§ Bill, as amended, considered.
§ Clause 11 (Persons qualified to vote for Commissioners).
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, he rose for the purpose of moving the first Amendment which appeared on the Paper in his name. It was not the Amendment which stood on the Paper yesterday, but a further Amendment, which would precede the one he had intended to move. The original Amendment proposed to omit the words "to the yearly value of ten pounds," and the 636 clause would then provide that the electors should consist of all male persons of full age who were rated to the Rathmines and Rathgar Township rate. The Amendment which he now proposed to move, in the first instance, would, if accepted by the House, substitute the "poor" rate for the Rathmines and Rathgar Township rate. His object was to leave out the annual £10 ratal value which existed in Rathmines and Rathgar, and some other townships. The franchise of the Irish townships was not uniform; and in some of the townships immediately adjoining Rathmines and Rathgar it was only about one-half what it was in the township of Rathmines and Rathgar itself. Now, the £10 ratal franchise which existed in the Irish towns was about equivalent to a £20 franchise in this country, the difference between the ratal and the rental value in the Irish towns being very much greater than in England; and it was computed that a nominal £10 ratal in Ireland was about equivalent, in the majority of cases, to an £ 18 rental in the rest of the United Kingdom. The majority of Members in that House were now committed to a reduction both of the Municipal and Parliamentary franchise in Ireland; and he believed that more than one-half of the Members in the House had, at one time or other, voted in favour of that principle.X As one of the Members of the Royal Commission, over which, indeed, he had had the honour to preside, he had become acquainted, through the evidence adduced before it, with the pressing character of the evils which now existed in Ireland with regard to municipal representation, and of the necessity which existed for a reduction in the borough franchise. He was not able to refer in detail to the statements contained in the Report of the Commission, nor did he think that he would be justified in referring in detail to the evidence given before the Commission, inasmuch as the Report of the Commission and the evidence were not yet in the hands of the House. He hoped, however, that the Report would be issued in the course of a few days. Under those circumstances, he was only justified in stating to the House the impression which the evidence given before the Commission had produced upon his own mind. The evidence of witness 637 after witness given before the Commission—and he was bound to say that it was most uniform evidence—the evidence of witnesses belonging to every political Party from all parts of Ireland was of the strongest possible kind as to the effect of the very high franchise which at present existed in the Irish townships. The statement which was heard everywhere was that the franchise was limited to a certain class of people, by whom the representatives returned to the Irish municipalities wore only capable of being elected. The effect in regard to the Town Commissionerships was to place the entire power, so far as election and administration was concerned, in the hands of a small ring of persons, upon whom the general public opinion of the locality could have no bearing whatever. The result of that was seen in the extreme difficulty which there was of securing a proper administration of the Sanitary Laws in the Irish townships, and in the fact that the death rate in the Irish towns was three-fold that of the rural districts in Ireland.' With regard to this particular Bill, the Rathmines and Rathgar Town Commissioners had taken objection to it at the last moment. It was a subject to which he had paid attention for Some years; but this particular case had only been brought before him in a prominent way in the recent inquiry. He said that by way of explanation to the House for not having taken this action before. If the Bill related to an English town, or to an English Local Board District, there would have been a Report made upon it, going through the Bill clause by clause, by the Local Government Board. But in Ireland that was not the case. The Local Government Board in Ireland was not in the habit of reporting generally upon Irish Private Bills, but only upon specific points brought before them. The Irish Local Government Board did not report on Private Bills clause by clause in the way in which Private Bills were reported upon by the Local Government Board in England, or by the Board of Trade, where they related to improvements concerning trade, or by the Home Office under the system lately introduced by his hon. Friend the late Under Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. H. H. Fowler). A Report, however, was made to his right hon. Friend the Chairman of Ways and 638 Means (Sir Arthur Otway) by the Local Government Board of Ireland to the effect that an application was made by the promoters for a Bill without the sanction or approval of the Board; but the Secretary of the Board intimated that the Board were not aware of any objection to the proposals contained in the Bill. That Report, he might say, had regard to the financial proposals contained in the Bill. The Local Government Board of Ireland did not consider the merits of the scheme contained in a Private Bill, nor did they express approval or disapproval in this particular case of the provision to re-enact the £10 ratal franchise. There was no Report from any Public Department in Ireland which could be referred to the Chairman of Ways and Means. The ordinary qualification — the qualification in the case of the majority