HC Deb 29 April 1885 vol 297 cc1050-80

Bill, as amended, further considered.


, in moving, in page 13, line 22, column 2, after the word "Petersfield," to insert the word "Pontefract," said, he made the proposal for the purpose of finding an additional Member for Westminster. He thought that if an additional Member was to be given to Westminster he ought not to be taken from the Tower Hamlets, but from such a borough as Pontefract, which barely came up to the limit of population.

Amendment proposed, in page 13, line 22, column 2, after the word "Petersfield," to insert the word "Pontefract."—(Mr. Ritchie.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'Pontefract' be there inserted."


pointed out that the Committee had decided not to interfere with the 15,000 limit, and it would be unfortunate to pick out one borough in the way proposed by the hon. Member.


hoped that, as the right hon. Baronet had attached so great importance to the decision of the Committee not to interfere with the limit of 15,000, he would attach the same importance to the other decisions of the Committee.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


said, he rose to move the insertion of "Warwick" in the Schedule of boroughs to be disfranchised. He did not intend to press the Amendment, but simply moved it by way of renewing his protest against the course adopted by the Government in making this borough the single exception to the 15,000 rule.

Amendment, proposed, in page 13, column 2, after line 40, insert"Warwick."—(Mr. Lewis.)

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On Motion of The LORD ADVOCATE, the following Amendment made:— In page 14, column 1, lines 3 to 8, leave out,—

Ayr (District of Burghs) Ayr and Argyll.
Elgin (District of Burghs) Elgin, Banff, and Aberdeen.
Falkirk (District of Burghs) Stirling, Linlithgow, and Lanark.

Schedule agreed to.

Schedule 2 (Boroughs to lose one Member) agreed, to.

Schedule 3 (Boroughs to have additional Members).


said, he moved to insert "The Tower Hamlets, 7,"in order to restore the borough to the position it originally occupied in the Bill. He did not in the least challenge the right of Westminster to have four Members; but what he did object to was the proposal to take away one Member from the Tower Hamlets in order to give it to Westminster. Even with seven Members the borough would be considerably under-represented compared with some of the large boroughs in the Provinces. Birmingham, with a population of 400,000, was to have seven Members; but the Tower Hamlets, with 439,000, was only to have six. Further, it having originally been intended to give the Tower Hamlets seven Members it would be an invidious thing to take one away.

Amendment proposed, in page 15, line 41, after "Swansea," insert "Tower Hamlets—Seven."—(Mr. Ritchie.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


said, that the Amendment which he had proposed, to give the Tower Hamlets seven Members, was really a re-enactment of the original proposal of the Bill, put on the basis of the suggestion of the right hon. Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Raikes), that the old London boroughs, or some of them, should not be cut up into new boroughs, but only into divisions, the name of the old borough being retained. His proposal differed from that put on the Paper by his hon. Colleague only in its keeping Poplar and Bow in the old borough of the Tower Hamlets. This was the decided wish of the people of Poplar and Bow, who valued their connection with the old borough, and desired to form a part of it. The average for London, excluding the City, was one Member to every 65,000; including the City, one Member to every 63,000. If the Tower Hamlets received only six Members it would have one Member to every 73,000; if it had seven Members it would have exactly the average—one Member to every 63,000. The Tower Hamlets was amply entitled to its due share of representation on other other grounds as well as that of numerical equality. It was inhabited by an enormous population of poor people, who had much to hope from legislative reform, and whose voice ought to be adequately heard in the National Councils. It included an immense variety of industries, both manufacturing and commercial. Speaking from his own experience of the last five years, he could assure the House that the task of representing these interests, and endeavouring to state the needs and express the wishes of this vast population (nearly 500,000) would not be a light one even for seven Members. He earnestly hoped the Government would assent to the Amendment.


said, the Opposition having objected to the proposed re-arrangement in Westminster, under which four Members were to be given to it, the Government felt released from their undertaking with regard to it. He thought there was a strong case for giving the Tower Hamlets seven Members, and the Government would be prepared to accept the Amendment unless the Members of the Front Opposition Bench withdrew their opposition to the proposed boundaries of Westminster.


remarked, that the Tower Hamlets would not be an over-represented constituency even with seven Members. He hoped, however, the proposals of the Boundary Commissioners with respect to Westminster would be adhered to.


wished to draw attention to the extraordinary inconvenience which had arisen in consequence of the negotiations which bad been entered into between the two Front Benches in reference to this Bill. The agreement which had been arrived at between those Benches should not be pushed too far; and, in his opinion, the time had now arrived when the House of Commons should take the matter out of the hands of the two Parties and into its own control. The question of the apportionment of Members among the different constituencies should be decided, not by the terms of a bargain, but according to right and justice. He asked the House to decide this question of the right of the Tower Hamlets to a seventh Member wholly irrespective of the claim of Westminster to a fourth Member, which ought to be considered independently. The proposition of the right hon. Gentleman the Postmaster General (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) came to this—that if the Leaders of the Opposition, whoever they might be, were willing to adhere to the decision of the House when in Committee, the Government would be willing to accept the decision of the Commissioners as regarded Westminster, and they would adhere to the arrangement come to; and upon that was to depend the rights of the Tower Hamlets and Westminster; but would that House agree to be bound by what had been done? There appeared to be a consensus of opinion in that House that the Tower Hamlets should have a seventh Member; but in arriving at that conclusion he trusted that the House would regard itself as perfectly free to deal with the case of Westminster upon its merits, and not be fettered or cramped by any arrangement come to by the Leaders on both sides.


