HC Deb 07 November 1884 vol 293 cc1227-332

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [6th November,] "That the Bill be now read a second time."

And which Amendment was, 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, any measure purporting to provide for the better Representation of the People in Parliament must be accompanied by provisions for a proper arrangement of electoral areas,"—(Mr. E. Stanhope,) —instead thereof.

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

Debate resumed.


I think, Sir, that no speech has ever been more anxiously expected than that made by the Prime Minister the other night on the second reading of this Bill. I think it is only right to say that, as far as the tone and manner of that speech are concerned, there is nothing that anyone could wish to see altered. The right hon. Gentleman evidenced an anxiety to limit the debate, and to take out of it any vexatious question or anything that could excite differences of opinion. I wish I could say the same as to the matter of the speech. I am afraid that many who heard, that speech must have felt a deep sense of disappointment when the Prime Minister sat down, having ended almost where he had begun, because we hoped, at all events, that he would have thrown some new light upon the subject, and, as the Head of the Government, would have shown us some way out of the present difficulty. But the words at the commencement of his speech, when he said that it was impossible for the Government either to take the two subjects of extension and redistribution in a single Bill, or simultaneously in two separate Bills, rather led us to believe that, as far as he was concerned, there was no hope of this matter being dealt with in a business-like and rational manner. Our only hope lay in the words that they would do nothing that, in their opinion, could tend to place the Franchise Bill in jeopardy. If we take these words of the Prime Minister into consideration they seem to point to something by which the difficulty might be got over; but as far, at all events, as his speech was concerned, we have had no foreshadowing of any such plan. Now, I think that the history of this county franchise is one which the Prime Minister ought to bear in mind. Some years ago, and, in fact, up to a very late period, the views entertained by a very large number of persons both inside this House and outside were such as are fully expressed in the speeches made last Session by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen). He has always held distinctive views upon that question, and these views have been shared by a large number of persons in the country. Nor must we forget that hon. Members opposite have not always been so unanimous upon the question. It was only in 1877 that the noble Lord the Secretary of State for War and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary first voted in favour of the measure, and the Bill or Motion which was so constantly brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman who is now Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster met a very varied fate in this House from time to time. It is instructive also to remember that the first time that measure went up to the House of Lords it was treated in a very different manner from that in which it had been treated in this House. The first time that it appeared before them in the last Session of Parliament the principle of that Bill was practically adopted, and, although the Bill did not become law, the Motion passed in the House of Lords distinctly accepted the principle of it. Where, then, is the danger to this Franchise Bill? How is it in jeopardy? I cannot help thinking that the danger has arisen in great part from the speeches made by right hon. Gentlemen opposite before the Bill was introduced. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade made use of language which seemed to point to a total redistribution of political power, and the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a reference to ancient times which frightened a great number of persons throughout the country. I need hardly refer to those statements of the President of the Board of Trade, all of which created great alarm and anxiety. There was another danger to which the Prime Minister thought that this Bill was subject, and which he pointed out in the speech which he made in introducing the Bill last year. It was this—that there was this great difference between a Franchise Bill and a Redistribution Bill, that whereas a Franchise Bill was always treated in this House as an Imperial question, the question of redistribution was in danger of not being treated in the same spirit, but more as a local question, and one more likely to arouse the selfish interests of the Members of those places which were likely to be disfranchised. Those observations of the Prime Minister would only refer to the question of the Franchise Bill in this House; but as far as the House alone was concerned, the Prime Minister thought that there was that danger. In the speech which the Prime Minister made last night that danger seems to have disappeared. He told us that he thought that the important question in this House was the Franchise Bill, and not Redistribution; and, as far as I gathered from him, he was now in hopes that when we came to the Redistribution Bill he might produce such a Bill as would be passed, not by a majority, but by the whole House. Therefore, it is clear that his mind, whether from the observations he has been able to make, from the conduct of Members of this House, or from other consideration of the subject, is not apprehensive of that danger of local selfishness which pressed upon it last year, and which, therefore, may now practically be considered as having gone. The Prime Minister dwelt last night a good deal on the fear of finding that the majority in this House would not be able to enforce its own views, although "no doubt, as far as the principle of the Franchise Bill goes, the question of the extension of the franchise may be considered settled." Nobody will dispute that; it has been acknowledged here, and admitted "elsewhere." The majority of the House is quite able to express its will. But there is a great difference between the principle of the Bill and the procedure. No doubt, a particular mode of procedure proposed by the Prime Minister was passed by a large majority in this House; but I venture to say that if the Prime Minister had proposed another mode of procedure the majority of the House would have adopted that quite as readily. The Bill is in no danger on the question of principle, and it ought to be in no danger as regards procedure. But the will of the majority might be discovered in other ways than by the vote. We have been called together at a time which is inconvenient for many of us. We are ready, however, to do our duty to the best of our ability; but I am sure the feeling of a great majority of the House is that we should not come here for an idle and barren purpose. The majority of the House has expressed its desire in unmistakable terms that the Franchise Bill should be accompanied by a scheme of redistribution. [Several hon. MEMBERS: Followed.] I adhere to my expression, and believe that there is a general wish that the one should accompany the other. Would any man in his senses propose that we should first have an enlargement of the franchise, then an Election, and then a redistribution scheme, followed by another Election? No. The vast majority of the people would be entirely against such an arrangement. I regret very much to see that in the course of an election such a proposal was made by a candidate; but, except the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), I have never heard any person approve of the proposal, and I think the President of the Local Government Board abandoned that idea some time ago. If no Government could propose such a plan, what is the use of finding fault with the action of a Party the sole object of which is to prevent that happening which no Government would propose. Supposing such a misfortune—I believe it would be a national misfortune were it to take place—what would happen? The present Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has always brought forward this question in the interests of the agricultural labourers, saying that those persons who live in the country are entitled to the same privileges and advantages as those persons who live in the towns; but as an example of what would happen in the event of a General Election occurring under the Bill without redistribution, take two divisions of my own county. Take, first, the division which is represented by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington). There are living in that division out of towns represented in Parliament 238,000 people; out of this 238,000 no fewer than 147,000 live in places with a population above 10,000; so that the remaining population, comprising the agricultural labourers, would be swamped by the 147,000. In my own division of the county we have in places not represented in Parliament, 482,000. Of that number living in places with a population above 10,000 no fewer than 315,000, so that the rural population would be absolutely swamped by persons living in towns without some redistribution scheme is first passed. There are a large number of places not now represented which undoubtedly ought to be represented; and if there is one thing more than another which constituencies like it is having a Member to themselves; they are not willing to share one with other places in which they have no interest. I am not going to labour that point, because it is clear that great evils will undoubtedly follow—indeed, it would be impossible to imagine the mischief that would occur if one Bill passed without the other; and in addition to this, you would have a costly registration scheme which would have to be thrown aside directly the Redistribution Bill passed. The Prime Minister declared his opinion in his recent speech that in great legislative changes there should be the largest possible body of friendly and contented opinion. I agree in that opinion; but unless these two Bills are to come into operation together you cannot have that body of friendly and contented opinion which is necessary. If violent measures are resorted to, and if one Bill is passed and the other is not, you will create so much ill-will that you will find it impossible to secure that which you desire. What is this Redistribution Bill to be? If it be just and fair what is it that alarms the Government so much and prevents their producing it? This, at any rate, I think, is perfectly clear — that last Session, when the Franchise Bill was introduced, the Government did not know what their redistribution scheme would be. The Prime Minister gave us a sort of shadowy idea of it; but it is clear that no definite plan was before them, though I presume they have now framed one. For my part, I am not content that such a course as that should be taken. When you approach a subject of this magnitude you should approach it in all its parts, and you should show the whole of your plan. But now, at any rate, we have shadowed out by the Prime Minister some important principles of their redistribution scheme. The Prime Minister tells us that, in the first place, it must be large and of something like a permanent character. I do not suppose there will be any great difference of opinion upon that point; and we may hope that, when the Bills are passed, the Constitution will receive that form in which it will be left for many years to come. In the second place, the Prime Minister laid it down that there must be a considerable concession to the principle of numbers. Everybody has always assented to that. Then great respect was to be paid to those places at present represented, and the right hon. Gentleman mentioned other safeguards. In the third place, he said there must be no needless complexity—we shall all agree with that—and that it must be equitable and liberal as between the four divisions of the Kingdom—namely, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. I suppose the Prime Minister mentioned Wales specially in order to indicate that the people of Wales must be told they cannot expect quite so many Members as they have at present. I am sorry the Prime Minister did not say the number of English Members was not to be diminished. Scotland, he indicated last year, was to have more Members, and Ireland was to be let alone; while the additional Members for Scotland were to come from the South of England.


No; I never said so.


Last year.




The right hon. Gentleman said he could not entertain the question of increasing the Members of the House.


Oh, no.


Exactly the opposite.


I certainly understood that the Prime Minister had made some statement of that character. Then he said the arrangement must be equitable and just to the different classes and pursuits of the community, and the urban and rural populations must be kept distinct. It is essential, in our mind, that the urban and the rural population should be left distinct, and I gladly recognize in that last result laid down by the right hon. Gentleman a declaration that this principle will be maintained by the Government. There is, however, one matter which will have to be carefully considered, and that is whether we are to keep the minority vote, and whether that principle will have to be extended, and, if so, to what extent. That is a matter which will certainly demand serious attention. The difficulty I feel is that if I go into the details of the redistribution scheme I shall be called to Order, and I admit it would be evidently improper to go into any debate as to the principles of redistribution on the Bill now before the House. But we want the Government to get the House out of this difficulty. It is quite clear that we must discuss these things, and until they are discussed we are all at sea as to the intentions of the Government, and how far those intentions are to be carried out; therefore, I press upon the Government the necessity of giving some further opinion on that point. There was one word in the Prime Minister's speech which I am bound to say gave me a ray of hope; that word was "coterminous." We all know that the right hon. Gentleman is a master of language, and that words sometimes have with him a peculiar significance. I cannot help thinking that there is a difference in the Prime Minister's mind between "coterminous" and "simultaneous," although I cannot tell what it is. The right hon. Gentleman said that this question was "the nearest of all coterminous subjects." The only comfort that we draw from that is that the right hon. Gentleman recognizes this as a subject so coterminous that, if he can do it without jeopardizing the Franchise Bill, he will let us know what the Redistribution Bill is. I hope the Prime Minister will understand that there is no wish on the part of hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House to delay this measure. There has been no unreasonable amount of speaking, nor am I aware that there is the slightest wish on the part of hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House to cover the Paper with Amendments when we go into Committee. I think the Prime Minister ought to take courage from these facts which show that his Bill is not jeopardized. He ought to meet us half-way, because we cannot meet him—[Ministerial laughter.] If hon. Gentlemen will hear the end of the sentence, I think most of them will be of my opinion. I was going to say that provided the Franchise Bill is not put in jeopardy — which is the only condition the Prime Minister makes — I hope he will join with us in securing some guarantee that the same Parliament shall deal with both questions. [Cheers and counter-cheers.] I thought I should get the approval of hon. Gentlemen opposite. That is all we have asked, and that is all we insist upon. It is not an opinion, it is not a preposession; it is a principle, and I think it is a principle that ought to be followed out. Well, how do we stand with regard to this Bill at the present moment? It will probable be read a second time to-night. We shall go into Committee on Monday, and, so far as we can see, the Bill will be safe by the end of next week. Is not that a great step? Is not that something to show the Prime Minister that this Bill is not in jeopardy? And upon the question of Redistribution we have the authority of the Prime Minister that the danger to that measure is in local interest. What are we to be kept here for? I say that the time of this House is too valuable to be wasted, and if this Bill is to be through the House by the end of next week, what are we to be kept here for? As business-like men, I should say that we are here to see what can be done with regard to this Reform Bill; and, therefore, as business-like men, I should say that, now that the Franchise Bill is out of jeopardy, the sooner the other Bill is before us the better. If the opinion that the Prime Minister shadowed out last night is really the feeling of the Government—namely, that it is not desired to pass a measure of this kind by the majority overriding the minority, but rather with the assent of the whole House—then I say, in the name of all that is business-like, do let us set about it with all speed. Whether that is to be done by a series of Resolutions or by Bill I know nothing, not being in the secrets of the Government. But let us approach the subject, and see how near we can get to it. I am quite sure that if the Redistribution proposals are not designed to give any advantage to one Party over the other, they will certainly not meet with any factious opposition from this side of the House. It seems to me that this is just one of those occasions, one of those questions, where high statesmanship ought to come in, and where it is the duty of statesmen to take care that no ill-feeling is mixed up with the subject. I say it rests with the Prime Minister as to what he will do; but from the cheers I have heard on both sides of the House, I cannot help thinking that, whatever may have been the language used on Thursday, there is still a door open. If, however, difficulties should arise owing to the action of the Prime Minister or the Government, either through neglect in not producing their measure, or through—I hope I do not use the word offensively—some wilful determination not to let us see it this Autumn Session, or if the Government stick too closely to words and phrases which they may happen to have used, and stand by expressions made under other circumstances and at other times—then all I can say is, that the country will know, at all events, upon whom the blame ought to rest. And if it so happens that there is to be an appeal to the country, no one will more readily go to the country than we shall ourselves, feeling, as we do, convinced that the good sense of the country will see that all we have asked is that which is just and wise, and, I believe, necessary, and that we have asked for nothing else.


The general tone of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks is one upon which I think I ought to congratulate him and the House of Commons; but when he said, in almost his concluding words, that whatever the language used yesterday the door was still open, I could not help thinking that that was a sly reference to speeches on his own side, because we certainly have reason to complain of the tone of some of the speeches which we have heard on the other side. While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for his tone and for the several very valuable suggestions which he made, there were a few exceptions which I shall have to take to some of the statements he has made. He has told us that he hoped Parliament has not been brought together for another barren Session. If, unfortunately—and I cannot yet admit to myself the possibility of such a result—but if, unfortunately, this Session should be barren, I am sure that we, each of us, will not consider that it is our fault; and I am disposed to agree that the country will think that perhaps there are faults on both sides. The right hon. Gentleman has made one remark which I must accept with a certain amount of allowance. He said there was now a concurrence between both sides as to the principle of the franchise, and that the principle was generally admitted. That statement was made in almost the same words, but in a still more absolute manner, by the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope). I have found in the course of this debate many proofs that this is not the case. Several Members have spoken from the other side and stated that they were not of that opinion. ["No!"] Look at the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Raikes), and he made the statement, not only for himself but for two other hon. Members. [An hon. MEMBER: And the Lord Mayor.] Yes; the Lord Mayor said it himself, and the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge referred to it. He deprecated the modern changes which had taken place in the Government on this subject. It is hardly possible to exclude from consideration the question of the date at which various opinions are adopted, for sudden conversions will always be open to a certain amount of doubt. I, for one, however, am quite prepared to accept the results at which we have arrived without scrutinizing too narrowly the date of particular conversions. The right hon. Gentleman on this point made a little attack, by implication, on this subject. He said that one of our Colleagues had a doubt as late as 1876, and had only become converted in 1877; but the right hon. Gentleman himself doubted as late as March last. In replying to the Prime Minister, the right hon. Gentleman said—"No doubt the 2,000,000 would be admitted if it was true that they ought to have the vote;" and in replying to the right hon. Member for Birmingham, he said—"No doubt it was so, if these men ought to have the franchise." He regarded the matter as open to doubt. I am quite prepared to admit that there is now a general adoption of the principle of this Bill by the two sides of the House; but the adoption is not one of exactly the same kind, and this is very important for practical effects and results. We admit the right of the 2,000,000 absolutely, and the other side admit it conditionally upon getting their own view in certain other points. I admit there was nothing in the speech we have just heard calling for the remark I propose to make; but we have also before us such speeches as those of the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) and the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope). They are speakers of great ability, and represent the views of their own side with so much eloquence and authority that their speeches cannot be passed over. The hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire made this frank admission as to the conditional nature of the support which he and other hon. Members opposite would give to the Franchise Bill. The hon. Gentleman said that the Conservative Party would keep the Franchise Bill in reserve until the Redistribution Question was settled. I am, therefore, justified in saying that, while on this side of the House the principle of the Franchise Bill is absolutely supported, on the other side it is only conditionally supported. Now, I am about to utter one of those words of warning which have sometimes been construed by our opponents into a menace; but I trust that I shall give no colour to such a construction being put upon my language. I will, indeed, adopt the words of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire himself, when he said that we were placed in a great difficulty on this question of Reform, because the enfranchisement of these 2,000,000 of new voters would not brook delay, and that there was great danger of exasperating those voters by resorting to political manœuvres which they were unable to understand. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has thrown out hope to us of an agreement being come to between the two sides of the House; at least, that is what I understood from his speech. For my own part, I believe that it is possible that some agreement might be come to which would meet his views, provided it be one that without doubt or uncertainty would secure the enfranchisement of these 2,000,000. That is the point upon which it is necessary that we should be quite clear. That is the main point. In fact, it is the only point worth raising in this discussion. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the evident desire of the Prime Minister—to whose speech he did full justice—as evinced by the earlier portions of that speech to take out of this debate everything that could give rise to the use of violent or excited language; but he went on to remark that he wished that he could say as much of the other portions of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. For my own part, I wish I could approve of all the speeches which have been delivered by hon. Members opposite as much as I do of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. The right hon. Gentleman asked in a tone of marked courtesy for further information on the subject of redistribution; but the speeches of some other hon. Members on that side of the House lacked that courteous tone; and, indeed, some speakers last night asked for further information on the subject in a tone of menace, and held out a kind of threat that if their demands were not complied with, the Franchise Bill would be stopped or rejected in "another place." The right hon. Gentleman asked us whether, if we could give further information with regard to the proposed scheme of redistribution, without jeopardizing the Franchise Bill, we should be ready to give it? That question I answer most emphatically in the affirmative. I say that if you can make it clear to us that we can give you further information on the subject of redistribution without jeopardizing the enfranchisement of these 2,000,000 of new voters, that information shall be supplied. But information on the subject is not required by the other side alone. We, too, on this side of the House should like to ask for a certain amount of information, if such information could be conveyed to us from the other side without any fear that it would jeopardize the Franchise Bill. I am at a loss to understand, in these circumstances, how it is that we have not heard from the other side something like proposals that might form the basis of a general agreement, and an authoritative expression of their views with regard to the principles on which redistribution ought to be conducted. The right hon. Gentleman let drop the word "Resolution"—I do not know whether he used it with any intention—but I take that word as indicating a readiness on his part to arrive at a fair settlement of this question. I can only again assure the right hon. Gentleman that if we can give him any further information in reference to redistribution without jeopardizing the Franchise Bill, we shall be willing to do so. The right hon. Gentleman asked us another question. He asked us if we were certain that we could propose to this House a settlement of this Redistribution Question which should not be framed so as to give a Party bias to the scheme? Doubtless hon. Members opposite do not think we should frame the scheme of redistribution purposely so as to give it such a bias; but the suspicion which they seem to entertain is that, without intending to give it a bias in favour of our own side, we are likely to look at the matter from the point of view favourable to our own Party. The right hon. Gentleman wishes to meet that possibility, and he says that the settlement should be one arrived at by the House or by the country without any Party bias being introduced into it. For my own part I may say that I entirely sympathize with that view, and I believe that any Redistribution Bill that will pass this House must be a Bill which will satisfy both sides, and not one side alone. The right hon. Gentleman emphasized greatly in his speech the separation between the urban and the rural element in the constituencies, and I take that as an instance of what he meant. That is a subject of great interest and importance, and on which many of us as individuals may have great doubt, not in a Party but in a national sense; but still we may be willing to yield our opinions with respect to it in view of the enormous advantage which will result from a large measure of enfranchisement. The right hon. Gentleman made one statement which I must venture to contradict. He informed the House that last Session the Prime Minister said that by the Government scheme of redistribution a number of seats would be taken from the South of England and be given to Scotland. What the Prime Minister did say was precisely the opposite. He said that the question of the increase of Members in Scotland was to be considered in connection with a suggestion for an increase in the number of Members in the House itself, and when he spoke of Members in the South of England he spoke generally upon the existence of a great number of very small boroughs in the South of England, and said that any general redistribution must of necessity transfer a greater or less number of Members from the South-West of England, not necessarily to Scotland, but to the Metropolis and the North of England. I have already said that, in my opinion, the speech of the right hon. Gentleman was in most gratifying contrast to that of the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton), which almost concluded the debate last night. [Cries of "No!"] I shall give reasons in support of my opinion upon that point. The noble Lord made a great attack upon my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright), not my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. The noble Lord charged my right hon. Friend with having desired in the past that a different course should be adopted from that which he now advocated in view of Party exigencies. I have read every word that my right hon. Friend has said upon the subject of Reform—and very valuable and interesting reading his speeches are—and I am satisfied that if any right hon. Member in this House has been consistent on the subject of Reform, it is my right hon. Friend. Other right hon. and hon. Members may have changed their views upon the subject; but my right hon. Friend has always told the House that the two subjects of the extension of the franchise and of redistribution must be dealt with in separate Bills, and he never contemplated their being both dealt with at one time. The noble Lord has tried to set Colleague against Colleague in the present Administration; but I am glad to inform him that his artifices of political warfare have been entirely unsuccessful. The noble Lord has asserted that he was converted to the principle of the extension of the franchise to the agricultural labourer during his term of Office in the Education Department; but the only way in which he has shown that conversion has been by speaking and voting against the extension of the franchise to the agricultural labourer on every possible occasion. In 1879 the Amendment to reject our proposal was moved by a noble Lord, a near relative to the noble Lord opposite, and on that Amendment no less than four Gentlemen bearing the noble Lord's name voted in the majority, and the noble Lord never made the slightest statement which led the House to believe that he was favourable to the enfranchisement of these people. I dwell on this question of sudden conversion, because these recollections of ours of the Divisions of the last Parliament are somewhat important, and have a considerable bearing on this question. For instance, the hon. Member for Buteshire (Mr. Dalrymple), in his speech last night, claimed to be the only surviving Conservative Member who voted for the extension of the franchise to the agricultural labourers when it was proposed in 1874. That is true, no doubt, but the hon. Member voted against it in 1876. The hon. Member said that he had stated in his speech that he voted against the measure in 1876, and he had explained why. The reason given by the hon. Member was that he did not like its being proposed to the House every year; but that was not support of a very effective kind. But all the support which the Conservative Party had given to this principle in the past for which the hon. Member claimed credit before the country, consisted in the fact that he and two others had voted for it in 1874, and that he had changed his vote in 1876.


explained that he merely referred to the vote and change of vote he gave in that Parliament for the purpose of pointing out that, at all events, to him there was no difficulty of conversion, because at so remote a date as 1874 he had supported his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and had only considered it undesirable to press on a reluctant Parliament from year to year a Resolution that had been defeated by so overwhelming a majority.