of Irish towns—was a £5 rating franchise, which was about equal to a rental of £9 or £10. The qualification in one case was as low as £4; but he believed that the average qualification was £5. In Kingstown he fancied that it was £4; but, at all events, if an inquiry were made hon. Members would find that £5 was the qualification in a majority of cases for the election of Town Commissioners. The Royal Commission of which he was a Member took some evidence upon that point, and he had the opportunity of seeing and hearing the able and excellent Secretary of the Rathgar and Rathmines Town Commissioners. That gentleman said to the Commission, in the course of his examination, that there had been certain complaints in Rathmines and Rathgar in regard to the over-representation of property as compared with the representation of the inhabitants generally. The Town Commission, of course, was not prepared to admit the fact; but it was acknowledged that such a complaint had been made. Generally speaking, there could be no doubt that throughout Ireland it was the almost universal opinion that the effect of this very high franchise, which, in this case, answered to an £18 rental qualification, was such as to limit to a very great extent the number of electors and the persons who wore qualified to be elected upon the Town Commission, and therefore prevent them from being able to carry out sanitary improvements on a large scale, because, 639 as he had said, whenever improvements of that kind were to be carried out, it was necessary that they should have the general support of the mass of the people of the locality. He did not hesitate to say himself—he did not know what the effect might be which would be made on the House by the Report of the Royal Commission, and the evidence taken in connection with it—but his own opinion was very strong that sanitary improvements were altogether hindered in Ireland by the very high franchise which prevailed in regard to local affairs. He now came to the circumstances under which he thought the form of Amendment which he had placed upon the Paper would put this question in a more satisfactory position in future. As he had already explained, he had originally intended to move the Amendment which stood second on the Paper, and the reason why he had changed that intention was because he discovered that in the township of Rathmines and Rathgar it was the practice not to rate persons below £10. A somewhat similar system formerly existed in England; but it was altered by the Reform Act of 1868, and by the Act which was passed by the right hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. Groschen) in 1871. Under the present law a tenant, in a case where the landlord compounded for the rates, was entitled to have his name returned, and to appear as the ratepayer in the book. That system had been applied to Ireland with regard to the Parliamentary elections by the recent Registration Act, and it extended to Ireland the same principle which the right hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) had introduced in regard to this country. The Amendment which he proposed to move would have the effect of creating a £4 rateable franchise, which was the poor rate franchise, instead of the existing qualification. He believed that the present poor rate franchise in Ireland was a £4 franchise—that was to say, that no persons below that amount were rated, and, therefore, had no power to take part in the Poor Law elections. In a statement which had been circulated on the part of the Rathgar and Rathmines Commissioners, they stated that this clause of the Bill followed the lines laid down in an Act passed in 1847; but the words "Rathmines and Rathgar township rate" had been substituted for 640 the words "poors rate." He proposed to return to the words "poors rate," and to take out the £10 limit, the effect of which would be to reduce the franchise to a £7 or £8 rental qualification. That would be a great improvement upon the £18 rental franchise which the Bill, as it stood at present, would continue without alteration. He did not know that it was necessary that he should refer the House to former Private Acts of this particular Body; and he would only deal, before he sat down, with an objection which might possibly be taken to the Motion he now made. The most likely objection he could foresee was this—"We admit that it is probable it may be desirable to reduce the borough franchise in Ireland, or the franchise for the election of Town Commissioners, and, indeed, all the local franchises in Ireland. But, although we admit that, we should not be prepared to reduce the franchise in the case of the first Private Bill which comes before the House this Session in which the question is raised. He had considered that objection, believing that it might probably be taken to his present action. Of course, it might have some weight with the House, and some hon. Members might be persuaded by that view to refuse to alter the franchise in an exceptional case. He, therefore, felt fully the responsibility of the course he was taking; but, in the face of all the facts which had come to his knowledge, he felt that he could not be a party to the continuance of the present high franchise He, therefore, felt bound to press this Amendment on the attention of the House, even although it might seem hard upon the promoters of one particular Private Bill. At the same time, he did not see in what way the promoters of this Private Bill would be damnified by the lowering of the franchise in this township. With regard to the Bill itself, he could not speak from personal knowledge of the prudence or wisdom of the provisions contained in it; but if the scheme which the promoters had in view was a good scheme it could harm them to reduce the franchise in the way proposed.
