§ Read 2a; and committed.
MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford) moved:—
That it be an Instruction to the Committee that they do insert a Clause or Clauses providing for the reduction of the rated occupation franchise for the municipal electors in Waterford to a limit of £4 poor rate valuation.
As far as he could gather there was no opposition to the proposal, and therefore it was not necessary for him to argue at any length in its favour. It would be remembered that last year a Bill was proposed extending the franchise in Ireland, and assimilating it to that of England, but objection was taken to that Bill on the ground that it was not desirable to extend the extreme limit of the franchise to more than 11 corporate towns. The promoters of the Bill and the Government themselves agreed that so far as the 11 corporate towns were concerned, the franchise should be reduced. In this Instruction he did not propose to reduce it below the £4 qualification; the reason that he had taken that moderate limit being that the Waterford
Corporation had passed a resolution asking him to propose it, and also that the tradesmen's clubs and other organisations in the City of Waterford were content, for the present at any rate, that the franchise should be reduced to the £4 limit, hoping that when a general measure was passed for the whole of Ireland, the franchise would then be reduced to the further limit, which was agreed to by all parties in the House last year. It was not necessary for him to enter into any explanation of the proposal, but the course he had taken was one which had sound precedent for it. There were three precedents to which he would refer. One was in 1885, when, on the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean (Sir C. Dilke), by a Private Bill, the franchise in Rathmines was reduced. Shortly afterwards the same thing was done in a Private Bill for the City of Belfast, and in the year 1893 a similar proposal to that which he was now making was carried in a Private Bill dealing with the municipal affairs of Blackrock and Kingstown townships. At present the municipal franchise was a £10 valuation, which, as everybody knew, was exceedingly high. While the population was 22,000, and the Parliamentary electors numbered over 4,000, there were only 600 municipal voters in the City of Waterford. Under these circumstances he thought there would be a practical agreement on all sides of the House in favour of the Instruction which he moved.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY (Cork City)
said, he was glad the hon. Member had said the Instruction did not represent his own views, and he had only proposed it for reasons of expediency. In Ireland they would always claim that every ratepayer should have a municipal vote, as was the case in England.
§ Instruction agreed to.