§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Dodson.)
in rising to move as an Amendment—That, in the opinion of this House, no Census can he deemed satisfactory which does not indicate religious persuasion,said, he did not think the House would, on account of the small expense which an extra column in the Census Return would necessitate, refuse to do that which was done in every other country and in the United States. It was objected that it was an impertinent thing to ask a man to put down to what religious sect he belonged; but the House had already sanctioned the asking of that question in Ireland. He argued that it was of the utmost importance, in relation to many matters of legislation, that the House should have at its command authoritative statistics showing how many people belonged to the various religious sects in the country. He did not move that Amendment in any Party spirit, but simply as a matter of expediency, for another Census could not be taken for 10 years. It was also a question of truth, as to whether or not the House was to be placed in possession of reliable information; and, further, it was a question of consistency, the principle of a religious Census having already been applied to Ireland.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words
"in the opinion of this House, no Census can he satisfactory which does not indicate religious persuasion,"—(Captain Aylmer,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. WOODALL
hoped the House would not entertain the proposal of the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Captain Aylmer). Interesting as the information asked for might be, any Return of the kind must be illusory. They were told that the Statistical Society favoured the inquiry; but that was not the only subject upon which that Association must remain unsatisfied. They were pointed to the example of Continental Powers. But he would remind the House that in Belgium, in Prance, in the German States, they not only obtained Returns of religious professions, but they subsidized Catholics and Protestants alike, and, he believed, Jews also. Concurrent endowment had a fitful advocacy in that House some 10 years ago; but none of them expected to hear it urged again; and, therefore, the Continental precedent must be abandoned. But, even there, the inquiry was delusive. For instance, Germany was notoriously the country of unbelievers; but they would find the inhabitants all classified under one or other form of religious profession. The like result would, doubtless, follow such an inquiry as that now suggested, and would, no doubt, give hon. Members opposite what they desired—a large apparent preponderance of adherents to the Established Church. He frankly confessed he objected to such a Return on that ground. Such a preponderance was unreal. It had been fairly assumed that the population might be roughly divided into three parts. One part attached itself to the Church, another to some form of Dissent, and a third was indifferent. In a recent debate, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright) had told them that a considerable portion of the community was indifferent to religious dogma. They might, and most of them did, lament the circumstance; but its truth could not be denied. He thought it would be placed beyond question by some statistics, which, having been carefully pre- 1065 pared for a purpose which was not in the slightest degree controversial, he would quote with great confidence. These tables related to the church and chapel accommodation provided in London for a population of 3,500,000. He believed that it was agreed that such a population required accommodation for 58 per cent. But the actual provision was only 1,120,000, or little more than half what would be required were the people habitual worshippers. It thus followed that, were the desolate churches of the City, and the very partially occupied temples in all parts of London filled to their utmost capacity, there would still be nearly one-half of the population outside, and, as he believed, indifferent or hostile. But these facts would not be elicited by the proposed inquiry. He had consulted the Report of the pauper lunatic asylums for the county in which he was a Visiting Justice, and he found that last year the inmates were classified thus—Established Church, 62 per cent; Dissenters, 28; Roman Catholics 8, and unascertained, 2 per cent. Now, it could not be denied that in Staffordshire, when the poorer classes attached themselves to a religious denomination, it was, in an overwhelming degree, to one or other form of Nonconformity. Yet the classification he had quoted showed what would be the Census Return. He had endeavoured to ascertain the religious professions of the inmates of their gaols; but the Reports of the Prison Commissioners were commendably silent on the point. They did, however, classify the soldiers committed to Millbank, and of these military delinquents in 1878, he found that 1,316 were described as of the Church of England, 104 were described as other Protestants, and 568 were Roman Catholics. Of course, he was not to be understood as maintaining that Church teaching made an undue proportion of imbeciles or of criminal soldiers. His contention simply was, that it was idle and impertinent to make to such people, or to those who had to answer for them, any appeal at all as to their religious profession. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had spoken of the value of an authentic Return of religious accommodation; and he (Mr. Woodall) would concur with him in saying that such a Return would be useful, and could be had in a way per- 1066 fectly free from objection. He and those sitting near him had no objection to a repetition of the process adopted in 1851. That process had, he knew, been impugned; but its fairness was beyond question, and was not challenged at the time. But, steadily marching on as they were in the recognition of perfect religious liberty, he hoped that the Government would steadfastly refuse to intrude into matters which were wholly beyond its province.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
thought the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. Woodall) was the strongest argument he had yet heard, not only in support of the expediency, but of the absolute necessity of some trustworthy Return of the religious professions of the people of this country. The hon. Member, with a charming assumption on his part, said that, whereas the Nonconformists were a third of the people of England, only half of the remaining two-thirds attended a place of worship. There was a religious Census with a vengeance, evolved out of the internal conscience of the hon. Member! The idea of having a Return of persons attending various places of worship on the Census Sunday in 1851 was projected rather rudely, and Churchmen, very foolishly, resented it. The Dissenters, however, knew what was in the wind, and therefore attended in force. The Return, consequently, was a fallacious one; and yet, since 1851, it had been used up and down and from right to left ever since by the Dissenters, to show that they stood in an advantageous position as compared with Churchmen. They should never see the daylight in this question until they had something like an authentic enumeration. It was mere juggling with facts to call for a Return as to the number of seats in the churches and chapels of the United Kingdom. As he desired to see a vigorous, broad, and true Census, as near perfection as possible, he should most heartily support the proposal of his hon. and gallant Friend.