said, that he was as anxious as the noble Lord that when the House came to consider the case of Westminster they should regard themselves as having a perfect right to exercise their freedom of judgment in the matter. As the House was aware, at the end of the Autumn Session communications were entered into between the Representatives—he would not venture to call them Leaders in the presence of the noble Lord—of both sides of the House, with the view of securing the introduction of a Redistribution Bill which should be drawn upon lines which were fairly satisfactory to all Parties in that House. After several conferences and a full explanation had been given on the subject, the Representatives of the Opposition agreed to the introduction of the Bill in the form in which it came before the House. It was also arranged that the boundaries of many of the new constituencies should be settled by the Boundary Commissioners, and that the decisions of the latter were to be—he would not say sacred, but left undisturbed, except by mutual consent, and were to have very high authority. It was arranged that Westminster was to have four Members; but when the scheme came to be examined the inhabitants of Westminster were of opinion that they should practically have only three and not four Members. It was then suggested that Westminster should obtain an additional Member from the Tower Hamlets. He was not, however, disposed to offer any objection to the present proposal to retain the seventh Member for the Tower Hamlets; but that would not preclude the case of Westminster being discussed upon its merits when it came before the House.


said, he felt bound to protest against the hands of the House being tied in reference to this subject by any agreement that those who sat upon the Front Benches might have entered into. The noble Lord had appealed to the sense of the House on that occasion; but had the noble Lord been present throughout all the discussions upon this Bill, he would have found that there was no sense of the House with regard to it at all. Therefore, without asking the House to listen to him, he begged to appeal to the Government, and to ask them to keep their minds open with regard to the claim of Westminster, and not to prejudge the case by what was about to be done in the present instance.


said, he would remind the House that there was no fund of free Members upon which they could draw; and that if the seventh Member were given to the Tower Hamlets it might be difficult to obtain the fourth for Westminster. If the House would revert to the old arrangement of three Members for Westminster, he was willing to accept the Amendment.


remarked, that his objection had been to the boundary of Westminster as fixed by the Boundary Commissioners.


said, he hoped that the House would not regard itself as bound by any arrangement which had been entered into between the two Front Benches. He thought that the Tower Hamlets, when joined to Poplar, were entitled to a seventh Member.


observed that the House was in a position of great difficulty in having to discuss this question with the Speaker in the Chair.

Question put, and agreed to.


rose to move that the number of Members allotted to Westminster should be reduced from four to three. Now that the House had unanimously decided to give seven Members to the Tower Hamlets, there was no possibility of getting another Member from any other part of London, and it was impossible to make the number for Westminster up to four. It was therefore necessary to revert to the original proposition to give only three Members to Westminster. He admitted that with only three Members Westminster would be slightly under-represented. On the other hand, with four Members it would be over-represented.

Amendment proposed, In page 15, line 42, after the word "Westminster," to leave out the word "four," in order to insert the word"three,"—(Mr. Shaw Lefevre,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the word 'four' stand part of the Bill."


said, he hoped the House would not consent to upset the decision deliberately arrived at in Committee, when it was arranged that Westminster was to have four Members. Nothing was then heard of taking away one Member from the Tower Hamlets in order to give an additional Member to those provided in the Bill for Westminster.


was understood to say that he had distinctly stated in Committee on the Bill that it was possible, in the final result, that the additional Member for Westminster would have to be taken from the East End of London. The Opposition Front Bench had been consulted on the subject.


said, if the House was now of opinion that Westminster should have four Members, there was nothing to prevent the House from restoring the number originally proposed in the Bill. The Bill was drawn on the basis of the representation of population, and its principle was, as far as was practicable, to give a Member, at least in the Metropolis, to every 50,000 inhabitants. Westminster had a population of 229,784, so that with three Members that proportion of population would not be preserved. St. Pancras was far more liberally treated by the Bill, notwithstanding its ratable value was only £1,506,616, compared with the £3,816,000 of Westminster. The fact that three Members only were given to Westminster had caused a great deal of discussion and dissatisfaction both in the House and the newspapers. Where the fourth Member was to come from was an entirely secondary question, and stood apart from the justice of the matter. The objection made to the division of Westminster was that they unnecessarily interfered with the ancient boundaries and parishes, and he contended that the Commissioners acted contrary to their Instructions. Their scheme was objected to by every single person who appeared before the Commissioners, and by all the public bodies within the borough, with the exception of the representatives of one particular political organization and the Vestry of St. George's, Hanover Square, and he had since received a letter in explanation of the action of the latter body. The practical effect of the attitude of the right hon. Baronet in regard to the acknowledged injustice done to Westminster was this. He said—"Westminster has been unjustly treated. I will remedy the injustice; but if you do not choose to accept a particular division, contrary to every principle, and objected to by all the inhabitants, I will go back to the original injustice I did you." The Postmaster General said that the Government would now return to the original proposition with regard to Westminster; but the original proposition was to divide Westminster into three boroughs, and in those three boroughs the Liberty of the Rolls was included. Now the Liberty of the Rolls was excluded. He trusted, however, the House would do justice in this matter by restoring to Westminster the four Members to which upon every consideration of justice and equity it was entitled.


said, the Commissioners could not put into their scheme a place that was not within the City of Westminster, and the Liberty of the Rolls was not in Westminster. In the original plan the borough of the Strand was created, and did not belong to the City of Westminster at all; but the desire of the House was to reconstitute the old City of Westminster, and it was reconstituted. If, however, the noble Lord wished to revert to the proposal of the original Bill, he was willing to do so. But he repeated that the Commissioners were unable to put something into the City of Westminster which was not in it, and the Liberty of the Rolls was never part of the City of Westminster. He denied that he had acknowledged, on a former occasion, that injustice had been done to the City of Westminster in giving it only three Members. What he did say was that he thought a fair ease had been made out for giving it four Members, and that was the utmost limit to which he could go. The whole of the large towns, as the Committee was aware, were under-represented. There were at least 150 cases of injustice of that kind which could be made out. Westminster, as compared with the central portions of the East End, had a good case if they took the Census of 1881; but its grievance was not exceptional as compared with the other parts of the Metropolis. Kensington and Chelsea, for instance, had 251,000 inhabitants, and it was proposed to give them only three Members; while Westminster had only 229,000 inhabitants, and it was proposed to give it three Members also. Then, if they went behind the Census of 1881, it would be found that Westminster was a decreasing constituency.


