Gloucestershire by maintaining that they were now of nearly as flagrant a character as were the anomalies removed in 1832. The hon. Member's speech had been one marked by great ability; but on his own statements, both as to illiteracy and as to 1832, his action ought to be opposite of that which it was shown to be by his vote. In the division of the preceding year, upon the Resolutions of his hon. Friend, the existing electoral anomalies had produced their customary effect. Giving to each Member as many votes as represented his whole constituency, divided by the number of Members it returned, they found that the 221 of the minority represented 1,243,000 voters, and the 273 of the majority only 1,106,000 voters. The hon. Member for West Gloucestershire had gone back last year to 1832. He (Sir Charles W. Dilke) would go back a little further. In the wise Report of the great Necker to Louis XVI., in which he recommended to his King reforms, the frank and timely adoption of which, although it might not have prevented the French Revolution, in one sense of that name, would certainly have prevented its excesses, and saved the King and Queen their lives, that illustrious Minister spoke out upon this question. He penned words of the severest blame directed against those Conservatives who wished that all the bailiwicks of France should be equally represented, whatever their population, for, he said, "this would be to confirm and continue inequalities contrary to the plainest rules of justice." He quoted the most extreme case of possible inequality under such a plan. Vermandois would have had nearly 90 times the electors of Dourdan. "It would have been monstrous," the statesman declared, to have given them equal representation. Wednesbury had 150 times the electors of Portarlington. Those two places had equal representation at present in that House. Fifty existing cases could be quoted in the Realm where the disproportion would be greater than in the extreme case which Necker had cited as the strongest which he could select from among those which had excited his indignation in so high a degree. It was annually contended by one of their three opponents upon that side of the House, of whom two were ex-Cabinet Ministers, and one was dumb—he meant by his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of London—that their system, however ridiculous it might look on paper, gave excellent results. Exactly the same plea had been put forward by the Tories in 1832, and with a great deal of truth. Parliament before 1832, on the whole, had very fairly represented the wishes of the nation. It had been a Tory Parliament during a great portion of their history, between the beginning of the French Revolution and the Reform; but it had been a Parliament which fairly represented the opinion of a Tory nation. The Radical minority and the Whig minority fairly represented, both in opinion and in numbers, the corresponding minorities outside. The plea of virtual representation, however well founded, had. nevertheless, been deliberately over-ruled in 1832. It had been found impossible then—as it must be found impossible now—to defend the system; and it must be admitted that it had been true then, as it was true now, that occasions would, from time to time, arise in which Parliament went wrong, as it would not have gone wrong had it been elected on a better plan. The Reform they advocated would be carried, because there existed with reason now, in the great towns, as there had existed in 1832, a sense of unfair subjection to the small.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, in the opinion of this House, it would be desirable to establish throughout the whole of the United Kingdom a Household Franchise similar to that now established in the English boroughs."—(Mr. Trevelyan.)


, in rising to move, as an Amendment to the Resolution of the hon. Member for the Border Boroughs (Mr. Trevelyan)— That this House is of opinion that it is inexpedient to re-open the question of Parliamentary Reform at the present time, said, he had been somewhat disappointed at the speeches which had just been delivered. He was afraid that the hon. Members who made those addresses were somewhat disheartened in the cause they had undertaken; and he had been unable to gather from their observations a single new argument in addition to those which had hitherto been brought forward in support of the proposition of the hon. Member for the Border Boroughs. It might be convenient to look for a moment at the position which the House occupied with respect to this great and important question. It would be in the recollection of those hon. Members who had sat in the Parliament which expired in 1868, that the Reform Act of 1867 had been accepted by hon. Members on both sides of the House as a settlement of the question—he would not say as a final settlement, because no such expression had proceeded from hon. Gentlemen opposite sitting below the Gangway; but as one that, at all events, was to last for many years to come. But what had occurred since? Why, in 1872, just four years and eight months after that supposed settlement of the Reform question had been agreed upon, the hon. Member for the Border Boroughs had brought forward a Resolution with regard to the agricultural labourers and the county franchise. He (Lord Claud Hamilton) ventured to think now, as he thought then, that although the agricultural labourers occupied a most prominent place in the hon. Member's Resolution, they were merely the excuse and blind for again introducing the subject of electoral reform into that House. It was about that period in the history of these last Parliament that it was found that the tail of the Liberal Party below the Gangway was beginning to lead the head; and it required but little sagacity on the part of those who followed the operations of that distinguished body to perceive that in the Resolution of the hon. Member there was an attempt on the part of the advanced Liberals to bind together their Party in the future by the adoption, not of any mild and hesitating Whig platform, but, when the time came, of one founded on the principles of advanced Democracy. Those who had listened to the hon. Member in 1872 would remember the mild, genial, and persuasive language he had used, and how he had told the House that if they would only adopt his simple measure the agricultural labourer would become perfectly contented, and possibly wealthy, while no harm would be done to anybody. The hon. Member had also urged the necessity for the representation of classes, on the ground that, unless they were so represented, their demands would never receive proper attention; and, curiously enough, he included women among those classes. What did the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone) do at that time? He was then Prime Minister, bearing on his shoulders all the responsibilities of Office. The right hon. Gentleman then said, that no doubt the question of household suffrage in the counties must be considered sooner or later. But having said so much, he took care to deprecate any further action in the matter, and added—"That instead of being a small proposal, it was a proposal for a new Reform Bill on a larger scale." He also said that "Parliament had ample work cut out for it for years to come of a character more distinctly practical and less tending, perhaps, to exasperate political differences." But what happened? Had things remained as they were, the question of reform in counties would probably have slumbered for some years. The then Government, however, were beaten, in the month of March of the following year, on the Irish University question, and in July MR. Trevelyan re-introduced the principle of his Resolutions again to the notice of the House, but, on that occasion, in the form of a Bill. A General Election was impending; and the right hon. Member for Greenwich, who, in the days of his prosperity, had said that the question should be allowed to rest for some years, but was then in the depths of adversity, stated that he was prepared to take the question up, and he at once adopted it as a Party cry, and it had served as a Party cry to hon. Members opposite ever since. It was important for hon. Members on the Government side of the House to remember that this question, viewed from any point, was a mere Party one, and that it was being used for Party purposes. Shortly after the time to which he referred Providence, happily, intervened, and the Government, of which the right hon. Gentleman was the Chief, became a matter of history. Since that time the hon. Member for the Border Boroughs had brought forward his proposition annually; until, in 1877, he succeeded in securing the adhesion to it of the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition (the Marquess of Hartington). Having thus secured the support of the head of the Whig Party, and, through it, the adhesion of the Party itself, the hon. Member came down last year with a totally new and perfectly distinct proposition, which he flashed upon the House, being satisfied of the pliability of the noble Lord, and of the Whigs, and of the Party opposite. By this amended proposition, the borough franchise in Ireland was to be placed upon the same basis as that of England, and household suffrage was to be extended throughout the counties of Great Britain and Ireland. Now those propositions had been argued in this House, in former years, from three points of view. First, it was said that because a householder living on one side of an arbitrary line possessed a vote, it was therefore a great and absurd anomaly that a man living in similar circumstances on the other side of that line should have no vote—that it was a gross injustice and an insult to his intelligence; secondly, that every householder had an abstract right to a vote; thirdly, that unless every class was specially represented in that House, it could not expect its interests to receive adequate attention. If the House at once desired to rush into equal electoral districts, and to repudiate for ever the system of Parliamentary representation under which England occupied the proud position she now held—namely, a marked distinction between urban and county constituencies, and a variety of franchises as opposed to one uniform franchise—why, then they had better accept that argument, that because A on one side of a line had a vote, therefore B, on the other side of that line, had also a right to a vote. But, in considering so vast a subject as Parliamentary Reform, he hoped the House would have some regard to the experiences of the past rather than putting its trust solely in the experiments of the future, and would recollect that it was to the variety of their franchises, and to that distinction between urban and county franchises which had been jealously observed that they owed so much of the independence of action and diversity of opinion which had in the past distinguished the Members of that House, and had gained for it the pre-eminence it occupied in the eyes of the world. Had every householder an abstract right to a vote? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sandwich (Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen) and the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke) said "Yes;" but common sense distinctly said "No."[Sir CHARLES W. DILKE dissented]. He had drawn the fair inference from the hon. Baronet's argument. If a householder had a right to a vote, why should not every adult also claim a right to a vote, and if they once admitted that a vote was right, how could they prevent women from also claiming that right? Where were they to stop? What was the object of a House of Commons? Why, to govern the country. And what was-the object of all franchises? Not to give a vote simply because a vote was asked for, but to intrust votes to those whom Parliament believed to be best qualified to use them for the general good and welfare of the country by returning the best men they could get to represent them in that House. And twice during that century had Parliament considered it wise to extend the basis on which it rested, and to intrust the franchise to larger numbers of its countrymen. But neither in 1832 nor in 1867 were those votes given as a matter of right; they were not asked for as a matter of right. Such an idea was never entertained, and he trusted that an idea so subversive of all the principles of sound government would never be entertained by that House. And then they were told that no class could receive adequate attention to its interests unless it had a direct representation in that House. Why, that was a proposition at direct variance with their past Parliamentary traditions. It had always been their object to get a general representation of interests, not a direct representation of classes. Now, who were two of the leading advocates of class representation? Why, the hon. Member for the Border Boroughs and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster). The latter said the agricultural labourer was the only class un-presented in that House, and he considered it a monstrous insult that the county franchise should be supposed to represent property and not occupation. But the right hon. Gentleman forgot that there were other meritorious classes in the country who had no special representation in that House; and if he carried out his class theories to their full extent he must be prepared to consider their claims. For instance, the domestic servant was a very large and industrious class. The non-commissioned officers and men of the Army were a special class. The warrant officers and men of the Navy were another. But of all people who would jump at their theory of classes, none would, be more eager than the ladies. They had already unfurled their banners and extended their demands. These perpetual raids of the hon. Member for the Border Boroughs on their Parliamentary institutions were very catching, and his strong-minded friends in petticoats were jubilant at what they imagined to be prospect of a new Reform Bill. They now asked that all women who earned money should have votes. They would at once, therefore, have two classes among the women—those who earned by their heads, and those who earned by their hands. But suppose they did enfranchise the labourers, would the right hon. Gentleman then contend that every class was represented in that House? Why, if they carried out those proposals, every class in the country would be unrepresented in this House except one class—the working class—and they by their votes would be able to swamp every other class taken together. But were the labourers unrepresented in that House? He was bound to say he thought such a statement a monstrous libel on the county Members. Was it to be supposed for a moment that the 200 or 300 county Members in that House were so devoid of a sense of justice and English fair play that they declined to listen to any application made to them by any portion of the population they represented? He believed the country labourers of England had just as good a chance of being heard in that House as the artizans in towns, and that the county Members were as ever ready to redress any grievance they might labour under as the borough Members were willing to assist those in their boroughs who might not happen to be included in the franchise. Now, what would be the effect of these proposals on their Parliamentary system? The hon. Gentleman the Member for the Border Boroughs had said the present state of things was a gross anomaly; but if they enfranchised the householders in counties, they would at once have the anomaly of 2,000,000 county voters in England and Wales returning only 187 Members, as against 1,250,000 urban voters returning 300 Members. Their next move to rectify that glaring anomaly would be a re-distribution of seats. But did the House wish, after the large re-distribution carried out in 1867, to embark again upon an enterprize of so delicate and contentious a nature? The first proposal in that direction would be very simple indeed. There were in England and Wales 57, and in Ireland 18 boroughs, containing populations of less than 10,000—a total of 75 boroughs. It would be a matter of extreme simplicity to disfranchise those 75 boroughs, and give their Members to larger centres of population, and that would in itself be a considerable Re-distribution Bill. Had the 75 Members who represented those boroughs seriously considered that question in its extended aspect? Had they consulted those they represented as to whether they wished to lose their privilege of returning a Member of Parliament? Because they should recollect that, in any re-distribution of seats, they would be snuffed out with as little ceremony as a tallow candle. But when they had extinguished the 75 Members to whom he had referred and given their seats to larger towns, the county householder—to whom they proposed to give the franchise as a right, and not as a privilege—would come to them and say—" I vote by right as a householder. What possible right has anybody to a vote in my county for a 40s. freehold or a £5 leasehold, or under any franchise, except as an occupying householder?" And then it would be proposed to abolish all property qualifications. Now, he believed the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich had been consistent all his life in his strong advocacy of property franchises. The right hon. Gentleman had repeatedly upheld them in this House as a necessary and desirable part of their political system. The hon. Member for the Border Boroughs had alluded to faggot-votes in the county of Mid-Lothian; but he had been unfortunate in the instances he had given. He (Lord Claud Hamilton) knew perfectly well what faggot-votes were, and he thought the system of pure faggot-voting exceedingly objectionable; and when the hon. Member thought tit to instance the case of two brothers of his, he was, perhaps, not aware that for over a century his family had had a large country place and property in Mid-Lothian, for which his father, being a Peer, was not qualified to vote. Was the £3,000 a-year which that property produced to go utterly unrepresented? Such a proposal was perfectly ridiculous. Then he had mentioned some gentlemen bearing the name of Scott; but every one of them were near relations of the Duke of Buccleuch, who had large estates in the county; and the MR. Dundas who had been alluded to by him was heir to the property of Lord Melville, who also lived in the county. But what was the origin of the pure faggot-vote? He held in his hand a volume of the speeches of Richard Cobden, edited by MR. John Bright and MR. Thorold Rogers. From this book he found that MR. Cobden, speaking in London, November 26, 1849, said— In that great division (the West Riding of Yorkshire), at present containing 37,000 voters, Lord Morpeth was, as you are aware, defeated on the question of Free Trade, and two Protectionists were returned. I went into the "West Biding with this 40s. freehold plan. I stated in every borough and district that we must have 5,000 qualifications made in less than two years. They were made. The silly people who opposed us raised the cry that the Anti-Corn Law League had bought the qualifications. Such a cry was ridiculous; the truth was that men qualified themselves with a view to aid the repeal of the Corn Laws. We followed the same plan in South Lancashire, and with a similar result. Our friends walked over the course at the next Election, though at the previous one we had not a chance. Then, on June 29th, 1877, my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope), speaking in the House on this county franchise question, quoted another speech of Mr. Cobden, in which he said— When you have a son just coming of age, the best thing you can do is to give him a qualification for the county; it accustoms him to the use of property and the exercise of a vote while you are living and can have a little judicious control over it, if necessary. [Laughter.] No doubt, it was reassuring to some of them who represented property for which their fathers could not vote to have this testimony in their favour. He understood, however, that the hon. Gentleman (MR. Trevelyan) was accompanied by MR. Stuart, of Galashiels, the last time he addressed his constituents on this question; and he (Lord Claud Hamilton) was somewhat surprised to find that that gentleman was a faggot-voter of the county of Mid-Lothian. His informant added that MR. Ralph Richardson, the Liberal agent, held qualifications for Mid-Lothian and Roxburghshire identical in character with those which the hon. Gentleman asked them to challenge; therefore, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich came forward in Mid-Lothian, his own election agent would be able to give him a faggot-vote. The adoption of the principle of the hon. Gentleman's Resolution would abolish the property qualification, and then, having reduced the franchise of the Kingdom to one dull, uniform level, the counties would begin to see that the influence of the towns enormously predominated in this House, and they would say—"You have acknowledged our right to household suffrage; why are we, with populations varying from 100,000 to 300,000, to return only two Members, while towns of 40,000 and 50,000 inhabitants also return two Members?" And what would be said to that by those who advocate the theory of numbers, and the abstract right to a vote? They would be absolutely incapable of replying to it, except in the affirmative; and then the crafty politicians who sit below the Gangway would have gained what in their hearts, he believed, they were really striving for—namely, household suffrage, and equal electoral districts. But they would not stop there, for if every householder had a right to vote, why should not every man have an equal right? Besides, the cry of manhood suffrage would be such an admirable one to re-unite a probably again divided Liberal Party. After all, what harm would it do? Why should not a poor fellow, though he were not a householder, have a vote? Was he not their own flesh and blood? Besides, he considered it a gross slight and injustice that he should not have a vote, when heaps of other men no better than he had votes. Of course, he should have his vote, and there they would be, with universal suffrage, and equal electoral districts—pure, unrestricted, sublime democracy. He would now come to these proposals as they would affect Ireland. The House knew the effect of the last Reform Act on Ireland, and on the Parliamentary representation of that country. They were seldom allowed to forget that. And yet the borough franchise was on a higher basis than in England. Lower it, and they could easily imagine the result. But was Ireland in a condition, under any circumstances, for a new Reform Bill? The last Irish Reform was followed by two great measures, as he considered and should always do, of spoliation and confiscation passed by the last Parliament, on the assurance of those who professed to speak for the disaffected Irish, that they would render Ireland pacific and contented. But what had been the result of that legislation? Was Ireland pacific and contented at that moment? Why, Ireland, he ventured to say, was at the present time as much in a state of "veiled rebellion" as when MR. Disraeli used that celebrated phrase. It was not for him to state the form that hatred of everything English—everything pertaining to their Constitution—had taken; but that it was as strong as ever no impartial person who lived in Ireland could deny. And the class in whom this rebellious spirit was most deeply rooted was the Roman Catholic peasant. Search Europe all over, and he did not believe they would find any population so ignorant, so bigoted, and so utterly devoid of all appreciation of the principles of government as the Irish Roman Catholic peasant; and yet these were the men to whom the hon. Member proposed to hand over the representation of Ireland—a proposal in which he was supported by the noble Marquess who led the Opposition. He (Lord Claud Hamilton) recollected the noble Lord (Lord Carlingford), then MR. Chichester Fortescue, on March 17th, 1870, introducing the Peace Preservation (Ireland) Bill into that House. And what were the opening words of the right hon. Gentleman's speech? He said— I rise with very deep regret, but without doubt or hesitation, to perform a duty, the imperative necessity of which must have been felt by all who sit on this Bench, and, I may say, by none more keenly than myself—a duty which nothing but that necessity would have induced us to undertake. The duty is that of proposing to the House a measure for the more effectual maintenance of life and, above all, property in Ireland."—[3 Hansard, cc. 81.] He added, in regard to the National Press— What that literature is is well known. It is well known how it teaches and preaches in every form, with an amount of boldness and audacity varying from week to week, and from month to month, hatred of the institutions and Government of the United Kingdom. It is known how that weekly literature poisons the minds of the people in Ireland who read it against all law and against the Constitution of their country.… It is known how it makes it impossible for those who read that literature, and read none other, to know the truth with respect to public affairs, and the real conduct and intentions of the Government of the country."—[Ibid. 100.] In the year following, the noble Marquess, who had then become Chief Secretary for Ireland, introduced another Bill of the same character—the Protection of Life and Property Bill. Again, in May, 1873, the noble Marquess found the condition of Ireland so unsatisfactory that he was compelled to propose the continuance of the Peace Preservation Bill until June, 1875, as a measure without which the government of Ireland could not be carried on. That was the way the noble Marquess dealt with Ireland when, as a servant of the Crown, he was responsible for its safety, and felt that responsibility. And yet, now, four years afterwards, he had the audacity to support a proposition for placing the exclusive Parliamentary power of Ireland in the hands of the very people whom, when he was Chief Secretary, he was unable to govern except by laws of exceptional stringency. Was the noble Lord so ignorant of human nature, and above all of Irish human nature, to believe that four short years had changed the whole feelings and nature of a people? Did he not know now, as he used daily to learn from his Under Secretary, from the chiefs of the Constabulary, and from those numerous sources open to a Chief Secretary, that sedition was still rife in Ireland; that base murders went undetected; that in many cases trial by jury was a farce, and that the spirit of confiscation was more widespread than ever? Was he not aware that a vile and seditious weekly Press, projected by the so-called Nationalists, poisoned the minds of the people far and wide with its lying and slandering publications? The pernicious teaching of that Press continued unabated at the present day. A few days ago, The Flag of Ireland said in reference to the disaster in South Africa— Altogether this is the most cheering news we have had to communicate to our readers for many a day, and we trust that it will prove to be but the precursor of still more gratifying intelligence. The leader on the subject ended as follows:— God has defended the right; for a more unholy war has never been declared, excepting that against Afghanistan, and that which has been waged in Ireland for 700 years. The marauding hordes have been smitten as if by an unseen hand, as if by a supernatural power sent down from Heaven, as in the case of Sennacherib's ungodly host. Te Deum laudamus. Again, there had hitherto been one policy on both sides of the House in regard to Irish education. Parliament had repeatedly affirmed the principle of mixed education, whereby children of all denominations might be educated together without detriment to their several religious feelings. It was the only system by which the youth of Ireland could be brought up as united Irishmen, instead of with all the distrust and bitterness engendered by denominational education. And yet the priests hated united education, and would get rid of it if they could. Parliament had also again and again insisted on the principle embodied in the Queen's Colleges, and extended that principle by opening out the honours and emoluments of Trinity College to students of all denominations. But yet the priests hated those Colleges, and would establish a strictly denominational University under a Royal Charter if they could. Even when the late Prime Minister endeavoured to carry out the views of the priests, and proposed to degrade the University teaching of Ireland, Parliament stood firm and would have none of it. But if they gave every householder in Ireland a vote, they would hand the whole representation of Ireland, with the exception of one or two seats in Ulster, absolutely and entirely into the hands of the priests; and where would the settled policy of Parliament be then? They would, as the result, have 94 Obstructionists sitting on those Benches, who would have no option but to obstruct, for their independence would be crushed and their votes controlled by their masters in Ireland. But having discovered their power and received the theory of the rights of man, they would soon push the principle to its logical conclusion, and agitate with their Republican allies in England for manhood suffrage. Ireland under universal suffrage would soon be Ireland independent of England, and hon. Members could then imagine what would soon follow; and yet the noble Marquess supported these propositions. But then the Liberal Party was in want of a cry. Many hon. Members in that House would recollect the reasons the noble Lord at the head of the Government, then MR. Disraeli, gave for proposing household suffrage in boroughs after throwing out a Bill for establishing a £7 rating franchise. He said that if he selected a £5 franchise, or any other fixed sum as a basis of the suffrage, the moment the Liberals were in want of a cry they would propose a new Reform Bill, accompanied by all the agitation and bitterness of feeling inseparable from such a proposal. Therefore, he proposed househould suffrage as a basis of the borough franchise, with every prospect of its being accepted as a permanent basis. They all felt at the time that so sudden a descent was a somewhat bold experiment; and how had it answered? Why, the prophecies, both of unlimited evil and unlimited good, had been disappointed. But two things were quite clear. Not only had that House suffered in character, but it had also lost much of that individual independence which was the chief glory, and one of the brightest characteristics, of former Houses; while in the borough constituencies it must be evident to anyone who had had practical experience of the subject that there was at present a considerable percentage of voters who were both intellectually and morally unfitted to exercise the franchise. It was, he admitted, no fault of theirs. They had household suffrage thrust upon them without their asking for it, and before they were ready for it. But the fact remained all the same, and the old generation must pass away before the younger and in every respect better educated voters took their place. What was the result of having a large number of voters in possession of the franchise, many of whom were totally ignorant of the most ordinary political knowledge? Let them look at their old friend, the Bulgarian atrocity agitator. Those misguided and designing men, by their misrepresentations, exaggerations, and inventions, raised such a storm of indignation in the boroughs of England that he would admit that, had an Election been held at the time, the Government would have emerged from it without a majority. But why was it? Because at least half the audiences who passed those indignant and violent resolutions were in entire ignorance of the Eastern Question as a whole, and probably quite unaware of the geographical position of Bulgaria. These were town meetings with a low suffrage; but in the counties with a high suffrage, where the voters were more highly educated and better informed, they heard nothing of any such meetings, because their political knowledge enabled them to see the gross humbug of the whole agitation. But how did this agitation terminate? A year afterwards these same voters, having had time for reflection and for acquiring information, discovered that the agitators were wrong, and that the Government was right, and instead of the Government being censured or defeated in its Eastern policy, that policy was approved by majorities in that House treble the number of the usual Government majority. The great danger of a low suffrage coupled with the ballot was the liability of voters to be carried away by a sudden wave of impulse, and to do irretrievable mischief before they had time to find out their mistake. And now, after only 11 years' trial of large urban constituencies, it was proposed to flood the county constituencies with a class of voters, 1,500,000 in number, equal, possibly, in intelligence to the urban voter, but greatly his inferior in education and a general knowledge both of politics and municipal institutions. He was not aware that any real demand ever had been made for the extension of the franchise. Of course, Petitions had been organized, and there had been some talk of a meeting held at Exeter Hall; but it was got up by the Agricultural Union and MR. Arch, together with the leaders of trades' unions; but they knew what value to attach to such manifestations. Members on that (the Ministerial) side, who lived in the country and daily mingled with the country people, had some right to a better opinion on this subject than the self-constituted champions of the people, who pretended to speak on their behalf; and he would appeal to them whether there had been any genuine agitation in the counties on the question? But what did MR. Arch and the union leaders tell the labourers would be the result of their having votes? Occasionally, Mr. Arch told them they would get rid of kingcraft and priestcraft, which, in plain English, meant the deposition of their most gracious Sovereign and the Disestablishment of the Church; but he always worked upon the imagination of these men by promising that they would be able to use the franchise as a lever for higher wages. How, he did not state; that might be inconvenient. But the burden of his song was—" Get your vote, and you will get higher wages." If he meant they were to revert to the old system of supplementing wages out of the rates, he could understand Mr. Arch's meaning; but if, by some political process, he meant that the farmer was to be compelled to pay higher wages than those regulated by the only sound process—namely, that of supply and demand, he was at a loss for his meaning. But one thing was clear—the moment these men were in possession of votes some gigantic county agitation was intended. What an admirable moment patriotic Gentlemen opposite had selected for this great social and economic revolution in the counties! Who paid the labourers, and on whom were they dependent as a rule? Why, the farmers; and, taking them as a class, a more industrious, respectable, and loyal body of men was not to be found in the Kingdom. But the farmers had suffered from three years of bad harvest, and last year they had an indifferent one; they had suffered also from the cattle plague; they had the importation of foreign meat to contend with; and if they had a bad harvest this year hundreds of them would be ruined. And that was the time which hon. Members opposite had chosen to introduce a great social and economic revolution throughout the country for the purpose of enabling the labourers to squeeze more wages out of the farmer! Was such a policy a wise one? But what of that—did not the Liberal Party want a cry? It was most gratifying to listen to all the disinterested and philanthropic remarks which fell from hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, and to witness the zeal they showed for the enfranchisement of the labourer. They doubtless wished him to exercise his franchise to the best of his ability, and with perfect freedom of action. But, judging them by their policy and not by their professions, the very opposite were their intentions. They would wait till he had got the vote, and then use him as a voting-machine, as they were attempting to use the artizan in boroughs, not for his own advantage, but for the sinister ends of the advanced Liberal Party. That contemptible system which emanated from Birmingham, and which even the noble Marquess had not yet swallowed, by which the freedom of the electors was controlled by a wretched caucus, was in full play in many constituencies. But he believed it would not answer; it was too opposed to the free thought and independence of Englishmen. His Amendment said that the present was an inopportune time for reopening the question of Reform; and could anyone doubt it? Even if he admitted, which he did not, the abstract justice of conferring votes on labourers, he should contend that the present was a most unfavourable period for any changes in their electoral body. The whole attention of Government and Parliament had been concentrated for three years on the progress of affairs in Eastern Europe; and now, for some time to come, their relations with the internal affairs of Turkey in Asia would be of a most delicate character. In North-West India they had to work out a problem of great difficulty, while in Africa their energies were concentrated on the subjection of a nation of savages and the consolidation of their South African Dominion. At such a moment hon. Gentlemen would, if they could, add 1,500,000 voters to the electoral body; but there was not the remotest shadow of a necessity for such a course beyond the mere exigencies of the Liberal Party. Was such a course wise? Was it honest? Was it patriotic? The day might come when Parliament in its wisdom would think fit to make some extension of the county franchise; but he trusted that day was far distant. They had that day a distinct duty to perform—a duty from which he hoped no hon. Member would shrink from a misapprehension of the true nature of this proposal. It was a proposal designed to subvert the whole fabric of their Constitution and to trample under foot the glorious traditions of the British House of Commons. In conclusion, he begged to move the Amendment of which he had given Notice.