§ MR. DODSON
thought it would save time if he at once stated the views of the Government on the subject. His right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) was anxious to have trustworthy religious statistics; but it was evident he had not sufficiently considered 1067 the difficulty of getting those trustworthy statistics. Voltaire said this was an awful country, for there were 100 religions, and only one sauce; but, judging from the two Tables placed in his hands, Voltaire would find a worse state of things now, for one Table said there were 146 religions in the country, and according to the other there were 164. In one Return many might be included who would also be included in another Return—the difference of the forms of religion to which many belonged being so slight that it was easy to claim for this or that Body, and that constituted one very strong objection against a religious Census. There were many persons in this country, who were by no means irreligious persons, who found themselves just on the border line between one Church and another, and who did not wish to be called upon to draw a sharp line, and take their stand on the one side or the other. He would put this case thus to the right hon. Gentleman himself. He (Mr. Dodson) and the right hon. Gentleman were members of the Established Church, and a very comprehensive Church it was. He, for one, rejoiced at it; but were there not within that Church different sections and different opinions, and were not the more active partizans of those different opinions nearer in many cases to the Body outside the Church, which they most resembled, than they were to the Body within the Church from which they most differed? [Mr. BERESFORD HOPE: Because it is a Church, and not a sect.] It was difficult to draw a line in this matter. If they were to have a complete Census they must distinguish the schools of thought within the Church, and show the distribution of its members under such denominations as "High," "Low," "Broad," "Evangelical," &c. It was all very well to say that the Church did not regard such differences among its members; but, for a Census to be perfect, it was absolutely necessary that such differences should be defined. He did not profess to prefer the argument of either side over that of the other; but he felt bound to say that he thought Nonconformists might very well object to the taking of a religious Census in the manner proposed, for a religious Census would give an apparent undue preponderance of numbers to the Established Church as compared with 1068 Nonconformists. This would be caused by the fact that great numbers of persons whose opinions were not clearly ascertained would be set down as members of the Church. But the real, great objection to a religious Census was briefly this—that a very large proportion of the community objected to such a Census being taken. ["No, no!" and "Hear, hear!"] It could not be denied that, in this country, the Nonconformists generally objected to the religious Census. Their reasons might be good or bad, logical or illogical; but the fact was indisputable, and it was a substantial argument against the proposal. Another point was this—that it was often difficult to get an accurate statement of religious conviction, even from persons willing to give it; and how much more difficult, therefore, would it be to get it from those who were unwilling. If only a comparatively small minority of people were to refuse to give full information, the statistics would be inaccurate and misleading. He therefore objected, in the interests of the Census itself, to the endeavour to force this religious Census upon reluctant persons, the inevitable consequence of which would be to involve the Census itself in odium, and to run the risk of its being made utterly worthless. If they gave a religious Census they might equally yield to a similar demand from the humanitarians, the economists, the philosophers, the physicians, the sanitarians, the politicians, and so on. There was another objection, though a smaller one, which he might mention. Hitherto, in this country, it had always taken a long time to prepare a Census, and he had been advocating the desirability of issuing the Census within a considerably shorter space of time than three years, his opinion being that stale statistics were like stale beer. Now, every column of information which the Government were pressed to have added to the Bill must cause delay in the publication of the Census. The voracity of statisticians was insatiable; and if only one-half of their proposals were entertained great expense and delay would be occasioned. The Government had brought in this Bill in the same form in which all other Census Bills had been brought in, with the single exception of the Bill of 1851, and they did not wish to depart from the lines upon which it was framed. He, 1069 therefore, must oppose the Amendment that had been submitted to the House.
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
said, he was not convinced by the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Dodson) that the religious Census should not be taken. He was of opinion that when it became known that this country was, if not the only country, one of the few countries that refused to give an account of the religious opinions of their inhabitants, it would be thought that England was in a very illiberal frame of mind. The right hon. Gentleman said that in the Church there were various forms of opinion. It was because the Church of England was a Church and not a sect that it had many shades of opinion within it, and yet all subordinated to one definite form of faith. The right hon. Gentleman had altogether mistaken the terms of the proposition, which were of the most moderate and most modest character. Parliament was not asked by penalty to enforce a religious Census. All that was desired was that the people should have an opportunity, if they so pleased, of declaring their religious opinions. This opportunity was given in most foreign countries, and also in Ireland. Why, he asked, should it be possible to give it in Ireland, and impossible to give it in England and Scotland? He believed that the people of England, whether members of the Established Church, Dissenters, or Roman Catholics, were not ashamed of their religious opinions, or afraid to avow them; and to say that a moderate Motion of this nature was an attempt to terrorize over the people, and to force them to state their religious views, was an abuse of language. The right hon. Gentleman opposite said that the great objection to a religious Census was that a strong minority of our countrymen did not want it. But how did the right hon. Gentleman know that? He (Mr. J. G. Talbot) knew that certain Members of that House, who favoured them with their views of Nonconformity, were opposed to it; but he was of opinion that the members of the lower middle classes of this country who were firm in their adherence to Nonconformist principles would rejoice if an opportunity were given them of recording their religious views. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster once told him that his education was imperfect. Well, he 1070 (Mr. J. G. Talbot) came there as an ignoramus, and, in formâ pauperis, he asked for information. He wanted statistics of the religious opinions of the population, and would the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues give them? Until they obtained satisfactory religious statistics, he, for one, should not subscribe to the doctrine, of which they heard so much, that the Nonconformists amounted to one-half of the people of this country.
§ MR. JOHN BRIGHT
Sir, as this discussion has been going on I have been amusing myself by admiring the way in which hon. Gentlemen opposite leave out altogether the main and the true reason why they want this change in the Census. I do not deny that on this side of the House a corresponding argument has force, and that we, partly on the same ground, object to have the Census extended to religious opinions. It is mainly a political ground, and affecting that branch of politics connected with the Established Church. If I were to propose that there should be a clause in the Census or a column which should tell us exactly what was the religion of all persons now in Her Majesty's prisons—I will not extend it to lunatic asylums—the Return would come out that nine out of ten of all persons in prisons are not connected in any way with Nonconformist Bodies; that a certain proportion are connected with the Catholic Church, but that the great body of the prisoners in Great Britain are connected with the Church of England. That would be in accordance with the answers given by the persons who are now under confinement. Well, but you might answer that that is a very unfair thing to ask for, and that I could only ask for it for the purpose of using an argument that was false against the Established Church, and to make it appear that the members of the Established Church were more guilty of offending against the law than members of the Nonconformist Churches. I think your answer would be conclusive, and I should be condemned by the House and by the country for asking for a Return of that nature to be used for such a purpose. Well, then, what do you ask for this Return for? We know perfectly well, and you know, only you have not got the grace and the candour to state it. You objected to the Return that was given in 1851.
§ MR. WARTON
I rise to Order. The right hon. Gentleman repeats the word "You," when he ought, I think, to address the Speaker. ["Order!"]
§ MR. JOHN BRIGHT
Hon. Gentlemen opposite objected to the Census of 1851. I am not proposing that that should be repeated; but, at any rate, there was a basis of fact connected with the whole matter of that Return. I do not think that is the best way of taking the Return of those who attend church on a particular Sunday morning. I do not think there is anything in the argument of the right hon. Gentleman that there are so many services in the church. There are just as many services in the chapels, and you may rely upon it that the people who do not go to church or chapel on a Sunday morning do not, as a rule, go much at any other time. Besides, it would be possible, and perhaps it would be universal on that particular Sunday, that the clergymen and the ministers would endeavour to get as many people to go to church on that morning as possible; and, therefore, the whole Return would not be very accurate as to the general attendance at places of worship. But you might do another thing, which is what is done in the United States, The hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. J. G. Talbot) just now said we were behind every other country in the world. I read a very interesting article two or three days ago in The Morning Post on this very question. The writer stated what was the mode of taking the Census in the United States, and the plan was this. They gave a list of all the places of worship, and of all the sects of all the Churches; calling them, of course, by the names which the congregations give themselves. Then there is also a list or column of the seats—that is, the room or accommodation in every place of worship. And then, besides this, there was an estimate of the value of the property of the churches, schools, and buildings connected with the congregations in all cases. That is the Census which they have in the United States. They do not ask people what their opinions are. The thing is offensive and insolent, and in this country I believe it will never be agreed to.
