HC Deb 14 May 1906 vol 157 cc263-301

Postponed Proceeding on Amendment to Question [14th May], "That the Bill be now read a second time," resumed.

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


I quote now Mr. Macaulay when speaking on the People's Charter on 2nd May, 1842— My firm conviction is that in our country universal suffrage is incompatible, not with this or that form of government but with all forms of government, and with everything for the sake of which forms of government exist; that it is incompatible with property and that it is consequently incompatible with civilisation. It is not necessary for me in this place to go through the arguments which prove beyond dispute that on security of property civilisation depends; that when property is insecure, no climate, however delicious, no soil, however fertile, no conveniences for trade and navigation, no natural endowments of body or of mind can prevent a nation sinking into barbarism; that where on the other hand men are protected in their enjoyment of what has been created by their industry and laid up by their self-denial, society will advance in arts and in wealth, notwithstanding the sterility of the earth and the inclemency of the air, notwithstanding heavy taxes and destructive wars. Those persons who say that England has been greatly misgoverned, that her legislation is defective, that her wealth has been squandered in unjust and impolitic contests with America and with France, do in fact bear the strongest testimony to the truth of my doctrine. For that our country has made and is making great progress in all that contributes to the material comfort of man is indisputable. If that progress cannot be ascribed to the wisdom of the Government, to what can we ascribe it but to the diligence, the energy, the thrift of individuals, and to what can be ascribed that diligence, that energy, that thrift, except to the security which property has during many generations enjoyed here? Such is the power of this great principle that even in the last war, the most costly war beyond all comparison, that ever was waged in this world, the Government could not lavish wealth so fast as the productive classes created it, I venture to quote these two authorities, who certainly will appeal to the judgment of hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House. When we find the Undersecretary for the Colonies stating that on its merits he has never heard any argument against this Bill, he shows that he is not well posted up in the matter. At the present moment the House is on the point of considering, or is in some measure considering the advisability of instituting a graduated income-tax. It seems an extraordinary thing that, at such a moment, when the minds of hon. Members are concentrated upon such subjects, they should take this opportunity of removing some of the voting power which the payers; of taxes possess. It is unfortunate that they should take an opportunity to bring forward such a undertaking. Metaphorically, the Government apparently intend to tie the hands of the better situated voters behind their backs, as they did pictorially with the Chinamen at the time of the general election, for election purposes. The Free Churches cried aloud against the Education Bill of 1902; passive resistance became fashionable. Why? Not because they were taxed without representation, but because they had not equality, or majority in representation. The principles here are entirely inverted. It is all a matter of expediency. It is not on a matter of principle that the Government bring in this measure at the present time. They want to lower the capacity of the electorate. I think Liberals might well be satisfied with the results of last election, but they want a still greater majority than they have now got. They have a majority which has only once been exceeded, but now they want to tie the hands of the voters in order to obtain a still more bloated majority. Why do they desire a larger majority? They know that another opportunity such as the last is not likely to come again. They succeeded in gulling the electorate in January last. No more will the cry of Chinese slavery, no more will "terminological inexactitudes" have the same effect as they had last January. The constituencies will have found out right lion, and hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House. Notwithstanding the fact that they said they had settled the franchise in 1884 for a generation, they now propose to tamper with it in this arbitrary and piecemeal fashion. We have had no assurance from the Government that they contemplate the introduction of a Redistribution Bill and that they are going to the country at a short interval from now. Notwithstanding that, they bring in this Bill dealing with one small subject in connection with the franchise, merely because they believe it will assist their Party interests. They propose, in anticipation of the future, to load the dice, because they realise that their chance of doing what they have done recently is not in the least likely to occur again. The great Liberal principles seem now to be forgotten. Many on the Government Benches are failing to illustrate these principles when they support such a measure as this. I will close with the following lines from Shakespeare— Well, whiles I am a beggar, I will rail, And say there is no sin but to be rich; And being rich, my virtue then shall be To say there is no vice but beggary.

MR. BILLSON (Staffordshire, N. W.)

It would almost seem, from the speeches of some of the hon. Members opposite who have taken part in the debate, that they are under the impression that this is a Bill for the general redistribution of property. This is merely a measure to prevent a few plural voters from going about the country and voting in all sorts of places. I suppose the hon. Gentleman's quotation from Burke refers to the state of England 150 years ago. We have made large progress since then. At that time it seemed reasonable to a great many people that property and not people should be represented. The hon. Member might have gone back a little further and given us the preamble to one of the statutes of Henry VI. Up to that time all voters in counties had been occupiers. The ancestors of the noble Lord opposite were no doubt afraid that their traditional rights would be interfered with and so they passed an Act of Parliament, the preamble of which ran as follows— Elections have of late been made by very great, outrageous and excessive numbers of people who are for the most part people of small substance and no value, and every one of them pretended to have a voice equivalent to the most worthy knights and esquires dwelling in the same county. Whereupon it was enacted that this wretched business should not go on any longer and that only those should have votes who owned freeholds. One noble Lord talked a great deal about land as paying wages. He forgot that land was not the only kind of property which paid wages; there are large iron works, and other industrial undertakings, employing large numbers of workmen and paying large sums in wages, the owners of which have no vote, simply because they are in the hands of limited companies, although they may be the largest shareholders. It seems to me there is no real opposition to the merits of this Bill at all. Hon. Members opposite say the Government have brought it in for Party purposes. It is much more true to say it is being opposed for Party purposes. The hon. Member for the Horncastle Division secured; his seat by 150 votes. There were; a considerable number of freeholders in his division. It is not too much to say he is in the House, because the freeholders came in and voted for him, and not because he had the suffrages of a majority of the residents. The Member for Kingswinford is a still more glaring instance. I believe there are 3,000 or 4,000 freeholders who have votes in his constituency, and I feel sure the Member for Kingswinford would not have; been returned if those three or four thousand people had not voted. I have the honour to represent a constituency myself in which there are 2,800 outside voters. I do not mean to say they all voted against me. On the contrary, I believe a large number voted for me; but it must come home to the minds of all who thought about the subject that the representation should be that of a district by means of the votes of the people residing in it. I would be glad to see the Bill improved. I would have no owners as such on the register at all. In my constituency, in addition to the 2,800 out-voters there are 1,500 who have votes as owners as well as occupiers, so that there are 4,300 names on the register which ought to be off altogether. That adds enormously to the expense of elections, and of keeping up the registers, as well as to the trouble of carrying on an election. I was agreeably surprised when I read the Bill, and saw the ingenious method which had been adopted of dealing with the matter. I thought it was very satisfactory that the analogy of the county council elections had been followed. Reference has been made to the increased work which will be put upon registration agents. It must be remembered, however, that the freehold owners do not come on the register automatically as occupiers do. Every freeholder has to send in a claim, and it will be no additional trouble to him to state on his claim whether he proposed to star himself for a particular constituency or not. I believe, therefore, the Bill is to be recommended on account of its simplicity, the certainty and ease of its action, and it will bring about a very great improvement. The fact that pluralists have to star themselves for one particular place will tend to make people less eager to obtain votes all over the country. My impression is that those votes will gradually die out, and when the Government bring in its comprehensive Bill, the present difficulty will be removed out of the path, and they will be able to devote themselves with less controversy to the other things which have to be done. As to the question of registration, I have long held that it is a reform which should be effected by common consent of both Parties, and, I believe, if we ever get a comprehensive registration Bill, it will only be after an agreement similar to the compromise which was effected in 1884. I am satisfied with this Bill as far as it goes, and I hope it will be passed into law.

MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS (Kent, St. Augustine's)

The hon. Member for North-West Staffordshire in talking about electoral matters speaks as a past master on that particular question. He seems to think that it is almost a crime that property should be represented on the register, and he told us quite frankly that he thought the whole of the freeholders should be removed from the register, and that nobody but occupiers should be left upon it. Of course I take an entirely different view from the hon. Member's, and I certainly think that all classes and all varieties of interests should be represented on the register which is to elect Members to this House. The right hon. Gentleman who brought in this Bill, and all the supporters of it, have based their arguments on the ground that it is inconsistent with the principle of representative Government that one man should possess a greater statutory electoral power than another. I have always thought that the principle on which representative government was founded was that each class and interest should be represented rather than by securing an exact equality between man and man. I have always thought that the constitutional theory was that each locality should be represented in Parliament, and that therefore it was only right that each man who has an interest in that locality, with a proper qualification, should, independently of any interest elsewhere, be entitled to vote in the choice of the Member for that locality. If you take away his right to vote because he has a qualification elsewhere, you do not only an injustice to the individual, but to the locality in which he has a considerable interest, and in which he has a perfect right to express his preference for one candidate over another. In my opinion each separate constituency should stand by itself, and each person duly qualified in that constituency who pays his rates and taxes should be entitled to a voice in the choice of a representative in Parliament for that constituency. I cannot see where the difficulty or friction is in the present system, nor can I see any real injustice in it. It is not as if a man had two or more votes in the same constituency; but I cannot see why a man who has his residence or place of business, say, in London, and happens to have either in Scotland or the north of England landed property and possibly a place of business elsewhere, should not be represented by his votes in his separate constituencies. [Ironical cheers.] I know perfectly well that hon. Members on the Ministerial Benches will not agree with me; but the arguments to which I have listened during the debate, have not convinced me otherwise. That will be because I hold high Tory views conscientiously. If my right hon. friend was really consistent in his passion for absolute equality, why should he not have gone further and made some provision for equality for each vote, and have seen that each vote had an equal value; or, at all events, for such a rectification of electoral areas as would remove the great anomalies in this respect which now exist? I will only remind the House that half of the 670 Members who have the honour of seats in this House represent 4,500,000 of electors, while the other half only represent 2,500,000, and I think that if we are going to have any great regard for equality, we ought to have regard to the value of the vote which is given, instead of contenting ourselves with saying that there shall be one vote for one man. Now, sir, I want to say one or two words with regard to the drafting of the Bill. I doubt very much whether, notwithstanding what has fallen from so great an authority as the hon. Member for North-West Staffordshire, when we examine it, this is really a workable Bill, and I am sure that the first clause will have even a more disfranchising effect than appears to be intended. Those who have had experience in registration matters, I think, will agree with me, that a very small percentage of the registered voters take the initiative in getting their name put upon the register, and I maintain that even fewer will take the trouble to see that their selection is communicated to the proper officials. The officials can only suspect duplicates where the place of abode is given, and where it is different from the qualification. I do not see how otherwise the overseer or whoever the official may be, is to find out whether a man is likely to have another qualification than by seeing that the place of abode given is different from the place of qualification. Suppose he acts upon that, he can only deal with non-residents, who may or may not be registered elsewhere. [Cries of "No."] Then you say that they will allow the name to remain on.


The registration official will only act upon an intimation from the voter himself, and in the absence of that he will allow the. name to remain on the register.


I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for that explanation, but I did think from the drafting of the Bill that the registration officials would have the power to interfere with the names in the case of duplicates, but the right hon. Gentleman, I think, means that it will not lie with them at all to discover duplicates, and therefore the point I am going to raise is not necessary, but I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for setting me right and am glad to be reassured in that respect. I will only say, however, that if the selection is left to the initiative of the voters, Clause 1 will probably be a dead letter. Clause 2 is even more arbitrary and unjust than the preceding clause. Any or every person applying for a ballot paper can be asked, not whether he has voted elsewhere, but whether he is registered elsewhere, and unless the reply is that he is not so registered, the ballot paper is to be refused. The Acts of Parliament dealing with the various franchises fill a text book, and probably political agents are the only persons in the kingdom who have an exact knowledge of those franchises. Many persons own property in many counties, or are interested in business premises, or have more than one place of residence. Persons are frequently met with who believe that their names are placed on the register for ownership qualifications without any action on their part and that they are registered in respect of trusteeships, or as shareholders in a joint stock company owning land or buildings. There are thousands of persons who may or may not be registered on more than one register, but who believe they are entitled to such registration, and therefore would hesitate to reply in the negative if the question authorised by this clause was put to them, and so would unwittingly and unnecessarily disfranchise themselves. Will it not be sufficient to ask them if they have voted elsewhere?


It would obviously not be a proper question to put to a voter whether he has exercised his vote elsewhere, because under the Bill he would only be entitled to exercise his vote once at the place where he is distinctly marked in the register. If he has exercised his vote elsewhere he will be committing a serious offence because ex hypothesi he has voted where he should not vote.


I quite agree, but I think a man might be asked whether he has voted, and the question should not be in such a form as to compel him to disfranchise himself. A man may not know whether he is on another register, but he will know whether he has voted. The putting of this additional question will also occupy much time, and during the final hour before the close of the poll many legitimate voters may be excluded from voting in consequence. If an effective measure was desired by the Government, a one clause Bill empowering the presiding officer to put the question to each voter "Have you voted at any other election in the United Kingdom during the present general election?" would have achieved their object. The question as it now stands losing with regard to registration only creates doubts, and may have the effect of preventing many persons recording even one vote. There is one other thing which I should like to point out with regard to this Bill, and that is that I think it is the first Government Bill dealing with electoral reform which has restricted the electoral franchise. All previous Government Bills dealing with electoral reform, although an existing franchise may have been restricted, have always had for the main object the extension of the franchise. This Bill is solely a disfranchising Bill, and has for its avowed object the extinction of certain existing franchise rights. However desirable reform may have been, the rights of persons on the registers of voters have always been recognised and maintained. In the Reform Act of 1832, under Section 33, it was provided that every person then having a right to vote for any qualifications other than those enumerated in the Act. should retain such right 30 long as qualified under the old law. In the Act of 1867. under Section 56, existing rights are safeguarded by an enactment that the new franchises are in addition to, and not in substitution for, any existing franchises. In the Act of 1884, under Section 10, the rights of persons then registered are maintained, the effect being that although the Act prevented more faggot voters being registered, the existing faggot voters could continue to be registered from year to year, and many are still so registered. Under the old Acts, therefore, any person who had a right to vote when they were passed, retained his right until he ceased to be entitled under the old law, but by this Bill you take away an existing right and you refuse to allow an existing voter to continue his qualification during his lifetime. This is a very serious difference. I rose chiefly to ask the Questions which I have put to the right hon. Gentleman and I do not want to prolong the debate. I may say, however, that I differ from the hon. Member for North-West Staffordshire who said that he hoped that this Bill would be carried by a large majority. I cannot share those views, because I look upon this Bill as an attempt to gain a Party advantage. If you are anxious for electoral reform why do you not promote a genuine and comprehensive Bill redressing real grievances? That is the only way in which I think that this question should be dealt with. This, however, is really an attempt to gerrymander the constituencies, to suit the needs and necessities of your own Party. If that were not the object I maintain that a large and comprehensive measure would have been brought in dealing with many of the points of which we have heard to-night. Some hon. Members desire to see any alteration of the registration law; others desire to see amendment in regard to redistribution, and others desire other changes in the existing electoral system, and I think that if the Government had really desired to deal with electoral reform in a genuine manner they would have brought forward a measure dealing with all the subjects that I have named.

