HC Deb 12 February 1908 vol 184 cc121-55
MR. ROWLANDS (Kent, Dartford)

rose to call attention to the present laws with regard to the registration of voters for Parliamentary and other purposes, and to move "That, in the opinion of this House the complexity and limitations of the laws regulating the registration of voters deprive large numbers of persons otherwise qualified to vote, of such right, and, therefore, it is urgently necessary that immediate steps be taken for the amendment of these laws." He said that the subject to which he desired to draw the attention of the House was not one which he could claim to be a new one nor did he expect he could put any novelty into it. It was one which had engrossed the attention of the House on many occasions, and while, perhaps, there had been some slight alteration from time to time in the registration laws of the country, there had been no drastic or far-reaching improvement in them from the point of view of those who desired simplicity. He hoped his Resolution would receive some amount of support from hon. Members opposite, because he knew they were keenly anxious that above all things, electoral reforms, whether in election laws or in the qualifications or the registration of voters, should be discussed not from a local standpoint but from the point of view of applying to the whole country. As he intended to deal with the question on that footing he expected that the Resolution would receive warm acceptance on the other side of the House. They had first of all to take their minds back to consider what was the object of the registration laws of the country. A simple definition would be to place upon the Parliamentary and other registers of voters all those persons who were duly qualified by the various qualifying or enfranchising Acts, and that this should be done by a system which was outside all party influence and control. So far back as 1868 a very important Committee had sat, over which Sir William Harcourt presided; he thought the Member for the Forest of Dean was perhaps the only Member of the House who was a Member of that Committee, and the definition as to the objects of registration which were put in the Report of that Committee was the clearest and most precise that could be given. It was— The registration of voters is the business of the State, and ought to be placed as far as possible beyond the influence alike of the ignorance or apathy of the citizens, and the interested action of political agents. Forty years had elapsed, and that ideal had not yet been realised. Some things had been done since then. He did not wish to ignore the important labours of the Committee which sat in 1878 and led to the Parliamentary and Municipal Registration Act of that year. But there was much more to be done. Some of the cases which had been tried under the Registration law were of the most amusing character. There had been a test case on a very much debated point in the Revision Court as to whether a man who had as part of a dwelling a bed-room, which was called a cubicle, was entitled to a vote, and in the case which settled that he had not they found that the applicant had a cubicle which was 12 ft. by 8, which was really a bedroom, and which had a door leading into a passage, and a window looking out into the open air. He was not qualified to go on the voters' list as an inhabitant of a dwelling house because the sides of the cubicle were only 7 feet high—that left a space of 5 feet between the top of the cubicle and the ceiling—and because he had the use in common of the passage, the ventilator, and the atmosphere which was made pure by the ventilator. Had he had an apartment the sides of which reached up to the ceiling and a more impure atmosphere he might have qualified. That was one of the vices of the law as it was at present. And then there were the serious and much disputed cases with regard to medical relief. It was time they got rid of such things as those. But the most important case, and that which raised in the clearest possible manner the question of the dwelling house apart from the lodger, was the famous case of Kent v. Fittal, which was known as the latchkey case. Anyone who had had practical experience in connection with the Registration Courts would say that the issue put before the Appeal Court in that case raised some of the best issues that could be raised and the decision come to was the clearest possible. A man named Frank Herbert occupied during the qualifying period an unfurnished room in a house at Devonport, for which he paid 3s. 8d. a week rent. The importance of the amount of rent was very great. He could not have applied to be put on the list as a lodger because a rental of £10 was a necessary qualification. It was a large house, the occupier of which sub-let to a number of tenants, himself occupying the lower portion of the house. There were no fewer than four others occupying in the same way as Herbert, and the point was put that he had a separate dwelling because he inhabited a certain part of the house exclusively apart from the common user of passages and other things. The case having been decided unfavourably to the tenant went to the Court of Appeal and the Master of the Rolls gave a very clear definition. He said— On the whole it seems to me that the weight of authority in both countries is clearly in favour of the view that the fact that the landlord lives on the premises, under the conditions described in the ease before us, does not exclude from the franchise as an inhabited Occupier of a dwelling house a resident in a part of the premises who in other respects complies with the conditions imposed by the Act. His colleagues agreed and both pointed out the invidious position in which a tenant would be if the mere fact of the landlord living in the house disqualified a man except there was some distinct control on the part of the landlord. He knew the question of control from practical experience. Lord Justice Romer drew the illustration of a man having two houses. Part of one in which he did not live became vacant and he moved into it. Up to this the persons occupying the various parts of the house occupied a dwelling house under the Act. Was the mere fact of the landlord's moving into the house, occupying himself only a portion which had recently been sublet, at once to alter the qualification of all the persons who had lived in it previously, their condition of living remaining identically the same as before? Lord Justice Mathew drew the illustration of a man who lived in and moved out of a house. In that case the lodgers became occupiers while if he moved in they became disqualified. Lord Justice Mathew put a very cogent point with regard to this discussion. He agreed with his colleagues and he distinctly said— The object of the Acts of 1867 and 1878 was to give to the occupant of a part of a dwelling house the franchise which was previously confined to the occupant of an entire dwelling house. He believed that was the intention of the law. The idea in the famous latchkey case was that a man having a latchkey and being able to go into the house could at once get free access to the rooms that he occupied and therefore had control of the dwelling in which he lived. In the bulk of buildings let out under these conditions a person who took unfurnished apartments had entire control of them the moment he shut his room door. The fact of some little common service over the parts that they used in common ought not to disqualify. He would like to find a lawyer who would give in a case outside registration a decision that a landlord could go and break down the door of an apartment. He had not control to do that for any other purposes than registration, but this construction had robbed many of the industrial classes of their right to get on the register. After inquiry from the landlord the town clerk of West Islington placed 2,000 of these people on the main list as occupiers. There was no party inquiry, but he was simply following up the ideal set in the passage he had read from the Report of 1868, stating that it was the duty of the local authority to place those people on the register