§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—[Mr. Pease.]
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I beg to propose, as an Amendment, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to acid the words "upon this day three months."
The first observation I should wish to make, and which I think will occur to everybody, is the extraordinary contrast between the appearance of this Bill as it is now brought up for Third Reading and its appearance when it was originally introduced into the House. I think I may add, for the benefit of those who have not compared the two Bills, that I hold in my hand the original Bill, which hardly covered one page of paper, and the new Bill fills two pages of the paper and contains sixty lines, of which, as far as I can discover, only twelve were included in the original Bill without Amendment or as they were in the original Bill unamended. That may not seem a very large matter to introduce, but in view of the legislation and character of the legislation which has taken place in the last two or three years, I think it does afford a rather useful commentary on the methods of the Government. This is a short one-Clause Bill, and such is the character of the drafting and of the thought bestowed on it, that not only is it one Clause, but it is a sort of boiled extract of several previous Bills. Thus the Government have given a great deal of time to the consideration of this question, and the matter has been very fully debated in the House from many points of view, and as the result of all that deliberation and consideration and debating the Government have produced a one-Clause Bill, and that Bill has taken up a great deal of Parliamentary time, several days and one whole night. The result has been to completely transmogrify 910 the whole verbiage of the Bill. Although Amendments have been denied in Committee they have been accepted in Report on the measure. The Government cannot deny that this Bill shows how the time of the House is wasted—[Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite laugh at that suggestion. Is it not pretty obvious that when a Bill is brought into the House to which Amendments are proposed and are resisted in Debates over very long periods and which are put in on Report, who, on the face of it, is responsible for the waste of time? Is it those who move the Amendments which are accepted or is it those who omitted to sufficiently consider the Bill before introducing it and so to render those Amendments unnecessary? What I am commenting upon is on the face of the Bill, and if hon. Members will study the two Bills, as I have done, they will see who is responsible for the waste of time. When we remember that this is a one-Clause Bill, and recollect what has been the history of other and more important Bills containing more Clauses, we can see pretty well what is the cause of the difficulties in which this House and the country now find themselves in regard to other matters. I shall not detain the House long, as we have only three hours for the whole of this Debate, and the matter has already been pretty thoroughly discussed from many points of view. The House will sympathise with me in finding it very difficult to say anything which has not already been said on the subject. I do not stand here to defend the plural vote simply as a property vote. Personally I do not think that it is a necessary part of our Constitution that property as such should have any undue representation. That is not the main ground of my opposition to this Bill. I perfectly recognise that the whole of the electoral power in the country should not be held by those who have been successful in life. It may be that those who have not been so successful and who perhaps attribute their want of success to certain legislative defects, should have an equal opportunity of electing Members to this Assembly which is responsible for all political reform.
Therefore, I want it to be distinctly understood that I do not base my opposition to this Bill merely on the ground that it disfranchises property. I go further. I think it has been admitted on this side of the House that if and when there is a general rearrangement of our electoral system, whichever side may make it, it is 911 very probable that the plural vote may form no part of the new general system of electoral franchise in this country. I am not standing here to defend the plural vote as a general part of a reformed system. But in saying that I desire to make one very important exception upon which, personally, I feel very strongly indeed, and that is the special representation of the City of London and the universities. The City of London and the universities are unique in that they alone, amongst all the constituencies, as far as I understand it, really represent particular elements which go towards the development of our national and social life. The universities and the city happen to represent particular homogeneous elements in our social life. Surely it is of great importance that those elements should, where it is possible, be represented. I do not want to argue the case as to whether mixed individual representation or sectional representation is the better. I would point out, however, that we have not got purely mixed representation. Take, for instance, the Labour party in this House. I suppose that there is not a single Member belonging to that party who is not perpetually stating that he and his friends are here to represent labour as such. They do not, in the true sense of the word, represent the mixed constituency as a whole. The labour representation in this House is clearly a sectional representation. I do not think that any right hon. Gentleman opposite will deny that as it stands. If we may have sectional representation of labour in this House, why should there not equally be sectional representation of two such elements as the element of commerce which is represented by the City of London, and the element of learning, and education which is represented by the universities? There are two distinct elements of very great importance in our national life, and it happens that in our system you have constituencies where those particular elements are actually predominant. The Members for the City of London are known by everybody to represent the business and commercial opinion in the country.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I am not concerned to argue the point. If it is not self-evident to the hon. Gentleman opposite, I hope he will permit me to differ from him and to 912 State my opinion. I repeat that it is generally considered to be so.
§ 4.0 P.m.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
Not in the same way. I see now what the hon. Gentleman means. He means that there are other constituencies equally representative of these interests. I think that that is not so. In these other constituencies there is a large working-class element. They are much more mixed than the City of London. There is no constituency in which the commercial and business element predominates to anything like the same extent, or is so absolutely paramount as in the City of London. In the same way at the universities you have the element of learning and education absolutely predominant. Surely it must be an advantage to the country to have these elements represented here just as the element of labour is represented to-day I think it would be a great national loss if that representation were destroyed. My own feeling is that even if the whole of our electoral system were permanently reformed and remodelled it would be desirable to retain the special franchise of the City of London and the universities. May I appeal to the Government in that respect not to look at the matter merely from the narrow point of view of the present moment? Hon. Gentlemen opposite look at this side and see the representatives of the City of London and of the universities facing them. From that point of view no doubt they consider that there is a party inequality, and that the franchise is, as the Minister for Education described it, a fancy franchise, and they desire to destroy it. But surely the franchise is not a party matter; it ought to be a national matter. The question we have to consider is not whether this or that party will get an advantage by some particular alteration, but whether, having regard not only to the circumstances of the present moment, but to the past and the future as well, looking at the whole question with a wide horizon, it is to the advantage of the country that the representation of the City of London and of the universities should be destroyed. I suppose the right hon. Gentleman would say, as he did say in his speech, "We are not destroying them; we are retaining the full liberty of the franchise of the city and of the universities." Surely they will 913 not maintain that for a moment! You take away my life if you take away the means whereby I live. There is no doubt whatever that the city and the universities, so far as the franchise is concerned, live by the plural vote. That is perfectly obvious. When you have destroyed plural voting you have completely emasculated the voting power of the city and also of the universities. It is now possible to say—and nobody will, I think, attempt to deny it—that the city and the universities are representative in the character and way I have suggested. If this Bill becomes law, and plural voting in respect to these particular constituencies goes by the board, can it any longer be said that the city is really representative of commerce and of business? It cannot be said so Nobody will be able to say what amount and element of business enters into the representation or the proportion of those who will vote as business men and those merely as caretakers. It is begging the question. It is not honest. It is dishonest to say to this House that this Bill will not destroy university and city representation. It. will destroy them. For my part, if this Bill passes, I do not think there will be anything left in city and university representation which will be worthy of preserving at all. I think it is not creditable to the Government that that they should, rather than stand up and say they desire to destroy city and university representation because that representation happens to be opposed to them at the moment, attempt to destroy it by a side wind, and then deny that they are really destroying it at all.