MR. STANLEY WILSON (Yorkshire, E.E., Holderness)

I rise in order to associate, myself with the speeches which have been already delivered from these Benches. I wish to add my protest against the passing of this measure which will mean the disfranchisement of somewhere about 1,000,000 of the electors of this country. The First Commissioner of Works in his excellent speech early this evening which was only spoiled by one or two gibes in regard to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, which were not in very good taste, spoke of this as a very modest measure, but said he was very sorry that he introduced it under the ten minutes rule. To do so was certainly an insult to the electors whom the right hon. Gentleman desires to disqualify. I will be perfectly frank and will say that but for the freehold vote at the last election I should not have had the honour of sitting in this House. [An HON. MEMBER: How many of you would?] I quite agree I think there would have been practically no opposition in the House of Commons but for that vote. If the hon. Gentleman thinks that that would be an advantage to the country I cannot agree with him. I cannot see where the necessity is for the introduction of such a Bill as this. We have heard of innumerable instances in the course of the last few months of mandates given to right hon. Gentlemen opposite at the general election. Was this one of the mandates given on that occasion? Sir, I am sick of those mandates. This is a continuation of the policy that has animated right hon. Gentlemen opposite ever since they came into power—a policy of revenge. We have seen in the Education Bill an attempt to revenge themselves upon the Church of England, and now they are bringing in this Bill in order to i revenge themselves on a body of men who they think give their support to the Unionist Party. I think the Government are insolent in their victory. I should like to ask whether they are going to press this measure through its second reading with the serious intention of passing it through the House of Commons this session. I say we have plenty of business before us; we have sufficient contentious measures to last us for a year. I should like to ask the Government if it is their intention to pass all these measures during the present session. [Hear, hear !] Hon: Gentlemen opposite cheer. If they do, I then I think we shall be probably sitting here this time next year. If hon. Members opposite look forward to that state of things with pleasurable anticipation I can only say I hope I may be allowed to wish for some holiday. Let me take the business before us. We have the Education Bill which is quite contentious enough for one session, but then beyond that we have the Workmen's Compensation Bill, a Bill upon which the Government have already sustained one or two defeats upstairs, and I suppose that when that measure comes down upon the Report Stage we shall have the opportunity of seeing whether the Government are cowardly in their defeat.


Order, order; the hon. Member must speak to the Motion.


I was trying, Sir, to show that the House had sufficient contentious business before it and that it was not necessary for the Government to introduce another measure of this contentious nature, but I bow to your ruling and will not refer to the Trades Disputes Bill and other great and contentious measures. This Bill is another blow to the landed proprietors of this country. I myself have always failed to understand why a Radical Government should always endeavour to do something to deprive the landowners of what ought to be, what are, their rights. If a man owns lands in the country and pays rates and taxes on those lands I fail to see why he should not have a right to vote in the district in which his land is situated. Such a man is probably extremely well-educated and better qualified to have a say in that district as to what should be done by the Government than even the agricultural labourer intelligent though most of them are, but whose interests do not go beyond the bounds of the particular parish in which he lives. Why, then, should we deprive these men of their votes. For the simple reason that the Government think that they are so intelligent and so well educated that they generally record their votes for the Unionist Party. We all know the various anomalies that exist under our present system, and so much has been spoken upon the question of one vote one value that I do not intend to detain the House by addressing myself to that subject. The late Government intended to bring in a Redistribution Bill, which would have had the effect of removing those anomalies and making the votes throughout the whole country of far more equal value than will be done by the Bill at present before the House. The present Bill includes no scheme for redistribution, and instead of doing away with these anomalies will only make them more glaring than they are at the present time. I believe the scheme as it is laid down in the measure before the House is an unworkable and impossible one, and I think in his speech this afternoon the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean showed the Government that their scheme was unworkable. I have no intention of detaining the House at greater length, but I am told we are weak in numbers and these benches are thin at the present moment, but though we may be weak in numbers I do not think our weakness justified the Under-Secretary for the Colonies on Saturday last in describing us as a "weak and broken-spirited crew." I do not think the Members on these benches are broken-spirited, and I venture to assure the House that if the Government intend to proceed with this measure we intend to oppose it to the utmost extent of our ability and power, as we regard it as a measure for the disfranchisement of a great body of the electors of this country and a gross injustice.

MR. SUMMERBELL (Sunderland)

I may say that I support this Bill with the greatest possible pleasure as an in- dication of adult suffrage in all elections. I am somewhat surprised at some of the remarks I have heard to-day on this-particular Bill. I thought many of the ideas contained in those arguments had died many years ago. There may be a good deal of truth in what has been said in this respect, that there is a keenness to get this Bill passed because there are several people who have several votes which they give to the other side; and also in the argument, that when in office themselves they are not prepared to tackle measures in the same way in which they say they are when out of office. But that has nothing to do with the question of the right or wrong of this particular Bill. Some hon. Members seem to argue that because a man is the owner of land or is-the possessor of wealth he is entitled to exercise a right to vote in various-parts of the country, but I would like to tell the House—and many a man who is an owner of land or a possessor of wealth does recognise—that there are many cases where, if it were not for the labour expended, they would not be in the possession of wealth, and that many of the poor of this country are poor because of the economic conditions of to-day. I say the poor man has an equal right to representation in this House with any owner of land or the possessor of wealth. ["Hear, hear."] Hon. Members say, "Hear, hear," but while they say "Hear, hear" they claim that one man may have twelve votes in different parts of the country. I say they have no right to exercise so many votes. I say we ought to have our votes to represent the population and not the wealth of the country, and my hon. friends may rest assured that if they think they are going to keep this system in existence many years longer they are very much mistaken. They may die hard, as the hon. Member for Holderness suggested, but they will die. A man who is an owner of land or a possessor of wealth is not going to have any greater right than any other man in this country-Other men may not have wealth, but they own brains, and why should they not exercise the same right as the possessor of wealth? Why should the members of a University of this country exercise the privilege of electing one Member here in London and another Member at Oxford or Cambridge? It is certainly time that such University representation ceased. Some of our friends seem to regret it, but I hope that this Bill will be passed through, if not this session, next session. I am fully in agreement with those Members of the House who think there ought to be some alteration in the registration laws. There is great room for that. When a man desires to exercise a municipal vote to-day he has to say where he desires to exercise the vote, whether he desires to exercise it for his shop or his house, and I see no reason why a man who, simply because he is the son of his father and owns land, should be allowed to record so many votes. I am really surprised that hon. Members should get up and use arguments which might have had weight sixty years ago, during the passing of the great Reform Bill, but which have no relevance to the Bill now before the House. Every man has ability, and he ought to be allowed to exercise the ability he has, so far as the right of voting for this House is concerned.