independent of party. They were objected to, and the revising barrister, Mr. Paul Strickland, spent four days hearing six cases. One would have thought he was trying a question involving some immense amount of property or the life of a subject. To him it was most amusing that the revising barrister should take four days over cases in which all he had to decide was whether the lard lord had some control as was laid down in the case of Kent v. Fittal. The revising barrister adjourned the Court, and did not appear again, but sent a deputy, Mr. Webster, who came to the Court and said that unless the person objected to and the landlord appeared in defence he would strike the names out, and forthwith he struck 2,000 names out. Now what was this revising barrister asking for? First of all he wanted the testimony of the tenant and then of the landlord. That meant that he wanted 4,000 people to come up to the Court. He would like to know how long the revising barrister would have had to sit to hear all those cases. That was only one action. There were 1,400 persons on the register who had been put on the year previously under the latchkey decision. They had moved and claimed for successive occupation which they had a perfect right to do having been put on as occupiers of dwelling houses. They claimed in succession, and in every one of those cases a printed statement signed by the landlord was produced stating that the applicant had full control. What was the result? The whole of these names were again struck off. No less than 3,400 persons were struck off who could not claim as lodgers. And these electors were debarred from participating in an election which took place while they were off the register. He was quite tired of the working classes being harrassed in this way, for no other class was harrassed in the same manner. In the cases he had mentioned the conditions laid down by the revising barrister were absolutely impossible for anyone to follow. He had been told of another case which was a rather serious one. The town clerk placed the latchkey voters on the list, but he put a distinguishing mark on the register against their names. He would like to know whether town clerks had power to put any such distinguishing marks on the register. He might add that in this particular case the revising barrister struck the names out. He considered that the door of the apartment occupied by those people roomed off was as sacred to them as the street door was to the superior landlord; and, unless there was some definite agreement which did not exist in ordinary hiring, the landlord could not enter the room he had let without obtaining the ordinary powers of the law. The Return of Parliamentary Voters for 1907 showed that there were 163,774 lodgers in England and Wales on the register. Let the House imagine what the number would be if they had them under another definition. Even that total did not represent the full total who ought to be on, because they had no successive occupation, and every time they moved they had again to go through the probationary period. If they were admitted to a qualification under a more simple definition, there would be a much larger number of them on the register. It might be said, "Surely they did not want to reduce the money qualification below £10 a year." Let them take, for example, the ordinary model dwellings or flats. Every portion was separately assessed as a dwelling house, and it was well known that there were many eases where the rent for that flat was as low as 2s. 6d per week. Then there was the case of the agricultural labourer. They did not pay an excessively high rent, but their houses were separately assessed and carried the full qualification of an inhabited dwelling house. Therefore, the £10 a year qualification for lodgers was one of those things which ought to be swept away. Scotland had different machinery in regard to lodgers. He thought in what he had said he had made out a case to justify the amendment of the law. He had taken only typical cases. Some of his hon. friends had said that his Resolution was not sufficiently definite. He would remind hon. Members that he had sat in this House years ago, and he had had some experience of attempts at registration reform, and therefore he approached the question with more modest ideas as to what could be done. He would like to see some attempt at codification. He would probably be told that that was a very big order indeed. He knew it was rather a difficult thing to deal with some 108 Acts of Parliament, some of which went back to the Henrys, but nevertheless, he believed that a Bill of that kind would be acceptable to all parties in the House. He was not pressing the Government to bring in a big Bill. He remembered the Bills of 1893 and 1894, both of a comprehensive character, dealing with this question from different standpoints; but considering the high pressure of public life to-day, he was more inclined to ask for some small reform. He thought at least that the Government might consider whether they would not be able to get through some small Bill which would give them the benefit of the point decided in Kent v. Fittal and provide them with a clear definition of an inhabited dwelling house. The registration qualifying period at the present time was an absolute scandal. The facts were that the shortest time for anyone to get on the register was eighteen months, and it might be two and a half years. The average was two years. If they had a six months qualification the shortest period would be twelve months, the longest two years, and the average eighteen months. If they took the three months qualification, which he favoured, they could not get on under nine months. It might be twenty-one months. The average would be fifteen months, which was surely long enough. He was supposing that there would be no alteration in the present system of registration, but that they would simply amend the Act of Parliament with reference to the qualifying period, leaving the whole of the machinery as it existed at the present time. If time permitted he could show other anomalies. In a debate which took place in the early nineties the Leader of the Opposition said— There is absolutely no difference of opinion in respect to the desire to see the present long time which may elapse between the day when a man becomes qualified and the day when he is allowed to exercise his vote lessened. The money still necessarily spent by voluntary political associations was very heavy indeed. In Scotland, he believed they managed their business easier than they did in England. He had seen figures which he was almost afraid to quote in regard to the enormous cost of registration work throughout the country. And yet, but for the work done by voluntary political associations under the present system the registers would be in a very crude condition indeed. Another reform which he desired was the making of the qualifying periods somewhat analogous. If a nonconformist minister changed his residence he could not get on to the register in his new district without waiting the full qualifying period, while the rector got on by virtue of succession when he moved to another place. The freeholder got on the register in three months. These were illustrations of the absurdities. Then there were anomalies arising out of distances which required reform. Any person having business premises in a city and living within twenty-five miles of it were qualified, while with the person under the same £10 qualification in other boroughs and counties, it was necessary to live within seven miles of the qualifying property. The advocators of the plural voter should see to their indentures. There was only one real remedy for the whole of this, viz., the simplification of the qualification. He thought he had said enough to justify him in moving this Resolution. He could not conceive that any person could wish to continue in existence the anomalies which now existed. He hoped to see the time when they would get rid of all these anomalies and, coming down to flesh and blood, make the human being qualified, and then they would have a better state of things.

