HC Deb 04 March 1885 vol 295 cc1-45


Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [3rd March], "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair" (for Committee on the Parliamentary Elections (Redistribution) Bill.

Question again proposed.

Debate resumed.


said, he regarded the discussion up to that moment as little more than an explanation of the hon. Member for Liskeard's (Mr. Courtney's) retirement from the Government and his proportional representation scheme. He thought the House would agree with him that the course of their proceedings in reference to the Bill had been somewhat unsatisfactory. On the day fixed for the second reading they had no opportunity for a full debate on the principle of the measure; but it was stated by at least one Minister that, in consideration of the debate being then somewhat hurried or slurred over, the discussion on the principle of the Bill would be taken on the Motion for going into Committee. Altogether the course of proceeding with respect to the Bill had been singularly unfortunate. The hon. Member for the Haddington Burghs (Mr. Craig-Sellar) gave Notice prior to the second reading of his intention to move his Scottish Amendment. The Speaker ruled that the hon. Gentleman was not entitled to give Notice at that time of such an Amendment; but somehow or other the hon. Gentleman secured the object he had in view and got the start of those who waited until the Bill had been read a second time before they handed in their Amendments. It was a regrettable circumstance that, instead of having an important debate on the Bill in the first instance, the question was narrowed by the hon. Member for Haddington's Amendment. He was sorry there had been a division on that Amendment, for it was clear that not many Members of that House would wish, after the bargain entered into by the two great Parties in the State, to support any Amendment, good or bad, with the object of defeating the Bill. The ridiculous figure which the advocates of proportional representation cut in the division showed the real feeling and temper of the House. Amendments might be supported by small numbers of devotees and fanatics; but the good sense of both sides of the House was determined to carry out fairly and fully the bargain come to by the two great Parties in the State. No one ought to violate that understanding and that compact. He earnestly hoped that there was something in the character of the English nation that made us better than every other nation in the world; but if we escaped the results brought about in every other country where power had slipped from the hands of those who were fit to exercise it into the hands of those who were not, it would be a special dispensation of Providence. There was in the Bill the principle of democracy. That principle had always been one of counting noses, irrespective of position, wealth, or intelligence. Even the Prime Minister, a short time ago, did not venture to go further than this, that the measure was mainly based on the principle of population. Instead, however, of being mainly based on that principle, it seemed to him to be wholly based upon it, and he would have preferred to have seen in it a more distinct recognition of the principle of property. No doubt, as far as Scotland was concerned, the principle adopted by the Government carried justice with it; but that was not the case with regard to England and Ireland. The population of Scotland had increased steadily since 1881, and he quite admitted that the country was entitled to an additional 12 Members. During the same period England had been going up and Ireland down. England had always returned a Conservative majority, Scotland a Liberal one, and Ireland now returned a majority of Liberals and Nationalists, and the Prime Minister, conscious of these facts, was seeking to increase the representation of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, rather than give justice to the great population of England. If they took the Registrar-General's Returns and worked them out, they would find that, according to them, England was entitled to 505½ Members, Scotland to 72 Members, and Ireland to 92½ Members. Those figures showed the startling effect of the decrease of population in Ireland, and the increase in England, because in 1881 Ireland, according to the basis of population, was entitled to very nearly 100 Members. Wales had not been treated in the Bill as a nation. If it had been so dealt with it would have lost five Members. He observed, however, that in a Petition which was sent from the Principality to the Prime Minister, it was stated that if the Government reduced the number of Welsh Members it would be regarded as a national affront. Wales was, therefore, a nation for the purpose of keeping Members which it was not entitled to as such. It appeared that Swansea was to be extended 10 or 20 miles, so as to secure a population of over 100,000, which would entitle it to two Members; whereas Wigan, with a population of 57,000, was to have one of its Members cut off. Such was the notion of justice which the Government entertained. If the population of each of the Three Kingdoms remained stationary the injustice would not be so great; but when the rate of decrease in Ireland and of increase in England was so steady, any man deserving the name of a statesman would have taken notice of that tendency, and would not have drawn up a Bill which exaggerated the existing dispro- portion. When Mr. Pitt made his arrangement at the time of the Union, the system of representation was not based upon population merely, because, if it were, Ireland would have been entitled to 215 or 220 Members. Mr. Pitt's principle was to take population and property, and strike a mean between the two. The population of Ireland was now about one-seventh of the aggregate population of the Three Kingdoms; its property was only one-fourteenth; and, by striking a mean between the two, Ireland would be entitled to something less than one-ninth of the number of Members of which the House was to be composed. But, instead of proceeding on the principle of population and property combined, Her Majesty's Government had taken the basis of population alone. That was the principle of democracy, and if the principle of democracy were to be carried out we should find that those who did not pay taxes would have the voting of the taxes, and would be able to say who should pay them. The Bill would give the Liberal Party a tremendous advantage in many parts of the country; and when a Party had an opportunity of obtaining a Party advantage like this, they should be honest enough to say so. He deplored very much that the Bill was based on the principle of population; but he was glad for the sake of public peace and public decency that an agreement had been come to between the Leaders of the two great Parties in the State, and that arrangement must be honestly carried out. It was, therefore, the duty of Members to support the Bill.


said, he wished to take this opportunity of making a few observations upon the Bill. For many years as a Constitutional lawyer he had devoted a good deal of time and attention to our representative system, and he had always been in favour of the extension of the franchise. He supported the Bill for carrying household suffrage into the counties of the United Kingdom with the greater confidence because he believed it would be accompanied by a Redistribution Bill, based on the old lines of our Constitution, which every Conservative Member might feel not unwilling to support. But, having gone into the provisions of this Bill, he could not say that it was at all such as to answer the expectations entertained by the Party to which he had the honour to belong. The provisions of the Bill were based entirely on the numerical principle. He had long been taught to believe that the great beauty, harmony, and symmetry of the Constitution of this country arose from the different interests, qualifications, and parties represented in the country, and that in that way anything like the preponderance of a particular party or interest was avoided. He could not help saying that in this Bill Her Majesty's Ministers might have followed a different course from that which they had pursued. Household suffrage would have been a much safer principle of the Bill than population. It would have been a durable, substantial, and easily recognizable principle, which could be readily adapted to our wants. In 1858, having himself put forward a scheme of electoral suffrage, and supposing that the principle of the Reform Bill of 1832 had been based on population, he received a letter from Lord John Russell informing him that he was mistaken, and that the lines of the Bill proceeded on two principles—household, suffrage and the payment of taxes. But in this Bill these principles had been totally ignored, and the population principle had been allowed to reign paramount. That was very different from the view of Pitt, Burke, Pox, and notably Mackintosh, who held that the safety, harmony, and symmetry of our Constitution depended on the combination of different principles. Mr. Pitt, on the 26th of May, 1797, said— It is not the harsh uniformity of principles, each pushed to its extreme, hut the general complexion arising out of the various shades, which forms the harmony of the representation and the practical excellence of the Constitution capable of improving itself consistently with its fundamental principles. Who will say that this beautiful variety may not have contributed to the advantage of the whole? That system was practical, and experience has confirmed the excellence of it; hut the present plan goes the whole length of destroying all the existing representation, with the exception only of the county Members, and bringing all to one system. Are the Gentlemen who propose this system aware of the benefits resulting from a varied state of representation, and are they ready at once to resign them?"—(Parl. Hist. [33] 680.) But this Bill entirely ignored what had hitherto been considered the excellence of our Constitution, and carried the numerical principle to an extent that had never been thought of in the Reform Bills of 1797, 1832, and 1868; and he must express his great regret that the Bill had been prepared in the spirit in which it had been, leaving out the interests and influences of property. As to the First Schedule of the Bill, he thought that the number of boroughs doomed to decapitation, as he would term it, would have to undergo capital punishment without trial. But the number was considerably larger than the exigency of the times really required, as there had been no great demand in the country for this summary execution. Of the 79 boroughs which it was proposed to decapitate, many were totally undeserving of such punishment; they were not decaying, but were places of commercial prosperity. He was surprised to find that during the late Recess they were not in any way eager to assert their own claims. The Second Schedule contained a list of those boroughs that were to undergo partial disfranchisement; and in that list he was sorry to find many ancient and historic boroughs, some of them being the capitals of the counties, as Gloucester, Worcester, and Stafford, and also an ancient and important city in his own county—namely, Coventry. He would also point out that of the 32 boroughs contained in that list there were no less than 15 county towns possessing considerable weight and importance. That, he contended, was not at all required. He did not complain so much of the next Schedule, which proposed to give additional Members to the larger cities—for instance, Liverpool—though he considered the increase in their numbers excessive. One of the principal reasons for his objection to the Bill was that it transferred the electoral power from the Southern and Midland districts and the counties to the great manufacturing districts of the North, and, consequently, there would not be so large a representation of all those conflicting interests which the Constitution had hitherto provided for. Then there would be the great transfer to the Metropolis, to which, with its suburbs, there were actually no less than 61 Members apportioned, and he considered that was bestowing an inordinate degree of power on one district. It had been said that the overgrown power and influence of the capital of a country were often a danger to the State and to the safety of the people. That was notably so in the capital of France. He thought it was extremely unwise to deprive the City of London, which was the centre of the great commercial and mercantile interests of the Metropolis, of two seats in order to confer the right of representation upon such districts as Bethnal Green, St. George's-in-the-East, or the Strand. They had taken this Bill for granted and had put great confidence in the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke); but, of course, the right hon. Gentleman's object was to make the representative system as democratic as possible. As to the portion of the Bill relating to Scotland and Ireland, he was glad to support it. He thought Scotland was highly deserving of the 12 additional Members proposed to be conferred upon her; but, at the same time, he strongly opposed the mode by which it was proposed to be effected—namely, by adding 12 to the already large numbers of the House; in fact, he should prefer, if possible, that the numbers of the House should be reduced to 600. With reference to Ireland, he congratulated the Government upon the wise policy which had influenced them in the matter, in not yielding to the cry of those who thought that numerical principles should be rigidly observed with regard to Ireland, but in looking to the real wants of that country. On the whole, he could only regret that the compromise by means of which this Bill had been produced had been of such a character as, he was sure, would endanger the interests of the Conservative Party. It had been wisely said by Burke that compromises might be good as Party tactics, but were always bad as statesmanship. It had been said that the last Bill of Mr. Disraeli was a leap in the dark; but he could not help thinking that the present Bill was a leap in the dark—a leap in the dark, over a precipice, so far as the Conservative Party were concerned.