Sir, I rise to second the Amendment of my noble Friend the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Claud Hamilton). We have heard to-night, as we have heard before, that there is no just cause why the borough franchise should not be extended to counties. Sir, I am bound to admit that that plea alone would carry great weight with it, if it could also leave alone the present Parliamentary representation, without any fresh redistribution of seats; but as that is impossible, and as it would create and diffuse a new and a large voting power over the country, I will endeavour to show why I am opposed to it. It was once said by a great statesman—"All power is, or ought to be, accompanied by responsibility." All power, I venture to say, is vicious that is not accompanied by proportionate responsibility. Personal responsibility prevents the abuse of individual power; responsibility of character is the security against the abuse of collective power, when ex- ercised by bodies of men whose existence is permanent and defined. Sir, I do not suppose there is any hon. Member on this side of the House, any more than there is any one on the other, who fears the mere fact of adding an additional 1,000,000 voters to the Constitution. But that is not all. The last Reform Act was considered a final settlement of the question; but only five years elapsed before the present proposal was made. So that I am justified in believing that, if this measure is now carried, in a very few years we shall have universal suffrage proposed to Parliament. But it has always struck me as extraordinary that there should be hon. Members prepared to entertain the question of a change in so important a feature of the Constitution, without considering in what way that change must affect the situation of the other Members, and the action of the Constitution itself. Sir, I venture to think that the House of Commons must, for purpose of clear argument, be considered in two views. First, with respect to its agency as a third part in the Constitution; secondly, with respect to its composition, in relation to its constituents. As to its agency as a part of the Constitution, I venture to say, without hazard, as I believe, of contradiction, that there is no period in the history of this country in which the House of Commons will be found to have watched more carefully over, and to have occupied so large a share of, the functions of Government as at present. Whatever else may be said of the House of Commons, this one point, at least, is indisputable—that from the earliest infancy of the Constitution the power of the House of Commons has been growing, till it has almost, like the rod of Aaron, absorbed its fellows. I am not saying whether this is, or is not, as it ought to be. I am merely saying why I think that it cannot be intended to complain of the want of power and of a due share in the government as the defect of the present House of Commons. Sir, I admit, however, very willingly, that the greater the share of power of the House of Commons exercises the more jealous we ought to be of its composition; and I presume, therefore, it is in this respect, and in relation to its constituents, that the state of this House is contended to want revision. Well, then, is there any period of our history in which the rights of electors were not as various, in which influence of property was more fairly distributed, in which recommendations of candidates were not as efficient as they are now? Sir, I conclude what the Radical Reformer really desires eventually to effect is a direct effectual Representative of the people; representing them not as a delegate commissioned to take care of their interests, but as a deputy appointed to speak their will. Now, to this view of the matter, I have no other objection than this—that the British Constitution is a limited Monarchy; that a limited Monarchy is in the nature of things a mixed Government; but that such a House of Commons as the Radical Reformer requires would eventually constitute a pure democracy—a power, as it appears to me, inconsistent with any Monarchy, and unsusceptible of any limitation. Sir, for my own part, I am undoubtedly prepared to uphold the ancient Monarchy of the country by arguments drawn from what I think the blessings which we have enjoyed under it; but all I am now contending for is that whatever reformation is proposed should be considered with some reference to the established Constitution of the country. That point being conceded to me, I have no difficulty in saying that I cannot conceive a Constitution, of which one-third part shall be an Assembly delegated by the people, which must, before long, sweep away every other branch of the Constitution that might attempt to oppose or control it. I cannot see how, in fair reasoning, any other branch of the Constitution should pretend to stand against it. If government be a matter of will, all that we have to do is to collect the will of the nation, and, having collected it by an adequate organ, that will is paramount and supreme. By what pretension could the House of Lords be maintained in equal authority and jurisdiction with this House, when once this House should become a direct deputation, speaking the people's will, and that will the rule of the Government? In one way or other the House of Lords must act if it is to remain a concurrent branch of the Legislature. Either it must uniformly affirm the measures which come from this House, or it must occasionally take the liberty to reject them. If it uniformly affirm, it is without the shadow of authority. But to presume to reject an act of the deputies of nearly, if not quite, the whole nation! By what assumption of right could 500 great hereditary proprietors set themselves against the national will? Grant the Reformers then what they ask, and I venture to say that the Constitution will before very long consist only of one body, and that one body a popular Assembly. Sir, I am not aware that hon. Members on either side of the House have any great reason to fear the further extension of the franchise. All I contend is that that should not be granted until the Government of the day think the time has arrived for another Reform Act, which must necessarily bring with it the destruction of many seats which are now worthily held by many hon. Members, and the creation of many new ones; and I need scarcely add that I could hardly hope or expect the borough I have the honour to represent to retain two Members when the measure is passed. And, Sir, as by previous Reform Acts all close and pocket boroughs have been swept away, it is an additional reason why there is no immediate hurry for this measure. Very different was it, Sir, in former times, when the electors in many boroughs had no choice either in the selection or the election of their Representatives, as shown by a letter addressed by the Duchess of Norfolk to her agent— Right trusty and well-beloved, we greet you heartily well; and forasmuch as it is thought right necessary for diverse causes that my Lord have at this time in the Parliament such persons as belong unto him, and he of his menial servants, we heartily desire and pray you that at the contemplation of these our letters, ye will give and apply your voice unto our right well-beloved cousin and servants, John Howard and Sir Roger Chamberlayne, to be knights of the shire. And, Sir, there is a famous letter from that most famous lady, Ann, Countess of Pembroke, who, amongst her great titles and possessions, was undoubted patroness of the then, I presume, free and independent borough of Appleby. This great lady writes thus to Sir Joseph Williamson, Secretary of State to Charles II., in answer to his suggestion of a Member for the borough of Appleby— I have been bullied by an usurper; I have been ill-treated by a Count; but I won't be dictated to by a subject; your man shan't stand. Now, Sir, I cannot help thinking that our present representation will bear favourable comparison with the days of one or other of these heroines, and therefore it is I am satisfied with the present system, because it appears to me that a complete and democratic representation, such as the Reformers aim at, cannot exist as part of a mixed Government; and dreading, therefore, the danger of total, and seeing the difficulties as well as the unprofitableness of partial alteration, I object to this step towards a change in the Constitution of this House. Sir, other nations, excited by the example of the liberty which this country has long possessed, have attempted to copy our Constitution, and some have shot beyond it in the fierceness of their pursuit. I grudge not to other nations that share of liberty which they may acquire—let them enjoy it—but let us warn them that they lose not the object of their desire by the very eagerness with which they attempt to grasp it. Inheritors and conservators of rational freedom, let us, while others are seeking it in restlessness and trouble, be a steady and shining light to guide their course, not a wandering meteor to bewilder and mislead them. Sir, it is asked over and over again whether the House of Commons ought not to sympathize with the people. I answer undoubtedly yes, and so I believe the present franchise enables them to do so. But I also maintain that this House does not betray its trust, if on points of gravity and difficulty, of deep and of lasting importance, it exercises a wary and independent discretion. I do not believe at the present time that the changes proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for the Border Boroughs (Mr. Trevelyan) would infuse into the House of Commons a more wholesome spirit. I do not believe that the partial concession now asked would, at the present moment, tend either to reconcile to the frame of the House of Commons those who are discontented with it as it at present stands, or to enable Parliament to watch more effectually over the freedom, the happiness, and the political importance of the country. Sir, I know not whether to-night, or how soon, any change may be considered necessary for the Constitution of this country; but I do know that our lot is at the present time cast in the temperate zone of freedom—the clime best suited to the development of the moral qualities of the human race, to the cultivation of their faculties, and to the security as well as the improvement of their virtues. Let us be sensible of the advantages which it is our happiness to enjoy. Let us guard with pious gratitude the flame of genuine liberty, that fire from heaven, of which our Constitution is the holy depository; and let us not, for the chance of rendering it more intense and more radiant, impair its purity or hazard its extinction.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House is of opinion that it is inexpedient to reopen the question of Parliamentary Reform at the present time,"—(Lord Claud Hamilton,)—instead thereof.

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


admitted that the noble Lord (Lord Claud Hamilton), and the hon. Member who followed him (Sir Charles Legard), had made very amusing speeches; but he had some difficulty in answering their arguments, for he was not quite sure that he knew what they were. The faggot-vote system, at any rate, did not become good because it had been endorsed by Mr. Cobden or adopted by the Liberals. Nor did he quite see the connection between the Zulu War and the county franchise. The Amendment of the noble Lord was what, in his (Mr. Osborne Morgan's) Profession, was called a plea in abatement. It did not deny the justice of the original Motion—it only said it was untimely; but why untimely, or when could be a more proper time for discussing the system of representation than when they were about to face a General Election? There had seldom been a time when tamer programmes were presented by both political Parties, for apparently the only two things about which either Party cared was how they were to get buried, and where they were to get their beer. They had had 10 years' experience under household suffrage, and if a mistake had been made in 1867, they ought to have found it out before this. He would challenge the Leader of the House to say if it was not the case that nearly all the leading Members of the front Opposition Bench and some of the foremost occupants of the Ministerial Bench were the elect of household suffrage, as even the Mover and the Seconder of the Amendment were. Why, then, when such Members were returned by boroughs, should they be afraid of household suffrage in the counties? The boroughs had now flowed over into the counties, and the distinction between them was in many places, particularly in parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, becoming every day more and more a distinction without a difference; and newspapers circulated in counties as well as in towns. Owing to the spread of education, the agricultural labourer was as much qualified to exercise the franchise as the artizan in towns. Zeal for education and willingness to bear sacrifices for it were nowhere more conspicuous than in the rural districts of Wales. There was, of course, a modicum of drunken, stupid voters in every constituency, whether county or borough; but as to the "wave of democracy" objection, they had as little chance of resisting the wave of democracy by opposing this proposal as the Danish King had of resisting the rising of the tide. It was his belief that the instincts of the peasantry in England, as in France and Italy, were essentially Conservative; but if the Government wanted to make the peasantry revolutionists, let them deprive them of all art and part and the citizenship of the nation. It was an evil that, in any great dispute such as the agricultural labourers had with their employers during the lock-out, one party should be represented in Parliament and the other unrepresented. The man who had a vote always had a champion in the House, and for the sake of justice, and of avoiding the creation of a sense of injustice, the measure should be granted. Their laws took their complexion more or less from the governing class; and hon. Members naturally listened to those who had votes more patiently than to those who had not. Did they think that the Factory Acts or the Mines Regulation Act would have been passed if the classes benefited by those Acts had not been enfranchised? A German gentleman one said to him—" When I read my lease I always think your laws were made by landlords, and not by tenants." Could it be said that their Game Laws, for instance, showed any sign of the handiwork of agricultural labourers? There was now a sense of injustice entering into the question which did not exist before 1867, when a vote was given on one side of a boundary line and not on the other. Nothing could be politic that was not just. There was a finality about household franchise, but there was no principle in a £12 rating. He had always heard it said that it was not safe or comfortable to sit down on an inclined plane; sooner or later you must advance—or descend; and it was wiser now to take the plunge than to linger shivering on the brink. Yet that was the position taken by Parliament in regard to the subject.


