§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ *SIR HENRY KIMBER (Wandsworth) moved:—" That this House declines to pass a Bill having for its sole object the prohibition and penalising of a large class of His Majesty's subjects in the exercise of admitted rights and franchises, (1) without consideration being given to the whole subject of electoral franchise, and (2) without any relief from the known gross anomalies involved in the present representation of the people in this House, which urgently calls for a redistribution of electoral power, and also (3) without any consideration of the previous constitutional question whether any relation between representation and taxation is to be permanently abandoned, or to what extent it is to be preserved." The hon. Member said he asked himself upon what principle the Government of the day had introduced such a measure? Was it particularly to relieve any class of His Majesty's subjects? It was not a Bill to enfranchise but a Bill which created disfranchisement and disabilities. As its title announced, it was a Bill to impose pains and penalties upon a Parliamentary elector registered in more than one constituency if he should vote in any constituency except that which he had selected for the purpose. It was therefore a Bill to impose a penalty—a penalty for what? A penalty for exercising a lawful right—a right which the Bill did not deny—viz., that of exercising a franchise which had been exercised without dispute for a very long period of time. He therefore again asked himself 605 why was it the Government of the day brought in a Bill to impose disabilities, take away rights, and impose pains and penalties? The penalty imposed was that for felony. The offence was called "personation." If a man exercised his own right to give his own vote in his own name in his own constituency he was pronounced in the Bill to be guilty of "personation." Personation of whom? He always thought personation was when a man presented himself somewhere and pretended to be someone else. Under the Bill a man having a vote for more than one place was called upon to set a mark against his name in the constituency in which he intended to vote, and if he failed to do so he was entirely disfranchised. By setting his mark against his name a man held himself up to his political opponents and the local wire-pullers; having ex-eluded himself from voting in the other constituencies he had to be provided against only in that particular one. The penalties imposed for this Bill-created crime—it could not be held to be a moral crime, as there was no fraud and no moral turpitude—were excessive. A man had to forfeit all his rights to the Parliamentary franchise for seven years, and might be condemned to two years imprisonment with hard labour without the option of a fine, and no such luxury as that accorded to first class suffragettes. That might or might not be considered by some persons who were actuated in their legislation by vindictive principles too severe, but he looked upon it as being unjustifiable. He started with the proposition that at all events it was not a Bill which would ameliorate the position of any class of His Majesty's subjects. He had sought in vain in the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman who brought in the Bill and in the speeches of other Members of the Government for any reason for bringing in this Bill, either on the grounds of urgency or on the ground that it ameliorated the position of anyone, and he could find no reason at all. The Prime Minister said in almost the same terms as the right hon. Gentleman that the object of the Bill was to do away with the anomaly of strangers being able to vote down residents, and to prevent freeholders from towns being introduced wholesale into elections in county divisions. The second reason was 606 one which related to the future, and dealt with prevention, and he had nothing in the world to say against a Bill which provided for the future against the artificial introduction of freeholders from towns or anywhere else merely to swamp a county division or any other division. Anything in the way of the prevention of a wrong of that sort would be perfectly legitimate. But this Bill did nothing of the kind, because it was ex post facto legislation, which destroyed rights which had existed from time immemorial, on the mere ground that it was an anomaly. Freeholders residing in one county were not to be able to vote also in another county in which their property rested, and in which they paid taxes and supported people. This from a Government who said that locality had nothing to do with representation! But let them see, to use an American phrase, "Who is hurt" by the status quo? Was it the Government of the day who had a majority of some 300? No, but when they presently came to examine the figures and the history of the recent past they might perhaps discover a latent reason why in the interests of their Party it had seemed good to the Government to bring forward this measure to confiscate the rights and to disfranchise that large portion of His Majesty's subjects who were voters and electors in more places than one by virtue, not of any fraud, or of any illicit action, but by their having legitimately acquired and become possessed of properties or having set up industries in more than one place. These men had paid taxes to the State and employed labour of all kinds, and yet it was said they were not to be entitled to have a vote in all the counties or divisions in which they were rendering these services to the public good. [Mr. J. WARD: "They take the rents."] If they did take rents they also paid taxes and performed duties. Presently he should have to ask why the Government had arrived at the conclusion that taxation and representation were to be for ever divorced. It was said that manhood and residence should be the only qualification. In that case a general in the Army who had succeeded in saving his country from great perils 607 should have no more influence at the polls than the man who groomed his horse. This was a deprivation and not an enfranchising Bill. Why should not freeholders in the county have votes? What was the county? Why should it have representation at all, if the people who were in it and who paid the rates and taxes and were loyal subjects were to be deprived of their votes? Let them take the case of the Universities. It was true the Government did not destroy the University constituencies, but he supposed that would come next. The Rill would, however, have a grotesque effect upon the University seats, as the representation would be left to the heads of colleges and dons who would probably have no residential qualifications elsewhere, and who would have the matter in their hands. The wire-pullers and caucus-mongers would see the advantage of that, and the probability was that they might have as representatives of these great seats of learning not men who were worthy to represent them, but men who were selected for political and much lower reasons than had hitherto prevailed. Or he might instance the City of London. The Liveries of the City were to be deprived of their votes, and the representation would be left in the hands of a few caretakers and such members of the Liveries who chose to reside in the City in order to retain their votes. The Members of the Liveries of which he was one could afford to bear the cheap sneers which were heaped upon them, but he thought the Liveries of the City of London were composed of men who could compare favourably with any body of His Majesty's subjects.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said he must ask the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent not to keep up a running commentary on the speech of the hon. Member who was in possession of the House. He would have an ample opportunity later on of saying what he wished.
§ * SIR HENRY KIMBER
said he was very much obliged to Mr. Speaker for relieving him from that annoyance, 608 which had troubled him somewhat, though he had not grumbled at the action of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent. He would not grudge him the opportunity of intervening if he wished. The hon. Member happened to be a constituent of his own, and no doubt had some reason to complain because he did not properly represent him. The hon. Member, however, now represented himself. But he bore the hon. Member no ill-will and hoped to continue on good terms with him, and to treat him as every Member of the House was entitled to be treated, as an equal while in it. There were many real wrongs which might have been remedied by this Bill, such as proposals to deal with the votes of the Members of the mercantile marine who by their absence had no opportunity of voting. That was a moot question, and he would not intrude it upon the House now. The same remarks applied to the Navy. But there was a much more serious wrong. We were said to govern ourselves, but under the existing machinery of representation it could not be told whether we governed ourselves or whether somebody else was governing us. In 1893 the late Sir William Harcourt spoke upon a Motion which he (Sir Henry Kimber) introduced in regard to distribution of electoral power, and agreed that serious anomalies in the representation of the people existed, to such an extent as involved the danger of the will of the nation being misrepresented and possibly controverted by the decisions of the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman said that no one could deny that great inequalities existed, not only in the representation of Ireland but in regard to that of London, and before long, probably sooner than later, there must be another Redistribution Bill. The subject must be dealt with before long. The right hon. Gentleman also said that he would not traverse any of his (the hon. Member's) statements, and appealed to him to withdraw his Motion, which out of deference to the right hon. Gentleman he did. He brought the matter forward several times in every succeeding year. Ultimately a measure, a very lame measure, was brought in and it came to nothing. We had now a Government with plenty of power and time before 609 them, and they used the opportunity not for enfranchising non-represented people but for confiscating rights which had existed for generations, while they declined to take in hand the removal of real and gross anomalies which year after year were increasing and which involved the serious question of whether the power was exercised according to the will of the people. In anything he had said or written upon this subject of redistribution he had always been careful to keep clear from anything like Party bias. It was to the benefit of the House itself that it should represent the real will of the country. There were eight great anomalies from which the people had suffered since 1893, and which were growing in intensity every year. Constituencies of over 40,000 electors, and others with less than 2,000 electors, were represented in this House each by one representative. Over 100 members of this House represented constituencies of over 15,000 electors, fifty Members represented constituencies of under 5,000. Fifty-five Members represented constituencies of over 20,000, fifty - five represented constituencies of 2,000. Five Members, of which he was one, represented as many electors as forty-five other Members. He might fairly contend that four-fifths of the electors of this country were practically unrepresented as regarded the power of voice, and some might say they were misrepresented. Scotland had seventy-two Members, and had an electorate and a population larger than Ireland, which was represented in this House by 103 Members, though he admitted that owing to distance Ireland was perhaps entitled to some special consideration in this matter; at the same time so glaring a disparity ought to be remedied. The average electorate per Member in England was 11,442, in Ireland 6,283. If the electorate of the United Kingdom was divided it showed that one-half was represented by 206 Members and the other half by 464. A majority of 370 represented 2,750,000 electors whilst the minority of 300 Members represented 4,300,000. These anomalies were infinitely greater than that which was proposed to be dealt with by this Bill. This was one of the most grave questions. It was one which 610 might cause the will of the nation to be misrepresented and cause the people to govern themselves in a way which they did not wish. That was exemplified by two illustrations. At the time of the passing of the 1885 Reform Bill the proportion of the highest constituency to the lower was only eight to one, and now the proportion was thirty to one, In the general election of 1895 481 contested elections gave to 1,775,000 Unionist voters 279 seats, and to 1,800,000 Liberal voters 202 seats. It was those very contested seats that changed the Government of the day. It was quite possible for the present Government to contend on these figures that they should have been returned to power on that occasion. In the general election of 1906 the Liberal and Labour Parties polled 3,044,000 votes and obtained 428 seats, and the Unionists 2,400,000 and only obtained 139 seats. Each supporter of the Government represented 7,113 citizens, each Unionist Member 17,303. So that their votes were in the proportion of five to four and the Members they returned were one to three. These figures he suggested were the reason for this Bill. The injustice of the present anomalies would be shown by two simple illustrations. In a county of four divisions three Liberals and one Unionist were returned, though the bulk of the votes in the whole county were Unionist; in the other case, the case of a borough, two Unionists were returned by a small majority and one by a Liberal and Labour split, though over the whole area the Unionist total was less than the total of Liberal and Labour votes as a whole. In that case the Liberals were entitled to two Members out of three. These anomalies were more gross than anything touched by this Bill. He would no doubt be pardoned for asking in boyish phrase, What was the game? The game was not shown by a single move. This Bill was one move only. It was part of a sequence of measures introduced by the present Government; the Education, the Land Tenure, the Town Tenants, and this, the Plural Voting Bills. The Education Bill was a Bill to despoil a great Church which had deserved for centuries past the praise and gratitude of a great nation. Whatever its faults—and he was free as a churchman to say there were many— 611 it was at least a satisfaction to know-it had done great things for the education of the country. The Education Bill was to despoil the Church. The Land Tenure Bill was a Bill to despoil landowners. The Town Tenants Bill was a Bill to despoil the owners of houses. The Plural Voting Bill was a Bill to despoil electors of their right to vote. All these Bills were disability Bills. They were all Bills which, like this one, took away privileges and rights which free men had got of entering into free contracts and transactions and and exercising their liberties in all things lawful. The very manhood of the country, using it in the sense of voting, or not, was affected. We were gradually drawing toils about our legs which would emasculate the powers we possessed for work and for progress. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman even at this last hour of the passage of the Bill through this House to consider whether he would not hold this Bill in hand until he had taken under his care also the other and larger and more pressing question, the redistribution of seats. If not, he asked the House to reject the Bill, because it was one of disfranchisement and deprivation of admitted rights, because it left increasing evils, which the Government admitted to exist, untouched and unremedied; because its methods were unfair and crude; because it created a crime, and imposed penalties for exercising civil rights; because it ignored the cardinal maxim that taxation should have representation; and because it left tens of thousands of citizens unrepresented in Parliament, and unable to participate in the Government of the country or their own affairs. Finally, he would submit that this Bill was not the Bill of a statesman, but the Bill of a Party, whom accident had placed in a position of temporary power, to disfranchise their opponents.