said, he wished to make a few observations from a Scotch point of view. He could not help thinking the Scotch Members had reason to complain at being coerced into voting for an increase in the number of Members in the House. He did not like the increase; but from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Charles W. Dilke), he understood that it was the only way in which Scotland would get their 12 additional Members. That was what they called in Scotland being "concussed" into voting. From what he gathered from the Leader of the Opposition also, they had no assurance that this part of the Bill would be maintained, or that, so far as the right hon. Gentleman was concerned, Scotland would get the additional number. He protested, however, against it being said that these 12 Members were given to Scotland. They were only what Scotland was absolutely entitled to according to her population, and they were not given to Scotland, but were proposed in order to give Ireland and Wales more than their proportion according to population. It might be, as had been said, that at one time Ireland had too few, and it was to be made up by giving her too many; but if that was to be done, they ought to be told by the Government that it was so. He protested against it being supposed that this Bill treated all parts of the country equally, as the claims of Ireland and Scotland had not been dealt with upon an equal footing. The same rule had not been applied to all parts—the same rule of disfranchisement had been, but not of enfranchisement. It was evident, if they compared Glamorganshire or Armagh with Lanarkshire. He supposed that Scotland must be content to get bare justice; but he did hope that Her Majesty's Government would honestly admit that they were doing more than justice to Ireland, and much more than justice to Wales, and that they were really giving these 12 additional Members to Ireland and Wales and not to Scotland.