said, that if the argument just used by the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan) meant anything it meant the full length of household suffrage, and, in opposing the Motion, he would ask the hon. and learned Gentleman, was he prepared to go in for that suffrage in its widest meanings? When the question was answered, then, and not till then, would they really understand where the proposition before the House would lead them. They were told that it was to be a remedy, a sort of panacea for a great evil. Now, he did not hesitate for one moment to express his opinion that the alleged evil only existed in the fervid imagination of hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, who were more or less idealists. He was aware, and others on the Conservative side were aware, that the present state of the county franchise was a legacy left them since the days of Richard Cobden. They in the West Riding of Yorkshire remembered very well the time when Mr. Cobden, wisely or unwisely, decided that the West Riding should have 5,000 additional votes. Well, the votes were got, and how were they really obtained? Simply, by the creation of faggot-voters sent from Lancashire to swamp the opinions of residents of the West Riding. Did they imagine for one moment that the people of the great county constituencies forgot what was said and done at the time those votes were created? No. They knew that the attempt was made to swamp them long ago, and they would see in the proposition before the House only an extension of an evil and tyrannical principle. They were aware that it was intended to swamp the genuine opinions of residents in the West Riding, and here was a deliberate attempt to carry out the experiment on a much larger scale just for the advantage of the boroughs, so that not only the West Riding would be inundated by faggot-votes, but every county constituency throughout the length and breadth of the land. They were not prepared to accept the proposal in any stage or form, for they were unfortunately too well aware of the manner in which people in Manchester and other parts of Lancashire could come into the West Riding and create votes which should not exist. Unless the theory of their system of representation was a mockery and a farce, he trusted that, after the House had expressed its decided opinion on the Motion before them, they would not hear of the question again for many years to come. On the other side of the House, there appeared to be some diversity of opinion on the subject. Hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway said—"Oh, change the entire rule, not only of your county franchise, but of the borough franchise also." Hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway said, in a mild deprecating way—"Do not change it at all." Well, the supposed finality of the question had been alluded to, and they all remembered that a certain noble Lord had years ago gained for himself a sobriquet connected with finality which had never left him. He (Mr. Wheelhouse) was not one of those who believed in finality in human or mundane affairs; but what he did believe in was consistency of thought and consistency of action. Some people were prepared to take, not one but 50 leaps in the dark, while others said—"The settlement is final; no change is necessary, and no change ought to be made." Yet all hon. Gentlemen expressing this diversity of opinion sat on the so-called Liberal Benches. They were divided into Whigs and Radicals, who did not hesitate to express their views about an extreme policy in every direction. Well, he would venture to advise the other side, before professing to do anything, first to agree amongst themselves as to the course they should take—let them first be satisfied with their own consistency before they came to ask the House of Commons to help them to do that which was absurd. They were told by the hon. and learned Gentleman that sooner or later they must descend. Now he declined to follow the hon. and learned Gentleman in any descents which he or his Friends might choose to make in connection with this or any other matter. Facilis descendus Averni. He declined to go into an abyss of darkness with hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. Again, he would call their attention to the state of the West Riding. While the county voter had merely his vote, because he was rated at a certain amount, the owner of the property, let him reside where he might, might come into the county in right of his proprietorship and give a vote perhaps in direct opposition to what the residents of the constituency considered their most vital interest. Was it reasonable that they, occupying different statuses in the counties in which they lived, should have their votes rendered worthless by those who could have no possible interest in their circumstances, except that they were the possessors of faggot-votes? The Radicals wished for greater power in that direction, and he sincerely hoped that they would never obtain anything of the kind. Why, if the principle of the Motion was adopted, they could never know for certain what was the state of the overseers' lists, and claimants for votes would suddenly be sprung upon them at a moment's notice, of whose existence they had not been previously aware. It would be said, as in the case of West Yorkshire, such and such a county required 5,000 more voters, and three-quarters of a year afterwards the requisite number of faggot-votes would be in existence. The attempt really was one as undisguised as the unclouded sun on a summer's noonday to wrest from the residents of the counties the little power and authority which was left to them. He knew that those who were proposing the Motion would confess, if they chose to be frank, that they were not doing so really in the interests of the farmer, the resident labourer, or the cottager. No; what they wanted was to aggrandize into their own hands all the power in the country, and by putting the agricultural labourer forward on the same platform with those who had a real residential qualification in the county, deprive property and intelligence of their just rights. It was absurd for hon. Gentlemen on the other side to say that what they wanted was an equalization of votes in borough and county, when they knew very well their real intention was to swamp Conservatism and make every constituency as Radical as it was possible to make it. The question was not for a moment one between Whiggism and Toryism; but it was a question between extreme Radicalism and every other influence in the country. Why should the boroughs get privileges which were not asked for by the counties? They never went into the boroughs to create faggot-votes. Nor did they ask for any so-called equalization of the qualification. He altogether denied the assertions which had been made as to the superior intelligence of the inhabitants of boroughs as compared with those in the counties. No doubt, on some subjects, residents in towns were better informed than those in rural districts; but let them take the results of school board and other examinations, and they would find the balance of intelligence was in favour of the children in the country, and as regarded morality in almost every form, he would say that the cities were far behind the counties. Now, were they who had a fair standard of education, of morals, and intelligence, to be politically swamped by the hordes of large cities? And he would contend that the franchise in this country was not held as a right, but as a trust connected with a right. It was a trust to this extent—that those who had the right to ask for representation, not only asked it for themselves and for their own interests, but as a trust also for those who could not ask for direct representation. From time to time this privilege, connected with a right, had been extended in various directions; but now that a further extension was asked for, it would be well to consider what history taught them—not only their own history but that of other nations—that there was a pace at which it was dangerous to proceed; nor did those who brought the matter forward proceed in the manner with which the House of Commons was most familiar. They did not put the question on a satisfactory footing, for instead of dealing with abstract Resolutions they should be asked, if the cry was a genuine one, to legislate upon it. But the Radicals were endeavouring to get an expression of opinion from an unwilling House—if possible from a divided House—without putting anything very tangible before it. If they really wished to put the question in a practical form, and had really the intention to deal with it, why did they not forego the Resolution and bring forward a Bill? The House would in that case be in a position to judge of what they really proposed to do. Of course, they would be told that a re-distribution of seats necessarily went with an extension of the franchise, such as now proposed. Of course, that was to be expected, that Radicals, having got the power of creating a number of faggot-votes, would like to have the manipulation of the constituencies in their hands. Perhaps hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway thought that the Conservative Party did not understand the meaning of a re-distribution of seats. Well, he knew very well what it meant; and if anyone was ignorant on the subject, let him go to some municipality in which there had been a re-distribution of wards. He would find that the voters did not all fancy the change. Indeed, it was a well-known fact that a re-distribution never took place until those who promoted it were in a position to manipulate the seats. That was the history of Parliamentary life, of Municipalities, of Boards of Guardians, and almost every other public body in the country. They were asked to take this leap in the dark; but he did not think the country was prepared for so dangerous an experiment—dangerous not only in the present state of the country, but dangerous to posterity. Whether the franchise had already been extended too far, he would not say at present. It was a question into which he would not enter; but it was a point on which the country was very divided in opinion. A great deal had been said about the property qualification; but no one suggested at the time of the last Reform Bill that it was ridiculous to fix an arbitrary limit of £10 or £12. No; they were told that it would be dangerous to go below £10 because there was a residuum, and that the very reason why all under the £10 line were to be disfranchised, as they thereby were, was that that class of the population was "drunken, venal, and corrupt." Such was the character given of them by a so-called Liberal Leader in the year 1830 or 1832—a soi disant Friend of the people. Now, when it suited another purpose to go lower, they heard nothing of a hard-and-fast line of demarcation, nor did they hear anything of a "drunken, venal, and corrupt" population. They were told, in fact, that there should be no difference made with respect to a money qualification. He thought, and had always thought, that there was no difference between an £8 or a £6, and so on. He had always believed, ever since he could form an opinion on the subject, that those who contributed directly to the taxation of the country should have a voice in the distribution of that taxation; but when it came to a question between the borough and county franchise, he was one of those who said, let well alone. On the whole, the present system worked well, and ought not to be disturbed because of the strong argument put forward from below the Gangway.


, in supporting the Motion, expressed his surprise at the remark of the last speaker (Mr. Wheelhouse), that the object of the Motion was to swamp the resident owners by Radical votes. He (Mr. Colman) had carefully looked at the terms of the Motion, and could see nothing which would justify that remark. The Motion was to give votes to householders resident in the counties, and they might be Radical or Conservative. But the hon. and learned Member afterwards, somewhat inconsistently, proceeded to argue that those who contributed to the taxation should have a voice in the management of the taxes, though he satisfied himself by saying the present plan worked well and could not be easily improved. This Motion referred undoubtedly to agricultural votes. As he (Mr. Colman) happened to know something of the agricultural labourers in the districts which would probably be most affected by a measure of the kind, he ventured to say a few words upon the subject rather than give a silent vote. Excluding Cambridge University, as not being in the county itself, and the vote of the right hon. Gentleman who was above Party (the Speaker), he believed that out of the whole of the votes in the four Eastern Counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, and Cambridge, 32 in number, only two would be given in favour of this Motion. He, therefore, was not wrong in saying that a very considerable proportion of the majority by which the Motion would be rejected belonged to the Members of those agricultural districts. It seemed rather anomalous it should be so. When the noble Lord who moved the Amendment (Lord Claud Hamilton) appealed to his Friends around him, as to whether there was anything in the circumstances to justify them in supporting the Motion, and whether they had heard any appeals from their district for the vote to be given, there was a remarkable silence. He (Mr. Colman) believed there was among the agricultural labourers a very strong desire that they should be admitted to the franchise; and he was borne out in that view by the number of Petitions which he had on various occasions presented to the House in favour of that object from the labourers themselves. Judging from the speech of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn, which said that it was not expedient to extend the franchise to the counties at the present time, it appeared to him (Mr. Colman) that the noble Lord was not in favour of any extension—even in the future. The speech of the noble Lord certainly went far beyond the Amendment. Hon. Gentlemen on that (the Ministerial) side of the House, now gave the impression that they had altered their tone in respect of the subject, and that, instead of intending that the Amendment should merely postpone the extension, they meant to defer the question indefinitely. One could well imagine that the farmers, squires, clergy, as a class, and others, did not wish to give up the power they now possessed. He believed, however, that many of them had a strong desire to see the agricultural class enfranchised. The number of voters at present in the districts to which he had alluded was about 100,000, and he believed there would be something like 200,000 or 220,000 if the Motion were adopted. To his own knowledge it was a very common remark at agricultural meetings to hear men say there were three classes equally interested in the soil—namely, the owner, the occupier, and the labourer. Now the latter was the one class which was not allowed to have a voice in that House. He hoped the time was not far distant when hon. Gentlemen opposite would see it was expedient to give their assent to a Motion of the kind. The time would come when matters relating to agricultural affairs would have to be discussed in Parliament, and it was a very anomalous state of affairs that two of those classes should be represented, while the labourer should be excluded. He would ask the attention of the House to the speeches of the hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read) during the recent contest in North Norfolk, from which speeches it appeared he evinced no desire to add the agricultural labourers to his constituents; but the hon. Gentleman was strangely inconsistent in the views which he developed at a diocesan conference held about the same time at Norwich. When the rules in reference to the election of members of that conference came up for discussion, a resolution was adopted requesting the ministers and churchwardens to invite the adult male members of the parish to participate in the election. The previous suggestion, however, was that only "adult male communicants" should have that privilege. His hon. Friend made a very good speech on that occasion, and said he hoped they would not attempt to limit the constituency by adopting the latter course, so that it amounted to this—that agricultural labourers belonging to the Church of England were qualified to elect members to that conference; but if it should come to the election of a Member of Parliament, they were unfit for such a privilege. He (Mr. Colman) presumed if that conference was not of a legislative character in the broad sense, it had for its object the influencing of the Legislature. If men were qualified for one, there was no reason why they should not be qualified for the other. He trusted the inhabitants of North and South Norfolk would take that to heart. The passing of the present Motion would, in his (Mr. Column's) opinion, be productive of good, by lifting the labourers from ventilating their grievances as now in the village ale-house, and inducing them to take a greater interest in the affairs of their country. In conclusion, he would merely remark that if, as the noble Lord suggested, it would be a good thing to give a vote to the sons of gentlemen, it must follow that it would be equally as good to invest the agricultural labourer with the franchise.


, in opposing the Motion, said, that the hon. Member for the Border Boroughs (Mr. Trevelyan) had changed the form of his Resolution. What the object of the change was he could not tell, unless it was to catch the votes of the Irish Members. Hon. Members opposite were very jealous of anything which looked like what was called class legislation; but of all class legislation that could be devised, surely this was above all a piece of class legislation. Its effect would be to place in the hands of one section of the working class the control of the legislation of the country, and it would particularly offend the 40s. freeholders, who had worked hard to purchase the freeholds which they held and of which they were justly proud. The hon. Member had not given the House an idea as to the machinery by which he would work out his scheme. It would, he presumed, include re-distribution of seats and disfranchisement. In fact, the great object seemed to be not so much to enfranchise those who were at present disfranchised, as to get rid of the county franchise altogether. Now, he had himself, after much consideration of the subject, arrived at a scheme which he had advocated in a pamphlet published last year, and embodied in a Bill which, if he could not bring forward that Session, he hoped to have an opportunity of submitting next year. Under his proposal, the boundaries of the boroughs would be greatly enlarged, and every householder rated under £12 would be given a vote, while the existing county franchise would not be interfered with. At the present time, however, the House had to deal with the proposal of the hon. Member opposite, and he hoped it would be rejected.


said, the hon. Member who had just spoken (Mr. Elliot) had asked by what machinery his hon. Friend's proposal would be carried out. The answer was that the machinery now in operation in the case of boroughs would be amply sufficient for all purposes; for he (Mr. Bristowe) found, from a study of the population Returns and of other Returns before the House, that in the case of no single constituency throughout the United Kingdom would the number of the constituency of Manchester—namely, 62,000 or 63,000, be exceeded. It was, therefore, beside the question to maintain that the new con- stituencies which might be created would be unworkable. He did not follow the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Claud Hamilton), when he said that their aim was to destroy every system of representation but that of the occupation franchise. If such were the case, he would not support it. If the principle of the Motion were adopted, the result would be that the right of voting would be extended to a class partly urban and partly rural, the former of whom would be practically the same as the existing borough constituencies. It was noticeable that that urban element would be about 25 per cent of the county population; and he could not admit the force of any argument that refused the suffrage to men simply on the ground of their living, not in a borough, but within the county boundaries. He estimated the total county population at 11,270,000, one-seventh of which might, he thought, represent the voting population; from that he deducted the present constituency of about 785,000, which would leave about 825,000 as the number that would be enfranchised if this proposal were adopted. The question had been asked, how could those who represented small boroughs like himself vote for a Resolution of the nature of that proposed by his hon. Friend (Mr. Trevelyan), which would involve a redistribution of seats? His answer to the question was very simple. Whether the Resolution involved a re-distribution of seats or not, he knew that those whom he represented looked upon this as a great question which ought to be solved and settled; and that if he did not support, as he heartily and sincerely did, the proposal of his hon. Friend, he should have but a small chance, when another General Election came round, of again representing the constituency with which he had now the honour of being connected. Whatever the precise figures might be, the question involved very large issues and deserved the most careful consideration of the House. He had listened very carefully to the speech of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn, and had arrived at the conclusion that the arguments in favour of the Motion had in no way been affected.


said, that they had been taunted by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Claud Hamilton) with making the question a Party cry. If it were really a Party cry, he (Mr. Waddy) know what the end would be. They had only to persist in their endeavours to convince the House and the country of the justice of their cause, and they would find it simply a question of time. They might rely upon it, if they themselves did not succeed in settling the question, the Conservatives would ultimately take it up and settle it for them, as they had done other things. In any case, he certainly must decline to fight under false colours; the struggle should be carried on openly, with the avowed object of gaining all the present advantage possible, and as much more as might be obtainable at some future time. The principle for which he contended was that each man should have one vote only, and that in the place in which he lived. They had also been told that this was an unfortunate time to raise the question. It seemed to him a very good time. An appeal to the country must soon be made, and it was desirable to have some good home domestic policy with which to go to the constituencies, after having been kept so long on the tenterhooks, and after the foreign scares which had occurred year after year. He had heard no reason given why the county franchise should not be extended; and, with reference to the question of "faggot" votes, whatever might be said as regarded them, he held that the creation of votes of that description, on the one side or the other, was equally immoral; that their creation, while perhaps technically legal, was in reality an evasion and a breach of the Constitution; and that the only way to get rid of such a state of things was to insist upon a residence qualification. The existing anomalies were great. In England taken by itself, one out of every seven of the population in the boroughs was an elector, and in the counties only one out of every 14; and it must, moreover, be borne in mind that of the county voters a large proportion had faggot votes. For the whole United Kingdom very similar figures held good. In the counties, again, there was a Member for every 4,874 voters, while in the boroughs there was a Member for every 3,937. What reason could possibly be assigned for this difference? As to the question of re-distribution of seats, he was perfectly ready to admit that it necessarily formed a part of the scheme. Exactly the same anomalies existed in both, and both must go together. In that House 133 Members sat for constituencies of under 2,000 electors. There sat for the whole Kingdom 652 Members. That was to say, one-fifth of the representation of the whole country was in the hands of the electors of those small constituencies. If those small boroughs were allowed to exercise four times the political power that was exercised by such places as London and Birmingham, how could it be said that other country towns containing exactly the same class of people were not qualified to possess the franchise at all? Sooner or later they would have to divide the large boroughs as they divided the counties, and so obtain a system of representation which it would be possible for a man with some care for logic and common sense to defend. He had no doubt they would be beaten in the Division to-night, but after a Session or two of discussion the reform would be effected.


said, he was very far from supposing the present representation to be perfect; it was very imperfect in all sorts of ways, and the only justification for things as they were was to be found in the poverty of legislative invention which had not yet discovered a basis of reform both logical and practical. They had listened to a good deal of arithmetic in the course of the debate; but arithmetical calculations did not constitute the sole element, or the most important in the solution of this problem, and if they proceeded upon such lines alone, they would come to a conclusion both one-sided and inaccurate. The idea was based upon a hazy notion that all men were equal, when they all knew that there were not two men equal in all the world. This continual appeal to the simplicity of numbers, and these vain relations which merely showed inequality and disproportion, were beside the mark, and were based upon an unsound foundation. Instead of assuming that the existing state of things in the boroughs was so admirable that all they had to do was to reproduce it in the counties, it would be much wiser to take stock of some of the patent and admitted inconveniences connected with electoral matters in boroughs, and then to forecast, as far as they could, the consequences of extending the same system to the counties. It was admitted by many hon. Members opposite that household suffrage in the boroughs was a failure. It was found that the existing franchise in the boroughs was so cumbrous and unwieldy that it had to be manipulated by the machinery of the Birmingham caucus. The method was instructive. As a perfect representation of opinion in the boroughs could not be obtained under the present system, an arrangement was devised by which the voter was deprived of the privilege given him by the Constitution of selecting a Member to sit in Parliament, and another, with which alone the junior Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) thought the household elector could be intrusted, was substituted for it—namely, the privilege of selecting a Member to sit in a caucus. It was not the same thing to sit in a caucus as to sit in the House of Commons, and he thought the borough elector had rather the worst of the bargain. He, for one, deprecated the wholesale disfranchisement by that contrivance of those whom the Constitution had enfranchised. Again, it was most important that there should be easy access to the House for men who, by a long career and considerable labour, had acquired special knowledge. The Indian Service, for example, was hardly adequately represented in that House. During the last few months, when Indian matters had come so much to the front, it was a remarkable fact that the voices outside the House had more weight with the country than those inside of it. Again, they remembered how long the hon. and learned Gentleman the present Solicitor General (Sir Hardinge Gifford) was kept knocking at the door of the constituencies before he could get returned, and that his learned Colleague for Scotland was still kept knocking. The hon. and learned Gentleman the late Attorney General (Sir Henry James) had a tremendous battle to fight for his admission to Parliament. That leader of legal reform, Sir James Stephen, whose legislative capacity was of so high an order that the revision of the Criminal Code had been intrusted to him, also knocked at the door, and was refused admittance. It was becoming more and more difficult for specialists to find their way into the House, when the country had more and more need of them. Success, moreover, was often attended with conditions such as a promise to vote for "Home Rule," or for the release of the "unfortunate nobleman, Sir Roger Tichborne." He was bound to admit that those who were returned in that way did not very often trouble the House with their views on such matters. They, indeed, paid the homage which vice paid to virtue by acting like other men who were free from such pledges; but they kept those passports in their pockets, ready to be reproduced before that section of their household-suffrage constituents who might at any moment call for them. He was himself a Reformer, as might be gathered from his remarks—it was the natural disposition of an independent Tory, like himself, to be so; and he should be happy to assist the hon. Member for the Border Boroughs if he would devise some scheme for abating those electoral nuisances. It would be a more honourable task than the easy and popular one he had undertaken—namely, that of nattering the humblest class of voters, and endeavouring to perpetuate and stereotype the very evils which their enfranchisement had to a certain extent created. If the Resolutions before the House were adopted, their effect would be the disfranchisement of whole classes. It would disfranchise the 40s. freeholder and the yeoman. The independent freeholders were still a political power in the State—they were still examples of the broad and deep foundations of liberality on which the British Constitution was based. The next class these Resolutions would disfranchise were the farmers—a class which, according to Mr. Caird, represented an annual interest of £250,000,000. Perhaps those who had been returned by that class would think twice before they adopted the present proposal. Lastly, it was said the Resolution would endow with political life the agricultural labourers. The result would be exactly the reverse. The labourer would not be enfranchised by the Resolutions; on the contrary, the voice of the whole class would be swamped by mingling with it a heterogeneous mass of artizans and unskilled labourers, iron workers, colliers, and others, who had no part or lot, and very little sympathy, with them. At present, under the 40s. franchise and the occupation £12 franchise, the agri- cultural labourers were represented far more than hon. Gentlemen opposite were disposed to admit. The proposal would, in fact, turn counties into nothing but grouped boroughs, and introduce to them the army of wire pullers, who already in the urban constituencies formed so great an element in elections, and who were a scandal to representative institutions. He should oppose the Motion.