The Government policy, as stated by them and as embodied in this Bill, is to abolish plural voting at the General Election, and to retain it at by-elections, and as I have remarked, incidentally to destroy the city and university representation. Our answer to that, which has already been given and is well known in the country, is that plural voting is not the worst anomaly which exists to-day. It is an anomaly, and except as regards the city and university representation, it may go when the whole system is remodelled. Meantime the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education, made a claim that if this Bill were passed the present anomalies would be diminished. Surely he does not mean to maintain that? Surely he does not suggest that the passing of this Bill is going to reduce existing anomalies, is going to simplify registra- 914 tion, is going to reduce the expenses which are indeed such a bye-word of our electoral system? He is going to increase them. In his speech the right hon. Gentleman referred, I think, to eleven different franchises and eighteen or nineteen variations. Is not this adding another franchise—or another variation—whichever he likes to call it, and a very difficult one? He is adding what I may call 525,000 voters to the electorate of the country. There will be that number who will have the option of roving about the country from one constituency to another. That will add enormously, must add enormously, to the labour of registration agents and others who will be responsible for allocating these votes and making use of them when the day of election comes. It must be a very great addition. As was pointed out in debate, the whole of these 525,000 votes will still remain on the registers as a standard of the expense which candidates will have to incur at the election, but they will not be effective votes. They are not starred. Those concerned will be in a far worse position than the ordinary starred voter, because there is no provision for their being starred. The starred voter is a complication, but a complication which to those who use the starred system is fairly simple to unravel. There will be these voters' names upon the register, and it will be impossible for the agent in any constituency to know in what other constituency they are also registered. The expense and difficulty entailed upon agents and candidates will be very largely increased. Why? What is the object of this change?
It has been pretty obvious that the object of the change is the immediate electoral advantage of the Government. [An HON. MEMBER: "No.") What other object is there? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us some other object that exists—that we can realise exists—and I hope that the explanation will not be too thin. We have pointed out that the change does not simplify, but intensifies, the complication of the existing law. What possible advantage is going to be gained by it? The only answer we have had from the Government is the old statement that it is going to abolish privilege. Anything may be held up as privilege, but I should have a little more sympathy with the Government if they were more consistent in that matter, and went about abolishing privilege where-ever they found it. One would then say that at any rate they were consistent. Our memories are not so very short that we 915 cannot remember the time, not many months ago, when the Government were conferring unheard of privileges upon trade unions; giving to them obvious privileges which are not possessed by any other section of the community. I am afraid that the suggestion of the abolition of privilege is one which will carry very little weight in this particular matter. The Government apparently propose to reduce everything to a dead level in this country. They pass a sort of automatic steam roller over every other section of the community except themselves, remaining themselves upon a kind of pinnacle of time and place.
I most strongly object to the whole principle involved in this Bill. We cannot fathom the mind of the Government, but may I put this to them: Although their motives may be admirable, although they may be doing this in no sense from party motive whatever, it must appear to the country that they are doing it from a party motive, because we can see no object in it but a party object; and I do not think the country will be able to see any object but a party object. If, therefore, it was only for the sake of their own reputation, to stand well with the country, and to convince the country that they are desirous of legislating here not with a purely party object, but with a national object, I am sure they would have been very much better advised if, instead of introducing this particular item of electoral reform, they had introduced sonic more comprehensive measure, or some measure which would deal with the anomalies or difficulties which are national, and which are not of a purely party character. From that point of view I think the Government will find it extremely difficult to convince the country that they have any real object in introducing this Bill except to deprive the Unionist party of that majority of plural votes which it has now, and to deprive the City of London and the universities of that representation which they have enjoyed for an immense period of our political history, and which, for the benefit of the country, I believe it would be wise to allow them to continue to enjoy. On these various grounds, and on all the grounds which have been urged from this side of the House, I suggest that this Bill should not be assented to. If it is assented to, if it ever does become law, I do not think it will redound either to the credit of the Government or to the house which has in this partisan spirit passed it.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Montagu)
Those of us who were present at the Committee stage of this Bill will remember that on the first three or four Amendments the charge brought against the Government by the Opposition was that the Government did not intend to have a Report stage at all, and that we were going to refuse every Amendment. Now the hon. and gallant Gentleman has altered the tone of his complaint. It is not, as it was then, that we are not going to accept Amendments; it is that we have done so. I recognise that the complaints both of the hon. and gallant Gentleman and of his colleagues now, as then, is part of the ordinary armoury of the Opposition. I should like, if I may say so, to try once more to state the case that the hon. and gallant Gentleman finds so difficult to understand; to give the reasons for bringing in this Bill, and the principle which underlies it. I do not propose to give an exhaustive list of the anomalies which exist under the system of plural voting. Notwithstanding, if I may respectfully say so, the vigilance of the Chairman and of Mr. Speaker, the tendency on almost every Amendment to this Bill has been to approximate to a Second or a Third Reading Debate. Therefore, as the hon. and gallant Gentleman himself I think recognises, almost everything that there is to be said has been said. I have always regarded the worst case of plural voting to be the case of the out-voter who owns, but does not occupy, a 40s. freehold in a borough, and for that reason is entitled to give a vote in the neighbouring county constituency in addition to any vote which he may have acquired in the borough. But that is not the only grievance which is felt under the system of plural voting. Would the hon. and gallant Gentleman consider the feelings of the ordinary voter who has only got one vote, and who is interested in some particular political question, has taken the trouble to study it, and is anxious to see his views represented in the constituency in which he lives. He works amongst his neighbours, he advances what he believes to be right; then on polling day there come into the constituency and interfere with the verdict of the constituency, people who have already voted, and who have already got their views represented in other constituencies I would like to advance this proposition, that the less likely a man is to have a plural vote the more value there is for that 917 vote. There is not the slightest doubt that in. the political weapons which a highly educated man, which a wealthy man, which a Man of territorial influence exercises, that he has many another weapon besides the vote. It is bad enough to have to fight all these influences, but it is worse to have to fight them when given a plurality of votes as well, and I believe the fact that the electoral machine is weighted, and heavily weighted, not only by acquired and inherited advantages, but also by a plurality of votes, is responsible for a large amount of the recent tendency to despair discernible in portions of the community so far as representation in the House of Commons is concerned and the risk of what is known as the disquieting system of social unrest. These are the causes; we want to redress this anomaly, which I can assure hon. Members is one of the worst. It was one of the remarkable admissions in the speech made by the hon. Member opposite that plural voting itself was indefensible, provided its redress was accompanied by the redress of other things.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
The hon. and gallant Gentleman admitted it. During the hon. and gallant Gentleman's speech he tried a large number of the arguments advanced in Committee and on the Report stage upon this Bill by hon. Gentlemen opposite in favour of certain exemptions. All these exemptions were advocated by the opponents of the abolition of plural voting in order to cut down the voting. The other day we had the claim put forward for the exemption of the universities, and then again we had the claim put forward for the exemption of the City of London; but what you have got to prove is, not that the exemption of a city like London is just or right, but that a certain num-number of people in that particular constituency should be entrusted with more than one vote while everybody else has only been entrusted with one vote. Let me deal with the other exemption, that is, that urged in regard to the universities. The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite urged two reasons for the exemption of universities, one was that a university constituency was so intellectual that it should have special representation, and the other was that the universities returned such excellent men. [HON. MEMBEES "No, no."] I think I appreciate the hon. and gallant Gentleman's argument, that it is 918 well in this country to have the representation of some constituencies based on the ground that they are educated men, and that they should be wholly represented by educated men, and that it is right and proper on these grounds that universities should be exempted from this Bill. What is the qualification by which one may become a university voter. A graduate can secure his vote by the payment of his fees running up to between £30 and £40.