said, that in discussing the case of Wigan they were not allowed to go behind the Census of 1881.


said, that the noble Lord had made an attack on the Boundary Commissioners; but it was not the case that the arrangements they proposed were objected to by all the inhabitants. The Government referred the matter to two gentlemen, one a Conservative and the other a Liberal, and they, acting in concert and without seeing or hearing anyone, decided that the Instructions to the Boundary Commissioners would not justify them in creating divided districts of the sort contained in the first draft scheme.


said, that the question they had to consider was whether. Westminster was entitled to three or four Members; how it was to be divided would be considered at a subsequent stage of the Bill. As a Metropolitan Member he was as ready to stand up for one part of the Metropolis as for another. As it had been admitted by the Government that Westminster was entitled to four Members, they ought to abide by the admission. He entirely dissented from the statement of the Postmaster General that if a fourth Member was to be given to Westminster it should be at the expense of some other part of the Metropolis, and he protested against the assumption that because a Member was not to be taken from any other part of the Metropolis, Westminster was to be under-repre- seated. The average representation was one Member to 55,000 people. Even with an additional Member given to Westminster the average in that borough would be one Member to 57,000. The present average of representation in the large towns was one Member to 62,000; but in Westminster the average was one Member to 77,000, the average of all London being one Member to 65,000 inhabitants. These figures would show the justice of the demand that Westminster should have four Members. He considered that to take away the fourth Member from Westminster would be doing an injustice to the whole of the Metropolis. He appealed to the entire House to uphold the arrangement which was agreed to by the Government when the Bill was in Committee to give Westminster an additional Member.


said, he happened to be interested in this question, because he was an elector of the City of Westminster. He quite agreed that the real question before them was not what should be the boundaries of the divisions, but whether the City should have three or four Members. The question of justice did not enter into this matter at all, as the Bill was brought forward on the grounds of expediency and compromise; therefore he felt obliged to dismiss from his mind the calculations as to population which had been given to justify the arrangement that Westminster should have four Members. They ought, he thought, to consider where the fourth Member was to come from. He had the very greatest objection to any further increase in the number of Members of that House; and unless it was decided from what part of London or the country a seat was to be taken he could not vote for Westminster having more than three Members. The proposal to give four seats was supported strictly on the condition that an arrangement would be made between the two Front Benches by which an additional Member was to be provided. It seemed that that arrangement had not been carried out, and, as far as he was concerned, he should support the Government.


said, he ventured to interfere in the debate because he had some connection with Westminster, having been placed in a position of some importance by a society of working men in that borough, which he might say had nothing whatever to do with electoral wire-pulling. The hon. Member who had just sat down had certainly not contributed much information to the discussion. He had certainly informed the House that he was a voter in Westminster, and that he had perfect confidence in the Conservative Party. He hoped, as he was an elector, that on the next occasion when he had an opportunity of exercising his vote he would not forget to give it to the Party in which he felt so much confidence. The question as to where the fourth Member was to come from was, no doubt, an important one, but it was not the point before the House. What they were discussing was whether Westminster should have three or four Members, and that question should be considered apart from any other. The fourth Member might be taken from several places, and he was not at all clear whether Burnley ought not to give up a seat. In bringing the Amendment before the House, the Postmaster General (Mr. Shaw Lefevre) had made a very short and abrupt speech, and had not adduced any reason why the arrangement entered into by the Government should be departed from beyond the fact that because the Tower Hamlets wanted another Member, Westminster should be prepared to lose one. But justice should be done to Westminster, and to all other places, irrespective of such considerations. The boundaries of the divisions were not now under consideration, and what might have taken place with regard to that matter since the Bill was in Committee ought not to influence the House of Commons in deciding the question whether Westminster should have three or four seats. The President of the Local Government Board had made a very fair speech on the whole subject, and he gathered from the general tone of that speech that the right hon. Baronet was in favour of giving the fourth Member if the other differences and disputes could be arranged. Those other differences and disputes were of a petty, contemptible character, and ought not to be taken into consideration at all. He asked the House to adhere to the decision arrived at by the Government in Committee, and then to consider the divisions as laid down by Sir John Lambert and Sir Francis Sandford. If the divisions were bad, they might be altered; but if good, then let the House adopt them. Westminster was a very ancient borough—it was full of historical associations and landmarks; it had a great population, and was entitled in whatever way its claims were viewed to more than three Representatives in Parliament.


said, he occupied a position in one of the political associations of Westminster similar to that held by the noble Lord who had just spoken in connection with another association in the borough, and he wished to state that those who were associated with him were in no way divided upon the question of principle that, according to the population of Westminster, the City was entitled to four Members.


said, he thought that in dealing with this subject political feeling should not be taken into account. There was a great deal to be said with regard to the unfortunate divisions which the Boundary Commissioners had made in Westminster. They were greatly indebted to the Commissioners for the important work done by them, for, on the whole, they had performed their difficult duties with great fairness and ability; but still when there was a serious objection to divisions formed by them, such as existed in the case of the Westminster divisions, it was the duty of Members interested in the matter to bring it under the notice of the Government. He hoped the President of the Local Government Board would not further oppose the proposal to give four Members to Westminster, and chat he would leave it to the wisdom of the House to decide where the fourth Member should be taken from.


said, the Government had been asked whether they had not changed their opinions upon this subject. He was bound to say that if the House went to a division the Government would consider this as a matter of importance. They had not changed their opinions with regard to it. The noble Lord opposite begged the Government not to reverse the decision of the Committee. The Government could hardly be said to be in that position. What were the decisions of the Committee upon the point? They were two—one was to keep the old City of Westminster, and the other to reduce the number of Members for the Tower Hamlets.