The hon. Member has entirely confirmed my recollection of his action and remarks; and I can leave the matter with the mere statement that I, for one, should never for one instant deny the extraordinary facility of conversion that has frequently been displayed on the other side of the House. I wish now to make one or two remarks about some of the other speeches made last night, and especially those from the Front Bench opposite. We did not think it necessary to speak from this Bench last night, because we considered that this is a subject which, after the speech of the Prime Minister, was best dealt with by independent Members of the House. With regard, then, to the speech of the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope), who opened the debate, I could not help greatly regretting the absence of the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), who had given Notice of this Amendment; for, although I think the noble Lord is a powerful adversary, I do not think he would have made exactly the sort of speech delivered by the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire; nor do I think that that speech is likely to lead to a future and early settlement of this question. The hon. Gentleman's speech was hostile and violent in tone; and in it the hon. Member was very severe upon us for having asserted the argument of want of time with regard to the introduction of a Redistribution Bill and having then given it up. He quoted our argument of want of time, and said that it simply consisted in our statement that it was impossible to pass both the Bills in one Session.


I did not say the Government had given up the argument, but that it had been given up by the force of circumstances. Circumstances have altogether changed.


Well, if there were that general agreement as to the principles on which redistribution should proceed, which the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken seems to shadow forth in his speech, then it is possible that the two subjects might be dealt with within the compass of a single Session. What we argued was that it was impossible and hopeless to entertain the idea of dealing with the two subjects in one Session when we were confronted by a hostile and reluctant Opposition. But what did the hon. Member for West Suffolk (Mr. Biddell) say on the subject? He said that if there was any subject on earth which needed long consideration it was that of a Redistribution Bill; and yet he afterwards told us that it was quite possible if the Franchise Bill were passed that the Prime Minister at the head of the Party on this side of the House would force a redistribution scheme without discussion down the throats of hon. Members who sat opposite. Then the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope) made a general statement—a most startling statement—that every great issue which comes before the country ought to be decided—by whom? Not by the elected Representatives of the people, not by the House of Commons, not by Parliament, but by Dissolution and an appeal to the constituencies at the polling booths. That is a doctrine which far exceeds the ancient Chartists' doctrine of annual Parliaments. I should like to ask the hon. Gentleman how often he thinks Parliament would have to be dissolved and re-elected if an appeal is to be made to the country on every question on which there may be a difference of opinion? How could the Business of the country be carried on? Then the hon. Member told the House that the country thoroughly appreciated the position and doctrines put forward. I think if the tone of the speech of the hon. Member, and the tone of that of the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton), had been the prevailing tone, the country would certainly have appreciated the doctrines put forward in them. The hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire also attacked the Prime Minister for not having dealt in his statemenf with the question of the boundaries of boroughs; but, curiously enough, the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down thanked the Prime Minister for the statement he had made on the distinction between urban and rural representation, and I think I have the au- thority of the Prime Minister for saying that the general expressions he made use of were intended by him to cover the various branches of that subject. The hon. Member went on to tell the House that we had neglected our duty, inasmuch as we had not made any inquiry as to borough boundaries. How does the hon. Member know that he is speaking as to that with any foundation; and what right has he to say so when he knows nothing as to what we have done on the subject? Then, again, the hon. Member attacked my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) for having spoken, in connection with the franchise, of taking away the commons from the agricultural labourers; and he said that my right hon. Friend had not lifted a finger to prevent that spoliation. Well, we think that by this Bill we are lifting a finger in that cause, and we believe that the effect of this Bill will be to put a stop to the practices that have prevailed. Then, as to redistribution, the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire not only asked for more information, but also for substantial guarantees, and went on to say that the speech of the Prime Minister gave no information on that point. Now, as to that, I think the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) was a very full and complete answer. He gave a catalogue of the guarantees and securities which the other side possessed for the settlement of this question of redistribution. In reply to the demand for information, the Government might demand additional securities. Securities were needed for the enfranchisement of 2,000,000 people who would be enfranchised by this Bill. The hon. and learned Member for West Somersetshire (Mr. Elton) made a very different speech from that of the Mover, because he spoke of the statement of the Prime Minister with regard to redistribution as being a statement in which all of us agreed; and I think we make very great progress when we get from hon. Members opppoite such an expression of unanimity. The hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Ecroyd) has asked whether the Redistribution Bill is to be the Bill of the Executive Government, or of the British Parliament? A measure so complex and involving so much interference with individual interests cannot possibly pass without becoming the Bill of the House itself. The hon. Member for Preston told us that he believed that the Government would force a Redistribution Bill through the House without discussion. In reply to that, I can only say that any man who believes that the Government could do such a thing must be a Parliamentary baby in long clothes. The hon. Member for West Suffolk told us that he was thoroughly tired of this question. Well, I think a good many Members who sit for agricultural constituencies will soon be tired of this question, if by their actions they keep it open before the country. The hon. Member also told us that he was delighted with the conciliatory speech made by the Secretary of State for War (the Marquess of Hartington) in Lancashire some time ago. But what was the reply made to that speech by the leading Members of the hon. Member's Party. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) said at Bristol that the air was full of rumours of compromise, and that all these rumours came from the Liberal side, that he did not believe that the Leaders of the Conservative Party would be gulled by this talk of compromise, and that he did not know by what right the Members of the Liberal Party asked the Opposition to place implicit confidence in Mr. Gladstone. [Mr. WARTON: Hear, hear!] The hon. and learned Member for Bridport agrees with those views; but they do not represent the opinion of the House or of the country, which shares the sentiments of the hon. Member for West Suffolk, by whom the noble Marquess has been thanked for his remarks. The hon. Member for West Suffolk went on to ask us to humour the prejudices of the other House and to do something to please their "whims and fancies." But we really cannot deal with this important subject on the basis of pleasing the whims and fancies of any one; we must try to deal with it on principles which will commend themselves to the vast majority of the House of Commons. The hon. Member also told us that the Peers did not ask us to produce our Redistribution Bill, and that all they asked us to do was to give in a general way onr views on the question. In that statement he diametrically contradicted many hon. Members on his own side of the House who have spoken in the course of this debate, and who have declared that they will not be satisfied with that which would satisfy the hon. Member. That shows what an extraordinary divergence of views there is among hon. Members opposite. The hon. Member for North Yorkshire (Mr. Guy Dawnay) made a vigorous onslaught last night upon the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham, because that right hon. Gentleman had said that the people of Wales had nothing to gain by redistribution, and he tried to prove that there was a great difference of opinion between the right hon. Gentleman and the Prime Minister on this point. I can assure the hon. Member that the whole of this pretended difference rested upon an entire misconception of what my right hon. Friend said, for my right hon. Friend's reference to Wales in connection with the subject of redistribution only meant that Wales would not gain seats through redistribution to the extent to which Scotland was entitled to gain them. Then the hon. Member told us that the counties were much under-represented at the present time. But no one has denied that even the newspaper scheme of redistribution to which the hon. Member had referred—moderate as that scheme was supposed to be—would have entirely reversed the existing proportion between the borough and county Members of this House, and I cannot understand for what purpose the hon. Member argued at great length that the counties are under-represented at the present time, for no one denies the fact. The hon. Member concluded his speech by saying that there was no doubt which Party in this House ought to give in in the present controversy. Of course there is no doubt. There never has been a doubt in the minds of hon. Members opposite, for they always assumed that the majority ought, as a matter of course, to give way to the minority. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Raikes), referring to the draft scheme of redistribution which has been published, told the House that we should encounter great difficulty on our own side before we could pass such a scheme, because it would deprive the Liberals of 70 seats. He assumed that the majority of the small seats which were to be swept away were Liberal seats. Now I must join issue with him, for I find that the Con- servatives and Home Rule Members together who would lose their seats under this scheme are exactly equal in number to the Liberal Members who would be displaced by it. I do not wish to say anything more in examination of the speeches that have been made in this debate. I will only once more express the warm satisfaction with which we have heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who preceded me. Such arguments as he used, and the tone in which he spoke, must conduce to a settlement of this great question. I believe that those who sit on this side of the House have great reason to desire an early settlement of this question, because they have made it peculiarly their own; but as regards its effect upon Party, I believe that this side has not so much cause to desire a settlement of the question as the Party opposite. From a Party point of view it would be no disadvantage to us if the question were to remain open for a little time longer; but it would be an enormous disadvantage to the country as a whole, and I, therefore, heartily thank the right hon. Gentleman opposite for the speech which he has made this evening.


I must apologize to the House for not having been in my place yesterday afternoon to move the Amendment of which I had given Notice; but an event of a distressing character to myself personally and to those with whom I am connected by family ties incapacitated me from dealing properly with the subject which I wished to raise. I should have thought that this would have been a sufficient excuse for my absence; but I observed this morning in an organ of the Ministerial Party that the excuses which my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope) so kindly made for me were received with jeers. [Cries of "No!" from the Ministerial Benches.]


It was a mistake. It was not understood.


I only state what I saw in The Daily News; but I daresay that paper was not accurate in its account. It will be obvious to hon. Members that the sudden death of a near relative does not conduce to the frame of mind that an hon. Member ought to be in when endeavouring to deal seriously with a subject of this kind. I should have liked to have remained perfectly quiet in this debate, believing that in so doing I should have been following the rules of Parliamentary propriety, and I should have done so if it had not been for two events which have occurred. I wish, in the first place, to apologize to the House for a circumstance which was noticed by the Prime Minister, and for which I alone am to blame. I refer to the disappearance from the Notice Paper of the Amendment which I had put down. The reason of its disappearance was that I entirely forgot the operation of the new Rule passed in 1882, by which, if you do not renew a Notice of opposition, the Notice lapses; and I beg to apologize to any hon. Members who may have been placed in doubt as to the course which I intended to pursue by the consequence of my forgetfulness. The next event to which I wish to allude is the speech delivered by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst). It is well known to the House that there has existed between my hon. and learned Friend and myself a very close friendship, not only political but private, and we have acted together in this House so often and for so long that, if I were not to take notice of the opinions which he has expressed in this debate, it might very naturally be supposed that I was endeavouring, in connection with the subject before the House, to perform that operation which is called "sitting across a rail" in a more unscrupulous fashion than, perhaps, that operatian has ever been attempted before by a Member of Parliament. If, as may be supposed, I had at all persuaded my hon. and learned Friend to make that speech, or even known that he intended so to express himself, it would look as if I had been endeavouring to curry favour with the Tory Party on this side of the House by proposing this Amendment, and at the same time to keep open a refuge with other Members of the House who are opposed to the action of the Tory Party in this matter. That was a suspicion so intolerable and injurious that the House will allow me to explain exactly how I stand, and my reason for disagreeing with my hon. and learned Friend. The speech of my hon. and learned Friend was, no doubt, a great surprise to me, and I may say a very painful surprise. My hon. and learned Friend said, at the commencement of his remarks, that he was in favour of the Amendment before the House as an abstract Motion. I venture to think that the Amendment before the House is not at all in the nature of an abstract Motion. It is one of the most precise, definite, and clear statements of policy which on any particular question it would be possible to frame. My hon. and learned Friend said that he would support that Amendment if he were sure it would not impede the passing of the Franchise Bill. I can reassure him on that point. So far from that Amendment obstructing the Franchise Bill, he may be certain that the discussion and Division on the Amendment will probably assist it. My hon. and learned Friend, with his purely legal mind, does not altogether understand that in political controversy, particularly in great and sharp political controversy, the Party which makes abject surrender is not the Party likely to attain its aim, or anything like its aim. In political controversy of the kind we are engaged in at present concession is not likely to be arrived at by surrender. It is only when a Party has, if I may so speak, its arms in its hands, when it is thoroughly united, when its forces are all marshalled inside and outside the House, when it is obvious to any observer that it is ready to struggle to the utmost—it is only then that a statesman in the position of the Prime Minister will allow himself to be convinced that the Party is animated by a great and honest principle from which it cannot and will not depart, and that he will endeavour, before the battle is hopelessly engaged in, if possible, to exhaust all chances and all possibilities of peace, and not only of peace, but of honourable peace. But, Sir, I do not think that peace would be secured by the attitude taken up by my hon. and learned Friend, because in that speech he threw away all his armour and prostrated himself before the Prime Minister; he counselled his fellow-comrades to an ignominious surrender; and he incontinently took to his heels and ran away in the vain and utterly futile hope that, by some possible chance, he might live to fight another day. I should like to ask my hon. and learned Friend what would be the position of the Tory Party if they gave up now, without any guarantee or consideration, as he advised them to do, all that opposition to which it is undoubtedly so deeply pledged? What would be the position of the Party then, and what amount of confidence would any portion of the people of this country be likely to repose in us in future? There is another thing which my hon. and learned Friend does not altogether appear to realize, and that is the immense transformation which has come over this question in the last nine months. There has been a total transformation—a transformation in the direction which hon. Members opposite approve of, and also in the direction of which we approve. What was the position of this question in February last, when the Government introduced it to the House? The Government brought in a Franchise Bill; they accompanied it by many other Bills of first-class importance. They proposed that the House should deal with all those subjects in one Session; and the programme, undoubtedly, was to deal with the Franchise Bill in 1884, coupled with the vague assurance that redistribution would be dealt with in 1885. At that time, undoubtedly, the Government were not ready with any scheme of redistribution. If they had been pressed ever so much they could not at that time have produced a Redistribution Bill. What would have been our position if we had agreed to the proposal of the Prime Minister, and had allowed the Reform Bill to pass through the House without opposition? The Bill would have been through this House before the end of February; the Royal Assent might have been given to it before the end of March; the Government might possibly have been defeated on the Egyptian Question in the middle of the Session; they might have prorogued Parliament; continued in Office for a short time while the registration was being made up, and taken a Dissolution on the enlarged but unredistributed constituencies. That was not only a possibility, but a probability, if we had fallen in with the suggestion of the Government in February last. But what was the position of the question in August last, when the House of Lords postponed the consideration of Reform? The Prime Minister said in the House that Parliament would be summoned in the Autumn to consider the Franchise Bill alone; and, in order that I may not misquote the right hon. Gentleman, I have taken the trouble to refer to the debate. I stated, I think, on the 10th of July, that the Prime Minister said he would call Parliament together in the Autumn in order that we might deal with the franchise and redistribution. Upon that there were cries of "No!" and the Prime Minister then got up and said— I may perhaps be excused if I set the noble Lord right. It is quite possible I may have used the expression 'dealing with redistribution next Session,' but it was perfectly understood that I did not mean the Autumn Session."—(3 Hansard, [290] 702–3.) Therefore, the position was that Parliament would be summoned in October to deal with the Franchise Bill, and the Franchise Bill alone. But what is the position now? Parliament is summoned to consider the whole question of Reform. The Motion which the Prime Minister made the other day, and which, very properly, gave him the whole time of the House, was framed so as to include "any" Bill dealing with the representation of the people, and we may be quite sure the Prime Minister did not insert that word "any" without good reason for so doing. But we know a good deal more. We know that Her Majesty's Government are ready with a redistribution scheme, and that they could produce it to-morrow if they chose; and we know, further, that in certain circumstances they will produce it. Well, I say that is a tremendous transformation, and a transformation which could not possibly have taken place had we followed the advice of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chatham. Sir, it is so large a transformation that a peaceable settlement of this matter, which in August last seemed perfectly hopeless, seems now, I really think I may say, without great danger, almost assured. But this I am certain of—If there is one thing which could destroy and shatter the hope of a peaceable settlement it would be the speech of my hon. and learned Friend, if it was supposed to represent the views of any large portion of the Tory Party. Because, Sir, the Government would think, and the Prime Minister would think, and very rightly, that they had nothing before them but a cowardly, vacillating, and disorganized Party; and the right hon. Gentleman would pursue, and very properly, whatever policy might be most in accordance with his own original ideas of what would suit his Party. My hon. and learned Friend last night elevated himself to a pinnacle of great superiority over the rest of the Tory Party. He said that he had always been in favour of assimilating the county and borough suffrage, and that opinion of his had lasted for 10 years. I was very much struck when I read that statement in the newspapers. I have known my hon. and learned Friend very intimately for some time, and it came upon me with all the force of absolute novelty. I find my hon. and learned Friend returned to Parliament in 1875 as Member for Chatham, and in 1875 the present Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Trevelyan) brought forward a Motion for the assimilation of the county and borough franchises. For it 161 voted, and against 268, and among the "Noes" was my hon. and learned Friend. In 1876, again, the subject came before the House, and was defeated by a majority of 99. My hon. and learned Friend on that occasion paired against the Motion of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. In 1877 the subject again came up, and my hon. and learned Friend did not vote. In 1878, also, the subject came up, and my hon. and learned Friend did not vote. The Motion was brought on in 1879 again, and my hon. and learned Friend did not vote. That is a very curious way of giving support to a question, to vote against it twice and to refrain from voting for it three times. The support which my hon. and learned Friend gave that question is singularly analogous to the support which he gives to the Tory Party. I, like my hon. and learned Friend, was greatly in favour of an arrangement on this matter last August, and so were many other Members on this side of the House. But when that arrangement was found, from one cause or another, to be impossible, when the battle appeared to be definitely begun, when the Tory Party was undoubtedly placed in a position of great difficulty, if not of absolute danger, and when other and much larger issues, involving almost the entire Constitution of the country, were dragged into the contest, then I did not follow the example of my hon. And learned Friend. My hon. and learned Friend boasts that he stood aloof from the agitation in the Autumn; but I venture to think that he would have done a great deal better if he had used his great abilities and powers in clearing up the position of his Party, and in clearing them from all the misconstruction, misconception, and misrepresentation to which they have been exposed. Certainly, I think he would have done better to have taken that course than to do what he did—namely, to prance off to the West Highlands of Scotland, and stir up among the crofters of Skye a great amount of bitterness and discontent with their position, which appears now to be degenerating into very serious riots. I have yet to learn that either the traditions of Party warfare or Party etiquette teaches one to desert one's Party and stand aloof from and refrain from giving assistance to it at a moment of crisis and of danger, simply because of the very inadequate and miserable reason that in one's own poor and very fallible judgment one does not altogether approve of the course which may have led them into that difficulty. [Laughter.] I am perfectly sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite, who laugh at that opinion, when they have disagreed with their Government, and their Government have got into difficulty, have not deserted them. My hon. and learned Friend has severed himself from the Tory Party because he considers it to be in a position of great danger; and to whom does he appeal? Of all people in the world, he appeals to the county Members, the country gentlemen, and the squirarchy of England to abandon their Leaders, the Leaders of the Tory Party, and to follow him in the advice which he has given. He says practically to them that if they take the course which the Leaders of his Party recommend them to take, and which they believe it to be their duty to take, the new voters will vote against them. My hon. and learned Friend, by that kind of appeal, seems to question their sincerity by appealing to their fears and by taunting them with the possibility of future defeat. That kind of appeal and those motives have never been of the slightest avail with the county Members. Whatever their faults may be—and I do not know that they have more than any other section—at any rate, this will be acknowledged—that they have always voted strictly in accordance with what they believe to be their duty without the slightest consideration as to what difficulties may follow personal to themselves. [Laughter.] I do not see anything to laugh at; I see nothing ridiculous; on the contrary, I think that if that independent line of conduct were a little more adopted on the other side of the House our deliberations would be more dignified, and, perhaps, more useful. At any rate, there sits the Prime Minister, who has been 52 years a Member of this House, and who at one time was among these county Members, and who has since that time baffled them and defeated them over and over again. The right hon. Gentleman can tell my hon. and learned Friend that his considerations were the very last considerations which would be likely to influence the county Members. Why, if the county Members of the Tory Party had considered these things in the manner in which my hon. and learned Friend thinks they ought to have done—namely, the immediate Parliamentary consequence of their action—they would have stuck to Sir Robert Peel in 1846, and probably have been in power from that day to this. But because they did not allow themselves to be influenced by such considerations, and insisted on doing what they believed to be their duty, regardless of what might happen to themselves, they abandoned Sir Robert Peel and kept their Party out of power for more than a quarter of a century. I do not myself believe that the action of the county Members in this matter will be misunderstood by their rural constituencies. I see sitting there the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), who made a speech in the Autumn which I happened to come across. In that speech the hon. and gallant Baronet welcomed with the greatest warmth and cordiality the admission of the agricultural labourers to the electoral roll. I do not believe that a single Member on that side of the House or on this side of the House, and I do not believe that even my hon. and learned Friend, would say or insinuate that there was a spark of insincerity in the speech of the hon. and gallant Baronet. And yet my hon. and learned Friend, talking of the county Members, and alluding only to them, said that "they flattered with their mouths and dissembled in their double hearts."


I am very sorry to interrupt the noble Lord; but he was not here when I spoke, and did not hear what I said; and he has, unwittingly no doubt, misrepresented me. I can assure him and the House that I never addressed myself specially to the county Members, and never said of any hon. Members in this House that they flattered with their mouths and dissembled in their double hearts.