With reference first of all to the remarks of the hon. Member for Sunderland, I wish to explain that he appears to labour under a slight misapprehension. I say that those around me who for a number of years past have been in power in this House and in the country have not shown, in my opinion, anything but respect for the vote of the working man. We have never shown any desire but to treat the working classes fairly and squarely. A great number of hon. Members who sit on this side were returned by the votes of the working classes, and we all endeavour to represent those who returned us. I would also point out to Labour Members generally that their conception of the policy of the Members who sit on these benches is equally wrong. Although a man may be wealthy he may wish to open up industries and provide better houses for the working classes. He may desire to assist in commercial enterprises without seeking on every possible occasion to do injury to the working classes because they are working classes. The objection that I wish to urge against the Bill is that it is taking a step which it will be almost impossible, if not quite impossible, ever to reverse. All that Members on this side can do is to enter a protest and show to the country at large the arguments which we believe to be perfectly consistent and right as to the injury that will be done if the Bill passes into law. It is obvious that in many points a grievous injury will be done to certain classes. Take one instance, that of a wealthy capitalist who wants to open up a new industry in Ireland by putting in capital and employing the poor people of the neighbourhood. Supposing he does that in a part of the country where he does not reside, the very workmen that he employs would have votes, whereas the man who had created the industry by his brains, intelligence and money would be the one person not be allowed to vote. ["No."] The hon. Member for South Tyrone says "No." He would not have said that some years ago. The hon. Member has referred to those who were leaseholders and freeholders in a contest in which he took a prominent part in South Antrim some years ago. I am perfectly convinced that the only grievance the hon. Member had against the freeholders and leaseholders in that particular constituency was that they did not vote for his particular nominee. The hon. Member said that foreigners came into the constituencies of South Antrim and North Down and voted where they had no claims whatever. It was the men of Down and Antrim who built up the city of Belfast, and in cases of that sort surely they ought to have a special claim to the privilege of voting in the city they had created, as well as to vote in the respective counties to which they belong. With regard to what fell from the hon. Member for Mid. Glamorgan, that complaints from these benches warmed up as the debate progressed, I hope that the Party to which I belong, although small and insignificant in the eyes of hon. Members opposite, will never be found wanting in the strength of their convictions, or in the power to express them. The hon. Member said one of the arguments in favour of the Bill was that the hon. Member for the Basingstoke Division would never have been returned but for plural voting, and that it showed the anomalies of the present system. I assert on the other hand that if it had not been for these plural voters the Basingstoke Division would not have been properly represented at the present time. The arguments we have adduced on this side are those of commonsense and honesty. There is one other important question which has not been sufficiently touched upon, and that is University representation. I am perfectly certain that since the franchise permitted the return of Members for the various Universities this House has never had men of such light and learning, whatever their political opinions might be. It is one of the gravest blots on the Bill that that system of representation may be interfered with. I desire to recognise genius on whichever side it is shown. It gives me more pleasure to listen to a good speech from the benches opposite when it is made, than to hear one from my own side of the House. This Bill appears to me to be introducing legislative changes of far-reaching effect without any reference to the importance of the questions which are being dealt with. I appeal to all sensible and sane men throughout the country to watch the process which is being gradually inculcated into this House of trying to push on to our shoulders the responsibility for initiating and carrying out and perpetuating legislation directed against hon. Members below the gangway. I have far too much respect for their ability to expect that anything I could say now would change their ideas. I can only hope that the policy adopted by the Government of bowing the knee and giving in upon every question to the Labour Party will increase their admiration of hon. Gentlemen in opposition, I and prophesy that our views of fiscal reform will unite them to us when the present Government are no more.

MR. MITCHELL-THOMSON (Lanarkshire, N.W.)

Some very serious defects in the machinery of this Bill have already been pointed out. I wish to say a few words with regard to the principles of the Bill. I consider that the Bill was first presented to the House in a somewhat improper way. I then asked myself not why it was introduced or what was its object, but what reason the Government were going to give to the House for introducing it. As far as I can gather, the reason given is that it is designed to redress anomalies. I find that it is an exception to the rule which is recognised either in principle or in practice, that every vote should be of equal value. I know that all hon. Members on the Ministerial side do not say that, because a number of them stick at the half-way house, and say that equal voting power should exist for every man who has a vote at present. When you come to consider this principle on its merits, you have to go back to see what was the foundation of the franchise. I have heard various suggestions made upon this point, and I put it that that foundation is not property, but taxation. Taxation has been its foundation through all our constitutional history. "No taxation without representation" has been the cry through all the ages, and now observe that in this Bill you are proposing to institute a system which provides that in certain cases it shall be possible to have taxation without the corresponding opportunity of representation. That is a constitutional innovation which I commend to the attention of hon. Members on the Ministerial side. If they are at all interested in this matter I commend to them also the words of Mr. Gladstone in 1884, from which they will readily understand what are the objections to proposals of this character. When we venture to point out how this principle of equal voting power for all would work in practice we are met with the question which has constantly been raised in this debate, "Why do not right hon. and hon. Gentlemen take steps to redress the greatest anomaly of all and try to secure proportionate representation to the population in various areas." We have not had a satisfactory answer to that question yet. We have been told that it is not the practice of Governments to bring in a Redistribution Bill except on the eve of their death. I do not understand what arguments there are which would lead us to believe that redistribution should always be the swan song of a Government. I understand that this has always been a great Liberal principle, and, if I am right, why do the Government not set a good example and deal with redistribution now? Why do they hesitate on the brink? Why do they make no attempt to remove these flagrant anomaliesሄanomalies so great that a working man in Romford has a power of voting which is one-seventeenth of the power of a large landowner in Wick Burghs, anomalies which permitted in 1895 all the three Divisions of Salford to return Conservative Members, in spite of the fact that in Salford there was a minority of Conservatives. Then there is the anomaly which permits those who sit on the Opposition Benches to each represent something like an average of 17,000 electors, whereas each hon. Member sitting on the Ministerial side only do duty for about 7,000 electors. These are all flagrant anomalies which the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean recognised as existing. The right hon. Baronet took Wimbledon as an illustration, and said, "Here you have Wimbledon with a large number of voters which is far too many for its proper proportion of representation. If you pass this Bill you will have a diminution of those voters, because a large number will elect not to vote in Wimbledon but somewhere else." Now what would happen supposing they did elect to vote in Wimbledon and similiarly in other divisions around London? The effect will be that the very evil which this Bill professes to remedy will be accentuated in a worse form. You will be turning the City of London into what has been described as "a howling wilderness."


But they come to Wimbledon mostly from the Metropolitan Surrey parishes, and those are already above the right figure.


At any rate my argument will apply in part to Wimbledon, and to all those surburban areas which draw City clerks and City merchants. I think the House will see that this is an argument which cuts both ways. The hon. Member for Dumfries Burghs pointed out some anomalies which exist in Edinburgh. That is a place with which I have had some personal acquaintance, and I may say that there are plenty of other anomalies in Scotland if you desire to find them. There are anomalies connected with the burgh residents. When a man changes his residence in a burgh in Scotland he does not lose his vote, but if he changes his residence in a county he does lose his vote. There are at present many anomalies in connection with the franchise, but this Bill does not propose to deal with them. I may point out that a man who holds a lodger vote, or a service vote, may vote at a Parliamentary election, but not at a school board election. The anomalies to which I refer are serious anomalies which have just as great a claim for redress as any other anomalies presented to the House. These are anomalies admitted by all sections in the House, whereas the particular anomaly against which you seek to legislate is one which we do not admit in fact, or one which we hold to be more or less justified. I do put it to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite that they are dealing with a question which they ought to deal with wholesale and not in a piecemeal fashion. They ought to look at this question, not as partisans, but as citizens. I know the position. It is not a stimulating task for right hon. and hon. Gentlemen. It would be much more profitable for them in the long run to take the other course. I do look with some horror at the introduction into our electoral system of what I can only call the "spoils" system imported from America. I am afraid that the electors who subscribed to their prospectus feel, if I may say so, that there has been a certain amount of inaccuracy. I warn hon. Members that the electors will balk at this manner of going to allotment, and that they will consider this to be not a real reform to redress a genuine grievance, but an attempt to gerrymander the polls in the interests of one particular Party.

MR. CROOKS (Woolwich)

I wish to congratulate my hon. friend who has just resumed his seat. I think he has made the best of a very bad case. Some hon. Members argue as though they imagined that no one else had ever thought the question out. I wondered when the hon. Gentleman was speaking whether he thought he was addressing an agricultural audience. How the agricultural labourer with his one vote would cheer the fact that the squire had a right to six votes, and that he was six times better than himself. My friend asked what an anomaly was. Another friend of mine suggested that it is a word you use when you want to swear. The sum and substance of the whole matter is this. It was said by the great leader of a party. "We are not going to be wiped out by this Bill." What about the past when so many had only 7,000 votes, and so many on the other side had 17,000? I venture to say that there have been cases in which 2,000 votes have been of as much electoral value as 17,000. Does that show a case for proportional representation? Surely "one man one vote," is a good thing, but you will say "one man one value." I can understand the difficulty hon. Members have if they remember the number of seats they would have lost but for the support of an enormous number of people who vote in a variety of places. I can imagine that the majority of the Leader of the Opposition would not have been 10,000, if the City of London electors had all voted in their proper constituencies. It is manifestly unfair that they should vote in several places. If they elect to vote in the City, let them use their vote there. Not under any circumstances is one man as good as two menሄor, he ought not to be. I have never seen a man who was as good as two. The Representation of the People Act requires amending, and this is an excellent way to begin. I do expect that hon. Members will agree to that, if they are not going to cut their own throats. The Unionists who oppose this Bill say, "We are in a minority; you want to make it less; it is not fair." It is fair, and if you were going to the poll to-morrow you would find it out. [Cries of "No."] Keep on saying "No," but you cannot get the people outside to believe you. I wonder that any man has really the courage to argue in this House that he has a right to votes in proportion to his property. Take the case of two brothers. John has a house rented at £10. William has also a house at the same rent, and he has a donkey in addition to his house. Therefore the donkey is property. Does the donkey bring with it the property qualification? John says he is as good as his brother. William says, "Nothing of the kind. I have a donkey, and, therefore, I am entitled to two votes."