There was no such decision.


said, his right hon. Friend was quite right. They had not passed the point in the Bill; but words relating to the component parts of the Tower Hamlets were struck out in order to pave the way for a reduction in the representation of that part of the Metropolis.


said, that in consequence of the apparent wish of the Committee to increase the number of Members for Westminster his right hon. Friend made a statement of a very definite nature, and all the parts of that statement hung together. It was proposed by his right hon. Friend to increase the number of Members for Westminster, to take a Member from the Tower Hamlets, and to refer the question of boundaries to Sir John Lambert and Sir Francis Sandford for their authoritative decision. Nothing could be detached from that statement without making the whole of it fall together. Could anyone in the House say that the Government had gone out of its way to reverse the decision to take a Member from the Tower Hamlets? He had never seen a question on which so great a unanimity was exercised by the House as the desire to leave the Tower Hamlets with its seven Members. The House itself had reversed the intentions of the Committee to take a Member away from that borough, and by doing so it had destroyed the keystone of his right hon. Friend's plan for giving Westminster a fourth Member. He might say, incidentally, that one very strong reason why the Government were prepared to acquiesce in the evident wish of the House to retain the seven Members for the Tower Hamlets was the unwillingness declared by the noble Lord the Member for Westminster (Lord Algernon Percy) and by persons outside the House to take the boundaries which the Commissioners had determined upon. That was a point on which the Government could not give way. The one mainstay of the discussions in the House had been the determination of the Government, backed up by the Members, to abide by the decisions of the Commissioners, and not to alter them at the request of any poli- tical Party. These were the circumstances under which the Government were obliged to refuse their assent to the proposal to give Westminster another Member. It was no use for any hon. Member to say that they were not to consider the question as to where the seat was to be taken from; they must consider it. The Government could see no other place than the Tower Hamlets; the House had shown its determination not to take a Member from that borough, and the Government had no alternative except to ask the House not to vote the fourth Member.


said, he did not think that the question of giving another Member to Westminster was dependent upon the question of taking a Member from the Tower Hamlets. Sheffield, with a population of 284,000, was to have five Members, while Westminster, with 229,000, was only to have three Members. Again, the favoured borough of Wolverhampton had 164,000 population, or 65,000 less than the City of Westminster, and yet it was to have three Members. The unfairness shown towards Westminster was the more marked when it was remembered that in two of the three cases in which the Government had broken through the rules laid down by the Prime Minister himself—the cases of Wolverhampton and Haverfordwest—both of those constituencies happened to be represented by Members of the Government. It was impossible to extract from the Government any reason for the infringement of their own principle; and it would be difficult for them to convince the electors of Westminster that they ought to be treated worse than the electors of Wolverhampton. The Government had the courage to increase the Members of the House by 12, but apparently they had not the courage to increase them by 13. They could, however, do justice to Westminster, without increasing the numbers of the House, by simply doing full justice, and nothing more than justice, to Wolverhampton.


said, he rose to make a further appeal to the sense of justice of the Government on behalf of Westminster. As the House had unanimously rejected the diminution of the representation proposed for the Tower Hamlets, why, he asked, should they not go to Wolverhampton or Shef- field for the fourth Member wanted for Westminster? By placing Wolverhampton on the same level as other boroughs they might give Westminster the representation to which it was entitled both by its population and its wealth. There must, he thought, be some motive on the part of the Government for their refusal to deal fairly with Westminster; and probably they feared that if that City received four Members it would not return supporters of the present Ministry.


said, he thought that the principle laid down by the Prime Minister in regard to distance from the seat of the Legislature ought to be recognized in some degree in connection with those matters. Manchester was to have one Member for every 70,000 of its population, and Liverpool one for every 66,000. If Westminster—the very seat of the Legislature—received four Members, it would have one Member for every 57,000 of its population— an undue proportion relatively to the numbers assigned to other places. He considered that London was immensely indebted to the President of the Local Government Board for the greatly increased number of Members which it would obtain under the Bill.


said, he could not help feeling that the position in which they were placed in regard to that Amendment was illustrative of the difficulty of the position in which the House was placed. It was as if they had ordered their dinner and were disputing who was to pay for it. The House had decided to retain seven Members for the Tower Hamlets, and now the question was whether Westminster should have four Members, or whether the Government must revert to the original proposal they made, that it should have three Members. When the matter came on in Committee appeals were made to the Government to give four Members to Westminster, and they said that they would be willing to do so provided that on the Report another Member for Westminster could be obtained from some other constituency, and they thought that that other Member might be taken from the East End of London. A strong and very general feeling had been expressed in the House in favour of retaining the larger number for the Tower Hamlets. What, then, was the position of the House with regard to Westminster? Having decided that the number of Members for the Tower Hamlets should not be reduced, and having before them a proposal which involved giving an additional Member to Westminster above what was given according to the basis upon which the Bill was founded, it was a question whether they should retain a fourth Member for Westminster without seeing how the number was to be made up. There was, no doubt, a strong case for giving four Members to Westminster, if the Government could see their way to providing an addditional Member; but it was necessary that they should do that, and under the circumstances he did not see that the Government could do anything but revert to their original proposal.


said, he was glad that the Government had put their foot down, and had reverted to their original scheme. It was impossible to settle this question on arithmetical lines. The secret of the hardness of the measure as affecting large constituencies, including many besides Westminster, was to be found in the tender dealing of the House with small constituencies of between 15,000 and 20,000 inhabitants. It seemed to him that some Members of the Opposition were now seeking to obtain particular advantages for particular places. He was glad to hear that the Leader of the Opposition had supported the decision of the Government, and he believed the House generally wished the conditions of the agreement to be honourably observed and distinctly adhered to.