§ Sir P. MAGNUS
That is not the case as regards London. It is, I think, extremely unfair of the Under-Secretary to advance such a statement as a general argument.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The right hon. Gentleman will have his opportunity. of replying in the general Debate.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
I was talking about the qualification for university voters and pointing out that the qualification is not entirely an intellectual qualification, and I was assuring him that I myself paid for my vote, and that I know many others have paid similarly.
§ Mr. MONTAGU
No, of course not. No man can purchase a vote who has not taken his B.A. degree, but I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that there are a good many men who would never qualify as university voters except in the way I indicated. Now, I submit that the university graduate is precisely the man who stands least in need of special representation. The time which is most pleasant and which is considered by most people of most value, is the time spent at the university, and a time they are never likely to forget. University graduates are disseminated in every constituency of the country, and the universities are perfectly certain, whatever party is in office, to find adequate representation of their views even if the university ceased to be represented; and when we come to the men the universities return, they are not different in quality or in character to the men who have been returned from other constituencies. Surely Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Gladstone both showed that a man has to be a good party man before he can be a Member for a university. Of course, it is easy to contend that a large number of great men have sat for university seats, but most constituencies can say the same thing, and can point to the fact that great men have represented them. I think it is 919 true to say, the safer the seat the greater the tendency to draw towards it the more experienced or the greater men, but I would remind hon. Members that the Bill does not abolish university representation. It only gives to the university voter a choice of voting for his university and nowhere else.
Hon. Members opposite attach very much importance to university representation. Here is then a test of their faith. As I understand it, according to them, universities are usually represented by men of such delicate minds and so carefully constituted politically, men like the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University, that they could not be elected elsewhere. If that be true under this Bill when it becomes law, the people who prefer to vote for such men can do so. When we have a number of those voters choosing to exercise this power we shall know then when it comes to Redistribution whether the university representation is worth keeping or whether it is not. But as the hon. Member opposite, I think, admitted, it is very difficult to put the defence for plural voting even if it were defensible in principle, and I venture to say that there are very few people who think that it is on these grounds. The other day the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London used some very frank words about it. He said, "it requires intelligence to make money, and that if money is inherited, it requires intelligence to keep it. Plural voting," he said, "is a good thing, but I think it has only one fault, there is not enough of it." We heard during the Committee stage many claims of the great intelligence, the great political wisdom of the plural voter. But I venture to think that the real opinion of the party opposite about plural voting is to be found in the number of Amendments that they brought forward to protect the plural voter, his intelligence, his education and his political wisdom, from the consequences of the passage of this Bill. We had Amendments moved to protect him in case he did not know that this Act was passed. We had an Amendment moved to define for him this particular Act in case he did not understand what it was. We had Amendments moved in order to tell him who he should ask for a ballot paper if in his innocence he should ask the wrong people. We had Amendments moved to tell him what a General 920 Election was, in case he did not know, and we actually had an Amendment moved to guard him against voting twice in case he forgot he had voted already. The real case of the Opposition is not, forsooth, that they want to defend plural voting, but if only we would repress other anomalies, too, they would be prepared to accept the abolition of the plural vote.
I ventured to point out on the Committee stage of this Bill, and I will point it out again, I do not believe there is a single anomaly in our electoral system that does not work for the good of the party opposite and against our party. The one reason why we have chosen one amongst the anomalies at a time, is, because of the time at the disposal of the Government in the present Session. Nobody will accuse us of wasting time; we are always hearing complaints of the guillotine and stifling Debate, and the Opposition are not entitled to say that you shall not correct one anomaly without correcting another unless you can prove that the existence of the one anomaly creates the existence of the other. You cannot say that of plural voting. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition tried that as an argument in favour of the minority of voters in Scotland, but that argument, I venture to say, is not an argument in favour of plural voting, but is an argument for proportional representation which would ensure the proper representation of a minority. There cannot be any substance in the statements that we have shrunk from Redistribution, which I am perfectly confident would help the party to which I belong. As my right hon. Friend the Solicitor-General has pointed out before now, we are in this very Session of Parliament introducing and carrying through a Bill to reduce the Irish representation in this House by more than one-half, and that is not the sort of thing a Government would do who wished to try not to diminish its own Friends. In addition to that, let me remind the House that I agree, and I believe that most Members on this side of the House will agree, with Mr. John Bright when he said that we are precluded from any equitable system of Redistribution until there is an alteration of the Act of Union, and therefore, by the passage of Home Rule, we are taking the first step towards Redistribution, and, when it comes, I hope it will be a scheme for equality beween constituencies, and will not be like that shameful scheme which was laughed out of court 921 as soon as it was produced and for which hon. Members opposite were responsible when they tried to gerrymander the constituencies at the end of 1905. After these speeches from hon. Members on the other side, I think we can confidently count upon the country to support us. I suggest to hon. Members opposite—and I am sorry the Leader of the Opposition has gone out—that they do not really want Redistribution any more than they want plural voting. Let me read to the House a question which was put by the Solicitor General to the Leader of the Opposition on Friday week. The Solicitor-General asked:—Does the right hon. Gentleman promise, if we introduce Redistribution proposals in this Session, that he will facilitate the passing of both these Bills this year?And then followed as an answer to that question one of those illuminating revelations of the policy of the Opposition which we are accustomed to expect from the Leader of the Opposition, in which he said:—I can certainly promise that we shall facilitate the passing of Redistribution quite as much as we shall facilitate the passing of this Bill.Therefore, the supposed desire of the Opposition to redress anomalies goes by the board. At a time when the right and learned Member for the Walton Division of Liverpool (Mr. F. E. Smith) proposes a Resolution to sweep away anomalies, the Leader of the Opposition actually promises them the same uncompromising hostility before they are seen or introduced.