said, that by the Forms of the House he was precluded from moving the Amendment of which he had given Notice. With regard to the alleged over-generosity of the Government to Ireland, he would say that the Irish Members did not regard it as anything of the kind. They considered that the Bill, as a whole, was a fair one, and was honestly intended by the Government. With regard to the proposed reduction in the number of Irish Members, surely the Government, after having depopulated their country for half-a-century, and refused it when it had 8,000,000 the 150 Members to which it was entitled, were not now going to cut down the number of Irish Representatives. Now, when the Irish Parliament had been destroyed, and the Irish Army had disappeared, were the Government going to take advantage of them? He must say the English generally did that sort of thing; but it appeared to him it was a thing they could hardly do now in the face of the public. The Irish were not particularly anxious to retain thel03 Members; they would be satisfied with 100, and would present two—the Members for Trinity College—with a blessing to the Scotch. If by means of the white fiend of jerrymandering they wanted those two flowers, they could put them as a bouquet in the button-hole of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir George Campbell). They had heard from the Ulster Members—from the noble Lord the Member for Fermanagh (Viscount Crichton) and those who acted with him, and who had been vainly attempting to form an independent Party—that the Loyalists of Ireland were very much ill-treated by this Bill. The noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton) had said that under this Bill the Whigs would be completely wiped out in Ireland. Well, that remained to be seen, and would depend a good deal upon the Nationalists. Wherever the Nationalists could not return a Member of their own colour they could hold the scales between the two Parties, and he could promise that the scales would be held with the utmost impartiality. The Loyalists of Ulster would get 20 Members—that was one-fifth of the representation—yet they were not a tenth of the population. Really he believed that the two Members for Trinity College and the four Members for Belfast represented them adequately enough. This was proved by what occurred in Ulster last year. Before the passing of the Franchise Act the conduct of the Loyalists was remarkable. They said that upon the soil of their Imperial and Loyal Province the foot of a single Nationalist should not enter. The Nationalists, to quote the expression of the noble Lord, must be prevented from "invading" Ulster, and if the Government did not prevent them the Loyalists would "take the law into their own hands" and prevent them. It used to be represented that the Parnellites were just like a travelling circus going to Ulster once in a twelvemonth to tumble. But suddenly a change came over the spirit of their dream. After the passing of the Franchise Act, when the Parnellites had got Ulster in their hands, the case of these Gentlemen was that by this Bill the Government had entirely prevented them from getting an adequate representation. What were the facts? The Whig and Tory Party, as the Bill at present stood, would have about 23 seats. As the Bill originally stood they would have had about 18; but the Marquess of Salisbury's very significant letter of comfort to the Ulster Orangemen had been taken to heart by the Boundary Commissioners. The Marquess of Salisbury wrote a very notable letter when appealed to by the Orangemen to save them from destruction. He wrote— The protection of the Loyalist minority in Ireland depends upon the spirit in which the Boundary Commissioners carry out their instructions. Consequently five seats, and perhaps six, which would 'under the original plans of division have gone to the National side, had been jerrymandered in the Conservative interest. Lord Spencer, as they believed in Ireland, issued secret instructions to the Boundary Commissioners that they would take the spirit, as it was called, of Lord Salisbury's hint into their consideration, and so where the original schemes were fair, Englishmen, if they took the trouble to look at the maps, which of course they would not, would see that the new schemes were absurd. He attacked the single-seat system because the single-seat system in Ireland had simply been turned into a machine for giving the Loyalists seats where they had no business to have them, and of preventing the Nationalists from having seats where they had the majority. In looking into the matter he found it necessary in Ulster to have regard to the religious opinions of the people, because the distinction between Protestants and Catholics was made by the Loyalists, who were constantly appealing to the people by the bloody shrouds of Aughrim and the Boyne and the fires of Smithfield to support the cause of Protestantism, and he forgot what other tags were generally added on to the peroration. The Boundary Commissioners had treated the question as one of Protestant v. Catholic or of Pope v. King William. Thus, in Ulster, the Commissioners made seven changes on the original schemes, one being made in Belfast; in the rest of Ireland only three changes were made—in Dublin, Mayo, and Kerry. The right hon. Baronet the President of the Local Government Board said nine. Well, there were minor and unimportant changes as to names, but only three actual changes; and even supposing the right hon. Baronet's figures to be correct, nine changes out of 23 was a very different proportion from seven changes out of nine. Was it not a very suspicious circumstance that out of the nine Ulster counties where the popular Party were satisfied with the existing plan changes were made in six of them? The popular Party would thereby lose seats in Armagh, Donegal, Tyrone, and Deny, and possibly also outside Ulster one seat in Dublin County and in Dublin City. Contrast the treatment Ulster Loyalists had received with the treatment the Nationalists had received. In the counties where the Catholics were in a majority shameful jerrymandering had gone on with the object of giving the Protestants seats to which they were not entitled, while in those parts in which the Protestants were in a majority things had been so managed that the Catholics would have no chance of returning a single Member. Take the county of Antrim, for instance. Out of a population of 200,000, roughly speaking, the Catholics numbered 60,000. Clearly they would be entitled to one seat, but they would not get it. The Catholics would not be able to return a single Member in Belfast, although they were entitled, according to population, to return one Member. So that, out of 400,000 in Antrim and Belfast, 100,000 Catholics would be mute and voiceless under this scheme. What had been done elsewhere? In Donegal the Catholics were in a huge and preponderating majority of five to one. The Protestant minority would, he admitted, be entitled to one seat; but it was given to them by jerrymandering, and if a seat was to be jerrymandered for the Protestants in Donegal, a seat should also be jerrymandered in Antrim and in Belfast for the Catholics. Take the case of Tyrone; the Catholics were in a preponderating majority, yet a Protestant could bereturned. [Mr. MACARTNBY:No.] The hon. Member for Tyrone (Mr. Macartney) said "No," and shook his head; but they would find the hon. Member was not so hopeless as he pretended, and that he would at the next Election call upon the electors to return him at the head of the poll. The case of Derry was a most notable and shameful case, and the most suspicious thing about it was that it was represented in this House by the Solicitor General for Ireland—a Member of Her Majesty's Government. Of course, his hon. and learned Friend would get up in this House and say he had nothing whatever to do with it, and so long as he (Mr. Healy) was in the House he would give him full credence; but when he passed beyond the door he would resume his liberty of appreciation, and would be, perhaps, inclined to say that the charges made in Derry were only explicable in one way. The Southern portion of Derry was a Catholic barony, and the Catholics were in a vast majority. The Solicitor General put his friends in motion. Very curiously, the original advertisements of the scheme for Derry were the last but one of those published. For weeks and weeks the public had been hungering to get a sight of the proposed boundary scheme for Derry; but the Commissioners took no heed, and made no signs in the matter. The boundary scheme was at length published, and it was found that the barony in the South had been joined on to two baronies in the North, the reason being that a mountain chain ran across the country, and that this was the natural division. The result of the division was that, out of 69,000 of the population, the Catholics numbered 27,000 in Derry. The Solicitor General instructed one of his friends, Dr. Todd, B.L., to appear before the Boundary Commissioners, and Dr. Todd announced that he appeared under the instructions of Her Majesty's Solicitor General for Ireland. Sudden panic and awe fell upon the Boundary Commissioners. Fancy this way of intimidating the Commissioners by saying that Her Majesty's Solicitor General entirely disapproved of the scheme ! For a Gentleman like his hon. and learned Friend to instruct counsel to go down and intimate to his own Boundary Commissioners that he was entirely opposed to the scheme was wholly unjustifiable conduct. He would not have cared had the words used been mere harmless, empty words; but the Commissioners took them to heart, and made a change in the scheme that would prevent the Catholic party from returning a single Member. Whereas the Catholics were 37,000 to 67,000 of the population in the original scheme, by the amended one they would only be 34,000 to 70,000. That was a scandalous thing. In Central Armagh the same course had been pursued. In this case an error was undoubtedly originally made, and would have to be corrected in any case; but what was done? In Southern Armagh the National Party were in a vast majority; in Northern Armagh the Orange Party were in a vast majority; and as the county was to have three seats, it was as to Central Armagh that the struggle took place. The Commissioners accordingly threw into the Southern district, where they were not wanted, Catholics from the Central district, and took into the Central district the Orangemen from the Northern district, where they were not wanted. It was all very well to make complaints about the matter, but their complaints would fall on just as deaf ears as the complaints of the Loyal minority. An arrangement had been made by the two Front Benches, and, like the two blades of a pair of scissors, would cut everything coming between them. But, at the same time, it would be a most unfortunate thing in Parliamentary tactics if independent Members allowed these schemes to go by without a protest. The last case he would allude to in Ulster was the case of Down. In that case also there was a blot in the original scheme, for the Commissioners had forgotten to include the boundaries of Belfast. It was admitted that the Nationalists could carry Southern Down through with some difficulty. Now, under the scheme of the Commissioners, it was a dead certainty. Yet they claimed that the boundaries of Down had not been fairly managed, because in the Ards district Lower Ards was joined to the top of the county instead of to the Downpatrick division, and the reason given for this was that they declined to cross Strangford Lough. It was delightful to hear how the Government declined to cross Strangford Lough when one looked at the way they had jumped across Lough Swilly in Donegal. There was a division in Donegal called the In-nishowen division separated by 40 miles of sea from the Kilnaehrennan division. The Conservative Party objected to the original scheme of the Commissioners, and for jerrymandering purposes their objections were heard, with the result that two portions of Donegal, which were as far asunder as a portion of Donegal was from Scotland, were united. They might just as well unite Kingstown and Holyhead for electoral purposes. Now he would come to the case of the county of Dublin, which was the strangest he had ever seen. At the Boundary Inquiry he was instructed by the popular Party to have the existing boundaries retained; but a well-known firm of Emergency Association solicitors in Ireland—Messrs. Dudgeon and Emerson—in the interests of the Conservatives of Rathmines, put forward a scheme which he was inclined to consider in the light of a good joke. What was his horror to find that the Commissioners had adopted the scheme en bloc. It was as good as a play. If they looked at the map they would find a little bit about the size of an inch marked red. That was one division, and all the rest of the county—100 miles—was the other division. If that was not jerrymandering Mr. Jeremiah Manders had lived in vain. It was remarkable that the Commissioners in their Report admitted that they had departed from their instructions, which were to have regard to the compactness of districts and the pursuits of the population, and they said they had followed the population where it was of the same character. Character was a very beautiful word if they only knew what it meant; but whether the people of one division were of better character than those in the other division he hardly thought the Commissioners were entitled to inquire. Take the City of Dublin. It had been similarly worked by these ingenious gentlemen, and they should contrast the way in which it had been treated compared with Belfast. Belfast, under the little arrangement made in Downing Street with the Prime Minister over walnuts and wine, was to have four Members by the adoption of the boundaries of the Exham Royal Commission of 1881. This Commission recommended that Belfast, Dublin, Drogheda, and other towns should have extended areas. The recommendation of this Commission was followed in the case of Belfast, and not followed in the case of Dublin and Drogheda, even though Drogheda was only 300 short of the 15,000 entitling it to a Member. If the recommendations of the Exham Commission were followed in the case of Dublin, it would be entitled to six Members; yet they would be satisfied with four Members if the boundaries were extended. He called the attention of the right hon. Baronet to the fact that by crossing a bridge a man could have a vote for his house in Dublin and another vote for his residence across the bridge. The township of Pembroke was included within the city boundary, although Rathmines, which was nearer Dublin, and the other townships were excluded. He regarded this as most unfair. These inconsistencies appeared to him to be the chief blots in the scheme as proposed for Ireland; and to show that his views were not the views simply of a mere politician, arguing for political purposes, he might quote the opinion of the Bishop of Athlone, who, though he had never before taken part in any political or contentious matter, felt constrained to write an indignant public letter protesting against the scheme adopted by the Commissioners. The Bishop, who described the scheme as appalling, wrote that, when he first read the paragraph in The Berry Sentinel setting forth the final decision of the Boundary Commissioners as to Donegal, he thought there must be some mistake. It was hard to believe that a number of gentlemen, placed in a position of great trust and delicacy, could make so light of their character for justice and fair play as to lend themselves to a piece of sharp practice, and he went on to say that their scheme was the Conservative scheme very much improved in the Conservative interest. The right hon. Gentleman had not treated the House fairly in this matter, for, in his opinion, Members were entitled to have before them for the purpose of the debate the original schemes put forward by the Commissioners, the same evidence, and the same view of the schemes proposed by each party, in order that they might see which political Party had been favoured or otherwise in the divisions adopted. But the right hon. Gentleman said—"If I do that for Ireland I must do it for England also." Well, and why not? The Queen's Printer could cope with the work, and the Public Exchequer was not so deficient of funds that there was not sufficient money to enable a slight operation of this sort to be carried on. He hoped the Government would assure the House that his suggestion should be carried out. So far as jerrymandering had been possible in Ireland, it had been carried out, and he defied anyone by any scheme of proportional representation, or any other dodge, to jerrymander another seat for the Loyalists. Every trick and device that it had been possible to resort to had been indulged in. The cases of Ulster had been the result of arrangements between the Marquess of Salisbury, Earl Spencer, and the Boundary Commissioners. It would have been impossible for them to have arranged anymore seats for the Loyalists, and he regarded the attack which the Ulster Party were making on the Government as a species of masked battery in order to hold the divisions already made in their favour. The case of Drogheda he thought was a very hard one. It was an old historic town, having its own Corporation and Sheriff, and it was in his opinion a great hardship that a town of that character should be deprived of its representation in Parliament because it was 200 or 300 short of the required number. Of course he would be asked where would he get the Member for Drogheda, to which he would at once answer, Trinity College. Trinity College by the Act of Union got one Member, and it got another by the Act of 1832. Now he, for one, could not understand why gentlemen who kept certain terms in Trinity College, and passed certain examinations which not one of them would be able to pass again six months after they they had Got their degree, should be entitled to return to that House two Members of Parliament. It appeared to him that the whole scheme of University representation required to be looked after. To begin with, the polls he believed were kept open for more than one day. Then there was the system of proxy voting, and in addition he believed it was Masters of Arts, not Bachelors of Arts, who had the votes. Why Masters of Arts should have votes, and Bachelors of Arts should not, he confessed passed his comprehension. Moreover, if this was to be a learned franchise, and if persons of superior intelligence were to have votes, though they could not forget Sydney Smith's saying that he never knew a Senior Wrangler who was not a fool, if learning was, as it was said, to be represented, why then should not doctors and solicitors and barristers and engineers and other persons who took out degrees have votes in institutions of that character? For his part, he contended that University representation was altogether indefensible. But if there were two University seats in Ireland he did not see why one of the seats for Trinity College should not be merged in the Royal University. The Royal University of Ireland had more graduates than the London University, and if two University seats were to be given to Ireland he really did not see why the Royal University should not be merged in Trinity College for purposes of this sort. Finally his advice to the "Loyal" minority would be to rest and be thankful. They had come very well out of this business. The Marquess of Salisbury's secret compact had been attended to. He said that it was evident the success of the Bill would depend on the spirit of the Boundary Commissioners, and no more favourable spirit for the Loyal minority could be distilled.