said, he must express his surprise at hearing such sentiments coming from an hon. Member who represented a borough which would be considerably over-represented when compared with Westminster. For his own part, he thought that there seemed to be some confusion as to what might be open to the Government to do. There was a difference between what the Government might consider their duty and what the duty of the House might be. The Government might have come to the conclusion that they had been wrong in the course which they had taken; but he thought that the House had some right to look for a better explanation for their change of attitude than anything they had yet heard. He had listened attentively to the speeches made on behalf of the Government, and especially that of the Postmaster General, to hear the real reasons which had actuated the Government in this matter. He could not see that, because the Government had changed their views with regard to the Tower Hamlets, the House was therefore to be asked to change its views with respect to Westminster. Although they had heard a good deal from the Treasury Bench and from the Front Opposition Bench as to excuses for the attitude of the Government, they had not heard one particle of argument in favour of the proposal before the House. Westminster was a place of immense antiquity, as far as that House was concerned, and its rateable value was enormously in excess of that of towns which were represented to the extent which had been proposed for Westminster. They were left without the slightest ground to enable them to see why the Government had changed their minds, and yet because the Government had changed their minds with regard to one place the House was to change its mind with regard to another. The Schedules were still open, and there were plenty of places which could contribute the Member asked for; but, because the Government had made up their minds to find this Member in the case of the Tower Hamlets, Westminster was to be deprived of its proper representation. He hoped that the House would not take into consideration any of those arrangements out-of-doors of which they had heard so much. The arrangement which it was now sought to set aside had met with the full approval of the Committee. When the right hon. Gentleman who had charge of the Bill had spoken upon this point, the Leader of the Opposition had got up and congratulated him upon having arrived at such a satisfactory conclusion; there had not been one dissentient voice, and the proposal had been agreed to nemine contradicente. Now they were asked to give this up because the Government found that there was a certain amount of difficulty with the Boundary Commissioners. It appeared to him that either the Boundary Commissioners or the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition were always made responsible for any difficulty. He had the greatest respect for the Boundary Com- missioners, who had done their work with great impartiality and skill; but he would run the risk of displeasing thorn rather than see an injustice done to an important constituency. He hoped that it was not too late for the Government to consider their decision, and that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, whose fairness they had not found wanting, would even now see his way to consider whether he might find some other victim to offer on the altar of justice rather than Westminster, because anyone would see that the present proposal involved an injustice to that constituency and an infringement of the principles upon which the Bill was founded.


said, that it was not denied that a great injustice would be done to Westminster by reducing the number of its Members from four to three. It was the mere accident of the Tower Hamlets coming before Westminster in the Schedule which led to this proposal. It was said that injustice would be done to the Tower Hamlets if the number of its Members was reduced from seven to six. But if the scheme of the Government had not been broken into by the previous decision of the House, this question with regard to Westminster would not have been raised. When the Bill was in Committee, the President of the Local Government Board put the case of Westminster on its merits, and the question where the fourth Member was to come from was a secondary matter. But now it was proposed that this secondary point should override the consideration of the justice of the case. He thought this was a question which they ought to carry to a division.


said, he also must protest against the action of the Government in regard to this matter. The House was bound to consider the case upon its merits, and Westminster was entitled to four Members, as the Government had at first decided. He hold that if the additional Member provisionally assigned to Westminster could not be found in London, it was the duty of the Government to look elsewhere for one.


reminded the House that he had on the former occasion entered a distinct caveat against taking a Member from the Tower Ham- lets in order to give four to Westminster. The question of where the other Member was to come from was for after consideration, and as it was admitted that Westminster was entitled to four Members that number ought to be assigned to the constituency. If he was not mistaken, the question as to the Tower Hamlets was decided on the distinct understanding that the case of Westminster should be considered on its merits.


said, he was of opinion that on the ground both of population and of wealth Westminster was clearly entitled to four Members, and he suggested that the extra Member should be taken from Wolverhampton.


expressed a hope that the House would ratify the decision at which it arrived a few days ago. He should be compelled to vote against the Government if they insisted upon carrying the Amendment to a division. Even under this Bill, London was very much under-represented, and if they gave one more Member to the Metropolis it could be nothing but an advantage.


said, he entirely supported the view advanced by the hon. Member for Andover. There was perfect unanimity among the inhabitants of Westminster that adeqnate representation should be given to that constituency. Why, he asked, should Westminster be subjected to a disability because it contributed so largely to the Revenue? There was no constituency on which taxation fell more heavily than it did upon Westminster. It did not appear to him to be their duty to say how justice should be done. That was a point for the Government to decide. He admitted that the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Charles W. Dilke) had shown the greatest desire to do justice to the claims of the various constituencies throughout the United Kingdom. But he contended that Westminster had a population which, according to all the principles laid down in the Bill, entitled it to four Members, and he trusted the Government would recognize its claim. He was no party to any attempt to obtain a representation of one set of views. If they reduced the number of Members of the House, he should be willing that the representation of Westminster should be reduced, and he should not be sorry to see that change, for he believed there were too many Members for such a deliberative Assembly. But Westminster had a right to claim her proper share of representation.


said, that there was a unanimous opinion that Westminster was entitled to four Members, and it would be a dangerous precedent, after the decision of the Committee, if they now departed from a proposal solemnly made and solemnly accepted. He thought the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had signally failed to show why he had changed his mind in regard to this matter.

Question put.

The House divided: —Ayes 91; Noes 171: Majority 80.—(Div. List, No. 142.)