Our theory of representation in this House is widely different from the theories of hon. Members opposite. They want to represent constituencies; we want to represent constituents. They think the right thing is to represent localities; we think the right thing is to represent men. They think the right to vote should be vested in those who have what they call a stake in the country; we think the right to vote should be based upon the fact that a man has got to live under the laws passed by this House and administered by the Government. They think that a Government ought to exist by reason of the number of votes cast for it; we think the Government ought to exist by reason of the number of voters who vote for it. Hon. Members opposite base their opposition to this Bill, and in fact their whole political creed, upon the sanctity, the privilege, and the prestige of property. We want to represent not acres of land, 922 but the people who live and work upon the land. We want to represent not business houses, but the people who do their daily toil in those houses. We want to represent not the geographical anomalies of our electoral system, but living human beings. For these reasons I commend this Bill to the House as the first instalment of the reform of our electoral and representative system.
§ Sir HARRY SAMUEL
We have all listened to the able speech of the Under-Secretary for India with very great interest. May I say that he has been extremely clever in trying to put into our minds views which we do not in the slightest degree hold, and having put them there, the hon. Member proceeded to demolish that which never existed in the slightest degree? I am not surprised at this. I have had the pleasure of listening to the greater part of the Debates which have taken place on this Bill, and I am afraid the speech of the Under-Secretary for India has left on my mind an impression, which was already formed there very strongly, that nothing but a desire for party advantage is at the back of the whole of this Bill. We have now arrived at the end, at all events for this Session, of the revolutionary and vindictive measures of the Government. Under the Parliament Act the Government are doing their very best in the interests of hon. Members opposite to avoid the submission of certain Acts to the jury of the people. Feeling that, after all, certain things which it will be impossible for them to avoid will force them to submit to the jury of the people, they are now trying to take measures to pack the jury to which they will have to submit those measures. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] I am going to try to prove that statement. The excuse of the President of the Board of Trade for bringing in this Bill was that there were so many electoral anomalies in our system. Nobody denies that. We all agree that there are many anomalies in our electoral system, but may I ask if there are so many anomalies, why is it that the right hon. Gentleman has selected one, and only one, and that an anomaly which is not commonly agreed upon by both sides of this House?
This Bill does no single elector the smallest amount of good, and it has never been asked for by any elector simply as an elector. This is the only anomaly, the remedying of which inflicts a very serious and great grievance on many electors in 923 this country. I am certain that the reason for its selection is that it is the only anomaly in regard to which the right hon. Gentleman can say quite clearly that he is going to gain for his party some great advantage, and that is the real reason why we are now discussing the Third Reading of this Bill. The opposition to this Bill rests upon various grounds. In the Debates we have attempted two things: First of all, we have endeavoured to alter the principle of the Bill, because we believe it to be wrong; secondly, we have endeavoured, and I think we have succeeded, to improve the Bill. The hon. Member who moved the rejection of this Bill said that it had been very largely altered and very greatly improved during the Committee and Report stages. I do not think it is a very serious crime for hon. Members on this side to endeavour to guard by Amendments the electors from the heavy penalties imposed by this Bill—penalties which have never been imposed upon them before—for exercising the plural vote. Surely, if such penalties as these are to be inflicted, it is our duty to insist that every single man shall understand absolutely what the offence is, why they are inflicted, and the duration of the time is liable to them! Surely, in doing this, we are only carrying out our duties, and nothing which can be said by hon. Members opposite will deter us for one single instant from endeavouring to put these matters fairly before the House and before the country, and showing the injustices which are contained in this Bill! What are the arguments which have been used in favour of this measure by right hon. and hon. Members opposite? The President of the Board of Trade says that plural voting is an anomaly. It is an anomaly in some cases, but only in a certain number. When you come to the question of a man who is a freeholder, and votes in a county constituency because he is a freeholder, there may be some ground for saying that that is a thing which under certain circumstances ought not to be allowed, and we might have no objection to that. I maintain, however, that where there is a man who has a large business in which he earns money, and is able to employ other people —a thing which, after all, is a vital necessity to the State—he is an asset to the State, and he should be entitled to register, in the constituency in which he has his business, a vote for the selection of of the man who is going to represent his interest. If that man has a dwelling-house 924 in some other part he should certainly also be entitled to register a vote for the selection of the man who is to represent him there.
To adequately represent those two places, you require men of a totally different stamp and character. For instance, the man who lives in an agricultural constituency, and has a business of importance in a great city, requires a totally different man to represent the different places in which he lives and works. I fail to understand upon what system other than that of party advantage, right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite can give any sanction to the line of argument pursued in regard to this Bill. As a London Member, I cannot help thinking that the great City of London occupies a position totally different to any other constituency. Let me put this to hon. Members opposite: Is there any other great city where the workers are debarred from residing in it to the extent that they are in the City of London? They are debarred from living there owing to the great value of sites for houses in the City of London, and it is difficult for any worker in the city to afford the necessary amount of money to pay for the rent of a house in the city or to occupy rooms there. Consequently, those who have businesses in the City of London, are practically precluded from living there. Hon. Members opposite profess to be very solicitous for the poor throughout the country, but surely when they debar men from having a vote in the City of London because they have business there, they are striking a blow at the poorer and not the richer members of the community who do business in the city. The President of the Board of Education has put forward a most curious theory. He stated that because a man had a big business, and because he was influential and wealthy, that was all the more reason why you should deprive him of the plural vote. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to pursue that argument to its logical conclusion. If you do, we arrive at the absurdity that the only way to treat rich people is to give them no vote at all.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr. J. A. Pease)
As the hon. Member has appealed to me, I think I ought to correct him. Personally, I am in favour of every man having one vote. What the hon. Member has attributed to me was the concluding speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West 925 Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain), in which he pointed out that in comparison with men of influence and power, the poor people had more to lose, and were entitled to the attention of the House more than those who had wealth and other influences.
