HC Deb 05 May 1886 vol 305 cc352-4

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [2nd April], "That the Bill be now read a second time."

Question again proposed.

Debate resumed.

MR. EVERETT (Suffolk, Woodbridge)

said, that as he did not see the hon. Gentleman who had charge of the Bill, or any of the hon. Members whose names appeared on the back of the Bill in their places, he begged to move the second reading.

SIR JOSEPH PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)

asked, if it was competent for the hon. Gentleman to move the second reading of the Bill?


said, that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Everett) was perfectly in Order. The Bill was now the property of the House, and any hon. Gentleman was at liberty to move it.


resuming, said, he was anxious that the Bill should proceed, because it affirmed a very important principle, or, at any rate, went a long way towards affirming an important principle—that of manhood suffrage. He was confident that every hon. Member who, like himself, carefully watched the progress of the County Franchise Bill, must have come to the conclusion that the only intelligible foundation on which they could stand in regard to suffrage was that of manhood suffrage. There was no qualification possessed by a man so high as that of manhood; and on that ground he thought that the sooner they incorporated in their legislation the principle of one man one vote, the sooner they would arrive at the goal which everybody admitted to be most desirable. It might be feared that property would be endangered if power were put in the hands of men without any regard as to whether they possessed property or not. If there was a wish on the part of the poor men to rob the rich men of their possessions, he knew of nothing to prevent them doing so now. They had the advantage of numbers, and the property of the rich was distinctly within their power; but he was glad to think that there was the same honest principle abiding in the poor man's mind as in the rich man's mind. He had pleasure in moving the second reading of the Bill, because it contained provisions for removing many of the difficulties now connected with registration. Everyone who had had to do with registration was aware how greatly it was complicated by the great variety of suffrages now in existence. This Bill would sweep away all suffrages except one—namely, that of manhood; and it would, therefore, make the work of registration infinitely more simple than it was now. Having said this much in favour of the principle of the Bill, he wished to add that he had no desire, against the will of the House, to persevere with the second reading, if he was to understand that Her Majesty's Government intended to deal with registration this year, and with the suffrage question next year. He trusted that the Government would see their way to adopt, in regard to the suffrage, the only final and intelligible resting place—namely, that of manhood suffrage. They would thus sweep away all registration difficulties, and stand upon the ground which was most conducive to the highest and best interests of the country in which they lived.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Everett.)


said, that the hon. Member (Mr. Everett) had probably not heard the discussion which took place on the Franchise Bill in charge of the hon. Member for the City of London (Sir Robert Fowler). He (Mr. Childers) then explained that Her Majesty's Government intended to bring in a Bill on the subject of registration, though they did not propose to deal with the franchise during the present Session. This Bill went much further than the Bill of the hon. Member for the City of London, and practically gave the franchise to everyone who lived in the same house during the month of June, provided he had possessed the electoral status for six months. He would, however, express no opinion upon it; but would only ask that it should be adjourned to the same date as that to which the other Bill was adjourned, and for that purpose he would make the requisite Motion.

Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be further adjourned till Wednesday 7th July,"—(Mr. Secretary Childers,)—put, and agreed to.