§ * MR. F. E. SMITH (Liverpool, Walton)
said he was sure the House would recognise in the unique experience of his hon. friend, who had sat for one of the largest constituencies of the country for more than twenty years, a right to claim respectful consideration from all sections for the arguments he put forward. He therefore regretted that during the greater part of the speech 612 of his hon. friend the only audience on the Treasury Bench was the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill. He did not think anyone would under-rate the knowledge which the right hon. Gentleman had of the Bill, or the skill with which he had conducted it through the House, but he should have thought that an old Member of the House, speaking with great experience, might have expected a larger audience on the Front Bench opposite. The right hon. Gentleman in introducing the Bill observed that he proposed to place a limit on an abuse and an anomaly. It was a convenient thing in all legislation, before attempting to cure, to diagnose clearly the grievance to which the cure was to be applied. In other words, before they tried to correct anomalies they should clearly understand what was the standard, rule, or principle from which it was alleged that the anomaly was a deviation. There were two competitive principles in regard to the issue before the House. In the first place, there was the principle that local interest should be represented even at the cost of an occasional duplication of votes. The second principle, he supposed, demanded the exact proportionment of the voting strength of the individual to the aggregate number of individuals who at any given moment were qualified to exercise the franchise. He knew of no other principles than these two that could be brought forward as the standard in reference to which the issue of plural voting might be considered. He agreed with the late Mr. Gladstone that historically a great deal might be said in favour of the old principle which secured representation to localities, even if it involved the anomaly of the duplication of votes. He did not blind his eyes to the fact that under the conditions of democratic evolution in this country to-day the cause of plural voting examined simpliciter, and with reference solely to its own merits appeared to be a lost one. In his own judgment the case which depended upon local representation, if it involved duplication of votes, was not one which was likely to be successfully decided on its own individual claims to survive, and he would say on his own behalf that, having neither the desire nor the aptitude to play the part of Don Quixote in a 613 losing case, he did not propose to contest it in his own constituency. In this respect, therefore, he proposed—and he would respectfully invite his hon. friends to do the same—to affect a virtue if he had it not. It must be conceded, therefore, that everybody who wished to realise a really democratic system of representation must concentrate in support of the other proposition, which involved three reforms—first, the numerical equalisation of constituencies; secondly, a periodical revision of an automatic character; and thirdly, the abolition of the plural vote. So far as he was concerned he should be quite prepared to support the Government in any measure which would adopt the second principle in its entirety. He had a reservation to make in favour of the continued representation of Universities. He agreed that it was an anomaly, but there was hardly a Bill introduced this session by the Government which did not contain an anomaly. Anomalies were the life and breath of the British Constitution. What he objected to very strongly in the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman with reference to the representation of the Universities was that although he disavowed the policy of bleeding the Universities white, that would be precisely the effect of the Bill in this matter. He preferred the attitude of open, honest hostility to the attempt the right hon. Gentleman had made insidiously to deprive; the Universities of voters year by year, until they were able to turn round and say University representation was no longer able numerically to justify its existence and must be put an end to. The argument of the hon. Member for Northampton did not deserve much consideration when he spoke of the standard of University degrees and indicated that Labour Members would not think it a very high standard. The comparison ought to be between the intellectual power of the average voter and the intellectual power, not of Members of this House, who ex hypothesi ought to possess exceptional powers, but of the individual elector in the constituencies. He had given some attention to a Paper which had recently been laid upon the Table of the House with reference to illiterate voters. He 614 found that in England and Wales, out of 4,880,000 there were 19,758 illiterates, or .4 per cent. In Scotland out of 585,691 voters 2,041 were illiterate, or .3 per cent. In the case of Ireland, out of 135,882 voters there were no less than 12,510 illiterates, or 9.2 per cent. By a side attack the Government were trying to destroy the representation of the constituencies in which there was a stronger guarantee for a high standard of culture and education on the plea of destroying an anomaly, and at the same time they were deliberately perpetuating another anomaly by which Ireland would continue to be unduly represented, although it contained by far the highest percentage of illiterate voters. In legislating upon this question they had to deal not with one anomaly but with two, namely, the existing disproportion in the size of the constituencies and the system of plural voting. It was highly desirable to inquire what was the extent of each grievance. He gathered from the last Parliamentary Paper issued on the subject that there were about 600,000 plural voters in this country, and probably there were not more than 500,000 who at any given time could conceivably exercise the right to vote. They might reasonably subtract one-sixth as belonging to the i class of agricultural labourers and artisans who had been placed accidentally on the register without their knowledge and without the slightest prospect of availing themselves of the right of plural voting. Making a farther deduction for absentees in a generally accepted average percentage they would get about 400,000 plural voters who would be likely to exercise the plural franchise. It was, of course not reasonable to suppose that all plural voters were on the Oppositition side of the House. Therefore, out of a population of 40,000,000 they had about 400,000 citizens who might be expected to avail themselves of the opportunities given to them by this gross anomaly which the Government thought it worth their while to remove in their first session of Parliament. He would not emphasise at any length the points which had been so ably made by his hon. friend the Member for Wandsworth, but there were four constituencies he desired to mention. One was Romford, with a population of 615 217,000; another Walthamstow, with 185,000 inhabitants; the third Wands-worth, with a population of 179,000; and the fourth Harrow, with 177,000. There were five English Parliamentary divisions, in which the total population was far greater than in fifteen Irish borough divisions, which returned sixteen members. The result was that five hon. Members of the House represented as much voting strength in their constituencies as sixteen hon. Members who represented fifteen Irish borough divisions. Those reflections suggested that there must be some reason why the Government had chosen one of these anomalies for correction and neglected the other. Probably the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill would say that, although the Government fully recognised the second anomaly, it could only be dealt with just before a dissolution. But surely the anomaly of plural voting could have been far more conveniently dealt with at the same time. What explanation could be suggested for the selection which the Government had made and for the astonishing haste to secure this particular reform? Some hints in this direction had been given both inside and outside the House of Commons The Westminster Gazette, a paper distinguished both for the ability and the fairness of its controversial methods, in discussing the objections advanced upon this subject, said they never could expect to have an anomaly removed except by a Party which was likely to gain politically by its removal. He did not complain of the frankness of that statement. The hon. Member for Prestwich, in an illuminating flash of candour, had said the Conservative Party was the propertied class and this Bill would affect them most. The Opposition could not afford to allow these contemporaneous contributions to their researches to pass without notice. The hon. Member for Stoke had observed with great satisfaction and complete candour that it was the business of the Patronage Secretary to dish the Unionists. Then the hon. Member for the Eskdale Division, although strongly in favour of woman suffrage, deplored and resisted the suggested postponement of this question because the Bill would be useful at by-elections. The hon. Member for the 616 Eskdale Division was honest enough to say what most hon. Members opposite were only thinking. These statements enabled the Opposition to generalise the motives of the Government, because on the showing of their own friends they were attacking deliberately the smaller of two anomalies in order that they might make Party capital by disfranchising the plural voter. That was an exasperating policy to come from any Government, and it was particularly exasperating when it came from a Government which made on its own behalf high professions and a claim for public morality. The most suitable Party emblem of the present Government might be borrowed from the kindred sect of the Pharisees. He would recommend them to counter the Primrose League by a Phylactery League. They had introduced the one reform which was likely to benefit themselves, whilst they had left unredressed each greater anomaly which would prejudice their Party interests as a whole. They had heard ad nauseam the right hon. Gentleman state that he could not accept one Amendment or consider another on the ground that it would interfere with the principle of the Bill. The only possible retort to which was, should they not leave principle out of the question? This Bill was doomed as surely as the Education Bill, and he hoped it would receive the treatment it deserved in another place. It threw duties and liabilities upon the plural voter to which the single voter was not exposed, and not a single argument in justification of this course had been advanced in the course of the whole of this debate. He had no objection to the Government in pursuance of a general scheme of reform depriving the plural voter of what they conceived to be an undue and inordinate influence in the voting power of the State, but why should they, in the first place, impose upon the plural voter liabilities and conditions which they did not impose upon the single voter? In the second place, the right hon. Gentleman had deliberately flung away the opportunity offered of availing himself of the residential principle if he had the judgment to concentrate upon a simple and logical principle. In the third place, the right hon. Gentleman had 617 exposed the Bill to an objection which, in his judgment, was the most serious grievance of all, namely, the keeping up of the standard of costs in those large constituencies in which the number of plural voters was very great, on the basis that the electorate was unchanged by the existence of the plural voters.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. HARCOURT, Lancashire, Rossendale)
§ * MR. F. E. SMITH
said the right hon. Gentleman shook his head. He was perfectly well aware what the right hon. gentleman meant. He knew that an Amendment was introduced on Report for the purpose of modifying to some extent this particular ground of criticism, but he still said that the Bill maintained the standard of expense in those constituencies where there were a large number of plural voters, because at any moment the apparent aggregate number of voters would depend upon an entirely fallacious basis. If the right hon. Gentleman dissented from that it was perfectly clear that the Bill did not carry out what he said was the object on its introduction, namely, to keep alive as possible voters persons who had qualifications in two constituencies. Unless these voters were kept alive what became of the facility of transference which the right hon. Gentleman said was one of the merits of the Bill? If they did keep these voters alive the result would be that every Member of the House in a constituency would be obliged to reckon a number of ineffective deadheads for the purpose of his campaign, or preliminary campaign, as potential voters, and a candidate must to some extent be put to expense in keeping himself abreast of the removals, and in communicating with the possible survivals. He ventured to tell the right hon. Gentleman that the co-existence of seventeen different franchises—the fruit of the fortuitous development of our franchise system—rendered it extremely difficult for anybody to attempt the disingenuous manipulation of that system as a whole. Those difficulties were insuperable by any Bill that could have been introduced, unless the right hon. Gentleman adopted the course which he thought 618 the majority of the House would agree was by far the most satisfactory, and that was to provide that all the elections of the country should be held on the same day. If the Government had wished to carry out their object with the minimum of friction and the maximum of practical result they could have prayed in aid inexorable considerations of time and space and said that all elections should be held simultaneously. He did not think that the Government were unwise from their own point of view in introducing this Bill in the first session of the present Parliament. If they looked back on the political history of the country they would find that it had always been the object of a Liberal Government, though it had not always been successfully carried out, to ensure when returned to power that by no possible means should it appeal to the same constituencies as returned it to power. It was the policy of the Eastern usurper who, having acquired power by immoral methods, proceeded to annihilate the male progeny of his rival. A policy of that kind applied to the case of plural voting would, he ventured to say, speaking on behalf of what he believed was the smallest numerical minority which had ever confronted a Government since the Reform Bill, bear an odious complexion in the eyes of the country who would rightly take the view that the Ministry should not have committed themselves with indecent haste to remove this anomaly in the first session of Parliament—a time when there were many grave social questions which called for the immediate attention of the Government. Hon. Members of the Opposition realised in the plainest possible manner that this Bill was not to be considered alone. It was an insidious incident in a general campaign on which hon. Gentlemen opposite for their own purposes were entering — a general campaign which travelled far beyond the inconsiderable issue of the franchise. They had reached the time when, from the point of view of a possible issue between the House and another place, it was thought desirable that measures of this kind should be hurriedly introduced. In a phrase which was very fashionable some years ago the ploughers of the sands were harnessing their foundered 619 horses, and the spirited policy of filling up the cup was well under way. This was one of the Bills which was to be made capital of for that purpose, while an attempt was ingeniously made to pack the jury before the appeal was made to them. He ventured to think the policy would fail. It would fail simply because in England the pettier forms of dishonesty had never succeeded in the long run. He trusted this Bill would meet the fate which some of them anticipated in another place. He and his friends looked forward without the slightest trepidation to the wind and fury now in process of artificial manufacture. It was astonishing to those on his side of the House that an experienced politician like the President of the Board of Trade should not perceive that the artificial indignation he had been expressing in the country was wholly superfluous if the country was really with him on this and other Bills. At the time of the Reform Bill the country knew what it wanted, and it did not require any politician blowing a Party bellows to make it articulate. If the country was not with the Government on this and other issues the utterances of the right hon. Gentleman and others were futile, ridiculous, and contemptible. Their speeches were merely the despairing utterances of battled malice. If the Government had made an honest attempt to make the House of Commons a more faithful representation of every section in the country they would, he believed, have commanded the support of every section of the House, but he did not believe that the attempt which they had made by this measure to load the electoral dice at the bidding of Party agents would survive the Houses of Parliament, and he was certain that it would never receive the deliberate approval of the electors of this country.
Amendment proposed —
To leave out all the words after 'that' and insert the words, 'this House declines to pass a Bill having for its sole object the prohibition and penalising of a large class of. His Majesty's subjects in the exercise of admitted rights and franchises, (1) without consideration being given to the whole subject of electoral franchise, and (2) without any relief from the known gross anomalies involved in the present representation of the people in this House, which urgently
calls for a redistribution of electoral power' and also (3) without any consideration of the previous constitutional question whether any relation between representation and taxation is to be permanently abandoned, or to what extent it is to be preserved.'"—(Sir Henry Kimber.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. HARCOURT
said it was quite true that the simple principle of the machinery of this Bill had been fully and frequently debated in the House. It was also true that, not from his own wish, hon. Members had had to listen ad nauseam to his answers to their questions. Hon. Members would not be surprised, perhaps they would be relieved to hear, that he proposed to detain them for only a very short time in answering the mover and seconder of the Amendment. During the earlier stages of this measure the Opposition had constantly stated that for many reasons the Bill, in their opinion, was wholly inadmissible. But this Amendment seemed by implication to suggest that in certain circumstances and with some form of redistribution it would have been almost accept- able and tolerable.
§ MR. HARCOURT
said that without the encouragement of hon. Gentlemen opposite it would not have been civil to have said of the hon. Baronet's Amendment that it was a mere pretence and transparent sham. Out of mere courtesy to the hon. Baronet he must be allowed to assume that he seriously meant what be had so solemnly said. The assumption then was that with some form of redistribution this Bill would be acceptable.
§ * SIR HENRY KIMBER
said he did not say that. He said the consideration of this proposition ought to be accompanied by the consideration of the other question.
said the hon. Baronet's friends had frequently stated that the machinery which he was anxious to bring into being would be difficult to work and puzzling to those whom it was likely most to affect, but it was generally admitted that the difficulty would only 621 be acute in the initial stage of the Bill. Assuming that hon. Members were right, was it not obvious how considerate he had been to those upon whom, owing to their superfluity of power, he was obliged, in justice, to inflict some slight and temporary inconvenience? He had seized the earliest opportunity in the first session of a new and probably prolonged Parliament in order to bring in a Bill to correct these anomalies. It was quite well-known that redistribution belonged to the latter end of their Parliamentary existence. He had therefore arranged with great forethought and much tenderness that these pluralists should have the largest possible interval for their study of the law and in order to acquire the knowledge by which, with the minimum of trouble, they might divest themselves of any inconvenience which might adhere to their superfluity of votes. He had no doubt himself that the plural voters would attach very special value to the interval which he proposed to provide between the passage of the Bill and the change in the electoral machinery coming into operation. The Motion moved by the hon. Baronet was really very similar to those which had been the ordinary concomitant of proposals for the enlargement and the increase of the franchise, but it had never, so far as he knew, been proposed to attach it in past times to a measure dealing mainly with electoral machinery. Whether such Motions in the past had always been honestly intended to be taken in their literal sense, he thought those who were acquainted with the history and opponents of reform might be permitted to doubt. Certainly in many cases they were used as a weapon, not to accelerate, but to retard, reform, and they had often been used as a justification for still more drastic hostility in another place by a body of men who could not be registered, who were never elected, who had no popular sanction for their decisions, and who had no concern whatever with the machinery of registration. He was certainly not prepared to admit that this Bill was undesirable now, because it could not be followed, until a later stage, by proposals for redistribution. If the hon. Baronet were willing to substitute the converse of the Amendment he had placed on the Paper, if he were willing to move that under no circumstances should a Registration Bill be passed unless it was 622 accompanied by "one man, one vote," then he would find in him an enthusiastic supporter, though, he was afraid, the hon. Baronet would have to part company with most of those amongst whom he sat. He was surprised that, to-day, and knowing the opinions which had been expressed by hon. Members at other stages of the Bill, the Opposition should be willing to shelter themselves behind what he might be permitted to call without offence an evasive Amendment. When he saw the Amendment on the Paper he had asked himself what was the meaning of it, and he came to the conclusion that what the Leader of the Opposition averred to-day he anathematised yesterday, as in the case of the Trade Disputes Bill. The right hon. Gentleman might say that after all there were a good many plural voters on this side of the House and that he saw no reason any longer to oppose the Bill; that it was too late to change or reject the Bill; that it must be accepted and the responsibility for its working be thrown on the Government. And he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would also arrive at the conclusion that the less said in another place the better. He saw the right hon. Member for South Dublin opposite; he humbly offered to become his confessor, and asked him to repeat his performance of ten days ago in regard to the Land Tenure Bill. On the Third Reading of that Bill, the hon. Baronet the Member for Wandsworth moved its rejection on the ground that it destroyed freedom of contract, and altered the whole position of parties to a bargain but at the conclusion of the debate the right hon. Member for South Dublin said that although he did not like the Bill, yet as the Government on the Report stage had adopted several Amendments, which had gone a long way to meet his objections, he was reluctant to vote against the Third Reading, and he did not do so. He would remind the right hon. Gentleman that on the Report stage of this Bill he too had gone as far as possible to meet the objections to some of its details, and he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman might yet re-consider his position, and not allow himself to be led away and led astray by the hon. Member for Wandsworth. He certainly had expected that the Opposition at this stage would have boldly declared that this Bill was to them Anathema Maranatha, and that they would not touch the unclean thing. But 623 surely the caution and the timidity of their procedure had slightly smeared them already with his pitch. He was amazed that the Opposition should have adopted such a line of attack as this, and above all, that they should have chosen the hon. Baronet as their champion, when he remembered what was their and his record in the late Parliament on the subject of registration. When he entered this House he used to look with awe on the hon. Baronet with his portly figure and troubled intelligence. He watched the hon. Gentleman marching along the corridors, and he said to himself, "There is the Napoleon of reform." With folded arms and bowed head he conceived of a scheme of redistribution, as if it had been a new Code Napoleon. He watched with anxiety, expectation, and sympathy that period of gestation, and when at last on the 10th July, the poor little mouse was born, they knew what the Tory Party really meant by "one vote one value." The Government adopted the mouse, and gloated at its early vitality. The Prime Minister said that they must pass the Resolutions in favour of a scheme of re-distribution, adding that they were extremely simple, as ten years previously, the right hon. Member for West Birmingham had declared that his plan of old age pensions was extremely simple. But those resolutions were never debated in the House. And why? Because the right hon. Gentleman, despite his enormous majority, was told that he would not be permitted to carry them en bloc after one division. Accordingly on the 13th July the bantling ceased to breathe. It was quite true that they were told by the Prime Minister that the Government would proceed to deal with re-distribution by Bill on the precedent set by Mr. Disraeli in 1857; but the right hon. Gentleman did not present a Bill in the House, not oven a ten minutes Bill! The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition had always, or nearly always, the courage of his convictions, but who could blame him for not having the courage of the opinions and the re-distribution plans of the hon. Baronet the Member for Wandsworth? Think what must have been the position of a philosophic wrangler, suddenly confronted with such a scheme as that which was submitted in July of last year—a scheme founded, as he presumed it was, on nice, accurate mathematical calculations, 624 and having, as they knew, no relation whatever to party advantage, and nothing whatever of a political complexion, yet arriving at a result which, when dissected by electoral experts, seemed to show that the higher mathematics irresistibly led to the conclusion that, in violation of the second article of the Act of Union, they must disfranchise twenty-two Irish seats, and that, at the same time, by an equally curious accident, it was essential to preserve intact nearly all the southern and eastern boroughs of England, which, by another extraordinary coincidence did, at that moment, return almost exclusively Tories to Parliament. Knowing the views of the late Government on re-distribution, he saw no reason to postpone this moderate and desirable Bill for any proposals which they might make or with which they would be likely to be satisfied. And, in view of their recorded opinions, there was another Amendment which might be suggested to the hon. Baronet. He thought he could promise the hon. Baronet almost unanimous support if he would move that under no circumstances should any measure of electoral reform be passed that was accompanied by such registration proposals as were put forward by the late Government last year. Of course as regarded future legislation he could not speak for a Cabinet to which he did not belong and he spoke only for himself, but if this Bill might prove to be a courier or forerunner of any greater measures, and if he had acted as a link boy in the fog of our electoral system, he should be content, because in his opinion our present system of representation was an accumulated patchwork, composed partly of a little conviction, partly of a little concession, and partly of a little cowardice. Some hon. Members seemed to believe that this Bill was introduced by him with the delibeerate purpose of inflicting an injury upon his political opponents. [Cries of "Oh."] Well, that had been suggested, and all he could say was that no such consideration affected his mind. For years he had outside the House been an advocate of this reform, and he had always thought that this particular form of representation, the plural one, was one of the most arbitrary and could not be justified. He had always believed that 625 it constituted a grave hardship upon all the other voters whose voices were overborne by the superfluous suffrage of those who had no more manhood than themselves. If, supposing right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite were right, which he did not admit, then he had only to say that, although plural voters would lose what had been a valuable asset to them, they were only parting with an unfair advantage which they ought never to have possessed—an advantage which had vitally warped the policy of this country for many years past. He claimed that the present measure would enable hon. Members opposite when they returned to the Ministerial Benches, as return no doubt they would, to say that they would represent the true and honest opinions of their countrymen.
