HC Deb 20 February 1895 vol 30 cc1233-4

*MR. H. W. PAUL (Edinburgh, South) moved the Second Reading of this Bill. He said that it was simply a repealing measure. It proposed to repeal certain words in existing Statutes, and the effect would be to assimilate the Lodger and Occupation Franchises. A vote would thus be given, not only to every lodger whose lodging was worth £10 a year unfurnished, but to all lodgers. He would not attempt to give a legal definition of the terms "lodger" and "occupier," but he would give a popular definition. A lodger was an occupier whose landlord lived on the premises, and an occupier was a lodger whose landlord lived somewhere else. Surely the fitness of a man to exercise the Franchise could not depend upon the place where his landlord resided. No notice of opposition to this Bill appeared upon the Paper, and therefore he hoped that it would receive unanimous assent. In the autumn of last year, the National Union of Conservative Associations in Edinburgh passed a Resolution to the effect that the qualification for a lodger should be the payment of 4s. a week. The result of adopting that Resolution would be to admit five-sixths of the lodgers who were now excluded from the Franchise, and all of whom he desired to admit. The effect of the existing law was to exclude, in many places, every working man who happened to be a lodger; in other words, every working man who did not happen to be married. That was a state of things which no one could desire to continue. He proposed this change in the interests of both political Parties. He concluded by moving that the Bill be read a second time.

MR. W. AMBROSE (Middlesex, Harrow)

said, he could not agree with the hon. Member's definition of a lodger. He objected to the form in which the hon. Member proposed this fresh legislation. It was the worst form that could be adopted, the Bill containing all sorts of confusing references to several Statutes, each one of which must be studied in order to understand what the Bill would do. In the Schedule five different Acts of Parliament were referred to, and the proposal was to repeal particular sections of those measures. The effect would be to embarrass all those who were concerned with elections. But he not only objected to the Bill because it was piecemeal legislation. He also opposed it because it was an attempt to jerrymander the Constitution just before an appeal to the country. The Bill was nothing less than an impropriety.

It being Half-past Five o'clock, the Debate stood adjourned.