I know perfectly well that I have sustained an immense and irreparable loss in not hearing the speech of my hon. and learned Friend, and I am only able to judge of it from the reports in the newspapers, and which, so far as I can judge, appear to be of a full and accurate character. I wish now to examine, if the House will permit me for a few moments, what is our present position with regard to this question, and to try and find out exactly where we stand. I rather regret the speech just delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board; because, although it was a very clever and interesting speech, and reviewed all the speeches which have been delivered with almost unnecessary minuteness, I was sorry the right hon. Gentleman did not set himself to work to gather up, as it were, all the different grounds of agreement which he might have found amongst all the various sections of the House, rather than set himself to find out all the different divergencies. I regret that he alluded to the speeches made in the Autumn, and particularly that he alluded to the reception given to the speech which was made in Lancashire by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for War. I thought that that was a very unhappy allusion on the part of the right hon. Gentleman; because, whatever may have been the reception given to the speech of the noble Lord by the Members of the Tory Party, without any doubt whatever, the rudest and most ungracious reception that was given to that speech came from the President of the Board of Trade. The right hon. Gentleman would have done well, I think, if he could have kept the debate clear from all reminiscences of that character, and if he could have recognized and felt the intense anxiety of the Prime Minister to leave alone, if possible, these agitating and disquieting circumstances. As far as I can look at the present position—I do not know whether I am saying anything ridiculous or absurd—we appear to be on the high road to a settlement. I read the speech delivered by the Prime Minister last night, and deeply regret that I had not the privilege of hearing it; but I may be allowed to say this—with all respect to him—that it seems to be in every sense of the word a magnanimous speech; and I could not help drawing the strongest and most striking contrast between that speech and the speech which the First Lord of the Treasury delivered on the third reading of the Reform Bill last July. In the speech of the Prime Minister last night there was not a word that should not be full of hope to all those who are desirous of conducting this controversy to a satisfactory issue; and there was only one sentence that was calculated to cloud that prospect and raise anxiety. I wish to say a word about the Division that we shall come to at some time to-night. I think the Prime Minister rather misconceived the nature of the issue which the Amendment raises. The Prime Minister said that the Government could not assent to the demand for the union of the two Bills. Now, Sir, we have not put forward such an exorbitant demand as that. Curiously enough, when I originally drew up my Amendment it did contain the word "include" with reference to measures for the rearrangement of electoral areas; and when I submitted it to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, he suggested that the word "include" was far too strong, and that it should be altered to the words "accompanied by." The union of the two measures is not the question before the House. I am not asking for anything so preposterous. I am asking for "accompaniment" only, and even that does not mean that the two Bills need be before this House simultaneously, or before the other House simultaneously. It only means that they should be before the whole Parliament; and the words "accompanied by" do not in the least exclude the possibility or desirability of following this Bill by the other. The only one sentence in the Prime Minister's speech which I thought was, I will not say of an alarming, but of a rather anxious character, was the following:— I believe I am not overstating the case—in fact, if possible, I am understating it— when I say that while the Tories admit the extension of the franchise to be a good, they regard it only as a conditional good; and if the condition of attendant redistribution does not accompany the franchise, then the franchise is in their view not a good, but an evil. That is to me unintelligible. I do not think the country has been able at all to enter into that proposition so as to see that it has a serious meaning. I quite grant that within the limits of the Party it has been largely accepted and echoed. But I never can depart from the proposition that in our view the franchise is the main matter, and that though the extension of the franchise is a much greater good accompanied with redistribution, yet that it is a good in itself, whether redistribution accompany it or not. That, I am bound to say, is a sentence which I should have liked not to have read in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, because, undoubtedly, it is a view which on this side of the House cannot be taken. It is a view which on the other side of the House has not been taken by many men of great position and influence. It is a view which was repudiated by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for War, when he said that an election with an extended franchise without redistribution would result in an unfair and improper representation of the people. I will give one example, and for the purpose I will rise above the ordinary level of human disinterestedness. I will take the case of my own borough, to which I am attached for many reasons; first of all, for having honoured me with a seat in this House; and, secondly, because it was my home. I take the case of Woodstock, with 1,000 electors; and I ask you whether an amendment of the representation of the people would be satisfactory, would be a great good in itself, that allowed Woodstock, with 1,000 electors, to return a Member to Parliament, and which only gave to the division of South-West Lancashire, with 74,000 electors, two Members? Of course, it is perfectly easy to give one example after another of that kind. I ask the Prime Minister whether he could consider that a fair and proper representation of the people? ["No, no!" from the Ministerial Benches.] Very well; but it is the fair and proper representation of the people you are aiming at; and how can it be a great good in itself to pass a Bill under which, if you take an election, you will have an unfair and improper distribution of seats? The Prime Minister has spoken two or three times in the House and out of it; but he has not explained his views on this point in detail. The only part of the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Chatham for which we are under the slightest obligation to him is that in which he expressed the hope that the introduction of the Redistribution Bill would follow the passing of the Franchise Bill in this House; and two or three of the newspapers concur in stating that that remark of the hon. and learned Gentleman was followed by an encouraging and friendly cheer from the Prime Minister. What I want to point out is this—that if the redistribution proposals of the Government are satisfactory to hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, all necessity for means of pressure to be in the hands of the Government, and all necessity for guarantees to be in our hands, absolutely disappear. I am certain of this—that the Government can rely on the honour of the Leader of the Opposition in this House, and on the honour of Lord Salisbury in the other, as far as any agreement may be come to as to the principles of redistribution; and they also can rely on the great confidence which is placed in them by the bulk of their followers, and the control over their followers which that confidence rightly gives them. I think the Government know the wishes of the Tory Party and the general principles they would support with respect to redistribution. [Cries of "No!"] Hon. Gentlemen say "No!" of course. I cannot blame them; they constantly and persistently shut themselves off from the light of truth. If hon. Gentlemen who say "No!" had read the speech of the Marquess of Salisbury at Manchester, or the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) at Bristol, they would see that the general principles of redistribution which would be favoured by the Tory Party were, at any rate, thrown out with quite as much detail as any principles thrown out by the Government. For my own part, I believe that redistribution, which is based on the population principle, would be most likely to unite the two Parties, because in redistribution based upon that principle I cannot detect any possibility of unfair play, and I think it is the only redistribution which will give a perfectly fair representation of the people. The Prime Minister yesterday laid down four conditions. He said the Bill must be a large one; and with that I quite agree. The larger and the bolder it is the better will be the chance of passing it. The second proposition of the Prime Minister was that it should be a measure which would give a considerable satisfaction to the principle of population, and to that I have already alluded. The third condition was that, although there might be some difference in the interpretation, it ought not be of needless complexity, and needless complexity ought not to be introduced into any part of our electoral system. If the right hon. Gentleman here alludes to the question of proportional representation, I think there are many on this side of the House who would be prepared to support Her Majesty's Government, not from any dislike of the principle or idea, but from an absolute and ineradicable disbelief in the possibility of putting it into a shape which can be adopted in a Bill. This is a matter which the Government may leave open with the utmost confidence. I am perfectly certain that when the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock) proposes his scheme of proportional representation, in the first place, the whole Party of 100 Members who favour the principle will fly to pieces through their disagreement upon the details of the speech; and, secondly, what remains of the Party will be scattered like chaff before the wind by a speech from the Prime Minister. I wish that that scheme of the hon. Baronet may come before the House. I have not the slightest doubt what the result will be. I hope the Government will allow no fear about that question to debar them from taking any practical course they think proper. Further, the Prime Minister said that he attached immense importance to the condition that the scheme must be equitable and liberal as between the great divisions of the country. I suppose the word "liberal" is contained in the word "equitable," and, without disrespect, I may almost say that it is redundant. That condition will be at once received with the greatest satisfaction. The fourth condition was that the measure ought to be just as between the different classes of the community, and the different pursuits to which those classes belong. In that I recognize a principle that finds considerable favour, both on the other side and on this. Whatever representation you give to manufacturing interests, and whatever you give to agricultural interests in accordance to their number, the constituencies in which they are represented should, as far as possible, be kept quite distinct and separate, on the grounds that the difference between them has been from time to time immemorably recognized by Parliament, and also on the grounds that the interests of the manufacturing and those of the agricultural classes are essentially diverse. [Cries of "No, no!"] How can hon. Members say "No!" when, in their own experience, time after time, divisions upon legislative projects have drawn the line sharply between the urban and the agricultural Representatives? Well, that is the position as far as I can make it out. If the Government, after the Franchise Bill has passed from the House of Commons, will place their Redistribution Bill before us, then I am certain there is no reason to disbelieve that before many months every one of these difficulties will be settled. The President of the Local Government Board promised us further information if we wanted it, and he has done so two or three times. But I would suggest that it is almost impossible to go beyond what the Prime Minister has said, except by laying the Bill on the Table. There was one feature of the debate of last night that I noticed, and it was that speaker after speaker got up and recognized the fact that whatever might be the former views of the Tory Party, they are now sincere in desiring an extension of the franchise. I would add, I do not believe that there is the smallest desire to trip up the Government with respect to redistribution. There is not the slightest arrière pensé in the demands pressed upon the Government. We do not think that a Bill for the redistribution of seats need be a measure which should raise a question of confidence or no confidence in the Government. We have got already to the discussion of general principles. Surely, having got so far as that, a consideration of dry details must naturally follow. In that discussion, when once the main principles are agreed on, from what has been said by the Prime Minister, I do not see any possibility of violent disagreement. I am perfectly certain in that discussion the great principle of give and take will characterize both Parties. I do not think the Division of to-night will do any harm to the possibility of an agreement. The Amendment which is before the House, which, I suppose, will be supported by hon. Gentlemen on this side, reiterates in the clearest and most distinct manner we can the position we have taken up; it confirms and strengthens our position in the country. I think it makes clear to hon. Gentlemen opposite our position before them. I honestly believe myself, in common with Liberal Members opposite, in common with many Members on this side of the House, that this question ought to be settled. I believe firmly that this question must be settled. I also have a profound conviction that this question can only be settled by a more or less close adherence to the manner and the methods we propose. The settlement of the question in that manner and by those methods will, at any rate, possess this inestimable quality which the Prime Minister seemed to desire last night—that it will be a settlement of a great national controversy, not by the voice of a faction, not by the will of a Party, but by the united and harmonious co-operation of the entire Parliament of the United Kingdom. Such a settlement, so effected, will contain within it elements of stability, of tranquillity, of finality and of safety, which no other settlement can by any ingenuity secure. It will, moreover, reflect the highest and the most enduring credit on those parties, who, after all, must be chiefly responsible in this matter not only to the country, but to posterity—I mean the Ministers of the Crown. I freely give them all, and more than all, the credit which they can gather from a settlement so arrived at. It is in the full and absolute confidence that the Division of to-night will not prevent such a great consummation that I dissent altogether from the pusillanimous considerations put forward by the hon. and learned Member for Chatham, and I give my voice and vote in favour of the Amendment which the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire has so ably put before the House.


said, the greater part of the speech of the noble Lord had been devoted to a censure of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst); but he thought the House would agree that the present quarrel would probably issue as all lovers' quarrels did, and when the present question was settled, they would be as firm and close friends as ever. He wished, however, to assure the noble Lord that the excuses made for his absence last evening by the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope) were not received in the jeering spirit which he imagined. He thought he could explain to some extent why it was that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chatham made his remarkable speech. It was because he thought he was, in truth, following the lead and teaching of the noble Lord. No doubt the noble Lord had drafted an Amendment originally intended to express the view of the Opposition that the Franchise Bill and the Redistribution Bill should be conjoined, but subsequently altered the language of his Amendment. But the view his hon. and learned Friend apparently took was that the Amendment of the noble Lord must have been written under a temporary aberration and in forgetfulness of the statements which the noble Lord had again and again made in the House, and which amply justified the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham. Early in the present year, on the Amendment of the hon. Member for South Northumberland (Mr. A. Grey) fixing a date for the commencement of the Franchise Bill, the noble Lord said that while the Opposition had no power to compel the Government to bring in one Bill dealing with the whole subject, yet, considering what had fallen from Gentlemen on both sides of the House, he thought they had power to persuade the Government to undertake that redistribution should be dealt with next year. That was the noble Lord's language then; but that was the very thing which the Government did undertake, and was the pledge given by the Government, upon which the hon. and learned Member for Chatham rightly laid such stress. But the noble Lord went on to say, still referring to the hon. Member for South Northumberland's Amendment, that the object of Conservatives who were in favour of Reform would be attained by the insertion of the date January, 1886, as the commencement of the Bill. If that were put into a Reform Bill, the noble Lord saw no reason why the Bill should not pass into law, taking into account the declaration of the Government that they intended to introduce promptly and to pass a Redistribution Bill. His hon. and learned Friend, then, was true to the teaching of the noble Lord, and more consistent than the noble Lord had been that evening. But, in the meantime, the noble Lord found that he was being considerably blamed for the line he was taking, which was in opposition to the Party to which he belonged. On that very occasion he was taken to task by the hon. Member for Hertford (Mr. A. J. Balfour), just as the noble Lord had taken to task the hon. and learned Member for Chatham. While, therefore, the encounter between the noble Lord and the hon. and learned Member for Chatham was amusing, consistency was altogether on the side of the hon. and learned Member; and the House would agree with him that, however amusing these personal passages might be, the House would have been better pleased if the noble Lord had addressed himself to answering the speech of the hon. and learned Member. He (Mr. C. Russell) had listened carefully to the speech of his hon. and learned Friend; and, in his opinion, it was one of the most convincing which had ever been delivered in that House. The noble Lord's answer to it was singularly incomplete, and no attempt had been made to tackle the hon. and learned Member's speech. It must have struck everybody that there was a sense of hollowness and sham about the whole of that debate. It was not a real fight. The main question at issue had already been determined in that House, and there was no expectation that the vote of last Spring would be altered by the vote of the House that night. It was, therefore, obvious that the only purpose to be served by prolonging the discussion was to give some show of reason and some sense of support to the proceedings of the House of Lords. What was the question before the House? It was the second reading of a Bill which it now appeared the House unanimously accepted. It was almost resented if it was suggested that there was a lingering doubt in the bosoms of hon. Members opposite. Those lingering doubts appeared to be confined to the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Raikes), the Lord Mayor (Mr. R. N. Fowler), and last, but not least, the intrepid Member for North Lincolnshire (Mr. J. Lowther), who had the great credit of candidly avowing his dislike to the Bill. If that was so, why was not the Bill carried? There were some features in it which he and many other Liberals did not like. He did not like plurality of votes, or the preservation of existing fagot votes, or the votes of freemen. But they were content to let these matters pass, because they recognized that the Government had honestly tried to bring in a Bill which would be as little as possible open to objection from the Conservative Party. Why, then, was it not carried? Because it was not accompanied by redistribution. But the Government had said they would not deal with the question in one Bill, nor in two Bills introduced simultaneously; and the House of Commons, the representative House, had indorsed that judgment, and, as he believed, the country had indorsed it. That was clearly shown by the public meetings held throughout the country in the Autumn. But the Party opposite said there were no such means known to the Constitution of arriving at public opinion. It might be convenient to say that now, but hon. Gentlemen opposite had tried that means. The Leader of the Opposition, who, he might venture to say, was neither by nature nor taste fitted for mob oratory, had assumed that rôle, and addressed large masses of the people, and the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition had adopted a like course. But they had found the country against them; and now they turned round and said it was a means of appealing to the country that was not known to the Constitution. It was said, however—"We must have the redistribution scheme before us." Why, what was the situation? The Government were pledged to bring in a Redistribution Bill as soon as possible, and the House had recognized the sincerity of their pledge. Further, the lines laid down by the Prime Minister in his speech on the previous day as to the leading principles of a Redistribution Bill had been recognized as just. But then hon. Gentlemen opposite said they had no guarantee that the Redistribution Bill would be dealt with by this Parliament. He did not say that was not desirable; but those who considered an extension of the franchise as a good thing in itself did not recognize the force of that argument. What was the position with respect to the question. There were still two full years unexpired of the present Parliament. Was not that ample for dealing with both branches of the subject? If such were not ample, how, then, did it lie in the mouths of the Conservative Party to complain that the Government did not embrace both parts of Reform in the same Bill and in the same Session of Parliament? It was said that there was not a perfect identity of interest between the two Parties in the State; but he would ask whether there was nothing in the present state of things that was injurious to the Liberal Party? What was the next point? It was said by hon. Gentlemen opposite—"We have no guarantee that the Bill, if you bring it in, shall be a fair Redistribution Bill." His hon. and learned Friend pointed out last night that they had ample guarantee. They had the public faith of Ministers pledged to it, and behind that they had public opinion, which would stigmatize the conduct of Ministers who attempted to turn such a great public question into a mere contrivance for a Party advantage. As hon. Members opposite maintained that they had no guarantees for a fair Redistribution Bill, he would ask them what they meant by a fair Redistribution Bill? He supposed it would be conceded that any Redistribution Bill must bring with it, by the admission of 2,000,000 of hitherto unenfranchised voters, a large accession of power to what might relatively be described as the democratic element. That element was not, in the main, one from which hon. Gentlemen opposite would expect to get a large amount of support. When hon. Members opposite spoke of a fair redistribution scheme, dealing with that democratic element, did they mean that they wanted the increased number of voters to be so manipulated that their full force and effect was not to be felt? Was it not painfully obvious, however much they might attempt to conceal the fact, that hon. Gentlemen opposite regarded this question of the franchise as a poisonous thing, not to be permitted to come into contact with the body politic, and as a kind of bane which would be fatal to the State unless it were accompanied by the antidote of redistribution. That was not the view of the Liberal Party. They regarded the admission of so many persons to the rights of citizenship as a good in itself, and as strengthening the foundations on which the great institutions of the country rested. He should now like to say a word about the other House of Parliament, for whose benefit, as he conceived, these debates were conducted and tonight's Division was to be gone through. He desired to say a word with all seriousness and with all respect. Hon. Members opposite professed to venerate the House of Lords, and to regard it as being of the highest use to the State in its legislative capacity. But were they strengthening its position, and raising it in the estimation of the people, by the course they were now pursuing? When the House of Lords came athwart the serious purposes of the people in a matter affecting their representation, they set the masses a-thinking. One was reminded that the House of Lords, with its present functions, was an anomaly unknown in the whole civilized world to-day, and unknown, as far as he was aware, in any previous part of the history of the world—namely, a House with legislative functions and hereditary institutions. Those who considered the history of that Body would do well to bring the present dispute to a speedy ending. It had been urged that the House of Lords were within the letter of their Constitutional rights when they practically rejected this Bill. But the letter of their rights and the spirit of those rights were different things; and it was a serious matter, according to the spirit of their rights, for the House of Lords to reject a measure which had been announced in the Queen's Speech at the instance of Her Majesty's responsible Advisers, and which had been passed by a large majority by that branch of the Legislature which alone was affected by it. It was manifestly felt that the House of Lords were using their great power and influence to serve what they—he was willing to admit—considered to be the interests of the country, but to serve also Party purposes. They were endeavouring to put a political Party out of power, and to force a Dissolution on the Government. As a Constitutional lawyer, he maintained that in so doing they were not acting either in the letter or according to the spirit of their rights. Let the friends of the House of Lords take warning in time. Did not hon. Gentlemen opposite know that there were many Members on the Ministerial side, and hundreds of people outside the House, who would rejoice if this question should not be brought to a settlement, because they thought the prolongation of the struggle would lead to a far more radical change in the position and constitution of the House of Lords than anything that was now suggested. He was sure hon. Members from Ireland (his Colleagues) would bear with him while he addressed a word or two to them with reference to the position of this Bill from the Irish point of view. He did not at all affect the right to advise; but he would ask to be allowed to state the grounds upon which it seemed to him there ought not to be any hesitation as to the vote which any Member from Ireland representing popular interests ought to give. When the Bill was brought forward, he recollected that the first great cry made against it was that it included Ireland. It was pointed out that in the state of Ireland it was a monstrous act of statesmanship to attempt to concede equal rights to seditious and barbarous Irishmen. When, however, it became apparent that no Minister could bring in a Bill dealing in an exceptional way with one part of the so-called United Kingdom, it was said, rather than include Ireland, "Let no Bill be brought in at all." He knew that his hon. Colleagues from Ireland were sore with the present Government, and he was not prepared to say that they had not reason to be dissatisfied with them in some respects. He should support his Colleagues in some of the questions which would come up for discussion, such as, for instance, that latest act, the reappointment or continuance of George Bolton in a position in connection with the administration of law in Ireland, He would be sorry and ashamed if Irish Members did not receive such support from the Liberal Benches, both above and below the Gangway, as would make it impossible for the Government to continue that man in his present position. On such an occasion he should act with his hon. Colleagues, and he should be surprised and disappointed if many of those around him did not take the same view of the matter. But est modus in rebus; and he would ask his hon. Colleagues what they meant to do in regard to the measure now under consideration? The Government, whatever else might be said of them and of the Liberal Party, had been loyal on this question to the Irish people. They had resisted the attacks made upon them on this point. The arguments used by Conservatives had been various. Hon. Friends of his on the Benches opposite—and he was glad to say he had many there—had pointed out to him the utter impolicy of extending this enlarged measure of enfranchisement to the Irish people, and had remarked, "It means extinction for you and men of your moderate views," as they had been pleased to describe them. His answer was—and it ought to be the answer of all who considered the question—that if the maintenance of a few men of so-called moderate and liberal views was only to be secured at the expense of maintaining a narrow enfranchisement, the sooner they disappeared the better. How had this question been dealt with lately? In the earlier discussions the main point of attack on the Government was in reference to the treatment of Ireland. They had had from the right hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) the mud cabin argument. The noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) said the Bill was a hovel enfranchisement Bill as far as Ireland was concerned. The right hon. and learned Member for Dublin University Mr. Gibson) said the Bill forged a weapon for the disloyal, while his right hon. and learned Colleague (Mr. Plunket) was amazed at the folly and blindness of the Government which made such a proposition. Finally, they had from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Raikes) a statement that it was neither more nor less than an enfranchisement of barbarism. He must not forget the speech delivered at Dunstable by the hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Brodrick), who said that the Irish people whom it was intended to enfranchise knew no more about voting than a donkey knew about family prayer. But in the face of all this, the Government, to their credit, stood by their guns; and it would be recollected that in the last Division, when the question of Ireland was raised in this connection, 137 Gentlemen exclusively from the Opposition side of the House voted against the inclusion of Ireland. He asked his hon. Colleagues whether they were going into the Lobby with the Party who used those arguments and treated the question in that way, to the defamation and vilification of their country? He could understand the Irish Members going into the Lobby with the Opposition on this question, if by their vote they could turn out the Government; that would be intelligible, although it might not be wise. But they knew that no such purpose could be effected by it. The only effect of any diminution of the vote would be to play into the hands of the House of Lords. In Ireland especially this question of the franchise was one which ought to be speedily brought to an issue; for whereas in Great Britain one in 10 of the population had a vote, in Ireland the restrictive franchise and the difficulties of acquiring a vote were such that only one in 25 of the population had a vote. Surely this was a matter that ought to be redressed, and redressed speedily. Were the Irish Members anxious to help the Lords in this matter? Did they owe the Lords anything? However pernicious the proceedings of the House of Lords might have been in regard to England and Scotland, they had been still more pernicious in the case of Ireland. Above all institutions the House of Lords had taught the Irish people the lesson that, not to mere persuasion and argument, but to agitation, often agitation accompanied by violence, they would yield the claims of justice. This lesson was taught in the case of Catholic Emancipation, of the Tithes, of the Tests Acts, of Disestablishment, and more fatally in the case of the Land Act of 1870 and the Land Act of 1881. But it was not merely that the House of Lords delayed and hindered the legislative schemes sent up to them for the benefit of Ireland. The knowledge that all measures had to run the gauntlet of the House of Lords prevented the Government putting forward measures as complete as they desired. ["Oh!" and "Hear, hear!"] The Prime Minister himself had stated that Ministers had to consider, not what might be passed through this House, but what would be agreed to in the other House. He sincerely hoped that in the Division that night no Irish Member representing what he had ventured to call popular rights and opinions in Ireland would by his vote give the least colour of support to the conduct of the House of Lords on previous occasions in reference to Ireland, or to the conduct of the House of Lords in regard to this question.