Question, "That the word 'three' be there inserted," put, and agreed to.


said, he rose to move an Amendment the object of which was to remove the hamlet of Penge from the Schedule as part of the new borough of Camberwell and to transfer it to the borough of Lewisharn. The Bill as originally drawn made Penge a part of the borough of Lewisham, but in Committee Penge was transferred to Camberwell. The inhabitants of Camberwell were much opposed to the change for many reasons. The addition would make the borough a most unwieldly shape, its length being as much as five and a-half miles. Moreover, Penge was entirely separated from Camberwell by the hills upon which the Crystal Palace stood. The matter had been strongly taken up by various bodies in Camber-well, and he would urge the House, for the sake of convenience to all political Parties, to revert to the original arrangement. He believed that every change made in the Bill since it had been laid on the Table had been a mistake, and he should be glad to see them all reversed by a single vote if that could be done.

Amendment proposed, in page 16, line 10, to leave out the words "and the Hamlet of Penge."— (Mr. Edward Clarke.)

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


said, that he was perfectly impartial on this question and had received a great number of communications on both sides. It was true that Camberwell had a strong case against having Penge added to it; but Lewisham had just as strong a one. There was as much difficulty of connection between Lewisham and Penge as between Penge and Camber-well. The original principle of the Bill was in the Metropolis to take parochial and local government districts as boundaries. Penge was put in Lewisham because it was under the jurisdiction of the Lewisham District Board of Works. On the other hand, it was said that, although Penge was within the district of the Lewisham Board of Works, it was an altogether separate district, and was in the county of Surrey, while Lewisham was in Kent. Penge was an outlying hamlet of the parish of Battersea, which was a long way from it. There was one consideration which weighed with him in favour of the Amendment now in the Bill, and that was that the present arrangement made the population of these boroughs more equal. If Penge were added to Lewisham it would make the population of the latter place very high. There was a strong local opinion in Lewisham against the addition of Penge, while the opinion of the Penge people was in favour of their transfer to Camberwell. For these reasons he was inclined to support the Amendment made in Committee.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule agreed to.

Schedule 4 (New boroughs).


said, he begged to propose an Amendment, the effect of which would be to include in the new borough of Hanley all such parts of the present borough of Stoke-upon-Trent as lay to the north of Hanley. As the Schedule stood, the Local Government district of Tunstall was excluded from the borough of Hanley.

Amendment proposed, In Schedule 4, page 16, line 52, to leave out the words "and is not included in the Local Government District of Tunstall."— (Mr. Davenport.)

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


said, that he had intended to make the change proposed by the hon. Member, but he found that opinion in Hanley and Tun-stall was so strong against it that he had abandoned his intention.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed, In page 17, after line 16, insert as a separate paragraph,—"Royal University of Ireland. Two Members."—(Dr. Lyons.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


rose to Order. No doubt, it was a fact that some ancient Universities by prescription were boroughs; but he would like to know whether it was in Order to move this clause here under a Schedule dealing with new boroughs?


ruled that the Amendment was out of Order, as the Royal University was not a borough.


said, that there was no place in the Bill where Universities were considered, and he had, therefore, placed the name of the Royal University down as an independent constituency. He was told by the Clerk at the Table that he was in Order. He hoped the right hon. Baronet would not press a verbal objection to his proposal.


observed, that even if the name of the Royal University were placed in the Schedule it would require a clause in the Bill to give any effect to the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 5 (Contents and boundaries of boroughs with altered boundaries).


said, he rose to propose that the borough of Warwick should bear the name of"Warwick—Leamington."For the last 10 or 20 years Leamington had increased enormously in proportion to Warwick, and he did not think that Warwick would be at all the worse for having its younger neighbour next to it in the title which he proposed. The people of Leamington attached a great deal of importance to the Amendment.

Amendment proposed, in page 22, line 23, after"Warwick,"insert"Leamington."—(Sir Eardley Wilmot.)


said, that Leamington was the more important part of the borough, and, therefore, there was some ground for adopting the double name; but he should prefer the word "and" between the two words.

Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

Words "and Leamington"inserted accordingly.

Amendment proposed, In page 20, line 34, after the word "Pembroke," to insert the words "and Haverfordwest."—(Mr. Warton.)

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.

Other Amendments made.

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 6 (New boroughs).

Amendment proposed, In Schedule 6, page 28, after line 13, to insert the words,—


Three Divisions. One Member for each


Names and Contents of Divisions.

No. 1. The Holborn Division. No. 2. The Central Division.
So much of the Holborn district as comprises the parishes of— The parish of St. James and St. John, Clerkenwell.
St. Andrew, Holborn, above Bars and St. George the Martyr, and No. 3. The East Division.
Saffron Hill, Hatton Garden, Ely Place, and Ely Rents. The parishes of—
The St. "Giles' District: St. Luke, Middlesex, St. Sepulchre, Middlesex,
Gray's Inn, Furnival's Inn, Staple Inn, Lincoln's Inn, and Liberty of the Rolls. Charter House, and Glasshouse Yard."
—(Sir Charles W. Dilke.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

MR. TOMLINSON moved to omit the district of Saffron Hill, Hatton Garden, Ely Place, and Ely Rents from the Holborn Division, to include it in the district of St. Luke's. The alteration would to some extent redress the discrepancy between the number of population of the two divisions.

Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment, to leave out the words "Saffron Hill, Hatton Garden, Ely Place, and Ely Rents."— (Mr. Tomlinson.)

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


said, he feared that the Government would jeopardize the arrangement which had been come to if he accepted the Amendment at so late a stage of the Bill.


supported the Amendment, remarking that the division from which it was proposed to take the district in question contained now 60 per cent more population than the division to which it was now sought to attach it.


said, he was opposed to the Amendment.

Question put, and agreed to.

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.