§ Sir HARRY SAMUEL
Those of us who happen to be better off than the poor always try to do the best we can for them in this House, and I think what the right hon. Gentleman has stated is a most undeserved imputation upon Members of this House. In cases like the City of London the value of the land is so great that those who have businesses there are forced to live elsewhere. Therefore, business men in the city have a double interest. They have an interest in the place where their home is and in the place where their business is situated, and why it should be looked upon as a crime that a man in that position should display an interest in each place and desire to protect his interest effectively by a vote. He has got the choice whether he will vote in the place of his business or where he lives. The right hon. Gentleman will say that is not disfranchising a constituency, but the City of London will be disfranchised for the very simple reason that it will no longer be the concentrated essence of the financial interests of the greatest city of the world. The President of the Board of Education has told us that there ought to be no doubt as to the truly representative character of the House of Commons. I say that there is very considerable doubt at, the present time.
There is no doubt about it that the want of Redistribution gives an enormous preponderance to certain districts over others, and, if this Bill passes, that doubt will be turned into absolute certainty. A large proportion of men with great interests in the City of London and elsewhere will be deprived of their votes at a General Election in selecting Members to sit in this House. Much of the difficulty arises from the fact that this Bill will only operate at a General Election. If there are two by-elections going on at the same time and an elector has a vote in both constituencies, he will be able to cast his vote in both. It is, therefore, perfectly wrong to say that this Bill does away with the plural vote. It does nothing of the kind. It merely does so at a General Election and leaves the plural vote in existence at by-elections. Therefore, much that is done at a by-election will be undone at a General Election, and many who get in at 926 a General Election will not be able to get in at a by-election. No one but right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite want this Bill, and they want it because they know that their seats would be forfeited at the next General Election. Consequently, their great desire is to remove from the register people whose sole crime has been that they have not seen their way to support right hon. Gentlemen opposite. Thus it is that under the cloak of removing electoral grievances this Bill is produced. If the Government have one atom of honest desire left, they will at this eleventh hour hold it up, at all events, until they can introduce some other reforms which, with Redistribution, will make it possible for this Bill to achieve something at least of the ostensible intention of its authors.
§ Mr. MUNRO
We shall all be in sympathy with one observation which fell from the hon. and gallant Member (Mr. Pretyman) who moved the rejection of the Third Reading of the Bill, and that is that it is exceedingly difficult at this time of day to find anything fresh to say upon this subject. But, inasmuch as this Bill is regarded with great keenness on the other side of the border, I venture to make just a few observations on the occasion of its Third Reading. The hon. Member who has just sat down said that it was a Bill designed to pack the jury. We take a very different view of it. Our view is rather that the jury is already packed and that this Bill is designed to remedy that abuse. What would one think of a jury consisting of some members who had two votes and of others who had only one vote? I do not think that such a thing would be tolerated in the legal realm, and I do not see why it should be tolerated in the political realm. We recognise in the argument to which we have listened an old and familiar friend. The argument is age-worn, and it is founded upon the old saying, "Jam yesterday, jam to-morrow, but never jam to-day." Whenever the Liberal party have proposed that plural voting should be abolished as a precedent to Redistribution, the reply from the Opposition has always been that the order of events should be reversed, or that at all events, if not reversed, that both reforms should be brought into operation at one and the same time. Let me inquire for a moment why that should be so. Why should hon. Gentlemen opposite have the right not only to dictate to us what our Bills should contain and what they should not 927 contain, but also to dictate to us the order in which those measures should be introduced?
There is no real logical connection between Redistribution and the abolition of the plural vote. You may have Redistribution carried out and the plural voter may survive. You may abolish the plural voter, and you may not redistribute seats. I venture to submit to the House that there is no logical connection between the two. If you reject this Bill, you will not make the task of Redistribution in the least degree easier, and, if you pass it, you will not make Redistribution any more difficult. All you can say in regard to these two measures is that they are both items of franchise reform. The argument on the other side appears to be that unless you introduce a comprehensive measure—that was the word which the hon. and gallant Gentleman used — of franchise reform, yon must have none at all. We do not think that is a reasonable view, nor do we see why one abuse—I call it more than an anomaly—should not be remedied because other anomalies may remain. Let it be remembered in this connection that we are preaching no revolutionary doctrine. We are founding ourselves upon the doctrine which you yourselves accepted and applied to county council government in 1888. We are merely applying the same doctrine which you then accepted to Parliamentary elections. Surely, inasmuch as that doctrine involves that large constituencies should be made smaller, and so the way paved for hon. Gentlemen's pet doctrine of "one vote one value," there is nothing revolutionary about the proposals which we make! There is one reason, and a very good reason, why this particular reform should be carried through at the earliest possible moment. It has long been demanded and has long been promised. An attempt was made to redeem that obligation, as the House well knows, in 1906, when a Bill of the same sort passed its Third Reading on 3rd December by a majority of 229 votes in this House. That Bill on 10th December was spurned contemptuously in another place after less than two hours' debate.
We hear a great deal about the decadence of this House and its loss of self-respect. Those were the days of the real degradation of the House of Commons. Those were the days when its proceedings were a farce. Now, for the first 928 time, we are masters in our own House, and we propose to use the powers which the Parliament Act has conferred upon us. This is a long overdue reform, and the creditors in the obligation have pressed for payment. Personally, I regret that this Bill was not introduced at an earlier stage in this Parliament and pressed through with vigour then, but, having been introduced at this particular stage, I certainly, for one, will not move a little finger to favour any device which would have the effect of postponing its operation by a single hour. I think that the reason the Opposition oppose this Bill is not because they love Redistribution, but because they fear the demise of the plural voter. If they loved Redistribution in itself, why was it when they were in power they delayed introducing a Redistribution measure until 1905, and that, when they introduced it, so far from it being effective, it was merely amusing? The real reason why the Opposition oppose this measure was very frankly and candidly stated by Sir F. Dixon-Hartland at Bristol, when he said:—I approve of plural voting as a most valuable thing. There are several constituencies, where, if the plural voter did not exist, the Conservative party would have no existence in Parliament.That, no doubt, is quite so, and, in these circumstances, it is natural that you should desire, if not to destroy the Bill, at least to delay it. It is human nature to put off going to visit the dentist, but this is a piece of legislative dentistry which I am afraid you cannot longer put off. Accordingly, being for the first time in a position not only to carry by a vote in this House any reform of this description which is proposed by the Government, but having also the power under the Parliament Act to carry it into active and full operation, we propose to avail ourselves of these powers and to carry this measure into law. We are undeceived by the argument about Redistribution. It is a mere lapwing cry. It does not deceive those who use it, and it does not deceive those who hear it. Holding these views, we shall vote for the Third Reading, which I have no doubt will pass by a substantial majority.