§ MR. JOHN BRIGHT
I do not say it is insolent in Ireland, if the Irish people have been willing to have it. We know that there it had a certain political object; and the political object was that which the Roman Catholic Church, of course, found to be greatly in its favour. The Roman Catholics are the great majority in Ireland, and the division line between one religion and another is so marked that there is nothing like the difficulty in obtaining a Census of that kind that there would be in England. That is a thing that must be notorious to all of us. But why is it that, if you want to have a Census or anything touching religion, you do not adopt the course taken in the United States, a country which, of all others, is the most careful and the most wide-reaching in the statistics which it obtains of its population? There they are content with the number of the places of worship, the accommodation in each, and the value of the property which is comprised in the particular buildings of a particular congregation or church. That you might have; and, so far, it would be reasonable. Someone said the Social Science people recommended a religious Census. No doubt, someone, for political reasons, got some person in the Social Science Association to propose that a religious Census should be taken; and so omni-verous for information is that body that there is not the least doubt, if it were proposed that there should be a Census of all the people in the country with red hair, they would approve of it, and get some Member of that House to make the proposition. The hon. Gentleman opposite said he did not believe that a majority, or even a large minority, of the people of this country are opposed to this religious Census. Well, I think he could not have made a greater mistake. I will undertake to say that the view taken of this question in past years and now by those who represent Nonconformist constituencies in this country is supported, I may say, by almost the unanimous opinion of all the Nonconformist people. They would not object to that which would be fair—namely, an account of the churches and the accommodation, and the value, or even of the people who attend them. But to go to every house, and ask, under this clause—"What is your religion?" Well, we know, of course, what, I will not 1073 say millions, but hundreds of thousands, of householders would say. One man would say—"Well, I have not been to church since I married, and another would say—"I don't believe I have been there since I was christened." But in either case, if he was asked under this clause, as a matter of course the word "Church" would be that which would immediately present itself to its mind; and the word "Church," if he made any answer at all, would be his answer. Now, here, in this Census Bill, is a clause—the hon. Member opposite has never read it—which enacts that—Every person refusing to answer or giving a wilfully false answer to such questions or any of them"—one of them being the question which the hon. Gentleman proposes to include in the Bill—Shall for every such refusal or wilfully false answer forfeit a sum not exceeding five pounds, nor less than twenty shilling's.I ask the House whether it is possible that a proposition of this kind can be introduced into this Bill—whether you can send your Census agents into every house in the country to ask, under a penalty of from £1 to £5, "What is your religion?" or "What is the place of worship you go to?" The thing is absolutely impossible; and the House has over and over again, when this question has been discussed, decided against it by such an expression of feeling that even the Leaders of the Party opposite did not themselves dare to propose such a measure to the House when they were in Office. I hope, Sir, that, on this occasion, the decision of the House will be so expressed that we shall never again in our time hear of a proposition which I am of opinion has no honest intention, and which, if it were adopted, would, I am sure, introduce throughout the country a state of feeling which I think hon. Gentlemen opposite would very soon have great cause to regret.
§ MR. WARTON
said, it was painful to him to find that one so distinguished as the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster could never speak in that House on any subject without infusing into his utterances something of bitterness. The right hon. Gentleman, he might add, had a habit, instead of addressing himself 1074 to the Chair, of addressing those who sat opposite to him as "you." That, of itself, was not very pleasant; because one felt, when addressed in such a way, that something unkind was coming. What did the right hon. Gentleman say? He said they had not the courage to tell the truth. Now, that was very kind, very charitable, and very Christian of the right hon. Gentleman. The proposition made by the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Captain Aylmer) was not to compel people to answer questions under a penalty, as the Chancellor of the Duchy put it, but it was a permissive proposal. He himself saw no reason why people should not be asked to-day whether they belonged to the Church of England or to the Nonconformists. When the right hon. Gentleman talked about questions of the kind being insolent, he would remind him that that was rather a curious epithet to apply to an inquiry as to a matter which every act of his life revealed to his friends and the public. They ought to have a proper Census. The Census in 1851 was so favourable to the Dissenters that they did not want to have another which was likely to be unfavourable. As to insolent questions, it was much more insolent to the ladies to ask them to state their ages than to ask their religion. What they wanted was the truth, and the people might be allowed to answer the question as to religion or not, freely, as they pleased. He was afraid, however, that they could not expect any freedom now from the Liberal Party. His own belief was that one of the chief reasons why members of the Nonconformist Body were so much opposed to a religious Census was that they were so pleased with the results of the Census taken in 1851 that they did not like to incur the risk of having a different result obtained.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he had a similar Amendment on the Scotch Census Bill; but it would be convenient to settle the matter on the present Motion. With regard to the speech of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the right hon. Gentleman had gone wide of the mark. He had, with characteristic insolence, charged the Members of the Established Church with not having the grace to acknowledge that the real reason why they were in favour of taking a religious Census was that 1075 they believed the result would tell in their favour. Now, there could be no doubt that if the question of disestablishing the Church were to be raised in that House, one of the first questions which would be asked was what were the comparative numbers which belonged to it and to other religious denominations; and that being so, it was but reasonable, he contended, that the facts should be accurately ascertained. The right hon. Gentleman was of opinion that it would be offensive to ask a Nonconformist in this country what religion he professed; but he failed to understand how that could be insolent and offensive in England which was done in the case of our Colonists, as well as in the case of 5,500,000 inhabitants in Ireland and in foreign countries. He would further point out that the Statistical Society, whose members were free from all suspicion of ecclesiastical bias, 10 years ago passed a resolution praying the Government of the day to add to the Census a religious column. He would, moreover, ask the right hon. Gentleman why it should not be honest to ask an English Nonconformist what his religious opinions were while he lived in this country, and perfectly right and honest to do so when he became a resident of Canada? He hoped the Government would throw aside all consideration of the future conflicts of religious parties, and allow these important statistics to be collected.