Another Amendment made.


said, he wished to propose an Amendment, the effect of which would be to secure the return of an Irish National Member for the Exchange Division of Liverpool. He thought the right hon. Baronet would be willing to accept the Amendment, and he would appeal to the House to take the matters into its own hands out of the hands of the Leaders on both sides, who formed the so-called compact, and, if he made out a good case, to decide in favour of his proposal. He made two alternative proposals. He wished to make a change in two of the divisions of Liverpool—namely, the Exchange Division and the Abercrombie Division. There was a small triangular piece of the Exchange Division which he wished to have included in the Abercrombie Division, as well as the large block of Lime Street, which projected into the Abercrombie Division. The alternative proposal was that the small triangular portion should still remain in the Exchange Division, and that the only portion transferred should be the block bounded by the London Road and extending into the Abercrombie Division. There was a considerable and unjustifiable difference between the population of the Abercrombie Division and that of the Exchange Division, and if his proposal were accepted, this disparity would be very considerably modified. The changes he proposed would also make the divi- sions more in accordance with the principle of the Bill, which was that persons of similar pursuits should, as far as possible, be thrown into the same divisions. The Exchange Division was a working-class division, and the Abercrombie Division was a commercial division, and the Exchange itself had actually been thrown out of the commercial division into the working-class division. He had a conversation with the Liberal Member for Liverpool, who would be in favour of transferring the Exchange and one or two streets round it into the commercial division. But it would be obviously too small a change, and if a change were at all desirable it should take the larger form which he had proposed. He thought it always best to discuss proposals of this kind in a perfectly candid spirit, and he confessed that one of his reasons for proposing the change was that it would give the Irish population of Liverpool a better chance of carrying another of the divisions of the City. The Scotland Ward Division, it was generally admitted, would be a division in which an Irish National candidate would be almost certain of beating all comers, and if his proposal were carried, two out of the nine Members of Liverpool would be Irish National Members. He hoped that the time was long since past when such a prospect as this would be found alarming or irrational. Every responsible and intelligent politician in the House knew that there must be next Parliament in this House an overwhelming majority of Irish Representatives pledged to National principles, and supposing that there were 80, what possible harm could it be to have the number increased to 81 by an Irish National Member sitting for an English constituency? Numerically it would make no difference, but morally and politically it would make the greatest difference, and he ventured to say would be productive of the greatest benefit to the future relations between England and Ireland and between the Irish and English people in England. Every additional opportunity legitimately afforded to Irishmen for the expression of their sentiments in that House was an encouragement to them to urge their claims and to seek redress of their grievances by peaceful and Constitutional methods. He hoped that even at this late stage of the Bill the Conservative Leader would give the benefit of his support to the proposal. He thought he might say that the right hon. Baronet (Sir Charles W. Dilke) would not oppose the proposal if the Leader of the Opposition would rise in his place and say he had no objection to it; and he would strongly impress upon the Leader of the Opposition that he should present to the Irish people in England, forming 2,000,000 of its population, the agreeable and statesmanlike prospect of having their claims as strongly advocated by Conservatives as by Liberals in that House. As it was, even allowing the boundaries to remain as at present, the Irish population of the Exchange Division would have a very large controlling force in the return of a Member for that division. No Member could be returned who had not the support of the Irish population, and they would have the Liberal and Conservative candidate both fishing for the Irish vote, after the manner of a Dutch auction. The hon. Member concluded by moving his Amendment.

Amendment proposed, In page 31, column 2, line 43, after the words "Lime Street Ward," to insert the words "excepting that portion bounded by a line drawn from Moss Street through London Road and William Brown Street down to the junction between Byrom Street and Old Haymarket."— (Mr. T. P. O'Connor.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


, while admitting that the hon. Member for Galway had stated his case very fairly and moderately, yet expressed his hope that the Government would not accede to that Amendment, which involved a very serious alteration of the Bill. The Boundary Commissioners had very fully considered those matters on the spot; members of every Party in Liverpool, including the Irish Nationalists, had attended before them, and their decisions had met with the approval of the inhabitants at large, with very few exceptions. It would, therefore, be a strong thing now to upset all those decisions. This Amendment, moreover, would not only disturb two particular divisions, but would also have a very considerable effect on the other divisions of the city. Under these circumstances he hoped the House would pause before they accepted a proposal which would meet with the disapproval of the inhabitants, of Liverpool generally. As the divisions stood the Irish Party were as fully represented as their numbers warranted, and to alter the boundaries so as to give the Irish Party an overwhelming majority in one of the wards would be prejudicial to the interests of Liverpool, and would meet with the condemnation of nine-tenths of the inhabitants of the city.


observed that when the Bill was in Committee he had promised to consider this matter, if any agreement could be arrived at. When, however, he had begun to make inquiries, he had found that there was no general agreement of political Parties in Liverpool in favour of the proposal. The speech of the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) had been moderate, and put the case from his point of view very clearly, and he was sure it was appreciated. He (Sir Charles W. Dilke) could not speak with any local knowledge of Liverpool, and he had no knowledge of the changes which would be effected by the hon. Gentleman's proposal. As far as he could make out, one of his proposals would increase the population of one of the divisions, and the other would slightly diminish it. He could not agree with the hon. Member as to details; his lack of local knowledge would not justify him in attempting to do so. He, however, believed, that the scheme of the Commissioners had met with general favour in Liverpool, and he thought that the Government would not be justified in altering it.