§ 5.0. P.M.
§ Mr. HARRIS
The hon. Member seems to think that we wish to dictate to the Government the order in which they should introduce their Bills, but our contention is that electoral reform ought to be carried out in some fair, logical, and consistent manner. Hon. Members opposite ignore the fact that this Bill is incon- 929 sistent with our present electoral system, which the Government are leaving in other respects untouched. Our present electoral system is based upon what Mr. Gladstone called "the recognition of the individuality of constituencies." It looks upon constituencies not as so many aggregations of individuals, but as places having traditions and characteristics of their own, which ought, as Mr. Gladstone said, to be recognised, at any rate, to some degree. I understand that the Under-Secretary of State for India (Mr. Montagu) has in view an entirely new electoral system, because he only proposes to consider aggregations of constituents. He does not propose to have regard to constituencies. Our present electoral system is based upon this recognition of the individuality of constituencies. This Bill proposes to debar from voting men who pay rates and taxes, who occupy premises or reside in a constituency, and who perform all the duties of citizens in that constituency. They are men who take a leading part in the commercial, municipal, and public life of the constituency, and yet they may not vote. The President of the Board of Education, in introducing the Franchise Bill of last Session, referred to "interest in a locality" as being the test of a man's qualification for a vote. He said that occupation was sometimes a better test of interest than residence. If interest in a, locality is the test, upon what principle are the Government going to limit it as proposed by this Bill. I quite agree that there may be a difference of opinion as to what constitutes an interest in a locality. It may fairly be held by some people that an absentee owner has insufficient interest in a locality, but. I think that one is entitled to ask upon what principle the Government are going to debar men from voting who take a leading part in the business life of the town, and are perhaps the mainsprings of the prosperity of the town. The only logical reason for doing that is that there ought to be equality of voting power, but do the Government propose to establish equality of voting power? If they do, they will have to sweep away the present system of majority representation and set up a new electoral system. Under the present system, if this Bill is passed, votes will not be of equal value. Votes are not of equal value at the present One, because, in the first place, constituencies differ absurdly in size; and, not only on that account, but because at the present time there is 930 no system under which minorities are represented. It is absurd to say that votes are of equal value in various constituencies at the present time. A Conservative vote in many Liberal constituencies is of no value, and Liberal votes in many other constituencies also have no value. A vote has no commercial interest as a rule, and it is only of value if it enables a man to give effective expression to his political opinions. Large numbers now have no means of giving expression to their political opinions. The Government must remodel the electoral system if they mean to establish equality of voting power, which is the only basis upon which they can rest this Bill. Do the Government propose to establish equality of voting power? I do not mean do they propose to do it in the dim and distant future, but do they intend it in the present Parliament? The right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary (Mr. Harcourt), when moving the Second Reading of the Franchise Bill last Session, said we should go on with measures which would make some approach to equality of electoral power. That very elastic phrase left a large margin for gerrymandering if anyone desired it, but it showed that, under their proposed Redistribution on the old lines, the Government were not contemplating really establishing any exact equality of voting power.
=Then with regard to the manner in which the Government has accepted proportional representation in the Home Rule Bill, I submit that that shows that they intend the minority to suffer. They do not propose to establish equality of voting power, which is the only justification that can be made out for this Bill. In any case, they are not entitled to deal with this matter in piecemeal fashion. This Bill must be considered m connection with the Franchise Bill which the Government introduced last Session. Under that Bill they were evidently aiming at an ideal system. Let me call attention to what Mr. Gladstone said in 1884. These were his words:—To aim at an ideal system would draw in the question of women suffrage and the question of proportional representation.I venture to think that the Government, by the policy they have adopted, have drawn in the questions of women suffrage and of proportional representation, but they have not brought in equality of voting power. These questions cannot be shelved in the way in which the Government are endeavouring to shelve them. This ques- 931 tion of electoral reform must be dealt with as a whole. The time has passed for tinkering with it. What the Government are really doing is that they are carrying out a comparatively small alteration without giving the House an opportunity of considering and discussing the lines upon which electoral reform should proceed. We are entitled to say that this Bill is inconsistent with our present electoral system, and, as the Government do not pretend that they can really deal with the whole question in the present, Parliament, we have a clear and logical reason for opposing this measure. The only purpose with which I believe the Government are pushing it forward at the present time is in order to gain some electoral advantage thereby.
§ Mr. KING
I am not one of those who find it difficult to produce new arguments in favour of this Bill. I have sat many hours listening to speeches on this side and on the other, and many things have ocurred to me during the Debate which have not been alluded to at all, and I propose, with the permission of the House, to bring before it one or two of these considerations. In the first place, I look upon this matter as embodying a very high and noble principle—a principle of equality and justice which we are here approaching, in connection with our electoral law, in a way that we have never approached it before. I believe entirely in equality as part of liberty and of justice. But so long as you get one man at a General Election voting thirty, forty, or even fifty times there is no electoral justice at all, because there is no electoral equality. Therefore, on the ground that the Bill is a first approach to electoral equality I welcome it most heartily. Secondly, I welcome it because it is going to be passed in spite of bitter opposition from the other side. We have reached a stage where we shall never really get any democratic advance in this country except by fighting for it persistently—I am afraid for two or three Sessions. I am very glad there is ample time left in this Parliament for this Bill to be carried under the provisions of the Parliament Act.
I should like specially to refer to the arguments which have been addressed to us from the other side in connection with university representation. It has been a sort of swan song of sorrow which we have been listening to from hon. Members opposite. We heard it eloquently voiced in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman 932 the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour), who represented to us that a university constituency was an absolutely ideal constituency. I dare say that was partly because no university ever invited him to become its representative. There was an occasion in his career when he would gladly have accepted a seat for one of these ancient places of learning, but none was offered him. He was perhaps too independent and too superior for the narrow class which usually predominates at universities. We should look at this matter of university representation as in some way connected with this case. I like to think that the universities would never have got any representation at all had it not been for a Scotsman, James I. In Queen Elizabeth's time the universities persistently asked for representation in Parliament, and it is to the honour of good Queen Bess that she stoutly refused their request. I should have liked to have heard some of her language. I suspect it was choice and strong. But representation was given them by James I., and ever since then universities have been distinguished as being safe Conservative seats and nothing else. The first historical fact I wish to impress upon the House is that we are doing justice—I am sorry to say we are not sweeping away university r-presentation altogether — but we are taking the first step towards that end, and thereby we are doing justice to the great Queen of the Tudor period by returning to the state of things which she desired to prevail.