In page 11, line 15, by leaving out the words "Rathmines and Rathgar Township," and inserting the word"Poors."—(Sir Charles W. Dilke.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'Rathmines and Rathgar Township' stand part of the Bill."
§ MR. ION HAMILTON
said, the right hon. Gentleman was very candid in admitting that his Amendment would convert the Bill into a Franchise Bill; but he seemed to overlook the fact that it would become part of an Act under which the townships of the county of Dublin had been constituted, and that it would introduce a condition of things which had never yet been taken into consideration by the people of that county. By the Improvement Act of 1847 the qualification of voters for the election of Town Commissioners was fixed and adopted, and he would appeal to the right hon. Baronet not to press the Amendment for this reason. There had never been any objection raised, as far as he was aware, to the existing qualification; and at that late period of the Session, if the Amendment were adopted, the Bill would have to be returned and reconsidered in the House of Lords, where it would run a good chance of being rejected, and the consequence would be that this important township would lose all the valuable improvements which were proposed to be carried out under the Bill. He believed that the right hon. Baronet was earnest in his wish to lower the franchise; but it would be more desirable that he should introduce a special measure for that purpose, which should apply to all of the Irish townships, rather than press an Amendment which would only carry out his object partially, seeing that it would apply to one township in the county of Dublin only, and would have no effect upon the other townships returning Town Commissioners. He, therefore, trusted that the House would not accept the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman, but would agree to pass the Bill as it stood, its provisions having already been fully considered in "another place," and also because the question now raised was an entirely new subject.
MR. JESSE CODLINGS
said, that he was not surprised that his right hon. Friend should have felt his duty to bring this matter forward. He thought that any hon. Member, or any Englishman who had sat upon the Royal Commission and heard the evidence given in Ireland, must have been struck with the farce, if 642 he might so call it, of the municipal government which existed in that country, so far as municipal government was understood in England. The rating qualification in the Sister Country was so high, so complex, and so calculated to prevent anything like real representation, that he, for one, was not astonished to find how few people, oven in populous boroughs, had the command and management of the business of the locality. He ventured to say that, in comparison with England, one of the chief drawbacks to all sanitary reform, and to the carrying out of public works and improvements in boroughs and localities of Ireland, was that the representation was so limited, and limited by the franchise being so high. It was quite evident that the poorer classes were compelled to suffer from that state of things, because they had no voice in correcting any evils or abuses which might exist. In point of fact, English Members, who were acquainted with municipal government in this country, did not understand the state of things that existed in Ireland, and he thought his right hon. Friend would have been altogether ignoring and forgetting the experience he had acquired by serving on the Royal Commission if he had not brought this question forward. If hon. Members would look at the Bill they would see that comparatively few representatives would be returned under the restricted franchise, and if they would look at the powers which they would have to exercise he did not think, at any rate at this time of day, that Parliament would be disposed willingly to place such powers in the hands of a body elected under so restricted a franchise. The Commissioners of this township, under the provisions of the Bill, would have power to take lands compulsorily, to purchase property, to sell lands not required, to borrow money to create township stock, and, in fact, would enjoy all the powers which belonged to a thoroughly representative body in England. They knew the difficulty which was often experienced in the exercise of such powers by a really responsible and representative body in England, and yet they were asked to intrust such enormous powers as these to those who were rated at only £10 a-year, which, they were told, amounted in Ireland to a rental of £20. There 643 was another question which formed a puzzle to Englishmen—namely, the manner in which the valuation was carried out in Ireland. Hon. Members would see at a glance that by passing the Bill as it stood the affairs of a large borough with a considerable population would be placed in the hands of a few owners of property. He did not see how any English Member who had never been accustomed to that sort of thing could vote for such a measure, and he hoped that his right hon. Friend would persevere with his Amendment.