§ MR. H. RICHARD
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) had had his usual fling at the Liberation Society. He had intimated that day that any statistics which might be propagated by the Liberation Society were not worthy of credence. [Mr. BERESFORD HOPE: Hear, hear!] He would respectfully submit to him that it would be as well, perhaps, that he should be less liberal of his scorn in regard to a body of Christian gentlemen, of whom he (Mr. Beresford Hope) knew very little, except that they differed from him on certain ecclesiastical questions; and it might occur to him, in the exercise of his Christian charity, that persons might differ from him on these questions without being either fools or knaves. Certainly, there were members of the Liberation Society in that House—he 1076 (Mr. H. Richard) was one of them—who resented his offensive imputations. Now, if it were desirable to have a knowledge of the proportionate number of the different denominations in that country, it was scarcely possible to conceive of a more trustworthy way of obtaining that information than by such a Census as they had in 1851, when Returns were made of the number of places of worship belonging to each denomination, the number of sittings provided by each, and the number of attendants at the most numerously-attended service on a particular Sunday. The result of that inquiry was to show that there were in England and Wales 34,467 places of worship, with 10,212,563 sittings, of which 14,077, with 5,317,915 sittings, were provided by the Church of England, and 20,320 places of worship with 4,894,648 sittings provided by the various Bodies outside the Established Church. The number of attendants at the most numerously attended service was for the Established Church 2,971,258, and for Dissenting places of worship 3,384,964. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge had blown upon these statistics as he always did. He referred to them as "superstitious traditions;" and hinted that, while the Church had been kept in ignorance of what was coming, the Dissenters were in the secret. There was no foundation whatever for such an insinuation. The Nonconformists knew nothing whatever about the Census of religious worship until the papers were in their hands. What ground was there for distrusting the statistics thus obtained? By whom was that inquiry made? The work of the Census was in the hands of more than 30,000 agents called enumerators, appointed by the Government. Did the right hon. Gentleman allege that these enumerators were Nonconformists? Such an allegation would be fatal to his contention; for what he wanted to establish was that the members of the Church of England were an immense majority of the people of England. But if those 30,000 enumerators were Nonconformists, it must have been because the Nonconformists were enormously preponderant in the population; for he (Mr. H. Richard) could assure the right hon. Gentleman that no Government, whether Liberal or Conservative, ever appointed 1077 a Nonconformist to any office if a Churchman could be found to do the work. And, in point of fact, he had no doubt the great majority of the enumerators were Churchmen, and not at all disposed unduly to favour the Dissenters. But by whom were the Returns made? As regarded the Church of England, by the clergy themselves. And did they refuse their co-operation? The following was the testimony of Mr. Horace Mann on that point:—The extent to which Returns, in answer to this application were received, affords abundant evidences of the hearty co-operation of the clergy and the ministers of all denominations in this voluntary labour. Such Returns have been received from 14,077 churches belonging to the Church of England, and from 20,390 places of worship belonging to all other religious Bodies. From this simple fact alone it will be manifest that these Returns are nearly as complete as could be wished for, and that now, for the first time, there is given to the country a full picture of the state of its religion, as exhibited by its religious institutions.No doubt, that Census was a startling revelation to the members of the Church of England. They had been paying very little heed to the remarkable growth of the Nonconformists during the preceding half century, and they were discomfited, and almost panic-stricken. The revelation ought to have been salutary to them; and if they had looked upon it as Christians, and not as Churchmen, it might have been in one sense, at least, satisfactory; for it showed to them that, while the Church had failed to meet the spiritual wants of the nation, others had stepped in, and, by their voluntary exertions, had provided the means of religious instruction and worship for millions of people whose requirements the Church had failed to overtake. But, unfortunately, they preferred to look upon the matter from a sectarian, rather than from a Christian point of view. And so they did all in their power to invalidate the trustworthiness of the Returns. The late Bishop Wilberforce especially, who, though, in many respects, a very able and admirable man, was singularly narrow in his ecclesiastical sympathies, raised a great clamour against the Returns, and tried hard to discredit them. But he failed absolutely, and the agitation tended rather to confirm the conviction of their substantial accuracy. For it led, among other things, to a Question being put in this House by Mr. Apsley 1078 Pellatt, who was Member for Southwark, and who asked Lord Palmerston, who was then Home Secretary—Whether any recent inquiry had been made into the accuracy of the Returns of the Registrar General; and whether, in consequence, any doubt existed as to their fairness?To which Lord Palmerston replied—That he had made inquiries on the subject, and he entertained no doubt as to the accuracy of the Returns with regard to all the facts to which they had referred…He reposed entire confidence in the general accuracy of the Returns, and in the diligence and care of those under whose arrangements they had been made, by whom, he believed, every means had been taken to render their statements as accurate as possible.The right hon. Gentleman who had charge of this Bill (Mr. Dodson) had said that the Nonconformists were opposed to the proposal for a Census of religious profession. But hon. Gentlemen opposite denied that. It was very amusing to him to observe how hon. Gentlemen opposite undertook to answer for the Nonconformists. There were a good many Nonconformists in that House, and some sent especially to represent the Nonconformists. But they were constantly told that they did not know anything about their views, but that hon. Gentlemen opposite did; and that day the hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. J. G. Talbot), of all men living, had undertaken to answer for the Nonconformists in that matter. His (Mr. H. Richard's) right hon. Friend in charge of the Bill was perfectly right. They did object entirely to the proposal for a Census of religious profession. They objected to it on principle, because they denied the right of the State to make inquisition into the religious opinions of the people. If anyone were to propose a Census of political opinion, and that columns should be prepared, under which every man should return whether he was a Conservative, or Liberal- Conservative, or Liberal, or Radical, or Home Ruler, or Fenian, he would be at once laughed out of Court with scorn. But to demand a man's religious opinions would be a still greater invasion of the liberty of the subject. Besides which, such a Return would be absolutely misleading. Hon. Gentlemen opposite knew, as well as he did, and, no doubt, deplored as sincerely as he did, the fact that there were millions 1079 of people in this country who belonged to no Church, who never frequented any place of worship, who were outside all our religious organizations. And, no doubt, tens of thousands of those, ashamed or unwilling to acknowledge the fact, would enrol themselves as Churchmen, and so swell, by a purely fictitious Return, the apparent numbers of the members of the Church of England. No doubt, it was for the sake of some such miserable triumph as that, that hon. Gentlemen opposite so strenuously contend for that kind of Census. But they would gain very little real strength by such a device. Many of the adherents would prove very much like the man of whom he (Mr. H. Richard) had heard, who, when committed to prison for some crime, was asked—as he believed was, at one time, the custom of our prisons—"Of what religion are you, my man?" and who drew himself up in great indignation, and exclaimed—"Religion, sir; I am of no religion; I belong to the Church of England." And so, I suspect, many of the adherents whom the hon. Gentleman opposite would gain by the process he suggests would be of the same class—men who were of no religion, but who belonged to the Church of England. He was glad the Government resisted the proposal of the hon. and gallant Gentleman; and he need not, he was sure, express a hope that they would firmly adhere to their opposition.
§ MR. HIBBERT
said, the hon. and gallant Member who introduced the Motion desired to be so moderate that he would not have a penalty imposed for refusing to answer; but, on that very ground, the Returns must be regarded as misleading, and the Census would not at all effect the object the hon. and gallant Gentleman had in view. They knew that Nonconformists objected to such a Return; and, knowing their feeling on this question, he thought they might fairly come to the conclusion that not a large number of them would consent to state what their religion was. Therefore, the proposed Return would not be of a trustworthy character. The hon. Member did not propose to put a penalty on a person who refused to state what his religion was. He thought the hon. Member did not go far enough. If he desired a religious Census he ought to propose to put a penalty on every person who refused to state his religion. 1080 But he thought the people of this country would strongly object to a penalty for such a purpose. Was religious profession a matter for the State to inquire into? He held it was not.
observed, that in Ireland a Return would be asked for of people's religious profession.