I want next to call the attention of the House to the fact that university representation as it is does not represent the best university ideals. I am going to take the case of my own university, and I say what I do in a sense of-justice and not in any sense of ingratitude. There are on the electoral roll of the university of Oxford at the present time only 7,000 voters. Who are they? There are 4,000 undergraduates in Oxford, and yet we have only 7,000 graduates entitled to vote for the two Members of Parliament! The reason is this: It is not all graduates who become electors of Oxford or Cambridge. It is only those who pass for the M.A. degree and pay £15, together with an additional sum, practically £40, to keep their names on the books, and it is for this reason that the franchise at Oxford has been called a pecuniary rather than an educational franchise. There are at least 35,000 graduates of Oxford, and at the 933 present time only one-fifth are entitled to vote at a Parliamentary election. When you have the representation of Oxford confined to one-fifth of the graduates of that university you cannot say it is an ideal representation at all. You cannot say it is educational. You cannot say it is academic. It is merely a privilege representation, a representation reserved for those who pay the money in order to keep their names on the college books. Who are they? I am not ashamed to confess that most laymen are mean and choose rather to pocket the money than to pay it down in order to retain their membership of Convocation. Let me say that the larger number of voters on the university franchise are the clergy, and that is partly accounted for by the fact that there are many college livings to be given away. The clergy keep their names on the college books knowing that if they only retain them there for thirty or forty years they may be sure of having a college living offered them sooner or later. The real reason, therefore, why these members who constitute the large majority of electoral power at Oxford and Cambridge keep their names on the college books is that they may get a chance of a living later on. That is a very unfortunate thing, for it shows that the real academic sense is not represented at all. These facts are very well known and are acknowledged by everybody who knows anything of recent movements in Oxford.
I hold in my hand a book which was written and published in 1909 by Lord Curzon, the chancellor of the university. Lord Curzon wrote this book with the object of getting certain reforms carried through in Oxford University, and it is very striking that the reform which he puts before any other to be aimed at in connection is this, that Convocation should be reformed altogether—that it should be altered so that the present composition of the electorate of Oxford should be either widened or restricted. It should be either widened by admitting all graduates or restricted by only having the cream of them. Let us remember that, however liberal and progressive Lord Curzon may be in academic affairs, in political affairs he is strictly Conservative. I should like the House to realise this, because it will then understand the full force of some of his remarks about university representation as it is at present. He says, for instance:—That the most urgent reform, rightly regarded as a condition of other reforms, is a total change in the composition of Convocation.934 A total change in the university franchise! How can it need any such sweeping reforms if, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London said, the Universities of England are already perfect and ideal constituencies? Lord Curzon quoted an opinion which has been stated upon very high authority, that the form of government, that is Convocation, which elects the Members of Parliament for Oxford University, is the very worst form of government ever devised by the wit of man. I do not go so far as that myself but it is very striking, and Lord Curzon quotes—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
We are not discussing the reform of Convocation now. The hon. Member is wandering a good deal from the Bill now before the House.
§ Mr. KING
I quite appreciate your warning, Sir, and I will come directly to some of the quotations immediately dealing with the franchise, in which Lord Curzon has favoured us. I am making it clear that he is referring to the franchise for voting for Members of Parliament as it now exists at Oxford. He says:—At present the franchise at Oxford—and the same thing would apply to Cambridge University,is not educational but is pecuniary; it is not catholic but is sectional.If that be so, it is a very good thing to take a step towards the abolition of university representation. You must either change it altogether or abolish it. Candidly, I am in favour of abolishing the representation of universities, because I think the university man, wherever he is, has an advantage which will be worth more than the power of putting one or two crosses opposite the names on a ballot paper. Is it not clear to anybody who faces the question fairly, that this Bill goes a great way towards reforming the universities and the university franchise, which, if it is to be preserved, will have to be preserved on totally different lines from those now existing. It has been said in the course of the discussions upon this Bill, from each side of the House, that no answer has been attempted to the contention that university representation is a superior kind of representation to the mere democratic vote of the man with the occupation qualification, and that it ought to be preserved. I have attempted to show that the university representation, as it exists, is entirely illusory; it is pecuniary, not 935 educational; it is sectional, and not catholic. I will attempt in a few words to show why I think the principle of one man one vote, which we are now enacting to come into force at a General Election, will be a step in advance for all electoral reforms. A great many professions of desire for change in connection with our electoral system have been made on both sides of the House. I accept them from the other side as being to a very large extent sincere, but, at the same time, I believe strongly in what was said by the Under-Secretary for India, that all electoral anomalies tend to favour the superior, the wealthy, and the conservative elements, rather than the democratic, the labouring, and progressive elements in society. Therefore, I look upon this Bill as a lever which I hope will be brought to bear, and will produce for us a Redistribution scheme before this Parliament closes. I regard a redistribution of seats as a crying necessity, but not as the first necessity. I believe the first evil that ought to be swept away is that of the plural vote, but as soon as that is swept away we ought to have a redistribution of seats. In conclusion, I want to make an appeal to hon. Members opposite, that they should not only allow this Bill to be passed here, but allow it, if possible, to pass in another place. If that is done, and the Bill obtains the force of law this year, I, at any rate, will do everything I can on this side of the House—and I believe there are very many other Members upon this side who will take the same course—to induce this Government to bring in a Redistribution scheme next year, so that when we have a General Election we shall have a system of constituencies as nearly equal as possible, and the conditions of equality and justice which the Opposition demand will be attained, because we shall then have one man one vote, and also one vote one value.
§ Mr. STAVELEY-HILL
I desire to say a few words upon this Bill, because, when I come to read it as amended, I find that some portion of it, no inconsiderable portion, is strangely familiar. Although the Government have adopted my somewhat imperfect drafting, that does not make me anything but an opponent of the Bill, because nothing is more natural than to try to mitigate the penalties and the effects of the principle which we dislike. If I am not proud of the drafting, so far as 936 I am responsible for it—at any rate I have this consolation, that however imperfect it may be, the Government drafting which preceded it must have been still more imperfect. We are discussing once more a measure for the abolition of plural voting—a very simple measure and a very short measure, in that respect differing very materially from the Bill over which we spent a considerable time in 1906, which was introduced by the Secretary for the Colonies. Both Bills have the same object in view, and it is only in the method of attaining that object in which they differ in any degree. One cannot help admiring the different means by which the Government try to deprive some persons of the exercise of the franchise. The Bill of 1906 was a Bill of ten Clauses and two Schedules. It was discussed at considerable length, but was rejected in another place, and a great deal of obloquy was hurled upon the other place for their action in that matter. If they required any justification, it has been afforded in the fact that that Bill has not seen the light again and that an entirely new Bill is now produced. It is a curious example of what might happen under the much-boasted Parliament Act, that if that Bill had been enacted in 1906 the Government would have been in a position to pass the Plural Voting Bill in 1908, a Bill of which they evidently disapproved, because they did not reintroduce it when they had the opportunity.