*MR. HIGHAM (Yorkshire, W.R., Sowerby)

in seconding the Motion said he could not pretend to have the expert knowledge of this subject which was possessed by his hon. friend the Member for Dartford. He spoke as one who twenty-five years ago found it difficult to get on to the voting list himself. He had since then given a good deal of attention to the work of registration, and he knew the great difficulties which properly qualified electors had in getting their names on to the voting lists. The registration laws by their complexity excluded enormous numbers of men from the lists. If these laws were such as almost to bewilder the expert, how could the average man who desired to be put on the list be expected to understand them? There was, first of all, the owners' list, then Divisions 2, 3, 4a, 4b, and lodgers. That sounded pretty complicated, and he defied any ordinary man to find out where his name was on the lists which were exposed at the church doors. Division 1 of the occupiers' list was further complicated by having sub-classifications, namely, showing those having votes for Parliamentary, county council, municipal, and parochial elections. In Division 1 were included all male occupiers of dwelling-houses who had the voting power at Parliamentary, county council, municipal, and parochial elections. In Division 2 were the names of those who could vote at Parliamentary and parochial elections only; Division 3 included the names of female occupiers and others who could vote only at municipal, county council, and parochial elections; Division 4a included married women in business, those who could only vote at elections of parish councils and boards of guardians; and Division 4b included male voters who could only vote at these elections in a particular district, having the Parliamentary qualification in another parish. The lodgers' list showed perhaps the greatest anomalies of all. In the division in which he lived, out of 19,500 names on the lists, there was not one lodger, whereas in other constituencies there were lodgers by the thousand, and that was all owing to the vagaries of the revising barristers. In the rural districts 75 per cent. of the lists were quite inefficient. At the time of the Revision Courts, and in the haste with which the work was pushed through, it was no unusual thing for a list to be dropped out, and a whole section of people found themselves struck out for a whole year, and their votes disappeared entirely. He urged that some steps should be taken to secure the continuous registration of voters. The man was objected to, and there was no one to prove the validity of the objection. On one side the list was unduly swollen, and on the other it was too attenuated. He had gone through a row of eight houses in one case and found six of the householders belonging to one particular party and two to the other. Of the latter one was found qualified and the other not, but both were on the list; while of the other the whole six were found qualified, but only one of the six was on the list, because their political party could not pay an agent. When all the work was done three times over he held that the money was absolutely and wilfully thrown away. Everyone knew of the wrangles and disputes over the money spent on medical relief. He had known of a case where a poor woman received help during her confinement, and it was ruled that that was no disqualification to her husband's remaining on the voters list. In another case, however, where a coffin had been supplied for the voter's baby, although that cost less than the sums paid for the nurse in the other case, the man was disqualified and struck out of the list. In fact, the revising barristers were a law unto themselves. He would like to point out another source of waste of money, work, and temper. When a survey had been made in a Parliamentary division, from street to street and from house to house, the first record was therefore a list in walking order. But the revising barrister insisted upon its being turned into an alphabetical list when he was considering cases in his Revision Court. But it had for every election to be turned into street order, or, as it was usually expressed, "walking order." He thought that if the Local Government Board, or some other Government Department, issued rules in regard to all these matters a great deal of trouble and waste of money would be obviated. Then there was the case of Wesleyan and other ministers. There was little chance of their being placed on the register. He had known of one instance of a man who had been a minister for forty years of his life and had occupied for years house after house, but who had never been able to give a Parliamentary vote throughout his career. Why should they not take a lesson from the Colonies in this matter of registration? In New South Wales the police supplied all the information to the registration officer who made up the list. His own suggestions were; (1) that there ought to be a registration officer in every Parliamentary borough and county division; (2) that his work should be continuous, and every removal inserted on the list at once; (3) that the postmen knowing and calling on everyone, should collect and hand in through his office all information to be transmitted to the registration officer; (4) that there should be one list for all purposes in street order, and in three columns, issued half-yearly, and supplementary lists made for by-elections; (5) that the registrar as to deaths, the magistrates clerk as to prisoners, and the guardians' clerk as to inmates of the workhouse should all send in information to the registration officer. The result would be that there would be no revising barristers, no revision court, no wholesale objections, no party surveyor, and no party agents; and for the first time the poor man would not be handicapped but put on an equality with the rich. The amount of money saved would more than pay for the whole cost of the permanent registration officers for all the work undertaken by them. He had much pleasure in seconding the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That, in the opinion of this House, the complexity and limitations of the Laws regulating the Registration of Voters deprive large numbers of persons otherwise qualified to vote of such right, and therefore it is urgently necessary that immediate steps be taken for the amendment of these Laws."—(Mr. Rowlands.)

SIR WILLIAM BULL (Hammersmith)

said the subject of the Resolution afforded a very pleasant evening's debate, but whether it would lead anywhere was very doubtful. He had been somewhat disappointed that the mover of the Resolution while pointing out many defects in the registration laws, had made no suggestion of a definite, practical plan for remedying those defects. Of course, the hon. Member knew that the law of England had been slowly and steadily built up, and he had no doubt that in the process a great many hard cases had arisen in the working of so complicated a matter as the franchise. The hon. Member had neither attacked the subject piecemeal, nor wholly altogether. It was impossible to alter or deal with registration apart from franchise. There ought to be some common basis for a voter's qualification, and it was from the existing differences of qualification that the present anomalies had arisen. The main question was whether a man living in a house was a lodger or an occupier, and it was true that the one political Party or the other was tempted to manufacture faggot votes under existing circumstances. The mover of the Resolution had said that the registration law should be codified, but he thought that that was a rather large order. It had also been argued that present date from which the qualification ran, 15th July, worked great hardship, but he thought that that date was fairer than 23rd June, the day before the Midsummer quarter day, proposed in a Bill discussed the other day. For his own part he was thoroughly in favour of shortening the time for being put on the register; he thought a three months' qualification was ample. The suggestion was made by the seconder that they should have officials to do this work, and it was certainly one which was thoroughly worthy of consideration. He thought they ought to find officials in each constituency, certainly in each large constituency, who should be responsible for the registers of voters. When they moved into a new borough and a quarter's rates became due, they found that they got an application for the rates for the time during which they had occupied, and he would like to see such an official empowered in a similar way to look after the votes, and the political parties on either side debarred by law from taking any part in registration work. It would save them all enormous expenditure, and the arrangement would be more satisfactory in every way. He would go further. He would pay the official a reasonable salary, say from £500 to £800 a year, and he would make him responsible for all the votes. If he left off a vote wrongfully, or maliciously, or negligently, he would take part of his salary away from him. Then again he would suggest that in the case of any dispute as to whether any really genuine applicant should go on the register, there might be an appeal to the local county court, and the County Court Judge could decide these registration court points. It would, therefore, be seen that, as one who had studied registration law for some considerable time, he believed that it would be for the benefit of all parties in the country if they could have some such modification as he had suggested. It would, no doubt, be a very drastic change, but he firmly believed that it would benefit all parties in this House, and he had never been able to find out any objection to such a course. If it were adopted, they would sweep away at one stroke all the complicated law on the subject, and they would put on, as the mover of the Motion stated, all those who were entitled to a vote—they would get on the list practically off hand. As to having a register compiled by the already heavily overworked postman, he was afraid that at the present time it would not be practicable. He was, therefore, in favour of the Resolution.