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
said the right hon. Gentleman when he took part in their debates added immensely to the humour of their proceedings, but he had never listened to a speech which was less satisfactory as an answer to those which had preceded it. Two of his hon. friends had brought forward serious and grave arguments connected with the circumstances attending the introduction of the Bill, to which no answer had been given. Their criticisms of the machinery of the Bill were also well worthy of an answer, but the right hon. Gentleman in the few moments which were left to him in the midst of his numerous quips and cranks had devoted not one single word in reply to any one argument which had been advanced. The right hon. Gentleman who had talked so bravely about courage and cowarice had taken refuge in an attack upon the measure proposed by the Party opposed to him two years ago, which, although he was out of the House, he could not resist the opportunity of criticising notwithstanding the fact that those proposals were not before the country and he was himself responsible for proposals of a totally different kind. He thought a Minister who in his closing pathetic utterances told them that this was the one child he had been nursing for the last six years owed it not only to his friends but his political opponents to 626 give some better answer to the arguments which had been brought forward. The right hon. Gentleman was good enough to offer to become his father confessor. He had not one at present, and if he wanted one he should not trust himself to the right hon. Gentleman after the way in which he had shown him that he would relieve his conscience. The right hon. Gentleman had appealed to him to adopt a similar course to that which he had taken on the Land Tenure Bill, but it was extraordinary that the right hon. Gentleman did not understand the difference between the two Bills. In the case of the Land Tenure Bill the Government introduced a long series of Amendments which, in his opinion, altered the Bill in its most objectionable clauses. Nothing of the sort had been done in regard to this Bill. The author of the Bill had told them he had had the subject in his mind and thought for years. It had had all the advantages of Government care and preparation. Yet after the proceedings in Committee the hon. Gentleman was obliged to corns down on Report with a series of Amendments which totalled rather more than the whole of the Bill. And what were those Amendments? Were they a concession in principle? The right hon. Gentleman would admit that they in no way altered the principle of the Bill. All they did was to meet criticisms advanced from the Opposition side of the House, and supported by the very few speakers who rose on the Government side during those debates—for it was a remarkable thing that whenever an hon. Gentleman opposide, not an occupant of the Front Bench, rose to support the Government, he almost invariably criticised the Bill adversely. These Amendments had in no way altered the objectionable features of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman himself would be the first to admit that they had made no alterations in principle in the measure, and that the Bill on its Third Reading was the Bill as it was read a second time, with only such Amendments in the machinery as had been rendered necessary by the criticism levelled against it. The right hon. Gentleman had suggested that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Wands worth involved the acceptance of certain principles, and that with the addition of 627 these the Opposition would be prepared to accept the Bill. There was nothing whatever in his hon. friend's speech to justify anything of the kind, and nothing in the speech of the hon. Member for Liverpool or in any of the other speeches made on the Bill, to justify the belief that the Opposition would accept the present Bill to carry out this reform. He knew it had been said in the House and elsewhere that the Bill was regarded by many on the Opposition side as a Party attack. It was not suggested that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had acted in any way inconsistent with the discharge of his duty. The view he had mentioned, however, was held and held strongly, and he was not surprised at it, for in the course of these debates they had never heard why this particular electoral reform was viewed as so vital and pressing by the Government. There was one very peculiar aspect of the case, viz., that there was no precedent for the introduction of a measure of reform which would have the result solely of disfranchisement. So far as he knew this was the first time a measure had been brought in which sought to disfranchise a number of the electors without at the same time making any change in the franchise conferring further electoral power on others. In this respect the Bill was not only a precedent, but, he believed, a very bad precedent. He remembered the debates on the Reform Bill of 1884, and he appealed to those then in the House whether he was not right in saying that there was no subject on which Mr. Gladstone spoke with greater force and earnestness than the desirability of not disfranchising by Act of Parliament, however necessary it was to enfranchise fresh electors. Under the Reform Bill of 1832 some half million were enfranchised, and by the Bills of 1884 and 1885 some 2,000,000, but the franchise was taken from nobody; whereas under the present Bill the franchise was taken away from some and given to no new body at all. He submitted that that was a very bad precedent to set in reform legislation. The right hon. Gentleman had denied that there was any Party animus as the foundation of the Bill, and he was quite sure from that declaration that to attack a political Party was not his personal ob- 628 ject. However, there had been speeches from hon. Members on the Ministerial side which had plainly indicated that the effect would be to injure the Party opposed to them, and he did not think speakers on the Opposition side could be blamed if they took advantage of these stray utterances and gathered from them that there was some foundation for the charge which had been made. The hon. Member for Wandsworth had dealt with the great anomaly in our electoral system—the unequal distribution of political power. Apart from that there were many anomalies, some of a graver character than that with which the Government were anxious to deal. There was the distance of residence of an elector as affecting the voting qualification in town or county. There was the question of the enfranchisement of women, and a multitude of other matters connected with the exercise of the vote and with the registration law, any one of which the Government might well have included in a Bill of this kind. For some reason, however, which they had never heard, all these questions were put on one side as if unworthy of attention, although in the opinion of some of those most experienced in electoral matters they were of much greater importance than the one which was being dealt with. He would like to have heard the views of some of the hon. Members opposite who had had great experience in registration and electioneering, and their criticisms on the machinery of the Bill. They would, no doubt, be prepared to accept the principle that the plural voter was to be interfered with, but he did not believe many of them would be found to justify by speech and argument the particular way in which the Government proposed to carry out that policy. He did not think it possible to exaggerate the injustice of the Bill in that for the first time it imposed a serious duty on the man who possessed two votes without imposing any upon the man who had only one vote. The man who had one vote obtained it as a matter of course, but the man with two votes would have to go through an elaborate procedure or run the risk of being disfranchised altogether. They had asked repeatedly what justification there was for this 629 and had had no answer; they had asked repeatedly why the object could not have been obtained by holding all elections on one day, or by an enactment making it illegal for the man to vote more than once. The Government had for some reason chosen another method, and not a single word of justification had been offered. It was an extraordinary thing, too, that the Government had offered no indication of the effect the Bill would have. The question of the University vote had been dealt with, and the Member for the City of London showed the other day what the effect would be on the City of London. In addition there were county divisions in which there were 4,500 pluralist voters of whom 2,500 were retired artisans or mechanic? Surely the House ought to have had some information as to what the probable effect of the Bill would be upon such constituencies as those. If the effect was that which it sought to have, the prevention of a pluralist voter voting except in the constituency in which he selected, it would increase the injustice that now existed, and to select this particular anomaly to deal with was to make far greater than they were now those great anomalies of which the Opposition complained and which they said disturbed the present electoral system of the country. The Bill proposed to do two or three remarkable things in a remarkable way He could not understand why the Government thought it necessary in this Bill for the first time to insist that the clerks should mark in the lists the pluralist voters and to refuse to do what, he thought, they were bound to do, namely, place on the shoulders of the authorities the duty of informing the voters that they were pluralists. For the first time the Government were imposing on the voter a risk of fine and imprisonment for no other reason than that he had two or more qualifications and that he had failed to make a selection. The principle of selection was new and had never been justified. The scheme of the Bill left the powers of the revising barristers in the position in which they now were, and left the primary duty of the overseer of putting every elector in his division on the register as it was, while it imposed on the elector who had more 630 than one qualification the risk of being put on the register without his knowledge, and in the end finding that he either lost his vote altogether or ran very great risks. It was true that at the last moment the Government accepted two Amendments which would have a great effect on the operation of the Bill. The proposal of the hon. Member for the Barnard Castle Division would materially affect the working of the Bill. Although he was glad that that Amendment had been accepted, he was surprised that the Government should have found it right and necessary to accept it when there were opposed to it the identical arguments which they had adduced the day before against the Amendments proposed by the Opposition. But that Amendment certainly mitigated some of the evils of the Bill. The other Amendment placing the powers of prosecuting in the hands of the Attorney-General also would have a good effect. The First Commissioner of Works had just said, with great public spirit, that the Government would take the responsibility for the successful working of the measure. The right hon. Gentleman was very good. He had, however, placed upon the shoulders of the Government a duty which they could not perform. They were not going to carry out this measure. He had always advocated that the Government should become responsible, and that these duties, in common fairness and justice to the electors, should be carried out by Government officials. In all probability the Bill would be found not only difficult to work but absolutely unworkable, and a great injustice would be done to those who only claimed to vote in the elections of the country. He would have been perfectly content to vote for the simple rejection of the Bill without any Amendment at all. On the other hand there was nothing in his hon. friend's Amendment which he was not prepared to support. He agreed with the views laid down, which roughly amounted to this: that if they were going to deal with this great question of electoral reform at all they should deal with it as a whole. He admitted the force of the Government's answer that they could not deal with redistribution at the beginning of their term of office. That was a complete 631 answer to the suggestion that they should do it now, but it was no answer to the argument that the Government had no right to deal with the question in this trumpery fashion, treating only a section of the question and doing it in a manner which would seriously increase what was the greatest difficulty at the present time. He would have been perfectly content to vote for the simple rejection of this Bill, which he believed to be unjust. He believed that in its present form there was no demand for it, and that its machinery would prove unworkable. By this Bill they would be for the first time exposing people who had the right to vote to a risk to which they had never before been exposed, and to which Parliament had no right to expose them. On all these grounds he supported the Amendment, because it appeared to offer the simplest method of recording their opinion that the Bill was unjust and unnecessary.
§ SIR BRAMPTON GURDON (Norfolk, N.)
said he had never been able to understand why the principle of the Bill was opposed by hon. Members opposite. It seemed to him that an unsophisticated foreigner, ignorant of our ways of Parliamentary life, would imagine that a measure which introduced no new principle, which exactly followed the lines of the British Constitution, and which merely tried to remove anomalies and exceptional hardships, would be justly regarded as an innocent reform and would be gladly welcomed by all Parties. There was no subject upon which there was greater misconception than that of plural voting. To hear hon. Members opposite one would think our system was really a vote for property, that a man got a vote for every 100 acres, or that he voted according to the amount of taxation he paid. There was no relation whatever between representation and taxation. He was bound to say he believed that those hon. Members who said it would be a great advantage to the Liberal Party to do away with the plural voting would be disappointed. They would gain a great deal more advantage if they were to get a measure of redistribution—he meant a fair measure of redistribution and not 632 one drawn on the lines of the measure laid before the House last year. The present voting system was unjust all round. Let them take the injustice to the rich man—a great territorial man, for instance, who probably represented his county in Parliament or who might be the Lord-Lieutenant, or who held the more responsible post of master of foxhounds, or was chairman of the county council—a man owning perhaps 20,000 or 30,000 acres of land which happened to be within the same division. Such a man would have only one vote. On the other hand, his neighbour might be a miserable little Radical, a Pro-Boer, a Home Ruler, and a Little Englander; and he with his twenty acres (ten on one side of the boundary and ten on the other) would receive two votes. Such a system was hardly fair. A man might own great factories in Norwich, or in fact own the whole city, but he would only receive one vote, whilst in another borough, that of Yarmouth, if a man happened to be a freeholder and an occupier he stood to receive two, or perhaps three, votes. The real idea of the Constitution was that a man received a vote because he was a man and for no other reason. Another injustice which had been spoken of was the difference between rural and urban voting. They were told that borough freeholders were generally Liberal and therefore the Government would lose by their abolition. Nevertheless, it was an injustice, and he for one would wish to see the injustice removed. The objection to plural voting had become stronger since the passing of the Corrupt Practices Act of 1885. It had been suggested that the elections should all take place in one day, because if that were done the difficulty would be met. This, however, was an error, because, although it would undoubtedly affect the voter who had to come from a long distance, it would not affect the man who could travel from London into the suburbs, for instance, in his motor car. He personally felt regret that the Bill did not embody the principle of residential suffrage. By having residential voting they would very much simplify the register. Every man would then have a vote, and instead of having a disfranchising measure they would have had a great enfranchising measure. He could not 633 say what would happen to the Bill in another place, but he hoped that if the Government found it necessary to introduce another measure on the subject next year it would be a strong Bill involving the principle of residential voting.