Mr. Speaker, I do not rise with any intention of making a speech; but, if the House will permit me, I should be glad to offer some reply to arguments which have fallen from hon. Gentlemen opposite. And, first, let me congratulate hon. Gentlemen upon the more courageous tone of their speeches. The noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Claud Hamilton), at all events, has put his foot down, upon this question; and since he was so loudly cheered by hon. Members upon that side of the House, we may fairly conclude that the Motion of my hon. Friend (Mr. Trevelyan) will henceforth have their uncompromising opposition. Last year, they seemed to be skirmishing with the whole question, and I recollect one hon. Member raising the objection that this proposition, if carried, would augment our election expenses—as though the length of hon. Gentlemen's breeches pockets were a satisfactory standard by which to measure and limit the representation of the people. Now, one hon. Gentleman has told us—reviving an argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's—that the House would be unwise to assent to this Motion, because it is in the form of an abstract Resolution, and does not lay down all the details of a plan. But, surely, the constructive feebleness of the Government has not reached this point—that when the House lays down in marked outline what it desires to have done, Government are unable to fill up the details. Right hon. Gentlemen seem to have a positive horror of legislation. They seem to have reduced legislative sterility to a science. It is not enough to abstain from legislating themselves; every avenue to legislation must be jealously guarded. And I should like to know what reforms have ever been carried in this House, the parentage of which is not to be found in abstract Resolutions; and, further, what abstract Resolutions have been carried in this House which have not resulted in practical legislation? The noble Lord has striven to alarm us by the picture which he has drawn of the immense system of re-distribution which he tells us will be rendered necessary when this Motion is carried. I congratulate the noble Lord upon the sudden and overpowering awakening of conscience. If it be absolutely essential to equalize the voting power of everyone who votes, why do you not set about it now? But if anomaly and inequality in every shape are borne with perfect equanimity by hon. Gentlemen now, why should they become so intolerably frightful the moment that you give votes to those who, by a mere whim of the Constitution, are excluded from them? Give the man a vote, and he will not care very much whether he forms part of a vast or a small constituency; but give him no vote at all, and he feels as though he scarcely formed part of that great self-governing England of ours, of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe) is so terribly afraid of losing sight, but of which he is almost equally afraid, lest his poorer neighbours should get so much as a glimpse. The noble Lord has told us that, if we grant what my hon. Friend demands, we shall find no logical resting-place short of manhood suffrage. I wonder whether hon. Gentlemen think that they have found a logical resting-place now. They certainly did not think so when the subject of the county franchise was under discussion, 12 years ago; because they told us then that if we once surrendered the £50 occupation franchise for a £ 12 occupation franchise, there was no logical reason why you should not surrender the £12 occupation franchise for something lower, and so on, until we reached manhood suffrage. Now, let me say a word or two upon this argument before I go any further, and I will put a parallel case. Suppose that the age of legal ability, and, therefore, of voting ability, had been fixed in this country, as it was fixed in some of the communities of antiquity, at 30, in place of 21, years; and suppose that the idea grew up that, after all, men did reach years of discretion—some do not—before they were 30 years old; and suppose that, in order to give expression to that idea, some hon. Member who busies himself about practical reforms— say my hon. Friend the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate)—brought in a Bill to lower the age of legal ability from 30 to 21 years, what should we think if, for example, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London should rise in his place, and, with every sign of consternation, denounce such a measure as revolutionary in the extreme, and as leading straight to pædocracy, or government by children; and on this ground—that if we once surrendered the 30 years we should in time be called upon to surrender the 21 years, and so on, until, at last, our voters would present themselves in pinafores, and, perhaps, in the next generation, would arrive at the poll, not, as they do now, in vehicles illegally hired by the candidates, but in the wholly inexpensive conveyance of their mother's arms? Well, so much for this argument; but let me point out that whatever force there may have been in it when it was used 12 years ago, vanishes, nay, turns against you now; because we are not proposing to extend the franchise in this fashion at all. It is perfectly competent to the advocates of household suffrage in counties to point to the permanent basis which Lord Beaconsfield found in a household qualification, and to say that the householder, because he is a householder, has direct relations with the State which are distinct from those possessed by any other person. In proposing household suffrage, therefore, it is we who are proposing the logical resting-place, and you, who cling to the £12 occupation franchise, who are clinging to the dangerous sliding scale. Again, if this argument be good against any future extension of the franchise, against what previous extension would it not have been equally good? If you have the right to ask us to what point we are prepared to descend, we have an equal right to ask you to what point you are prepared to return; and so logically to force you back along the whole way which we have come, until we reach the bad old times of which everybody is ashamed, and to which no one could seriously propose to revert, without expecting to receive an early and somewhat formal visit from a couple of physicians. But even if we were to grant that when this proposal has become law we should be nearer manhood suffrage than we are now, what then? Manhood suffrage may be desirable, or it may not; but what is there in the speeches of hon. Gentlemen to show that it is not? The only approach to argument is a vague expression of disgust for the countries in which manhood suffrage happens to prevail. It would not be difficult to show that we should approach manhood suffrage in this country under widely different conditions from those which are found in America, or in France. But what is there in the recent experience of France or of America so terrific that we can scarcely bear the remotest reference to anything which the French or Americans are doing? Take America. When I think of what has happened in America during the last 20 years, instead of reviling the free institutions of America, I am lost in admiration of their strength. They have enabled America to survive a Revolution which must have been the death or the disruption of any State less strongly constituted; and to survive in such a fashion as to strengthen the hands of Liberty throughout the world. Nor is it to Franco that we must turn for this solemn warning. France, under manhood suffrage, has risen so completely out of the calamities into which she was plunged by the Imperial system, she has just passed with so much case and dignity through the last great necessary crisis, and she is in the enjoyment of so much material prosperity in the midst of this universal European gloom that, if her example is to be cited at all, it certainly must not be in political matters, unless we are prepared to initiate the discussion of changes, the bare mention of which no hon. Member would willingly introduce into this House. But why are we to make these foreign comparisons at all? Surely English experience is the best for us, and our experience, since the suffrage has been placed upon a household basis in boroughs, has been such as to encourage us, without misgiving of any kind, to place it on a household basis in counties. I am aware that some hon. Members deny the value of that experience altogether. I remember the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Balfour) telling us last year that— An experience of 10 years in one country was far too short to admit of any profitable speculation on so intricate a problem, through the difficulties of which the experience of the whole world was hardly a sufficient guide."—[3 Hansard, cexxxviii. 225.] Well, Sir, at that rate, I fear that we shall have to solve it without reference to experience at all; since that portion of the population which we persist in excluding from the franchise are scarcely likely to wait for our verdict until the experience of the whole world is at our command. But the noble Lord is a little more explicit. He professes to have discovered the ill effects of household suffrage already in what he calls the deterioration of Parliament.


I said that Parliament had lost in character both within and without.


I am amused at the candour with which the noble Lord speaks of the loss of character which has been sustained by the Parliament of which he forms a part. During the 20 years for which, with a short interval, I have had the honour of a seat in this House, there have been times when I, too, have fancied that I had discerned a loss of character in Parliament; but it has always been when hon. Gentlemen opposite have been in power. Parliament is sure to seem to lose character when it has very little to do, and there are no measures of real importance before it. But let the Government give us a Home policy. Let them touch any one of the great questions which are awaiting their solution—for example, this great question, and I will engage to say that they will not long have to mourn over the deterioration of Parliament. But my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London is more explicit than the noble Lord. In the course of a speech which he delivered upon this subject last year, he seemed to argue that it was the function of this House to resist public opinion. I should like very much to hear my right hon. Friend's notions of what is meant by the representation of the people. We come here, it seems, to represent the people by resisting them. My right hon. Friend spoke at a late hour—so late that I am ashamed to say I dozed during a portion of his remarks; but I distinctly remember waking up with the idea that I had been listening to a speech in "another place"—a place in which there would have been no impertinence—I use the word in no offensive sense—in enunciating them. In enunciating them here, I could not help thinking that my right hon. Friend forgot for the moment, not only the side of the House from which he was speaking, hut the House itself. Now, it must have been a very strong motive which induced my right hon. Friend, who is so sound a Liberal upon other questions, to desert his Party upon this cardinal one, and to go and sit with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London—I do not say in his cave, but in his grotto—for I think the party only musters three, all told. There are the two right hon. Gentlemen, and the one disciple whom they are able to count between them. We know that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church," and perhaps it is with the view of adding to the number of his followers that my right hon. Friend has proclaimed himself the protomartyr of this new Liberal faith; but he must allow me to remind him that, whatever may be the case in other forms of martyrdom, in political martyrdom there are but few aspirants to the crown. But my right hon. Friend's overpowering fear seems to have been lest, if the agricultural labourers were admitted to the franchise, we might have a feebler administration of the Poor Laws than at present, a little less polical economy, and a little more philanthropy. Now, I am prepared to maintain that it is a scandal—and in this self-governing country a scandal of the first magnitude—that the whole class which, in the rural districts, is chiefly interested in the administration of the Poor Laws, should be absolutely excluded from possessing any voice whatever, not only in the election of those who make these laws, but of those who administer them. And when I hear arguments like that of my right hon. Friend, and those of the noble Lord, I feel inclined to ask myself why it is that we cannot trust our fellow-countrymen? What are the facts upon which we build our theory of misgiving and suspicion, and consequent exclusion? If there are no such facts, surely of all suspicions the most unworthy, of all fears the most cowardly, are those which we permit to arise in our minds with reference to men of the same race with ourselves. If, on the other hand, the facts exist, why do not we hear them? We should then have something tangible to which to reply. Why do you not tell us at once that the men whom we propose to enfranchise are such blackguards that you dare not trust them with the franchise? As regards Irishmen, the noble Lord has already almost told us so to-night. I leave it to Irishmen to defend the character of Irishmen. But the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London has said as much of Englishmen as well. When the borough franchise was under discussion, he told us that to give the franchise to the £6 householder was "to degrade it into the dirt;" and this was very much the line pursued by the right hon. Gentleman all through those delightful speeches of his. I call them delightful, because they delighted everybody, except, perhaps, those who were mainly interested in the question. And this is very much the line which the right hon. Gentleman pursues still. For he tells us that The intellect, and all that adorns the legislation and gives strength to the nation in its Legislature, would be trampled under foot,"—[3 Hansard, ccxxxviii. 185,] if this Motion were carried. And why? Because "the poorest and least educated of the community would become absolute masters of the situation," and, if they have this preponderating influence, And know that they have it, they will be sure to use it, if they think that they can get benefit from it."—[Ibid. 184.] That is, I think, a fair epitome of this portion of the right hon. Gentleman's argument, and it is given in his own words. He argues as though any class which happens to have a numerical majority in the constituencies possessed the whole political power in the State. Now, surely this is the argument of a man whose only estimate of political power is derived from a counting of noses, and who regards the electors as so many units, each possessed of equal weight in the body politic. It is the argument, further, of a man who regards these units or atoms as incapable of any principle of cohesion, except the instinct of the most brutal selfishness, unrestrained by any reference to right and law. Surely, this is an argument altogether unworthy of the intellectual position of the right hon. Gentleman. Why should he, who is the intellectual superior of so many of us, deny the existence of intellectual superiority, and of the prodigious hold which it has upon political power? Why should he, who, in the course of his career, has made so many sacrifices to principle and honour, deny the existence of principle and honour in any class in the State? Does he think that Providence, who has given us so many other good things, has given us also a monopoly of conscience, a monopoly of right feeling, a monopoly of the sense of justice? To listen to the right hon. Gentleman, one might almost think that it was the poor camel, not the rich camel, which found such extraordinary difficulty in getting his humps through the needle's eye. I venture to differ from the right hon. Gentleman. I do not believe in the rascality of classes. I believe that any class in the country, be it high or humble, may, as a class, be trusted to act fairly by every other class, whenever its honest prejudices do not come into play; and I believe, further, that in time, and under the influence of reason, it may be trusted to discard even those. The right hon. Gentleman is fond of putting the landed classes in his pillory, and citing the resistance which they offered to the passing of the great Reform Act, and to the repeal of the Corn Laws, as a proof of his proposition. But I would ask him how long he thinks the Reform Act would have remained unpassed, and the Corn Laws unrepealed, if numbers of those very classes had not bowed before the cogency of argument, and thrown themselves at the very head of the movements which accomplished both? But who was it, who, to the bitter end, resisted either change? Why, the logical progenitors—if I may use the term—of the right hon. Gentleman; the very men whose arguments re-appear in his speeches, and whose argumentative ingenuity he has made his own. I never listen to the right hon. Gentleman's speeches upon Reform without being reminded of the ingenious productions of the artists in mosaics. Those indefatigable gentlemen grope about among the ruins of antiquity in search of their materials. When they have found them, they grind the fragments together into striking designs, and polish the surface of the whole. The right hon. Gentleman is an artist in argumentative mosaics. His designs are striking, his polish is exquisite, his materials are of the most venerable antiquity. You may almost lay your finger upon fragments of verd-antique, and morsels of stereo imperiale, upon bits of Burke, and whole slices of Croker. There is hardly an argument adduced by the right hon. Gentleman, which was not answered 45 years ago. There is hardly an argument which would not have remained buried and forgotten, but for the archaeological researches which the right hon. Gentleman has instituted upon the spot. What is his great stock proposition? He says— What you have to show is, not that people want this thing or that, or that the people are fit or unfit for exercising it, but that the safety and welfare of the Empire will be promoted by your proposal."—[Ibid. 180.] Well, this is an argument which belonged to the logical edifice of a Party which has now happily passed away, and the edifice along with it. There are several ways of arriving at a Constitution. One is to sit down and put it upon paper, taking care to adjust every part, and nicely to balance every interest. Those who do this invariably tell us that their paper plan is what is best for the safety and welfare of the Empire. There is another method, and it is the one which we have been following for centuries—it is to give the people every right and every privilege which experience proves that they are capable of using well, and to assume that this is what is best for the safety and welfare of the Empire. Now, I very much prefer the method of the centuries to that of the right hon. Gentleman. He would cease enfranchising the moment that he found any one class acquiring a numerical majority in the constituencies, no matter how intelligent or how well qualified the applicants might be. But how could you do this? With the capacity comes the ambition to exercise it. How could you confront and resist that ambition? By force of arms, or by force of argument? You could do neither. Arms would fail you in the presence of numbers; argument would fail you, because reason would be the first to desert to the other side. How can I tell the man who is as well qualified as myself to exercise the franchise—"You must not exercise the franchise, because if you do you may outvote me?" Will he acquiesce in an arrangement which must make me his master in perpetuity, merely because I am afraid of him? Why, Sir, Law and Government themselves would ultimately be in danger, if we were to persist in imposing such a shameful silence upon the people. And because we are not prepared to do this, the right hon. Gentleman threatens us with what? With a descent "far below the level of the United States"—whatever that may mean. Yes, the most amusing thing of all is that the right hon. Gentleman produced the whole of these arguments, and the whole of these prophecies, only 12 years ago. Unabashed by the non-fulfilment of every prophecy in which he then indulged, he comes up smiling, with the innocent assurance of people who are doing the prophetic for the first time. He takes his triumphant stand upon everything which ought to have disappeared—and of all gifts to which a man may lay claim—and few can justly lay claim to more than he can—he selects prophecy as his peculiar forte, and prophesies again— It is a revolution," he says, "which we can never undo, and which, when once done, will part us once and for ever from the England which we are all so proud of, and whose history for a thousand years we read with triumph and joy."—[Ibid. 187.] Yes; and what is that history which we read with triumph and joy? Is it not the history of British freedom? Is it not the story of the struggles of a principle, so ancient that our forefathers brought it with them from the forests of Germany, so full of vitality that it has survived conquest, revolution, and civil war? We are persuaded that this ancient conflict has entered upon its last stage, and that the final triumph of this immemorial aspiration is at hand. It has been the boast of previous centuries that, through violence and suffering, they have achieved its victories; let it be ours that, without violence or suffering of any kind, we have closed for ever the passionate controversy of a thousand years.


said, that, in the hope of learning something new, he had listened with marked attention to the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham); but the hon. Gentleman's speech had mainly been directed against the right hon. Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe), who, notwithstanding the criticisms of the hon. Gentleman, had, at any rate, pursued the even tenour of his way with regard to this question; and time would show whether the right hon. Gentleman was right or wrong. The hon. Member had used some very strange, indeed, he might say unjust and ungenerous, language when he asked—Did they think these people were too great blackguards to receive the franchise? That was neither a fair or reasonable way of putting the question. The fact was, men might be very hard-working, honest, and industrious—in short, they might be very good citizens—and yet it might not be wise to intrust them with the franchise. He believed that a fatal mistake was made some years ago, when Parliament departed from the principle that the direct payment of rates should be an essential condition for the exercise of the franchise. The Reform Bill was drawn up on the principle that no one was to have the franchise unless he paid the rates. But to the astonishment of everyone, in a hurry, without any warning, at the dinner-hour that principle was abandoned. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were perpetually dinning into their ears that representation and taxation ought to go together; but now it was proposed to enfranchise people who paid nothing directly towards the expenses of the State. When it was proved that agricultural labourers were willing to take upon themselves those responsibilities which persons possessing the franchise ought to assume, he would be ready to enfranchise them. But the fact was, they paid nothing whatever to the local taxation of the country. It was said that the landlord paid the rates and put them on the rent. But hon. Gentlemen knew that that was not so, and that these men absolutely paid nothing. He would go a step further, though, in doing so, he might cross the path of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) said, when the last remissions for the income tax were given, that 500,000 persons would derive benefit from what was done. But he would say that direct taxation ought to be borne by everyone who had a vote. Considering the wages that people earned, there ought to be no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that those who had a vote ought to pay, not only local rates, but direct taxation, and a scheme could easily be devised for collecting such taxation. Hon. Gentlemen opposite argued that county government ought to be taken out of the hands of the magistrates, because they were not elected, and taxation and representation did not go together. A great deal had been said as to what had fallen from his noble Friend (Lord Claud Hamilton) with regard to Ireland. But there was not a man sitting below the Gangway and calling himself a Home Ruler who would deny that if in the counties of Ireland, as well as the boroughs, the franchise was extended on the lines now laid down, none but a certain class would be represented in that country, and that was all his noble Friend meant. [Mr. PARNELL dissented.] The hon. Member for Meath shook his head. But did that hon. Member himself represent all classes in Ireland, or, he would say, in his own constituency? He was very much mistaken if the hon. Member did. He would put it to the hon. Member whether he would think it more for the interests of his country that hon. Gentlemen from Ireland on that (the Ministerial) side should not have seats in the House? For his own part, he (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) had nothing to say against the labouring classes, but everything in their favour. Some hon. Gentlemen on the other side had been good enough to say that hon. Members on that (the Ministerial) side did not represent the labouring classes. He ventured to say that there were no persons who were more anxious for the welfare of those classes than those who were thrown among them as neighbours and friends, and were mixed up with them in every relation of life. But were they to be told that the franchise was to be extended to men who did not pay even for the education of their children? He was bound to say that since household suffrage had come into play many things had been done in the interests of the working classes which were not for their interests at all. There was the shortening of the hours of labour, for instance. They had been, he would almost say, pampering these men, and now they would not exert themselves to the degree that was necessary to maintain the enterprize of this country in competition with foreign nations. The hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke) had said that there were people who would give men medical relief, in order to disqualify them from voting. He was not going to contradict the hon. Baronet, speaking, as he said, on authority; but such a case was of so microscopic a character that they might go over the whole country and not find another like it. But what did it show? It showed, as the right hon. Member for London (Mr. Goschen) said last year, that this class, which comprised such great numbers, did not think it beneath them to receive benefit from the Poor Laws. The late lamented Mr. Cobden had been referred to by his noble Friend in connection with the subject of faggot-votes, respecting which it struck him (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) that the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Trevelyan) appeared not to know much about. He seemed to think that when a man paid his money for a property, and thereby became a voter, that this constituted a faggot-vote; but was he aware that the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) had done what he could to create votes of the same sort in Lancashire, Yorkshire, and other places. Therefore, the making of such faggot-votes was an old affair. When the man held the parchment which entitled him to a vote, and got the rent for the holding, it was quite right he should vote. There was nothing that made a man so independent as having a cottage of his own, and he was very sorry, and always had been sorry, that the 40s. freeholders should have been so much swamped; but if the franchise were extended as was now proposed, they would be swamped altogether. When the men to whom the Resolution referred raised themselves to a position in which they would pay their own rates, and contribute something to the direct taxation of the country, then would be the time to consider whether the county frachise should be extended.


Mr. Speaker, until I heard the speech of the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) I had no intention of saying a word during this debate, and even now I will only venture to say just a very few words—I will not say in reply to what has been said, but rather in reference to something he said. I think, Sir, it is a very lamentable thing to calumniate any person; but I think when hon. Gentle- men and noble Lords in this House undertake, not only to calumniate any individual, but to calumniate a large section of a nation, the position becomes rather more serious. The noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn (Lord Claud Hamilton) to-night spoke of a large section of the Irish people as being ignorant and bigoted. Now, Sir, if a large section of the Irish people are ignorant, it is due to the action of the Party of which the noble Lord is a Member—an action which for centuries has deliberately kept that people in ignorance. But I deny, Sir, that the people of Ireland are bigoted. I stand here as an example of this, and I bear testimony to the fact that I, a Protestant, a member of the late Disestablished Church of Ireland, a member of the Synod, represent the Catholics of Meath. Let the noble Lord, when he charges the Irish people with bigotry, show from amongst his own countrymen such an example as this. The hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for West Sussex asked me, just now, whether I could deny that Irish constituencies were subject to the influences which are supposed to be adopted by me in my views? I can only remind the hon. and gallant Baronet that the two Members of this House whom he, perhaps, thinks the most objectionable—namely, my hon. Friend the Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar), and myself, are returned to Parliament by county constituencies, and that the valuation of those constituencies is equal to the valuation of the constituency which returns himself. And I think that the hon. and gallant Baronet, if he were to look round the ranks of the Irish Members, would be able to choose many Members representing Irish borough constituencies returned by a very much lower franchise—a franchise which very nearly approaches that desired by the Motion which my hon. Friend (Mr. Trevelyan) has moved to-night. He would find many more of those Members holding opinions in accordance with his own views than he would find among Members representing Irish county constituencies. Well, Sir, I will appeal to the House, in conclusion, whether they think these are worthy arguments? This is a great question—a question upon which depends the future of England—and, I repeat, are these worthy arguments to use in regard to such a ques- tion? I think this matter ought to be dealt with without pausing to consider or collect these petty and miserable contingencies and considerations, whether under such a scheme some half-dozen men, more or less, holding particular views, should have seats in this House? I trust that the attention of the House in future discussions upon this franchise question will not be drawn aside by the pursuit of such hares as have been started by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn and the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for West Sussex.