MR. ARTHUR HENDERSON (Durham, Barnard Castle)

said that as one who, for several years, had to do with the work of registration, he desired to make a few observations in support of the Resolution before the House. He thought he was quite safe in saying that all who had had similar experience to his had been compelled to come to the conclusion that our electoral system was to-day both cumbersome and incomplete, and that it abounded with the most absurd and unjust anomalies. What did they find? Not only were our franchise laws seriously defective, but our registration system permitted the most glaring inequalities to exist. Unfortunately, our present system of registration struck most hardly at the great wage-earning sections of the community, for they all knew that it was very much easier for the propertied classes to obtain votes, by being placed upon the register, that it was made easier for them to duplicate their voting power, and that, on the other hand, it was made difficult for the wage-earner to get his name placed upon the register, while his subsequent disfranchisement was also made easy. The poor man had the greatest possible difficulty in this matter, as those who had been through the Revision Courts knew, and the poorer a man was, the more difficult it was for him to obtain the rights of citizenship. Not only did these difficulties arise from the diversity of the conditions and of the law covering our various qualifications, but they often arose, as the seconder had said, from the vagaries of the revising barrister. Instead of our having one simple qualification which anyone could understand, we had a great number. In fact, he thought he was safe in saying that no less than forty statutes directly applied to the various qualifications for registration in this country and the position of the ordinary elector was positively confusing. The more the ordinary elector sought to fathom the difficulties in connection with the registration system, the more bewildering did the whole system become to him, and much of the confusion arose from the different methods of procedure pursued in connection with the registration courts. For instance, a freeholder could claim to be placed on the register at the expiration of six months from a given date, but the leaseholder could not claim until the expiration of twelve months. The ownership voter once his name was placed on the register, so long as he retained that property need never trouble himself again; but, on the other hand, the old lodger if he retained exactly the same rooms for which he was registered, must take the trouble to claim each year, and was only allowed a certain number of days in which to deposit his claim. The occupier who, for Parliamentary purposes, generally went on Division 1 in the list, was placed in this position. He could claim after occupying premises, not the same premises, not the same dwelling-house; he might have occupied many dwelling-houses in the same constitueney—he might claim the successive qualification so long as he was in the constituency during twelve months prior to the 15th July. But supposing that one of his removals, though he might have been on the register for many years, had taken him across a street, and he happened to go into another Parliamentary constituency, if he moved on the 16th day of July he must begin over again, and it would take him two years and five months before he had again the right to exercise the franchise as an occupier. Then there was the old lodger. He had, as he had already said, to make his claim within a given period—from 15th to 25th of July. The 20th July was the last day for making ownership claims; 20th August was the last day for new lodger and new occupier claims or successive occupier claims, and 5th September was the last day on which one could send in his declaration of misdescription to the clerk of the peace, or the clerk of the county council. With all this confusion about the matter, was it to be wondered at that they found, comparatively speaking, the number of working class electors was small. He was quite sure of this, and it could not be a matter of surprise that wholesale disfranchisement was the result of this system. In fact, it appeared to him that it was actually inevitable. He found, going into the registration of last year, that out of an estimated population of something like 44,000,000 there were only 7,446,636 registered electors. These were divided as follows:—Owners, 618,252; occupiers, 6,554,393; lodgers, 202,187; freemen, 26,328; and University voters, 45,476. These figures, of course, included what were known as the pluralists and the faggot voters, and these two latter classes were to his mind the most unfair class of voters that we had upon the register. But their position was protected in every possible way and they went on multiplying by the thousand. These pluralists for no other reason than that they had held a forty shilling freehold for six months got upon the register, but the wage-earner had to live in his house for something like two years and five months before he had an equal right to have his name placed there. As to the faggot voter he was happy to say he was rapidly disappearing, but he was still a disgrace to our registration system. He remembered perfectly well that in one of the districts he had to take care of years ago, in a colliery constituency, they had more faggot voters than they had occupiers in the district. They had colliery houses valued at £6 10s., and for each of these colliery houses there were three electors other than the occupier, and the only thing that entitled them to continue to have their vote was the faggot. This £6 10s. was divided amongst three of them and had been purchased for no other reason than that they could come into that constituency and out-vote the regular voters. These faggot voters existed, he was sorry to say, in the country to far too great an extent, and when they remembered how easy it was for pluralists and faggot voters to get on the register and contrasted it with the case of the ordinary occupier, he thought they could not but welcome the Resolution which had been brought before the House. In reference to this matter, he thought he was right in saying that the hon. Member for the Walton Division of Liverpool, in a debate in this House, made the admission that at the last General Election no less than 400,000 of these pluralists exercised the franchise. The hon. Member for Hammersmith had twitted the mover of the Resolution because he had failed to bring before the House the coarse which he would like to see the Government adopt. He wished to make one or two suggestions on that head. He did not agree with the mover of the Resolution when he suggested that there should be a small Bill—he thought that was the term he used. This was far too comprehensive an affair and far too great a change and there were far too many anomalies which ought to be swept away, to be dealt with by any small Bill. He thought he might be able to show his hon. friend the Member for Dartford before he sat down that he at any rate had not kept pace with what had been the acknowledged Liberal policy on this subject for very many years. First of all, he suggested that the whole of the present system, which was nothing but a tangle, should be swept away. What was wanted in this country was one simple franchise. He believed there never had been so many representatives in this House in favour of adult suffrage, and, notwithstanding what had recently been taking place, in favour of that adult suffrage including women. Therefore, he thought they ought to have one simple qualification, which should be given to a man not for what he had, but for what he was. Then there should be enacted the shortest briefest qualification of a residential character that was consistent with registration. In his opinion, far too much power was at the present time placed in the hands of the registration agents of all parties concerned. His experience justified him in saying that the men most looked after in connection with the registration by the particular agents were those who occupied a most prominent position in the subscription list of the Party organisations. It was of course not to be wondered at, but Party agents should not be tempted to look after one set of men more than another. The procedure in different courts varied considerably, and some were prepared to recognise that a person who was misdescribed by somebody else owing to a technicality ought not to be penalised by the act of the man who misdescribed him. On the other hand, a well-known local supporter of a Party if misdescribed was very soon looked after by the Party agent, and in consequence there arose a temptation on the part of the agents to take up towards these fellows a position which was grossly unfair. As he had said, he thought he would be able to prove to the mover of this Motion that he had not in this matter kept pace with the declared resolution of the Liberal Party. He had asked for a short Bill, but the resolution passed at the meeting of the Liberal Federation at Derby twelve years ago declared that the period of qualification should be reduced to three months; and that the conditions of registration should be simplified by providing for successive occupation from one Parliamentary division to another. That was one of the most important points that could be included in any proposal for reform. There was nothing more shameful than that a man by removing from one side of a street to the other should have to wait two years and five months before he was entitled again to a Parliamentary vote. The resolution of the Federation also provided that there should be succession from one qualification to another. For instance, a man might be on the list as a lodger, and instead of immediately passing on to the register as an occupier, he had, when he became an occupier, to qualify afresh, and for a certain period between the expiration of the time when he was listed as a lodger and the end of his qualifying period and the making up of the register in which he appeared as a qualified occupier, he was a disfranchised citizen. The resolution of the Federation also suggested the appointment of a public registration official for each Parliamentary division. That was one of the most needed and desirable reforms in connection with registration. He could give many instances of the unfair proceedings taken by opposing agents against innocent electors, but one would suffice. He received for a man a form of objection which had been received from the opposing agent in the constituency in which he was interested. He made it his business, seeing that the objection was based on a mere technicality, to go several miles to see the elector. The elector told him to his surprise that he had received a note from the opposing agent stating that he (Mr. Henderson) had sent the objection. That letter was accompanied by another form and a request to the elector to make a new claim. The result was that in the end the elector was retained on the register, and his own agent had to put before the association figures in which this man's name appeared as a successful objection and a successful claim, and all that was done by the one agent. That was how the figures were multiplied. The last point he desired to make was that there ought to be no disqualification because a man had received temporary relief under the Poor Law. This principle, he was glad to say, had been recognised in one or two statutes passed recently, and he was glad to know that the President of the Local Government Board stood out and kept it out of the Bill in connection with the feeding of the children. He hoped that in this case the disqualification would be done away with, because in his experience he knew of most distressing cases where men who, owing to want of employment, had had to take temporary relief and had in consequence been disqualified for two or three years, often without knowing it. He appealed to the Government not to be carried away by the arguments of the mover of this Motion and attempt to deal with the matter with a temporary and short Bill. He hoped that even if it took up the greater part of a session the Government would deal with it by a bold and comprehensive scheme in which registration was placed on the simplest possible basis and the qualification cut down to the shortest possible period; a scheme which would make a reality of representative government in this country, of government by the democracy, by giving the people the rights to which they were entitled.