§ MR. GRAY
said, he hoped that the right hon. Baronet who had moved the Amendment would not be deterred by the remarks of the hon. Member for the county of Dublin (Mr. Ion Hamilton) from pressing it. The hon. Member said that if it were carried there might be a danger of the Bill not being passed. He (Mr. Gray) did not see why there should be any such danger. There was abundance of time for the passing of the Bill in the course of the present Session, even if it were necessary that the Bill with the Amendments of the right hon. Gentleman should go back again to the House of Lords for consideration. It was perfectly possible, however, that valuable and important as the hon. Member described the Bill to be, the promoters would abandon it rather than consent to grant to the township a true representation. He would venture to say the House would find, in the event of these Amendments being carried, that that was really the meaning of the opposition to them of the hon. Member for the county of Dublin. No doubt, it was extremely difficult for an English Member to believe that such a condition of affairs could exist as had been described in this township, and which was proposed to be perpetuated by the provisions of the Bill under consideration. The franchise was very high—quite equal to a £15 or £20 rental franchise. Such a franchise was altogether unknown in any large municipality in England. The Town Commissioners, when elected, held their meetings in secret; they refused to admit any member of the public to their meetings; and it was therefore impossible to know how their business was conducted, or even if it were legally or constitutionally conducted. He was informed that the business was occasionally 644 transacted by one man. The meetings were summoned for an early hour in the morning; but the majority of the Commissioners left as soon as their names had been read over and a quorum formed, leaving to a single individual —the Chairman of the Township Board —the entire transaction of the business. The Board persistently refused to carry on any business in the presence of the public; and, more than that, the Commissioners themselves formed a close ring. When the annual vacancies occurred, and one-third or one-fourth of the members of the Board had to be elected, the Commissioners, as a body, issued to a restricted number of owners a list of the names of those whom they desired to see returned, and all the Commissioners who remained in office, together with the outgoing Commissioners, acted together and voted as one for the list submitted by the Commissioners themselves. The result was that, although attempts had been made over and over again to break this ring, it was found absolutely impossible owing to the way in which the Commissioners worked together. This was the body, carrying on its business in that way, which this Bill sought to perpetuate. More than that, whenever a casual vacancy occurred in this body, the Commissioners had power under their Local Acts to co-opt. It would thus be seen that the Town Commissioners of Rathmines and Rathgar were a body who carried on their business in secret, that they issued a house list to the electors, so as to insure the same individuals being elected over and over again, and that they co-opted the casual vacancies. On various occasions within the last five or six years a Municipal Franchise Bill had been introduced into the House of Commons. Sometimes it had only received a second reading, on other occasions it had been sent to the House of Lords and rejected there; but no one could doubt that within the next two years, and probably within the next 12 months, the whole of the municipal system of Ireland would be reformed and an extended system of municipal government passed into law. Probably, hon. Gentleman opposite would vote against it, or be induced themselves to propose a scheme. But the Commissioners knew very well what was coming, and they had brought in this Bill to enable them to 645 borrow an enormous sum of money in order that they might carry out a radical change in the administration prior to the reform which they knew to be coming. As one who was deeply interested in the prosperity of Dublin he would prefer, rather than that the intention of the hon. Member for the county of Dublin (Mr. Ion Hamilton) should be carried out, that the Bill should be withdrawn altogether. Such a course would be infinitely preferable than that these powers should be granted to an effete and immoral body like the Rathmines and Rathgar Town Commissioners, who would inevitably be swept off the face of the earth in the course of a few years. There was another matter which he ought to mention. On the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman now the Leader of the House, some time ago, a Special Committee was appointed to inquire into the local government of towns in Ireland. The result of the inquiry of that Committee was the recommendation of the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the boundaries of the towns in Ireland. That Commission sat in 1877 and reported at the end of that year, or the beginning of 1878, and recommended as essential and necessary the extension of the boundaries of the City of Dublin, so as to take in this township and certain other townships, and make the nominal boundary conterminous with the real boundary. That recommendation had not been acted upon; but the Commissioners of the township of Rathmines and Rathgar knew that the day was coming very soon when it must be acted upon, and therefore they were anxious to pile up debt in the township and obtain Parliamentary powers of all kinds to strengthen their case against amalgamation, and to prevent the reform of the franchise. Those were the real motives of the Bill now before the House. The right hon. Baronet proposed an Amendment which provided that if the objects contemplated by the Bill wore useful and salutary they should be carried out by an enlarged constituency. He believed that the experience gained in England would be repeated in Ireland, and it would be found that representatives elected by an extended franchise would be far more eager than those elected by a restricted franchise to carry out useful re- 646 forms. But if many of the objects suggested were, as he believed them to be, utterly unnecessary, and a mere waste of money, and proposed to be carried out for political, and not for sanitary, purposes, if the township obtained a real and genuine control over its own affairs, it was probable that the wishes of the ratepayers would be consulted. He, therefore, trusted that the right hon. Baronet would be successful in his attempt to secure for one of the townships in the neighbourhood of Dublin a real representation, and he trusted that the House would support him. He was satisfied that every Member from Ireland would, except, perhaps, the two Members for the county of Dublin (Mr. Ion Hamilton and Colonel King-Harman).