said, he thought that some of the observations made upon the Bill, before the speech of the hon. Member for Monaghan, showed that there were some hon. Members who had not made themselves acquainted with the details of the measure, or even the principles upon which it proceeded. The hon. Baronet the Member for South Warwickshire (Sir Eardley Wilmot) had complained that power was to be taken away from the South of England and transferred to the North; but the hon. Baronet had given no reason for the continuance of power in the hands of a minority in the Southern counties. Even the hon. Baronet had complained that the number of Members for the Metropolis was too large. As against that he thought he might put the complaint made last night by another Conservative Member, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Eaikes), who had complained bitterly that London was too poorly represented. In his opinion, there was not any greater anomaly in this case than must necessarily exist in other instances. The hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy) had begun his able speech by making an attack upon the Boundary Commissioners. The Boundary Commissioners were gentlemen whose work as regarded England and Scotland had been generally satisfactory to those concerned. In England their decisions had been received with almost universal satisfaction, with only a few isolated exceptions in very special cases, in which dissatisfaction had proceeded from a section of one political Party. In Scotland objections had been taken to one or two of their schemes by the Liberal Party—objections which he thought they would hardly be able to maintain. It was a curious fact that in Ireland practically the same gentlemen, acting on the same principles, had been bitterly attacked. Sir John Lambert and Sir Francis Sandford, who had acted as Commissioners in England, had had complete knowledge of the schemes relating to Ireland. The Irish Commissioners met in London under the supervision of Sir John Lambert. The Irish Assistant Commissioners also came to London; and the whole of the Irish Commission met again in London after the local inquiries had been held, when the whole of the schemes settled by the Commissioners were gone into in the utmost detail by the Commissioners, who had before them all the newspaper reports of what had passed at the local inquiries, and after sitting in London for several days consecutively they came to a unanimous decision on the whole of the schemes, and Sir John Lambert and Sir Francis Sandford were just as responsible for those schemes as they were for those relating to England or Scotland. Sir John Lambert was an official of immense experience, and one whose retirement from the Public Service almost amounted to a national calamity. In spite of the extreme delicacy of his health, Sir John Lambert had thrown himself in the most gallant way into that labour as a volunteer, and his services in connection with that Commission deserved to be reoognized by the strongest and warmest appreciation of the House. Sir Francis Sandford, an official of great experience, had likewise worked as a volunteer on that inquiry; he had given to it an enormous amount of time and labour, and was entitled to the sincere thanks of the House for his valuable services. It was remarked that the Commission for Ireland was an after thought. And why was it an after thought? The fact was that the Government were so much afraid that, through the strength of Party feeling in Ireland, it would be hopeless to secure the Commission which would command the confidence of all Parties, and, therefore, it was desirable to leave the preliminary inquiries to be conducted by the Boundary De2Jartment of the Royal Engineers, under the general supervision of Sir John Lambert and Sir Francis Sandford. This, however, was objected to in Parliament, and in the Irish Press; and the Government thereupon felt themselves bound to appoint a Commission for Ireland, as in the case of England and Scotland. The question of Catholic and Protestant unfortunately entered into that question of boundaries, and he might mention the fact that two of the Commissioners were Catholics. The hon. Member alleged that Lord Spencer had issued secret instructions to the Commission. He did not know whether the hon. Member made that statement as a rhetorical flourish, or whether he really believed it. [Mr. HEALY said, that he believed it.] Well, Lord Spencer had exactly followed in the instructions given to the Irish Commissioners the terms of the instructions which he (Sir Charles W. Dilke) had issued to the English Commissioners; and he was certain that Lord Spencer had not issued further instructions in any way altering or varying the instructions which were before the House. He was sure that Lord Spencer would not have issued further instructions to the Commissioners without consulting him. Now, he had already said that the Commissioners were unanimous in the whole of their recommendations. He went further. He had seen some of the attacks which had been made in the Irish newspapers and in that House against the Irish schemes; and having gone through the whole of those schemes himself with Sir John Lambert, he was bound to say, speaking as far as he could do without intimate local knowledge, that he was prepared fully to support and to justify the decisions which had been come to by the Boundary Commissioners. The hon. Member had paid a high compliment to the original schemes of the Commissioners. Those original schemes were merely a tentative division of the counties made here in London, without very intimate local knowledge, and made to be thrown on the table for discussion at a local inquiry. It suited the hon. Member, now that they had been altered in a way which he disapproved, to say that lie greatly regretted that the original schemes were not adopted. That was not the view that was taken when they first came out, for then violent attacks were made on those schemes in the newspapers which represented the opinions held by the hon. Member. The Freeman's Journal, for instance, said that they were prepared in ignorance. Now, he was not disposed to dispute that criticism. He believed that they were schemes prepared in ignorance. In some cases they omitted to show such important factors with regard to the division of counties as ranges of mountains across those counties. Generally speaking, moreover, the original schemes followed the baronies. The hon. Member had complained that a larger proportion of the schemes had been altered in Ulster than in the rest of Ireland. Now, as he had stated in the House before, the number of the schemes that had been altered in the rest of Ireland was nine as against seven in Ulster. The schemes altered were those for the county of Dublin—to which the hon. Member objected)—County Meath, Queen's County, County West-meath, borough of Dublin, County Clare, County Cork, County Kerry, and county Mayo. Whether there was a greater or a less disproportion between the numbers altered in Ulster and in the rest of Ireland, he thought the reason for that must be obvious to the House. The Party to which the hon. Member belonged was in such undisputed possession of the counties in the rest of Ireland generally that there the matter was not fought at the local inquiries, and the schemes were not so thoroughly thrashed out as they were in the case of the Ulster counties. The hon. Member referred to the case of Antrim. Now, without single-Member districts, the Party to which the hon. Member belonged could not carry a single seat in that county.


But we could carry Donegal and Tyrone.


The hon. Member said that under the single-Member system the Catholics in Belfast would be voiceless, and that four Mem- bers on the other side would be returned. He (Sir Charles W. Dilke) thought that was very doubtful; and, at any rate, he felt sure that within the next few months the hon. Member would not be quite so ready to proclaim that opinion, The hon. Member had made an attack on the Solicitor General for Ireland in regard to the division of the county of Kerry, apparently thinking that his hon. and learned Friend was in favour of the scheme which the Commissioners had adopted; but the scheme which they had adopted was not his hon. and learned Friend's scheme at all, and, in fact, nothing but his position as a Member of the Government would have induced his hon. and learned Friend to support the scheme for Derry which was now before the House.


asked what was the Solicitor General's scheme?


replied, that, even if he were able, he did not think it would be right for him to explain that. His hon. and learned Friend came to him long ago and stated in the strongest possible terms his objections to the scheme which the Government adopted and were now prepared to support. The hon. Member had attacked, county by county, the work done by the Commissioners. The House would have an opportunity of discussing those matters with more care when they were reached in Committee. But, being prepared to make himself responsible for those schemes, he thought it right to say a few words in regard to those of them which had been most strongly assailed. The hon. Member also objected to the division of Donegal, which, he said, crossed the lough; but it had to be remembered that the populations on both sides of the lough were engaged in the fishing industry, and spoke the Irish language, and the lough referred to was crossed by a very good ferry.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is 30 miles wide, and 15 miles in length?


said, he was informed that it was only three miles wide at the ferry.