said that, as had been pointed out by the last speaker, this was not a subject that could be dealt with by a little Bill. It was only a small part of a very large subject. He certainly thought the residential qualification should be shortened and many improvements made in other directions. But all the difficulties which this Motion desired to set right were all connected with getting on to the register in the future all persons entitled to be there. But their position was not to be compared with that of the voters who were already on the register but whose numbers in the constituency' were so enormous that the representation they had was totally inadequate. His purpose therefore in rising was rather to enlarge the Resolution before the House by adding at the end words that would ensure that such amendments of the law as the Resolution proposed should be accompanied by a re-distribution of seats. Who was it who suffered most—those who were delayed in getting on the register for a year, or those who, like the members of his own constituency which numbered 36,000 qualified voters actually registered, had a vote, but whose vote was of no use, because they had not adequate representation? These persons could not make themselves heard even if a Bill were brought in aimed at their lives, because of the inadequacy of their representation. The existing state of things showed very conclusively that the majority of the Members of the House of Commons represented only minorities of the electors, and therefore, it could not be certain that the decisions of the House could ever be the exact will of the people. He hoped the Bill he was about to introduce would be suported by Gentlemen opposite in greater numbers even than those on his own side. There were two Members opposite and himself who represented 120,000 electors. Somewhere else in the House there were thirty-five Members who represented only the same number. It was clear, therefore, that the majority on any decision that the House came to could only by accident, if at all, represent the majority of the people of the country. He hoped the mover and seconder of the Resolution would feel the same sympathy towards his Amendment as he had expressed for the terms of their substantive Motion and that he would have their support. After all, the whole thing was perhaps only a pious Resolution, though he hoped it would be carried into effect, and that they might even yet divest it of any feeling of partisanship, and before very long induce the Government to have an all-round conference of representative Members to examine the question with the addition he proposed. This did not touch the question of the suffrage, though neither he nor, he believed, any Member of the House was afraid to face the question of plural voting, or "One man, one vote," as against "one man, one value." He believed the subject would have to be grappled with, and the sooner they got to close quarters with it the better. He therefore moved the Amendment which he had handed to the Speaker.

MR. T. L. CORBETT (Down, N.)

said that in seconding the Amendment he entirely agreed, after a very long experience in the Revision Courts, that there were a great number of absurd and unjust anomalies in our registration laws. He thought few would be inclined to quarrel with the words of the Motion, especially if the Amendment was added to it. It was so wide and vague that he supposed it was cast out as a net to try and catch fish. It was so vague that it meant nothing apart from the Amendment. At a time when so many great social problems were pressing upon their attention, it was almost absurd for an hon. Member drawing an early place in the ballot to spend a whole evening in discussing an academic Motion such as this, which was much more suitable to a debating society than to the House of Commons. They all agreed that the registration laws wanted amending, but he hoped in the heart of the mover of the Resolution there was no lurking and sinister desire to take away votes from men who had a right to have them. On the face of it, however, the Motion seemed fair enough, and he had little doubt that it would be accepted, though apart from the Amendment it did not take into its scope practical measures for dealing with the whole problem in the way it ought to be dealt with. They wanted no little Bill, and no little Motion. What they wanted was a large and comprehensive measure, which he hoped the Government would bring in, dealing with the whole question of registration and of the representation of the people. The latter was certainly the most glaring injustice of all in connection with this large and wide question. The borough of Newry, in Ireland, had only 2,050 electors. He was not surprised to find that the Member for that borough was not in his place, and he was not surprised to find so few Nationalist Members present to listen to what must be a painful matter to them. The hon. Member was returned by 802 votes. In Essex, Walthamstow Division, there were 37,826 voters, and the Member was returned by 21,534 votes. There was even a more glaring example. The Romford Division of Essex had 47,641 voters, and the hon. Member for Kilkenny had 1,584 votes. That was not "one man, one vote," but "one vote and another man more than thirty votes." That was a far greater and larger injustice than the comparatively small matters dealt with under this small Motion. They wanted to have done with these small Bills and small Motions, and with the humbug that had always surrounded this question of the representation of the people; they wanted the Government at once to have the courage to face this problem, backed as they would be by the Labour and Conservative Parties if they went on reasonable and fair lines. On these terms he was sure they would achieve far more useful legislation than by many of the measures with which they were now wasting the time of Parliament.