Sir, I have no fault to find with the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, except that they appear to me to have put rather more zeal into the occasion than was required. The Amendment, which I presume they moved and seconded at the request of Her Majesty's Government, was one which came to neither more nor less than the Previous Question. It was an Amendment saying in substance that, at the present time, it was not expedient to raise the question of lowering the franchise. Such an Amendment as that seemed to require delicate treatment, and I am bound to say it did not receive such treatment from the noble Lord (Lord Claud Hamilton), or the hon. Gentleman (Sir Charles Legard), to whom it was confided. Their arguments went to prove one part of the case—that there ought to be no lowering of the franchise; but as to limiting it in point of time I heard nothing from either of them that went in that direction at all. Seeing that the noble Lord and the hon. Gentleman made such speeches, I am unable to understand why the Government thought it necessary to prepare such an Amendment. Why could they not take the Previous Question? What is the use of translating the Previous Question into other language when we have got a formula so well known to the House? I have exercised myself to find out what is the reason, and—I hope I am not uncharitable—I can only suppose that the reason is that if they had moved the Previous Question nobody outside the House would have understood anything about it; whereas, by proposing the Amendment, they use a formula which may be extremely useful in case of an Election, which cannot now be far distant. Because people must either be on one side or the other; they must either wish or not wish for a lowering of the franchise. If a man wishes for the lowering of the franchise, the Government would say to him—"See what we have done; we said this is not just the time to do this, but we are quite ready and open to consider the question." On the other hand, if a man is against the lowering of the franchise, it would be easy to say—"Why, see what we did; we said that on no account are we to open the question again." It therefore seems to me an ingenious formula, calculated to cut both ways; and if that is not the reason why it was adopted, I profess myself unable to account for it. At any rate, as the noble Lord and the hon. Gentleman, who are in the confidence of the Government, have discharged their office with so much ability, as I believe, to their own satisfaction, and certainly to mine, by proving that it is not desirable to re-open the question, I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will see the wisdom of dropping the last clause, which seems to hold out a hope to those who wish for the extension of the franchise, and then there will be no occasion for me to move my Amendment at all. And now I shall be very glad to offer one or two remarks on this very important subject. What I want to point out to the House is this—that this question really depends entirely upon the side from which you view it, and it is no more a wonder than it was in the dispute between the knights about the gold and silver sides of the shield that we do not come to the same conclusion. I do not blame hon. Gentlemen in the least for the view they take; but I do not look upon this question of Parliamentary Reform in the light which hon. Gentlemen do who advocate this lowering of the franchise. They put it as a matter of personal hardship, of inequality, of denying something which is granted to others, and as a matter of justice or injustice, rather than anything else. They treat it as a matter of kindness, fairness, and good feeling, and from that point of view I am not surprised at the conclusion to which they have come. The question is, not whether these views are entitled to respect, but whether that is the real point of view from which we ought to look at it; whether it is not the point of view which, however much they may press it upon us, we ought not to put aside, and for which we ought to substitute a much harsher, drier, loss attractive, and sentimental point of view, and one which has the merit that it is founded on truth, experience, and good sense. It is not because I cannot feel for my fellow-countrymen like the rest of you that I have not been able to bring my mind to adopt those arguments held sincerely by many Gentlemen for whom I entertain the highest respect; it is because I believe that that point of view, however seductive and philanthropic, is not the sound and true point of view from which it becomes us, sitting here as legislators for a great country, to look at it. We have to look exactly at the contrary side of the question. We ought to consider, not what is agreeable to the feelings of our fellow countrymen, to the sentiment of equality, not what is popular among them, not what they may like, not any little advantage they may derive from what is proposed; but what we have to prove is that we are really worthy of the place in which we sit, and to perform the duties we attempt to discharge. We ought to consider what will be for the interest of England, not for the little time we fret and strut our little hour upon the stage, and then disappear, but what will be for the interest of England in ages to come. It is because my mind is full of those ideas I have not been able to give—perhaps I have failed very much to give—sufficient attention to the expression and feeling with regard to the case that is made out on the other side. Very much, I believe, depends upon the side of the question you look at. I believe further—and I do not say it for the sake of terrorism or alarm, but simply looking to what seems to me to be the inevitable course of events—if we go on lowering the franchise, nothing on earth can prevent each successive step leading to another lowering of the franchise. The same principles, the same sentiment and feeling of kindness, which I can admire in hon. Gentlemen from whom I differ—all the influences that lead them to a certain point—will be brought into action the moment they have lowered the franchise to induce them to lower it further. I cannot bring myself to believe that when you have lowered the franchise as now proposed you will stop there. It is not possible you can do without a large redistribution of seats, and I cannot believe that re-distribution will be a I final one as long as there remain honest, hard-working men, against whom nothing is to be said, who are yet excluded from the franchise by arbitrary and aristocratic rules. I cannot believe that the same state of things which now exists—the same pressure on all sides for lowering the franchise—will not continue to exist. I do not believe that they can stop, as long as there is any grade to which the franchise remains to be lowered. Holding that conviction—which may be erroneous—I ask myself what is the duty of the House of Commons in such circumstances as these? I say it is the duty of the House of Commons to consider what the state of Government at this moment is; what is the state of the country and of our institutions; and how they will be worked upon by the change that is proposed. As to the state of the Government, there are remarks to be made which are extremely important, if hon. Gentlemen would consider them. Most of us have been brought up in the doctrines of De Lolme and Blackstone. We have been told that the English Constitution is one above all that have ever existed; that it is nicely and carefully balanced; that it is made up of different bodies, each of which has proper functions assigned to it, to which it confines itself, and that by the proper discharge of its duty it controls and prevents excess in any of the others. We have Blackstone's theory that the King represents power, the Lords represent wisdom, and the House of Commons represent good intentions; and that each of them discharges its functions, without in the slightest degree trenching upon the functions of the other. We have indulged in these dreams long enough; let us awake from them, and see what is the reality. No doubt, the time was when the King had predominant power in England; but who can say that is the case now? Without going into details, it is sufficient to say that the Regal power is of such a nature now that it really affords no strong or sufficient check or balance at all in our Constitution. Then take the House of Lords. I am old enough to remember when the House of Lords measured itself with the House of Commons, and challenged or overthrew its decisions when they did not meet with their assent. Who can say it is so now? That check also has departed. The fact is, the whole power of Executive Administration is vested in the Government of the day, and that depends for its existence upon the House of Commons; and the whole power of this country—all that we have read of as divided among the different Estates of the Realm—has really now entirely centred itself in the House of Commons, and everything turns upon its will. If that be the case, it is not merely a question whether we shall gratify the wishes and aspirations of a number of people who wish for the franchise; but the question is, what effect will it have on the House of Commons? Because, whatever effect it has on the House of Commons, it will have directly upon the institutions and the very existence of the Empire. I say that, so far from these things being a complicated system of checks and balances, our Constitution has been reduced to a state of what I can only call tremendous simplicity. We have put all on a single foundation; all depends upon the House of Commons, upon their ability to conduct the Business of the State properly; all depends upon their being able and willing to keep the Ministers of the Crown within bounds and to fulfil their duties to the State. We have, instead of a complicated Constitution, the most simple and elementary Constitution in the world now. We have simply an Elective Assembly, and in that Elective Assembly all the powers of the State are really gathered up, and in it they are centred. If that be so, and if that Elective Assembly misconducts itself, the only remedy is to go back to the constituencies from which it is elected, and to refer the matter to them—and from their decision there is no appeal, however momentous it may be. Having a body to which we have given the whole power over the State in this country, which really has the single supreme power which everything bows before, we should take care that it is fit for the discharge of that duty. That is the point of view from which I would suggest that hon. Gentlemen should look at this question; and they should consider whether, in the circumstances which must necessarily arise if we enter upon this downward course we are invited to follow, we can answer for the safety of our institutions. It appears to me it is impossible for us to be continually lowering the franchise without also continually altering the structure of the House of Commons. It is said that in America this thing is done. Look what America has done, and what we have not attempted to do, to obviate the evils of a very low franchise. I know in America they have nothing to work with but universal suffrage; but look how they vary it. The President is elected for four years by one vote, but his power infinitely transcends that of our Sovereign; and, so long as he keeps himself clear of that for which he can be impeached, there is no power which can assail him. What have we similar to that check on universal suffrage? The House of Representatives is elected by universal suffrage, but the Senate by the States; so that there are different bodies having different bases, while the immensity of America makes it certain that there will be differences which cannot arise in a small compact country like this. And yet, with all these things in their favour, they can only furnish such a Government as they have now. If we approach to a similar level without any of the precautions named, we cannot expect to carry on our Government in a manner worthy of the great trust reposed in us. I am not going to say anything against democracy, except this—there is no instance in history of the durability of a purely democratic Government, where everything was put upon the deliberations of a single Assembly, elected by a certain number of persons, and that should make us pause. If these things are to be considered, they ought to be looked at from the point of view I have ventured to suggest. We ought to elevate our view above the mere question of the little feeling of vexation that might be expressed by persons who are not granted the franchise, and ought to consider whether, by admitting them to the franchise without any attempt at balance, which has now become absolutely impossible, we are not putting the very existence of our institutions in peril and landing ourselves in difficulties from which there will be no retreat. I now apologize to the House for having detained it so long. I have not attempted to go into the details of the argument; but I wanted to impress upon hon. Members that this question is not so easy a matter as they think it is; that failure in it is not the small thing they are apt to think it is. If you go forward and succeed, you may have done well; but you will not be much bettor than you now are; while, if you fail, you incur nothing less than absolute perdition to the interests of the country; and we must look forward, not to trifling reforms and alterations, but to a reconstruction of the whole framework of the institutions of this country from the very bottom to the top.


Mr. Speaker, when I entered the House it was not my intention to speak on this Motion; but the remarks that have fallen from several hon. Members induce me to offer a few observations. In the first place, let me say that I am opposed to any reduction in the county, qualification; and in the second place, that I cannot support the Motion of the hon. Member for the Border Boroughs (Mr. Trevelyan) as I think the time inopportune and the question too large and important to be dealt with by an abstract Resolution. Now, I have observed that almost every hon. Member who has spoken on the Opposition side of the House has treated it as if it was the agricultural labourer only whom they wished to enfranchise, and that their only opponents in this House are the squire, the farmer, and the parson. Now, to my mind, this subject is of far wider importance than that of the agricultural labourer. When we come to look around and see the great revolution that our railway systems have made—they have created towns where none previously existed in county parishes all over the country, and these places are populated by the most skilled and best class of artizans, and a class of people most of whom have been imported from our boroughs where they had the franchise and could give their vote. Now, can it be assumed for one moment that these people do not feel aggrieved? It may be said they are represented by the county Members where they happen to be. I admit that is the case; but these people, not having a direct voice in the election of their Member, do not feel that they are represented. Now, by way of illustrating what I mean, those hon. Members who have travelled by the London and North Western Railway, no doubt, have some idea of the import- ance of Crewe with its population of from 30,000 to 35,000. Very few years since this was an agricultural district with a very small scattered population. Then, again, take Widnes, which has grown since railways were introduced to between 30,000 and 40,000 inhabitants. Then we pass on to Earlestown, with its large railway works and numerous population. Then there are St. Helens and Southport, with, I am told, nearly 40,000 each, and I say that most of this great mass of people are without any direct representation. I mention these places, because during this debate the South Western division of Lancashire has been referred to as the most populous electoral division in the Kingdom, and I refer to them merely as an illustration of what is taking and has taken place all over the country. Now, I will by the permission of the House, refer to what is the position in and adjoining the borough I have the honour to represent. In the Parliamentary borough of Wigan there are about 40,000 people, and just outside that borough, where the houses are almost continuous, there are nearly double that number, or nearly 80,000 inhabitants. Now, Wigan is the market town for this immense population. They are, to a great extent, connected either by relationship or marriage, their occupation is of similar description, they work together in the mines, mills, and workshops; and still, when there is an election, the 40,000 in the borough can take a direct active interest in it, but their 80,000 friends from the outside have to look quietly on. Now, I ask the House, if it can be supposed for one moment that these 80,000 people can feel that they are represented f But while on this subject, I may point out that in 1868 this House ordered a Commission to inquire into the desirability of extending the Parliamentary boundary of Wigan, and I find that that Commission did recommend an extension of the boundary, which, for some reason or other, was not carried out. I do not know why it was not carried out, but the prevailing opinion in the district at that time was, and I believe it was the correct one, that we had then a Liberal Government, and Wigan at that time had two Liberal Members, and it was thought that those people living outside the borough boundary were too Conservative in their views to be enfranchised. Now, I ask the House if these great masses of people can long be left out in the cold, and if some inquiry will not soon be necessary? I fully believe in county and borough representation, and think there are various ways by which these people may be enfranchised—such, for instance, as extending the borough boundaries where convenient, and in grouping large and populous places together; but as the question is a large and comprehensive one, it will require very careful and mature consideration, not by a private Member, but by the Government of the day, whether Conservative or Liberal.