§ MR. HIBBERT
said, he knew that there was a Schedule for Ireland, in which it was proposed to ask what people's religious opinion was in that country; but they knew that Ireland was in a very different state from England. The vast majority in Ireland were of one religion, and there was no objection on the part of the minority to such a Census. In England, they had a feeling on the part of the minority against such a Census; and, therefore, he thought the Government were perfectly justified in refusing to accede to the proposition of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. It was said that when a Nonconformist went to Canada, Victoria, or any other of our Colonies, he was quite willing to join in a religious Census. The reason why he objected to do so here was because there was an Established Church here; but there was no Established Church in the Colonies. The Return asked for by the hon. and gallant Gentleman would be misleading, because many who really belonged to no religion at all would say that they belonged to the Established Church. He thought it was very satisfactory that this matter had been discussed in a moderate tone. He hoped the Speaker would now be allowed to leave the Chair.
said, that he was very sorry to stand between the House and a division; but as the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had stated that he did not intend to press his Amendment on the third reading of the Scottish Census Bill, but to accept the decision which the House might come to on the present Resolution, as applicable to the case of Scotland also, he (Mr. Dick-Peddie) trusted the House would not object to a Scotch Member saying a few words on the question. He thought that the strongest argument brought forward by the hon. and gallant Member for Maidstone (Captain Aylmer), in support of his Resolution, was the fact that a religious Census was to be taken in Ireland. There were, indeed, circumstances which 1081 rendered a religious Census less objectionable in Ireland than in England or Scotland; but he did not think that these were sufficient to show that such a Census should be taken in Ireland, and he regretted that the Government had made provision for such a Census in that country. The hon. and gallant Member said that the House was unanimous in agreeing to a religious Census for Ireland. That was a mistake, however, for an Amendment had been moved by an Irish Member. He (Mr. Dick-Peddie) had the honour of supporting that Amendment, and a division was taken upon it. He did not intend to go into any of the more obvious arguments against the Census, founded on the impossibility of getting accurate and reliable Returns; but he wished to say a few words in reply to the argument that a religious Census was needed as a guide for legislation in ecclesiastical political matters. The spirit of the Motion which had been put on the Paper by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. J. G. Hubbard), who was not then present to move it, was that a Census was needed as an aid in legislation. There could be no doubt that the question most prominent in the minds of hon. Gentlemen, when speaking in this way, was that of Disestablishment. Now, above all things, he objected to the decision of that question being made, to any extent, to depend on the Returns of a religious Census. He did so, not only because the results could not be relied on as accurately showing the relative strength of religious Bodies, but because, even if the Returns were accurate, it would be wrong to infer from the relative numbers of Established and Dissenting Churches the relative strength of opinion on Disestablishment. He knew that, in Scotland, there were Dissenters who were in favour of the principle of an Establishment; and some even who were not opposed to the existence of the present Established Church; but there were many more members of the Established Church who were quite prepared for the severance of its connection with the State. That had been brought out remarkably in the late General Election in Scotland. At that Election the Disestablishment Question was not raised by the Dissenters of Scotland, not be- 1082 cause they were indifferent to it, but because they did not wish to divert the attention of the country from the more urgent, if not more important, issues then before it. But the question was raised in almost every constituency by the Conservative and Church Party, who were practically one in Scotland. What was the result? It was that the Church and the Conservative Party were represented in that House by the miserable minority of 7 out of 60 Scotch Members. When he (Mr. Dick-Peddie) said a miserable minority, he did not refer to the quality of the Conservative Members, which was excellent, but to the quantity. If they endeavoured to decide the question of Disestablishment by Census Returns, they might be assured they were going on a wrong basis. That was a question that ought not to be determined by numbers, but by principles. It was a question of right or wrong, not of counting heads; and he considered that the rights of conscience were as much to be regarded as the rights of property. They had heard much in that House lately of the rights of property—and any proposal to make these dependent on majorities would be indignantly rejected by that House—but he thought that the principle of religious equality and the rights of conscience were as little to be subjected to the results of a Census as the rights of property in land, or any other property whatever. He was aware, however, that practically the question of Disestablishment must, to some extent, be determined by majorities; but the opinion of the people should be ascertained not by a Census such as that proposed, but at the polling booth; and he believed that at the next General Election in Scotland an opportunity of ascertaining it there must be given. If there was to be a religious Census at all, it ought to be taken on the American system which had been described by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The true test of the relative strength of religious denominations was the amount of interest which their members took in them, and the extent of the provision which that interest led them to take in the extending of their denomination. The man who was ready to put his hand in his pocket in furthering the interests of his religion was far more worthy of consideration, in dealing 1083 with political ecclesiastical questions, than the man who was merely a nominal member of a Church. He need only add that to attempt such a Census as was proposed would be offensive to the Scotch people. If it were attempted to enforce it by a penalty, it would be all but universally strenuously resisted. If the Return were asked without a penalty it would be neglected. He trusted that the House would, by an overwhelming majority, resist the proposals of those who were seeking to bolster up the Church of England by Returns which would credit it with the great bulk of all who either had no religion at all, or who, having so little interest in it as not to connect themselves with any Church, would return themselves as members of the Established Church.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that the hon. Member who had just sat down had expressed a hope that, by an overwhelming majority, this Motion for ascertaining by some means the religious opinions of the people, as was done in other countries, would be rejected. The hon. Member was one of the Democratic Party in that House, and the democratic test was the test of numbers; but he had utterly refused to apply that test to the religious opinions of the people. Why was that? He had consented to the test being applied to Ireland, where there was, not an Established Church, but where there was a dominant Church. He refused to have that test applied to England, where there was an Established Church, which he was seeking to disestablish. What was his argument with respect to Scotland? There was an Established Church in Scotland, and he immediately applied the numerical test. He said there was a miserable minority of Members in that House connected with that Church. He instantly applied the numerical test, and applied it to the question of the Ecclesiastical Establishment. Could anything be more totally inconsistent? He (Mr. Newdegate) said nothing of the form of obtaining the information that they needed. If they could have nothing else, let them adopt the system of the United States, as recommended by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Why not apply that? Were they for secrecy in voting and secrecy in everything else? Were they to set this educational example in 1084 a country where they were spending millions yearly for education, that they would act without education, that the House of Commons would not afford itself the means of education and information according to the only test which the majority of that House accepted—the numerical test? He did not intend to speak on this question; but he could not help saying, with regard to the arguments against not only this Motion before the House, but the American mode of obtaining the requisite information, that if this House refused all information it would be a most extraordinary as well as an inconsistent proceeding on the part of an Assembly which boasted of its intellectual superiority.