said, that until the close of the remarks of the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Gray) he had been unable to understand the meaning of the Amendment moved by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke). It was quite clear now that the right hon. Gentleman's Amendments had been put upon the Paper simply to gratify the spleen of the members of the Corporation of Dublin against the flourishing township of Rathmines and Rathgar. [A laugh from the Irish Members.] Hon. Members opposite might laugh, but for a long time the Corporation had sought to bring this township within the boundary of the city; but the inhabitants knew very well that the moment they became incorporated with the city they would be taxed much more heavily than they were at present, and in a manner that would seriously affect their interests. The right hon. Baronet, in introducing the Amendments, had found no fault with the Bill itself. The hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Gray) had, however, stigmatized it, without the slightest justification, as a job. He need hardly ask the hon. Gentleman to road the Bill through and see whether his statements were correct or not; but he would only say that the Bill had already passed through the House of Lords, and had received very careful consideration in that House. It had since been examined by a Committee of the House of Commons, and nothing wrong had been discovered in its provisions. The hon. Member for Carlow said that it was quite possible, if the 647 promoters desired to do so, to pass it through Parliament in the course of the present Session, and that there was plenty of time for doing so; but, as everybody knew, it was a serious matter to make a vital alteration in a Private Bill at this period of the Session. The hon. Member said that he knew nothing of the proceedings of the Commissioners of Rathmines and Rathgar township, and that the public generally knew nothing whatever about them. The hon. Gentleman then proceeded to make it a sort of accusation that the business was conducted by one man, and so forth. If the hon. Member said that neither be nor the public knew how the business was transacted, how could he know-that? The fact was very well known that this township, knowing the exceptionally bad management of the Corporation of Dublin, had strenuously and most properly, at great expense, objected to be incorporated with the city. So far as the power was concerned of co-opting whenever a casual vacany occurred, he did not think there was a body of Commissioners in Ireland to whom the power had not been reserved. The power to co-opt when there was a, vacancy was nothing new, and there was nothing corrupt in its exercise. It was exactly the same in this township as it was elsewhere; and the fact of the matter was, that these Amendments were brought forward simply for the purpose of lowering the franchise in one borough in Ireland, and in one borough alone. He did not propose to go into the question whether it was desirable to lower the franchise in Ireland generally; but if the right hon. Baronet thought that such a reduction of the franchise ought to be made, let him bring in a Bill covering the whole of Ireland, and not attack in this insidious manner one township, and one alone. The right hon. Gentleman had informed the House, in an airy sort of way, that the death rate of the large towns in Ireland was very much higher than in England, owing to the want of sanitary improvements.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, that what he had said was that the death rate in the Irish towns was higher than in the rural districts of that country. He found that in the South of Ireland the rural death rate was much lower than in the large towns of the country.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN
begged the right hon. Gentleman's pardon if he had misunderstood him. Certainly, so far as the township of Rathmines and Rathgar was concerned, its death rate was much lower than that of Dublin. There could be no doubt whatever that if the Amendments which the right hon. Gentleman had placed on the Table were accepted by the House, the Bill would be almost certainly lost. [Cheers from the Irish Memlers.] No doubt, that was the object of the hon. Members opposite who cheered. The time and money which had been spent in promoting the Bill would, so far, be lost, and the inhabitants of Rathmines and Rathgar would have to wait for some time longer for the sanitary provisions they were now asking for. He, therefore, trusted that the House would reject the Amendments, which, although proposed to be inserted in a Private Bill, wore, in reality, intended to attack the borough franchise in Ireland, although only in one borough alone.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