COLONEL LEGGE (St. George's, Hanover Square)

Is the donkey rated?


I think the hon. and gallant Member should have hesitated before he asked if the donkey is rated. No; but the donkey earns rates. It may be a house or land; it amounts to the same thing. It is a monstrous thing that a handful of men should be able to dictate the policy of this or any Government under any circumstances. [Cheers.] I understand these ironical cheers, but hon. Gentlemen have used the property qualification as a means of getting over-represented in this House, and no such charge can be levelled against the handful of Labour Members. After all, the sole object of the Bill is one which the nation has looked forward to for thirty years, and the Opposition know full well that, whatever their position in the days to come may be, it will be much worse than now.

MR. FELL (Great Yarmouth)

The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean pointed out the difficulties that await us in carrying out this Bill. These difficulties arise from the way in which it is proposed to treat the plural voters. What are the facts? If a man has only one house, he will have no trouble in regard to his vote. If a man happens to have two houses, he will in future have only one vote and he will only have that vote by taking further steps to protect his right to exercise it. That entails an obligation on the man with two houses which is not laid on the man with one house. That is an onus which we on this side do not think should be cast on the man who has two houses. The average voter does nothing whatever to secure his vote. The overseers prepare the lists, and it is more than probable that, if the ordinary householder had to take the initiative, a quarter or half of them would lose their votes. But the owner of two properties has, in the month of August, to declare in respect of which property he will claim his vote, and if, by any chance, he fails to do so, then he will lose his vote altogether. There is another difficulty. The bigger houses, say in Epsom, are occupied by men whose businesses are in London. These gentlemen have, at present, a vote both in London and in Epsom. But if this Bill becomes law they will have to relinquish one of these votes. If they decide to retain their vote for the City of London they will lose their vote for Epsom, and it would be a bad day for England if the principal residents took no further interest in the politics of the places they lived in because they had no votes. And equally in this case it would be a bad thing for the City of London if those who have their business there, and have done so much to build up its credit and its greatness, decided to retain their votes in respect of their houses at Epsom. The idea that the electors of London, of all places in the world, should be, not the representatives of those great firms which carry on their operations there, but the housekeepers, the attendants, and porters who sleep in the City, is one which ought not seriously to be entertained by that House. This is a grave difficulty which is certain to arise, and I hope some hon. Member opposite will advise what course he should take in the dilemma in which he will find himself under this Bill. Is he to give up his right to vote in the City of London in favour of voting in the place in which he lives, or is he to give up the right to vote in the place where he has his house in favour of his vote in the City of London? I think the Government might, when they consider the difficulties I have mentioned, allow this matter to stand over until they find it convenient to bring forward a Redistribution Bill.

MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)