§ MR. D. M'LAREN
said, it was assumed very unjustly, as regarded the Dissenters in England and Scotland, that they objected to a true and accurate Census, if such a Census could be obtained, and, therefore, refused to give their assent to such a proposal. He (Mr. M'Laren) asserted that that was begging the question altogether. The Nonconformists objected to that Census, because they believed, rightly or wrongly, that it would not be an accurate one. Just to illustrate his argument, he might say that, over and over again, it had been stated that in the City of Glasgow there were 100,000 persons out of 500,000 who never entered a place of worship, and who belonged to no denomination. The Nonconformists believed, rightly or wrongly, that, assuming the fact of that 100,000 people to be correct, every one of them would have his name put down as belonging to the Established Church. And the reason was that no one liked to put himself down as a heathen, or a man of no religion; and the Census papers would not contain a column for people of no religion. That being the case, these 100,000 persons would be obliged to put themselves down as something or other, and they would naturally say they belonged to the Established Church. The objections that had been taken to the expense and trouble of such a Census had, he was afraid, not been fully realized. No doubt, the Schedule left in each house would only have one religious column. But the condensed register for each district would require to have as many columns as there were religious sects in the town or district in which the Census was taken. Since 1085 this discussion had arisen, he had looked into an authoritative publication; and he found that, in the City which he had the honour to represent, there were 19 different denominations having places of worship. Though it was quite true that there would be only one column in each house Return, the fact was that 19 columns would have to be provided for each district Registrar who had to condense the house Returns for the Census of Edinburgh. Then, if these city and the country districts were all amalgamated into one general Return for the country, 30 or 40 columns might be required, while the general national register would require 140 or 150 columns, in order to include all the different denominations in existence according to the statistics of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board. A religious Census had been taken of the City of Edinburgh many years ago, at which he had assisted; and from all the information he then obtained—and from other sources of information—he believed that the Census of church attendance taken in 1851, although imperfect, was, upon the whole, a thoroughly reliable one, and it was regarded as such generally. If, therefore, the hon. Gentleman opposite would move for the insertion of columns to show the attendance at places of worship of each denomination, and the number of such places, he would gladly support such a proposal. In the case of Ireland, which had been referred to, he understood that, because there was a dominant Established Church, the great body of the people at first applied for a religious Census, in order to show the injustice that was done to them in consequence of their great majority. The circumstances in Ireland were such that there was not the same chance of misrepresentation as such a Census in England or Scotland would be liable to. The hon. Gentleman next pointed out that in the case of Government officials, including the Army, Police, prison officers, and prisoners, there might be some apology for asking questions regarding their religious opinions; but that in the case of Nonconformists who were not in the pay of the Government, and asked nothing from the Government, and would take nothing from the Government, it was impossible to justify such an inquiry.
§ SIR HENRY TYLER
said, it was clear, from what had been said, that the members of the Liberation Society, whose object it was to destroy the Church of England, did not think it would be for their benefit to obtain the truth in this matter. If they did not connive at the suggestio falsi, they were, at all events, not averse to the suppressio veri. He had no doubt, for his own part, but that the Return on the question of religious belief would be perfectly trustworthy. He was rather sorry to see so few Irish Members present; for if a religious Census was to be made in Ireland, and not in England, they might—and in this case very properly—make another Irish grievance of it. He should support the Amendment.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 97; Noes 27: Majority 70.—(Div. List, No. 163.)
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ MR. J. G. TALBOT
said, in the absence of his hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope), he begged to move in page 6, after Clause 17, to insert the following Clause:—
§ (Diurnal Census of the City of London.)
§ "The Mayor, Aldermen, and Commons of the City of London may, if they think fit, at their own expense and with the consent of the Local Government Board, cause an enumeration to he made of all persons engaged, or employed, or sojourning, or residing within the limits of the City of London and the liberties thereof.
§ "The enumeration shall he taken at such times between the hours of ten and four in the daytime, and on such day within one week of the taking of the general Census authorised by this Act as the Local Government Board may determine, and the results of the enumeration shall be deemed to be a diurnal Census supplemental to that Census.
§ "Such instructions may be prepared by or under the direction of the Local Government Board as may be deemed expedient for the purposes of the supplemental Census authorised by this Act."
§ This Amendment would not raise a question of the same difficulty as had just been discussed. He, therefore, trusted it would be readily accepted by the Committee. He understood some objection had been taken to the use of the word "diurnal," as applied to the Census which it was the object of the Corpora- 1087 tion to have taken in the City of London; and he was perfectly willing to agree to an alteration in this respect provided the object of the Amendment were conceded by the Government. It appeared from Mr. Scott's statistics of the City of London that, by the Census of 1861, out of nearly 6,000 merchants only 356 were returned, and, in like manner, only 33 brokers out of 3,297. On the other hand, there were 44 farmers—being one farmer to every 16 acres—3 farm bailiffs, 23 gardeners, 6 fishermen, and I shepherd. Thus the City of London, at the closing of the last midnight Census, was made to appear at the head of the agricultural districts of the Empire as regarded the cultivation of the soil; and he mentioned that circumstance to show how misleading were the results of that Census with regard to the City. According to the night Census of 1861, the population of the City of London was 113,387, whereas the total number of those resorting to the City daily during 16 hours was 697,744; and the total number during a day of 24 hours was 728,986, or nearly seven times as much as the number actually recorded. He mentioned that to show that the present system of taking the Census, so far as the City was concerned, was of the most fallacious and untrustworthy kind, and, if made use of by statisticans at home or abroad, would give an entirely different view of the condition of the City population to that which in reality existed. He was told that the proposed clause was not objected to by the Registrar General; and, therefore, no difficulty was to be apprehended in that direction. Again, the clause was most precise in providing that the expense of taking the proposed day Census should be borne by the Corporation; and, therefore, the difficulty suggested with regard to the last proposal before the Committee could not arise in the present case. It had been urged that this was an exceptional advantage sought by the City of London; but he pointed out that the only exception lay in the fact that the City of London had asked for a day Census, while, as far as he was aware, the other large cities had not. London was different from other large towns, as the greater number of those engaged in business there went a considerable distance to their homes, and, unlike the in- 1088 habitants of Liverpool and Manchester, did not reside either in the town or its immediate suburbs, where they would be included in the Census Returns. Having, as he believed, shown that the system hitherto pursued gave a most false impression with regard to the City of London, and, indeed, with regard to London generally altogether, he trusted the Government would accept the Amendment in the name of his hon. Friend, which he begged to move.
§ New Clause (Diurnal Census of the City of London,)—(Mr. J. G.Talbot,)—brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."