§ SIR JOHN KENNAWAY (Devonshire, Honiton)
congratulated the hon. Gentleman opposite on having made the best defence of the Bill so fur, but he had not said anything to show why the Bill should have been brought in at the present time. Members had been brought back to the House at great inconvenience at a time when they would like to be among their constituents oil the plea that it was for the sake of great public policy. Yet all they were doing was simply wasting time. Instead of bringing forward subjects of practical interest, such as the relations of this country and the colonies, South African policy, and Naval policy, the Government had relegated the House to the discussion of a Bill which was of no practical use or benefit. This Bill, in the words of an hon. Gentleman opposite, was not promoted to remove an anomaly or obtain an equality, but merely to injure political opponents. The Government was making use of its opportunities to strengthen its position, but there seemed in this measure, as in others, a vindictiveness towards opponents of which they had a right to complain. This attitude on the part of the Government was illustrated in the proceedings on the Land Tenure Bill, which, but for the criticism to which it was subjected, would have effected a revolution in agricultural matters to the detriment of both landlord and tenant; and on the Education Bill, which according to the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade had the avowed object of putting an end to clericalism. That showed the vindictive and the unfair use to which the Government were putting their majority. The object of a Reform Bill should be to enfranchise classes or individuals, but this was a disfranchising Bill. They were not only disfranchising property, but education and intelligence. No effort was made to remove the greater injustice which lay in the fact that a man in a small borough had twenty or thirty times the political power of 634 a man in a larger constituency. And upon whom did the disability imposed by this Bill fall? Mostly upon the freeholders of the country, who had been the backbone of the English constitution in times past. There was another point of some delicacy. They had at present Unionists on one side of politics and Radicals on the other, but how long was that going to last? The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil stated that at Huddersfield there were 5,000 men who showed by their votes that they cared for none of those things. The questions on which those men recorded their votes were Socialism, woman enfranchisement, and social reform, to the exclusion of everything else. They must face the fact that a new power had come into existence, and the object of that power was to overturn our existing social system, and to substitute one in which the individual was suppressed and the State was to do everything. When the struggle over that issue came—if it did come—would not Ministerialists who were supporting this Bill feel that they had deprived themselves, in the fight against those proposals, of the assistance of some of the best defenders of property and of individual exertion, and in doing so had to a large extent injured their own interests?
§ * MR. MONTAGU (Cambridgeshire, Chesterton)
said that once again the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin had seen what he declared to be a new record in his Parliamentary experience, and had stated that he had never listened to a speech like that which had been delivered by the First Commissioner of Works. They were getting so-accustomed to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that he had never before been so surprised or shocked that they were fast becoming to believe that it was not really the iniquity of the Government that was upsetting him, but the fact that his innocent nature rendered him liable to upheavals of that kind. The complaint made against this Bid was that it had been very much amended on Report. His recollection was that the Bill had been amended in order to meet exceptions put forward by the Opposition, who were so anxious to protect the interests of the absent-minded elector who might forget where, when, for whom, and for what purpose he had voted or even that 635 he had voted at all. He did not believe this absent-minded elector existed, except as a figment in the brains of the Members of the Opposition, which figment was responsible for the large number of Amendments put down upon the Report stage. This measure had been called all sort of names. The First Commissioner of Works had said that is was a Bill dealing solely with the machinery by means of which our elections were now carried out. The Opposition on the other had said it was a disfranchising Bill. That term had been used in a sense of which this measure did not permit, for it did not prevent a single man now qualified as an elector from continuing to be an elector. It was true that it deprived the plural voter of all votes except one, but that could not, strictly speaking, be called disfranchising, because it left the man a voter. But, granted for the sake of argument, it was a disfranchising measure so far as it deprived a man of some of his votes. Surely, on the other hand, it was an enfranchising measure, because it made the single voter more weighty and more influential in the elections which took place. Therefore the Members of the Opposition might take consolation from the fact that at any rate this measure enfranchised in equal proportion to the disfranchisement which it caused. They were told that the Bill was objectionable because it did not enfranchise women, did not embody the principle of one vote one value, and several other things. They might as well vote against a Bill dealing with primary education because it did not deal with secondary education. It must obviously be conceded by hon. Gentlemen opposite that if they were to have one vote one value the adoption of the principle of one man one vote was a necessary prelude, and since they could not do everything at once they had better decide what they would do now, and afterwards consider what they would do in regard to other matters. The right hon. Member for South Dublin had asked— Why not have all the elections on one day? That might be a desirable reform, but the intention of this Bill was that a man should not vote more than once. If all elections were on the same day that would only prevent a certain number from voting twice. He knew a 636 gentleman who at last election voted in Cambridgeshire and Glamorganshire. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin had also asked—Why not prevent a man from voting twice in one year? That would take the value from a by-election as an indication of the opinion of the country, because the electorate would be different at the by-election from that at the general election, and it would be a serious alteration in the electoral constitution of the country. Hon. Members opposite had continually said that this Bill was aimed solely at the remnant of the Conservative Party in the country. Hon. Members opposite were always arrogating to themselves all the virtues that existed, and leaving to Liberals simply the possession of those vices which at the moment they did not desire to use themselves. It would be easy to answer the assertion that this Bill was aimed at the Conservative Party by asking what were the motives which actuated hon. Members in their violent opposition to it? Would they object to this Bill if they believed that every plural voter was a Liberal? Were Liberals precluded from believing that it was because hon. Members opposite supposed that plural voters were Conservative that they were so eager in their defence of plural voting? He suggested that in the few hours that remained for the discussion of the Bill they should confine themselves to its merits, instead of attributing political motives to those who defended it. The Liberal and Conservative ideas of franchise differed radically. Conservatives desired to see a man's interests represented. Liberals desired to see the man himself represented and this was the raison d'étre of the Bill. As to University representation, he attached enormous importance to the opinion of those unselfish and self-denying men who laboured so long and so lovingly in the great Universities of the country. He confessed that it was a matter of some satisfaction to him that they should be directly represented in this House. What value there was in University representation was preserved rather than injured by this Bill. So far from its disfranchising education, intelligence and knowledge, the Bill would probably tend to limit the voters in University elections to those who were interested in the management and work of the University.
§ * SIR PHILIP MAGNUS (London University)
said he could not take the view of the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill that the Amendment now before the House was evasive. More evasive were the arguments brought 'forward in reply to those of the mover and seconder of the Amendment. He fully recognised the force of the arguments which the right hon. Gentleman generally introduced into his speeches, but it seemed to him that this evening he had effectually evaded the arguments stated by the Opposition. If any apology were needed for supporting the Amendment it might be found in the circumstances under which the Bill had been discussed. Jt was introduced under what was called the ton minutes rule, which allowed the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the measure to make a speech to which only one speech was made in reply. Ten or twelve days afterwards, on May 14th, one day, and, one day only was allowed for the Second Reading of the Bill. It was true, six days were allowed for the consideration of the Bill in Committee, but why was it necessary to allow so long a time for that stage? It was simply because hon. Members found that the machinery by which it was proposed to give effect to the measure was unworkable and complicated. It was necessary, therefore, to introduce all kinds of Amendments in order to make the measure workable. It showed a great deal of patriotism on the part of the Opposition that whilst they opposed the Bill on the Second Reading, believing it to be thoroughly bad they devoted hour after hour to introducing Amendments in Committee and on Report with the view of making it a workable measure There could be no doubt that the Bill altered the size of nearly every constituency in the country, and at the same time it changed the conditions under which the electoral franchise had hitherto been exercised. He did not think a Bill that did that could be regarded as an unimportant measure. If the prevention of plural voting wore the sole object which the framers of the Bill had in view, it seemed to him that the desired result might have been brought about; by less complicated machinery. While he admitted that there were some objections to all elections being held on the same day, he thought 638 if that had been adopted as a means of preventing plural voting the number of persons who would have exercised the plural vote would have been infinitesimally small and not worth considering. There were other ways in which plural voting might have been prevented. He should have thought that a declaration at the time the vote was given that the elector had not voted in any other constituency would have required simpler machinery than that involved in the Bill. The machinery set up would produce a large amount of friction. Some of the effects produced by the Bill if it became law would be very different from those intended by its framers. He could not help thinking that one effect of the measure would be that many electors would be unable to vote even once, and for that reason it had been called a disfranchising Bill. He was quite certain that was not the intention of those who brought in the Bill. It had been said on the Opposition side of the House that there was a subtle intention on the part of the framers of the Bill that it should have the effect of injuring the Conservative Party. He did not believe that the great majority of plural voters were Unionist, but even if they were he was personally unwilling to ascribe any such motive to the Government. It seemed to him that it would be quite unworthy of a strong Party and a strong Government to condescend to obtain an advantage over their opponents in that manner. He would not believe that they intended to do so. At the same time he pointed out that although he did not ascribe to them any such motive, the effect of the Bill in his opinion would be to disfranchise a large number of electors, and for that reason alone it ought to be opposed. He would also point out that the effect of the Bill would be to penalise the plural voter as such. It was no fault of his that he was a plural voter. Nearly every graduate of a University was a plural voter. He could not see why an elector who might have saved £200 or £300 and invested that sum in rural property away from his own home should be placed in a worse position than the man who had invested his money in Consols; but the one was a single voter and the other a plural voter, and the latter would be subject to all the inconveniences and penalties which attached to the plural voter under this Bill. The last speaker 639 had made the unfortunate admission that the Bill would add to the value of the votes of the existing electors. If so, that showed that this was a very important measure affecting the entire electoral system of the country; and for that reason it ought to have received more consideration than it had done. A great deal had been heard in the course of the discussions in regard to the anomalies of our electoral system. He was quite willing to admit that there were anomalies. It was an anomaly that an elector possessing a small freehold in a distant part of the country, far removed from the place of his residence, where he had no special interest, should have a vote for that district, and by moans of his vote be able, possibly to influence the election. That anomaly was said by the Prime Minister on the Second Reading of the Bill to be a grievance, that it vitiated and thwarted the very conditions of Parliamentary representation. He was quite prepared to admit that this might be so, but he could not concede that this Bill removed the grievance. All that the Bill did was to give such an elector the choice of voting at his place of residence or in the constituency in which he had no special interest. He should have thought that it would have been very much simpler to have introduced some such scheme as had been proposed, to restrict the voting to the place of residence. He contended that the Bill with all its complicated machinery failed to effect the object the right hon. Gentleman had in view. Another reason why he supported the Amendment was the uncompromising attitude of the Government in refusing to accept any limitation to the general principle of the Bill. Nothing could exceed the courtesy with which the Minister in charge of the Bill had risen to reply to all the arguments offered against it from the Opposition side of the House. At the same time the right hon. Gentleman and the Government had met every suggestion for any Amendment of the principle of the Bill with an absolute non possumus. They had accepted Amendments, but only on a few details. The Government undoubtedly possessed a giant's strength, and it seemed to him that in this Bill, and in their other measures, they were determined to show that they would use their strength after the manner of a giant. 640 In his opinion two cases for exceptional treatment had been made out. One was that of an elector who resided in one place and carried on his business in a neighbouring city or borough. In that case certainly his interests were divided, and it was very difficult for such an elector to say whether he would vote in his place of residence or in the city where he carried on his business. The City of London was a case in point, and if the Bill became law, that constituency would be limited to caretakers and office-keepers. The other case was that of University representation. He might say that unless the University representation were conceded in addition to the ordinary representation—if the vote given to a University graduate were not regarded as an additional vote, conferred on him as a privilege on account of the general intelligence of the constituency, it would be of no use whatever. The arguments in favour of University representation had been fully brought before the House by the representatives of Oxford, Cambridge, Glasgow and London, and he would not now add to t hem. But he would make one final remark. The theory seemed to have been adopted by hon. Members opposite that nothing could be said in favour of plural voting; but from a scientific and logical point of view it was certainly capable of being defended. He would have thought that in a democratic Assembly such as this, the authority of so distintinguished a Liberal as the late John Stuart Mill would have carried with it some weight. He would read a single passage only from Mill's work on Representative Government, with which nearly every hon. Member was no doubt conversant. Mill said—A person may have a double vote by other means than that of tendering two votes at the same hustings; he may have a vote in each ot two different constituencies; and though this exceptional privilege at present belongs rather to superiority of means than of intelligence, I would not abolish it where it exists, since until a truer test of education is adopted it would be unwise to dispense with even so imperfect a one as is afforded by pecuniary circumstances. Means might be found of giving a further extension to the privilege, which would connect it in a more direct manner with superior education. In any future Reform Bill which lowers the pecuniary conditions of the suffrage, it might be a wise provision to allow all graduates of Universities, all persons who had passed creditably through the higher schools, all members of the liberal professions, and 641 perhaps some others, to be registered specifically in those characters, and to give their votes as such in any constituency in which they chose to register, retaining, in addition, their votes as simple citizens in the localities in which they reside.He had ventured to read that quotation because he thought the view of so eminent a politician might have some weight with hon. Members on both sides of the House. He thought it was very doubtful whether the mover of this Resolution would be able to carry with him all the Members on the Ministerial side of the House; but he found considerable difficulty in realising what reasons there might be for refusing, at any rate, to adopt the suggestion made that the consideration of a reform in our electoral system should be postponed until it was associated with a more comprehensive measure than the present. He could not help thinking that it was a most mistaken and unscientific way of dealing with electoral reforms, to tinker with the constitution by bringing forward such a Bill as this. the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman to the arguments brought forward were not worthy of that logical ability which he had shown in his previous speeches. The right hon. Gentleman said he was desirous of showing the greatest possible consideration to the plural voter, and for that reason he was anxious to give him a long time to accustom himself to the novel machinery of the Bill. If that was the case why did he refuse the Amendment to the effect that the operation of the Bill should be postponed until a more comprehensive measure had been introduced? There was no reason why this Bill should come into operation until 1907, and if its operation were postponed until they could consider the other anomalies of our electoral system he had no doubt whatever that there would be very much loss objection on the part of many hon. Members to accept some such proposal as that contained in the measure, provided of course that exceptions of the kind suggested were made. He was unable to appreciate the arguments in favour of the measure, and he ventured to think they had not been fully placed before the House. He was compelled to fall back upon another reason suggested by the late John Stuart Mill, who pointed out—That those who are supreme over everything, those who cannot be resisted, are usually 642 far too well satisfied with their opinions to he willing to change them or to listen without impatience to anyone who tells them that they are wrong.
§ On these grounds he supported the Amendment.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
said the hon. Member had quoted a passage in John Stuart Mill's "Representative Government "which ought to be quoted with the reserve that it was written when Mill was an official at the India Office, and had not turned his attention to the franchise question, and that it was contradicted by what he said and wrote during the last fourteen years of his life. He had to thank the hon. Member for the support he gave to his proposal that this Bill should be altered into a residential Bill, because the one objection to that proposal from his point of view might be that there was no such thing as residence in a University in the franchise sense of the term, and that the University resident was resident in the corporeal structure of a college building but not in the University, which was an incorporeal thing. That was the objection the hon. Member might have had, and as he thought his Amendment would have destroyed the constituency of the hon. Member it was extremely kind of him to give it his support. The First Commissioner of Works had very naturally rolled up the hon. Baronet the Member for Wandsworth with his Party. The hon. Baronet might have stirred up his Party to propose a redistribution scheme, but the moment they proposed it the hon. Baronet came out as its strongest opponent. He was not sure that his support might not have been got by the sacrifice of Canterbury.