But where is the ferry?


said, he did not know where the ferry was; but the hon. Member did not inform the House of a fact worth mentioning, that in County Down the Nationalist Party themselves proposed a scheme which would have crossed Lough Strangford at a point much wider than in the case of Donegal.


explained that in that case the people were so put together already for Petty Sessions and Poor Law purposes.


said, that everything which had been laid before him up to the present time confirmed him in his intention to support the scheme as proposed. The hon. Member next complained of the division of County Dublin. This case, however, was governed by precedents which they had created in England. The division of County Dublin consisted of a very large division and a very small division of equal populations, the large division being sparsely populated, and the small division being more densely populated. That was a plan which had been followed in districts where there was a large urban population and a large agricultural population in the same county. He considered this to be a wise plan to follow. He might cite some of the English county divisions as examples. For instance, there were the Jarrow and Tyne divisions. Most of the divisions of the county of Middlesex were very small; but the Uxbridge division, being mainly agricultural, comprised almost half the county. The case of County Dublin, therefore, would not have been a startling instance to the hon. Member if he had looked through the English maps and had observed similar cases in the English counties. The hon. Member also complained of the extension of the boundaries of Belfast, when a similar extension of boundaries bad been denied to Dublin. In this matter, however, they had followed no equal course in England and Scotland as compared with Ireland. They had followed various courses in dealing with this question of suburbs as seemed best for the convenience of local cases, and of course that part of the scheme was open, like everything else, to full discussion. In regard to the schemes of the Boundary Commission, the hon. Member asked why the Government could not lay before the House full information, accompanied by maps, showing the difference between the original schemes prepared by the Commission and those which the House was asked to sanction. If such a course was assented to in the case of Ireland, it must also be assented to in the cases of England and Scotland. The documents were of enormous bulk, and their opinion was that they did not believe it would tend to produce a unanimous or general consensus of opinion in the House were they to produce a large number of maps for the same county, showing how it was divided in different ways. The House would get into an interminable discussion, and would never reach a conclusion at all. He also declined to produce the voluminous mass of facts and arguments which were laid before the Commissioners in the local inquiries.


Will you give them to us in the contentious eases?


replied, that all cases were contentious more or less. Where the main principles of the scheme were uncontested there was, perhaps, a dispute with regard to one or two parishes. The hon. Gentleman must remember that the notes of evidence were of enormous bulk, that the number of inquiries held was very large, and that the subjects of discussion at the inquiries were debated with reference to maps which could not now be found, and which could not be placed before the House in a satisfactory manner. The matter, indeed, was one of extraordinary difficulty; but he pointed out to the hon. Member that in most cases the newspaper reports were full and ample. The hon. Member next raised the question of University representation, and referred to it as a means by which the Scotch representation might be increased—generously proposing to take away the representation of Trinity College, Dublin, and to hand it over to the Scotch Members. He (Sir Charles W. Dilke) had informed the House the previous evening that, although he was strongly opposed to University representation, and although he felt himself free to vote any day for a separate Bill or a Resolution proposing to disfranchise the Universities of the Three Kingdoms, still he could not support a proposal to deal with it in the present Redistribution Bill. It had to be remembered that the present Bill was received as a compromise of opinions of various kinds, and as a compromise he intended to support it, and to vote against the proposal to strike the University representation out of the Bill. With respect to the other point raised with respect to the representation of the Royal Universities of Ireland, and the suggestion that they should either have separate representation or be thrown into Trinity College, that was a matter that would be fully disoussed in Committee, and he would, therefore, not enter into the question at present.


said, that it appeared from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman that the Solicitor General for Ireland was undergoing an agonizing struggle in this matter; but as he saw through good and evil fortune the hon. and learned Gentleman had maintained a stern fidelity to the Government, he did not think he would be removed from his fealty by the division of the county of Derry. The Solicitor General, he suspected, was a man more fascinated by the atmosphere of the Four Courts than Westminster; and if he should not succeed in being returned at the next Election, he was one of the Members of the House who would least regret the result. With reference to the question under discussion, he would impress upon the attention of the House the fact that at the time of the Union Ireland had half the population of Great Britain. In 1846 it contained a third of the population. The decrease in the population of Ireland was due to the Imperial policy which had delayed and denied agrarian reform. If the English Government had passed 40 years ago the Land Act of 1870 or of 1881, the population of Ireland at the present time would not have been such as to entitle hon. Members to argue for a decrease in the number of Irish Members. If those Aets had been passed thus early, the Irish population would not have diminished as it had done, and a reason would then have existed entitling Ireland to claim a great increase in its representation. If the Government placed any confidence in the Land Act of 1881, they ought to look forward to an increase of the population of Ireland, and as a matter of fact the emigration which in 1883 amounted to 105,000, fell last year to 72,000. During 1884 the population of Ireland remained about stationary. He believed that the Irish Members had an unanswerable claim to have the evidence and the maps in the Office of the right hon. Gentleman laid before them. The right hon. Gentleman had refused to furnish the facts upon which the Commissioners formed their conclusions, whilst he himself was admittedly unable to answer legal questions.


I will answer them later on.


said, it was said by the right hon. Baronet that Lord Spencer did not issue any secret instructions to the Boundary Commissioners. However that might be, his public instructions were materially different in one particular to those issued to the English Commissioners; for whereas the English Commissioners had power to inquire when it was desirable to extend the boundaries of any borough, the Irish Commissioners were only to inquire into the desirability of extending the boundaries of those boroughs which were "proposed to be divided by the Bill." This was an unjustifiable departure from the instructions given to the English Commissioners.


said, that in England the Commissioners were instructed not to alter the boundaries of boroughs or cities such as Dublin, where the extension would alter the number of Members allocated.


said, that the right hon. Baronet had spoken of the propriety of including Kingstown in the City of Dublin; but he would remind him that Kingstown was seven miles away from the City of Dublin, while very large districts, such as Rathmines, were contiguous to it. What Lord Spencer did in Ireland was to alter the sense, meaning, and direction of the words of the instructions; and instead of allowing the Commissioners to recommend the extension of borough boundaries where they thought fit, and where it was desirable, his instructions were a most arbitrary and unjustifiable departure from the instructions given by the right hon. Baronet, The effect of these instructions was to shut out the cases of Dublin, Drogheda, and Limerick. In regard to the case of the City of Limerick, a very strong case could be made out. A slight extension of the boundaries would enable that ancient city to retain its present proportion of two Members. If a line were drawn from Derry to the County Cork, it would divide the Island into two almost equal parts. The House would be surprised to hear that the Western moiety would, under this scheme, have only three borough Members. The population of Limerick was almost equal to that which would entitle it to an additional Member; and he believed that if boundaries were so extended as to include a couple of streets, which were actually physically a part of the existing city, this would be accomplished. Lord Spencer's instructions had shut out the case of Drogheda, precluding any alteration of the existing boundary. This was a contrast to the course which had been followed in the case of the town of Warwick, in England, a borough which Mr. Speaker represented in that House. Warwick had a population of only 8,000 persons, and in order to secure the seat for the Speaker, the Government had added to it the town of Leamington, which was another place altogether, and five or six miles distant from Warwick. And yet the Commissioners in Ireland refused to add one street to the town of Drogheda. He believed that it was essential that the evidence which had been taken with regard to these contested schemes should not be withheld from the House. The contentious schemes which the Irish Members intended to oppose in the House were only seven in number, and he did not believe that the production of the evidence in these cases would involve any extraordinary bulk of material. They would not prove at all an intolerable demand upon the resources of the Queen's Printing Office. The right hon. Baronet stated that ho knew from the first that the decisions of the Commissioners would be attacked. Would any Member of the Government explain the curious fact that in the schemes which were not contested on account of jerrymandering, the Commissioners had not made any material change in the original schemes? But they had been altered where political and Party objects were to be served. Lord Salisbury, in reply to a Memorial from Ulster, had stated that the effect of the work of the Boundary Commissioners upon the Irish Tory Party would depend upon the spirit in which the Boundary Commissioners performed their work. He would ask, however, what business had these gentlemen to show any spirit at all in a work calling only for common sense and impartiality? It was entirely a question of maps, Census Returns, and physical division of the country, and also a question of compactness of area. There was no occasion for the display of any spirit at all. Well, these gentlemen had responded to the appeal, and did show spirit. Wherever the people's agents accepted the original scheme, and it was objected to by either of the two anti-popular factions, the result was that the Commissioners, in spite of the support of the people to the original scheme, altered it at the wish of the anti-popular Parties. In any case in which the popular Party objected to the schemes, they, on the contrary, were allowed to remain unaltered. The instructions to the Commissioners were such that it was possible for them to discharge their duty without regard to political motives; and therefore the Irish Members wished to see the original schemes and maps, to compare them with the final maps, and to trace the processes by which the changes were arrived at. If this were not done every arrangement proposed would be strenuously resisted. In Dublin County the divisions had been adopted which were proposed by the Orange Emergency Association, and they did not accord in any way with the instructions given to the Commissioners. Regard was not paid to compactness or the pursuits of the population. It was said that the divisions had been made respectively urban and rural. Ho wanted to know why Rathminos, Bootcrstown, Blackrock, Monkstown, and the other Southern districts wore so arranged as to go together, and exclude all the other urban districts to the North of Dublin, such as Howth, Clontarf, and Malahide, which were just as much of an urban character as the others? Simply because the former were expected to give a Tory vote and the latter to vote on the popular side. Dublin City had been treated differently from Belfast for the sake of depriving Dublin of a sixth Member. It was time the representation of the Universities should cease; the state of things which had made it necessary had passed away. University Members had no special qualification, and graduates had votes as occupiers or owners. The Irish Members contested seven cases, and, unless maps and documents were produced, it would be their duty to occupy time in raising discussions upon all these cases.