§ MR. DODSON
said, he was sorry that he was unable to accept the Amendment proposed by his hon. Friend opposite. The proposal really was that a certain number of persons should be counted twice over. If this proposition was a fair one as regarded the City of London, it was also a fair one as regarded other places. The same principle applied everywhere. In other parts of the Metropolis, in Liverpool, in Manchester, and in all large cities, there were a considerable number of persons who, more or less, worked in the towns whose occupations were in the towns in the day time, but who lived out of them, going away at night, and residing at places in the country. These persons were enumerated, according to the principles of the Census, where they lived; and he did not see why a single exception should be made in the case of the City of London. He thought he could understand the reason why this exception was asked. The City of London was naturally anxious to prove that it had a considerable population. It might have been, in the past, that there were good reasons why it should be able to make out for itself a case as possessor of a large population, and he could understand that there might be reasons in the future to make it also desirable that it should appear still to be the possessor of a large population; but he thought that the hon. Member who had moved the insertion of this clause had himself given a reason why it was not necessary. He (Mr. J. G. Talbot) said that the City of London had no difficulty in ascertaining the number of 1089 its population for themselves if they required a record. They had the means at their disposal, and exceptional arrangements which they had already made use of. Why should they not have their own Census? He did not think it fair in regard to other places that this exceptional duty should be taken upon itself by the Government and placed upon the Census enumeration. Therefore, he must adhere to the present provisions of the Bill, and felt compelled to oppose the proposition now submitted to the Committee.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, he must confess that he was disappointed with the answer of his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board. It seemed to him that this proposition was not only a reasonable one, but a possible one. Like his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. J. G. Talbot), he could not speak with first-hand authority except from the general interest one took in all this class of statistics. He did not understand that this day Census for the City of London was to be any trouble to the Government enumerators or to his right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board; but it was to be conducted by the City, and it only sued to be conducted under the aegis of the Local Government Board, and, as far as he could see, to receive the imprimatur of a State document or of a Blue Book. This, he thought, was a reasonable thing for the City to ask, considering the valuable information such a Return would contain. His right hon. Friend said that these day sojourners in the City would be enumerated twice over in the Census. That he entirely denied. No one would be enumerated twice over so as to contribute two, not one, to the gross Return of the national population. Nobody would be included twice over in the Government Census, for that, as he understood it, would be published absolutely and independently of this civic record. This would only be a supplementary volume, and the names and numbers appearing in it would be specially conditioned. Of course, with or without any special process of indication, it must be known that the 500,000, 600,000, or 800,000 persons who were in the City of London really appeared in the general Census Returns somehow or other—some in Middlesex, some in 1090 Surrey, some in Kent, and so on all round. But in no sense would it be more than the ordinary night population of the City, as it appeared in the Census of 1871, 1861, and every preceding period which the Government book would present. The day Return would be a new aspect of the City. It would give its real living population for the first time, and in a form never before attempted. He must say that he did not think the objection of his right hon. Friend had any foundation in fact. Then it was said, cui bono? His right hon. Friend had given an answer. He used the plea that Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, and other large towns would have the right to have a similar Census on similar terms. But, on the other hand, his hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford had explained—although the President of the Local Government Board did not seem to have noticed the point—that the conditions of these towns were absolutely different from that of London. They were centres of population in the form of an unbroken whole. But supposing that Manchester was to be divided into wards, similar to the Metropolitan boroughs of London, and suppose that in that way the heart of Manchester, around the new Town Hall, for instance, where the chief wealth of Manchester circulated, and its chief business was done, found that it was apparently distanced, and so considered that it would be to its advantage to have a seporate day Census—then, he said, that Manchester had a right to demand that such a Census should be taken, on the condition of paying for it. Why was this asked on behalf of the City of London? Every man, and, indeed, every child, in the land knew that the City of London was an exceptional institution. It was the centre of the great commercial and financial life of the people. There was the Bank of England, the Royal Exchange, the Stock Exchange, the opulent City Banks, and the counting-houses of the great merchants; there was also the General Post Office—all, together, forming one great institution. There were also the lawyers in the Temple. The City was a creation which represented more brain work, more hand work, more circulation of money, more of that life which made the world's civilization than any other similar num- 1091 ber of acres over the whole wide universe could represent. It was not, therefore, surprising that this wonderful City of London should feel indignant that in its real representation it was shut out of the Census, and was represented in the enumeration by a few feeble old women and broken-down old men, who took care of the counting-houses and warehouses during the night, and that the merchant princes and great citizens, all the men who made the life and wealth of the City should be excluded from it. The City of London demanded to have this state of things altered. It would be no trouble to the Government. The City would undertake all the necessary work, and they only asked for the imprimatur of the Government in giving that essential addition to the world's knowledge. He was astonished at his right hon. Friend's refusal, and he hoped that the Committee would think differently.
§ MR. DODSON
said, he thought there was a complete answer to his right hon. Friend. If that work was not to be done by the enumerators of the Government, the Government could not undertake to be responsible for it, or to give it its imprimatur when it was done. In regard to the population of the City, he might be allowed to point out this fact. He believed that in the City—and he could be corrected if he was wrong—a good many houses formerly occupied by the working classes had been pulled down and warehouses erected, and, therefore, the population was not now so large as it might have been.
said, that the President of the Local Government Board had hardly treated the proposal fairly. It was only asked that the work of collecting a day Census should be carried out under the sanction of the Local Government Board. If it was undertaken at all, it was desirable that it should the have imprimatur of the Local Government Board; but the expense of taking it, the persons by whom it would be taken, and the whole trouble and expense of taking it, would be undertaken by the City of London. He was somewhat surprised that a Liberal Government should refuse so extremely moderate a demand, and should refuse to allow information to be taken in this way which would be so valuable to the whole world. The right hon. Gentleman 1092 said why should not the same thing be done in regard to Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, and other large towns? Why not? It was difficult to say what might happen in the case of Liverpool, Manchester, and other large towns 10 or 20 years hence, because, if the removal of the population from the towns into the country went on for the next 20 or 30 years at the same rate that it had been going on during the last 20 or 30 years, a Census taken as it was now would be utterly fallacious. It would show that the whole population of England was living not in the towns, but in the country, and the towns would have dwindled away from their present population into an uninhabited wilderness. That would be the result of a nocturnal Census 20 years hence. A day Census was now asked for for the City of London, because it was a place where that process was going on to the greatest extent. It was going on in Liverpool and Manchester, but not to the same extent as in London. If they took the population of Liverpool and Manchester at night they still appeared to be populous towns, although a considerable number of the population went into the country when their day's business was over. Still, the numbers who left these large towns at night were not so considerable as to prevent the towns themselves from figuring in the Census Returns as populous places. In the City of London it was very different. The City of London was a busy and populous place during the day—the place where the greatest traffic and the largest crowds in the world were to be seen. But the City of London at night was a mere solitary wilderness; and if there was only a nocturnal Census to be taken it would appear that the City of London, instead of being a populous and thriving place, sunk down into the condition of a decayed and uninhabited desert. It was to prevent a misapprehension arising in that way that the City of London was anxious to show what the real population of the City was. He did not think that that was a desire that ought to be discouraged by a Liberal Government of this country. They desired to give information to the world which the world would be glad to receive, not only on the authority of a City officer, but in a way that would show it had received the sanction of a Local Government 1093 Board, and that it was, therefore, impressed with the authority of the Government The whole expense was to be borne by the City; the whole trouble was to be undertaken by the City; and all that was asked for from the Government was so much supervision and trouble in the matter as would induce the whole world to say the Census was an honest Census and deserving of complete reliance. He did hope that the Committee would put a little pressure upon the President of the Local Government Board and certain other hon. Members, and support the reasonable demand which was made. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board would be induced to re-consider his decision.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board would be induced to give way, by assenting to the appeal of the City to be allowed to take a day Census. Three years ago he suggested that such a Census Bill as was now proposed, in order that ample time might be obtained for considering the various proposals connected with the Census, such as the one in the City now requested, should be taken; and he urged it the more confidently because he altogether denied that it would involve any interference with the general Census of the country. Indeed, a general Census taken in the City at 12 o'clock in the day, and another in the night time, would be very valuable; and the two Returns would not in the slightest degree clash. To prove that the Local Government Board would have no trouble in the matter, he might say that Returns of the soldiers in the Army and of the sailors in the Navy were obtained in this way by a separate and district process. He thought it hardly just and fair to deny this request when the City of London came forward with a proposition at the cost of the City to take a Census of that kind, and to insinuate that it had a political object. Let the City have a political object, and, if they liked to try and multiply votes for Members to serve in Parliament, then let Parliament declare that only one vote could be given for one Member, and let the person entitled to vote choose whether he would vote for the Member for the City, or vote in the locality in which he 1094 resided. In that way, they would get rid of the real objection to the present proposal of the City in favour of a day Census. He sincerely hoped that hon. Members on this side of the House would divide in favour of the clauses proposed by the hon. Member for the University of Oxford.