My hon. friend who has just sat down put a problem to the House on which he asked for assistance to find a solution. His problem was thisሄIf a man who has a house at Epsom or in the neighbourhood of London from which he gets a vote, and if he has also a business in the City of London from which he gets a vote, which constituency should he select as his favourite in the improbable event of this Bill becoming law? I have no doubt myself as to the answer which ought to be given. It seems to me perfectly clear, and I wonder my hon. friend felt any doubt on the subject. The vote which he should retain is the vote for the City of London. I do not propose to discuss the City of London, having some personal interest in it myself, especially in connection with this Bill. The reasons on which I oppose this Billሄand I. am sure the reasons on which my hon. and learned colleague would oppose itሄare quite irrespective of the special claims of the City of London, and are based on broader issues which have their roots deep in the constitution of this country. But before I come to that consideration, may I say one word on a speech which has received no reply, and on which hardly any comments have been made? I mean the speech of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean. The right hon. Gentleman, while strongly in favour of the principles of the Bill, as we should all anticipate, explained that in his opinion the Bill, as it was at present drafted, or indeed any Bill on the lines of this proposal, would prove unworkable and costly in practice. I do not propose to resurvey or to restate the arguments to which no reply has even been attempted from the Benches opposite. I only remind the House that, while I should concur with the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill that these are matters to be dealt with in Committee, the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean speaks with peculiar authority on these questions of registration; and, while strongly advocating, and indeed supporting with passion, the general principle of the Bill and the object at which it aims, he thinks the Bill as drafted is not merely in its details, but in its very essence based on lines which make it unworkable in practice. That is a consideration Parliamentary time in an attempt to pass this measure into law. I do not propose to deal with the details to-night. I propose merely to touch on the broad principle which I conceive underlies the Measure as a whole, and which animated the Government in bringing it forward. The right hon. Gentleman who has made almost his maiden efforts in this House in bringing forward a Bill of first-class importance has convinced all his friendsሄamong whom I hope I may be counted as oneሄ that he is perfectly capable of undertaking this, or even a more onerous, task. If he will allow me one criticism of his method of treatment, I think that the very liveliness with which he presented his subject to the House has rather disguised, perhaps even from himself, certainly from his audience, the serious character of the proposals he has made and their wide-reaching effect. Supposing a Minister of the Crown had come forward and had suggested that university representation in England, Scotland, and Ireland should be put an end to. He would have, of course, received a great measure of support from hon. members opposite who have never liked that form of representation. But every one would have admitted that it was an immense change in the whole view of our Parliamentary system, because University representation is of very old standing. Every one would have felt bound to consider what class of men it was, what element of electoral distinction Universities have added to this House, how far our debates have from time to time been raised by the representatives of the Universities, and what was the comparative loss or gain to the community by the destruction of our Universities as constituent bodies. That element would have been vehemently fought had it been brought forward by itself, to say nothing of a debate on the Second Reading of a measure where it is wrapped up, where it is lost, as it were, in the general provisions of the Bill, and has called forth hardly a transient reference. The right hon. Gentleman himself, I think, seemed to be under the impression, or, at all events, desired to convey to the House the impression, that University representation would not be touched by this measure. But that is not really the case. If you pass this Bill it is, of course, impossible to say how many Masters of Arts of Oxford and Cambridge, of Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, St. Andrews, and Aberdeen would prefer their votes for the University to the vote for their places of residence. Though no one can make that forecast, which it is beyond the power of any prophet to state with any approach to accuracy, who can doubt that the character of the University seats would be entirely destroyed? They would be mere wrecks of their historic selves if the Bill now before us is passed. I do not attempt to argue University representation to-night; but may I say that those who vote for this Bill are consciously or unconsciously going to destroy, without discussion, without argument, without full public consideration, one of the most dignified and most interesting elements in our composite electoral system? That alone should cause the House to pause before it starts on this movement for what, I suppose, the right hon. Gentleman would call reform. But I venture to suggest that it is worthy the subject and worthy the House, if University representation is to be abolished, that the proposition should come before us in its integrity, in a clear and specific form, and not wrapped up and beclouded in a Bill which simply deals with the question of one man one vote. I do not propose to say anything more on the question of the Universities. I will pass by a question that excites the interest of many members of this House who appear to think that this is a Bill to leave the agricultural labourer with one vote and to prevent the squires having more than one. As the right hon. baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean has adequately shown, this is not a question of the big landlord against the agricultural labourer, or of the big landlord against the small landlord. It really is in the main a question of the business men outside our great business centres, and in many cases working men. I do do not say in many constituencies, but I do say in many cases. I have been given authentic information by a friend of mine, who informs me that he himself has many votersሄhe is a country memberሄwho are working men who have bought freehold property in the town where they work. Is that an absurd proposition? Is that untrue, or, if true, laughable? I know it is true, and I do not think it is ludicrous. But the main question I quite admit is, after all, that of the business man who lives outside the place where his business is carried on. And I would venture respectfully to suggest to the House that it is folly, on the ground of a mere symmetrical improvement in your electoral system, to say that a man whose interests are in Manchester, or Liverpool, or London, or any other great business centre you may choose to name, and whose residence is outside, should be compelled to choose between the two places in which his interests are so immediate and living. The real fact is, Sir, that we shall each of us vote on this question according to the point of view from which we approach it. I confess I approach it from the historic point of view. Our system of representation has grown up on lines well known to the Members of this House. It is essentially based upon local representation, which has for its essential and clear note that this House shall consist of men who represent localities and local groups. That is the foundation of the greatest and freest institution in the world. I think on this foundation we should continue to live; I do not think you can improve upon it. You may modify, and you ought to modify, from time to time the structure you build on this foundation, because as a great community like ours grows the actual demarcation of constituencies requires to be changed. You find the population in one place multiply exceedingly; you find the population in another place stationary or even diminishing. That will require, and must require, from time to time Redistribution Bills, such as have always accompanied Reform Bills in the past, and such as you would have to pass if manhood suffrage became the law of the land to-morrow. I say what we have to build upon, as regards the franchise part of our electoral system, is the historic basis on which every stateman so far has built, and which had no more passionate or consistent admirer than Mr. Gladstone, who himself, I suppose, had a hand in more Reform Bills, one way or the other, than any statesman who ever lived, except, perhaps, Lord John Russell. If you reject this historic foundation, what are you going to put in its place? I heard a speech from an hon. Member below the gangway who spoke before dinner, and he seemed to think it was an obvious axiomatic principle of politics that every individual male over twenty-one in the community should have a vote, and that no man should have more than one vote. And, I presume, every man's vote should be of equal value. That is approaching the question, not from the historical side, which I confess commends itself to me as it has commended itself, I believe, to every eminent politician—I am not claiming eminence—who has had to produce a Reform Bill in this House; it is approaching it from the purely theoretical aspect. If you are to be theoretical, in Heaven's name let your theories be consistent, logical, and carried out to their extreme issue. Is this logical; is it carried out to its extreme issue? Even from the speculative point of view, which I repudiate, but which commends itself so greatly to the majority of the House, has it the semblance of merit? In the first place, why is this suffrage to be confined to males over twenty-one? Why not females? I speak, of course, only for myself; but I can assure the House that if we are going to deal with our suffrage system upon these theoretical lines I certainly should not so belie the obvious logic of the situation as to refuse my assent to female suffrage as well as to male suffrage. I perfectly understand those who say the British Constitution has grown up on this local representation and property representation with all its variety, which has been no unhealthy element in our public and political life. But if that is to be swept away, if you are going to consider the rights of humanity in the abstract, then humanity includes females as well as males. It is perfect folly to ask this House to accept as a logical and symmetrical solution of this suffrage question a principle which is to exclude more than half the adult population of these islands. I do not know what are the views of the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill; I rather think he is a violent opponent of woman's suffrage. Then do not let him come to us and say, "In my opinion, every man, from the point of view of the suffrage, is equal because he is a man." "A man's a man for a' that." But a woman's a woman for a' that; and if you are going to force this House to treat the question of suffrage as it was the fashion to treat it in the early days of the French Revolution, then, I say, you must be a little more logical than our French friends, and let us in dealing with the rights of humanity not forget that more than half the British humanity consists of the sex which the right hon. Gentleman does not propose to enfranchise. Now, Sir, there is lastly the question of the equality in the value of votes. A great deal has been made to-night with regard to the redistribution proposals of the late Government. They were based on the view that the anomalies of our existing system had grown to a point at which they required correction; but that it was not either necessary or desirable to aim at the actual symmetry of electoral areas all over the country; and if it is any consolation to hon. Members from Ireland, I would remind them that there was no attempt whatever, and we were reproached for it by some, to reduce the Irish representation to its proper numerical proportions. ["Oh, oh."] Well, that depends on the rules of simple arithmetic, which even Irish ingenuity cannot get over. I say there was no attempt to produce symmetry of electoral areas, but there was a sincere and genuine attempt to remove some of the greatest anomalies that now exist, and I say that is an effort which this House must make before it attempts to touch such questions as those raised by this Bill. At all events, the redistribution problem is consistent with the whole historical traditions of this country. Let us, therefore, deal with it before we alter our whole system, change its spirit, and introduce some speculative axioms with regard to the equality of men, or the equality of women, and the inherent rights of each individual. Let us, at all events, make the historical building conveniently habitable, and then only shall we be able to approach the more difficult problems which the right hon. Gentleman has attempted in a light and airy and graceful spirit to deal with, I think he will find they are far beyond his powers, or the powers of this House, to attempt to solve in isolation. You cannot bring in a Bill obviously animated by partisan spirit. You cannot choose out of all the innumerable difficulties and anomalies which undoubtedly our present system presents to the critical intellect a single anomaly which you think helps you electorally. The thing is too crude, it is too obviously self-seeking, it has behind it too little real feeling. It does away in, I think, the rashest spirit with a very wise provision of the present law which does not divorce the residence of the man of business from the place in which he does his business. The right hon. Gentleman has seized on one particular point, and has ignored other questions which have much more to do with the supposed equality between man and man; and when we examine it we see that it has no historic root in the traditions either of the country or of the Party to which he belongs. What we do see, and the only thing we see, is that this Bill is designed without disguise and without doubt for no other purpose than to strengthen the electoral position of the Party to which he belongs. That is not the spirit in which a great change in the British Constitution should be approached. That is not the spirit which ought to animate a Government which might have been satisfied, I should have supposed, with its recent triumph. The best friend of the right hon. Gentleman, one of the most ardent supporters of the Government, tells the Prime Minister that the principle of the Bill is unworkable. I believe it is unworkable. But quite apart from its impracticability, I object, as we all on this side of the House object, to the spirit in which it is introduced, to the motives which evidently animate the Government, to the utter oblivion shown by the framers of the Bill not merely of the spirit of the Constitution they desire to amend, but even of those speculative principles to which they, in their speeches of to-night have paid so loud but so empty a homage.