said, it was lamentable that the borough representation of Ireland should be practically wiped out. The proposal of the Government would reduce the borough representation of the counties of Limerick and Clare to one Member. The Government scheme only retained Members for 15 Irish boroughs. It was not calculated to improve the condition of the Irish boroughs to deprive them of Parliamentary representation. He was the more desirous of stating the case of Limerick City in the House, because the instructions to the Boundary Commissioners made it impossible for the case to be presented in the Court. The Corporation of Limerick had forwarded to him a series of statements in support of their claim that their representation should remain unchanged. It was an an ancient city, and had been the seat of several Parliaments. Its manufactures, trade, and commerce entitled it to retain its present representation. Many inconsistent arrangements had been made, apparently with no other object than that of distributing the strength of the Nationalist Party; and it was only natural that the strongest protests should be made against the undisguised jerrymandering of which the Commissioners had been made the instruments. The course taken by the Commissioners in Donegal was an audacious piece of jerrymandering. In that county districts were to be brought together which were practically as far apart as Scotland and Ireland. The Commissioners had actually joined in one constituency two districts which were separated by Lough Swilly. As to the Universities, whatever were the original motives for giving them representation, these motives had long since disappeared. The original intention was that learned men might be sent to Parliament to assist in promoting education; but that had ceased to be necessary now for a long time. He found that for the last 85 years the Representatives of Dublin University had been lawyers. As to Armagh, the county had been divided quite regardless of the instructions to the Commissioners, and at the instigation of local Tories for party purposes, and more inconvenient and absurd divisions could not have been devised. The case of Londonderry was an extraordinary one. It had been stated that the Solicitor General for Ireland sent a gentleman to represent him when the Commissioners held a Court for the purpose of considering the divisions of the county. He believed the hon. and and learned Gentleman objected to the present scheme, which savoured of jerrymandering. The hon. and learned Gentleman ought in that case to use his great influence with the Government in order to get a just and equal division of the county which he represented. He hoped the Solicitor General for Ireland would state his views upon the subject.


said, that as the hon. Member had referred to him he would state what he knew of the matter. Derry was undoubtedly not the last case which the Boundary Commissioners considered, although, being one of the counties to the extreme North, it was among the last. What advantage any division, or portion of a division, could attain by being last considered, he could not conceive. The original scheme for the division of the county of Derry was manifestly framed from the maps of the Ordnance Department, and without local knowledge. The county of Londonderry, amongst other baronies, comprised three which were parallel with each other, and included within this area was a large proportion of the Roman Catholic element of the county. The proposed division of the county divided the three baronies. Further, it divided three parishes. It left a mountain range between one portion and another, and left totally out of view similarity of constituency. That division was opposed, and in the speech of the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy), which was more amusing than accurate, it was said that he gave instructions to someone to attend on his behalf. That was not the case; but on boundaries coming to be fixed, three parties attended—one representing the Nationalists, another the Liberal, and another the Conservative Association. It was perfectly clear that both these Associations objected to the proposed division of the county of Derry upon obvious grounds—the want of geographical compactness, the fact that a mountain range ran through it, and the want of similarity. The proposal made by the Li- beral Association was not adopted, but that put forward by the Conservative Association was followed. The Commissioners had adhered to the rule laid down for the Commissioners; they observed geographical compactness; they did not divide parishes as in the proposed scheme; and they observed regularity. They left the mountain range as a division between two districts, and they had passing through each division a central line of railway connecting the particular division with one centre. Objections were made as to other divisions which he did not intend to enter upon; but, as regarded Donegal, he was forced to the conclusion that hon. Members below the Gangway, when the result was against them upon one ground, used the same ground in another case in an opposite direction. For his own part, he honestly believed that in the schemes which had been approved the Commissioners had observed the condition of geographical compactness, had acted up to their instructions, and had not been influenced by Party or political relations.


said, he would not occupy the attention of the House more than a few seconds. Indeed, the debate had come on him by surprise, and the long speeches which they had heard seemed to him as only suited to the Committee stage of the Bill. He would not have intervened at that time; but the case of Belfast had been so pointedly referred to by the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy), and noticed by the right hon. Gentleman who had charge of the Bill and others, that he felt it incumbent on him to correct some inaccuracies in the speech of the hon. Member. The Solicitor General had characterized that speech as "more amusing than accurate." He would designate it as one of singular exaggeration. The hon. Member, in his effort to sustain the charge against the Boundary Commission of partisanship, had made the astounding statement that, whereas Belfast was entitled to only two Members, the Commissioners had so enlarged the boundaries as to entitle it to four Members. Now, the House would be enabled to form their opinion as to the value of the statement. The Redistribution Bill, as the House knew, gave Belfast four Members, and indicated a boundary with sufficient population for that purpose. Now, if he were disposed to make a charge of partizanship against the Commissioners, he thought ho had some ground for it, because, though the Redistribution Bill fixed a boundary and gave Belfast four Members, yet the Commissioners had needlessly extended the boundaries, taking from the County Antrim many thousands and from the County Down a considerable number, thereby, as his friends alleged, weakening the Conservative interest in both counties; but though he had their complaint and others about the counties, yet he would be slow to assume or make the charge of partizanship against the Commissioners. He would not follow the hon. Member for Monaghan into the subject of the respective numbers of the Nationalists and Loyalists that would be returned under the new law. The hon. Member had by far overstated the number of Loyalists that would be returned. Ho (Mr. Ewart) repeated that though by numbers they were entitled to one-third of the representation—that was a simple question of arithmetic—yet it would be impossible for them to return even one-sixth. The hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had referred to a letter of Lord Salisbury in which he spoke of the spirit in which the Boundary Commissioners should proceed in their work. Well, the only construction that could be put on that was that it meant a spirit of favouritism. [Laughter by Home Rulers.] Hon. Members laughed; but all the noble Lord meant by the words was that the duty of the Commissioners ought to be conducted in a spirit of fairness. For himself and the Party with which he acted he totally disclaimed any desire that the duty should be discharged in any other spirit.


said, there had been a great deal of discussion this afternoon on the subject of redistribution in Ireland. He would not venture on that dangerous ground; but before Mr. Speaker left the Chair, he would like to say a few words with reference to what had happened with regard to the scheme of redistribution of seats in Scotland. As the House might be aware, a certain amount of dissatisfaction was caused by the inefficient way in which redistribution, and especially the grouping of boroughs, was dealt with by the Bill. It was felt by all Scotch Liberals that the system of grouping of boroughs was altogether out of date, and not calculated to answer the requirements that were now necessary in Scotland. Some time ago the President of the Local Government Board gave out in the House to the Scotch Members that if they would consider amongst themselves what would be desirable and right in the matter of redistribution, and more especially with regard to the grouping of Scotch boroughs, and making the principle more satisfactory than at present, the Government would be willing to take the matter into their consideration. With that view the Scottish Members had got into relation with the Lord Advocate, who, at once responding to their desires, had done his best to frame an improved scheme. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had gone into the subject very elaborately, and produced a scheme which he (Mr. A. Elliot) thought an immense improvement upon the scheme proposed by the Bill. The Lord Advocate had then asked the Scottish Members to meet him in a private room in this House, and talk over the scheme which he had prepared. That scheme contained very considerable changes from the scheme of the Bill, and it was gone into clause by clause and word by word by the Scottish Members together. He might say that, although the Scottish Members did not approve of all the Lord Advocate's suggestions, still they accepted and thoroughly approved of nine-tenths of them; and he thought those changes would be adopted nemine contradicente by the Scottish Members. At all events, the Government was now in possession, not only of the draft scheme of the Lord Advocate, but of that scheme with the views of the Scottish Members upon it. One of the proposals which he, for one, supported very heartily was to put the villages which had hitherto been put out of the counties back into the counties. He said "villages," because the small burghs with which the Lord Advocate proposed to deal were towns with less than 1,000 inhabitants, and the Lord Advocate thought it desirable that they should go back into the counties of which they formed a part. He should not have taken up the time of the House by bringing this matter before it if he had found that Amendments had been put down by the Lord Advocate or some other Member of the Government to carry out the recommendations of the Lord. Advocate, endorsed by the great majority of the Scottish Members. There were some matters which required to be taken into consideration with other matters, one being the inclusion of Portobello and Musselburgh in the City of Edinburgh. What could be simpler than for the Lord Advocate to have put down the proposal to deal with Porto-bello—and, so far as he knew, there was no opposition to it—that Portobello and Musselburgh should be grouped with Edinburgh? He hoped he was not asking too much of the Government when he asked them to tell the House what they proposed to do to carry out the proposals of their own Lord Advocate, approved by the majority of Scottish Members. If, as he did not doubt, they intended to give effect to these recommendations, he hoped they would put their Amendments on the Paper at the earliest moment, so that they might know what they had to deal with.