§ * SIR HENRY KIMBER
remarked that his scheme involved the sacrifice of no constituency, but the enlargement of those, including Canterbury, that needed enlargement.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
said the fate of Canterbury hung for a long time in the balance. The hon Baronet used words following the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin, and implied that from a redistribution point of view matters were rather worsened than bettered by this Bill. He had 643 ventured to say "No" when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin said so, not only upon the ground alluded to by the Member for the, Chesterton division of Cambridgeshire, that by cutting off the plural voters— by cutting off the people who had ten, twenty, or thirty votes—they increased potentially the power of the people who remained, but because this Bill would directly reduce in suburban and other constituencies the anomalies which existed at the present time. These suburban constituencies had increased and were increasing, and therefore, by taking off some thousands of voters they were decreasing and not increasing the anomalies now existing. When the hon. Baronet raised the question of redistribution, he was afraid some of them used to treat his views with disrespect, because they used to assure him that he would never get his large redistribution scheme, whatever declarations might have been made at a garden party at Blenheim. That prophecy had become true, and in the last considerable debate on Redistribution he would remember that they told him that they were convinced by their experience that the next Redistribution Bill would be upon a simpler franchise. When Parliament made up its mind to deal with this question, it would have to deal with it by a simple single franchise on a large scale and by agreement between the two Parties. He did not think that his hon. friend now believed he was going to get redistribution in any other way, although many hon. Members shared the hon. Baronet's views as to the desirability of redistribution. The hon. Baronet was under a delusion as to the nature of the franchise which he thought this Bill attacked. He had stated that 3,000,000 odd electors voted for the Conservative Party at the last election, and that only 3,000,000 odd voted for the Liberal and Labour Parties; that the Conservative Members each represented 17,000 voters and the Liberal and Labour Members 7,000 each; and he claimed that the Conservative Party were entitled to more Members. The hon. Baronet called these voters citizens, but how many had been counted over and over again? The hon. Baronet had added up the votes cast and had called them citizens. They were not citizens at all. When one person voted 644 at the Kensington Town Hall, once for London, and once for the county of Middlesex, was he two citizens? The argument of the hon. Baronet was one of the absurdities which the plural voting system of this country brought before them. The plural voting system which John Stuart Mill at one time advocated, but which he eventually deprecated, was entirely different from the system which now existed; and the special University representation of which they heard just now was entirely different from that which now existed and that which was supported by John Stuart Mill. The hon. Baronet had based his demand upon the fact that these plural voters were freeholders, and that therefore they should have a county vote. But the great majority of the plural voters were not freeholders, and had not the interest the hon. Baronet claimed for them, and the vast number of those who had an out-side-county interest did not possess a vote in regard to it. This Bill was intended to kill, and would diminish, an abuse, in which he included the University franchise—an abuse which was almost entirely confined to this country; which had been swept away in every country in which it had existed; and which exceeded in its present shape anything that over existed in any other country The plan of the Bill was a costly one. He disliked exceedingly the cost involved, but that cost was caused in part by the complexity of our franchises, and in part by his right hon. friends tenderness to the Party opposite. His particular objection to the scheme was that it was a costly scheme. It would admittedly increase expenditure until in the course of years the law had settled down and worked smoothly. He had never been able to understand the ground on which his right hon. friend had rejected the modified scheme which he (Sir Charles) proposed, and which received so much support from the Ministerial side of the House. He had not met anybody on that side of the House except his right hon. friend who was in favour of the particular scheme of the Bill. The scheme which he thought would be preferable to that of the Bill was one which would not throw a choice upon the voter, but would work automatically in the case of residence, except where a man had more 645 than one residence, or no residence, in any constituency in which he had a qualification. His scheme was that the residence should be taken as the automatic test by which a man should vote. Whore he had more than one residence, or no residence, in the constituency the machinery of this Bill would work. The Bill would enormously increase the cost of inquiries that would have to be made, and all the Amendments which had been put into the Bill with so much skill would only tend to increase cost and trouble. Before he sat down he would like to refer to the hard case of the county clerks, and in this connection he hoped, and he was sure, his right hon. friend would give personal attention to the Orders in Council that would be made under the Bill. The county clerks would have very difficult and very delicate duties thrust upon them, some of which they might not be able to discharge. It was a very curious thing that the House was not familiar with the extraordinary intricacies of the law of registration. The hon. Member who spoke so brilliantly in seconding the Motion alluded to the seventeen franchises we possessed, but he would defy the hon. Member to name the whole of the seventeen. One was an Irish franchise, unknown even to hon. Members representing Ireland. He believed the only man who knew of it was Mr. Maurice Healy, and that was the seventeenth of the franchises of this country. The difficulties of these franchises faced us at every turn, and we should never, get rid of them until Parliament made up its mind to have a simple single franchise which would lead to the large redistribution which this Amendment-sought. It seemed quite easy for the House on Report to enact, as it did enact, that notice should be taken, as though they were plural voters, of all the persons on the register in whose case Column 2 differed from Column 4. It was not in itself an important thing perhaps. It was to diminish the number of voters to be counted for the purposes of the maximum scale. Although in that case it did not matter very much, it would be of importance soon on account of the tendency in changes of our law to throw more and more the responsibility for the register upon the county clerk. They were throwing upon him duties which no one 646 could adequately perform, and which were likely to drive that poor man to distraction. He did not know if hon. Members thought there was any tendency to exaggerate these difficulties. He had spoken very much within the mark in every case. It was thought to simplify the franchise if difference could be detected between the second and fourth columns; but apart from the fact that a man called his place by one name and the overseers called it by another in every county constituency there were towns the suburbs of which were postally different from the ordinary description and the second column had to contain the postal address. The only reason that these details were of interest was because they illustrated the bog and morass into which they were plunged through not making up their minds and having a simple franchise.
§ MR. BONAR LAW (Camberwell, Dulwich)
said that although the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken had advocated principles with which the Opposition did not agree, he had in the main been much on their side, because his speech had been directed against the practicability of the Bill. The constituency which he (Mr. Bonar Law) represented contained many plural voters; but he did not think that was the reason for the strong feeling he had entertained towards the Bill from the beginning on the ground of its unfairness. the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had, in its later stages, shown some sensitiveness under the accusation that it had been introduced for the sake of weakening political opponents. He had even gone the length of saying that the charge was discourteous. In any case they could only judge of the intentions of the Government by the effect of what they had done. He did not wish to be offensive to the right hon. Gentleman or anybody else, but he found it difficult to say what he thought about this Bill in language as temperate as he would like to employ. The spirit in which he wished to deal with the right hon. Gentleman was illustrated by Lord Granville's anecdote of Count D'Orsay's visit to Saunders and Ottley, the booksellers. Count D'Orsay broke out into language full of brimstone, whereupon a gentleman, coming forward in a dignified manner from behind a desk, said he 647 could not stand such language and would return the Count's subscription. Count D'Orsay said, "I did not mean anything personal; if you are Saunders, confound Ottley; if you are Ottley, confound Saunders." That was exactly the spirit in which he wished to deal with the right hon. Gentleman. He said deliberately he could see no justification for this Bill if it was not intended to strengthen the Party to which the right hon. Gentleman belonged and to weaken their opponents. He was bound to look at the measure from two points of view, one regarding the principle on which it was based, the other regarding the machinery by which it was to be carried out. From either point of view the charge he had made against the Bill was abundantly proved by its nature. He would take the case of a man who worked in one constituency and lived in another, and paid rates in both, and whose identification with each was so strongly marked that it would be impossible to say with which it was the closer. Would anybody, looking at his possession of the franchise in a broad-minded way and apart from Party interests, not say that, although this was an anomaly, it was one which was fair in itself, and which ought not to be removed until he had made an attempt to get the whole electoral system on to a basis fair according to the principle upon which he was proceeding? What was the principle on which this Bill was based? It implied that the vote of one man ought to have as far as possible approximately the same influence as the vote of any other. The right hon. Gentleman was, however, face to face with an anomaly far greater than that with which he dealt in the Bill. Without a real examination into the subject it was impossible to say that the comparatively small anomaly which he was removing did not itself temper the injustice of the greater anomaly which he was leaving altogether on one side. The Government left the big anomaly alone and dealt with the small one; and the fact that the result of dealing with the small one was certain to be favourable to their Party, while the result of dealing with the other was uncertain, was in itself proof that this' was a gerrymandering Bill and nothing else. If, as he believed, the principle of the Bill was altogether unfair, the machinery by which it was proposed to carry out 648 that principle was not only palpably but grotesquely and absurdly unfair. The principle that taxation and representation should go together used to be the principle of the Liberal Party so long as they looked for support from possessors of property. Now that they looked for support, in competition with Members below the gangway, from those who did not possess property, the principle was entirely abandoned. The Government had laid down in this Bill, for the first time in political history, the new principle that possession of property was to be to some extent a disqualification for the right of exercising the franchise. If the Bill became law, every man who had only one qualification would get his vote as a matter of course, without doing anything to secure it. Every man with two votes could only use one after having substantiated a claim for it. In the one case the vote would be a matter of right; in the other a matter of claim. That was obviously unfair. It had been proved over and over again to be even more unfair in practice than in theory. Everyone who had spoken on the subject had admitted that if the claiming of the franchise depended on an individual himself, a very large proportion of the voters of this country would never claim the franchise at all. Everyone, except those who sat on the Treasury Bench, had admitted that the Bill was clumsy and unworkable, and left the door open to every kind of fraud in connection with voting. The professed object of the Government was to prevent an elector voting more than once; their real object was to prevent a man having more than one vote from voting at all. How had the Bill been defended against Amendments? The usual answer of the right hon. Gentleman, when he had no argument wherewith to meet an Amendment, was, "To accept this would be contrary to the principle of selection." And what was the principle? The right hon. Gentleman said on one occasion that a man who did not take the trouble to claim a vote was not entitled to have it. If that was a good principle, why should it not be applied all round, to the man who had only one qualification as well as to the man who had several? But the possession of two votes was considered a disqualification 649 for the exercise of the franchise, and the possession of property was to be discouraged. The President of the Board of Trade, in speaking upon the Education Bill, said that clericalism was the enemy. The Government had shown by their actions, more important than their speeches, that in their eyes the possessor of property was their enemy.
§ MR. J. WARD
pointed out that the speeches made by opponents to the Bill absolutely and entirely contradicted each other. The hon. Baronet the Member for Wandsworth made against the Government with regard to their motives in bringing this subject forward a similar accusation to that just made by the hon. Member for Dulwich, and earlier in the debate by the hon. and learned Member for the Walton Division of Liverpool. Then there were speeches by Members of the Opposition which absolutely repudiated that accusation as being discourteous and unfair, and admitted that there might be something in the principle of abolishing plural voters, but asserted that the method proposed by the Bill was not the way in which it should be done. He had no doubt that whatever Bill was brought forward to abolish plural voting there would be very considerable difficulty in devising the machinery to carry out the principle. But on the Third Reading of the measure it was not the machinery which should interest them, but the underlying principles of the Bill itself. The question was, were they in favour of one citizen having sometimes two or three, or even a dozen times, as much power in electing representatives to Parliament as another? If they disagreed on that he could understand the opposition of hon. Gentlemen opposite. He could understand the opposition to the principle of one voter one vote, which, he confessed in a clumsy sort of way, was attempted by this measure. He was of the opinion of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean that there was a much simpler way of doing the business than that which the Bill proposed, but he did not think the First Commissioner of Works could have avoided the sort of criticism that was directed against him now, even if he had employed other methods. As a matter of fact, he and the Opposition differed in 650 principle upon this Bill. He had heard a formula trotted out a dozen times that afternoon, which stated that every vote should have the same value. What the meaning of it was he did not know. He believed that the hon. Baronet the Member for Wandsworth, when he used that formula, meant that there should be a sort of automatic method of making constituencies as nearly equal as possible. But then it was quite clear that other Members meant nothing of the kind, and that what they meant was that in proportion to the wealth of an individual —in proportion to his material position and to the taxation that he paid to the State he should be given the power to elect representatives. He ventured to suggest that the working man, considering his opportunities and the amount of resource which he had at his disposal, paid as high a percentage of the rates and taxes of the country as any hon. Member in the House. But this measure ought to be discussed on higher principles than that. The question was whether one citizen should have a greater influence in the election of Members to Parliament than another, irrespective of their position in life or their material possessions. He did not agree with anything of the sort. They would find very poor men, who had to work at exhausting bodily labour, with quite as much intelligence as many of the people who boasted of their wealth. They could not make wealth or position a qualification in any shape or form. They had been told that they should not adopt this measure, because there were other and larger anomalies, such as University representation and the glaring difference in the number of electors in many constituencies. There was Wandsworth, probably the largest constituency in the county, where the minority had never been represented in the House of Commons for the last twenty years. The minority in Wandsworth were probably as numerous as many constituencies which were represented. Because the Members of the Opposition were able to point to three or four other anomalies that was no reason why the House should not, attack the anomaly of plural voting. It was a very peculiar argument to assert that they ought not to attack one anomaly without attacking them all. If they did not tackle anomalies one at a 651 time they would never abolish any of them. He thought the Government were doing the right thing in this measure. He desired that every adult should be declared eligible to have a voice in the affaire of the nation, and he would like to see all elections on one day. He also desired to see that all public-houses should be closed on the election day, in order that the verdict of the country might be more in accordance with the intelligent and sober opinion of the people; but, because the Government could not attach those things to this Bill that was no reason why the House should not adopt what was now proposed as the minimum demand. He hoped every Labour Member and every democrat in the House would support the Third Beading of this Bill.
§ * MR. THORNTON (Clapham)
said his hon. friend's Motion was deserving of sympathy and support. He thought that as the Government limited its proposals to preventing plural voting and refused to deal at all with the question of one vote one value, Unionists were justified in calling a halt before they went further down the slippery slope of redistribution upon which both sides of the House had entered. He still maintained that the proposals in this Bill would probably have the effect of disfranchising a number of electors, and causing injustice to those who were concerned in guiding the constituencies, for the cost of elections would be enormously increased. That was contrary to the principles of those who had brought in the Bill, their desire always having been to cheapen elections. Taking these facts together he was justified in maintaining that the Liberal Party had not logically carried out their own principles in the way the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean believed they ought to have done. They had endeavoured to clear their flanks and drive away what they believed to be hostile bodies of troops, but in doing so they had not carried out the ideas which they as a Party had hitherto entertained, In his judgment there was a hill in front of them, and on the other side a valley filled up with rugged country through which they would have to pass. In the preface to "Rogers on Elections" he found the 652 following passage which put this part of his argument very clearly—Until a Consolidation Act is passed defining the different franchises which exist, and laying down an uniform system of registration, both things within the scope of one, or perhaps two moderately short statutes, the difficulty to those to whom the subject is new. of obtaining a clear view of the varieties of franchises, and of the machinery provided for registration, will continue to be considerable.That was the opinion of an expert on this question. It had been said in the course of these debates that this was the first occasion on which a disfranchising measure had been placed before the British Parliament for many years. There was certainly a precedent in the reign of Henry VI. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite laughed, but he thought this was rather pertinent, because our whole system had depended greatly upon the 40s. freeholder. According to Rogers, Henry IV. in order to popularise his dynasty greatly increased the number of voters who "probably belonged to the freeholders at large, independently of the value of their freeholds." But in 1430, in the reign of Henry VI., an Act was passed restricting the exercise of the franchise, and thereby many people must have been disfranchised. Rogers said—That Statute, after reciting that elections have been made by very great, outrageous, and excessive numbers of people, of small substance, and of no value, whereof every of them pretended a voice equivalent with the most worthy knights and esquires, provided that the knights of the shires … shall be chosen by people having free land and tenements of 40s. value by the year.That was equivalent to £45 of our money. Various changes had led up to the broad franchise which we enjoyed at the present moment, and he thought it would be far better to have a consolidating measure which would have in it some element of permanency instead of the partial remedy now proposed. While he would not himself presume to lay down any policy, he thought it was desirable that they should have some guide as to how far they were to go in regard to the question of redistribution. As a Cambridge man he would like to say a word on University representation. He never could believe that the Conservative Party would desert University representation. [An HON. MEMBER: They will not do that.] Certain criticisms directed against the 653 unwillingness or inability of our great university representatives to go before and hold their own with popular audiences were untenable. The late Sir Richard Jebb was one of the most interesting and intellectual speakers he had ever hoard, and all those in the House who had come in contact With him were charmed with his utterances. It was the same with the late Mr. Leckie, who had shown himself exceptionally prominent, in debates during the last Parliament. He insisted that the tendency of this Bill was gradually to destroy the representation of Oxford, Cambridge, London and the Scottish Universities, who had always returned members of which they were all proud. Surely this was an occasion when the conception of a workable redistribution scheme, such as was outlined at Blenheim in August, 1901, should be formulated by the right hon. Member for the City. It was a subject of deep regret throughout the House that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham who took a leading part at Blenheim owing to ill-health was not present to express opinions on a subject regarding which my knowledge was that of an expert.