The right hon. Gentleman has argued against this Bill, but I observed that there were one or two arguments used by his followers which he did not adopt. It is in truth, a simple, although, I hope, a strong and efficacious, one, of which it may be said with greater truth than is can be said of most subjects discussed in the House, that I do not think that any speech is likely to alter a single vote-Every man who is in favour of plural voting will vote against the Bill and every man who is against plural voting will vote for the Bill. There is, therefore, not much room for argument in the ordinary sense. The right hon. Gentleman said that this Bill is introduced from purely Party motives. Well, that is the easiest thing in the world to say, and the next easiest thing is to reply to it, for you have only to say that it is in a partisan spirit and from partisan motives you oppose the Bill. The one is certainly and actually as true as the other. The right hon. Gentleman says we should proceed by the historical method and have regard to the history of British Parliamentary representation, and up to a certain point I agree, although I am one of those who think, as Molière has expressed it when told of habits founded on those of other days— People of other days were people of other days; we are people of to-day. It is quite possible that arrangements in our Constitution—if we can so speak of haphazard anomalies that have been introduced—suited the circumstances and conditions of previous days, and yet may not be applicable without gross injustice to our own day. It is said we leave untouched many glaring anomalies. Of course we do; we do not profess to go over the whole range of the electoral system of the country, curing all the defects that require treatment; but we say this of the Bill— that it does not aggravate any anomaly. While it takes away one great anomaly and removes one great grievance and does not aggravate any anomaly of which we can complain, it paves the way for that pet doctrine of one vote one value which is the darling theory of hon. Gentlemen opposite. How can you ascertain the facts on which to frame any scheme of one vote one value when you have these accidental haphazard distributions of voting vower? Now what is the grievance created by this system of plural voting? I take it to be this. We have an elaborate system of registration, and we make it very difficult for a voter to get on the register. That is a remnant of old days when the vote was much more of a trust and less of a right than it is now; when voters were few, and exercised their privilege as trustees for the rest of the nation who had no votes. I do not say we have taken away that character altogether, but we have largely reduced it from what it once was. In those days it was right to see that no unqualified man got himself put upon the register; but now our object ought to be to see that no qualified man is kept off the register. It is for that purpose we go on amending our registration laws. Well, when a man does get the vote and the polling day comes round he goes to the poll, and what does he find? Not his friends and neighbours, not the people who, like himself, are interested in the locality about which they make much ado, but stranger from different parts of the county. What do you see at county elections at which, by some extroardinary arrangement I never could quite comprehend, freeholders in certain large towns dump —to use the elegant language of tariff reformers—themselves down, strangers not familiar with the locality and ignorant to a large extent of its needs and desires, and overbear the votes of those resident in the locality? I say that it is a great grievance, and that it really thwarts and vitiates the object of our representative system. This is a simple Bill, and puts an end to the possibility of this misfortune happening, and it does it in the simplest way without taking any right from a qualified voter. It takes no right from a qualified voter, but it says he shall exercise his right upon one occasion. The right hon. Gentleman says this will be harmful to University representation; but what a poor opinion he must have of the gratitude and affection of the graduate to his University, if it comes to this, that, having to make a selection, he sacrifices his University vote. I have been restrained from speaking on this subject until this Parliament, for I had a near and dear relative in University representation; but as he is no longer here, I may say that, excellent as the representation may be, the representatives are returned by men who in former days received more or less education within the walls of the University. The whole thing is an anomaly, and this Bill strikes no blow at University representation, unless there is a feeling among graduates that their votes as such are the least valuable part of the voting power they possess. Then I would say a word or two upon the question of locality being the absolute foundation of our representative system. Is a man having property in a great many divisions to have a sacred inalienable right to vote in as many divisions as he has property in? Is this your Tory democracy? All I can say is I think it will be found that this is not the line of progress that will be followed by the great mass of the people of this country. Is it a sacred principle, this of property representation?


I did not say so;


I do not say that the right hon Gentleman made this the staple of his argument; But what is this right of property if we deal with it historically? Locality is its essence. Now, the Party opposite introduced a great county government a measure some years ago. In the very forefront of that Act it is laid down that there is to be no plural voting, and that is for a county council which is to deal with purely local matters. But are the local matters at one end of a big county always identical with those of the other end of a big county? Supposing a man has property in two or three. parts of a big county. Why should not he, on the theory of hon. Gentlemen opposite, have a plural vote for each part? The locality was abandoned in that case. The other argument put forward besides the argument of locality was that put forward by the mover of the Amendment, who said a man did not vote as a man, but as a propertied man. I repudiate altogether that theory. If it is a theory which has tradition and historical weight behind it, then the sooner we pass this Bill and get free from that idea the better, because in the future, whatever it may have been in the past, the voting power of this country must be in the voter himself because he is a qualified voter, and not on account of his property. Complaint is made that we have not gone far enough, and fault is found that we ought to have introduced a much more comprehensive a much more logical, and a much more sweeping measure. It is said we do harm instead of good by dealing with one thing at a time. That is not our view of this question. Here is an undoubted grievance, it is an undoubted anomaly, and, I go further and say, an undoubted absurdity, in our representative system. It can be dealt with by itself—totus, teres, atque rotundus. It is a thing by itself which can be dealt with separately, and by this Bill we propose to deal with it separately, so as to remove that anomaly and to

Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N.E.) Burns, Rt. Hon. John Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)
Acland, Francis Dyke Burnyeat, J. D. W. Edwards, Frank (Radnor)
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Agnew, George William Byles, William Pollard Erskin, David C.
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Astbury, John Meir Chance, Frederick William Ferguson, R. C. Munro
Atherley-Jones, L. Channing, Francis Allston Findlay, Alexander
Baker, Jir John (Portsmouth) Cheetham, John Frederick Flavin, Michael Joseph
Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.) Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R. Flynn, James Christopher
Balfour, Robert (Lanark) Churchill, Winston Spencer Fuller, John Michael F.
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight Clancy, John Joseph Fullerton, Hugh
Barker, John Clarke, C. Goddard (Peckham) Gibb, James (Harrow)
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Cleland, J. W. Gill, A. H.
Barnard, E. B. Clough, W. Ginnell, L.
Barnes, G. N. Coats, Sir T. Glern (Renfrew, W Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbt. John
Barran, Rowland Hirst Cobbold, Felix Thornley Glendinning, R. G.
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Glover, Thomas
Beale, W. P. Collins, SirWm. J. (S.Pancras, W Goddard, Daniel Ford
Beauchamp, E. Condon, Thomas Joseph Gooch, George Peabody
Beaumont, W. C. B. (Hexham) Cooper, G. J. Grant, Corrie
Beck, A. Cecil Corbett, CH (Sussex, E. Grinst'd) Greenwood, G. (Peterborough
Bell, Richard Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Greenwood, Hamar (York)
Bellairs, Carlyon Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward
Benn, John Williams (Devon'rt Cowan, W. H. Griffith, Ellis J.
Benn, W. (T'wr Hamlets, S. Geo Cox, Harold Grove, Archibald
Bennett, E. N. Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill
Berridge, T. H. D. Crean, Eugene Gulland, John W.
Bertram, Julius Cremer, William Randal Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton
Bethnell, J. H. (Essex, Romford Crombie, John William Hall, Frederick
Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon) Crooks, William Halpin, J.
Billson, Alfred Crosfield, A. H. Hammond, John
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Cross, Alexander Hardcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis
Black, A. W. (Bedfordshire) Crossley, William J. Hardie, J. Keir (MerthyrTydvil
Boland, John Dalmeny, Lord Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)
Bolton, T. D. (Derbyshire, N.E. Dalziel, James Henry Harmsworth, Cecil B.(Worc'r)
Bottomley, Horatio Davies, Timothy (Fulham) Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithn'ss-sh
Brace, William Devlin, Chas. Ramsay (Galway) Hart-Davies, T.
Bramsdon, T. A. Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.) Harwood, George
Branch, James Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh. Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)
Brigg, John Dickinson, W.H. (St Pancras, N Haworth, Arthur A.
Brocklehurst, W. D. Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Hayden, John Patrick
Brodie, H. C. Dillon, John Hazel, Dr. A. E.
Brooke, Stopford Dobson, Thomas W. Hazleton, Richard
Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs, Leigh) Dolan, Charles Joseph Hedges, A. Paget
Brunner, Sir John T (Cheshire) Donelan, Captain A. Henderson, Arthur (Durham)
Bryce, Rt. Hn. James (Aberden Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness Henderson, J.M.(Aberdeen, W.)
Bryce, J. A. (Inverness Burghs) Duncan, J. H. (York, Otley) Henry, Charles S.
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)
Buckmaster, Stanley O. Dunne, Major E. M.(Walsall) Higham, John Sharp
Burke, E. Haviland- Edwards, Clement (Denbigh) Hobart, Sir Robert

place this part of our electoral system upon a rational basis.

Question put.

The House divided —Ayes, 403; Noes, 95. (Division List No. 72.)