Amendment proposed— At the end of the Question, to add the words 'but such amendment ought to be accompanied by arrangements for the better representation of all voters by a redistribution of seats.' "—(Sir Henry Kimber.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there added."


said that Motions in favour of the reform of registration had been adopted by both political parties with almost unanimity in each case. It might be inferred from that circumstance that the subject was non-controversial. Unfortunately, the fact that a Motion was non-controversial did not always mean that effect could be given to it without any controversy. They saw in this debate how controversy could be carried into a subject with which every one professed to be in complete sympathy. The question was closely associated with others as to which there was not the same unanimity of approval. There were the questions of the qualification of voters, of the franchise, plurality of votes, and now the question of redistribution introduced by the Amendment. Such a subject as this was liable to the danger of expansion; its friends sought to expand it because they believed the principle good; its enemies, because they wished to associate the principle with controversial matter, and thereby destroy it. The Government were entirely in sympathy with those who demanded a bold Bill, but it did not thereby follow that the Government would be able immediately to do what they wanted. When one looked at this Motion there was only one word which would give to any Front Bench man any pause, and that was the word "immediate." He took it that the word "immediate" in the Resolution meant as soon as possible. They could not have a Bill more immediately than the earliest possible moment. Construed in that sense the Government entirely accepted his hon. friend's Resolution. But they would not confine themselves to the mere question of possibility; he thought he could say that as early as practicable the object of the Motion would form the subject matter not merely of consideration, but of legislation. The evil was one they had long admitted. The various speakers had dwelt upon the defective details in the registration law. To show how defective our registration and franchise laws were he pointed out that, while there were 7,250,000 voters now on the register, if we had 25 per cent. of the population on the register, as we might well expect to have, the number of voters would be 10,000,000. France had 27 per cent. of its population upon the electorate roll, but unfortunately in France they had not so great a proportion of children in the population. The fault of this low percentage was not to be entirely attributed to defective registration, because there were many defects in the franchise. Among the many grave defects in the franchise and registration laws was the length of the qualifying period. That was a very serious thing. It had already been pointed out that if a voter entered upon his household qualification in July he had to wait for nearly twelve months before he could commence his qualifying period. According to the present law he must have twelve months occupation before 15th July immediately prior to the period in which the register was made up. The result was that very nearly two and a half years might elapse before the taxpayer could obtain a vote, Then, too, the choice of date from which the qualification was to run was very inconvenient. 15th July was just after the Midsummer quarter, when a great many removals took place, so that a large number of persons were disfranchised for the maximum period permitted by law. In any Bill the Government might produce they would certainly have to provide for a date more generally convenient. He thought every one was agreed that the register ought to be brought earlier into force. There was another matter very effective in keeping people off the register, and that was successive occupation. Successive occupation within the same borough was permitted, but a man could not count his qualifying period outside the borough as well as inside. Again, if he began his period as a lodger, and afterwards became a householder, he could not count the first period. The real difficulty arose from our cumbrous, complicated, and unnecessarily numerous qualifications. We could only simplify registration by simplifying the franchise. The way to simplify all registration was to have a uniform residential franchise. He though the hon. Member for Barnard Castle was scarcely doing justice to the hon. Member when he said that he was not up to date. After all, the only way adequately to simplify the law of registration was to have a uniform residential franchise. But no one could say that that would be a very simple matter. It would be difficult to imagine a Registration Bill which did not deal with the difficulty which had arisen as to lodgers or inhabitant occupiers. The hon. Member for Barnard Castle referred to the case in which it was decided that, in order to be an inhabitant occupier, it did not matter whether the landlord resided on the premises. In old days it was frequently held that the mere fact of the landlord's residing on the premises showed the claimant was a lodger. The court now said it was not enough to show whether the landlord lived on the premises; the question was the amount of control. The House might ask: Why should a claimant trouble whether he was a lodger or an inhabitant occupier? The difference was very material. If he were a lodger, he had to show a £10 qualification; and he had to renew his claim each year at considerable inconvenience. He escaped these two disadvantages if he became an inhabitant occupier.


And the lodger has no successive occupation.


said the decision which had been referred to was greatly in favour of the inhabitant occupier, because it said that merely showing the landlord lived on the premises would not prove that the claimant was a lodger—he might be an inhabitant occupier. Then there came another case in which it was said that the fact of the landlord living on the premises established a prima facie case or presumption that the claimant was a lodger. That greatly belittled the value of the preceding decision. The effect had been to leave the question of fact in nearly every case to the discretion of the revising barrister. That was an unsatisfactory state of the law. He thought it would be difficult exactly to define the difference as a matter of law in a way that would be applicable to all cases, but some attempt should certainly be made. There was another way of dealing with the mischief which would certainly be considered by the Government. At present, if a man claimed as an inhabitant occupier and was found to be a lodger, or if he claimed as a lodger and was found to be an inhabitant occupier, his claim lapsed altogether, because it was too late to put in another claim. He thought the revising barrister, or some other authority, should be able to put him on the right list if it was found that he had claimed in respect of the wrong list. That would take the sting out of many of the decisions that had been so adverse to the franchise. All that might be remedied, but they came back to the plain, broad fact, that they would never have a satisfactory registration law until they had a simple franchise. The existence of many different franchises gave rise to electoral devices which might be described as ingenuity carried to an undue extent, An hon. friend of his, who represented a county division in the north, had told him that in the course of his election he was surprised to find that many of his opponents were purchasing graves in the cemetery, where land was extremely expensive, and they were thus quite legitimately becoming entitled to exercise extra votes. Others, of a more cheerful frame of mind, instead of buying graves, took a theatre and became shareholders of particular portions of it, and thus became entitled to a vote. Thus the cemetery and the theatre contributed to swell the poll. Another suggestion of great value had been made—namely, that the whole business of registration should be made as far as possible an affair of the State. That was eminently desirable. He believed it would be an enormous gain to the public life of England if the various political parties were able to devote their time and energies more to the education of the electors than to the work of registration. The work before any Government touching this subject was difficult. It would require a great Parliamentary effort, and it might mean a series of Parliamentary efforts. He doubted whether the object of the mover would ever be achieved until the House of Commons was in a position to give effect to its own will in matters relating to its own constitution. But so far as the matter depended on the Government, he thought the House might rest assured that they would do all in their power, at the earliest practical opportunity, to give effect to the objects of the Motion.