was sorry to hear that the only reason of the Government for opposing this Amendment was based upon the opposition of the Conservative Party in Liverpool. The Liberal Party there were not opposed to it; their principal organ The Daily Post being in favour of it. So far as he could gather, the right hon. Baronet had no objection himself to the proposal. He regretted very much that the Conservative Party desired to reduce the representation of 2,000,000 of the Irish population to one Member, when the Protestant minority of a little over 1,000,000 in the Northern corner of Ireland was represented by no less than 20 Members. He could not say that this was very fair play which the Catholics of England were receiving at the hands of the Conservative Party after they had jerrymandered the seats in Ulster. The Irish population were fully one-third of the population of Liverpool, which would be represented by nine Members in that House. It was not a very unreasonable request that they made of the Government to accord the Catholics of Liverpool two Members. The Conservative Party were the advocates of denominational education, and under ordinary circumstances the Catholic population would be at one with them upon religious questions. He, therefore, regretted very much to see that the hon. Member who had acted as spokesman for the Conservative Party should have prevented the Catholics of Great Britain from obtaining an additional Member. He reminded the Conservatives that the English Catholic nobility had always been attached to the Conservative Party, and were some of the most bitter opponents of Ireland. The single-Member system had worked the Irish Party enormous harm. He hoped the Conservative Party would not contribute to the further estrangement of the Irish and Catholic population by following the Conservative Member for Liverpool into the Lobby.


said, he should have been very glad if the general concurrence of the House had enabled the Government to give way and consent to the change proposed in the divisions of Liverpool. For his part, he thought it was much to be regretted that a certain number of Roman Catholic Members were not returned by English constituencies; and he should be glad to see any reasonable arrangement of constituencies made by which that object could be effected. At the same time, he thought that hon. Members had somewhat exaggerated the numbers of the Irish Roman Catholic population of England in placing it at 2,000,000. The last Census showed the number of Irish-born persons living in England to be 362,000.


But what about their descendants?


did not think that, even making allowance for them, the figures could be anything like 2,000,000. Morever, the Irish Roman Catholics were spread over the whole of the country, and, except in the case of a few towns, were in nothing like large numbers anywhere. The proportion of the Irish to the English in any district was therefore very small. Moreover, hon. Members had understated very much the Protestant population of Ireland in placing it only at 1,000,000. It should be recollected also that it bore a very different proportion to the Roman Catholic in Ireland to that in which the Roman Catholic stood to the Protestant in England. Throughout Ireland the Protestants formed about a fourth of the population, and in Ulster were in a majority. It was impossible to state exactly what electoral power the Irish Roman Catholics would have in England; but in some constituencies they would undoubtedly have considerable influence.


observed, that the House had nothing whatever to do with the question of whether Catholics should or should not be returned for particular portions of the constituency, but simply as to whether the Boundary Commissioners, looking at the Instructions placed before them, were right in the divisions which they had suggested for Liverpool. The way in which the hon. Member for Galway had brought forward the Motion did him great credit; but from his knowledge of Liverpool he considered the Commissioners had come to a very sensible, natural, and rational division. He believed the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Whitley), who had just spoken, represented correctly the feeling of his constituents when he said nine-tenths of the inhabitants were averse to the proposed change. The question was not a Party one, and he should be surprised if the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Samuel Smith) did not confirm that statement.


said, he had taken some pains to ascertain the feeling of the inhabitants of Liverpool on the subject, and he concurred with the remark of his Colleague that the feeling was almost unanimous against making any changes in the divisions of the city proposed by the Boundary Commissioners.


When the hon. Member speaks of the feeling being unanimous, he does not, of course, include the Irish, who form one-third of the population.


said, no representations had reached him, and he had friendly relations with a large portion of the Irish population of Liverpool, and hoped that those friendly relations would continue. So far as he could see, the proposed change would require a practical reconstitution of the whole Parliamentary borough. The Amendment would necessitate the division of several wards; whereas the scheme of the Boundary Commissioners coincided with the existing wards, and it would cause great confusion to break up the wards in the manner in which the hon. Member recommended. Even if the Amendment were adopted, it would not give the Irish population a majority in this division. As the wards were constituted in the Bill, the Irish would number about one-fourth of the electors, and if a change were made as proposed the Irish electors would not exceed one-third. The Irish Party would not be in the position to return a Member under any circumstances. It had been charged against the Protestant population that they were not willing to permit Catholics in England to have representation; but he would remind the hon. Member for Monaghan that within the last day or two the first steps had been taken for choosing Liberal candidates for Liverpool, and he believed there was every probability of an Irish Catholic being asked to contest the Exchange Ward. So far as he was concerned, he was entirely in favour of the just representation of Catholics in England.


said, it was, no doubt, thoughtful of the Liberal Party managers to run a Catholic Liberal in a district in which he hoped to catch some Catholic votes. Even apart from Irish Nationalist considerations, but on the broadest ground of English common sense, this complaint should be attended to. But, apparently, the bigotry and prejudice of the English race, and that curious mixture of qualities which made them incapable of understanding any other race in the world, made the Government refuse this concession.


said, he regretted that the question had resolved itself into a religious one, and that an understanding upon the subject had not been arrived at by the Front Opposition Bench and the Govern- ment. He objected to pressure being brought to bear upon English Members by a separation being brought about between the English and the Irish elements in the great constituencies. He denied that there was any desire on the part of Conservatives to deprive any section of the community of a fair share of representation; but as the question was a particular one, dealing with the peculiarities of one special constituency, and not one of general principle, he felt bound, in case of a division, to give his support to the Government.


said, it was a remarkable fact that both the Members of the Government who had spoken admitted that the Irish Members were right on the merits of the case; but still they were determined, acting on underground influences, to refuse the proposal, and, to suit the exigencies of Party, they refused to do justice to the Irishmen of Liverpool. It was, no doubt, a clever dodge for the Liberal managers to put up a Catholic Liberal in Liverpool; but he thought in doing so they were overshooting the mark. Such a man would be either a political renegade or an anti-Irishman, and the Irishmen of Liverpool would have nothing to do with him.

It being now a quarter before Six of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned.

Further Proceeding on Consideration of the Bill, as amended, deferred till Monday next.