said, he recognized the duty of hon. Members, as far as possible, to narrow the issue down to the real point upon which the controversy turned. There was much in the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) with which he could cordially agree; and he should be able entirely to agree with him but for one omission he made—the fact that, although the issue was reduced to a narrow one, yet one point was still undetermined, and that a not unimportant one. He brushed away as unworthy of further consideration the charge brought against the Conservative Party, that they were opposed to the passage of the Franchise Bill. He had never opposed the passage of the Bill, nor, he believed, had any considerable section of his Party. They only wished to see the question fairly and equitably settled. Neither was he in the least afraid of any efforts that could possibly be made by the Party in power to manipulate the constituencies in any new Redistribution Bill. He was willing to believe that they would not if they could, and he did not think they could if they would. Such an attempt must fail. They might as well try to lead an elephant with a thread. Constituencies would refuse to be bound by any Party in the State, and their votes at the proper time would show where was their confidence. One point, however, was left at issue to which he must call attention—a danger to which the Constitution was exposed. But before alluding to that, he wished briefly to notice the speech of the Prime Minister last night. In many ways it was a conciliatory speech, and the applause from the Conservatives that greeted parts of that speech showed the spirit in which the Party were prepared to receive it. The Prime Minister even went so far as to say something on the question of redistribution generally. A Redistribution Bill, he said, should be a large Bill. It should deal with large numbers; it should not be too complex; and it should represent large interests in the country. But these were propositions it was scarcely worth while for the Prime Minister to present to the House, for scarcely a person in the country would take exception to them. But the danger to which he was about to allude was not at all touched by the speech of the Prime Minister; and it was simply this—that we had, at the present moment, no guarantee or security whatever that we might not be brought face to face with a General Election with the old constituencies and a new electorate. The effect thus produced could be shown by an examination of the constituency he had the honour to represent. It now numbered something over 10,000 electors. Under the new Bill it would contain something like 50,000. Therefore, by a very simple arithmetical process, it would be seen that the present constituency there would be entirely swamped should a General Election take place without a redistribution of seats. The present electors of the country had deserved well of the nation, and they had justified the expectations which were formed of them. But they had one more duty to perform before they relinquished the power entrusted to them; and that was, through their Representatives, to take care that power was not handed over to any but a reorganized constituency. They had to take care that the power was not handed over to a chaotic mass of voters, who, it was admitted on all sides, could only form a temporary constituency, which could not possibly represent the opinion of the country. But though such a constituency would itself be a temporary one, the evils resulting from its creation would be permanent, inasmuch as to it would be entrusted the duty of sending Representatives to the House, into whose sole charge would be confided the reconstruction of the whole representative system of the country. With the permission of the House he would give an illustration of the danger which would attend such a course. Supposing a new harbour or dock were to be constructed, what would be said of the engineer if he were to suggest that the water should be let in first and the works constructed afterwards? That, however, was precisely the course which, under the hypothesis he was considering, the House would be compelled to adopt. The claim of the 2,000,000 persons to be admitted within the pale of the Constitution was granted by both sides of the House, and it therefore became necessary that the boundaries of our representative system should be enlarged in order that the new votes might be safely accommodated; but the question was—should they first let in the waters and flood the works, so that it might be impossible afterwards to construct a good representative system, or should they, as wise men, first keep the water out, and then on lines of strength and beauty construct the receptacles for the new electorate? They were told there was no serious wish on either side of the House to obstruct the passage of the two Bills; and it was generally admitted that a Dissolution, under the conditions he had shown to be possible, would be a national misfortune. He was reminded, when he compared the attitude which the House of Lords and the Prime Minister had respectively taken up on this question, of a verse which was written 100 years ago describing the conduct of two English Commanders who were waiting for each other— Earl Chatham, his sword drawn, Stood waiting for Sir Richard Strachan; Sir Richard, longing to be at' em, Stood waiting for the Earl of Chatham. The responsibility of providing a remedy for the present state of affairs rested with the Government. In his opinion, the remedy was a very simple one. It was said there was no fear but that the Redistribution Bill would be passed before there was another General Election. There might be very little fear; but what the Opposition asked on behalf of the Constitution of the country was that it should be made legally impossible that such a thing could happen. If the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, would agree to insert in this Bill a clause which should prevent its coming into operation until a Redistribution Bill had been passed, it appeared to him (Mr. Finch-Hatton) that that would be the easiest and simplest solution of the difficulty. In the first place, it would afford an efficient and effective protection against the Constitutional danger to which he had referred—a protection which ought to be asked for and sought for by hon. Members on both sides of the House, inasmuch as both sides of the House admitted that that state of things would involve a very grave crisis. In the second place, it would afford an honourable compromise to both the contending Parties. On the one hand, the House of Lords would be enabled to recede from the letter of the demand which they had put forward, that both Bills should be placed before them at one and the same time; and the Prime Minister, with the full honours of war, would not then be obliged, as he had said he could not do, to bring in those measures either as one Bill, or even simultaneously. He would be enabled to pass the Franchise Bill with the greatest ease, and afterwards, when the united wisdom of the Cabinet had matured the redistribution scheme, he could lay it on the Table of the House. The right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the necessity which existed for some kind of lever in order to induce the House of Commons to deal with the question of redistribution. He submitted to the Prime Minister and to the Government that, after the insertion of such a clause, he would find the greatest lever which could be placed in his hands in the united force of public opinion. The Franchise Bill under that supposition would be safe; but it would be awaiting its coming into operation until the Redistribution Bill had become law. Therefore, it might fairly be contended that if any hon. Member on either side of the House were to offer any unnecessary opposition to the passage of the Redistribution Bill he would lay himself open to the censure of the country for delaying the passing of the Franchise Bill as well. The House was frequently told that under any circumstances Her Majesty's Government would introduce a Redistribution Bill during the Session of 1885; and he would remind the House that, as it at present stood, the Franchise Bill did not come into operation till January 1, 1886. If, therefore, that were so, and the clause he suggested were inserted, there could arise no possible delay, for the two Bills would become law at one and the same time. He contended, also, that a guarantee of this kind would have the effect of making the progress of the Redistribution Bill itself considerably more easy and more rapid. He asked the Government whether they did not think it wise at the present moment to attempt in some manner to secure the cordial co-operation of Members on the Opposition side of the House? Could they look forward to the next Session of Parliament and not see that there might be times when they would be very glad of that co-operation? If it should be necessary, as, unfortunately, it probably might be, to ask Parliament again to renew the exceptional powers for dealing with Ireland, surely at that moment the Government would be glad to receive the support of the Conservative Party. If this reasonable concession, not to Conservative prejudice, but to Constitutional security, was given by the right hon. Gentleman, he, for one, would promise his hearty co-operation in carrying the Redistribution Bill through Parliament. He was satisfied that if some such guarantee as that were given, the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope) would see his way to withdraw his Amendment. Failing such a guarantee, he should feel it his duty, by supporting the Amendment of his hon. Friend, to take care that when the power which had been given to the present electors was taken away from them it was only handed over to a broadened, a widened, and a properly readjusted constituency, and one qualified to take up and discharge with fidelity to the State the enormous trust which would be reposed in it.


said, he was afraid that no kind of argument would persuade the extreme section of the Radical Party to take what many Members on the Opposition side considered to be a rational and patriotic view of the question; and, therefore, all arguments must be addressed to the more moderate Members of the Party opposite, and what remained of the old Liberal Party. The Conservative Party had already proved ad nauseam that the position they had taken up was publicly approved by all the greatest men, both of the present and the past, although it was true of some of the former that— A merciful Providence has fashioned them hollow, In order that they may their principles swallow. He could not help hoping that the lessons of the Recess might have shown moderate Liberals the great dangers of the present agitation. What had we seen? We had seen Members of Parliament, ex-Cabinet Ministers, and pre- sent Cabinet Ministers joining together with paid agitators, and doing their utmost to excite the worst passions of the people by using language which, in an Irish Member, would have been called seditious. Many an Irishman had lingered in gaol for making use of language not worse than that used by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) and the President of the Board of Trade; and if that kind of thing was to continue, the Home Secretary would have to consider the advisability of establishing some gaol equivalent to Kilmainham, where hon. and right hon. Gentlemen might learn to bridle their tongues and mend their manners. It was a singular fact that even the paid and practised agitator had been unable to persuade the agricultural labourer to excite himself about his own enfranchisement. It was true that a procession of agricultural labourers, or supposed agricultural labourers, appeared in the streets of London; but it had come to their knowledge, beyond doubt, that each of those forming the procession received a return ticket in order to view the Metropolis gratis. He maintained that there had not been a large gathering of the purely agricultural population to protest against the action that had been taken by the Conservative Party. The principal meetings that had taken place of the agricultural population had, on the contrary, supported the Conservative Party and the House of Lords in the course they had taken. To do the Prime Minister justice, he was, no doubt, anxious to pass a Redistribution Bill immediately after the Franchise Bill had become law, the right hon. Gentleman wishing to crown a long and laborious political career by a full and complete measure of Reform. But, still, he thought the Prime Minister feared that he would meet with far more difficulties from the extreme Members of the Radical Party in passing the Redistribution Bill than he would meet with from the Opposition side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman, therefore, meant to use the passing of an incomplete measure as a lever to force the Opposition to pass the other portion of the scheme. He would state his reasons for imploring the more moderate Members of the Party opposite to think well before they played into the hands of the extreme Radical Party. He was convinced that once the Franchise Bill became law, that extreme Party would never consent to any Redistribution Bill unless its terms were outrageously unfair, but would rather have an appeal to the country upon the large and undistributed electorate. Look at the line they had taken. They had made no secret whatever of hoping for the rejection of the Bill by the House of Lords, notwithstanding the commotion into which they had thrown the country. Their desire had not been the extension of the franchise to the county voters; but it had been the destruction of the House of Lords, the abolition of hereditary legislators, and the ruin of hereditary landowners. Not content with making the most violent and offensive speeches against noble Lords who had done good service to the country, they had circulated tracts among the poor people of the country of a most infamous character against the hereditary owners of land. One of these tracts, which were written with the deliberate intention of creating discontent, was put under the door of many cottages in his neighbourhood; and it was of so infamous a nature that he meant to bring it under the notice of the Home Secretary, and ask him to lay it on the Table of the House in order that Members might read for themselves the poison which these agitators had attempted to sow broadcast through the land. He did not suppose it would be relevant for him to undertake a defence of the House of Lords; but he might be permitted to say, if a good judge of human nature were to come and contemplate the row of hon. Members who usually sat below the Gangway opposite, and listen to their fiery conversations, and especially listen to that refined discourse which was delivered by the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Thorold Rogers), whom the Speaker had to call to Order three times for not behaving himself like a gentleman—["Order, order!"]


The hon. Member is not entitled to speak in that way, and to say that an hon. Member did not behave himself like a gentleman.


said, he was going to say if they were to contrast the conduct of the extreme Radical Members in that House, and then were to go to the Honse of Lords and notice the demeanour of noble Lords who sat there, and heard their statesmanlike speeches, he thought they would decide it would be better for the country that these noble Lords should form the Second Chamber. He could only say—God defend this country from ever being under the unlimited control of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway? He was not one of those who thought that the agricultural labourer was in any way unfit to receive the power of voting, for he believed he was as much fit to receive that privilege as any of the individuals who possessed it in the towns. He had lived all his life in an agricultural district, and had taken the deepest interest in the welfare of those among whom he lived. He was certain that the agricultural labourer would far rather live unenfranchised, and trust himself to the tender mercies of the Conservatives, than, as an enfranchised man, be ground down under Radical rule. The Prime Minister, at the opening of that great Club, which was to embrace the head, the body, and the tail of the Caucus, made an allusion to the agricultural labourers, in which he said that they had been, practically, for the last half-century, under Tory influence. What had been the result of this? The condition of the agricultural labourer in these 50 years of Tory influence had been one of steady improvement; and now, in a time of unparalleled distress, when the landlord was ruined and the tenant farmer almost ruined, the agricultural labourer's position was as good and rather better than it was a few years ago. But if they looked at the case of the urban classes, the slaves of the wealthy Radical millowners, they saw a very different state of things. Day after day they heard of mills being closed and shipyards shut up, and of thousands upon thousands of their unfortunate fellow-creatures being turned out into the streets to starve. He ventured to think that the condition of the agricultural labourer in 50 years of Tory influence was somewhat better than that of the unfortunates who lived in the towns, and who had been under the influence of Radical millionaires. It might be said, if the agricultural labourers had so much to be thankful for to the Conservatives, why should they oppose the present Bill? They did so because hon. Gentlemen opposite knew as well as he that the proposed enfranchisement of the agricultural labourer without a scheme of redistribution being introduced was a mere mockery and a farce. Unless the franchise was accompanied by a redistribution scheme, which gave a fair representation to each class, the agricultural interest would be completely swamped by the urban interest. As it was, the urban voter was in a better position already than the county voter, for the former could vote in his county as well as his borough, while the latter was confined to his own constituency or division. But, in addition to this, the country would be flooded by a large number of men whose interests were purely urban, but who happened to live outside the town. The proposed measure of enfranchisement, if unaccompanied by a proper scheme of redistribution, would be a monstrous injustice to the agricultural labourer, and to all those who depended upon land for their sustenance. He could hardly hope that the large majority on the Division on the last second reading of the Bill would be brought down to a minority; but he did hope most sincerely that now that the utter unscrupulousness of the Radical policy had been shown forth in the glaring light of day, hon. Members opposite who valued patriotism and the stability of the Constitution might be brought round to help forward the cause of the people, and that the majority might be reduced. He sincerely hoped that the House of Lords might arrange to pass the second reading of the Bill without in any way departing from the position which they had taken up; but he also hoped that on no consideration whatever would they allow such a dangerous precedent to be set as that now proposed of dividing the question of enfranchisement from that of redistribution. He supported the Amendment, not because he was in any way opposed to the enfranchisement of the dwellers in the country, but because, if the precedent was set of dividing the two questions, it would prove most mischievous and dangerous. He maintained that it was perfectly possible, if the Government chose to bring in a Redistribution Bill at once, of a just and fair character, that they could in that case pass it this Session, without the slightest difficulty, for he was sure they would be supported by the whole Conservative Party. As the great principle of the extension of the franchise was practically conceded on both sides, he sincerely hoped that some half-way ground might be found on which both Parties might meet in friendly discussion; that a satisfactory settlement of the great question might speedily be effected; and that no more disorder and riot need be stirred up in the country.


said, he recognized a great gain in the changed spirit with which this question had been treated by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill). Members of the Opposition had expressed an apprehension that a Redistribution Bill might be introduced which would be unfair to the rural and agricultural communities. They had, however, fallen into the error of supposing that the absolute numbers given in the Census really represented the agricultural population. They took the town population at 15,500,000 and the country population at 10,500,000, without taking the trouble to analyze the figures and see of what they consisted. The numbers employed in agriculture were but 1,278,000, while the numbers employed as professional men in commercial pursuits and in industrial labour were 8,000,000. Again, it was assumed that the rural population were all Conservative. But, he asked, were the crofters of Skye Conservative? Was the Farmers' Alliance Conservative? Were the meetings connected with extraordinary tithe Conservative? Was the Labourers' Union Conservative? He had been at a meeting of farmers held that week where he heard more pronounced Radicalism than he had ever heard before in his life. The Conservative Party seemed to be proceeding on the assumption that localities had something to do with politics. There had been a time when the social influence which a single individual possessed might have produced certain results; but the introduction of railways, the telegraph, and a cheap Press had made that a thing of the past. He contended that the Conservative Party had taken up a mistaken position with respect to this Bill, and that if they pressed their demand to an issue they would meet with ignominious failure.


said, he was glad that, with the single exception of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), there was not the slightest disposition in the Conservative Party to yield in this matter. For himself, he utterly disbelieved the protestations of the Government, and had no faith in the interchange of compliments which had taken place. He regretted that the speech of the Prime Minister gave no indication of a compromise between the two great Parties. If the Government had been serious in their desire to settle this question they might have done it easily by letting other subjects alone last Session; instead of that, however, they blocked the way with London Government Bills, Merchant Shipping Bills, and a hundred other useless measures. Four or five months would have been sufficient to carry a large Bill dealing with franchise and redistribution. The Government, however, did not want that; they wanted to drive the Tory Party into a corner by first passing the Franchise Bill, and then compelling that Party to accept whatever redistribution scheme the Ministers chose to place before the House. It had been said that public opinion would prevent the Government dealing faithlessly with Parliament in the matter; but, as the case of General Gordon proved, public opinion was powerless against a tyrannical Minister and an unscrupulous majority. He believed that the real object of the Government was to keep the Radical Party permanently in power; and, for himself, he had no confidence whatever in Her Majesty's Ministers. The language which had been encouraged in the agitation against the House of Lords was discreditable to political life. As an old-fashioned lawyer, he did not scruple to say that the language used by the President of the Board of Trade amounted to treason. Even the Home Secretary, himself a scion of a noble family, at the laying of the foundation stone of a big Liberal Club a few days ago, compared the House of Lords to the Cities of the Plain. He believed the effect of the agitation had been to discredit the agitators, and that time would have an effect upon public opinion in the direction of vindicating the House of Lords against the attacks which had been made upon it. The present majority of the Government in that House had been obtained by gross misrepresentation.