complained that the towns in Ireland and the industrial interests connected with them had been almost entirely sacrificed to the counties. In future only 15 towns in Ireland would be represented; and how, under such circumstances, were the voices of trade and industry to made themselves heard. He could not refer to this matter without expressing his gratification at the deep interest which the hon. Baronet (Sir Eardley Wilmot) took in the prosperity and progress of Irish industry; and he could assure the hon. Baronet that his efforts in that direction had been highly appreciated in Ireland. He only wished that Englishmen of that character could be multiplied. He especially pleaded for a reconsideration of the case of the City of Limerick, to which another Member ought to be given. The population of the city amounted to 145,000, or 45,000 beyond the sum which entitled it to the two Members which it now enjoyed. Indeed, by a reasonable extension of the boundary of the city it would be easy to procure the requisite number of additional inhabitants to entitle the borough to a third Member. In the interests of commerce and industry, it was very desirable that the representation of Limerick should be thus increased. Its sentimental claims to consideration were also very great. Its Charter was only less ancient than that of the City of London, and it had ever been famous in peace and war. As the legend on the Civic banner said— Urbs antiqua fuit, studiisque asperrima belli. He contended, therefore, in consideration both of the historical claims of Limerick, and of its agricultural claims, and of its commercial claims, that the representation of that ancient borough should not be reduced.


said, he would express the hope that the House would consent to go into Committee on the Bill that afternoon. That was the anxious wish of the Government, and the moderate length at which hon. Members spoke was an indication, he thought, of their desire in the same direction. He thought the Question which had been asked by the hon. Member for Roxburghshire (Mr. A. Elliot) was a very reasonable one indeed. The Government had most carefully examined the scheme prepared by the Lord Advocate in the light which had been thrown upon it by the observations and expressions of opinion of the Scottish Members; and they had come to this conclusion—that the difference of opinion that existed on one or two of the points contained in that scheme would almost certainly be fatal to those points; and the impossibility of carrying out those points would very seriously endanger the others. In endeavouring to revise the scheme, it was brought at every moment before the notice of the Government; and the more the House examined the scheme the more it would be brought before the notice of the House, for the scheme was a very carefully constructed map—he might almost call it a puzzle, but it would not be a puzzle if it were carefully examined—and it would be seen that it was almost impossible to displace any one piece of it without displacing the others. Still, the Government was desirous to meet the suggestions and criticisms of Scottish Members, and embody, as far as possible, the results of their deliberations in Amendments. Notably, they earnestly hoped to meet the case of the burgh of Leith, which was, perhaps, the strongest case of the many which had been put forward by the Lord Advocate and viewed favourably by the Scottish Members. He would respond to the appeal of his hon. Friend by saying that they would have a consultation with the Lord Advocate, and at the very earliest opportunity determine what Amendments might be placed upon the Paper. Coming to other speeches that had been made, he had to express his surprise that the scheme before the House should have been attacked from below the Gangway opposite, for he had not imagined that the scheme could be seriously distasteful to the Irish Members. In fact, it would, in his opinion, be difficult for any Member, even one sharing the sympathies of the hon. Gentlemen to whom he was referring, to frame a scheme which should favour those sympathies to a greater degree, and, at the same time, have the slightest chance before the House. The Bill had been framed upon certain broad lines and just principles, which favoured Nationalist views just as much as they ought to be favoured, and no less. The hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton), alluding to the action of the Boundary Commissioners, complained that Kingstown and other suburbs had not been added to Dublin in the same way that outlying suburbs had been added to the borough of Belfast; and the hon. Member for Ennis (Mr. Kenny) spoke in a passionless way of what he called the shameful system of jerrymandering that had been carried out in the County Donegal. It was sufficient to reply that the character of the Commissioners was so high that such an epithet as shameful could not possibly be applied to their conduct. The hon. Member for Ennis and others complained that the Irish urban representation had been too greatly reduced; that too little regard had been had to the claim to representation of the commerce and industry of Ireland. It was curious that the hon. Members below the Gangway opposite were not the only people who raised an objection of that kind. Those who thought that the National Party would gain too much advantage by the Bill had been at great pains to devise some method by which that result could be mitigated; and their original plan of having recourse to proportional or minority representation having fallen to the ground, they now wished to gain their ends by diminishing the rural representation of Ireland and increasing the number of borough Members, their idea being that small boroughs could be grouped together as in Scotland. He was not going to argue against that proposal; but he only referred to it to show that hon. Members below the Gangway on the other side, when they complained of the small amount of representation given to the urban element in Ireland, ought to be careful what they were doing, because they were opening a door and letting out a stream of water which, under certain circumstances, might become a serious flood. The towns of Drogheda and Limerick had been specially mentioned in the course of the debate. With reference to the first of these, he thought it would be at once seen that no exceptional favour could be shown it. Because the inhabitants of a town were only a little below 15,000 in number, it could not be excepted from the general slaughter. He knew of a town in England which was supposed to have come within Schedule I. of the Bill, because at the time of the Census a larger number than usual of its inhabitants were pursuing the avocation of deep-sea fishing, the weather at the time favouring that pursuit. If they were once to make any exceptions from the operation of Schedule I., they would never know where to stop. The hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Dawson) had pleaded that Limerick should retain her second seat, because she had been famous in peace and in war. Canterbury and Durham had also been famous in these respects; and why should Limerick be treated differently from these places, each of which would lose a seat? The City of London, like the City of Limerick, would lose half of her representation. Then the hon. Member referred to the City of London, and said that it was treated differently from Limerick. Now, how had Limerick been treated? One Member had been taken away from Limerick, but two Members had been taken away from London. The Government had treated Limerick exactly as they had treated London. He had referred to this question of the Irish boroughs, because it had not been dealt with previously from the Treasury Bench. He would not go back to the question of the counties, because that had been discussed by two of his Colleagues. The hon. Member for Ennis, however, had referred especially to the way in which the Boundary Commissioners had dealt with the county of Armagh. The reason why the Commissioners had altered their original scheme with regard to that county was, if he might be permitted to say so, because they had made a mistake in the division of the county in the first instance, and they were compelled to rectify it. Each of the divisions of Armagh averaged 51,000, 52,000, and 53,000; but it was found that North Armagh contained fewer than these, and in order to bring that division up to the requisite number, a portion of South Armagh was cut off and added to it, because the latter was a mountainous district. The map of Armagh was one which carried conviction with it, and he earnestly wished, as a justification for the policy of the Commissioners, that the House would look at the map of Armagh, and see exactly how the mountainous district, with its particular agricultural industry, was separated from the flat country, with its agricultural industry. Then, the hon. Member had referred to Dublin. In that case, the course pursued by the Commissioners was unusual, because the position of the county of Dublin was extremely unusual. It was one of those very rare counties in Ireland which resembled a good many English counties. There were three sorts of population—the population which lived in the city, the population which lived in the country, and the population which lived largely and thickly in the suburbs. The county had to be divided in two. Divided by the population, it was necessary to make a large division where the population was scanty, and a small division where the population was close; while each division had been made as compact as possible. If the Irish Members would look at the maps of Northumberland and Durham on the Tyne side, they would see that the new divisions in those counties corresponded exactly to the divisions in Dublin County. In conclusion, he earnestly trusted that hon. Members would view this question of Ireland as a whole, and would try, as far as possible, to put out of their minds any idea that any conscious effort had been made not to give fair play to any party in Ireland. He hoped, also, that they would see the advantage of settling these questions at a period when political passions connected with elections had been lulled by the passing of the Franchise Bill, and would not wait until such a time that they could not be dealt with justly, calmly, and fairly.


said, that the original instructions issued to the Boundary Commissioners had been very favourably received in Ireland. But how had those instructions been carried out? In the instructions given to the Commissioners, they found it stated they were— To hear any objections to the proposed constitution of the divisions, and receive proposals for their alteration. It will he convenient that the substance of such objections and proposals should be handed in to the Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner in writing. In accordance with that invitation, some of the most influential gentlemen, clergymen and others, appeared before Mr. Commissioner White, at Wicklow, on the part of the popular side, and laid their views before him in favour of dividing the county into North and South instead of East and West. He intimated that such was the original view of the Boundary Commissioners, and asked to have the alternative scheme of the objections put in writing, assuring them it would receive due consideration. The proposal was handed in, but did not appear to have been taken the least notice of, and was not even mentioned in the Commissioners' Report. In the recommendations of the Commissioners it was proposed to give three baronies to East Wicklow, with an area of 165,389 acres, valuation £151,123, population 34,599; to West Wicklow five baronies, area 334,788 acres, population 35,787. That practically gave two-thirds of the county to West, and one-third, with the whole of the coast line, to East Wicklow. In the County Louth the seaboard had been almost equally divided between the North and South Divisions of Dundalk and Drogheda. The proposal laid before the Commissioners on behalf of the people of Wicklow was to divide the county into North and South, giving four baronies to each, which left for North Wicklow an area of 252,329 acres, valuation £134,861, population 35,416; to South Wicklow an area of 247,848 acres, valuation £137,519, population 34,970. The question of compactness had been much dwelt on by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Trevelyan) in his speech awhile ago, and there could be no doubt on which side the compactness lay in the two proposals. As for keeping all the fishing and seafaring interests together, there was no reason for departing, in the division of Wicklow, from the course adopted in County Louth. In Committee he would oppose the scheme of the Commissioners to the utmost of his power.