§ * MR. VERNEY (Buckinghamshire, N.)
said that the hon. Member for Clapham had spoken with sincere admiration for the representatives of the Universities who had been Members of that House. But he would remind the House that there was no class of people in the United Kingdom who were so largely represented in both Houses of Parliament as the graduates of the Universities without special representation. That was to say, the many brilliant members of Universities in the House had ample opportunities of reflecting the thought and opinion of the Universities of which they were graduates, and he did not think that form of representation was in the least likely to dwindle or disappear in the future. He could not understand how anyone who had read the Bill could have put down the Amendment in the name of the hon. Baronet the Member for Wandsworth, which ran that the sole object of the Bill was—the prohibition and penalizing of a large class of His Majesty's subjects in the exercise of admitted rights and franchises.That was not the sole or even the main object of the Bill, though it was a necessary incident of the Bill that penalties 654 should be imposed to enforce us provisions. The hon. Baronet asked who was hurt by the present condition of things? There was an obvious answer to that. Supposing there were fifty Members who had ten votes each, while all the remainder had only one vote, would not all the latter be hurt by the plural voting given to a privileged few? Precisely the same thing happened in the constituencies. He called this an enfranchising instead of a disfranchising Bill. There were some 6,000,000 voters in the United Kingdom, and he believed between 500,000 and 600,000 plural voters. Who was hurt in that case? The 5,500,000 single voters by the privilege given to the 500,000 plural voters. That was an unanswerable argument. Every plural voter tended to disfranchise the single voter, and thereby every single voter was hurt. He himself was not altogether in love with the Bill, because he did not pretend that it was a perfect measure. But it was one step in the direction of a great reform, and therefore he would give his vote in favour of it. If it were so framed as to render a greater reform impossible he would not vote for it. A great deal had been said about taxation and representation going together. If carried out to its logical conclusion that meant that a man should have the number of votes proportioned to the amount of taxation he paid. But they knew that that was not the case at present. If A paid £100 in taxation and B paid £500, should B have five times as many votes as A? At present the number of plural votes a man had depended upon the kind of property he owned and upon the exact position of his property. If the property was at the junction of three or four counties he might have four or five votes, although that property was only worth £500 a year; while a man with property of the value of £10,000 a year in another situation might have only one vote. On the other hand, a man with largo personal property in stocks and shares might have only one vote, while another with a small, amount of landed property might have several votes, although the former paid a great deal more taxation than the latter. He regretted that this measure did not go further than it did, but he would support it with a clear conscience and with his whole heart.
§ MR. SAMUEL ROBERTS (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
said that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had, in the course of his speech, instead of using arguments in favour of his measure, devoted the whole of his time to a criticism of hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House, and especially to the occupants of the front Opposition bench. The single argument the right hon. Gentleman had used in favour of the Bill was that it was an injustice for one man to have two votes and another man only one. If that was so, why did not the Liberal Party when in power bring forward long years ago a measure to remedy that alleged injustice? It was well known that Mr. Gladstone in 1892–5 and during a previous tenure of office had refused to have anything to do with such a measure. Surely it could not be a very great injustice to allow a man to have two votes, because it was the policy of the State to encourage people to invest their money in property. That had always been the policy of the Unionist Party in this country, and also in Ireland when they passed their land legislation for that country. They said that the more owners of property, and especially poor owners, there were the better for the State. In the fifteen largest constituencies in England there were 387,000 electors, while the fifteen smallest constituencies contained 48,000 in round figures. That meant that there were in the fifteen larger constituencies eight times as many electors as in the fifteen smaller, so that the voting power in the smaller constituencies—which ranged from 2,000 to 3,000 electors—was eight times the power of that in the larger constituencies. He mentioned that to show that these people were at present under an electoral injustice. A great many of them, however, had plural votes, and that tempered the injustice a little bit.
§ MR. SAMUEL ROBERTS
Surely it does tend to temper the injustice. Continuing, the hon. Member gave the House three other instances—one from Ireland, one from Scotland, and one from Wales. In Ireland the constituency of 656 East Belfast had 15,000 odd voters, while five smaller ones, including Galway and Kilkenny, which each returned a Member, only possessed a total of voters amounting to 13,856. In the case in Wales, Cardiff district had 26,000 odd voters against Montgomery Boroughs with 3,300 voters. That was to say there was a difference of eight to one. The case in Scotland was that of the Partick Division of Lanark there were 18,000 electors odd, while Wigton Burghs had 2,700 voters, a case in which there was a difference seven to one. As an old University man he protested against the attack upon University representation. He thought it was unfair to lessen that representation, especially in view of the able men that the Universities sent to this House. It so happened that at present they had those men on the Opposition side of the House, but it had not always been so. Hon. Members representing University constituencies had sat on both sides of the House. It would be very much regretted if, under this Bill, the number of University voters dwindled down to so small a number that a case could be made out for taking the representation away altogether. Under the heading of education, science, and art, the House was voting this year no less than £16,327,000. That was a very large expenditure, and, surely, such education ought to have some representation in the House. It was necessary that they should have Members who were qualified to give an opinion on educational matters. The Opposition case had been that if the Government were going to do away with plural voting, why did they not bring in a Bill simply saying it was illegal for a man to vote twice, and not a complicated Bill which would be almost impossible to work? If the right hon. Gentleman had no fear of the plural voter, why did he not bring in a simple Bill? Instead of doing so, he had laid himself open to the charge of having brought in this complicated machinery with the express purpose of making it difficult for those people to exercise the franchise at all. The Bill was brought in for the purpose of damaging the Unionist Party. Surely there were sufficient right hon. and hon. Gentleman on the Ministerial Benches without its having been necessary to bring in a Bill to reduce further the small Unionist numbers. They could 657 have waited, surely, for one or two years, and then brought in a proper Redistribution Bill, and so dealt with the whole question. The Opposition made their protest—he did not suppose it would have any effect on the Government —and he hoped that protest would warrant the Bill being thrown out by the House of Lords.
§ MR. PAUL (Northampton)
said the Bill had been criticised, not so much on account of its substance as on account of its form, but he had noticed that when anyone objected to the principle of a Bill they nearly always discovered that its form was the very worst that could have been selected. The Government had been blamed because they had not made it a residential Bill. He thought the principle that a man should vote whore he breakfasted and slept was a sound one, and that this would in most cases be the practice which would be followed when the Bill became law. It would be difficult to lay down a residential qualification, because of the difficulty of saying where some men resided. He had met once, in Switzerland, an Irish landlord whose eight children had all been born in different foreign hotels. That man had a vote for his property in Ireland, but it would have puzzled anyone to say where his residence was. With regard to the arguments against the form of the Bill, he remembered Sir John Gorst, one of the ablest lawyers in the House, saying that any fool could get up all about the Corrupt Practices Act in one day, and he thought anybody of ordinary intelligence could get up this Bill in half a day. There was no form of study, except bad poetry, which he would not prefer to the revised statutes or even the repealed statutes, which often, however, were more amusing and interesting than the statutes at large, but he derived consolation from two sources. In the first place, he realised that this Bill was not meant for one's own amusement, but for one's general instruction. In the second place, being in favour of the principle which this Bill enunciated, he was not greatly concerned with the particular form in which it was clothed. If all Acts of Parliament were made perfectly clear and intelligible what would become of the legal profession; and if anything happened to the legal profession 658 what would become of this House? Where would they go for the humour, the delicacy, and the eloquence which made the debates, to say the least, endurable? The hon. Baronet the junior Member for the City of London made recently a melancholy speech on the future state of the plural voter. It was an important speech, because after all it was men like the hon. Baronet who maintained the financial reputation of the City—a thing of which every Englishman was proud, whether he knew anything about finance or not. It was a most pathetic speech; nothing was more touching than the description of the condition to which the plural voter would be reduced. But much as he might sympathise with the woes of the plural voter, he could not help remembering that the obligations laid upon him must be neglected before he could arrive at his unsupportable dilemma, and that the original duty cast upon him of giving notice to the overseers had also to be discharged by that exceedingly humble person the lodger. He was astonished to hear the right hon. Member for South Dublin, one of the greatest authorities in this House on local government, complain of this obligation as if it were a thing unheard of. The plural voter might have property in half-a-dozen counties and the lodger inhabit only one room, but what difference did that make from the point of view of justice? The objections to this Bill were as to substance as well as to form, and it had been said that though it might be very well to deprive a man of a vote in a part of the country where he had no local interest, if he lived in one constituency and carried on business in another, it was hard that he should not have two votes. The hon. and gallant Member for one of the Divisions of Liverpool asked why if a man had one vote for his residence and another for his place of business, a working man should not have a vote for his house and another for the place in which he worked. Hon. Members opposite argued to the effect that a working man did not pay taxes. If hon. Members opposite told the country that at the next election, he could quite understand that in spite of their intellectual calibre their numbers here would be small. Taxation was indirect as well as direct, and every man and woman in this country who was not in the workhouse or 659 in gaol paid taxes. The only possible inference that could be drawn from the principle that taxation and representation should go together was that there should be universal suffrage, male as well as female, totally unconnected with the possession of either real or personal property except such as everyone required in order to live. A man who smoked his pipe paid taxes. It was right for a man with property in several counties to have a vote for the county council in each county, because there were as many county councils as counties, but there was only one Parliament. Let him take his own case. He had two votes, and had he chosen to buy a vote for the University of Oxford he would have had three. Why should he have three or even two when his hon. friend the Member for Barnard Castle and the hon. Member for East Birmingham only had one? The thing was absurd. It was not a question of intelligence or capacity. The hon. Baronet the Member for the City had said that the fact of a man possessing property in a great many places was evidence that he had a great many sources of mental activity and had made good use of them. That was a dangerous argument, and he might suggest an analogy which was at least verbally relevant, that the more scattered his property the more scattered his brains.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
What I said was that if a man had two houses it must be taken as evidence that he had more ability and had got on in the world. I did not say anything about scattered property.
§ MR. PAUL
said the hon. Baronet had expressed in better language than he the same thing. The man if he were to have two votes must have houses in two constituencies. In the course of this debate reference had been made to the question of University representation. The hon. and learned Member for Liverpool had done him the honour of quoting something he had said about the inadequate character of the examinations for the degree of a bachelor of arts at Oxford. He did not deny that he might have said it, but it was not the main part of his argument, and no doubt things had improved since his time, as indeed he gathered they had from the speech of the 660 hon. and learned Gentleman. The main point in his argument was that the vote for the Oxford and Cambridge Universities was not obtained by the bachelor's degree which meant an examination, but by the master's degree which meant paying a sum of money. He had seen it stated since this question was discussed in Committee, and he believed it to be true, that the representation of those Universities had become much less clerical. The cause of that was a very sad one, it being the increasing poverty of clergymen. There were many clergymen in charge of large and poor parishes who had a better use for their money than that of purchasing the right to remain on the books and to vote for the parliamentary representation of their old University. There had been no contested election for the University of Oxford since the year 1878. He would very much like to put it—not to a constitutional authority like the hon. Baronet—but to some humble inquirer after constitutional truth who it was chose the Members to represent Oxford University. If the inquirer conducted his researches in a ruthless and impartial spirit they would lead him at last, unless he were stopped by the porter, into the recesses of the Carlton Club. In speaking in Committee on this subject of University representation he quoted the case of Peel's rejection at Oxford because he was in favour of emancipating Roman Catholics. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, in an interruption which was at once relevant and courteous, called his attention to the case of Macaulay who was rejected on some similar ground at Edinburgh University. He made some answer to the right hon. Gentleman on the spur of the moment, but, as usual, the best answer occurred to him a quarter of an hour too late. The answer he ought to to have given was that as soon as the electors of the City had an opportunity they elected him. He supposed it was expected of a University that it would be superior to the ordinary run of Party questions. No University, so far as he was aware, had ever been superior to Party. He believed that, with three exceptions, every Member for Oxford and Cambridge might very well have obtained a seat in any ordinary constituency. The three exceptions were Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Gabriel Stokes, and Sir Richard Jebb. If this Bill did nothing 661 else than put an end to what was called University representation, but was not representation of a University, he should support it, because it gave the final stroke; to a principle which was not in accordance with the democratic principles accepted by both parties for the last twenty years, and which, so for as it pretended to be special representation, was a mockery and a snare.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY (City of London)
congratulated the hon. Gentleman on being the first Member outside the Front Ministerial Bench to give the Bill hearty support. An hon. Member who proceded him was extremely angry with the Amendment because it said that the sole object was to disfranchise a certain number of people, whereas this would be only an incidental effect of the Bill. He did not care whether the sole object of the Bill was to disfranchise people, or whether the result of the Bill was to disfranchise people. It was because he believed the Bill would disfranchise people that he intended to support the Amendment of his hon. friend. The Firs: Commissioner of Works had all along advocated this Bill on the ground that there were certain anomalies in the electoral system that ought to be remedied, and said that the Bill dealt with one of the most flagrant. He, however, did not think it was an anomaly. The principle of franchise in this country ever since the time of Henry VI. had been based not upon men but upon property. That might be right or it might be wrong, but it was the principle. The principle of local representation had also held good in this country, and for a very good reason. If we were to have equal electoral areas the result would be that large towns would have undue power in governing the rural districts He considered the principle of local representation ought to be maintained. The interests of people living in the country and the interests of people living in towns were not always absolutely indentical, and it was desirable that the best men possible should be sent to this House to represent the various interests in the country. Local representation effected that result. If the principles of local representation and property qualifications were sound, and also the principle that taxation and representation should 662 go together, then there was no anomaly in plural voting, because it was evident that if they admitted these three principles there must be plural voting. The principle that taxation and representation should go together was never meant to imply that a man with large property should have more representation in proportion to the man with a small amount of property. All that it meant was that a man should not have a vote unless he paid according to his means some amount of rates and taxes. The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent had asked why people with money should have more votes in proportion to their money. Nothing of the kind was ever advocated from the Opposition side of the House. The hon. Member must have confused a speech of the hon. Member for North Norfolk, who said it seemed an injustice that a man with 20,000 acres in one part of a county should not have as many votes as a man with fifty acres in one part of a county and fifty acres in another. He did not know that the hon. Gentleman ever proposed to make an alteration, because he was under the idea that a Bill should be brought in to give residential qualifications. The same sort of wrong idea seemed to have been in the mind of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Liverpool, because he told the House the other night that it was absurd that a rich man should have more votes than a man because he was poor. All that had been argued, however, was that where a man paid taxes in a constituency he should have a vote in that constituency, and not more than one vote. He was not surprised that there was a little confusion in the mind of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Liverpool, and that he was not aware of the old Radical doctrine that taxation and representation should go together, because he had only lately become a recruit to that Party. He (Sir F. Banbury) supported the Amendment because the Bill was a disfranchising Bill, and was without precedent, as it was not to be followed by redistribution or dissolution. He quite agreed that it would not be wise for the Party opposite to dissolve at the present time. But why should they bring in this Bill now? Why should they not wait until a short time before their dissolution, which must come sooner or later? The violent hurry for the Bill was dictated by the fear of the 663 country turning round at the by-elections. This was not a Bill for one man one vote, but a Bill for one man no vote, if that man possessed a certain amount of property. The hon. Member for Northampton had challenged his statement that, as a rule, when a man succeeded in holding property in two or more constituencies it was rather an argument that he was fit to exercise the franchise. He could not consider that all men were equal. He wished they were, but he thought unfortunately some men were better thinkers, clearer reasoners, and more far-sighted than others, and those men generally succeeded in raising themselves in this world, and were generally Conservative. The machinery of the Bill was so complicated that the ordinary person would not know quite what to do in order to ensure his vote. Most people would leave it to the agent, and the result would be that many would be disfranchised. As the Bill originally stood, if a man merely asked for a ballot paper he would be subject to two years hard labour. It was true that the right hon. Gentleman, owing to representations made on the Opposition side, had substituted a fine of £500. He thought that a fine of £500 for asking for a ballot paper, when the man who was asking had the right to be on the register somewhere, was in itself sufficient to justify the rejection of the Bill. The result of all the pains and penalties to be imposed would be that in many oases men who were qualified to give a vote and were anxious to record it would find themselves disfranchised. The effect of the Bill would be to disfranchise voters who did not hold the views of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ * MR. OSMOND WILLIAMS (Merionethshire)
said the speeches of the hon. Member for Dulwich and the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London showed pretty clearly that the real opposition to this Bill was the hatred of democracy and of the lifting up of the masses. Had it never occurred to them that there were on the Ministerial side of the House men equally interested in property and anxious to safeguard it? The difference between the two sides was as to the lines on which this was to be best accomplished. He maintained that it could only be done by the social and political uplifting of the masses. The only way to preserve pro- 664 perty in future was by giving the masses a chance to acquire property. Our institutions were mainly modelled upon those of Athens two thousand years ago, and the attitude of Athens then ought to be the attitude of Great Britain to-day. It might probably be replied that that was ancient history. Let them take modern history. America had done what no other nation had attempted to do. It had established a Republic with the unlimited suffrage of the million. It had shown that a church could exist without bishops. A hundred and twenty years ago it made the sublime, but what seemed then the foolhardy announcement that all men were equal, and to-day it had a territory stretching from ocean to ocean, and the great Republic was stronger than ever. That could not be denied, and they could not stop the advance of democracy.