said, he regretted that so much exaggeration had taken place on the opposite side with regard to this question. Hon. Gentlemen opposite told them that the agricultural labourers took a great deal of interest in it; but his experience was very much to the contrary. He took, perhaps, as much interest in the agricultural labourer as any hon. Gentleman in that House. He knew their feelings and opinions, and he did not hesitate to say that nothing astonished them so much as when they heard that they were to have a vote. They took not the slightest interest in politics, and placed more value on a mug of beer. He recollected that during the last contested election he was one day speaking from a waggon, when a man below cried out—"Give us the vote." He (Mr. Storer) answered—"Very well. But tell me first, what do you want the vote for?" "Oh," said he, "my brother has a vote for Nottingham, and he gets lots of beer for it." That was the labourers' idea of a vote, and that was how they valued it at the present time. He did not say that they might not be educated up to a higher ideal. He was only speaking as to the present position of the population, and, for the matter of that, they appeared to be quite equal to similar classes in town. He did not, in fact, think the experiments of 1867 had answered, and judging from the fact that since that time so many boroughs had been disenfranchised for corruption, and there were others which would have been served in the same way if they had had their deserts. It appeared that the lower classes in the towns placed about the same value upon the vote as did the agricultural labourers. He certainly, however, did not think the county voters would be in any way inferior in intelligence to their town brethren. He, for one, had no objection to their having the vote; but what he did object to, and what they all objected to on that side of the House, was that the rural constituencies should be swamped by urban voters. But how were they being met on this question? The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister gave them an admirable sketch last night of what a Redistribution Bill ought to be; but he wrapped his sketch up, as was his wont, in such a cloud of verbiage that they had the greatest difficulty in discovering what, after all, it was or was not to be. The right hon. Gentleman asked the House to accept his assurances; but he (Mr. Storer) had no satisfaction whatever in accepting the right hon. Gentleman's assurances. His assurances were somewhat defective. He (Mr. Storer) had had some experience of the right hon. Gentleman's assurances. He remembered that when the right hon. Gentleman brought forward his Bill for the repeal of the Malt Tax he foreshadowed the measure in a brilliant speech which almost brought tears to his (Mr. Storer's) eyes. An hon. Member sitting by his side said—"Wait till you see the Bill." That hon. Member was right in his scepticism, for when the Bill was brought in it turned out to be quite a different measure from that foreshadowed. Its object proved to be to increase the Revenue rather than to benefit the farmer, to whom it had proved a curse rather than a blessing. Moreover, he doubted, however good the intentions of the right hon. Gentleman might be, whether he had the power to control the manipulation of the Bill, which would in reality be in the hands of the Caucus, and would afford that unscrupulous body the lever which they desired. He warned hon. Members opposite against the danger of stirring up the passions of the people. He was old enough to remember the riots at Bristol and Nottingham—the shootings at the former and the hangings at the latter place—and anyone who had seen the concourse in Hyde Park, the banners with their mottoes—"Down with the House of Lords," "Down with the Aristocracy," "The Land for the People"—and who heard the people singing the "Marseillaise," must admit that the whole proceeding was of a revolutionary character. The right hon. Gentleman was not a farmer, but he was adopting a process to that House which was very familiar to the agricultural mind. The right hon. Gentleman had a pig to sell. He put it into a bag and took it to market. A customer came up and said—"Hallo, what have you got there?" "Oh," said the right hon. Gentleman, "it's a pig." "A pig," said the customer. "Turn it out and let us look at it. Turn it out!" "Oh, dear no," said the right hon. Gentleman, "it took too much trouble to get it in. You must take my assurance. It is a splendid pig." "Hang your assurance," said the customer; "I'm not going to buy a pig in a bag. Turn him out; let's have a look at him." Now, he (Mr. Storer), like the customer at the market, said to the right hon. Gentleman—"Turn out your pig. Let us have a look at it." That was exactly the situation the right hon. Gentleman was in. He wanted to sell a pig in a poke; but the idea did not quite fall in with the bent of the agricultural mind. There had been a little comedy enacted below the Gangway in the House. He did not know whether or not it was rehearsed, but certainly it was effective and very amusing. He gathered from it, however, one thing—that there was even in what was known as the Fourth Party a desire for compromise. Well, he did not think there was any insuperable objection to compromise on that side of the House, nor yet in the House of Lords. He hoped, therefore, that the great calamity which was said to have befallen the House, the disruption of the Fourth Party, was not irreparable, and that some means might be found possible to reunite the Party. He might suggest that that Party might perform a very useful office in this controversy, for undoubtedly the Fourth Party was an independent Party. It was independent of both sides of the House, and independent of each other; and, therefore, they might appropriately use their influence to bring both sides together on the important controversy respecting the representation of the people.


said, the last speaker had referred to the comedy which was enacted below the Gangway; but it seemed to him that the whole thing was a comedy, and that the debate now going on was little else than a farce. He was surprised that the hon. Members for Mid Lincolnshire had so misrepresented their constituents as to oppose the Bill, and say that the agricultural labourers did not wish the extension of the suffrage. They had carefully avoided going near their constituents during the Recess, preferring to bask in the moonshine of their Leaders in Scotland. He had attended a large number of meetings in Lincolnshire, and he believed there was throughout the country a very strong desire for the franchise. The farmers had told him there was nothing in the world the labourers were so anxious about as to get the franchise. They looked upon it as an act of justice too long delayed, and they could not understand how it was that the Bill of 1867 gave votes to people because they happened to live on one side of a hedge, when those on the other side had no votes. If the matter was to be dealt with properly they must deal with it as British statesmen. If the Bill could only pass, a great deal of time might be saved, and they might then proceed with the Bill that hon. Gentlemen opposite had so much at heart. He asked for the assistance of hon. Gentlemen opposite. He would ask them to press upon their Colleagues in "another place" that it was desirable that the measure should pass. He did not think the Amendment before the House was likely to assist in these matters, because it was likely to arouse old animosities and strifes between the two sides of the House. He thought it would have been far better for the country and the interests of both sides of the House if the Amendment had never been moved. It was nothing but a feint to give the House of Lords the opportunity of saying they had the support of the House of Commons, if they again rejected, suspended, or postponed the Franchise Bill. It was the duty of the Government to see that nothing should take place in that House to place the Bill in jeopardy, and when the Bill was secured he agreed that the sooner they got to redistribution the better. It was in the hands of hon. Gentlemen opposite how soon that question might be brought before the country. They on the Liberal side were quite as anxious, and even more anxious, than hon. Gentlemen opposite to get a Redistribution Bill passed during this Parliament, in order that the next Parliament might be free to deal with questions of local government and local taxation. He could see no insuperable difficulty to a reasonable compromise, and he trusted that most desirable end would be achieved. But such a course would not be promoted by such speeches as those of the hon. Members for Mid Lincolnshire or Nottinghamshire, or by going to a Division on the Amendment now before the House.


asked what was the real question before the House? It certainly was not the Franchise Bill. They were all agreed that these 2,000,000 of citizens ought to have a vote, and that it would be a great benefit to the country that they should. The real question now being argued was a question of procedure; but this question was settled in the last Session of Parliament, and the House was only threshing out the old subject. The contention last Session was that, certain jannissaries of hon. Members opposite in another part of the establishment having come to a certain conclusion, with the full concurrence of the Leader of the Opposition—namely, that the Franchise Bill was to be hung up or chucked out until the Redistribution Bill was before the House, the majority should submit. But what was the contention of the Government? They laid down absolutely that they would not show their Redistribution Bill until the Franchise Bill had passed through both Houses. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) cited an observation the Prime Minister made on the 10th of July last. He rather thought it was sometimes difficult for an ingenuous and simpleminded man like himself to understand the exact point of so astute a debater as the Prime Minister; but, fortunately, what the Prime Minister said then was made absolutely plain by the succeeding statement of the Home Secretary. Speaking, he presumed, in the presence of the Prime Minister, that right hon. and learned Gentleman declared, in a way which admitted of no doubt or ambiguity, that the Franchise Bill must be passed that Session in order that the Session of 1885 might be devoted to redistribution. There could be no ambiguity about that statement. What, then, were they called together to discuss? The Prime Minister had stated that he considered it necessary that the Franchise Bill should not only pass, but become law, before any redistribution scheme was laid before the House. That was the issue submitted to the country during the Recess, and the meetings called passed resolutions in that sense. But the real point of those meetings was not whether the right procedure had been adopted by the Prime Minister or the wrong, but whether the House of Lords should interfere with this measure and refuse to pass it. That was really the issue before those meetings— Lords versus Commons—whether, when a Liberal Ministry was in power, with a majority in that House, they were not to decide upon the Business of the country rather than the Friends of the minority in the other House. He was always in favour of concession and compromise when compromise was possible; but in this case it was not, for any compromise or arrangement with Gentlemen opposite that allowed the introduction of a Redistribution Bill into the House before the Franchise Bill had passed the Upper House and had become law, would be contrary to what was fully and distinctly understood last Session, and what the Liberal Leaders throughout the country had clearly and distinctly pronounced. The proposed Bill of the Prime Minister would, no doubt, be a very moderate measure. Hon. Gentlemen opposite spoke of time-honoured institutions. The Radicals wanted to get at many of what they called their time-honoured institutions. They should go much further if it was not for the personal respect they entertained for the Prime Minister. Gentlemen opposite had accused the Prime Minister of uttering menaces; but he was their best friend. He shielded them from the Radicals, and when they lost him they would then find out what a defender they had had in him. Hon. Members asserted that they wanted particulars of this redistribution. He could not understand what further particulars they could possibly want. It was true that the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock was good enough to elaborate his views on redistribution; but they never knew whether that Gentleman spoke for himself or his Party or the Fourth Party. He had no confidence in the noble Lord as being the exponent of the views of the Conservative Party. He spoke in favour of electoral districts; but it would be well to hear that view endorsed by the Leader of the Opposition before adopting it as the view of the Conservative Party. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir R. Assheton Cross) proposed that certain Resolutions should be passed in that House. If they were to be of a vague and general character there might be no great objection to them; but when they came to details, he suspected some differences would be found to exist be- tween them as to what a good Redistribution Bill ought to be. The noble Lord proposed to separate the urban and agricultural districts, grouping all the small boroughs together, and creating a great country party. If that was to form part of the Resolutions to be passed in order to induce Gentlemen opposite to give their consent to the Franchise Bill, he must enter his protest against it. If these Resolutions meant that the doctrine of hon. Members opposite was to be adopted, and that the minority were to rule the majority, he objected altogether. Of course, as the Prime Minister said, fair consideration would be given to the views of Gentlemen opposite; but they ought to consider their position. They had never realized that they were thoroughly beaten at the last General Election. The fact was the country would have no more to do with them. They had put the power in the hands of the Prime Minister and his Colleagues, and it was for them to decide, and not for the Opposition. In coming to a conclusion, he hoped that the Prime Minister would consider not only the Opposition, but his own followers, many of whom would very likely desire to go further than he. They were ready to accept the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman, although it was not a thorough Radical Bill; but if it was to be still further whittled down he must protest against it. If there was to be an arrangement, they ought to know what the arrangement was; and if there was to be no arrangement, let them do what it was the business of a majority to do—crush the minority. That was his view. If the minority attempted obstructive tactics, then they must appeal to the nation on the question; but, at the same time, it would be a most wicked proceeding if Parliament was to be dissolved, although the Ministers in that House had a majority, simply because a minority in that House brought forward 400 or 500 hereditary Legislators who attempted to dictate when the Dissolution was to come. It was of the utmost importance that that House should retain its rights unimpaired, and should not give way to the permanent majority in the House of Lords.


said, he had listened to the discussion with some feeling of disappointment, as those who spoke on the part of the Government had not shown a just appreciation of the position, and certainly had not attempted to satisfy the legitimate expectations formed throughout the country. It had been said more than once that the substance of this Franchise Bill had been accepted on all sides, and that the only difference was that by some it was accepted absolutely, and by others conditionally. The reasonableness of that conditional acceptance had been admitted by the Government themselves in the strongest way, for the noble Lord the Secretary of State for War had pointed out, with the most absolute clearness, that if a Dissolution occurred before the passing of a Redistribution Bill the consequence would be an unfair and unjust representation of the people. The Prime Minister himself, in speech of marvellous shortness, considering the importance of the question—a speech of some 30 or 31 minutes—had expressed himself in a manner entitled to every recognition, and it had received it. As far as tone, manner, and gesture, and everything that went to make up graciousness of delivery, there was all that could be desired in a speech; but when one looked a quarter of an-inch below the surface there was little to lay hold of. The Prime Minister laid down five main principles; but in them there was nothing upon which they could rest with any assurance of confidence. The most important of these principles was the second, which said that the Bill should have regard to numbers and population. In reference to that second main principle, five important questions presented themselves, which the Prime Minister stated with great fulness; but as to what his own opinion with regard to them was he left the House in absolute darkness. The right hon. Gentleman said that he was not devoid of prepossessions himself with respect to them; but in what manner he would give them effect he did not indicate at all. The Prime Minister, in the course of his speech, had as his keynote, and he repeated it frequently, that he regarded the Franchise Bill as of the highest importance, and that he could not sanction anything that would imperil it. Who had asked the right hon. Gentleman to do anything which would cause peril to the Bill? What possible peril could be caused to it by yielding to the fair, moderate, and legitimate requirements which had been made from those Benches and through- out the country. He could not see peril, delay, or retardation to the Franchise Bill if the Redistribution Bill that they asked for was introduced and presented to the judgment of Parliament. No one could say that hon. Members on the Opposition Benches had approached the discussion of this important question this Session in any but a thoroughly reasonable spirit. His right hon. Friend who opened the discussion that evening had spoken in a tone of moderation which necessarily attracted the attention of the right hon. Gentleman who replied to it. But the President of the Local Government Board was entirely put off his centre of gravity by his right hon. Friend's speech, because he came down prepared to deliver a reply to speeches made in the country during the last three months, and to some which had been delivered last night; but when the House desired to hear how he was to meet the reasonable request of his right hon. Friend to know what the Government would do about redistribution, they were treated with fairly expressed graciousness to platitudes which left them exactly in the same state of ignorance as before the right hon. Gentleman stood up. He defied anyone who had listened to the speech of the Prime Minister, and more especially to the speech of the President of the Local Government Board, to have the slightest definite notion as to a single point in any Redistribution Bill that might be proposed. Surely that was not a fair way at such an important time to deal with such a question. He had said in the country, and he would say now in that House, that this was too great a question to be treated as a game of hide and seek. The President of the Local Government Board said that the Government were willing to do anything in reason if it would not bring the Franchise Bill into jeopardy. "Peril" was the word used by the Prime Minister. "Jeopardy" by the President of the Local Government Board. But who asked the right hon. Gentleman to bring the Bill into jeopardy? What jeopardy would it put the Bill into if, by plain speech and frank utterance on the part of the Government, they were to say when the Redistribution Bill was to be introduced? That was a plain question which the Government must have considered; and they were entitled to a plain answer to it. It had been pointed out by that extremely candid friend of the Government (Mr. Labouchere), who in the course of his speech had been endeavouring to remind them of all inconvenient things, that the Home Secretary had stated that the Franchise Bill alone was to be dealt with in the Autumn Session. He did not suppose that the Government felt themselves absolutely bound by that statement now. If he was correct, when some Minister was to speak again let him tell the House something about the time and the circumstances in which the Redistribution Bill would be introduced. Would it be introduced when the Franchise Bill left the House? If not, why not? Would it be introduced during the Autumn Session? If not, why not? What was the scheme that the Government were to introduce? The President of the Local Government Board had referred to The Standard scheme of redistribution as a scheme in which the Government were more or less interested. [Sir CHARLES W. DILKE: A scheme.] That interruption showed the importance of ascertaining what the scheme of the Government was. The noble Lord the Secretary of State for War used in Derbyshire important and significant words on the subject. The noble Lord admitted that the plan which had appeared in The Standard was prepared for a Committee of the Cabinet for this important purpose—to put into a definite form the principles laid down last Session by the Prime Minister; but he added that, although that was the intention with which the scheme had been prepared, he was not in a position to say that either in principle or detail it had met with the approval either of the Cabinet or the Committee of the Cabinet. That was a reason why the House had some claim to know whether this Redistribution Bill was ready at the present moment. If it was ready, was it not unreasonable to keep it back from the Representatives of the people? If it was not ready, he had to remind the Government that they deliberately pledged themselves last year on Lord Wemyss's Motion that they would be ready in this November to produce a Redistribution Bill. If they were not ready, what excuse had they to allege? They had no excuse for not having utilized the last four years for the pre- paration of a Redistribution Bill. He saw no reason why the Government should not within the next few days produce a Bill dealing with the whole question of Redistribution. If the Government adjourned the present Session, instead of proroguing, there was nothing to prevent a prompt, frank, and fair settlement of this important question. The President of the Local Government Board said the other night that hon. Members need not be afraid about redistribution, because no Bill could be passed upon that subject that was not satisfactory to both sides. He was not quite clear about that if the Franchise Bill was first law. If the Franchise Bill was first law it would, in the case of the Redistribution Bill, be very much like Hobson's choice—take it or leave it. He was not satisfied with what the President of the Local Government Board called a guarantee. It was not even a suggestion of a guarantee; and certainly it was nothing which the Opposition could be fairly asked to accept. It was, he contended, but fair and reasonable to require that one of the two important Bills which together made up the question of Reform should not come into operative legal effect before the other. If there was an adjournment before Christmas there was nothing to prevent the Redistribution Bill being adequately discussed by both Houses, and the requirements of the Opposition being fairly and legitimately satisfied. There was nothing exceptional, startling, or unconstitutional in the demand which they made; and in pressing it upon Parliament and upon the nation they were endeavouring to prevent, in the words of the noble Lord the Secretary of State for War, an unfair representation of the people.


maintained that the Conservative Party were entirely in error in supposing that they were following the precedent of 1866. The present Bill was passed nemine contradicente, and why? The hon. Baronet the Member for West Essex (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson), on being asked why he did not vote against the third reading of the Bill, replied—"Well, there were questions of political action which had to be judged by the Leaders of the Party, and he believed that it was generally felt that another crushing defeat would undoubtedly have overtaken the Party just before the Bill went up to the other House, and that would hardly have strengthened the hands of the noble Lords in that place." He (Mr. Willis) also charged the Leaders of the Opposition in both Houses with having, during the earlier progress of the Bill, arranged that it should be rejected before it had reached the House of Lords, so that no words uttered by the Prime Minister on the occasion of the third reading would have affected the Upper House. He contended that there was a demand in the country for the franchise apart from redistribution, and advised hon. Members opposite to hasten to a conclusion in this matter by placing the right of 2,000,000 of people to vote beyond all dispute and accident. He was in favour of this Bill wholly apart from the question of redistribution. The unenfranchised were entitled to have votes, and they were not prepared to wait until the value of their votes had been ascertained. He was in favour of electoral districts with one Member for each; but rather than imperil this Bill he would leave distribution as it was at the present time. The Conservatives might very well do so if they had any confidence in their principles. It was said that people did not want votes unless they could be heard in this House; but he believed that this view did not enter into their minds at all. Personally he did not value the vote any less because for 20 years he had voted in three constituencies, and had never voted for a successful candidate. He was satisfied because in other constituencies candidates had been returned who did represent his views. But if there was anything in the argument about voices being heard it surely applied to a majority of 130 in this House having their votes neutralized by a majority of 560 "elsewhere." This Bill should be treated by the Opposition upon its own merits, apart from any pledge to introduce any other measure. If it were in itself an injurious Bill, let it be rejected on the second reading. The principal charge he made against the Tory Party was that, instead of confining themselves to independent action in the House of Commons as a great Party, they had been in league with person "elsewhere," who, being clothed with authority which should be exercised for the benefit of the whole nation and not for a Party, had agreed to reject this measure. They had adopted a course which should be discountenanced by the House, and had, through the House of Lords, conceded points which they had as a Party strongly resisted in the House of Commons. There was no fear now of the democracy being led by demagogues, and redistribution might with perfect safety be left to settle itself after the 2,000,000 had been enfranchised.


said, that the debate was remarkable for the speech in which the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), with singular ability, demolished the attack upon his own Party of a quondam political associate, and in which he vindicated in the ablest manner the attitude of the Conservative Party. But the noble Lord was unfortunate in selecting Woodstock for an illustration, because if it continued to return a Member who addressed them with the noble Lord's ability, that would go a long way to condone the anomaly of its having one Member while a much larger constituency had only two. The debate was also remarkable for the speech of the President of the Local Government Board, who said the Government would be prepared if they could be satisfied they would not prejudice the passing of the Franchise Bill to produce the Redistribution Bill without more delay. But the right hon. Gentleman attached an impossible condition. How could it be told whether the production of the Redistribution Bill would or would not prejudice the Franchise Bill until it was known what the Redistribution Bill would be? If there was one thing which, more than another, had, did, and would prejudice the passing of the Franchise Bill, it was the concealment by the Government of their real intentions. At present, notwithstanding the Prime Minister's speech last night, they knew nothing more than they did at a previous period. The right hon. Gentleman put before them a whole string of interrogatories, emphasizing the fact that a redistribution scheme should do this, that, and the other thing; but he had not told them anything with regard to the intentions of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman laid down four cardinal generalities, which had given satisfaction to the right hon. Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir R. Assheton Cross) and the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill); but, while agreeing with them, he wanted to know what would be justice and what injustice in the minds of the Government as between different classes of the community and their pursuits. On those points they were left completely in the dark so far as the views of the Government were concerned. He was not prepared on that point to take on trust the promises of the right hon. Gentleman. He had always observed that the right hon. Gentleman acted up to the maxim, "charity begins at home," and justice was never so great and admirable a thing as when it was conformable to the interests of his Party at the time. The right hon. Gentleman had often perpetrated acts of intolerable injustice in the name of justice, which would rise up in evidence against him long after they had all passed away from the arena in which they were enacted. The right hon. Gentleman's ideas of justice had always appeared to him to favour those arrangements which coincided most closely with the political interests of his Party. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock and the right hon. Member for South-West Lancashire seemed to assume that it was distinctly conceded by the Prime Minister that urban and agricultural districts were to be kept separate; but when the noble Lord made that statement, there were ominous cries of "No, no!" from Gentlemen opposite. Since then there had been a speech from the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) which distinctly repudiated any arrangement of that kind on behalf of a large section of supporters of the Government. He, therefore, declined to take the Prime Minister's assurances on trust until he had seen them on paper. With reference to the general position, he would observe that the Conservative Party in the House of Lords, in spite of the dulcet tones of the Prime Minister on the previous day, had been threatened with pains and penalties if they persisted in the attitude they had taken up on this question. The attitude of the Conservative Party and the House of Lords had always been that the Franchise Bill must be accompanied by redistribution, and they insisted on having an absolute guarantee that the one Bill should not become law without the other. He was prepared to maintain that in the counties, whose interests were mainly concerned, the Conservative Party occupied an impregnable position, and they had no alternative except to adhere to that attitude until the Government had made some attempt to account for the extraordinary evolution which they had themselves effected with respect to the Franchise Bill being accompanied by redistribution. What was the object of the Bill? They had been told, by no one more emphatically than by the President of the Board of Trade that the Bill was essentially meant to enfranchise the agricultural labourers in the counties. That statement was rapturously cheered by hon. Gentlemen opposite, but they did not seem ready to cheer it now. He rejoiced that the agricultural labourer should have the vote, because the welfare of agriculture was a matter of common interest, and although it was the largest and most important industry in the country, it had never exercised an influence commensurate with its position. If the Bill was a reality and not a sham, power would be added to that industry at a time when it was urgently needed. It was, therefore, necessary to prevent the Government giving with one hand and taking away with the other. It was said the Government had given the strongest guarantee that could be given. But what was its precise value? The danger was two-fold. Nothing was known of the intentions of the Government. One scheme had been revealed in the newspapers which had been admitted by the noble Lord the Secretary of State for War to possess at least a semi-official character, even if it did not represent the mature views of the Government. But they might pass a Franchise Bill and then have a Dissolution. Whatever the Government might say, what the extreme Party wanted was an Election without redistribution. He had no doubt that the rural interests would be absolutely swamped by the enormous number of urban voters. His noble Friend had given an illustration of the value of the guarantee of the Government. If the Franchise Bill had been passed last Session, and the Government had been beaten in Egypt, what would have happened to the Redistribution Bill? Suppose, what he prayed God might not be the case, the news should come that Khartoum had fallen and Gordon had been sacrificed. If that happened—and no one could deny that it was possible—even the present majority, servile as it had been termed, would melt away like snow. It would be impossible to defend the Government against the wrath of the country. He agreed with his hon. Colleague (Mr. E. Stanhope), that the moment the Franchise Bill was passed excuses would be forthcoming, and knowing as he did the remarkable powers of obstruction of the supporters of the Government, and their desire for a Dissolution, the Government would find means to defeat it. Up to the present time the two questions had never been separated. He would quote the opinion of the Prime Minister himself on the subject, expressed on April 12, 1866, to show what the right hon. Gentleman's opinion on that question was at that time. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman was responsible for the introduction of a Bill of this nature. After stating that as soon as the Bill before the House had gone into Committee he would introduce a redistribution scheme, he went on to remark— That is what we have said; and we have also said what I really, until the day before yesterday, had always believed to be unnecessary to state in express words—that, in speaking of this great subject of the representation of the people, as a matter vital to the credit and therefore to the existence of the Government, we included the subject of redistribution of seats along with the subjeet of the franchise. I had not thought it necessary to say this, because it seemed to me so obvious that nothing could be more contemptible and base than the conduct of a Government which could give forth with a view of enlisting the generous confidence of its supporters that it would deal with the subject of reform, and would stand or fall by its propositions, and which all the while could silently exclude from the scope of their declaration all portions of that question except only the reduction of the franchise, though among such questions we find one only second in importance to that of the franchise itself."—(3 Hansard, [182] 1144.) That was precisely what they now complained of. They complained that the Government were excluding from this debate all view of their intentions with regard to the question of redistribution. The Government maintained that it would be impossible to pass the two measures in a single Session. Very shortly after this House of Commons was elected the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) boasted that it was the best and the wisest House of Commons he had ever known. Yet they were now told that this House of Commons was unable to do that which any other House of Commons could easily have done. They had been asking throughout all these debates for a Dissolution, because they believed that neither on this subject nor on any other did the Party opposite really represent the opinion of the country. Did not the right hon. Gentleman perceive what a handle he gave to his opponents if it were really true that this House of Commons was so incapacitated as to be unable to perform its duties? If that were the case, was it not the right hon. Gentleman's duty to send the House about its business with the least possible delay? The Government had advanced no valid reason for adopting this new and unusual method of procedure on the question of Reform. It was nonsense to say that they could not pass a Redistribution Bill without the lever of the Franchise Bill. To affirm that was a satire and a libel on the House of Commons. What might be their real reasons it was not for him to say. He might suspect—and a great many people did suspect—that this course had been adopted, not for the purpose of furthering this Bill, not with a view of rapidly dealing with the question of Reform, but rather with the object of raising a great cloud of controversy which might conceal from the nation the innumerable blunders committed by the Government on all other objects under the sun. Whatever unfortunate results might occur from this controversy being prolonged, he felt certain, after all that had passed that night, it would be the unanimous opinion out-of-doors that the Government, and the Government alone, would be responsible if they delayed any longer the production of their Redistribution Bill.