said, there were one or two remarks which had fallen from the hon. and gallant Member for the county of Dublin (Colonel King-Harman) upon which he desired to comment. He thought the hon. and gallant Member had entirely misunderstood the motive of his right hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke) in bringing forward these Amendments. His right hon. Friend had stated that it was in consequence of information which he had obtained in another capacity, in which, as they all knew, his right hon. Friend had rendered important public service both to England and Ireland, that he had been induced to bring forward this recommendation, and his right hon. Friend had also intimated that when the information obtained by the Royal Commission was brought to light views entirely contrary to those which had been expressed by the hon. and gallant Gentleman would be placed on record. He (Mr. H. H. Fowler) could not see why the Bill should be abandoned if those Amendments were carried. There could be no difficulty with regard to them. It was just as easy to amend this Bill as it was to amend any other that came down from the House of Lords, unless the promoters were opposed to the Amendments themselves, and preferred 649 to take refuge behind the question of time. He could only say that if the statements of the hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Gray) were correct, and he had no doubt that they were, it would not be an undesirable thing that the Bill should be thrown out, and that this body of Commissioners should be swept away altogether. He strongly objected to a public body being allowed to elect themselves to transact their business in private. Such a thing was utterly unknown in England, and no Member of that House who had taken any part in local administration could justify such a course. That, however, was not the question before the House. The question was simply the Amendment which his right hon. Friend had moved, and the point upon which the House was asked to vote was this—whether, in the same year in which they had passed an Act of Parliament to entitle every householder, no matter what rent he might pay, to vote for a Parliamentary Representative, and at a time when the household franchise existed in this country in reference to the election of the whole of our Municipal and Local Authorities, they were going to keep up in Ireland an £18 rental qualification, for he understood that a £10 ratal meant an £18 rental? [An hon. MEMBER: £15.] At all events, whether it was £18 or £15, there was very little difference, and he could not conceive that any English Member could support so antiquated, so restricted, and so objectionable a franchise.
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Sir ARTHUR OTWAY)
said, there was one observation which had fallen from his hon. Friend who had just sat down which he did not agree with. He should very much regret if anything were to occur to interfere with the passing of a Bill which contained provisions for carrying out a variety of useful purposes—not only of a local and domestic character, but also powers for the extension of waterworks and the erection of artizans' and labourers' dwellings. It was true that some of the provisions in the Bill conferred rather extensive powers upon the Commissioners, and it was those powers which seemed to alarm his hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings). The question might well he asked' whether the Commissioners on whom it was pro- 650 posed to confer those powers, and who already possessed similar powers, were exactly the persons who should exercise them, and if they were chosen and put in their present places by the proper constituencies? Now, he must say that, having given a great deal of consideration to this matter after the Amendment of his right hon. Friend the late President of the Local Government Board had been brought under his notice, he had come to the conclusion that it would not be proper to retain the franchise under which those Commissioners were elected. He was, therefore, prepared to advise the House to consent to the Amendment of his right hon. Friend. He regretted that his right hon. Friend had altered his Amendment, because, in his opinion, the Amendment was much better as it originally stood on the Paper when his right hon. Friend only proposed to move the omission from the clause of the words "premises to the yearly value of £10."It was now proposed to insert the words" Poor's rate," and the objection was that, although it was made conditional upon the payment of the poor's rate, the poor's rate itself in some of the townships was fixed at a high figure; and he doubted whether the provision would be as valuable as the Amendment which his right hon. Friend had originally intended to propose. Some observations had fallen from hon. Members who had taken part in the debate in reference to the franchise in Ireland generally; and he thought it was right that in a sentence or two he should explain exactly how the question stood. It seemed curious that a franchise of this kind should still exist; but what practically occurred in regard to the Irish towns was this. There were three Acts under which the Local Government of Ireland was carried on—the Acts of 1818 1840, and 1854. By the first Act houses rated at £4 were included, and that was the lowest franchise. That Act governed 11 Irish towns; there were also 11 governed by the Act of 1840, which