who was received with cries of "Divide," said he was sorry that in some quarters there was no desire to hear the views of gentlemen on both sides of the House on what had been described as a non-party question. He did not know whether hon. Members who cried "Vote" had a material objection in their mind. He might be permitted, in his presumption, to congratulate the Attorney-General on his first appearance in the high office which he now occupied, and which he was sure the hon. Gentleman was calculated to adorn. He could assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that they on that side of the House were all glad to see him in that position, and they felt confident that he would fill it in the distinguished manner which his predecessor had done. The Attorney-General had declared that it was impossible to say what view a revising barrister would take on a point of registration law, for it was very difficult to say what view any member of the legal profession would take on any point of law. He had followed the proceedings of the revising barristers with some care, and his view was that they had always given their judgments to the best of their ability and belief, and he was not sure that they could find a better tribunal. He was not a member of the legal profession, nor was he there with a brief to defend its interests, but he confessed he had been surprised to hear of some of the decisions which had been given by the revising barristers. The Attorney-General had remarked on the very considerable difference there was between the local government franchise—the franchise for the parish or county council—and the Parliamentary franchise. That was quite true. He would point out that women were admitted to the local government franchise. Did he understand the hon. and learned Gentleman to advocate their admission to the Parliamentary franchise? [Sir W. ROBSON shook his head. He was glad he had risen, for he had obtained a very important piece of information. If he had not intervened it might have gone forth that the new Attorney-General was in favour of female suffrage. It was very important in view of what was going on that he should have put in an unequivocal light the opinion of the Attorney-General on this question. Then the Attorney-General said that great hardship took place because the period of qualification for registration terminated on 15th July at the present moment. That was quite true, but he would ask him whether great hardship would not arise if the period of qualification terminated in any other quarter. He had represented a populous constituency for thirteen and-a-half years, and he thought he was correct in saying that there were removals on every quarter-day, and that 15th July did not make any great difference. He was not including, of course, moonlight flittings, or Friday night flit-tings. He was endeavouring to point out to the House that removals occurred on every quarter-day, and they were not confined to those in which the 15th of July occurred, or any other quarter. The Leader of the Labour Party had made au eloquent speech in which he said that there were a number of people who were disqualified by the receipt of a little temporary relief and who, in many cases, did not know that they had received that temporary relief from the Poor Law. He could not understand how a person could receive temporary relief without knowing it. He must know that he had received it, and such an argument as that must fall to the ground. He supposed the intention of the hon. Gentleman was that Poor Law relief should not disqualify men from having a vote, and no doubt there were a great many deeply sincere people who desired that that state of things should be brought about. But, on the other side, there was an equal number or even a greater number of people who sincerely thought that the receipt of Poor Law relief should be an estoppel against a man receiving a vote, and he should endeavour to show that that reasoning was right. He was supposing that old-age pensions had not become law, and he thought they were in the dim and distant future. [Cries of "No, no."] "Well, there was a difference of opinion on that point, but supposing they allowed persons in receipt of Poor Law relief to exercise the franchise the result would be that when an hon. Member went down to his constituency to address the free and independent electors, the first thing that would happen would be that a number of the free and independent electors would get up and say: "We are in receipt of outdoor relief; we receive 5s. a week; we should like to receive 6s.; now when you go back to the House of Commons if we return you, will you promise to vote for a measure which will give us 6s. a week instead of 5s?" [Cries of "No, no."] Hon. Members said "No," but everybody must know that that sort of pressure was put on Members of the House of Commons by all the members of the Civil Service, whether they were postmen or higher officials. When he had the honour of representing Peckham he continually received letters from members of the Civil Service pointing out to him the grievances under which they suffered. He was not referring to postmen or to people occupying what he might call without offence the lower grades of the Civil Service, but to officials getting £200, £300, or £400 a year. They were all suffering under grievances, and it was human nature to suffer under grievances. He was not at all sure that the hon. Gentleman who had recently succeeded to his high office was not also suffering from a grievance, because he remembered that some years ago the fees of the law officers of the Crown were cut down. Therefore the hon. Gentleman had a grievance. [Sir W. ROBSON dissented.] Well, if the Attorney-General had no grievance, he evidently was one of those estimable men who sacrificed themselves for the good of their country, but the tendency of human nature was for men to get all they could, and he objected to men, whose only object in life was to get relief out of the Poor Law, having a part in saying who should govern this great Empire. The Leader of the Labour Party was a little unkind to the hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House, because he said that the country was tired of the humbug of registration, but, after all, the last Franchise Bill which included a Registration Bill was passed by a Radical Government in 1885, and therefore he thought the hon. Gentleman was a little severe on those gentlemen who occupied office at the present moment, and who were so anxious to do everything they could to oblige the Labour Party. In the year 1892 he made a personal canvass of the Peck-ham Division, and called upon 5,000 electors. [Hear, hear.] It took him a very considerable time, and as an hon. Gentleman below the gangway said "Hear, hear" he might say that whatever else the electors of Peckham did the majority of them were exceedingly glad to see him personally. He found a considerable number of them said they had no feeling in politics at all, that they found one side was as bad as the other, and that they got nothing out of either side. They said that they had a considerable trouble to make both ends meet, that their time was occupied, and that they did not wish to waste any of it in discussing politics with a benighted Tory or a benighted Liberal. That being so, it was evident that the difficulties of the franchise lay not with the laws, but with the people themselves. That was to say, that there were a number of people who would not take advantage of the possibility which they had of placing their names on the roll of voters, but avoided doing so. There was some reason for their not desiring to become enrolled on the voters list, as there were certain obligations which were not always agreeable to the citizens of the country. It was true that it gave them the right to vote for an hon. Gentleman opposite or for an hon. Member below the Gangway or for himself, but there were some foolish people who thought that that privilege was counterbalanced by the fact, that being on the roll of voters, they had to become jurymen and they would rather not serve on a jury, and would sooner give up their vote. He thought that was a foolish view for a voter to take, but there was no denying that it existed, and whatever Parliament did—he was going to say it could not compel a man to become an elector against his inclination, but he would not say that, because after what had happened he was not at all certain whether the Party opposite were not capable of compelling a man to do anything whether it was against his inclination or interest or not so long as it coincided with then-views at the moment. Therefore, he withdrew that observation, because he thought it was possible for the Radical Party to make a man become an elector whether he liked it or not. He had not had the privilege of listening to the hon. Member who had introduced the Resolution, and he much regretted it, but he was told that the hon. Member had not been very definite with regard to his remedies. If that were true, the best thing they could do was to vote for the Amendment of his hon. friend. If there was to be any alteration in the franchise laws, the alteration should include redistribution. He, under those circumstances, would vote for the Amendment, and if it was lost he would vote against the Motion.

*MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)

said that, after the almost contemptuous manner in which the hon. Member who moved the Amendment had referred to small constituencies, it required some courage on the part of the representative of such a small constituency as that which he represented to intervene in the debate at all, but he thought the hon. Member for Wandsworth would allow that small constituencies, so long as they existed, might be trusted to consider carefully the questions which came before them and that their Members should speak up. The point he wished to draw attention to arose out of the fact that during the last registration season he attended all the courts of the revising barrister in his own constituency. He noticed that cases continually cropped up where the revising barrister seemed to have a difficulty as well as a discretion in deciding the claim which was put forward. If a man came forward and said he was a lodger, paying £10 a year, it was within the discretion of the revising barrister to say that could not be so, because the rental of the house was probably only £10, and there could not therefore be a lodger claim as well as an occupier claim. That did not appear to him to be a right way of deciding these matters, because it was well known that in many parts of the country a man who only required a portion of a house had to pay relatively for such portion, far more

than he would have to pay for the whole. There might well be a £10 lodger in a house hardly worth £10. He brought, however, no charge against any revising barrister, because he was bound to say that revising barristers as a class were extremely careful, moderate, and just in the way they exercised their discretion and certainly that was the case with the revising barrister in his own division. Then there was a point with regard to the votes of the ministers of free churches. Owing to the time that was now necessary in which to qualify it was practically impossible for ministers of certain communions to get a vote, because by the rules of some of the churches they were continually passed from one district to another before they could qualify. He hoped that point would receive attention when this question was dealt with. He was sorry to hear the Attorney-General say that the question was only to be dealt with by a comprehensive Bill, because he believed that this was one of those cases in which, if they waited until they got all, instead of taking a little at a time, they would end by getting nothing at all.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 31; Noes, 129. (Division List, No. 8.)

Balcarres, Lord Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S. Magnus, Sir Philip
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Craik, Sir Henry Mason, James F. (Windsor)
Banner, John S. Harmood Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Bridgeman, W. Clive Fell, Arthur Valentia, Viscount
Bull, Sir William James Fletcher, J. S. Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)
Butcher, Samuel Henry Forster, E. Hildred Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Carlile, E. Hildred Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)
Cavendish, Rt. Hon. Victor C. W. Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford TELLERS FOR THE AYES, Sir Henry Kimber and Mr. T. L. Corbett.
Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.) Hay, Hon. Claude George
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Houston, Robert Paterson
Courthope, G. Loyd Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hon. Col. W.
Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R. Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Berridge, T. H. D.
Bllen, A. Acland (Christchurch) Beaumont, Hon. Hubert Bramsdon, T. A.
Aaker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.) Bennett, E. N. Branch, James
Brigg, John Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Rees, J. D.
Bright, J. A. Henry, Charles S. Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th
Brodie, H. C. Higham, John Sharp Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Hobart, Sir Robert Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Hodge, John Robertson, J. M, (Tyneside)
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Holt, Richard Durning Robson, Sir William Snowdon
Channing, Sir Francis Allston Horniman, Emslie John Roche, John (Galway, East)
Cheetham, John Frederick Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Roe, Sir Thomas
Clough, William Hudson, Walter Rose, Charles Day
Cobbold, Felix Thornley Idris, T. H. W. Rowlands, J.
Compton-Rickett, Sir J. Jones, Leif (Appleby) Seaverns, J. H.
Cooper, G. J. Jowett, F. W. Seddon, J.
Corbett, CH (Sussex, E. Grinst'd Joyce, Michael Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)
Cotton, Sir H. J. S. Kilbride, Denis Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)
Cox, Harold King, Alfred John (Knutsford) Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Cremer, Sir William Randal Lardner, James Carrige Rushe Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John
Crossley, William J. Layland-Barratt, Francis Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)
Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N Lewis, John Herbert Straus, B. S. (Mile End)
Duckworth, James Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)
Edwards, Enoch (Hanley) Lough, Thomas Stuart, James (Sunderland)
Esslemont, George Birnie Lupton, Arnold Summerbell, T.
Evans, Samuel T. Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Everett, R. Lacey MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Thomasson, Franklin
Ferens, T. R. MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S. Verney, F. W.
Ffrench, Peter MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.) Vivian, Henry
Fiennes, Hon. Eustace M'Crae, George Wadsworth, J.
Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter Maddison, Frederick Walters, John Tudor
Fullerton, Hugh Manfield, Harry (Northants) Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton
Gill, A. H. Markham, Arthur Basil White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)
Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John Montagu, E. S. White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Gulland, John W. Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)
Hall, Frederick Nicholls, George Williamson, A.
Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r) Nolan, Joseph Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) Nuttall, Harry Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E. O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Haslam, James (Derbyshire) O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES, Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.
Hayden, John Patrick Parker, James (Halifax)
Hazleton, Richard Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)
Hedges, A. Paget Radford, G. H.
Helme, Norval Watson Raphael, Herbert H.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Resolved, That, in the opinion of this House, the complexity and limitations of the Laws regulating the Registration of Voters deprive large numbers of persons otherwise qualified to vote of such right, and therefore it is urgently necessary that immediate steps be taken for the amendment of these Laws.