Sir, the hon. Member who has just sat down says that he expects this will be a memorable debate, and the reason he gave for considering it a memorable debate was that the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) had separated himself from his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), and had supported the Party in whose side he had hitherto been a thorn.


I did not say anything of the kind. I said it had been remarkable for a speech of singular ability, in which he had done that.


I think the distinction was hardly worth the interruption. I am doubtful whether this will be a memorable debate. I agree to a certain extent with the view of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Dundalk (Mr. C. Russell) that in some respects this appears to be a sham debate. If it is memorable for anything I think it will be memorable for the different tone taken by various Members sitting opposite to us—a tone so divergent that it is absolutely impossible to understand what it is that the Party opposite are really requiring. Now, it appears to me that there is a great—I will not say a unanimous, but a very serious—wish among the great majority of the House that a settlement should be arrived at upon this question, and that the settlement should result in both Bills—namely, the Bill for the extension of the suffrage and the Bill for redistribution—being passed by the same Parliament and by the same Government; and I understand that that is a view to which the Party opposite assent. I would wish the House to understand, from the very few observations I propose to make, that I entirely share that view. There has been a good deal said to-night with regard to conversions, and there has been a kind of competition among hon. Members opposite with regard to the dates of their respective conversions. Into that competition I feel I am not qualified to enter, because in regard to my own conversion there has never been any mistake. I have accepted the decision of the House, and I think that answer would be frankest way of treating this question even by the Party opposite—namely, that the country and the House have decided that the suffrage is to be extended. The noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) has said there has been a great transformation during the last nine months. I think there has been a very great transformation, and that that transformation has been reflected in the speeches of many hon. Members who have addressed the House. But I wish to call attention to the extreme difference between the tone, for instance, of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir R. Assheton Cross), who opened the debate to-night, and the speech we heard later from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson). Then, again, there is a difference in tone between the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire and the two fighting speeches which were made yesterday by the hon. Member who opened this debate with great ability (Mr. E. Stanhope) and by the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton). One might wonder, from what one hears, whether there is that desire among the Party opposite to come to an arrangement of this matter which has been foreshadowed by some of the responsible Leaders of the Party; but I note with satisfaction that the nearer to the centre of power have been the speakers the more conciliatory has been their tone. I thought that my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board (Sir Charles W. Dilke) was perhaps a little hard upon the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex and the hon. Member for Mid Linconshire (Mr. E. Stanhope), who opened the debate, in criticizing the fighting character of their speeches, for I am not sure whether they were not put forward as the Great Napoleon used sometimes to put forward his Generals, with an order that they were to be cut to pieces while the Commander-in-Chief could make a retreat behind their backs. I am rejoiced to think there is apparently some hope that a solution may be arrived at, and that the Party opposite will see in the declarations made by the Prime Minister, and in the fact of the transformation which has been so vividly described by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) since we were here in August last, that there is far more certainty of a Redistribution Bill being passed by this Parliament than they anticipated before the Recess. Hon. Members opposite know that I have shared to the full the view that redistribution was essential—that it was essential that redistribution should accompany the extension of the franchise, and that it should be passed by the same Parliament; and it is, no doubt, our duty to see what are the guarantees and what are the probabilities of a Redistribution Bill being passed. I have seen myself the necessity of dissenting from the views of many of my hon. Friends around me, who thought, as an hon. Member expressed himself quite lately in this debate, that after all the subject of redistribution could be referred to another Parliament without making any considerable change in the character of the Redistribution Bill to be afterwards passed. I assent to the view that it is essential that we should have redistribution from the present House of Commons; but I see in the present position, as I believe the Leaders of the Party opposite see, that there is infinitely more certainty of a Redistribution Bill being passed than they could have foreseen before. Under those circumstances, I cannot see what is really the object—the fighting object of the Motion—as a Motion—which is now before the House. Would it not be the fact that in proportion as that Motion were to receive strong support, so the hopes of a compromise would be diminished or removed? ["No!"] That depends on the nature of the compromise hon. Members expect. They cannot expect that the Government will depart from the position which they have taken up, and which is that the one Bill shall not be made dependent on the other. I wish briefly to point out to the House how I consider the case to stand in that respect. I understand the Government to be determined to press forward redistribution; I understand them to be convinced that their plan is such that it will command not only the assent of Members on this side of the House, but that it will be so drawn as to form at least proper material to be dealt with in the manner in which the Prime Minister suggested that it should be dealt with—namely, by the House at large. [An hon. MEMBER: Why not produce it?] An hon. Member says "Why not produce it?" Because the Government are reminded even in this debate by hon. Members opposite that if it is produced the Franchise Bill will be made dependent upon that measure. The Government have stated that they will give every information with regard to this Bill, provided they do not place the Franchise Bill in jeopardy. Now, hon. Members opposite ask what guarantees will the Government give? And I must say I think the reply given from this side of the House is perfectly justified— namely, what guarantees will Members on the other side of the House give that if the Redistribution Bill is produced the Franchise Bill will be passed? It appears to me that both sides have approached very nearly indeed to a settlement, and that the one point upon which difference still exists relates to the precise moment at which the Redistribution Bill should be passed. Now, since last Session we have this additional security—we see now that if the Franchise Bill is immediately removed from this arena, and sent to "another place," we shall have a clear space of time before us for dealing with redistribution. We shall have more time before us than we could have expected if we had not had this Autumn Session; and I consider that if the Government will introduce the Redistribution Bill this Autumn Session, and undertake that this Session shall be continued so that the work done in it may be carried forward into the next Session, that then infinitely more security will have been given than we should otherwise have had. The guarantees—and I wish for guarantees as much as hon. Members opposite—the guarantees which hon. Members want refer to two separate points. One is the intention of the Government, and the other is the power of the Government. As regards the intention of the Government, I trust that all in this House are now convinced that it is not only their intention, but that it is their earnest hope, to carry forward this great question to a settlement as a whole. I do not admit that there can now be any question of the bona fides of the Government in regard to that intention; and I hope that I may also add that it is not only the intention, but the earnest hope, of the great bulk of the Liberal Party that this result should be achieved. If also it is the hope and the intention, as it is the interest, of the great Party opposite that a Bill drawn on those lines which my right hon. Friend has sketched should be passed by this Parliament, for my part I think that the risks have been so diminished that we can accept the position, and go forward with a determination to carry a Redistribution Bill;—["Oh, oh!"]—and it appears to me that, notwithstanding sundry discordant notes from the Party opposite, that is their hope, and almost their expectation. So I believe that, whatever may be the result of the vote to-night, it will be possible—that it will be the intention of the Party opposite to do that which the country desires that we should all do—namely, unite in passing a Redistribution Bill. I will venture to give one more reason why I myself am most anxious that the present Government should deal with this Redistribution Bill, and that it should be dealt with in the present Parliament. I trust I may be permitted to say that I consider the statement of my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government in explaining his views on Redistribution as most statesmanlike, as most English, and in the best sense Conservative as well as Liberal. If one contrasts the indications which have been given by my right hon. Friend of his intentions with regard to Redistribution with the hints and the suggestions which have been made by the Party opposite, I believe that more confidence will be felt in the Redistribution Bill as it will be proposed by my right hon. Friend than would be felt if it were in the hands of the Party opposite, not from one point of view only, but from every point of view—even the very Conservative point of view which the Party opposite might wish to further. That is a point which cannot have escaped attention; and I trust I may say one word upon the subject, because it appears to me to be of extreme importance. My right hon. Friend sketched what he considered ought to be the attributes of a Redistribution Bill. He said that it should be large, that it should be simple, and that it should be equitable. He then asked a number of most important and pertinent questions, which show how deeply my right hon. Friend was considering to what extent you might introduce greater popular liberties and fit them into the present system of our Constitution. Hon. Members opposite in the comments which they have made have called attention to that part of his speech in which he spoke of the simplicity and largeness of the Bill; but they, almost without exception, have passed over the questions which he asked. My right hon. Friend asked the following questions:—"Was anything to be allowed to prescription?" Not a word has been said by hon. Members opposite with regard to the suggestion of my right hon. Friend on this point—"Shall anything be allowed to prescript- tion?"—yet my right hon. Friend asked the question in a tone by which anyone could understand that his own answer would be "Yes." "Shall we," he asked again, "have regard to communities as distinct from individuals?" Let us remember that the representation of communities is the old English system—and he asked the question in a tone that indicated that he evidently meant that the answer in his own mind would be "Yes." But while hon. Members opposite have always spoken of the separation of urban and rural interests, not one word has fallen from them with regard to the important point of whether we shall have regard to communities as distinct from individuals. Again my right hon. Friend asked—"Shall we treat large towns, giving full and absolute effect to the representation of numbers?" He complimented my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) on the way in which he put the case in favour of such an arrangement; but the form of that compliment showed that the right hon. Gentleman in his own mind dissented from that view, as he had shadowed forth in a previous speech that he did not consider it necessary to give full and absolute effect to the representation of numbers. Lastly, he asked—"Shall there be distinctions between urban and rural interests?" But of all those questions the Conservative Party have only fastened upon one—that there must be a distinction between urban and rural interests. I must apologize to the House for introducing this question, which I must admit is not entirely ad rem. But we see that arrangements are in the air; we see there is a hope that the two sides may agree with regard to the principles of the Redistribution Bill; and so perhaps I may be pardoned if I have called attention to these most important points in the speech of my right hon. Friend, and which, so far as I am concerned, increase the desire which I feel that we should have time and opportunity as soon as possible to deal with the redistribution scheme. The Party opposite are thinking mainly of the separation of urban and rural districts. [Expressions of dissent.] Am I to understand that that murmur is one of dissent? [An hon. MEMBER: And a good many other things.] An hon. Member says—"And a good many other things." But the many other things have not been brought before us. Let me read, as hon. Gentlemen opposite hold that view, what was said by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) at Carlisle on the 8th of October— I believe myself that that scheme of redistribution will be most likely to secure the assent of Parliament and the approval of the country which approximates most nearly to the representation based solely upon numbers, and which, while preserving a distinction between the agricultural and manufacturing districts, creates as a general rule single-Member constituencies. Does my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition cheer these sentiments? Let the country mark that passage. Are those the lines upon which the Conservative Party are prepared to assent to a Bill for redistribution which is going to be introduced? Is this the price which they ask for going forward with the extension of the suffrage? Some hon. Members will say to me that it is the Member for Woodstock who is saying this, and he is not responsible. I decline to admit that, because we are told repeatedly, and we know, that there is no Member of the Party opposite to whom the organizers of Conservative Associations look with more confidence than to the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock. ["No, no!"] It is disputed, but I find that the cries of "No, no!" are more frequent from below the Gangway than from the great Party opposite. ["No, no!"] It is admitted that the noble Lord, as a fighting Conservative, representing the modern Tory Democracy, is the greatest favourite at Provincial meetings of every kind. I do not wish to push that argument further than to say this—that this is a most significant declaration, and that it well deserves the attention of the Conservative Party. What I wish to call attention to is that the speeches of the noble Lord point to the representation of numbers and the separation of the urban and rural districts. I can conceive no greater danger to the real Conservative interests of the country than that the Conservatives should think that they can intrench themselves simply in the agricultural parts of the country, while the Liberals are to have a monopoly of the great towns. It is the Provincial town life of the country which has to be considered as well as that of the large towns and the purely agricultural districts. We see how constantly the simple principle of numbers is put forward, either on behalf of those whom I may call the agricultural democracy, or on the part of the population of the great towns. I think that sometimes a voice should be raised for those other varied interests of the country, and I venture to hope that in any agreement which may be come to between the two great Parties of the State these considerations will receive a foremost place. It is because I see a determination on the part of the Prime Minister to recognize that we cannot pull down the whole of our electoral machinery simply in order to secure the separation of agricultural from urban interests, but that we must proceed on the old lines, while giving that increase of power to the popular element which the times demand, that I shall do my best to support my right hon. Friend in pressing forward the Redistribution Bill. I venture to hope, in the interests of both sides of the House, and in order that we may redeem our character as a practical Assembly, that, being so near a union as we are, means may be found to call forth concessions, if necessary, on each side, with the object of bringing about that arrangement which almost everyone desires.