Sir, the Amendment which stands in my name on the Paper, to add to the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for the Border Boroughs the words—"and to provide, as far as possible, for the fair representation of minorities," is not framed in any spirit of hostility to that Motion. Believing, as I do, that the distinction between the borough and the county franchise is one which should not be maintained, I have always, even before he received the aid of the front Opposition Bench, supported my hon. Friend in his efforts to remove it. I look upon the representation of minorities as the natural and fitting complement to the changes which the Motion before us would make in the electoral system, and I think I can show that my Amendment may be supported on all the strongest grounds on which we have been asked to accept the Motion. Minority representation would secure a more complete reflection of the opinions of the electoral body, and would admit to political power large numbers who at present are unjustly excluded. It would give direct representation to various interests and shades of opinion now unrepresented, and would foster the sense of political responsibility and the spirit of public duty in the minds of those who are careless and indifferent because they are destitute of power. I plead, quite as earnestly as my hon. Friend, for the admission of excluded interests, and the representation of opinions shut out from the means of Constitutional expression. The words which I propose to add express a broad and intelligible principle, which I venture to hope will commend itself to the sense of justice of both sides of the House. It is a principle which is in harmony with what is best in the distinctive doctrines of hon. Members opposite and of those who sit here. The Amendment is strictly limited by practical consideration; it does not contemplate what I freely admit to be impossible—that we should attempt to secure the actual representation of every minority. My hon. Friend has not attempted to produce, nor is he called upon to do so, any detailed scheme for the large measure of re-distribution of seats which he contemplates. I also refrain from asking the House to express a preference for any of the various methods by which the representation of minorities can be effected. Let the principle that minorities ought to be fairly represented be affirmed, and the best means of giving practical operation to that principle will become matter for careful examination and inquiry. For the present, I confine myself to the broad and simple statement, the justice and expediency of which I think it will be hard to contest, that concurrently with the great changes in the electoral franchise and in the distribution of political power, the necessity for which we are asked to affirm to-night, provision shall also be made to secure as far as possible the fair and just representation of minorities. Last Session, when I ventured to call the attention of the House to this subject, the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. Balfour) said that my Motion was an abstract Motion with aggravating circumstances, because in allusion to the fact that the Resolutions of my hon. Friend had a short time before been rejected, I was offering an antidote after the House had refused to take the poison. I do not regard the proposals of my hon. Friend as poison; but I hope that the hon. Member opposite, and those who take his view, seeing the persistency and determination with which this so-called cup of poison is presented every year, and the great improbability that they will always be in a position to reject it, will admit that it is not inopportune to keep the antidote, if there be one, well in view, and that it is desirable that the public mind and the opinion of Parliament should be as ready for its reception as for the proposals the ill effects of which it may serve to counteract. It would be impossible to exaggerate the large and serious nature of the proposals laid before us by the hon. Member for the Border Boroughs. My hon. Friend wishes to introduce into the electoral body a larger number of new electors than has ever been admitted by any previous Reform Bill. He speaks on behalf of nearly 1,500,000 of our countrymen, who ask to be admitted to a place in the Constitution, and to have a voice in the management of the affairs of the nation. So far as my hon. Friend pleads for enfranchisement, my sympathy is heartily with him. The claims of the great urban population outside the boundaries of existing boroughs to the same rights and privileges as the precisely similar population within the boroughs commends itself to us on the plainest principles of justice. You cannot continue to restrict the rights of citizenship by arbitrary lines drawn upon no intelligible principle, and indicating, in no respect, the presence or the absence of those qualities which fit men to be intrusted with the responsibility of the vote. I am equally ready to admit that the great mass of the agricultural population are wise and prudent in demanding electoral privileges, because they have come to feel, what all experience teaches, that so long as they remain an unrepresented class their interests will never be adequately attended to. I can see as plainly as my hon. Friend that the day of a restricted and arbitrary franchise is at an end, and that it would only weaken and imperil the institutions of the country to adhere with obstinacy to the illogical and discredited methods of the past. Even those who have no sympathy with the plea for enfranchisement cannot fail to see that the ultimate success of that plea is certain. You may, indeed, obtain a temporary triumph in out-voting this Motion to-night. A wave or two may flow backwards, but, all the time, the great tide is steadily rising. It does not need much discernment to see that the change which my hon. Friend proposes must, at no distant date, become an accomplished fact. This change is not only inevitable—it will also be irrevocable. The step once taken, we shall never be able to retract. When you have established a wide democratic franchise all over the country, you will never be able to take that franchise away. Whatever precautions we may adopt, whatever skill we may employ to temper our reforms with wisdom, now is our time. We are asked to make an addition to the county electoral body, so great, that the new voters will far outnumber all the present constituency. This addition will be largely, if not entirely, composed of those who depend on manual labour for their support, and in their hands we are invited to place the power of electing, not a majority merely, but the entire body of the House of Commons. The class on which this tremendous responsibility will devolve is made up of those who have but little education, and the scantiest means of obtaining information on which to form a sound judgment of public affairs, while they are peculiarly exposed to the disturbing influences of distress and privation. I do not wish to press this argument too far. It has often been used against any extension of the franchise which would include the working classes. We have heard it employed, with all the skill of a great master of debate, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London. I do not use it for this purpose. But I think these are considerations which may fairly be urged, not against the admission of the working classes, but against their admission in such a way as to give them, at any time they please to exercise it, the power of excluding every other class from any share whatever in the representation. While I am ready, and even anxious, to welcome the working man to the polling-booth, I cannot shut my eyes to the facts. I cannot conceal from myself the probability that the proposal before us, which is presented for our acceptance as a great enfranchising measure to widen, by the admission of many hundreds of thousands of new electors, the basis of popular assent on which the Government rests will have, in some respects, a difficult and even a contrary effect. This great measure of enfranchisement will also operate as a great measure of disfranchisement, and there is no little reason to fear that one of its effects will be to diminish instead of increase the number of those who take an intelligent interest in public affairs, and exercise a reasonable and independent influence on the course of practical politics. Moreover, this great concession of popular right may have results injurious to that sturdy independence of individual opinion, that perfect freedom of thought and action, which it is the highest function of Representative institutions to develop and encourage. Assimilation of the franchise will very largely increase the average size of constituencies. The most perfect electoral machinery, the most complete and elaborate political organization, will be necessary to reach and to wield the new masses of voters. The professional politician, the skilled electioneer, the accomplished and unscrupulous wire-puller will be all-powerful. What will the unfortunate farm labourer or artizan be able to do except to follow blindly where he may be led, and to give his vote at the bidding of others? There is nothing more significant than the recent development of Party organization in many constituencies. I cannot refrain from saying that, from a Liberal point of view, I regard some features of that development with profound regret. I cannot doubt, however, that Party organization, whether Conservative or Liberal, will grow, as time goes on, more stringent, more oppressive, more crushing. Discipline can only be perfected by the surrender of individual will. But what is admirable in a band of well-drilled soldiers may be deplorable in the citizens of a free country. Independence of thought and freedom of action are the salt which keep the public life of the nation sweet. One man who thinks boldly for himself and acts honestly according to his judgment is, to my mind, worth more to the country than a thousand mechanical puppets crowding into the ballot-boxes to register their votes for a candidate of whom they know little and care less, except that he has pronounced the Shibboleths of Party and is recommended by the wire-pullers of some electoral machinery. The Conservative Party, from the nature of its composition, is capable of more perfect discipline, and can be more quietly and effectively organized so as to make the most of its forces, than the Party which sits on these Benches. But the Liberal Party will not be content to leave the direction of affairs in the hands of their opponents, while they believe that better organization would give them the victory to which their numerical superiority in the country entitles them. How far Liberal principles may suffer in the end from the stringent suppression of everything that may cause division in the ranks is not a question to discuss here. I do not care to ask how Liberalism may bear to be divorced from Liberty. The new organization is a great fact. It has received the sanction of high authority, and is directed by earnest and able men who are resolved to make it an effective instrument of Party warfare and a prominent feature in our public life. Thus, even on the side where individual action might naturally be expected most to flourish, the iron hand of Party exigency is beginning to efface every distinctive feature, and to crush out the last traces of personal independence. Nothing could more effectually protect that free and varied character of our public life than recognition of the rights of those minorities who wish to call their souls their own, and are unwilling to play the part of mere pawns on a political chess board. Though there is still a great difference between public life in this country and in America, there are features of American politics which we may study with advantage. An able and eminent American gentleman, whose name many hon. Members will recognize—Mr. Sterne, of New York—has recently drawn attention to the combined results of electoral organization and a democratic franchise in the government of that city— To have," says Mr. Sterne, "by political machinery the franchise so manipulated that before the voter goes to the poll he either knowingly or unwittingly is merely going through a form to give validity and sanction to secret caucus resolutions, is not the exercise of free suffrage. We thought," he regretfully adds, "that it was money and life well expended to secure the freedom of the Negroes in our Southern States, and to wipe out the blot of slavery from our escutcheon. Our better class voters, in our large cities, are as much disfranchised in effect—although in theory and in practice the ballot is given to them—as any plantation Negro was anterior to 1860. Mr. Sterne, and those who think with him, have tried—of course, in vain—to get the municipal franchise of New York restricted. They would eagerly grasp at the slightest provision by which the voice of the more educated and thoughtful minority would be enabled to make itself heard in the management and control of the enormous taxation of their city. We are asked to enfranchise a large number of persons who have not hitherto had votes. Have we provided that those whoso claim to the franchise is already recog- nized are, in any practical sense, able to exercise it. Are there none of our present electors who, as regards any direct influence they can bring to bear on elections, are labouring under an exclusion from political power as complete and absolute as that to which the un-emancipated Negroes of the Southern States were subject? Is it not inconsistent and absurd to talk of calling new classes within the Constitution before we have made sure that full justice is done to those already in? I shall not detain the House by entering into the well-known arguments on this subject. They are familiar to everyone who has studied the Representative system. But, as a simple matter of fact, what voice or influence in the selection of the House of Commons does that large and important portion of the electoral body possess which is in the minority—a minority in many cases permanent—in the various constituencies. There are thousand son the electoral roll, qualified by property, by education, by intelligence, to take a useful part in public affairs who, from their cradles to their graves, are never able to influence in the slightest degree the election of a Member to represent their views. In the words of the illustrious statesman and historian, whose life has been so admirably written by my hon. Friend the Member for the Border Boroughs—words used, if I remember rightly, in the debate on the great Reform Bill of 1832, but equally applicable to the present occasion— We say, and we say justly, that it is not by mere numbers, but by property and intelligence, that the nation ought to be governed. Yet we exclude from all share in the government great masses of property and intelligence, great numbers of those who are most interested in preserving tranquillity, and who know best how to preserve it. Many of those persons who, under the rough and rude operation of mere majority representation, are excluded from political power are among the very best, the most moderate, the most thoughtful, the most enlightened and independent of the population. Town Conservatives and country Liberals are, as a rule, among the most favourable examples of their respective Parties. Yet, looking oven at England alone, to how great an extent are they excluded from political influence. Take county Liberals first. A few days after the subject of minority representation was discussed here last Session, a letter appeared in The Times newspaper giving some figures with respect to the exclusion of Liberal opinion in the county representation. I do not know who wrote the letter; but I have carefully verified the figures, and I think they are not unworthy of attention. There are 21 counties in England which have no Liberal county Representative, and the population of these counties amounts to upwards of 13,000,000, or nearly two-thirds of the population of England. The Metropolitan counties—Middlesex and Surrey—with a population of 3,600,000, have no Liberal county Representative. The Eastern Counties, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex, with a population of 1,250,000, have no Liberal county Representative. The North-Western Counties, Cheshire and Lancashire, with a population of 3,380,000, have no Liberal Representative. The South-Eastern Counties, Kent, Sussex, Hants, and Berks, have only two Liberal Representatives. And the North Midland Counties, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Notts, and Derbyshire, have only two Liberal Representatives. Look at the exclusion of Conservative opinion even during the Conservative re-action of the last General Election, in many of our great towns. There are ten large boroughs with a population of nearly 2,500,000, which have not a single Conservative Representative. The three great Metropolitan boroughs, Finsbury, Lambeth, and Hackney, with close upon 1,200,000 inhabitants, have no Conservative Member. Bristol, with 182,000 inhabitants, and a large number of Conservatives among its 25,000 electors, is represented exclusively by Liberals. Last, though not least, Birmingham, the great home of the caucus, with a population of 343,000 and 63,000 electors, returns throe Liberals and not one Conservative. In the only remaining class of constituency the unfair exclusion of the minority is not less apparent. In all the Universities there is a strong Liberal Party. In that which I know best—namely, Oxford—the Liberal minority embrace a large proportion of the men who take the most active and prominent part in University life and work. Yet, what is the state of the representation? Notwithstanding a recent ineffectual struggle, Oxford University returns two Conservatives and no Liberals. Cam- bridge does the same, and also Dublin. The Scotch Universities, with a single distinguished exception, are represented by Conservatives. I think it was my hon. Friend the Member for Perth (Mr. C. S. Parker) who said that, as regarded the one eminent instance of a Liberal representing an English University—London University was as different from other Universities, being merely an Examining Board, as the right hon. Gentleman who represented it (Mr. Lowe) was different from other Liberals. I know we shall probably be told that these calculations are fallacious, because those who are not directly represented in their own constituencies are represented indirectly by the election in other places of persons holding the same opinions. This is a rough, unsatisfactory, and inaccurate test even of Party predominance. While it allows no scope whatever for the expression of the feelings, interests, and opinions of minorities from mere Party issues, it deprives them of any power to express their confidence in particular men, and it holds out to them not the slightest inducement, beyond what is common to the unenfranchised masses, to concern or interest themselves in public affairs. We are debating whether we shall not admit to the franchise a fresh multitude who will have the power, whenever they choose to use it, of reducing to a condition of political nullity the whole body of existing county electors. Minority representation would not only give a due share of influence to the large unrepresented minorities of which I have spoken, but it is also the only means by which you can protect from political obliteration those who form the majorities in the constituencies as they are at present. Before we hand over the control of the representation to those of whom it has been too truly said that they are "ignorant from want of leisure and irritable from a sense of distress," ought we not to make some provision that those who may have to bow to the supremacy of numbers shall, at all events, be saved from utter and complete effacement. Shall we establish a democratic franchise and neglect even the safeguards with which democracy itself provides us? We may resolve to extend the franchise to that great unenfranchised class for which my hon. Friend pleads; but shall we also practically disenfranchise every class which is now enfranchised? We may be willing to admit, under a wider suffrage, those who are now excluded; but shall we perpetuate the unjust exclusion of that large section of the electorate, which, though possessed of high and undoubted qualification, is at present for all practical purposes absolutely powerless? My hon. Friend proposes a measure of enfranchisement which, if accepted without qualification, will operate as a measure of disfranchisement affecting large numbers of those who on every ground that can fit men for the vote are best entitled to possess it. I accept the enfranchisement, provided only it be complete and just. Against the disfranchisement I most earnestly protest. I have said that I would not enter into any discussion of the various methods by which the representation of minorities may be obtained, nor do I ask the House to express an opinion on the point. This is not because I am afraid to enter into details. On the contrary, I believe there is hardly anyone who will take the trouble to make himself thoroughly acquainted with the details of this subject who will not be impressed with a strong conviction of the justice, the reasonableness, and the practical nature of my proposals. With some forms of minority representation—the restricted and the cumulative vote—we are already familiar. Personally, I am disposed to think that these are imperfect expedients for doing what might be better done by other means. Last Session I endeavoured to point out a way in which the fair representation of every minority worthy of being taken into account could be attained with case, with simplicity, and with perfect justice. All I ask on the present occasion is recognition of the great principle that minorities should be represented. Full and careful inquiry will afterwards show the best moans by which this greatest blemish on our representative institutions may be removed, and free expression be given to the opinions of all who can fairly claim to be heard. The majority of the electoral body must, indeed, enjoy a majority of the representation, and the ultimate expression of the national will must always rest with them. But this is the limit of their right. It may fairly be placed beyond the power of any majority, however great, to monopolize the representation, and altogether to exclude those who differ from them. Let us make certain that in this House, at all events, the better opinion, though it be held only by a few, shall always make itself heard, and that here shall ever be a place where crude and ill-conditioned proposals, popular though they be, shall be submitted to the examination and criticism of varied and independent opinion. It is one thing to allow the will of the majority of the nation, carefully formed and clearly expressed, after full and free discussion, to determine the course of legislation. It is a very different thing to permit the numerical majority of electors in the various districts to silence all opposition at the polling booths, and to exclude those from whom they differ from raising their voices by even a single Representative in what ought to be the Legislature of the whole nation. In presence of the proposals before us this evening, these considerations are grave and urgent. I feel convinced that if the views of my hon. Friend be adopted, without some compensation or counterpoise such as I have indicated, we shall have lost an opportunity, precious it may be, for its briefness as well as for its rarity, and we shall have entered upon an untried and perilous path. You know That these two parties still divide the world Of those that want, and those that have, and Still The same old sore "breaks out from age to age. To one party, "those that want," we shall give potentially, if not actually, exclusive control over the complex and delicate machinery by which the government of this great Empire is regulated. The other, "those that have," we shall at the same time condemn to political annihilation, and to what, sooner or later, will follow with unfailing certainty on the loss of political power, social downfall, and economic disaster. The assimilation of the franchise is wise and just, and, therefore, if so, let it be done. But let it be accompanied with those safeguards which are essential to the preservation of the characteristic features of the Constitution, and the protection of the rights and liberties of every section of the people. You can easily introduce those safeguards now. As concurrent parts of your scheme of reform, they will be freely accepted by those from whom, the possession of exclusive power having once been tasted, you may vainly seek to win them. If we are to have a fresh Reform Bill, let it he marked by prudence and intelligence as well as by generosity. While we give a hearty welcome to those new comers whose claims to the franchise we frankly admit, let us guard with watchfulness, and preserve with reverent care, the rights and liberties of every section of the community. In the words of one of the greatest of Liberal orators— Let us combat the Spirit of Democracy by the Spirit of Liberty, the wild spirit of Democratic Liberty by the regulated spirit of Organized Liberty. It is to this end that I venture to ask the House to accompany the declaration in favour of the extension of the suffrage, to which my hon. Friend invites us, with the expression of an opinion that those whose fate it may be to differ from a tyrant majority, should still have a place left them in the Councils of the nation. My hon. Friend asks us to affirm that— It is desirable that political power shall be so re-distributed as to obtain a more complete representation of the opinion of the Electoral Body. I desire to give point and force to that statement, and to base it on the principles of justice and fair play by adding, in the words of my Amendment—"And to provide, as far as possible, for the fair representation of minorities."


said, as he did not intend to go into the Lobby with his hon. Friend (Mr. Trevelyan), he would venture to trespass on the indulgence of the House for a short time while he explained why he was unable to do so. He hoped this might be permitted, because it was not usual for a man, especially on a subject of this interest and importance, to separate himself from his Party without explaining the reasons for his action. This extension of the county franchise was certain to come, more especially since the declaration made by the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) in his recent speeches, and notably at Liverpool. Yet, when he was elected a Member of that House, though that was not very long ago, the question was not then part of the Liberal programme. It had never been voted for by the noble Lord, and it was not raised at the hustings when he appeared before the electors. But the noble Lord had since adopted it, and at Liverpool had declared that he was ready to offer it to the country. It, therefore, became essential that a Member who hesitated to accept this proposal in the unqualified way in which it was now put before them should explain why he could not accept it. He regretted extremely that the form the debate had taken had prevented his hon. Friend the Member for Kerry (Mr. Blennerhassett) from moving his Amendment, because, had that Amendment been taken as a qualification of the original Motion, he (Mr. Courtney) would have accepted it; while, as it now stood, he was unable to do so, unless, indeed, the noble Lord, in the speech he was about to deliver, should show some leaning towards that Amendment. He could not accept the position of his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe), though he sympathized with much that he had said, and appreciated as heartily as he did the evils of their present system. He saw as keenly as the right hon. Gentleman that those evils must be aggravated if the House moved in the direction indicated by the Motion without some Amendment. But he could not rest content in a position of mere opposition, because he felt certain that this Motion would be passed in some way or another within a very few years. There was no real resistance to it from the other side of the House, any more than there was from that—in fact, the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Knowles) had told them that his feelings were in favour of it. If those were the views held by those round him, the Motion would soon be passed. Was it not, therefore, the part of a wise man to see if there were not some way by which these changes could be qualified by accepting the good and rejecting the evil of them. He would briefly explain first why he could not accept this Motion, and, in doing so, he was afraid he could not use mincing phrases. It seemed to him deficient both in insight and in foresight. It was deficient in insight, because he could not discover in any speech by his hon. Friend, including that he had made that night, any perception of the great and growing evils which infested their electoral system. It was deficient in foresight, because his hon. Friend had not shown in his address to the House any apprecia- tion whatever of what it was for which he was preparing the country. His hon. Friend did not know what was coming, but he said—"Let us be free, come what may, hoping for good." He might be satisfied with that, but it was not a reasonable hope, unless they had some arguments presented to them recommending the Motion to their intelligence. It neglected, as he believed, the greatest evils of their representative system, while it aggravated others, and led them further and further away from the true method of amending their system. Looking back at the history of this business, they saw that it was hap-hazard legislation. How did it first get introduced? Before the Reform Act of 1867, some hon. Gentlemen achieved distinction by bringing forward proposals of Reform which were consummated in that Act. Seeing the success of their predecessors, it was not unnatural that others should attempt something in the same line. "If all this honour and glory can be secured," they said, "by following up the plans of our predecessors, why should we not do it?" True, it was only gleaning along the old paths—a kind of work, he might remind the House, which was usually left to women and children; but if it was successful, it was successful, and so it was worth the trial. Even in this reckless way of treating a subject, there were two things to be considered. Of the two proposals made before the Reform Act was passed, one came from Mr. Locke King. What had happened? His constituency had rejected him, and the very people whom he brought into existence had turned him adrift. The same thing had happened to Mr. Edward Baines, than whom no man was a better Representative, amiable, excellent, respected by all. Yet he also had been rejected, and at the two Elections since he had not even been brought for-ward. His hon. Friend was, it was true, exempt from this danger. The danger from his Motion only affected the counties, and, as he was a borough Member, his own seat was safe. He could not, therefore, dig a pit and fall into it himself. But it was worth while for the Liberal Party to consider whether they were not digging pits into which they might fall themselves, though that consideration was not one to which he should pay much attention. His hon. Friend from time to time brought out this Motion of his—and at first it mot with very little acceptance. But one day he caught a big fish in his net, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), and next year he was able to come down to the House and say that the Leader of the Liberal Party was also prepared to declare himself in favour of the Motion. But what happened? No sooner did success promise, than the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett), who then sat for Brighton, got up and said that the measure could not be passed in that way. It was then a Motion for the extension of the county franchise without any suggestion of re-distribution; and his hon. Friend declared that he would oppose the measure, for which he had hitherto voted, if the Government, taking it in hand, did not add to it a re-distribution of seats. He never could quite understand his hon. Friend's action. What it was right for him to do, it was surely right for the Government to do. He was afraid that that action of the hon. Member for Hackney was simply an illustration of the easy way in which many of them assented to an enfranchising suggestion, or rather was an illustration of the extreme difficulty the Representative of a popular constituency found in opposing an enfranchising suggestion. It was perfectly clear that his hon. Friend had prematurely given his assent to the Motion, for when he saw it was likely to be carried, he said it must be qualified. Since then two Motions had been always put upon the Paper, the second of which was never moved, and in respect of which not one word was ever said. In the course of the speech that night of his hon. Friend (Mr. Trevelyan) not a single reference was made to the second Motion. Therefore, they were now practically in the position against which the hon. Member for Hackney protested, of having before them a mere enfranchising Resolution, and they were going to assent to that, although he held that in that form it was not desirable to accept it. This, then, was the way in which they had gone on, tumbling one over another, one after another giving in, until at last the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) had given in, and the whole party, with but two exceptions, had given in. The noble Lord was not much given to quoting poetry; but sometimes, in thinking over this subject, he might say to himself in the words of the Laureate— I strove against the stream, but all in vain; Let the broad river take me to the main, Ask me no more, for at a touch I yield. The noble Lord was now ready to go to the main; but whether he would sink or swim when he got there he could not tell. They should, at all events, ask themselves whether they would sink or swim before they were tumbling amongst the billows. This Motion, to his (Mr. Courtney's) mind, neglected the great evil of their system, and failed to realize the great object it promised. Why was this Motion recommended to them? It was designed to secure the representation of the agricultural labourer. How? By enfranchising him. But there was a considerable difference between enfranchising a man and giving him representation. They might insure the enfranchisement of the labourer by passing this Motion; but would that give him representation? If it would he should value it much more; but, to his mind, all the arguments of experience were against the suggestion. Nothing would be more valuable than to get a Representative of the agricultural labourers in that House. He would tell them what that class—the true dumb class in their midst—thought of their poor laws, their military system, their game laws, their drinking laws. He would certainly be delighted to have such a man in that House. But would they get him? If they would get him under this plan, why had they not got him already? In these agricultural boroughs, which were, practically, small counties, they had already got household suffrage. But what was their experience of such places? He was told that, if the Bill were passed, Mr. Arch would have the pick of half-a-dozen county divisions. He believed he would be a very valuable addition to the House, and he should be glad to see him in it. But, then, why was he not there already? Why did he not go to Cricklade, a great agricultural constituency? There he ought to be able to get in. A working man had tried Aylesbury, but he never had a ghost of a chance of being returned. Look at Retford again, which was a little county in itself. They had there the enfranchisement of the agricultural la-bourer, and they had not got his Representative at all. They had not, in fact, the slightest promise of the realization of the hope, which to him was the greatest hope underlying this proposition. The distinction between enfranchisement and representation was vital. Had they in that House any Representative of the artizans in towns? Those men had enjoyed household suffrage through two General Elections, and yet the House did not contain a single Representative of the feelings, hearts, and interests of the town artizan. Mr. Odger tried at Southwark, but he never had a chance of getting in. Had they in that House a single Representative of the operatives of Lancashire? If they could have their secretaries telling the House what the operatives thought of the present distress, of the present political situation, telling them what they now wrote to the newspapers, they would have some valuable discussion. But they had not in the House a single Representative of that class, and they had not a ghost of a chance of getting; them. They must have some entirely new plan, if they wished to secure the representation of the classes now excluded. Since, then, it was the representation of the unrepresented, and not the enfranchisement of the unenfranchised, that they wanted, it seemed that his hon. Friend's Motion would fail to secure the boon they desired. It was too late an hour for him to go into many of the evils of the present system, upon which he should have liked to have dwelt. But he must say that the system did not give any security that even a General Election would bring into the House Members the balance of whose thoughts and feelings would in the least correspond with those of the electors, and there was no security that that would be realized under any such system as that proposed by the hon. Gentleman. By getting the representatives of local majorities scattered about, they only got the representation of local majorities, and the balance of their judgment did not invariably correspond with the balance of the general will of the electors. In the General Election of 1868 Lancashire gave as they knew a decided Tory—Conservative—what might he say—Constitutional Return of 22 Conservatives against 11 Liberals. He had taken the trouble to add up the votes in these Lancashire constituencies, and what did he find to be the result? That as nearly as possible 104,000 Liberal electors voted against 102,000 Conservatives, the latter returning 22 Members, while the 104,000 electors returned only 11. [Sir CHARLES W. DILKE: Hear, hear!] His hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea cheered that statement, and why? Because he had already formed a false deduction from it. His hon. Friend thought it was due to the irregular size of the Lancashire constituencies; but he could assure him it was due to nothing of the kind. They might have constituencies of precisely the same size returning the same number of Members, and yet the division of the electors through those constituencies be so made that the minority of the electors would return a majority of Members. The proposition of the hon. Member for the Border Boroughs would not meet this defect at all, because with equal electoral districts they would still be exposed to the chance of a minority of electors returning a majority of Members. It was highly probable that this would be so if they had a great concentration of one opinion in any set of constituencies. They might have a considerable concentration of Liberals in the towns, where they would be of no use, while in the country they might have a nearly equal division of opinion between Liberals and Conservatives. If they spread the Conservative electors with the greatest economy and the Liberals with the least, the Liberal electors would abound where they were no use, while the Conservatives would exist where they were of the greatest use, and from that would result the conclusion which he had pointed out. The hon. Member for Chelsea had said—"See how things are divided here. On this very question last year there was a large proportion of hon. Members against the Motion, yet the minority in its favour represented a larger number of electors." He might again say that that was a totally unfounded deduction, and that by the simplest possible illustration. Suppose they had two constituencies, one a very big one, in which there were 10,000 voters and a Liberal was returned by a narrow majority of 100, and also a small constituency of 1,000 voters in which a Conservative was returned by a majority of 200. How monstrous, his hon. Friend would say, that a Conservative representing 1,000 voters should counterbalance a Liberal representing 10,000! If, however, they added the two sets of electors together, since there was only a Liberal majority of 100 while the Conservative was 200, the Conservative would really represent the majority of the two constituencies altogether. He had heard an observation just now as to what all this had to do with household suffrage in the counties, and the very fact that that question was asked appeared to him to show that the hon. Member who put it had not reflected on the whole extent of the problem which he had taken in hand. If he had done so, he would have seen that it had a good deal to do with that question. His aim was principally to secure a better representation of the people, and he held that the hon. Member was going away from that end and was leading them farther adrift from it. There was another set of considerations which had something to do with the question. This extension of the suffrage would, of course, increase the number of electors in each constituency, and therefore increase the necessity of the cohesion of Parties in order to carry the constituency. The necessity of cohesion was much larger then than in the case of a small constituency, and the greater the number of big constituencies the more would the necessity be felt throughout the whole of the country for the cohesion of the Party. The mind of the majority of the electors was always directed to this necessity of maintaining this cohesion of Party, and what was the simple and direct effect of that? Suppose a contested election in a populous district; the first tiling was to keep the seat. In order to do that they must have a safe candidate one who would offend no one section of the Party, a man of great moderation, a judicious, moderate, respectable man—a mediocrity, in fact—and the extension of the number of electors in the way proposed would, he believed, result in extending the number of mediocrities in that House; and since mediocrities must depend upon the persons by whom they were supported, upon this depended the question of the character of that House. On that question he did say that there was a degeneracy of the independence of that House. It was indisputable, and he was not afraid to say so, that hon. Members would not stand up and support unpopular measures. They depended upon the masses outside, and these were the people to whom hon. Members were constantly looking. [Mr. LEATHAM: No!] The hon. Member for Huddersfield questioned that; but he (Mr. Courtney) would, quote an authority which he, no doubt, would acknowledge. The writer spoke in this way— I am one of those who think the evils of our Parliamentary system very great, and I go so far as to admit that no extension of the suffrage, wise and right as it may be, will cure them. The longer I live the less do I sec in the public institutions of our country even a tendency to approximate to an ideal standard. Turning to our own, amid all our vaunted and all our real improvements, I see in some very important respects a sad tendency to decline. It seems to me that, as a whole, our level of public principle and public action was at its zenith in the 20 years or thereabouts which preceded the Reform Act of 1832, and that it has since perceptibly gone down. I agree with Mr. Lowe that we are in danger of engendering both a gerontocracy and a plutocracy. Now, who was it that expressed those opinions? Why, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich.