§ MR. RAWLINSON (Cambridge University)
said he opposed the Third Heading of the Bill on the ground that if passed in its present form it would bring nothing but discredit on the House. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had assured them that the Bill would in no way affect University representation, and he accepted the assurance in preference to that of the hon. Member for Northampton, who said the measure would injure it. Therefore he did not propose to deal with the great question of University representation, which might come before the House at some other time. He would only say that, in view of the work which the Universities were doing, he thought it was desirable that they should be represented in the House of Commons. No one who had taken part in these debates had really spoken seriously in favour of the Bill. Though the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the measure had impressed them at every turn with his ability, had he ever imbued them with the idea that he was attempting to carry through a serious reform in a serious way? The Bill in its pre sent form was absolutely unworkable. The hon. Member for Buckinghamshire had said that he was not in love with the Bill, though he was in love with the principle of it. No one had supported the Bill in toto as it stood. Why had they not? The Bill was introduced in the spring, and it was practically an open secret that it would 665 not he gone cm with. [Cries of "No."] Then that was a mistaken view. It was the view held on the back benches [Cries of "No."] After the vacation this Bill was taken, although there were other more pressing Bills, such as the Workmen's Compensation Bill, which required detailed and careful consideration. The question of principle involved could have been dealt with by a more simple Bill, but this measure had been proceeded with, and after all the Amendments made in Committee and on Report it was still unworkable. The right hon. Gentleman had told them that he had introduced the Bill thus early to enable the plural voter to acquire a knowledge of the law; but could it be suggested that that was a fair way of dealing with the question? Surely a Bill of this kind should be made comprehensible from the first to the ordinary layman, and oven to the ordinary lawyer. There was no sort of precedent for such a Bill, which enabled an elector to make an affidavit to the presiding officer in the polling booth that he was not aware that his name appeared in another register. That, he contended, would lead to the blocking of the polling booths by a large number of people at the busiest time of voting. He ventured to submit that the Bill in its present form was absolutely unworkable and ought not to pass the House of Commons. They had been told with cynical frankness that it would have the effect of disfranchising a large number of Conservative voters, and that it would be useful to the Liberal Party at by-elections. But were they quite sure of that?
§ * SIR BRAMPTON GURDON
said that he believed that the Bill would not greatly advantage the Liberal Party; but that was no reason why an injustice should not be remedied.
§ MR. RAWLINSON
said he doubted the correctness of the view which he had quoted. Would not the Bill offend men on the Ministerial side of the House, and a largo number of people who were not strong politicians, who might feel that it was not playing the game to pass a Bill which was admitted to be almost a gerrymandering Bill, giving a considerable political advantage to the Party which passed it? He repeated 666 that it would have been bettor to have dealt with a question of this kind fairly, on broad grounds, and not in this narrow way, though it might bring an advantage to the Liberal Party. He maintained that the Bill was introduced, not for the purpose of legitimately dealing with an acknowledged grievance by people who wished to sweep it away, but for the purpose heard of elswhere of filling up the cup against another assembly. From either a layman's or lawyer's point of view, the Hill was over-laden with cumbersome machinery which would render it unworkable; and he asked the House most strongly to hesitate before giving it a Third Reading.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
said he was sorry to intervene when so many hon. Gentlemen on the other side desired to continue the debate, but although he did not want to occupy the House for a considerable period he must begin so as to leave a little time for the right hon. Gentleman opposite to defend the Bill, which had not yet been done. He did not know whether the hon. Gentleman hoard the entertaining speech made by his subordinate in the earlier part of the debate. If he did he would agree that the speech had almost every merit except that of touching on the question now before the House. With some over-elaborate irrelevance the right hon. Gentleman travelled over most of the legislation of this session and over a large part of the legislation and intended legislation of preceding sessions. He touched on the speech made by him on the Third Reading of the Trade Disputes Hill. He referred to the speech which his right hon. friend made on the Third Reading of the Land Tenure Bill. He gave a very elaborate, if not very accurate history of the redistribution scheme of last session; and finally he paid him the compliment of referring to a polling-card which was circulated in his election in 1895. He was always pleased when the other side came round to that polling-card. As a politician who had been before the public for something over thirty years, he felt that, when the worst that could be quoted against him was not something he had said but something else for which the responsibility could be fastened upon him, he had done pretty well. No higher tribute could be paid to his 667 consistency and moderation as a politician than this recurrence to an ancient voting-card which was not his composition. He did not complain on this occasion, but he did not see its obvious and immediate connection with the Plural Voting Bill. Nor could he recall in what connection the right hon. Gentleman brought in that episode.
§ MR. HARCOURT
said he was quoting the words used about the redistribution proposals of July last year, that they were very simple, and he recalled that these words had also been applied either by the right hon. Gentleman or his friends to the proposal for old-age pensions.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said he was reminded more of a game called Russian scandal than of anything else he had over heard. They were discussing a franchise Bill. On that it occurred to the right hon. Gentleman to give a history of the redistribution proposals of last year. On that it occurred to him to quote a speech in which it appeared he said that the principle of the proposed Redistribution Bill was very simple, as, indeed, it was. Having used the word "simple" it occurred to him that that commonplace adjective had been previously used in some other connection—that of the voting card of 1895; and so by a happy and natural collocation of literary ideas they were carried from the Third Reading of a one-man-one-vote Bill back to an obscure episode in an election contest which happened ten years ago. He could understand how it was that the light hon. Gentleman, tied down as he had been through the whole of the long Report stage to the dry detail of the Bill, which he had managed with great knowledge of the subject and great tact and dexterity, should have given himself a free rein when he came to the wide and open campaign of the Third Reading of the Bill. Although he did 668 not grudge him these excursions either into the immediate or the remote past, he thought he might have come back towards the end of the speech, at all events, to something distantly connected with the measure before the House. The right hon. Gentleman did not do so, and the unfortunate thing was that he had got to speak before and not after the official defence of the Bill. He was not privileged to follow the Prime Minister, who was going to make that belated defence; but he had to deal as best he could, not with the defence that had been made, for none had been made, but with the defence that might be, or would be, made by the Leader of the Party responsible for the Bill. He was not going to discuss the details of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman opposite described the Bill, when it suited the particular connection in which he was speaking, as a machinery Bill. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Merionethshire had spoken of the bearing the Bill had on universal civilisation, and he gathered from what he hoard of the hon. Gentleman's speech that he anticipated from the Bill every blessing that could come to mankind. We were to have small holdings in England, we were to rival the glories of America in literature and art, and Athens in Empire. He did not think all these blessings were likely to result from a Bill which, as its author said, was only a machinery Bill. He could not believe that the mere manipulation of our electoral system was going to make a now heaven or a new earth, and he was the more impressed with that when he remembered that this machinery Bill was one of which the machinery was extremely defective. The right hon. Gentleman had found a great many defenders of what he called the principle of the Bill, but he was not aware that he had found a single defender of its machinery. One of his most ardent supporters, the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, had never concealed the fact that he thought the Bill quite unworkable; and he did not believe that anybody thought it workable, from which he was tempted to think that nobody thought it would get the chance of working. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill said the Government were perfectly 669 ready to take on their own shoulders all responsibility for the Bill and that he was prepared to lay it would work. How the Government could guarantee that the Bill would work surpassed his understanding. They could not treat a Reform Bill as they would treat a bicycle or a motor-car, and give a guarantee with it. They could not claim damages from the right hon. Gentleman if the thing failed; and if the Bill would throw our whole electoral system into confusion, in imposing an unmerited hardship on the voters immediately concerned, and in increasing the cost and expense of the electoral machinery, he could not understand how the right hon. Gentleman could have the courage to say that the Bill was one for which he and his friends took the whole responsibility. The right hon. Gentleman had laid himself open to the charge that he had not considered the machinery adequately. He had told the House that two or three years before he came into Parliament he regarded this as one of the greatest problems requiring solution. If a machinery Bill was to be the result of all this cogitation it might have been expected that it would be better adapted to the object it was to carry out than this Bill, which, with so much capacity and good humour, the right hon. Gentleman had recommended to the House. Leaving details, he came to the broader principles more especially germane to the present stage. Upon that subject they had really had nothing from the right hon. Gentleman himself, and they had to turn to speeches of his supporters to find out what it was the right hon. Gentleman desired to effect by this great machinery Bill, which was also a great Reform Bill. The hon. Gentleman who represented one of the divisions of Norfolk made a speech 670 earlier in the evening, in which he had the courage to tell the House that the principle of the British Constitution was that a man should have a vote, and only one.
§ Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
said he did not know whether the hon. Gentleman thought he was misrepresenting him; he took down the words "the British Constitution was that a man should have one vote, and no more." He did not know where the hon. Gentleman got that view of the British Constitution. It certainly was not from history; it certainly was not from a study of the actual franchise which had been in force in this country since those primeval times when our free institutions first began to take shape; neither did he get it from the teachings of our great constitutional authorities. He could not imagine any doctrine that would have more horrified every great constitutional statesman from Edmund Burke to Mr. Gladstone It was not the principle of the constitution, and never had been recommended by any great statesman who had had the conduct of national affairs for the last 150 years. To find such a doctrine one must search not the writings of constitutional authorities, not their speeches on constitutional subjects, one must search the abstract and theoretical essays, numerous enough in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in foreign countries, and which had their analogue in articles of British production. These, it must be admitted, laid down certain individualistic theories as to the position of individuals in regard to the State. He did not know whether the hon. Member would take them in their rigid entirety and press them to their 671 logical conclusion. If he did he would certainly arrive at the conclusion that our present system required a great deal of reform. But what reform? He had no particular love for pedants and doctrinaires, who for the most part were very respectable gentlemen, but whose particular quality it was to take a very narrow view upon imperfect premises, and then to extract from it everything that the laws of logic enabled them to deduce. But what was to be said of doctrinaires who could not set this logical machine to work, who, having obtained their views from imperfect premises, could not deduce their logical conclusions? Was there any hon. Gentleman opposite who would seriously advocate carrying their view to its logical conclusion? It was simple enough; everybody knew that of course it would carry with it female suffrage—obviously it would. ["Why?"] Because he had always been taught to believe that even a woman was human. If they were to plunge into this bog of abstract rights and assert that all men had the absolute right, that could hardly be admitted with at the same time a denial of the privilege to the female sex. Everything they did in the way of franchise for the male they must do, on the principle of the British Constitution, as known not to Mr. Gladstone and other great constitutional authorities, but to the hon. Member for Norfolk, for the female. Hon. Gentlemen opposite did not deny it, but they refused to carry it into effect. That was not the only conclusion they must draw. They must, as an approach to a proper system, make equal electoral districts. But, after all, these were merely makeshifts; they did not give equal power to each adult individual in the community. They could not do that, they could not even approach to it unless they adopted 672 some system of minority representation of an elaborate kind, He did not know that that was part of the general scheme which hon. Gentlemen opposite proposed to enforce. He listened with impatience to the theory that every man had an equal right to a vote, and the power which a vote gave, when the people who advanced that theory had not the smallest intention of carrying their own schemes into effect. He had never accepted that view of the British Constitution; he did not think it had any historical justification. He believed that our Constitution was and must remain democratic, and perhaps it might become increasingly democratic. But he did not base that belief on the abstract rights of individuals; he based it on the particular needs of the country at this particular time. He believed that the democratic ideal was perfectly unsuited to many peoples, to many stages of civilisation, to whole nations, and to whole races. He thought it was suited to Great Britain in 1906, and we lived under democratic government. The House of Commons was a democratic House. He did not quite know why right hon. Gentlemen opposite had occupied a large portion of the autumn sitting, which ought to have been devoted to a scheme of social reform, to carrying out a purely political measure which did not appear to be of the first and most pressing importance. He reminded hon. Members below the gangway, who specially and peculiarly represented those democratic views at all events of reform, that what was happening now had always happened. The Radical or Liberal Party came into power on the strength of the wonderful things they were going to do in the way of social reform to raise the condition of the masses of the country. Directly 673 they obtained office they began to deal, not with social problems at all, but with some political dodge. This Bill would not benefit a single individual in the country; it did not further social reform by an inch. He should have thought the Government might have given them the ordinary leisure of the autumn, or at all events asked them to occupy their time with one or two of those great measures of social reform which they had promised. But the habit was inveterate; they could not help it. It had always been so. It was for that reason that almost all the great measures of social reform had been Tory or Unionist measures. It was not in the least because on that side they were more philanthropic than hon. Gentlemen opposite. He was sure that the Liberal Party were a most well-meaning set of gentlemen, but they had got this ingrained and inveterate practice that when Parliamentary power and time were given into their hands, they set to work to dish their opponents. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill was very indignant because it was suggested that this measure was not designed to improve our electoral system but was levelled against political opponents, and he said it was an untrue statement. He accepted the right hon. Gentleman's disclaimer so far as he was concerned, but he would point out that the disclaimer did not come very well from a gentleman who spent a good deal of his speech, which might have been devoted to the Bill, in explaining that the late Government's scheme of redistribution was designed in order to inflict political injury on hon. Gentlemen opposite. They were always ready to give full credit to good intentions, but those who asked to be given credit for good intentions should show themselves capable of attribut- 674 ing good intentions to those from whom they differed. But, in truth, whatever might be the intentions of the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill, and he was sure they were excellent, could this Bill have any effect in furthering any good cause in the country, in helping on any social reform, or in aiding to carry out any object which any man of independent judgment outside Party strife was likely to regard as a great object? It would inflict, no doubt, great hardships on the owners of double or treble qualifications. It would make a modification in our electoral system, it would, or it was thought it would, inflict an injury on those who were for the present a small minority in that House. But he would remind the right hon. Gentleman of the observation of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, who, talking not, indeed, of this Bill, but of a Redistribution Bill, stated that that Bill never could be carried out unless by the agreement of both Parties and in connection with some wide scheme of general reform. He asked the right hon. Gentleman whether, if that were true, he really thought it possible that Parliament should pass into law a measure which avowedly dealt with but the smallest fraction of a great subject, which avowedly dealt with that fraction in a manner unpractical and costly, which was taken in isolation from every other scheme by which the balance as between Parties could be redressed— was it possible that such a measure could be passed into law with the general assent of the community? He did not think so. The outside public, perhaps, did not take much interest in the matter one way or another, but this they knew, that if they were to deal piecemeal with this question of electoral franchises, it was not decorous 675 nor politic, nor prudent for a great majority to attempt to seize the opportunity and put its heel on the minority. From the point of view of the minority, he regarded the policy as ungenerous. But he did not appeal to the generosity of hon. Gentlemen opposite. He appealed to their sense of expediency. From their own point of view, a Bill of this kind, which, on the face of it, whatever might be the intentions of the responsible author, was a gerrymandering Bill, could never be satisfactorily dealt with in isolation. A settlement could only be arrived at when both parties come to some agreement, not merely on the question of one man one vote, but on the question of the redistribution of seats, of the representation of Ireland, upon the question, it might be, of woman franchise—on all those questions which, until they had the courage to deal with them, Parliament and the country would refuse to meddle with in isolation.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Sir H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN, Stirling Burghs)
said on one thing they must all be agreed. They were glad to find the right hon. Gentleman in such remarkably good spirits. He almost recalled to them himself during the debates of the last Parliament, when he commanded an overwhelming majority, and comported himself with a spirit which that position in such a man as he was naturally produced. Why on this occasion was he in such a rollicking humour? Obviously because at last he had found a Bill which he could not only oppose and delay, criticise and denounce in every clause and in every line in Committee and on Report, but which he could oppose when it reached Third Reading. The right 676 hon. Gentleman had said truly that if they searched history they would find that when the Liberal Party came into power they addressed themselves to questions of electoral law, which might not have any direct and immediate bearing upon the general tendency of legislation in the country; and that when the Conservatives came in—again he agreed to a large extent with the right hon. Gentleman—excellent measures improving the social condition of the people were passed. And why was this? Because while Liberals were in office they were thwarted and hindered by the Opposition in the passing of these social measures, and they applied themselves to the improving of the machinery of legislation in order that they might be better able in the future to overcome that opposition, and to give the opinions, desires, and sentiments of the people a better and further opportunity of expression. That was the explanation of the strange phenomenon which the right hon. Gentleman had discovered. This was a simple Bill, and the difficulties in it consisted not in the principle, but in the made of applying it. The principle was that no man should have more than one vote. Why was that opposed? It was difficult to discover the foundation of the opposition. The mover and seconder concerned themselves principally with the old accusation, that while the Government were concerned with one man one vote they neglected the principle of one vote one value. That was why the First Commissioner had dwelt so largely on the redistribution efforts of the right hon. Gentleman last year, which ought to debar him, to a great extent at any rate, from bringing any charge of gerrymandering or Party motive when any Government attempted to alter the conditions and the details of 677 the system of representation in this country. There must be something more than that to say in opposition to the Bill. The hon. Member for Sevenoaks, who was chosen to represent the opposition to the Second Reading of the Bill, made two remarkable statements. He said that a man did not give a vote because he was a man; and he went on to say that property was the essence of every vote given in this country. For this realistic language and his candour they were obliged to him. In his view electors were more animated voting instruments in defence of property. He could well understand that it would be the duty of a representative so elected to frame his policy and that of his friends in the interests of property. But the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition did not fall into the error of his hon. colleague He rather tried to slur over, and all through the debate he had neglected to revive, the crudities of the hon. Member for Seven-oaks. The careful way in which the right hon. Gentleman had skirted round this particular subject of "property," and contrived to cast an almost romantic glow upon that very prosaic instrument, must have commanded universal admiration. He would, no doubt, shrink from admitting that property was the ground of the franchise, and he would not admit that property pluralism was necessary for the solidity of the constitution. He had said that the electoral system had its roots in history, and that every statesman of distinction had worked upon this historical basis whenever it had been his lot to modify the electoral system. He had said that our electoral system was based on the representation of localities. Looking to Ireland, Scotland, and Wales he should not have thought that this was the keystone of the right hon. Gentleman's 678 policy. But when they came to look closely into this question of the representations of localities, they did not get any nearer to each other, and whilst he agreed that localities were very inefficiently represented in our electoral system the right hon. Gentleman was no doubt perfectly satisfied with it. Here was a case in point. The right hon. Gentleman had said over and over again that it was a great grievance for a business man, conducting his business in one constituency and residing in another, to be deprived of one of his votes and to be called upon to choose which he would use. But if localities and responsibilities were of the very essence of the whole affair, why should business men be given a larger voting power than their workmen and clerks who also earned on their occupation in one constituency and resided in another? If plural voting was almost essential to the constitution, and if the rigid representation of locality was essential, why had the Party opposite, at any time during the past twenty years, when they could do it, not given the power of plural voting to the workman and the clerk, so that they might have been consolidated in the locality in which their separate interests were to be found? That could not be done because they had no property qualification in their workshops or places of business; and therefore their claims lay dormant, so that even underneath these high-flying doctrines of public interest and the necessity of recognising the claims of localities they came clown plump upon their old friend property, which was really the foundation of the whole opposition to this Bill. As to the historic argument, his answer to the right hon. Gentleman was that what might have been very good and suitable many years ago might be in no way suitable to the tendencies and circum- 679 stances of the present day, and to argue that re-arrangement in any matter should not be attempted because it was old was the finest old Tory doctrine, from which he should have thought hon. Gentlemen opposite had completely emancipated themselves. They were now anxious to convince themselves that they were abreast of the movement of the modern tendency in politics and were animated by an almost feverish desire to appear to be, at all events, in the front line; and they were good enough to say sometimes that it was the Liberal Party who followed the old methods, used the old arguments, and adhered to the old principles. He could not help thinking that there was a good deal of make-believe in the fears of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite as to the results of a measure such as this. After all, one man one vote was a plain common-sense doctrine. It had been acted on by the Party opposite in their own county councils; and last year, when they introduced a new constitution for the Transvaal, they included the same principle, and in the Transvaal, he would have thought, quite as much as anywhere
§ else, the power of property would be considered. What was the opposite course? One man as many votes as he could manage to scramble together. He put it to those most afraid of this Bill whether the constitution of the State was likely to be endangered by the abolition of a system of that kind. There was much more danger to the State in adhering to and hugging old outworn privileges than in freeing ourselves from them. The Government took this one point in the electoral system because it stood by itself, and could be dealt with by itself without raising other questions, without confusing the proceedings of Parliament, and without any necessity of taking it at the end of the Parliament, as they would have to take redistribution. They took it now in order that once for all they might induce Parliament to accomplish a reform which they had advocated for the last score of years, and he believed the general opinion of the country would say it was a useful, safe, and patriotic course to take.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 333; Noes, 104. (Division List No. 456.)683
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Benn, W.(T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo.||Burke, E. Haviland-|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Bennett, E. N.||Burns, Rt. Hon. John|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Berridge, H. T. D.||Burnyeat, W. J. D.|
|Alden, Percy||Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, R'mf'rd||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Buxton. Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Billson, Alfred||Byles, William Pollard|
|Armitage, R.||Birrell Rt. Hon. Augustine||Cairns, Thomas|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Roland, John||Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.|
|Astbury, John Meir||Boulton, A. C. F. (Ramsey)||Carr-Comm. H. W.|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Bowerman, C. W.||Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Brace, William||Cawley, Sir Frederick|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Bramsdon, T. A.||Chance, Frederick William|
|Barlow, John Emmot (Somers't)||Brigg, John||Charming, Sir Francis Allston|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Bright, J. A.||Cheetham, John Frederick|
|Barnard, E. B.||Brocklehurst, W. B.||Churchill, Winston Spencer|
|Barnes, G. N.||Brodie, H. G.||Clarke, C. Goddard|
|Beale, W. P.||Brooke, Stopford||Cleland, J. W.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Brunner, J. F.L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Clough, William|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Brunner, Rt. Hn. Sir J. T.(Ches.)||Coats, Sir T. Glen (Renfrew, W.)|
|Bull, Richard||Bryce, Rt. Hon. James (Aberd'n)||Cobbold, Felix Thornley|
|Bellairs Carylon||Bryce, J. A. (Inverness Burghs)||Cogan, Denis J.|
|Benn, Sir J. Williams (Dev'np'rt||Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Haydin, John Patrick||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)|
|Cooper, G. J.||Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Morrell, Philip|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Gr'st'd)||Hemmerde, Edward George||Morse, L. L.|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Henry, Charles S.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Cory, Clifford John||Herbert, Colonel Ivor (Mon., S.)||Murphy, John|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Murray, James|
|Cowan, W. H.||Higham, John Sharp||Napier, T. B.|
|Cox, Harold||Hobart, Sir Robert||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)|
|Crean, Eugene||Hodge, John||Newnes, Sir George (Swansea)|
|Cremer, William Randal||Hogan, Michael||Nicholls, George|
|Crombie, John William||Holden, E. Hopkinson||Nicholson, Charles N. (Donc'r)|
|Crosfield, A. H.||Holland, Sir William Henry||Nolan, Joseph|
|Crossley, William J.||Hope, W. Bateman (Somers't, N.)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Horniman, Emslie John||Nuttall, Harry|
|Davies Timothy (Fulham)||Hudson, Walter||O'Brien, Kendal (Tip'rary Mid)|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S)||Hutton, Alfred Eddison||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Delany, William||Hyde, Clarendon||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Idris, T. H. W.||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Illingworth, Percy H.||O'Hare, Patrick|
|Dickwn-Poynder, Sir John P.||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Jackson, R. S.||O'Malley, William|
|Dillon, John||Jardine, Sir J.||O'Shaughnessy, P.|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Dolan, Charles Joseph||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Partington, Oswald|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Jowett, F. W.||Paul, Herbert|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Kearley, Hudson E.||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Dunne, Major E. Martin (Wals'l)||Kekewich, Sir George||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Pearson, Sir W. P. (Colchester)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Kincaid-Smith, Captain||Perks, Robert William|
|Edwards, Frank (Radnor)||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Philipps, Col. Ivor (S'th'mpton)|
|Elibank, Master of||Laidlaw, Robert||Philipps, J. Wynford (P'mbroke)|
|Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Erskine, David C.||Lambert, George||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Lamont, Norman||Pollard, Dr.|
|Essex, R. W.||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Eve, Harry Trelawney||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Ac'ringt'n)||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Price, Robert John (Norfolk, E.)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Levy, Maurice||Radford, G. H.|
|Fenwick, Charles||Lewis, John Herbert||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Ferens, T. R.||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Raphael Herbert H.|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Lough, Thomas||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Lundon, W.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro')|
|Findlay, Alexander||Lupton, Arnold||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lyell, Charles Henry||Rees, J. D.|
|Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Lynch, H. B.||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Macdonald, J.M. (Falkirk B'ghs)||Renton, Major Leslie|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Mackarness, Frederic C.||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n)|
|Furness, Sir Christopher||Macnarmara, Dr Thomas J.||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Gibb, James (Harrow)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Gill, A. H.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Ginnell, L.||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||M'Arthur, William||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Br'df'd)|
|Glover, Thomas||M'Callum, John M.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||M'Crae, George||Robinson, S.|
|Gooch, George Peabody||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Robson, Sir Williaw Snowdon|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||M'Kean, John||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||M'Killop, W.||Rose, Charles Day|
|Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||M'Micking, Major G.||Rowlands, J.|
|Gulland, John W.||Maddison, Frederick||Runciman, Walter|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Mallet, Charles E.||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Hall, Frederick||Markham, Arthur Bail||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Halpin, J.||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Scarisbrick, T. T. L.|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Massie, J.||Sears, J. E.|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Meagher, Michael||Seaverns, J. H.|
|Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Menzies, Walter||Seely, Major J. B.|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh)||Micklem, Nathaniel||Shackleton, David James|
|Hart-Davies, T.||Molteno, Percy Alport||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Mond, A.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Harwood, George||Montagu, E. S.||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Mooney, J. J.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Wiles, Thomas|
|Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Ure, Alexander||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Spicer, Sir Albert||Verney, F. W.||Williams, Llewelyn (Carm'th'n)|
|Stanger, H. Y.||Wadsworth, J.||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Steadman, W. C.||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Stewart, Halley (Greenock)||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)|
|Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)||Ward, W. Dudley (South'mpt'n)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Straus, B. S. (Mile End)||Wardle, George J.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)||Winfrey, R.|
|Sullivan, Donal||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)||Wodehouse, Lord|
|Summerbell, T.||Waterlow, D. S.||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury)||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)||White, J.D. (Dumbartonshire)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Thomasson, Franklin||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Thomkinson, James||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Toulmin, George||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Fell, Arthur||Nield, Herbert|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlingt'n)|
|Ashley, W. W.||Fletcher, J. S.||Percy, Earl|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir H||Forster, Henry William||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J.(City Lond.)||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Haddock, George R.||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Hambro, Charles Eric||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hamilton, Marquess of||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'd)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Harrison-Broadley, Col. H. B.||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Heaton, John Henniker||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Helmsley, Viscount||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Castlereagh, Vicsount||Houston, Robert Paterson||Starkey, John R.|
|Cave, George||Hunt, Rowland||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.)|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C. W.||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hon. Col. W.||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ)|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Keswick, William||Thomson, W. Mitchell. (Lanark)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Kimber, Sir Henry||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A.(Wor.)||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Coates, E. Feetham (Lewisham)||Lee, Arthur H. (Hants., Fare'm)||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Liddell, Henry||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm'gh'm)||Long, Col. Charles W. (Eves'm)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart -|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Marks, H. H. (Kent)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Younger, George|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Du Cros, Harvey||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia.|
|Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Nicholson, Wm. G.(Petersfield)|
Bill read the Third time, and passed.