Mr. Speaker, the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down raised a question as to whether it was correct or not to say that the debate of this evening would be a memorable one. It seems to me that, whatever may be said as to the debate, there is no doubt whatever that the decision of this evening is likely to be a very memorable decision. I am bound to say that I do not think the speech of the right hon. Gentleman is likely to contribute as much as perhaps he hoped and wished to do towards an amicable and satisfactory solution. There have been two speeches from the opposite Benches this evening to which I have listened with somewhat mingled feelings. I mean the speech which has just been delivered and the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere). It was impossible not to see that—at all events as regards the hon Member for Northampton—it was no object on his part to facilitate a settlement of this question. We were not surprised to find that in his observa- tions he took pains to bring forward every expression that had fallen from the Prime Minister or from any other Member of the Government which might throw an impediment in the way of making an arrangement by which the two measures of the Franchise Bill and the Redistribution Bill should be taken in the present Session. And in the speech to which we have just listened from the right hon. Gentleman, although he professes to desire that rapid progress should be made with the Redistribution Bill, still I think there were not a few expressions that fell from him which tended rather to make that more difficult than less difficult. Now, Sir, I do not think that any particular advantage is to be derived for this discussion from the repeated taunts that are thrown out by hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side against Members of the Conservative Party with regard to what is called the date of their conversion. I admit that for a smart Party debate such taunts may do very well; but when we come to consider how we are to solve a very important and a very practical question, I think that those taunts are sometimes rather misleading. However, as far as I myself am concerned—and I believe I may say that I share the feelings and the history of a very large number of those who sit on this side of the House—I am prepared to state very shortly and very simply what the course of my own mind has been on this subject. I have always felt that it was a very undesirable and a very critical move to make an alteration—a large alteration—in the electoral system of the country. I have always considered that whatever defects of a minor character might be pointed out in it, it was better that we should put up with some defects than that we should be frequently reopening discussions on the basis of our Constitution; and it has certainly seemed to me that however willing we might be to enfranchise a large number of our fellow-citizens, still such a measure as that ought not to be taken rashly or carelessly, or without very good cause and consideration. Therefore, after the settlement arrived at in the years 1867 and 1868, it did not appear to me to be a very desirable thing that we should for some time to come, at all events, stir up the question of our representation; and in all discussions that have taken place since the year 1874—or, indeed, since an earlier period than that, when my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Trevelyan) first brought this matter before the House—in all the discussions I have pursued much the same line of argument, and I think most of those who have spoken on this side have pursued much the same line—namely, that however desirable in itself the admission of an additional number of voters to the Electorate might be, still it was a step that ought not to betaken hastily or rashly, but that it must be taken in connection with a revision of our whole electoral system, and that it was not altogether desirable that when this measure should be brought forward, we should undertake that great and disturbing controversy piecemeal. I have felt that for a considerable time, and I am not sure that I should have parted with it if it had still been in my power to retain that position for some time to come. But when this measure had been brought forward by Her Majesty's Government, and when they had taken upon themselves the responsibility of saying that the time had come when a great change must be made, and a larger addition by far than was ever yet known should be made to the electoral body—when that measure had been brought forward on the authority of the responsible Government, and had been pressed upon the House, it certainly seemed to me that as it was a proposition which in itself I could not deny to be a reasonable and fair one, when the proper time came I should not be indisposed to accept that proposal, on the condition that it should be carried out with all the care and gravity, all the consideration, and in conjunction with all the other measures of a proper description which ought to be connected with it. I myself felt that which was felt by my late lamented Friend Mr. Disraeli, when the question was first stirred in this House, after the Reform Act of 1867. Mr. Disraeli said that he and the Conservative Party, for whom he spoke, were in no way apprehensive of the admission of a large body of agriculturists to the country franchise. But, on the other hand, he reminded the House that if such an addition were to be made, as would largely disturb the balance of our electoral system, it would be obviously necessary to accompany it with a large alteration in our representative system, and that was a measure for which he did not consider that the country, at the time, was prepared or for which there was any demand. But we are now in a different position; we are now in the position that having had this matter brought before us, and having discussed it as we have done, we frankly, and without reserve, accept the proposition which was made by Her Majesty's Ministers in the Franchise Bill for the introduction of this large addition to the body of electors; but we accept it subject to the same condition as that which Mr. Disraeli laid down—namely, that the whole of our representative system should be considered together, when you are making so large a change as this, and that in whatsoever has to be done you should take into consideration the necessary accompanying measures. Now, of course, among these measures and far above any other is that for the redistribution of seats. And I hope I may be allowed, without giving any offence, to refer for a moment to that often-quoted speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright). I quote it not for the purpose of using it in any way as a taunt against him, or to say that there is in it anything inconsistent with the view which the right hon. Gentleman takes and has expressed, or with the conduct that he has pursued, in regard to Redistribution Bills; but I desire to quote it simply for this purpose—that I wish to cite the high authority of the right hon. Gentleman—an admittedly high authority on questions of the representation of the people—as to the very great importance of redistribution. I admit that he has repeatedly said that the two measures—enfranchisement and redistribution—may be dealt with, and ought to be dealt with in separate Bills. That, however, is not the point to which I wish now to draw attention; but I wish to show the very great and high importance which the right hon. Gentleman attached to redistribution, and which I understand he still attaches to it, and I call attention to it for the purpose of meeting objections, such as those which fell even from the Prime Minister, who appeared to think that there is no question at all to be compared in importance with the extension of the franchise, and that as to the work of the redistribution of seats it is almost a work of supererogation. [Mr. GLADSTONE: No.] I do not say that the right hon. Gentleman used that expression; but he has been constantly anxious to impress on the House and the country that the redistribution of seats is certainly a matter more or less desirable, but that the question of enfranchisement is the paramount object—that, in fact, it is so completely paramount that everything else must be sacrificed to it—and that, as regards the Redistribution Bill, we must be ready to accept a pledge from the Government that when Parliament has dealt with it, and disposed of the whole question of the franchise, they will deal in some way or other with the other question of the redistribution of seats. I say that they are relegating the question of Redistribution to a comparatively backward position which is not at all in accordance with its real importance. Now, Sir, I think I may say, without any fear of contradiction, that in a matter of such enormous importance as this of the resettlement of the electoral system, it is right that we should look round us and consider every point in the system. I am bound to say that I did not see the justice of the criticism which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board (Sir Charles W. Dilke) passed on the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for West Suffolk (Mr. Biddell) last night, when he criticized the action of the hon. Member, and said—and there was some inconsistency in the observation—that there was no measure which required more consideration than one for the redistribution of seats, and at the same time expressed a fear that a measure for the redistribution of seats might be too hastily thrust down the throats of the Liberal Party by the influence of the Prime Minister. My hon. Friend was putting two things together which he had a perfectly legitimate and logical right to put together, and which told strongly in favour of his argument. My hon. Friend said that this was a matter upon which we feared that if it did not receive that consideration, it might be thrust down the throats of the House by the influence of the Prime Minister and Her Majesty's Government. I say that that is a danger to which we are very seriously alive, and which it is absolutely necessary that we should guard against. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, in his comments this evening, drew a distinction between the position assumed by my right hon. Friend the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir E. Assheton Cross) and that assumed by my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope), who moved this Amendment, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton). He was, apparently, desirous of establishing some kind of distinction between the positions of these hon. Members. I entirely deny that there is any ground for such distinction as he attempted to draw. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lincolnshire brought forward with very great clearness, in a very concise form, and, as I thought, in a very temperate manner, the various objections which we raise in regard to this measure. He brought forward the contention that it would be unsatisfactory to deal with this question of the franchise unless we get security that the redistribution of seats would be brought forward in such a manner that we could deal with the question as a whole; and my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) took very much the same line. He spoke late in the evening, and when several questions had been raised which rather called for an answer; but there was no distinction whatever in principle or spirit between the speeches of my two hon. Friends last night and that of my right hon. Friend to-night. The position we have always taken up is the position we still maintain, and is one from which we cannot recede. We entirely agree that the Franchise Bill ought to be passed. We hold the same grounds which led us to believe that it now ought to pass, and which also led us to believe that it was desirable the settlement should be an early and a speedy settlement, provided only that it be a satisfactory settlement. We are anxious—we are probably more anxious than many hon. Members who sit on that side of the House — for such a settlement. We are conscious that there are Gentlemen, and especially among those who sit on that side of the House, who are not so anxious that this question should be fairly decided. We are anxious because we know that if this question is not decided, there is no saying what other questions may be opened, or of the course that may be taken by hon. Gentlemen and pressed upon Her Majesty's Government, But we feel, also, that if we allow a pretended settlement of this question, when it is not settled, if we allow ourselves to be carried away by vague generalities into expressions of satisfaction when we are not satisfied, we shall have no security for the settlement of the question, and we know perfectly well that we shall leave ourselves in a very dangerous position. The hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Thorold Rogers) gave us a few specimens last night of the way in which he would like to deal with this question. He told us that he would not be at all satisfied with the measure of enfranchisement proposed by Her Majesty's Government, and that he desires to do away with a great many franchises and a great many methods of voting which we now possess and which we do not intend to interfere with. He says he is for putting down the freemen, for putting down University representation, and for putting down, as I understood, all property qualifications—at all events, putting down plural voting, which seemed to be the point at which he was aiming—indeed, for putting down everything in the shape of a property qualification. These are matters which we are not desirous of leaving open, and we think that now is the time and now is the opportunity when we can come to the consideration of these questions in a fair, deliberate, and unexcited manner, and so that the settlement should be of a lasting character. Nothing of that kind is, of course, eternal; but it is of the greatest importance to the country that whatever settlement we arrive at now should be one of an enduring character, and one that would not require to be opened up again every two or three years after the settlement has been made. With a view to a settlement of such a character, I think it is of the utmost importance that we should look at every part of the settlement we now make, in order to see that it is one which is consistent with itself. On that ground, I am particularly anxious that we should have the plan of redistribution before us, and should be able to discuss and consider that plan, as far as possible, in connection with the Fran- chise Bill. Now, we have heard something about compromise. I have always said in the country, and I am equally ready to say now, that we regard this question of Redistribution as one of such a complicated character that it is preeminently a question which must be discussed in a free spirit, and one on which we must be prepared to make a certain number of concessions on the one side and the other. If you maintain the principles shadowed forth by the Prime Minister, I do not see any insuperable difficulty—any great difficulty—in arriving at the settlement of a Redistribution Bill. But it will not do for us to say that we do not want to have something before us of a real and definite character. Anybody who has had experience in diplomatic transactions, or anything of that kind, is perfectly well aware that nothing is more dangerous than half-understandings; and if we are to deal with a question of this kind, we should not be content with a half-understanding upon the matter, but we must endeavour, as far as possible, to have a real understanding. I think that is a point on which we ought to insist with reference to the interests of the country, and I think it is particularly desirable now that we should insist upon it, because of the very remarkable position in which this question stands before the country. My noble Friend the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), in the remarkably able speech which he made, spoke of the great transformation which has taken place on this question during the last few months. But, without going into questions of transformation, I would point out how very important is the position in which this question stands with reference to the mode in which it has been discussed and the mode in which it has been brought before the notice of the great body of the country during the past few months. Nothing, I think, could be more creditable, whichever side we are speaking of—of course, laying aside a few exceptional circumstances—nothing could be more creditable to the great mass of the people of this country than the manner in which they have attended to the arguments that have been addressed to them upon this question—addressed to them by speakers on both sides—and the great intelligence and great acuteness which they have brought to bear upon them. But if I make that admission, as I frankly do, with regard to those who have met together to support the policy of Her Majesty's Government, and to press for the speedy extension of the franchise, much more even do I make the claim on behalf of those who have attended to support the meetings of the Opposition on this subject—and I say much more for this reason—that the Government had to say—"Will you have this extension of the franchise we promise you, and will you pass Resolutions in favour of proceeding in the way we think that we can best give it you?" That is a very easy and a very simple question for them to answer. But what we have had to say has been of a much more difficult character, ["Hear, hear!" and Ministerial cheers.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite cheer; but they will in a moment see that we had to meet men who desired the extension of the franchise just as much as the supporters of the Government; and yet we had to point out to them that though desirous of seeing the franchise extended, and though ready to do what we could in that direction, we must also call attention to the fact that that was only part of the question—a part of the question which, though important, could not be dealt with without the other portion—that it was not a question merely of the rights and desires of those we were addressing with regard to the extension to them of the right of voting, but that it was a question of what was for the benefit of the country, and what was the best settlement that could be arranged with a view to a satisfactory settlement of our electoral system. We found that these men, keenly anxious as they were to obtain the electoral franchise, were yet thoroughly able to comprehend the argument that the whole subject ought to be dealt with, and that they were as determined that the measure should be one of a comprehensive nature as your audiences were that a measure should be passed rapidly and speedily. The position we took, and which was embodied in a number of Resolutions passed before the Recess, and the action of our Party before the end of last Session, and which we have consistently maintained before all the audiences we have addressed—that position is one from which we have no right to recede, and from which, if we did re- cede, we should shake the confidence of those who have placed their confidence in us. The right hon. Gentleman says that the object of passing the Franchise Bill is, with him, and with the Government, and with the Liberal Party, a paramount object. I am not at all disposed to question his right to call it a paramount object; but what I maintain is that, in treating it as a paramount object, the Government have a very much better prospect of attaining that object which they say is paramount by proceeding in a business-like and reasonable manner in regard to the other question with which it is connected than they will have if they attempt to force it on alone. There is a Greek saying that "the half is better than the whole." I do not know the precise sense in which those words have sometimes been used; but, applying them to the present case, I would say that half the trouble is greater than the whole, and that in attempting to deal with this measure in two halves, altogether separate, the Government are setting for themselves a more formidable task than if they were contented to deal with the whole together. I quite understand that in the present Session of Parliament, when Her Majesty's Government first brought forward this measure, and did not know the reception it would meet with, or how far it would be discussed, or what fate it would meet with in Committee—I can quite understand that they thought it was their business to press the measure through by itself, and that it was impossible to find time for another. But the position is now entirely different, and I do not see that the Government could, for a moment, stand excused in the eyes of the country, or in the eyes of any common-sense person, if, for the mere purpose of adhering to what they said, under wholly different circumstances, last Session, they persisted in a course which would stand in the way, and throw difficulties in the way of the attainment of the very object they desire. The right hon. Gentleman shadowed forth in his speech yesterday, and last Session, some of the leading principles on which he considers that a Redistribution Bill ought to be framed, and on which we may conclude that the Government have already prepared, or nearly prepared, their scheme. If that is so, what can be the difficulty of laying those proposals before the House? I can say at once for the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that there is nothing in the statement of those principles, if he lays them before us—there is nothing which leads me to believe that there will be any difficulty in framing a measure upon them that will be acceptable in its main principles to the great body of the House. But until the Bill is framed, and until we have seen the Bill, and know how the question is worked, it is impossible for us to form an adequate opinion. But if the Government intend to close this Session without bringing this matter forward they are laying up in store for themselves a very difficult future, which is quite unnecessary. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), who got up in his place a short time ago, taunted the Government with some words that they used in July, to the effect that this Session would be confined to the particular purpose of passing the Franchise Bill. I do not think the hon. Member is a good friend to the Government in doing this. His challenges to them and his insistance upon such explanations may rather lead the great body of hon. Gentlemen opposite to see how unwise it would be to pin the Government to expressions which may have been used in the heat of debate, or under circumstances very different from the present, in order to prevent a satisfactory solution. If the hon. Member desires to prevent a satisfactory solution in order that the door may be open for him to introduce by-and-bye further questions of a dangerous and mischievous character—if that is his object, let hon. Gentlemen opposite, who, I am sure, do not share that desire, take warning from the plain and frank statement he has made. Let them see what they are endangering if they do not come to some reasonable terms for the settlement of the question. Our position is an unchanged position from that which we took up when this Bill was first laid before us, and we decided on accepting the second reading of the Bill. We have always taken the same view. We have expressed it here and in the country, and, whenever called upon, we shall always be ready to express it. We are ready to assent to the passing of the extensive measure of Reform contained in the Franchise Bill on the understanding that we shall be able to look upon the whole measure of Reform—the one part connected with the other. I do not mean to say that one shall be dependent upon the other. I do not ask you to put the two measures on the Table together; but I say that we must look at the whole measure of Reform together, and that we cannot understand a mere portion of the question until we have a clear idea of what the measure of redistribution is to be. We are told that it will be a redistribution scheme in which particular care has been taken to separate the urban from the rural districts; but I do not want to see such a separation brought about on every subject between the two interests as will lead to antagonism between them. What we desire is that care shall be taken to draw such lines as shall prevent the rural interests from being swamped, and one class being set against the other. But there are many other questions of great importance in connection with this subject of Reform to be considered. The right hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) has said that we think of nothing except this distinction between the urban and rural districts. He is entirely wrong. What we desire, as well as the Prime Minister, is to see that the system of redistribution of seats is so arranged as that each different pursuit of importance shall have, as far as possible, a fair representation in Parliament. Considering the enormous importance of our Parliamentary system to those who are engaged in every kind and variety of pursuits in this country, it is of the utmost importance that we should have such a Constitution as would give an opening for the representation of those pursuits; and I am afraid, if we are to take the theory of numbers, and nothing but numbers, we should find ourselves in a very difficult position, unless we were so to arrange the details of redistribution as to meet the difficulty. I hope and trust that this discussion may produce some practical results, and that the opinions which have been expressed in various quarters may show Her Majesty's Government that there is no real difficulty in settling this question if they will only trust to the House, and to those hon. Gentlemen who sit opposite to them. For my own part, I can promise them that any practical Redistribution Bill shall be received and shall be considered by those who sit on this side of the House in a spirit of fairness, and with a desire to bring about a setlement of this difficult question. I do not believe for a moment that, in agreeing to the Amendment of my hon. Friend, we shall in any way throw back the settlement of this question. On the contrary, I believe that by agreeing to the Amendment we shall, in reality, be advancing the settlement of the question. By agreeing to that Amendment we shall be taking up the position which we took up substantially two or three months ago, and which has led to our occupying the much more satisfactory position in which we find ourselves now with regard to this question. There can be no doubt that the merits of the course we advocate have been largely recognized and greatly advanced by the course of the discussion in the Recess; but we cannot and ought not to depart from the position we formerly took up. We invite the Government—and we are anxious that the Government should accept the invitation—to deal frankly with us in this matter by introducing their Redistribution Bill, which, no doubt, they have by this time got well in hand; and we can promise them that when they have laid that Bill before us, both that and any other measure which may be connected with it shall be most carefully considered, with the desire that it shall receive our most cordial support.


Sir, there is very little in the speech which has just fallen from the right hon. Gentleman of which it is necessary that I should take notice. In the speech of the right hon. Baronet there are, undoubtedly, many things to which I can give an almost complete assent. We all, on this side of the House, I believe, agree with him in the desire he has expressed that the settlement of the Reform Question on which we are engaged should be one of an enduring and permanent character, and that it should not be one which should last for only a very small number of years. Neither do I take the smallest exception to what the right hon. Gentleman has said as to its being the duty of the House to look at this question as a whole. I do not object, and I think it is perfectly reasonable that the House should decline to consider a mere portion of the question of Reform, and should desire to take a more comprehensive view of the great change which it is the intention of the Franchise Bill to effect. We have never, in my opinion, controverted that position. All that we have advised the House to do has been to take as comprehensive a view of the question as possible, but that at the same time they should, in their procedure, have regard to what is possible and convenient, and that they should not, by tying together the different parts of this large measure of Reform, render the handling of the matter one of great complication and of great difficulty, and so encumber the question as to make it almost impossible to deal successfully with any portion of it. In my opinion the right hon. Baronet has altogether omitted from his view one set of most important considerations to which, in the few observations I desire to make, I shall endeavour to call some attention. The right hon. Gentleman, in the observations which have fallen from him, has altogether omitted to deal with the question how far it would be possible to deal with it in a practical manner, and with the prospect of obtaining a speedy and satisfactory result in the manner which he has suggested. I do not desire to detain the House long on this occasion for many reasons. My main reason is that I wish to enter as little as possible upon subjects which, in this and in former debates on this question, have given rise to sharp and acute controversy. I think it must have struck every Member of the House who has listened to this debate that there has been a vast difference in tone between the debates of last night and tonight and the former debates on this subject, and there has also been a marked contrast in tone and substance from that of many of the speeches which were delivered during the Autumn Recess. I cannot help hoping that this marked contrast of tone, which has been, I think, so universally recognized, mainly points to the hope that it is possible for Parliament to come to some satisfactory settlement of this question, a settlement not brought about by what is usually termed a compromise, by which either Party shall surrender anything which they consider a matter of principle, or of importance, but rather a settlement which may be arrived at by a process of discussion and consideration, by which it may appear that there is not, after all, so much difference of opinion as was formerly supposed to exist between any Parties in this House upon either of the branches of this great and important question. Well, Sir, I am naturally extremely anxious to avoid, in the observations I desire to make, saying anything which would strike a discordant note, or anything that would tend to mar that degree of harmony which, for the first time, has apparently been developed in the debate on the second reading of the Bill. I confess I was to a certain extent disappointed, as has been said by my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board (Sir Charles W. Dilke), both by the tone, and also, to a certain extent, by the substance of the speech in which this Amendment was moved. I fully admit that the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope) laboured under some difficulties, because it was impossible for him to have foreseen or to have had any foreknowledge of the extremely conciliatory tone in which the second reading of this Bill would be moved by my right hon. Friend, and also as to how far my right hon. Friend proposed to extend the explanation of his statement on the question of the intentions of the Government with regard to redistribution which he made in moving the second reading of the Bill. Therefore, I am not at all surprised that the hon. Member, in moving an Amendment which was apparently in some degree of a hostile and controversial character, should have been led into delivering a speech of a more hostile character than I think he would have been inclined to make if he could have had more time to reflect upon both the manner and the substance of the speech of my right hon. Friend. But whatever unfavourable impressions may have been made on our minds by the speech of the hon. Member, I must admit that they have been to a very great extent removed by the more conciliatory tone which has been adopted this evening in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir E. Assheton Cross), and in a great part to that of the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), and also in the speech we have just listened to. I gather from the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock that he regards this Amendment rather in the light of an arm which is kept in the hands of the Party to which he belongs, in order to enable that Party to obtain fuller information and to exact more complete satisfaction in regard to that which they demand upon the subject of redistribution than as an absolute condition which he considers it necessary rigidly to adhere to. Sir, on the other hand, I understand that the hon. Member (Mr. E. Stanhope), in his speech, represented this Amendment as a fair and reasonable condition which the Government might — which the Government ought, and, in fact, so far as the Opposition is concerned, which the Government must—agree to as the price of their allowing this Bill to pass. Well, now, let me examine for a moment what is the character of this so-called reasonable condition. It is that progress is not to be made with this Bill unless it is accompanied by a provision for what is termed a proper arrangement of electoral areas. Well, Sir, those are the bare terms of the Amendment before the House as they have been placed on the Paper; but I suppose we shall be justified in understanding the words "proper arrangement" as meaning an arrangement which would be satisfactory to the minority in this House, an arrangement satisfactory not only in its principles, but also in its details. But the speech of the hon. Member went a good deal further than that. He contended that before he would pass this Bill he must have not only the principles and the manner in which the Government propose to deal with redistribution before him, but that he must have them before him in such a manner that he may be able to deal with them, and, as the Marquess of Salisbury said, to "handle" them—in fact, that he was determined to keep this Franchise Bill as a sort of hostage in the hands of the Opposition, which was not to be released until perfect satisfaction had been exacted by the Opposition in everything which related to the redistribution of seats. In other words, Sir, the position of the hon. Member was this—that he would trust the House of Commons with nothing in the matter of redistribution; that he would trust the majority of this House with nothing; that he would rely not at all upon good sense, nor upon the arguments which might be brought forward on the other side; that he would trust, in fact, to nothing except to the power he would secure by keeping this Bill in a state of suspended animation until the details of the Redistribution Bill had been settled, and manipulated entirely to the satisfaction of the Tory Party. Well, Sir, in my opinion, that is not a reasonable condition. It is a condition that amounts to this. It is, according to hon. Members, a condition which is to attach to the passing of this measure, on the passing of which the country, in our opinion, has set its heart—a condition, the character of which is indefinite, and a condition which, after all, might be impossible of execution. Let the House suppose, for a moment, that we comply with this reasonable proposal. What would our position be? We are at present almost in the dark; we do not know what the views of the Opposition are on the subject of redistribution, and which views we are to satisfy before we are to be allowed to pass this measure. I must dissent altogether from the opinion expressed by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) this evening, when he said that we were already sufficiently in possession of the views of the Opposition on the subject of redistribution. The noble Lord referred to the speech of the Marquess of Salisbury at Manchester, and to a speech of the right hon. Baronet the Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach). He did not refer to his own speeches, but he gave us his own opinion on the subject. I have not had the opportunity of referring to those speeches since I heard the noble Lord; but I have very distinctly in my mind an article written by the Marquess of Salisbury in The National Review on the subject of Redistribution, which has certainly been interpreted by a great number of persons as indicating a very strong preference for the adoption of the cumulative vote, or of some other form of minority or proportional representation. Now, the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock gave us to-night his own opinion on the subject of redistribution; and he told us that the scheme which he favoured, and which he believed would meet with general approval on his side of the House, was a scheme which in the main would apportion representation in proportion to numbers, and would approximate closely to the single-Member electoral districts. Now, I hardly need point out that there is an absolute contradiction between the cumulative vote and any other form of minority representation and the proposal of the noble Lord. What reason have we to know that any of these proposals—proposals which have been put forward by the Marquess of Salisbury himself, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Gloucestershire (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), or by the noble Lord, do in deed and in fact command the approval and support of any considerable section of Members sitting on the other side of the House? Why, within the last few moments we have heard the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition state opinions in regard to redistribution which appear to me to lean much more towards the views which were advocated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) than towards those advocated by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock. A part of the proposal of the noble Lord suggested the separation of rural and urban districts; but the Leader of the Opposition has just told us that he does not wish to see any such sharp separation between rural and urban districts as would be likely in his opinion to mark, if it did not engender, an antagonism of interest between those rural and urban districts. I cannot pretend to say that the differences which apparently exist upon the subject of redistribution in the ranks of the Conservative Party are differences so vital that they are incapable of being reconciled; but what I am tempted to say is, that there is not before us at this moment any such announced and avowed agreement among hon. Members opposite as to what it is they require in the matter of redistribution as would even give us any fair assurance that any Bill which—I will not say we—but even they might introduce themselves would command their universal assent and support. Certainly, if we are to assume that the noble Lord does accurately represent the views of his Party in the scheme which he has set before us to-night, the progress which has been made in the education of his Party is enormous. I say, without fear of contradiction, that if the Government had last February introduced, in conjunction with the Franchise Bill, a measure of redistribution framed on the principles indicated by the noble Lord to-night, that measure would have been almost universally scouted by hon. Members sitting on the Benches opposite as a revolutionary supplement to a revolutionary Bill, and as an emanation of the Caucus which my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Chamberlain) is said to preside over. Well, Sir, this is to a great extent our answer, and the only answer we can give to those categorical inquiries put to us by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson). The right hon. and learned Gentleman wants to know when we shall produce the Redistribution Bill; and our answer, and the only answer we can give, is that we shall introduce a Bill, or will introduce redistribution proposals, whenever we have some fair reason to believe that any redistribution proposals which we can bring forward will be accepted by the Party opposite as a basis of settlement, or which will be accepted as a fair subject of discussion for the purpose of arriving at a settlement, and which will not be made the engine and the weapon for defeating the Franchise Bill. But I think I may say to the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock that he, at all events, need be under very little apprehension as to the success of the views which he entertains on this subject, if he be right that they are entertained by the bulk of his Party. It is quite possible that those views may go a good deal further than many who sit on these Benches consider necessary. It is quite possible that they may involve a larger disturbance of existing electoral arrangements than commend themselves to many who sit on this side of the House. His views will commend themselves, at all events, to the great bulk of the Radical Party; and if they are views which commend themselves to the vast majority of his own Party also, the noble Lord has little need of apprehension, and is in want of no guarantee as to our dealing with redistribution, although it may be our duty to submit to the House some reasons why the opinions of the noble Lord ought not to be pushed to their extreme logical conclusions. Perhaps the House will allow me to call attention for a moment to some of the difficulties which, in dealing with a question of this kind, we are exposed to, and the embarrassments which we sometimes experience in finding where to look for the accredited Leader of the Party opposite. I think I have heard speeches of the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock which have been very coldly received by the great bulk of the Conservative Party. I have, I think, heard the noble Lord incur the severe reproof of those who sit on the Front Bench opposite; but now it appears that we are to take the opinions of the noble Lord without any farther support than the cheers which they receive as the expression of the opinion of the Conservative Party on this great subject. The noble Lord, towards the conclusion of his speech, gave expression in eloquent language to what, in my opinion, were very wise and statesmanlike views upon the desirability of coming to a peaceful settlement on this great question. Was the noble Lord less the Leader of his Party when, a few weeks ago, in answer to the merest suggestion of conciliation, he denounced that suggestion as an emanation from the Party of "snivel and drivel?" Therefore, Sir, our difficulties do not consist only in some embarrassment as to the exact part of the House in which we are to find the Leaders of the Party opposite, but also as to the times and seasons to which we are to have regard in estimating the value of the opinions expressed by those Leaders themselves. While I am referring to the noble Lord, I may, perhaps, be allowed to say a word on another subject; and although it is no part of our business in this House to defend the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), who appears to me to be very well able to take care of himself, I cannot help thinking that it was rather hard upon him to be made the subject of such a severe and bitter attack for having, as it seems to us, learnt the lesson which has been given to him by the noble Lord who sits near him only somewhat too well. We seem to have to-night, in the cheers of the Party opposite with which that attack was greeted, an answer to that question which has been asked so long, and which has, perhaps, never yet received an answer so complete— Quis tulerit Gracchos de seditione querentes? It seems to us that a charge of want of loyalty can be borne with great toleration when one of the Gracchi, in the person of the noble Lord, rebukes another of the family with having on one occasion only been somewhat wanting in loyalty to his Party. Well, Sir, under these circumstances, what is it that we are asked to do by accepting this "reasonable condition?" We are asked, instead of presenting to the House a clear and simple issue, which Parliament and the country also can understand—we are asked to obscure the issue, to mix up with the simple issue on which we desire that Parliament should decide another complicated consideration, upon which numerous differences of opinion can, and, indeed, must, arise. Let the House look for a moment at the position in which we shall be placed if we accept that proposal. Suppose we produce a measure; suppose that the Party opposite, notwithstanding the indications which have been received tonight, object—whether reasonably or unreasonably I will not say—to our proposals on the subject of redistribution; they will resist them, as they are entitled to do, by every means in their power, by all the Forms of the House, and by all the means which the practice and procedure of Parliament place at their disposal. The Bill might fail either in this House or in "another place;" and with it, according to this "reasonable condition," is to fail also the Franchise Bill; and we are asked to make ourselves voluntary parties to that failure. We are asked to agree to the proposition that the extension of the franchise is to be indefinitely postponed. ["No, no!"] Yes; it may be indefinitely postponed, because we have not been able to satisfy conditions which never have been formulated, because we have failed to accomplish objects which have never been described to us, and because we have failed to guard against dangers which have never been indicated. Sir, that is a position which may be forced upon us; but it is not a position which any Member of this House can for one moment expect Her Majesty's Government are going voluntarily to take up. We have heard much in the course of this debate upon the subject of guarantees. Well, Sir, my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board (Sir Charles W. Dilke) has spoken of the guarantees which the Government have given. They may be sufficient or they may be insufficient; they may or they may not be capable of extension. I will not detain the House by going into that question; but I think we may ask whether it is from the majority alone that guarantees on this subject are to be taken? What guarantees have the Party opposite given us; what guarantees are you willing to give; what guarantees can you give us that there is any measure of redistribution which will induce you to allow this Bill to pass, and to settle as a whole the combined question of franchise and redistribution? Sir, I am not going to express any doubt as to the sincerity of the conversion of the Party opposite to the principle of the Franchise Bill. I may feel some doubt in my own mind as to whether a great many Members opposite are very much attached to the principle of that measure, and I think there are a good many of them who would, if they thought it possible, be very glad to see it relegated to obscurity; but what I admit is the sincerity of their opinions that, after what has taken place, the extension of the franchise should be accomplished at once, if they could obtain reasonable security. Although I am perfectly willing to admit the sincerity of those opinions, I am tempted to ask, what is the use of this conversion if it is not to be accompanied by anything more than an academical assent to the principle of the Franchise Bill in words, accompanied by tactical and obstructive Motions in practice? If the Party opposite had told us—if they will tell us now—what it is they want, what is the sacred principle of redistribution for which they contend, what it is they insist upon, and what it is they cannot accept, then I could understand their position. But I have a great difficulty in understanding that position now, and, in my firm opinion, if the position of the Conservative Party is as stated by the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope), and is understood by the country, it is understood as one of obstruction to the Franchise Bill. Sir, there is one observation further which I desire to make. In my opinion the course taken by the Government is one which is not only recommended by ordinary considerations—not only as a means of passing the measure before the House, but also as offering the best security for the reasonable treatment of the question of redistribution; and we are convinced that it offers the best method of obtaining acceptance of the principle of the Bill. I think there can be no doubt, whatever the unanimity of opinion in the House may now be on the subject, that no one will contend that when the Bill was introduced last February there was anything like that unanimity of sentiment which we now witness. At all events, the course we have pursued has had the effect that the Conservative Party in this House, in the other House, and in the country are now almost unanimously committed to the principle of the Franchise Bill. But I say that it is also the course which offers the best prospect of a reasonable settlement. If we had now, or at any former stage, embodied our proposals as to redistribution in the form of a Bill or otherwise, they must almost inevitably have become the subject of Party conflict. They would necessarily have been framed in ignorance, and, to some extent, would still be framed in ignorance, of the wishes and opinions of the Opposition; and the Liberal Party, if the scheme had commended itself to Gentlemen opposite, would almost immediately have been committed to the principle and details of that measure, and the cry would have been soon heard—"The Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill." Sir, the Prime Minister has now said that it is not his desire—it is not ours—that the work of redistribution should be the work of one Party alone, but rather that it should be the work of the whole House. Surely, if that object is to be accomplished, it is an advantage that we, and the Party who support us, should not be committed prematurely to principles of redistribution which the Party opposite have not agreed to. This consideration seems to me to carry with it not only a justification of the course which the Government has pursued, but a suggestion for the future treatment of the question. If, instead of opposing, I will not say obstructive, but apparently hostile Motions to the progress of the Bill, the Opposition would give us some further indication of what they desire to secure, or, at all events, what they want to avoid, my firm belief is that such indications as they may be willing to give would not be received by us as weapons to be made use of for the purposes of Party conflict, but would be received by us in an honest and friendly spirit as a means of arriving at a safe and honourable settlement of that branch of the question.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 372; Noes 232: Majority 140.