said, the report, as quoted by the hon. Gentleman, contained a very remarkable mistake. It should have said that the highest level of public action during the 20 years that "succeeded" the Reform Act.


acknowledged the mistake. He had misread the word. It should be succeeded. The quotation, he might say, was not from a speech, but from a deliberately written article in The Nineteenth Century. He confessed that when he read that he thought the passage one of the most perverse he had ever read in his life, and he still thought so. For this reason. The right hon. Gentleman recognized what the hon. Member for Huddersfield would not, a decline in their Parliamentary standard, and a falling off from the position reached in the years immediately following 1832; but he absolutely refused to acknowledge what had caused that falling off, and he refused to associate it with the steady progress of democratic institutions. If the right hon. Gentleman was conscious of this decline, and refused to connect it with the development of democratic institutions, it was surely his duty to offer them another solution. But he offered them none. Did they not see a Bill brought in last year which passed through that House without a Division, because nobody ventured to challenge one, though the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Goschen) got up and said a good many things to show that it was a doubtful transaction. Yet in the other House it was altered, in its vital parts, by a large majority. It was a Bill to amend the Poor Laws in the interests of friendly societies. He was inclined to believe that the Members of the House of Lords were of the same flesh and blood as those of the House of Commons, and to him it appeared a considerable puzzle how Members of the House of Lords, both Liberals and Conservatives, should join to amend in a vital manner a Bill which no single Member of the House of Commons had ventured to oppose. Was it not a fact that they had persuaded themselves to consent to a Bill which they did not like, which they thought introduced very dangerous principles into the administration of the Poor Law, because they had evidence, right and left, that a very large interest was felt in it by a great part of the constituencies which they dared not resist. He ventured to think the evidence of fact led to the truth of that. But that was not all. When he spoke last year on the Motion of the hon. Member for Kerry (Mr. Blennerhassett), he referred to other evils of an aggravated character—he meant the manner in which the opinions of the House was swayed by the oscillations of public opinion outside, and the introduction of popular passion and feeling as a great moving power of legislation. He would refer to two instances, to show the extreme dependence of hon. Members on the movements outside the House. Last year there was a day of great excitement—"black Thursday" it might be called—it was the Thursday after the night on which there was a rumour in the House that the Russians were in Constantinople. The rumour was false, but it was believed. It came at a time when they were discussing the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Bradford. Great anxiety was felt as to what was to be done with the Amendment, and, eventually, the right hon. Gentleman withdrew it. Did he think the Motion had become false in principle? No; but he thought that the feeling outside was so excited that it would be dangerous to the Liberal Party to resist it. [Mr. W. E. FORSTER: No!] No? Why, on that Thursday, an ardent Liberal, most zealous on the Eastern Question, had come up to him and said that it was no use going further with the Motion. The hon. Gentleman did not doubt his own opinion, but the necessity arose for giving in to the popular feeling outside. If he might be allowed to make another reference to a personal remembrance, he would go back two years. Two years ago they were debating with much energy a question which had since become a burning one, by reason of the unfortunate events in South Africa, and on which he took a strong view. A representative man of the modern democracy had said to him—"Your Party is not with you; your front Bench is against you; the newspapers don't report your speeches; and the people outside don't understand you. You had therefore better give it up." He only cited that as an illustration of the way in which the influences of the people outside were growing, so that the strongest Members in that House altered or suppressed their opinion, on the ground that the masses of the people were against them. The fact was that the dependence of hon. Members upon the feelings of the people outside was growing rapidly, and was undermining their independence of thought. How was all this to be cured? Did it not show the necessity of providing for the representation, not only of the majority, but of the minority, or of what might be termed the totality of the electorate? That had been done in the school boards by the cumulative vote, and there was no reason why the same principle should not be carried out in the representation of the people in that House. They had secured the representation of Roman Catholics, of artizans, and of other minorities on the school boards—minorities which, so far as Great Britain was concerned, found no Representative in that House. If that principle were fully carried out, they might go on extending the franchise as much as they liked, because then, at all events, every class of thinkers would be fully represented; and thus, without extinguishing independence, they might reconcile the progress of democracy with the maintenance of individual liberty. With the permission of the House, he would read one more extract. He did not know whether he was a pessimist in all things, but he was sometimes inclined to think this generation had produced few books that would live. The extract he was about to read was from one that had all the promise of enduring life—the autobiography of a thinker, which told the story of the growth of a mind. He was going to read from Mr. John Stuart Mill's Autobiography— This great discovery, for it is no less, in the political art, inspired mo, as I believe it has inspired all thoughtful persons who have adopted it, with new and more sanguine hopes respecting the prospects of human society; by freeing the form of political institutions towards which the whole civilized world is manifestly and irresistibly tending from the chief part of what seemed to qualify or render doubtful its ultimate benefits. Minorities, so long as they remain minorities, are and ought to be outvoted; but under arrangements which enable any assemblage of voters, amounting to a certain number, to place in the Legislature a representative of its own choice, minorities cannot be suppressed. Independent opinions will force their way into the Council of the nation and make themselves heard there—a thing which cannot happen in the existing forms of representative democracy; and the Legislature, instead of being weeded of individual peculiarities and entirely made up of men who simply represent the creed of great political or religious parties, will comprise a large proportion of the most eminent individual minds in the country, placed there, without reference to Party, by voters who appreciate their individual eminence. I can understand that persons, otherwise intelligent, should, for want of sufficient examination, be repelled from Mr. Hare's plan by what they think the complex nature of its machinery. And he begged attention to this sentence, for to him it did seem most pregnant— But anyone who does not feel the want which the scheme is intended to supply, anyone who throws it over as a mere theoretical subtlety or crotchet, tending to no valuable purpose and unworthy of the attention of practical men, may be pronounced an incompetent statesman, unequal to the politics of the future. Then came a little consolation for some of those who might have felt the force of the last words— I mean unless he is a Minister, or aspires to become one; for we are quite accustomed to a Minister continuing to profess unqualified hostility to an improvement almost to the very day when his conscience, or interest, induces him to take it up as a public measure and carry it. He believed most solemnly those words. That was a scheme destined to re-create their political life. Those who rejected it as a crotchet, by that rejection showed themselves to be "incompetent statesmen, unequal to the politics of the future." It was because he was so impressed by the importance of that principle, and of that mode of raising up their political life from the degradation into which it was falling, and of cherishing the elements of individual excellence and independence, while, at the same time, they gave the utmost freedom to the will of majorities, that he was unable to support the unqualified proposition of the hon. Member for the Border Boroughs.


Sir, it is unnecessary for me to trespass at any length on the time of the House. This is not the first occasion on which I have ventured to speak on the same Motion, and the arguments by which I have resisted it in the past on behalf of the Government are equally applicable to it now. But, nevertheless, I do feel it necessary to say one or two words in regard to the debate. I think I may say that the debate has been characterized by a considerable amount of reasoning and of eloquence, which goes far, in my opinion, to refute the very unfavourable descriptions which some hon. Members on both sides of the House have chosen to give of the present House of Commons. Two speeches have been delivered, from the opposite Benches to-night which ought, I think, to make a very considerable impression upon the minds of hon. Gentlemen and upon the country. I refer, of course, to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe), and also to the speech to which we have just listened with so much pleasure from the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr Courtney). I take those two speeches together in this sense. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University was a grave and solemn and statesmanlike warning that we were undertaking to deal with a question of great magnitude and great perplexity, which involved considerations not only of Party, not only of the position of the country at the present time, but also of the position of posterity and the country for all time to come. The right hon. Gentleman also, in a manner which must, I am sure, have greatly impressed all who heard him, told us that we should not lightly commit ourselves to any great change of this kind which we had not first carefully considered and examined, and were not thoroughly prepared to accept. The hon. Member for Liskeard has followed that speech with another, of which the destructive part—that part which was destructive of the proposition of my hon. Friend the Member for the Border Boroughs (Mr. Trevelyan)—must have made a great impression on the House, and must have shown us that whatever may be the ultimate solution of this question of proper representation, we have not arrived at, and my hon. Friend the Member for the Border Boroughs has not yet presented us with, any scheme which is complete enough for us to accept with due regard to the warnings we have just received. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) told us at the opening of his speech that he was not prepared to quarrel with the Mover and the Seconder, to whom I wish, in passing, to pay a just tribute for their speeches, which were well worthy of themselves and also of the House—or to quarrel with the opinions and views they expressed; but that he was disposed to demur to the form of the Amendment, which he rightly supposed the Government accepts and supports. He said that that Amendment in reality amounted to very little more than the Previous Question, and he asked—"Why did not you move it?" He asked the question, and he himself gave the answer that the Previous Question is a matter very little understood by the country; and that it was very desirable in our opinion, and I think also in the opinion of my noble Friend behind me (Lord Claud Hamilton), that the grounds upon which we refuse our assent to the proposition should be clearly understood in the country. We do not lay down any position of absolute finality under all circumstances. I do not think we should be justified in doing so. I think it would be wrong to say that the representation of this country is incapable, at any time and under no well-considered plan, of amendment; but we do lay down, with a clear and distinct voice, that at present it is not desirable to reopen this question, and at the present we have not before us any plan which makes it either wise or prudent to re-open it. The time has not come, and the solution has not been presented to us. I think that is a proposition which a very slight reference to facts will commend at all events to this side of the House. What has been the history of this Reform Question? In the year 1832 a very large Reform was made, which introduced 500,000 electors to the franchise. That settlement lasted for a generation—for 35 years—and then another Reform Act was passed, which added something like 1,500,000 voters. Now, within 12 years of that time, we are asked again to come forward and make another alteration in the Constitution, and we are encouraged to do this by the Motion of my hon. Friend, who rather seems, as the hon. Member for Liskeard pointed out, to have fallen into the position he now occupies by accident. My hon. Friend originally had a Motion which he used to bring before the House, calling attention to the condition of the agricultural labourers. He coupled with that, almost as an after-thought, the question of agricultural reform, and out of that has grown another and separate proposition, until we have got at last to the point we have now reached, being still left, nevertheless, very much in ignorance of what he proposes and how he means to carry it out. He has talked about the propriety of admitting a vast number of agricultural labourers to the franchise, and he has added a few words to his original Motion about re-distribution; but he has never grappled with the whole question upon anything like a consistent or complete plan. He is followed and supported again by the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke), who begins by cutting the ground entirely from under his Leader's feet. His Leader said his object was to introduce a large number of agricultural labourers into our representative system. He harangued us a good deal about the class who sent their children to the war, and so on. He did not say much about the representation of this class, for he took it for granted that they were not represented as they ought to be. But what was almost the first remark of the hon. Baronet? He said he thought very little of this proposition in that sense, because he did not think it would enfranchise anything like the number it was desirable to enfranchise—and a totally different mode was advocated. My hon. Friend made a very smart speech, and he appealed to our feelings in a way he is so capable of doing; but I must say I think there was a little approach towards what I may call flattery. He asked who were the real sufferers by war—and reminded us who were sending their children out to fight, forgetting that in all other classes, and even amongst noble Lords, there are some who go to war, and for whom family feelings exist, and for whom family sacrifices have to be made—a point which my hon. Friend rather lightly passed over. He made a confession also which threw some light on the grounds of his Motion. He referred to the North Norfolk Election, and the excellent speech which was made there by my hon. Friend the Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read) who sits behind me. He referred also to another speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), which, he said, although an admirable one, did not convert those to whom it was addressed. If it did not, is it obvious that it is necessary a change should be made in the constituency? That appears to me to open our eyes to the source of this agitation. In 1867 we made a great change in our electoral system. What were the circumstances under which that change was made, and what was the position of the House? A Conservative Government was in Office, but the majority of the House was a Liberal majority. The Act of 1867 was passed with the general consent of the great body of the House, including the Liberal Party, which had the power to have rejected it or to have enforced concessions. This question of the county franchise was distinctly raised by Mr. Locke King, who was the parent of the whole question; and though there was not, I believe, a Division, there was, at all events, a general consent that the county franchise might and should be settled in the way in which it was settled at the time. That was the opinion of the House in which there was at the time a Liberal majority. But there was more than that. We had a Dissolution shortly after, and in the subsequent Elections the question was never mentioned. We had a Parliament in which a Liberal Ministry had a very large majority, and during all that time nothing was done to deal with this crying evil, which was one of so serious and grave a character that it must have attracted the attention of the Ministry of that day, and have challenged some measure to set it right. Nothing of the sort took place. My hon. Friend did, indeed, call attention to the subject; but he did not receive much encouragement from his Leaders, and the matter was allowed to drop. Then came an Election, at which the country thought the Liberal Party had misbehaved themselves, and it rejected them and turned them out of Office. Then a new light began gradually to dawn upon them, and they began to think that they had not succeeded so completely in getting as good a representative system as they imagined they had done. The process of conversion has been slow, but the great bulk of the Liberal Party, with two or three brilliant exceptions, have committed themselves to a pledge, which they will find it very difficult indeed not to embody in their policy, if they come into Office. They will feel themselves compelled to introduce a Reform Bill which must be of a very large and comprehensive character. It is impossible that they can limit it to the demands of this one class for the suffrage, and they must couple with it a good many other things. With reference to these measures there have been suggestive hints from the hon. Baronet and the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr. Leatham), and others. They seem to have some ideas which may give us a good deal of trouble when we come to settle this question. The hon. Baronet was very frank about the anomalies of the present system, and declared they were as great as they were before 1832. In point of fact, he says, all the changes that we have made are changes for the worse, and that we have been going on, getting worse and worse, until we have arrived at the very worst representative system the world ever saw. That, at all events, is a pleasant reflection for those who have taken part in the promotion of Reforms on the lines which we have hitherto followed. It is not merely a question of extending a little the work you did in 1867, and admitting a few more persons to the franchise, because that is the line we followed in 1832 and 1867, and that we now learn is a line which is unsatisfac- tory altogether to the hon. Baronet, because it leads from bad to worse, until we have adopted the very worst system the world has ever seen. Well, we are told when things come to the worst it is time for them to mend, and probably we shall now see something in the direction of amendment. What is that proposition to be? Well, we have it very skilfully and carefully shadowed forth, with sufficient reserve, not to alarm anybody. The hon. Member for Huddersfield told us he was not going to argue the question of manhood suffrage, but that he did not see why we should be so afraid of it. The hon. Baronet did not actually commit himself to it, but I think his arguments led directly to it. There seemed, also, to be an intention on the part of some other hon. Members to throw over the property qualification. If you will analyze all that was said, you will find it went rather further than merely attempting to deal with faggot-votes. It went to the point of overthrowing the property qualification altogether, and of substituting an occupation or a residential franchise; of doing away with all distinctions between county and borough by abolishing altogether the property qualification in counties. I do not say that that is the plan proposed; but we ought, at all events, to know what the plan is, and we have some very suspicious indications from hon. Gentlemen who are taking part in this matter. Therefore, I think, acting upon the wise and cautious advice of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London, we had bettor think twice and thrice before we overthrow this Constitution under which we have been able to do a great deal, and I believe to manage the affairs of the country in a manner not so unsatisfactory as you would have us believe, until we see something proposed which will be better, and which we are satisfied will be for the national benefit. I do not at all go into the points raised by the hon. Member for the Border Boroughs about the labouring classes getting all their good from the borough Members. I might turn the tables, and say that the working classes get their chief benefit from the county Members. I might ask who passed the Factory Acts and abolished the Truck system? But I do not go into these questions. It is not fair—it is hardly decent—for hon. Members on one side of this House to accuse hon. Members on the other side of having lessened the influence of the House. That is not the point before us. The question simply is—Can we, at so short an interval and on such insufficient reasons, make a change which, in its magnitude, its dimensions, and still more in its consequences, will be one of the most serious and important that can be proposed?