said, he had heard with great disappointment the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; because, so far as he understood that statement, it seemed to imply that very little was to be done to carry out the Lord Advocate's scheme. He wished to point out that the proposals in the scheme were of three kinds. There was the proposal to merge certain of the small burghs in the counties, the proposal to re-group certain districts of burghs, and the proposal to constitute certain new constituencies. The last might give rise to differences of opinion; but in regard to the other two proposals, he had a note of the results of the meeting of the Scottish Members with the Lord Advocate, and he would state the result in answer to his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who said that there was a great difference of opinion in regard to the proposals. The result was that in the one for the amalgamation of Bute and Argyll the minority was only eight, and the other proposal of the same description—namely, for the creation of a new county constituency of the Hebrides, was carried unanimously. In regard to the other parts of the scheme, some of the Scottish Members did not think they went far enough; but they were willing to consider them on their merits, and they had all been looking forward to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Lord Advocate placing hit Amendments on the Paper. It had been a matter of great disappointment that nothing of this sort had been done, and he gathered from the speech of his right hon. Friend that nothing of the sort was to be proposed. The right hon. Gentleman had also adduced the argument, which he thought a very strange one, that this Bill was a kind of puzzle in which no piece could be displaced. He was surprised that the Government had not used this argument last night when they were pressing for increased representation; and he hoped that when the question of increasing the number of Scottish Representatives was again raised the Government would make use of his right hon. Friend's argument, and insist equally strongly that that part of the Bill should not be interfered with. The right hon. Gentleman had further said that there would be a final consultation as to what Amendments might be placed upon the Paper. For his part, he would much rather the right hon. Gentleman had said what Amendments would be put upon the Paper. In reality it came to this—that they could not get any definite promise out of the Government to fulfil the expectations which they had held out to the Scottish Members. It came to this—that the Amendments which the vast majority of the Scottish Members desired would depend, not upon the opinion of the majority of the Scottish Members who sat on this side of the House, but on the small minority of Scottish Members who sat opposite. This whole question showed the difficulty that attached to the consideration of the Bill owing to the peculiar nature of its inception, and to the fact of the Government being bound by pledges to right hon. Gentlemen opposite. He would firmly urge upon the Government that they should endeavour to redeem the expectations they held out to the Scottish Members. The proposals laid before the Lord Advocate were of a most moderate character; and it was exceedingly disappointing that, after all, nothing whatever was to be done. He was sure that the right hon. Gentleman would see that very great dissatisfaction and disappointment would be occasioned in Scotland if this matter were neglected.


said, he thought that the attention of the House should be directed to the monstrous anomalies in the representation of the Metropolis under the new scheme. The Bill, he understood, was introduced for the purpose of correcting anomalies, and yet he found that there were really more anomalies in the construction of the new Metropolitan constituencies than ever existed before. A Return had recently been issued giving the population in the new boroughs proposed to be created in the Metropolis. Under the new scheme Chelsea was to have a population of 88,000 inhabitants, with one Member; while its next door neighbour, Fulham, with a population of 42,000, was to have the same representation. Then he would take the case of the two St. George's, one poor, the other rich. St. George's-in-the-East, with 47,000, was to be made equal to St. George's Hanover Square, with 89,000 inhabitants. Hampstead, with a population of 45,462, and Lewisham, with a population of 86,150, were each to have one Member. The like anomaly appeared in the case of neighbouring boroughs; Holborn and Finsbury were next door neighbours, yet Holborn had a population of 82,000 and Finsbury of only 46,000. Taking various cases together, the result was that sometimes 86,000 persons returned a Member, and sometimes only 40,000. So far as the new constituencies went, therefore, the same anomalies appeared in them as existed at present. How was it if the old constituencies were compared with the new? Westminster, with 229,000 inhabitants, had been divided into three one-Member boroughs. St. Fancras, with a population of 236,000, had received four Members; and more monstrous still, Kensington and Marylebone, with 318,061, were to have four Members together; while Mile End and Paddington, with 320,681, were to have six Members. These anomalies were altogether unaccountable, and bore the trace of the cloven foot. He thought that the anomalies which were to exist under the new system in the representation of London were a discredit to anyone who had had the drawing up of the details of the Bill; they were clearly opposed to propriety, fair play, and common sense; and he thought the House was entitled to some explanation from the Government on the subject. London itself was satisfied with its increased representation, and therefore did not object so much to these anomalies; but those who were to have their representation lopped off were entitled to question the fairness of such arrangements. Another point to which he wished to call attention was the case of towns which might, by a small extension into their suburbs, have retained their representation. This had been done in the case of Warwick, which had only 11,800 of population, whereas Wigan had lost one of its Members, although it was only just below the necessary number. In fact no other case than that of Warwick could be shown in which the limits of a borough had been extended for the express purpose of saving its dual representation; and he considered that some reason ought to be given for the exceptional course which had been taken in that matter.


said, he did not intend to enter into a discussion of the points raised by the hon. Member who had just sat down (Mr. Lewis), because he bad placed Amendments on the Paper which would be considered in Committee, with the object of dealing with London in a different way from that proposed by the Bill. His proposal was to retain the existing boroughs instead of creating the numerous new constituencies proposed, and to apportion to each that fair share of representation to which it might be entitled. They would then be sub-divided into wards, exactly as Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, and other large places were divided, which would be much more equal in population than anything which would be insured by the Government scheme. He rose, however, to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board would have two maps made and hung in the Library of the House, the one showing the proposed divisions of London under the scheme as embodied in the Bill, and the other showing the representation of London as at present existing?


said, that he was afraid that it would be difficult to manage such a map, as the scale on which the maps were drawn was very large. He would be glad, however, to give any information in his power upon the subject.


said, he must express his disappointment that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster had not given his promised explanation as to the grounds on which Warwick was treated differently from other parts of the Kingdom. Hon. Gentlemen from Ireland had urged the claims of Limerick and Drogheda; and it would have been only reasonable for the right hon. Gentleman to state why those places were to suffer, in the one total disfranchisement, and in the other partial disfranchisement, while Warwick was to retain separate representation. The Scotch Members were consulted as to the rearrangement of the seats in Scotland; and, therefore, he thought it would have been but fair that the Irish Members should have had an opportunity of expressing their views upon the arrangement of the electoral districts in their country. Reference had been made to the fact that Belfast was the only borough in Ireland in the case of which instructions were given to the Boundary Commissioners. If additions had been made to other boroughs—to Limerick and Drogheda, for instance—they would not have been disfranchised, as was now proposed by the Bill. In his opinion, the two boroughs he mentioned had been very hardly treated; and if anything could be done by which they would retain their present representation, it was well it should be done. As to the County Cavan, he could not complain of the decision of the Commissioners. The original scheme proposed by the Boundary Commissioners was one with which he had no fault to find. His hon. Colleague did not take the trouble to attend before the Commissioners as lie (Mr. Biggar) did; but he wrote a note to the Commissioners complaining of their scheme, and intimating that he would bring the matter before the House of Commons. By the scheme of the Commissioners Cavan was divided into two divisions, East and West, by a line running almostdue North and South. His hon. Colleague proposed that the county should be divided into North and South by aline running from East to West. He (Mr. Biggar) could not see that, had his hon. Colleague's suggestion been adopted, any difference would have been made in the representation of the county. The Loyalist Party in Ireland, he also observed, sought to exaggerate the amount of power which the Nationalists would obtain under that Bill. Now, he believed that in the county of Antrim not a single Nationalist Member would be elected under the provisions of the Bill; and in other places, also, the measure would operate very unfairly towards that Party. He thought that under a system of proportional representation, or by the cumulative vote, the result in many English constituencies would be that the Irish Nationalists would be able to return a Member of their way of thinking; and that would be quite as beneficial for their interest as the Bill now before the House would be. However, as the Bill had been accepted by the Leaders of the two great Parties in the House, there was no chance of success for the advocates of any other measure at present. But as to the details of the proposed redistribution in different constituencies, he maintained that there was very great cause of complaint. In the county of Londonderry, for instance, they had altered the original scheme, and in the boundary scheme which they now recommended they paid no attention to community of interest in the populations which they had grouped together. They had cut into two a large Catholic population, which were most intimately connected, intermarrying with each other, attending the same fairs and markets, and having the same interests, and managed so to draw the line of division as to weaken the Catholic and National Party in each division, and prevent them from electing a Member in either. In the face of that decision of the Boundary Commission, he asserted that if the evidence which had been laid before the Commissioners could be brought before that House, it would be seen that it was proved to demonstration that the Commissioners had gone absolutely against the weight of evidence.

It being a quarter of an hour before Six of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till To-morrow.

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