established a £5 rental; and the last Act gave a £10 rental qualification. Dublin alone had the qualification of household suffrage, accompanied by the payment of rates. It might be observed, in regard to the action of the House of Lords, that the present Bill came before him (Sir Arthur 651 Otway), in the first instance, as an unopposed Bill, and the presumption was that when a Bill was unopposed, there was no great objection to it. He was informed that the provisions of the Bill had been made known to the ratepayers of Rathmines and Rathgar at a public meeting, and that public notifications had been issued; that no Petition had been lodged against its provisions, and that ample opportunity had been afforded for notice of objections. Under these circumstances, he had viewed the Bill with some degree of confidence; but when he looked into the matter he came to the conclusion that under the circumstances in which they were living, with the changes that were constantly taking place, although this franchise had been in existence so far back as the year 1847, it was, nevertheless, of so restricted a character that it ought no longer to be retained for any township. He therefore supported the Amendment of his right hon. Friend, and advised the House to assent to it.
said, he was one of those who, upon all questions, was anxious to be guided by the superior wisdom of Her Majesty's Government, and as he saw the right hon. and learned Attorney General for Ireland (Mr. Holmes) in his place, and as he believed the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary (Sir William Hart Dyke) was also in the House, he hoped, before the discussion came to an end, that the House would have the pleasure of hearing those right hon. Gentlemen upon the proposal of the right hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W.Dilkc).
§ MR. HEALY
remarked that, looking at the statement which had been made by the right hen. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke), and the facts which had been stated by the Members for the county of Dublin (Mr. Ion Hamilton and Colonel King-Harman), as far as he (Mr. Healy) was concerned, and acting entirely upon his own motion, he felt deeply indebted to the right hon. Baronet for his action in the matter.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—-Ayes 92; Noes 141: Majority 49.—(Div. List, No. 225.)
§ Question, "That the word 'Poors' be there inserted," put, and agreed to.652
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, that in moving his next Amendment, in page 11, lines 16 and 17, to leave out the words "promises to the yearly value of ten pounds," he hoped he might be allowed to say a word in reply to the observations which had fallen from his right hon. Friend the Chairman of Ways and Means (Sir Arthur Otway). He had copied the words of the 41st section of the Rathmines Act, and according to that Act the township rate was under £10. The effect, therefore, of the Amendment as it originally stood would have been nil, and no effect would have been produced by it, because no property was rated under £10.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
moved in Clause 11, line 21, to leave out from the words "under the provisions of the former Acts."
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 12 (Voters qualified by occupying premises in immediate succession).
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 15 (Revising officer to revise list).
§ MR. HEALY
moved, at end, to insert—The eighth section of the Act of the forty-eighth Victoria, chapter seventeen, shall be deemed to be incorporated by this Act; but where the words 'the Registration Acts' occur in the said section, the words 'this Act' shall be substituted.The hon. and learned Member said, this Amendment was necessitated by the Amendments which had been adopted at the instance of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke). The clause proposed that a Revising Barrister of seven years' standing should revise the list of voters between the 20th and 31st of October in each year. He had taken the addition he proposed to insert from the Registration Act, and his object was to give to any person who was dis- 653 satisfied with the decision of the Revising Barrister the right of appeal to the High Court of Appeal, as was provided in the Registration Act.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES
said, he did not know whether the hon. and learned Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) had considered what the effect of this Amendment would be. He (Sir Arthur Otway) could not entirely approve of it, as it was calculated to encourage litigation. He had heard, however, from the promoters of the Bill that if the Amendments of the right hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke) were adopted, there would be no objection to insert the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Monaghan. They had no objection to it in principle, although they thought that its wording might be advantageously altered.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill to be read the third time.