As I have already, on several occasions, addressed the House upon this subject, I am sure that hon. Members will be glad to learn that, even if I wished to do so, which I do not, I am to-night physically incapable of detaining the House for more than a few minutes; but as I have been rather pointedly alluded to by the noble Lord (Lord Claud Hamilton), and by the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney), I am unwilling that the debate should be closed without saying a few words upon the position I have taken on the subject. The noble Lord has been extremely severe upon what he calls my "pliability," and his observations were repeated, to a considerable extent, by my hon. Friend. It is very indifferent to me by what epithet my conduct is described, and it may be very easy and, perhaps, perfectly satisfactory, to the noble Lord and my hon. Friend, so long as they remain below the Gangway, to maintain an absolutely inflexible position upon this or any other question. But I think it is often found by Gentlemen who sit on this side that a time comes when it is necessary to make up their minds upon a question of this kind, and when a decision upon it can no longer be indefinitely postponed. I am perfectly willing to confess that I was as unwilling as any hon. Member could be—having a lively recollection of the many nights and weeks we spent not long ago over the Reform Question—that that question should be once more suddenly re-opened. The time came, however, when I found that the question was no mere crotchet of the hon. Member—no crochet supported by a small minority in the country and destined soon to be dropped again. We found it was seriously and soberly put forward by a very large body of the county constituencies, and supported, I believe, by a majority of the borough constituencies. That is a demand which cannot be for ever ignored, and one to which sooner or later "Aye" or "No" must be given. It is perfectly possible that different answers will be given. Two of my right hon. Friends on this Bench are disposed to answer "No;" but they admit with me that it requires an answer, and cannot be everlastingly postponed. The noble Lord is extremely severe upon my connection with the Peace Preservation Act; but I must say I am not at all able to follow the noble Lord in not discerning the difference between a vote on the Peace Preservation Bill and the extension of the franchise in Ireland; and I cannot see the connection between that Bill and the extension of popular rights. It may well be, however—and I am not referring to the present case—that the unjust and unwise refusal of the extension of popular rights may become the cause of those very Peace Preservation Acts. The noble Lord says that I cannot be so simple as to suppose that any change has taken place in the temper and feelings of the Irish people in a few short years. I am quite willing to admit that I believe that those measures have not been without their effect upon the people of Ireland. At all events, the present Government—the Government with which a Relative of the noble Lord is connected—did think some change had taken place in the opinions and feelings of the people of Ireland, because that Government thought it was now possible to make certain relaxations in the provisions of that Peace Preservation Act. It is, therefore, not altogether improbable that a change may have occurred since I was a party to those Acts, which would make it not so unreasonable as the noble Lord appears to imagine that I should not be opposed to the extension of popular rights even in that country. But the argument of the noble Lord, as it appears to me, rests not entirely upon the ignorance and want of independence of the Irish people. His argument went a great deal further, for it extended to the disfranchisement of the Roman Catholic population altogether, and doing away with the popular representation, or, at all events, returning to the principle of the representation of select Protestant minorities. If that is not the extent of the argument of the noble Lord, I must say I am unable to see in what other direction his remarks point. There appeared to me some confusion in the arguments of the noble Lord, for he appears not to have formed any very distinct opinions as to what has been the effect of the extension of the franchise in this country. He has told us that Providence itself happily interfered to remove the Government of my right hon. Friend near me, to substitute that which now occupies the opposite Benches. But what was the unworthy instrument used by Providence to effect that change? Why, household suffrage; and yet, as to the result of the operations of it, the noble Lord seems to have much doubt. At a later period in his speech the noble Lord expressed the opinion that the character of this House has greatly deteriorated, and the hon. Member for Liskeard followed with a similar statement. I can hardly reconcile the two statements of the noble Lord. The hon. Member for Liskeard thinks that the proof of the deterioration of the House is found in the fact that there are few Members who will now stand up and say unpleasant things or defend unpopular measures. Now, I must say, as to the expression of unpleasant views, that if the saying of them is a proof of the virtue and merit of the House of Commons, I do not think it has deteriorated. On all occasions, and from all sides of the House, hon. Members are ready to say unpleasant things, both as to their opponents and their friends. But I must protest against the test which my hon. Friend applies to the character of the House as proved by its proceedings. It is not my intention to make any general observations on this subject, which has been so thoroughly discussed on former occasions, as well as to-night. After the very original and very able speech of my hon. Friend the Member for the Border Boroughs (Mr. Trevelyan), it is not very easy to say anything new on this subject. When the time comes the subject will be discussed, both as to principles and details. I think my hon. Friend is perfectly right in annually renewing this Motion. He has a right to reviewing own forces. He has a right, above all, to give fair warning to the constituencies that at the next Election, whenever that may be, this will be a serious question which will be put to them. It is doubtful whether or not this great extension of the franchise will be carried out within the next five or six years; but, at all events, it will depend upon their decision, and the hon. Member is perfectly right to bring the subject forward annually. The question, however, in its present form, is only an abstract one, and our debates upon it, therefore, must necessarily assume the character of those of a debating society. It is not surprising, therefore, that the House should not show any great anxiety to enter into its details. What, however, is the position which Her Majesty's Government have taken up with regard to it? Every speech that has been delivered from the opposite Bench—even that of the right hon. Gentleman to whom we have just listened—has been theoretically in favour of the Previous Question, and the Amendment which was moved by the noble Lord was distinctly in favour of the Previous Question. But the character of the Amendment has not been supported practically by the majority of the speeches which have been delivered by hon. Members opposite. Even the noble Lord himself, in moving the Amendment, delivered a speech in which he entirely objected to the principle of the Resolution. Again, the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London, which has received such encomiums from the right hon. Gentleman opposite, was not in favour of the Previous Question, but of meeting the Resolution with a direct negative. Why is it that the Government have adopted the Previous Question? The time will come, and probably very soon, when Her Majesty's Government will learn that some more decided answer must be given to this demand which has been put forward by a very large portion of the people of the country. It is as well we should see what the meaning of this on the part of the Government is. It is easy to say what its meaning is not. The excuse which Her Majesty's Government have made for not dealing with the subject is that they have not had time to do so. It is certain, however, that their legislative enterprize during the life of the present Parliament has not been such as to have prevented them from dealing with this very important question, had they desired to do so. What is clear, however, is that they wish to keep in their hands the power of treating this part of the Reform Question as they treated that of Reform itself on a previous occasion. We all recollect how the question of Reform was treated in 1867 by the Conservative Government. We remember that, having no conviction of the necessity of Parliamentary Reform at all, and not being convinced by the arguments in favour of it, but being convinced that there was a very strong, indeed, an irresistible, popular opinion in its favour, and finding that it stood as an insurmountable barrier between them and accession to power, the Conservative Government was willing to make itself the instrument—perhaps the unwilling instrument—of the popular demand, and to bring in, not a measure but measures of Parliamentary Reform as to the necessity for which they never showed any conviction. We saw Bill after Bill introduced without adequate consideration, withdrawn with very little regret, and replaced by others drawn, perhaps, with even still less reflection; and the ultimate result was that the Bill which was passed was much less the work of the Government than of the Opposition in this House. When I say the work of the Opposition, I do not mean that it was done by means of fair Party Divisions; but there were conferences in tea-rooms, and elsewhere, and other matters of which, up to that time, we had heard but little in this House, and as to which it is most desirable we should hear as little as possible again. What I want to know, then, is, whether these scenes and proceedings are to be repeated with regard to this further measure of Reform? Is this question to be left to be taken up or to be dropped by a Conservative Government according as it may suit their convenience? Because, if that be so, we shall have one of two things—either the question will be taken up in a time of popular agitation and excitement, which cannot for a moment be supposed to be the most favourable for the consideration of such a question; or else it will be taken up at a moment when it is considered necessary to revive the waning popularity of Government, and treated as the question of Reform was treated before. I do not think that the precedent of the treatment of Parliamentary Reform to which I refer is one which ought to be repeated. It was one which did not meet the approval of many Members who sat on the Conservative Benches; and it undoubtedly dealt a very severe blow to the best traditions of the conduct of Business in this House. The most important functions of the Government of the day are not merely its executive functions, but those which it has to perform in guiding the legislation of the House; and if Parliamentary Reform—the most important domestic question which can be brought before Parliament—is to be dealt with in this way, without conviction, without any settled opinions on the subject, and merely as a matter of Party convenience, it must, I think, strike a severe blow at our Parliamentary procedure and traditions. The Government have to-night I had the question fairly presented to them in the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for the Border Boroughs, and the direct negative to that Motion which has been moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the; University of London; but they refuse to accept either the Motion or the Amendment, and adopt one which practically amounts to the Previous Question. They adhere to their former practice, in order that this subject may again be dangled before the eyes of the electors when they go to a General Election; that so once more they may say, as they have already said so often, that they are willing to support this measure whenever it is brought forward by a responsible Party in the State. Sir, it is because I think that that is not the manner in which a question of this importance ought to be treated that I have no hesitation in supporting the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for the Border Boroughs.


, amid cries of "Divide!" said, as he was the only Irish and Catholic Member who had risen to address the House that evening, he would ask a few moments in order to notice the intolerant, wanton, and grossly offensive speech delivered during the evening by the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn. ["Order!"] He would repeat—that intolerant, gross, and wantonly offensive speech. He was not at all surprised to see the noble Lord opposed to the Reform Bill of 1866, because of a cause personal to himself. He had that evening used language of an intolerant and not very creditable nature. He had said that a people so ignorant, bigoted, and devoid of all knowledge of the commonest principles of government as the Irish Roman Catholic peasantry did not exist. In 1865 the noble Lord was elected for Londonderry; but in 1869 he was defeated by the vote of Catholics of the City, given not in favour of a Catholic candidate, but for a Presbyterian of the Presbyterians—the present Baron Dowse, who was returned by a majority of upwards of 100. He (Mr. Callan) was sorry that that defeat had so rankled in his mind as to lead him to use such gross and offensive language. ["Order!"] He would repeat, wanton, gross, and offensive. ["Order!"] ["Divide!"] He had accused the Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition of introducing coercion into Ireland. He (Mr. Callan) had always opposed these Bills; but he should say that at that time the state of Ireland was very different to what it was now. He would quote the words of the successor of the noble Lord's father in the Viceroyalty of Ireland to show that. Everyone knew in Ireland that with the departure of the Abercorn Administration in Ireland was hailed a new epoch in the political history of the country. The departure of the Abercorn Administration—["Question!"] ["Divide!"]—With the departure—["Divide!"]—The departure was signalized as the defeat of the intolerant and despicable faction. What, however, was now the condition of Ireland, which was said to be bigoted and intolerant, where murders were said to stand undetected? Her Majesty's present Representative in Ireland said the other day that 10 years ago an Act of a very extreme character was passed including a large and important district in Ireland; but the Lord Lieutenant was happy to say that within the present year he was resident in that very district, and he could only say, so far from anything approaching disloyalty, her Grace and himself had met with every mark of kindness. The noble Lord had declared that the Irish Catholics were ignorant and bigoted; but would the hon. Members for Carlow or Monaghan, or the junior Member for Cork City, or the senior Member for Tipperary County, who represented Catholic constituencies, endorse such language? Catholics would know the value of this Division, and they would recognize by their votes what they thought of the wanton and offensive language of the noble Lord the Member for King's Lynn.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 226; Noes 291: Majority 65.

Adam, rt. hon. W. P. Davies, D.
Allen, W. S. Davies, R.
Amory, Sir J. H. Dease, E.
Anderson, G. Delahunty, J.
Ashley, hon. E. M. Dillwyn, L. L.
Backhouse, E. Dodds, J.
Balfour, Sir G. Dodson, rt. hon. J. G.
Barclay, A. C. Duff, M. E. G.
Barclay, J. W. Dundas, hon. J. C.
Barran, J. Earp, T.
Bass, A. Edge, S. R.
Bass, H. Edwards, H.
Baxter, rt. hn. W. E. Egerton, Admiral hn. F.
Beaumont, Colonel F. Evans, T. W.
Beaumont, W. B. Fawcett, H.
Biddulph, M. Ferguson, R.
Biggar, J. G. Fitzmaurice, Lord E.
Blake, T. Fitzwilliam, hn. W. J.
Blennerhassett, R. P. Fletcher, I.
Brady, J. Foljambe, F. J. S.
Brassey, H. A. Forster, Sir C.
Brassey, T. Forster, rt. hon. W. E.
Briggs, W. E. Fry, L.
Bright, Jacob Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Bright, rt. hn. John Gladstone, W. H.
Bristowe, S. B. Gordon, Sir A.
Brogden, A. Gordon, Lord D.
Brooks, M. Gourley, E. T.
Brown, A. H. Gower, hon. E. F. L.
Brown, J. C. Grant, A.
Browne, G. E. Grey, Earl de
Burt, T. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Callan, P. Hankey, T.
Cameron, C. Harcourt, Sir W. V.
Campbell, Lord C. Harrison, C.
Campbell, Sir G. Harrison, J. F.
Campbell-Bannerman, H. Hartington, Marq. of
Havelock, Sir H.
Carington, Col. hon. W. Hayter, Sir A. D.
Cartwright, W. C. Henry, M.
Cave, T. Herbert, H. A.
Cavendish, Lord F. C. Herschell, F.
Chamberlain, J. Hibbert, J. T.
Chambers, Sir T. Hill, T. R.
Childers, rt. hn. H.C.E. Holland, S.
Cholmeley, Sir H. Holms, J.
Clarke, J. C. Holms, W.
Clifford, C. C. Hopwood, C. H.
Cogan, rt. hn. W. H. F. Howard, hon. C.
Cole, H. T. Howard, E. S.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Hutchinson, J. D.
Collins, E. Ingram, W. J.
Colman, J. J. Jackson, Sir H. M.
Colthurst, Colonel James, Sir H.
Corbett, J. James, W. H.
Cotes, C. C. Jenkins, D. J.
Cowan, J. Johnstone, Sir H.
Cowen, J. Kay-Shuttle worth, Sir U.
Cowper, hon. H. F.
Cross, J. K. Kenealy, Dr.
Kensington, Lord Portman, hon. W. H. B.
Kingscote, Colonel Potter, T. B.
Knatchbull-Hugessen, rt. hon. E. Power, J. O' C.
Price, W. E.
Laing, S. Ralli, P.
Lambert, N. G. Ramsay, J.
Lawson, Sir W. Rashleigh, Sir C.
Leatham, E. A. Rathbone, W.
Lefevre, G. J. S. Richard, H.
Leith, J. F. Roberts, J.
Lewis, O. Robertson, H.
Lloyd, M. Rothschild, Sir N.M. de
Locke, J. Russell, Lord A.
Lubbock, Sir J. Rylands, P.
Lusk, Sir A. St. Aubyn, Sir J.
Macdonald, A. Samuda, J. D' A.
Macduff, Viscount Samuelson, B.
Mackintosh, C. F. Samuelson, H.
M'Arthur, A. Seely, C.
M'Kenna, Sir J. N. Shaw, W.
M'Lagan, P. Sheil, E.
M'Laren, D. Sheridan, H. B.
Maitland, W. F. Simon, Serjeant J.
Marjoribanks, Sir D. C. Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.
Marling, S. S. Spinks, Serjeant F. L.
Massey, rt. hon. W. N. Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.
Meldon, C. H. Stanton, A. J.
Middleton, Sir A. E. Stevenson, J. C.
Milbank, F. A. Stewart, J.
Monk, C. J. Stuart, Col. J. F. D. C.
Montagu, rt. hn. Lord R. Swanston, A.
Morgan, G. O. Tavistock, Marquess of
Morley, S. Taylor, D.
Muntz, P. H. Temple, right hon. W.
Mure, Colonel W. Cowper-
Noel, E. Tracy, hon. F. S. A.
Nolan, Major J. P. Hanbury-
Norwood, C. M. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
O'Beirne, Major F. Vivian, A. P.
O'Brien, Sir P. Vivian, H. H.
O'Byrne, W. R. Waddy, S. D.
O'Clery, K. Walter, J.
O'Donnell, F. H. Waterlow, Sir S. H.
O'Donoghue, The Wedderburn, Sir D.
O'Gorman, P. Whitbread, S.
O'Reilly, M. Whitwell, J.
Otway, A. J. Whitworth, B.
Palmer, C. M. Williams, B. T.
Palmer, G. Williams, W.
Parker, C. S. Wilson, C.
Parnell, C. S. Wilson, I.
Pease, J. W. Wilson, Sir M.
Peel, A. W. Young, A. W.
Pender, J.
Pennington, F. TELLERS.
Perkins, Sir F. Dilke, Sir C. W.
Philips, R. N. Trevelyan, G. O.
Playfair, rt. hon. L.
Agnew, R. V. Bagge, Sir W.
Allcroft, J. D. Bailey, Sir J. R.
Allen, Major Balfour, A. J.
Allsopp, C. Baring, T. C.
Allsopp, H. Barne, F. St. J. N.
Arbuthnot, Lt.-Col. G. Barttelot, Sir W. B.
Archdale, W. H. Bates, E.
Arkwright, A. P. Bateson, Sir T.
Arkwright, F. Beach, rt. hon. Sir M. H.
Ashbury, J. L. Beach, W. W. B.
Assheton, R. Bective, Earl of
Astley, Sir J. D. Benett-Stanford, V. F.
Bentinck, rt. hon. G. C. Forsyth, W.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Foster, W. H.
Beresford, G. De la P. Fremantle, hon. T. F.
Beresford, Colonel M. Gardner, J. T. Agg-
Birkbeck, E. Garfit, T.
Birley, H. Garnier, J. C.
Blackburne, Col. J. I. Gathorne-Hardy, hn. S.
Boord, T. W. Gibson, rt. hon. E.
Bourke, hon. R. Giffard, Sir H. S.
Bourne, Colonel J. Giles, A.
Bousfield, Col. N. G. P. Goddard, A. L.
Bowen, J. B. Goldney, G.
Brise, Colonel R. Gordon, W.
Broadley, W. H. H. Gore-Langton, W. S.
Bruce, Lord C. Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.
Bruce, hon. T. Grantham, W.
Bruen, H. Greenall, Sir G.
Brymer, W. E. Gregory, G. B.
Bulwer, J. R. Hall, A. W.
Burghley, Lord Halsey, T. F.
Burrell Sir W. W. Hamilton, Lord C. J.
Buxton, Sir R. J. Hamilton, I. T.
Cameron, D. Hamilton, right hon. Lord G.
Campbell, C.
Cartwright, F. Hamilton, Marquess of
Castlereagh, Viscount Hamond, C. F.
Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G. Hanbury, R. W.
Chaine, J. Harcourt, E. W.
Chaplin, Colonel E. Hardcastle, E.
Chaplin, H. Harvey, Sir R. B.
Clive, Col. hon. G. W. Hay, rt. hn. Sir, T. C. D.
Close, M. C. Heath, R.
Clowes, S. W. Helmsley, Viscount
Cobbold, T. C. Herbert, hon. S.
Cochrane, A. D. W. R. B. Hermon, E.
Cole, Col. hon. H. A. Hervey, Lord F.
Coope, O. E. Hick, J.
Cordes, T. Hicks, E.
Corry, hon. H. W. L. Hill, A. S.
Corry, J. P. Holford, J. P. G.
Cotton, W. J. R. Holker, Sir J.
Crichton, Viscount Holland, Sir H. T.
Cross, rt. hon. R. A. Holmesdale, Viscount
Cubitt, G. Holt, J. M.
Cust, H. C. Home, Captain D. M.
Dalkeith, Earl of Hood, Captain hon. A. W. A. K.
Dalrymple, C.
Davenport, W. B. Hope, A. J. B. B.
Deedes, W. Hubbard, E.
Denison, C. B. Isaac, S.
Denison, W. B. Jervis, Col. H. J. W.
Denison, W. E. Johnson, J. G.
Dickson, Major A. G. Johnstone, H.
Digby, Col. hon. E. Johnstone, Sir F.
Dyott, Colonel R. Jolliffe, hon. S.
Eaton, H. W. Jones, J.
Edmonstone, Admiral Sir W. Kavanagh, A. Mac M.
Kennard, Col. E. H.
Egerton, hon. A. F. Kennaway, Sir J. H.
Egerton, Sir P. G. Knightley, Sir R.
Egerton, hon. W. Knowles, T.
Elcho, Lord Lacon, Sir E. H. K.
Elliot, Sir G. Lawrence, Sir T.
Elliot, G. W. Learmonth, A.
Elphinstone, Sir J. D. H. Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.
Emlyn, Viscount Lee, Major V.
Estcourt, G. S. Legard, Sir C.
Ewart, W. Legh, W. J.
Ewing, A. O. Leighton, Sir B.
Fellowes, E. Leighton, S.
Finch, G. H. Lennox, Lord H. G.
Floyer, J. Leslie, Sir J.
Forester, C. T, W. Lewis, C. E.
Lewisham, Viscount Salt, T.
Lindsay, Col. R. L. Sanderson, T. K.
Lindsay, Lord Sandon, Viscount
Lloyd, T. E. Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.
Lopes, Sir M. Scott, Lord H.
Lowe, rt. hon. R. Scott, M. D.
Lowther, hon. W. Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J.
Lowther, rt. hon. J.
Macartney, J. W. E. Severne, J. E.
Mac Iver, D. Shirley, S. E.
M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J. Shute, General C. C.
Makins, Colonel W. T. Sidebottom, T. H.
Mandeville, Viscount Simonds, W. B.
Manners, rt. hn. Lord J. Smith, A.
March, Earl of Smith, F. C.
Marten, A. G. Smith, S. G.
Master, T. W. C. Smith, rt. hn. W. H.
Mellor, T. W. Smollett, P. B.
Merewether, C. G. Somerset, Lord H. R. C.
Miles, Sir P. J. W. Stanhope, hon. E.
Mills, A. Stanhope, W. T. W. S.
Mills, Sir C. H. Stanley, rt. hn. Col. F.
Monckton, F. Starkey, L. R.
Montgomerie, R. Starkie, J. P. C.
Montgomery, Sir G. G. Steere, L.
Moray, Colonel H. D. Stewart, M. J.
Morgan, hon. F. Storer, G.
Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R. Sykes, C.
Muncaster, Lord Talbot, J. G.
Naghten, Lt.-Col. A. R. Taylor, rt. hon. Col.
Newport, Viscount Thornhill, T.
Noel, rt. hon. G. J. Thwaites, D.
North, Colonel Thynne, Lord H. F.
Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H. Torr, J.
Tottenham, Colonel
O'Neill, hon. E. Tromayne, A.
Onslow, D. Tremayne, J.
Paget, R. H. Trevor, Lord A. E. Hill-
Palk, Sir L. Turnor, E.
Parker, Lt.-Col. W. Wait, W. K.
Peck, Sir H. Walker, T. E.
Pell, A. Wallace, Sir R.
Pemberton, E. L. Walpole, rt. hon. S.
Pennant, hon. G. Walsh, hon. A.
Peploe, Major D. P. Warburton, P. E.
Percy, Earl Watney, J.
Phipps, P. Watson, rt. hon. W.
Plunket, hon. D. R. Wolby-Gregory, Sir W.
Plunkett, hon. R. Wellesley, Colonel H.
Tolhill-Turner, Capt. F. C. Wells, E.
Wethered, T. O.
Powell, W. Wheelhouse, W. S. J.
Praed, C. T. Wilmot, Sir H.
Praed, H. B. Wilmot, Sir J. E.
Puleston, J. H. Wilson, W.
Raikes, H. C. Woodd, B. T.
Read, C. S. Wroughton, P.
Rendlesham, Lord Wyndham, hon. P.
Repton, G. W. Wynn, C. W. W.
Ridley, E. Yarmouth, Earl of
Ridley, Sir M. W. Yorke, J. R.
Ritchie, C. T.
Rodwell, B. B. H. TELLERS.
Round, J. Dyke, Sir W. H.
Russell, Sir C. Winn, R.
Ryder, G. R.

Question proposed, That the words 'this House is of opinion that it is inexpedient to reopen the question of parliamentary Reform at the present time,' be there added,

MR. LOWE moved the omission of the words "at the present time."

Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, to leave out the words "at the present time."—(Mr. Lowe.)


said, it did not seem to him to be worth while dividing on this Amendment.

Question, "That the words 'at the present time' stand part of the said proposed Amendment," put, and negatived.

Words, as amended, added.

Main Question, as amended, put. Resolved, That this House is of opinion that it is inexpedient to reopen the question of Parliamentary Reform.

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