Acland, rt. hn. Sir T. D. Campbell, R. F. F.
Acland, C. T. D. Campbell-Bannerman, right hon. H.
Agnew, W.
Ainsworth, D. Carbutt, E. H.
Allen, H. G. Carington, hon. R.
Allen, W. S. Cartwright, W. C.
Anderson, G. Causton, R. K.
Armitage, B. Cavendish, Lord E.
Armitstead, G. Chamberlain, rt. hn. J.
Arnold, A. Chambers, Sir T.
Asher, A. Cheetham, J. F.
Ashley, hon. E. M. Childers, rt. hn. H. C. E.
Baldwin, E. Clark, S.
Balfour, Sir G. Clarke, J. C.
Balfour, rt. hon. J. B. Clifford, C. C.
Balfour, J. S. Cohen, A.
Barclay, J. W. Colebrooke, Sir T. E.
Baring, Viscount Collings, J.
Barnes, A. Collins, E.
Barran, J. Colman, J. J.
Barry, J. Colthurst, Colonel
Bass, Sir A. Commins, A.
Bass, H. Corbet, W. J.
Baxter, rt. hon. W. E. Corbett, J.
Beaumont, W. B. Cotes, C. C.
Biddulph, M. Courtauld, G.
Biggar, J. G. Courtney, L. H.
Blennerhassett, Sir R. Cowen, J.
Blennerhassett, R. P. Cowper, hon. H. F.
Bolton, J. C. Craig, W. Y.
Borlase, W. C. Cropper, J.
Brand, hon. H. R. Cross, J. K.
Brassey, Sir T. Crum, A.
Brassey, H. A. Cunliffe, Sir R. A.
Brett, R. B. Currie, Sir D.
Briggs, W. E. Davey, H.
Bright, right hon. J. Davies, D.
Bright, J. Davies, R.
Brinton, J. Davies, W.
Broadhurst, H. Dawson, C.
Brogden, A. Deasy, J.
Brooks, M. De Ferrières, Baron
Brown, A. H. Dickson, J.
Bruce, rt. hon. Lord C. Dickson, T. A.
Bruce, hon. R. P. Dilke, rt. hn. Sir C. W.
Bryce, J. Dillwyn, L. L.
Buchanan, T. R. Dodds, J.
Burt, T. Duckham, T.
Buszard, M. C. Duff, R. W.
Buxton, F. W. Dundas, hon. J. C.
Buxton, S. C. Earp, T.
Caine, W. S. Ebrington, Viscount
Callan, P. Edwards, H.
Cameron, C. Edwards, P.
Campbell, Lord C. Egerton, Admiral hon. F.
Campbell, Sir G.
Elliot, hon. A. R. D. Jenkins, D. J.
Errington, G. Jerningham, H. E. H.
Evans, T. W. Johnson, E.
Fairbairn, Sir A. Jones-Parry, L.
Farquharson, Dr. R. Kenny, M. J.
Fay, C. J. Kingscote, Col. R. N. F.
Ferguson, R.
Ferguson, R. C. Munro- Kinnear, J.
Ffolkes, Sir W. H. B. Labouchere, H.
Findlater, W. Laing, S.
Firth, J. F. B. Lambton, hon. F. W.
Fitzmaurice, Lord E. Lawrence, Sir J. C.
Fitzwilliam, hon. C. W. Lawrence, W.
Fitzwilliam, hon. H. W. Lawson, Sir W.
Fitzwilliam, hon. W. J. Lea, T.
Flower, C. Leahy, J.
Foljambe, C. G. S. Leake, R.
Foljambe, F. J. S. Leamy, E.
Forster, Sir C. Leatham, E. A.
Forster, rt. hn. W. E. Leatham, W. H.
Fort, R. Lee, H.
Fowler, H. H. Lefevre, rt. hn. G. J. S.
Fowler, W. Lloyd, M.
Fry, L. Lubbock, Sir J.
Fry, T. Lusk, Sir A.
Gabbett, D. F. Lymington, Viscount
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Lynch, N.
Gladstone, H. J. Lyons, R. D.
Gladstone, W. H. Macfarlane, D. H.
Glyn, hon. S. C. Mackie, R. B.
Gordon, Lord D. Mackintosh, C. F.
Gordon, Sir A. Macliver, P. S.
Goschen, rt. hon. G. J. M'Arthur, Sir W.
Gourley, E. T. M'Arthur, A.
Gower, hon. E. F. L. M'Carthy, J.
Grafton, F. W. M'Carthy, J. H.
Grant, Sir G. M. M'Clure, Sir T.
Grant, A. M'Coan, J. C.
Grant, D. M'Intyre, Æneas J.
Gray, E. D. M'Kenna, Sir J. N.
Grey, A. H. G. M'Lagan, P.
Guest, M. J. M'Laren, C. B. B.
Gurdon, R. T. M'Mahon, E.
Hamilton, J. G. C. M'Minnies, J. G.
Harcourt, rt. hn. Sir W. G. V. V. Magniac, C.
Maitland, W. F.
Hardcastle, J. A. Mappin, F. T.
Harrington, T. Marjoribanks, hon. E.
Hartington, Marq. of Martin, P.
Hastings, G. W. Martin, R. B.
Hayter, Sir A. D. Marum, E. M.
Henderson, F. Maskelyne, M. H. N. Story-
Heneage, E.
Henry, M. Mason, H.
Herschell, Sir F. Maxwell-Heron, Cn. J.
Hibbert, J. T. Mayne, T.
Hill, T. R. Meagher, W.
Holden, I. Meldon, C. H.
Holland, S. Mellor, J. W.
Hollond, J. R. Milbank, Sir F. A.
Holms, J. Molloy, B. C.
Hopwood, C. H. Monk, C. J.
Howard, E. S. Moreton, Lord
Howard, G. J. Morgan, rt. hon. G. O.
Howard, J. Morley, A.
Illingworth, A. Morley, J.
Ince, H. B. Morley, S.
Inderwick, F. A. Mundella, rt. hn. A. J.
James, Sir H. Muntz, P. H.
James, C. Nicholson, W.
James, W. H. Noel, E.
Jardine, R. Nolan, Colonel J. P.
Jenkins, Sir J. J. Norwood, C. M.
O'Beirne, Colonel F. Sheil, E.
O'Brien, Sir P. Sheridan, H. B.
O'Brien, W. Shield, H.
O'Connor, A. Simon, Serjeant J.
O'Connor, T. P. Sinclair, Sir J. G. T.
O'Donoghue, The Slagg, J.
O'Gorman Mahon, Col. The Small, J. F.
Smith, Lieut-Col. G.
O'Kelly, J. Smith, E.
O'Shea, W. H. Smith, S.
O'Sullivan, W. H. Smithwick, J. F.
Otway, Sir A. J. Smyth, P. J.
Paget, T. T. Spencer, hon. C. R.
Palmer, C. M. Stafford, Marquess of
Palmer, G. Stanley, hon. E. L.
Parker, C. S. Stansfeld, rt. hon. J.
Parnell, C. S. Stanton, W. J.
Pease, Sir J. W. Steble, Lieut-Col. R. F.
Pease, A. Stevenson, J. C.
Peddie, J. D. Storey, S.
Pender, J. Stuart, H. V.
Pennington, F. Sullivan, T. D.
Philips, R. N. Summers, W.
Picton, J. A. Synan, E. J.
Playfair, rt. hn. Sir L. Talbot, C. R. M.
Portman, hon. W. H. B. Tavistock, Marquess of
Potter, T. B. Tennant, C.
Powell, W. R. H. Thomasson, J. P.
Power, J. O'C. Thompson, T. C.
Power, P. J. Tillett, J. H.
Power, R. Torrens, W. T. M.
Price, Sir R. G. Tracy, hon. F. S. A Hanbury-
Pulley, J.
Ralli, P. Trevelyan, rt. hn. G. O.
Ramsay, J. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Ramsden, Sir J. Vivian, Sir H. H.
Rathbone, W. Vivian, A. P.
Redmond, J. E. Waddy, S. D.
Redmond, W. H. K. Walker, S.
Reed, Sir E. J. Walter, J.
Reid, R. T. Waterlow, Sir S.
Rendel, S. Watkin, Sir E. W.
Richard, H. Waugh, E.
Richardson, T. Webster, J.
Roberts, J. West, H. W.
Robertson, H. Whitbread, S.
Roe, T. Whitworth, B.
Rogers, C. C. Wiggin, H.
Rogers, J. E. T. Williamson, S.
Rothschild, Sir N. M. de Willis, W.
Roundell, C. S. Wills, W. H.
Russell, Lord A. Willyams, E. W. B.
Russell, C. Wilson, Sir M.
Russell, G. W. E. Wilson, C. H.
Ruston, J. Wilson, I.
Rylands, P. Wodehouse, E. R.
St. Aubyn, Sir J. Woodall, W.
Samuelson, H. Woolf, S.
Seely, C. (Lincoln)
Seely, C. (Nottingham) TELLERS.
Sellar, A. C. Grosvenor, right hon. Lord R.
Sexton, T.
Shaw, T. Kensington, rt. hn. Lord
Alexander, Major-Gen. Balfour, A. J.
Allsopp, C. Baring, T. C.
Amherst, W. A. T. Barne, F. St. J. N.
Archdale, W. H. Barttelot, Sir W. B.
Ashmead-Bartlett, E. Bateson, Sir T.
Aylmer, J. E. F. Beach, right hon. Sir M. E. Hicks-
Bailey, Sir J. R
Beach, W. W. B. Fowler, rt. hon. R. N.
Bective, Earl of Fremantle, hon. T. F.
Bellingham, A. H. French-Brewster, R. A. B.
Bentinck, rt. hn. G. C.
Beresford, G. De la P. Freshfield, C. K.
Biddell, W. Galway, Viscount
Birkbeck, E. Gardner, R. Richardson-
Blackburne, Col. J. I. Gathorne-Hardy, hon. J. S.
Boord, T. W.
Bourke, right hon. R. Gibson, right hon. E.
Broadley, W. H. H. Giffard, Sir H. S.
Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F. Giles, A.
Goldney, Sir G.
Brooke, Lord Gooch, Sir D.
Brooks, W. C. Gore-Langton, W. S.
Bruce, Sir H. H. Grantham, W.
Bruce, hon. T. Greene, E.
Brymer, W. E. Greer, T.
Bulwer, J. R. Gregory, G. B.
Burghley, Lord Halsey, T. F.
Buxton, Sir R. J. Hamilton, right hon. Lord G.
Cameron, D.
Campbell, J. A. Hamilton, Lord C. J.
Carden, Sir R. W. Hamilton, I. T.
Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G. Harris, W. J.
Chaine, J. Harvey, Sir R. B.
Chaplin, H. Hay, rt. hon. Admiral Sir J. C. D.
Christie, W. L.
Churchill, Lord R. Herbert, hon. S.
Clarke, E. Hicks, E.
Clive, Col. hon. G. W. Hildyard, T. B. T.
Coddington, W. Hill, Lord A. W.
Cole, Viscount Hill, A. S.
Compton, F. Holland, Sir H. T.
Coope, O. E. Home, Lt.-Col. D. M.
Corry, J. P. Hope, right hon. A. J. B. B.
Cotton, W. J. R.
Crichton, Viscount Houldsworth, W. H.
Cross, rt. hon. Sir R. A. Hubbard, right hon. J. G.
Cubitt, right hon. G.
Curzon, Major hon. M. Jackson, W. L.
Dalrymple, C. Johnstone, Sir F.
Davenport, H. T. Kennard, Col. E. H.
Dawnay, Col. hon. L. P. Kennard, C. J.
Dawnay, hon. G. C. Kennaway, Sir J. H.
De Worms, Baron H. King-Harman, Colonel E. R.
Dickson, Major A. G.
Digby, Colonel hon. E. Knight, F. W.
Dixon-Hartland, F. D. Knightley, Sir R.
Douglas, A. Akers- Lacon, Sir E. H. K.
Dyke, rt. hn. Sir W. H. Lawrance, J. C.
Eaton, H. W. Lawrence, Sir T.
Ecroyd, W. F. Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.
Egerton, hon. A. de T. Legh, W. J.
Egerton, hon. A. F. Leigh, R.
Elcho, Lord Leighton, Sir B.
Elliot, Sir G. Leighton, S.
Elliot, G. W. Lennox, right hn. Lord H. G. C. G.
Ellis, Sir J. W.
Elton, C. I. Lever, J. O.
Estcourt, G. S. Levett, T. J.
Ewing, A. O. Lewis, C. E.
Feilden, Lieut.-General Lewisham, Viscount
Fellowes, W. H. Lindsay, Sir R. L.
Finch, G. H. Loder, R.
Finch-Hatton, hon. M. E. G. Long, W. H.
Lopes, Sir M.
Fitz-Wygram, Sir F. Lowther, rt. hon. J.
Fletcher, Sir H. Lowther, hon. W.
Floyer, J. Lowther, J. W.
Folkestone, Viscount Macartney, J. W. F.
Forester, C. T. W. Mac Iver, D.
Foster, W. H. Macnaghten, E.
M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J. Ross, C. C.
Makins, Colonel W. T. Round, J.
Manners, rt. hon. Lord J. J. R. Salt, T.
Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.
March, Earl of Scott, M. D.
Marriott, W. T. Selwin - Ibbetson, Sir H. J.
Master, T. W. C.
Maxwell, Sir H. E. Severne, J. E.
Miles, Sir P. J. W. Smith, rt. hon. W. H.
Miles, C. W. Smith, A.
Mills, Sir C. H. Stanhope, hon. E.
Milner, Sir F. Stanley, rt. hon. Col. F.
Monckton, F. Stanley, E. J.
Morgan, hon. F. Storer, G.
Moss, R. Strutt, hon. C. H.
Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J. R. Sykes, C.
Talbot, J. G.
Mulholland, J. Thomson, H.
Muntz, P. A. Thornhill, A. J.
Newport, Viscount Thynne, Lord H. F.
Nicholson, W. N. Tollemache, hon. W. F.
North, Colonel J. S. Tollemache, H. J.
Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H. Tomlinson, W. E. M.
Tottenham, A. L.
Northcote, H. S. Tremayne, J.
Onslow, D. R. Tyler, Sir H. W.
Paget, R. H. Wallace, Sir R.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Walrond, Col. W. H.
Pell, A. Warburton, P. E.
Pemberton, E. L. Warton, C. N.
Percy, rt. hon. Earl Watney, J.
Percy, Lord A. M. Whitley, E.
Phipps, C. N. P. Williams, General O.
Phipps, P. Wilmot, Sir. H.
Plunket, rt. hon. D. R. Wilmot, Sir J. E.
Price, Captain G. E. Wolff, Sir H. D.
Puleston, J. H. Wortley, C. B. Stuart-
Raikes, rt. hon. H. C. Wroughton, P.
Rankin, J. Wyndham, hon. P.
Read, C. S. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Rendlesham, Lord Yorke, J. R.
Repton, G. W.
Ridley, Sir M. W. TELLERS.
Ritchie, C. T. Thornhill, T.
Rolls, J. A. Winn, R.
Ross, A. H.

Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday next.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Forward to