§ MR. WARTON
was exceedingly glad to find that hon. Members on the Liberal side of the House could be found ready to support that most modest and reasonable proposal. Let them have the truth in both cases, both as regarded the population in the day time and at night. Let them know exactly what was the facts as regarded the population of the City of London, without considering how it might be either politically or otherwise. He had not risen so much to give assent to the proposal, as to ask if he should be in Order in moving a small Amendment, which would, he thought, remove the objection of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board?
The hon. and learned Gentleman cannot move an Amendment until after the clause has been read a second time.
§ MR. WARTON
thought he should not be out of Order in stating the object of his Amendment. It was, at the end of line 5, to add these words—"Showing how many of such persons are resident and how many are non-resident therein." That would prevent any objection the right hon. Gentleman could take in regard to a man being counted twice over. He should wish to propose another Amendment, that the day for taking the Census should not be left at the discretion of the Local Government Board, but that it should be Monday, the 4th of April.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
did hope that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board would not give way to "this most modest proposal" on the part of the most modest Corporation in this country. Whenever a Bill was brought in that was intended to apply to the whole of the United Kingdom, the City of London stepped in and asked for some sort of exceptional favour in its behalf. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope) said that the City of London had a perfect right to do that. He denied that it 1095 had a perfect right to do it. He did not consider that the City of London was in any way better than any other corporation in the country. The hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) told them that if the proposal was not accepted, people would go away with the erroneous notion that the City of London was an uninhabited desert. Now, did he really consider that that was an argument which ought to be put before the Committee? Did not everyone perfectly well know that at the present moment the City of London in the day time was filled with large crowds of people who were generally absent at night? It was mere idle curiosity to ask for a separate Census. There was no real object to be gained in trying to prove to the country that the City was populated in the day time. Certain gentlemen wanted this for their own purposes, and they would not say what those purposes were. Their object was something beyond having an official imprimatur on the number of persons who were in the City of London in the day time. If the right hon. Gentleman did give way, he should take it into serious consideration whether he should not put at least 50 Amendments on the Bill. He had the honour to represent a large city. There were many curious points in regard to that city which he would like to have generally circulated through the medium of the Census Returns. But he did not think there would be any necessity to do so. He could only say that if the right hon. Gentleman did give way, he must bear in mind that he would have to look in the face 50 Amendments which he (Mr. Labouchere) would have to submit.
§ SIR THOMAS CHAMBERS
said, he could not help thinking that there was some slight difference between the City of London and the town of Northampton. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board said that this was a mere piece of caprice, and a personal matter, on the part of the City of London. The City of London was asking for this information on public grounds. There was but one City of London in the world, as had been well described over and over again. He could not imagine anything of greater interest than a book which was to convey to the whole population an idea as to how population was distri- 1096 buted, and how it was employed. He could not imagine anything of more unique interest than to show that a place so full of the activity of life in the day time was comparatively deserted at night. Such a circumstance was not to be found in any other part of the world. There was no comparison between the City of London and Manchester, and Liverpool, and other large towns, because those places did not empty in the night as London did. The population of the City of London went on diminishing from year to year; it was too expensive a place to live in. Every valuable spot was occupied for mercantile purposes, and it was idle to say that the Corporation of London wanted a day Census for purposes of their own. He could not understand the meaning of the objection. The City of London wanted a supplement to the Census. It would be a thing of singular interest and value, and they wanted to have it under the imprimatur and control of the Government, but at their own expense.
§ MR. D. M'LAREN
hoped the President of the Local Government Board would not give way. It seemed to him the very idea of a Census was associated with the place where you 'lived with your family, and that could not apply to offices in the City of London, which was too expensive as a place of residence. The City of London was a place of business, and to have any exceptional Census would throw discredit on the real Census. As to the fact that the business people of London lived outside the City, that applied to every large manufacturing town in the United Kingdom. There had been a Return on the Table of the House for the last three months, showing the amount of income tax and house duty paid by every town and county in the Kingdom. Thus, it appeared that where there was a town like Brighton, or Edinburgh, where the higher classes resided within it, the amount of house duty was very large; while, in large towns like Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, and Glasgow, where many of the more wealthy individuals lived outside the towns, the house duty was but comparatively small. In illustration of that, he might state that the City he had the honour to represent paid £24,000 a-year of house duty; but Glasgow, which was two and a-half times as populous, paid only £15,000. Edinburgh paid 25 per 1097 cent more than Manchester, although the population and income of Manchester were much greater. The reason was that many of those who conducted business in Manchester lived outside; while those who conducted business in Edinburgh, and other wealthy inhabitants, lived inside. It would be fatal to permit such a principle to be introduced as to allow in London what would not be allowed in Manchester.
§ MR. COURTNEY
confessed that he did not understand the jealousy which was felt on this side of the House of the proposed enumeration. The City of London was ready to undertake the whole of the expenses, and was willing to have their Returns regulated by the control of the Local Government Board, so that his right hon. Friend would have the whole matter entirely within his own power and could not possibly be deceived. Such a Return would undoubtedly have an important bearing upon the social and sanitary condition of the City hereafter. The facts would be misleading if taken solely in reference to the City in the night time; and it was because he regarded it as important that there should be an enumeration of the population of the City of London in the day time, that he should be prepared to support the clause.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 24; Noes 69: Majority 45.—(Div. List, No. 164.)
§ Bill reported; as amended considered; read the third time, and passed.