Hobhouse, Charles E. H. Money, L. G. Chiozza Russell, T. W.
Hodge, John Mooney, J. J. Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)
Holden, E. Hopkinson Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall) Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)
Hope, John Deans (Fife, West) Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)
Hope, W Bateman (Somerset, N Morley, Rt. Hon. John Scarisbrick, T. T. L.
Horniman, Emslie John Morrell, Philip Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)
Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Morse, L. L. Schwann, Chas, E. (Manchester
Hutton, Alfred Eddison Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne
Hyde, Clarendon Murphy, John Seaverns, J. H.
Illingworth, Percy H. Murray, James Seddon, J.
Isaacs, Rufus Daniel Myer, Horatio Seely, Major J. B.
Jackson, R. S. Napier, T. B. Shackleton, David James
Johnson, John (Gateshed) Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw) Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.
Johnson, W. (Nuneaton) Nicholson, Chas. N. (Doncaster Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Jones, DavidBrynmor (Swansea Nolan, Joseph Sheehy, David
Jones, Leif (Appleby) Norman, Henry Shipman, Dr. John G.
Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire) Norton, Capt. Cecil William Silcock, Thomas Ball
Jowett, F. W. Nussey, Thomas Willans Simon, John Allsebrook
Joyce, Michael Nuttall, Harry Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John
Kearley, Hudson E. O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid.) Solan, Thomas Henry
Kekewich, Sir George O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie
Kennedy, Vincent Paul O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W Smyth, Thomas (Leitrim, S.)
Kilbride, Denis O'Connor, John (Kildare N.) Snowden, P.
Kincaid-Smith, Captain O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Soames, Arthur Wellesley
King, Alfred John (Knutsford) O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth) Soares, Ernest J.
Kitson, Sir James O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.) Spicer, Albert
Laidlaw, Robert O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.) Stanger, H. Y.
Lamb, Edmund G (Leominster O'Grady, J. Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph(Chesh.
Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester) O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.) Steadman, W. C.
Lambert, George O'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.) Stewart, Halley (Greenock)
Lamont, Norman O'Malley, William Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)
Law, Hugh Alexander O'Mara, James Strachey, Sir Edward
Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington) O'Shaughnessy, P. J. Straus, B. S. (Mile End)
Lehmann, R, C. O'Shee, James John Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)
Lever, A. Levy (EssexHarwich Parker, James (Halifax) Stuart, James (Sunderland)
Lever,W.H.(Cheshire, Wirral) Paul, Herbert Sullivan, Donal
Levy, Maurice Paulton, James Mellor Summerbell, T.
Lewis, John Herbert Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek) Sutherland, J. E.
Lloyd-George, Rt, Hon. David Pearce, William (Limehouse) Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Lough, Thomas Pearson, Sir W. D. (Colchester) Taylor, Theodore C.(Radcliffe)
Lundon, W. Philipps, Col. Ivor (S'thampton Tennant, E. P. (Salisbury)
Lupton, Arnold Philipps, J. Wynford (Pembroke Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)
Luttrell, Hugh Fownes Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke) Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.
Lyell, Charles Henry Pickerskill, Edward Hare Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.
Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Pirie, Duncan V. Thomason, Franklin
Macdonald, J. M.(Falkirk B'ghs Pollard, Dr. Thompson,J.W.H.(SomersetE.
Mackarness, Frederic C. Power, Patrick Joseph Thorne, William
Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Price, Robert J. (Norfolk, E.) Tomkinson, James
MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Priestley, W. E. B.(Bradford E. Torrance, A. M.
MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S. Radford, G. H. Toulmin, George
MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E. Rainy, A. Rolland Trerelyan, Charles Philips
M'Callum, John M. Raphael, Herbert H. Ure, Alexander
M'Crae, George Rea, Russell (Gloucester) Verney, F. W.
M'Hugh, Patrick A. Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro' Vivian, Henry
M'Kenna, Reginald Redmond, John E. (Waterford Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)
M'Killop, W. Redmond, William (Clare) Wallace, Robert
M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester) Rees, J. D. Walsh, Stephen
M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.) Renton, Major Leslie Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent
M'Micking, Major G. Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mp'n Ward, W.Dudley(Southampt'n
Maddison, Frederick Rickett, J. Compton Wardle, George J.
Mallet, Charles E. Ridsdale, E. A. Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln) Roberts, Chas. H. (Lincoln) Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan
Marks, G.Croydon(Launceston) Roberts, G. H. (Norwich) Wason, John Cathcart(Orkney)
Marnham, F. J. Roberts, John H. (Denbighs) Waterlow, D. S.
Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry) Robertson, Rt. Hn. E.(Dundee Wedgwood, Josiah C.
Massie, J. Robertson, Sir GScott(Bradf'rd Whitbread, Howard
Masterman, C. F. G. Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside) White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire
Meagher, Michael Robinson, S. White, Luke (York, E.R.)
Meehan, Patrick A. Robson, Sir Wm. Snowdon White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Menzies, Walter Roe, Sir Thomas Whitehead, Rowland
Micklem, Nathaniel Rose, Charles Day Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Molteno, Percy Alfred Rowlands, J. Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Mond, A. Runciman, Walter Wiles, Thomas
Wilkie, Alexander Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough) Young, Samuel
Williams J. (Glamorgan) Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh.N.) Yoxall, James Henry
Willaims, Osmond (Merioneth) Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Williams, W. L. (Carmarthen) Winfrey, R. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.
Williamson, A (Elgin and Nairn Wodehouse, Lord(Norfolk,Mid.
Wills, Arthur Walters Wood, T. M'Kinnon
Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.) Woodhouse,SirJ.T.(Huddersf'd
Anson, Sir Wm. Reynell Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W. O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens
Anstruther-Gray, Major Fardell, Sir T. George Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend
Arkwright, John Stanhope Fell, Arthur Pease, H. Pike (Darlington)
Ashley, W. W. Finch, Rt. Hon. George H. Percy, Earl
Aubrey-Fletcher,Rt.Hon.SirH. Flethcer, J. S. Powell. Sir Francis Sharp
Balcarres, Lord Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A.J.(CityLond Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West) Rawlinson, John Frederick P.
Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey) Hamilton, Marquess of Roberts, S. (Sheffield,Eccleshall
Banner, John S. Harmood- Hardy, L. (Kent, Ashford) Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert
Baring, Hn. Guy (Winchester) Harrison-Broadley, Col. H. B. Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Hay, Hon. Claude George Salter, Arthur Clavell
Bignold, Sir Arthur Helmsley, Viscount Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos.Myles
Bowles, G. Stewart Hervey, F.W.F.(BuryS.Edm'ds Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert
Bridgeman, W. Clive Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury) Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Bull, Sir William James Hill, Henry Staveley (Staff'sh Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Butcher, Samuel Henry Hills, J. W. Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)
Carlile, E. Hildred Houston, Robert Paterson Starkey, John R.
Cave, George Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H. Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'dUniv.
Cavendish, Rt. Hn. VictorC.W. Kenyon-Slaney,Rt.Hon.Col.W Thomson, W. Mitchell(Lanark)
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Keswick, William Thornton, Percy M.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm King, Sir H. Seymour (Hull) Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard
Clarke, Sir E. (City London) Lane-Fox, G. R. Walrond, Hon. Lionel
Coates, E. Feetham (Lewisham Lee, Arthur H (Hants,Fareham Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Williams. Col. R, (Dorset, W.)
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Lonsdale, John Brownlee Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Courthope, G. Loyd Lowe, Sir Francis William Wilson, A. Stanley(York, E.R.)
Craig, Chas. Curtis (Antrim, S M'Calmont, Colonel James Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Craig, Capt. James (Down, E. Magnus, Sir Philip Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B.Stuart-
Dalrymple, Viscount Marks, H. H. (Kent) Younger, George
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Mason, James F. (Windsor)
Du Cros Harvey Morpeth, Viscount TELLERS FOR THE NOES:—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Forster.
Duncan Robert (Lanark,Govan Muntz, Sir Philip A.
Faber, George Denison (York) Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday next.