The author of that Bill apologised for its complications, but he said it was necessarily complicated in order to be efficient and sufficient. The greatest enemies of the present measure cannot say it is complicated—at any rate in its drafting. Therefore, on the principle laid down by the right hon. Gentleman, as it is not complicated it cannot be efficient or sufficient for its purpose. Nobody can say that the Government have not put their object perfectly clearly before the House. It is not hidden in mystery as in the case of the London Elections Bill, 1907, which, under the guise of making London one constituency, would have debarred large numbers of persons from exercising more than one vote. Reference has been made by the Under-Secretary for India to the fact that we must abolish anomalies one by one. I am not going to argue that principle, but if you set out with the object of abolishing anomalies and are only going to abolish them one by one, why select as your first measure, as you are doing, a Bill which, while endeavouring to abolish one anomaly, 937 creates the other anomalies pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Pretyman? Let us look at the effect of this Bill. In the first place, it is only to apply to a General Election and not to a by-election; therefore a person with two votes is entitled to utilise them both at a by-election. When a Ministry has occasion to appoint a new Member to a certain office in the Government, under the present law that Minister has to seek re-election. If he has been elected at a General Election, under the provisions of this Bill he has to seek re-election on his appointment as a Minister of the Crown upon an entirely different franchise of which nobody could possibly foretell the result. I should have thought that present Ministers of the Crown know why they would rather fight on the present franchise, without putting further difficulties in their own way. It is an advantage that any Redistribution of seats is to be based upon population and not upon electorate, otherwise you might have grave questions arising as to how you were to redistribute the seats, because you would have to have two different schemes, one for the by-election and another for the General Election. I do not see how you can avoid the necessity of two registers. It will be impossible for a returning officer to know how many persons are going to vote. Inasmuch as the expenses of elections, heavy enough as they are to-day, are under the Corrupt Practices Act, 1885, based upon the number of electors, a returning officer's charges may be based upon an entirely wrong assumption as to the number of voters, and the unfortunate candidates, both the elected Member and the defeated candidate, will have to pay a great deal more than they ought to pay because there is no chance of finding out how many persons can vote.
The President of the Board of Education said that plural voting was an absurdity, an injustice, and an anomaly. He, nevertheless, allows it to continue, except at a General Election, which only comes once every four or five years. Hon. Members opposite say that the constituencies look upon plural voting as a great injustice, but the Bill continues it, except at a General Election. The value of property as an element of qualification ought to cease, we are told, but that qualification will still continue. If ever there was an Amendment moved which ought to have been carried, because, in his inner consciousness, every Member knew that it applied 938 to the Bill in every way, it was the Amendent limiting the time of its operation This can only be a temporary measure. It is passed for general Parliamentary elections, but we upon this side know, as well as hon. Gentlemen opposite, that only one General Election is aimed at, and that is the next one, at which they hope to gain some particular advantage out of the Bill. I look upon the principle of this Bill as entirely bad. There are anomalies which should be swept away, but I believe you will never do justice to the people of this country by sweeping away one form of anomaly to suit a party purpose, and bringing into being others which are worse than those you are endeavouring to remove.
§ Mr. ROWLANDS
I am very pleased to think that this Bill, which contains anomalies which I should think would be welcomed on the other side, has reached the present stage. Let us take some of the supposed anomalies which are expected to exist under this Bill. I will take an illustration given by the hon. Member (Mr. Staveley-Hill). The impression he left on the House was that somehow or other under this Bill candidates for county constituencies would incur some heavier expenditure, in returning officers' expenses, than they do at present. I contend, with some practical experience and some slight knowledge, having brought the question of returning officers' charges more than once before the House, which on one occasion unanimously passed by Resolution, that we shall only be in the same position in which we are at present. I fully admit that the charges are excessive, but at present, those of us who have, attached to our county constituencies, the electors in some neighbouring boroughs outside the county, have the whole of those voters charged for in the calculation with regard to returning officers' expenses, so that while we shall not get rid of that charge, it is not an extra anomaly created by this Bill. Unfortunately the Bill does not sweep it away, but it does not create an extra charge at all.
§ Mr. STAVELEY-HILL
What I said is not exactly what the hon. Member understood. I was giving as an instance a constituency which might have 12,000 voters on the register, a certain number of them plural voters, and probably 4,000 or more would be taken off, and the candidates would still be paying on the basis of 12,000.
§ Mr. ROWLANDS
That is quite what understood. There are thousands of plural voters in my own case, and we pay for them now, and we shall have to pay for them then. This will not sweep away the anomaly in my own case of having to put a polling place in Greenwich and another in Woolwich, but it does not make an extra charge upon the candidate more than he has to bear at present. I want to see an entire change in the whole of the conditions of Parliamentary election and the work of the returning officer, and I also want to see the counties relieved of that burden, as they should be, and as every other candidate for public office is. The great charge made against the Bill is that it is not identically on all fours with the Bill introduced in 1900, or that introduced last year. I think it is a great improvement on the Bill of 1906. What is the real point with regard to anomalies? We have heard on each stage of this Bill the charge that the Government is not dealing with the whole of the electoral anomalies. Just imagine, if the Government had put down a measure dealing with the whole of the anomalies of the electoral system, what fate it would have received. Owing to the condition of things it would not have been possible to pass.
§ Mr. ROWLANDS
With pleasure. I want to see Redistribution as strongly as any Member in the House. I have a constituency of 24,000 electors, so that I should be pleased to try my fate with a much more equal number with other Members of the House. Last year the Government did bring in a much broader measure. We know the conditions under which it had to be dropped but they showed their earnestness in bringing that measure in. Now we are in the position of dealing with one anomaly only. My experience goes back a very long number of years in connection with this House, and it teaches me that it does not always do to wait, when you have a great series of anomalies, until you can get a gigantic measure which will deal with the whole of them in one Session of Parliament. It is much better, when you can, to get rid of any anomaly which exists. That clears the field and enables you to go on to another anomaly and clear that away. If you wait until you have all the anomalies dealt with in one Bill, we shall wait for a considerable number of years and perhaps not get them then. The 940 opposition to this measure has been based wholly on the question of property. We have had again this afternoon from the hon. Member (Mr. Pretyman) the plea of the gentleman who has interests in many places. It has been reiterated by every hon. Member on the other side since. I want to ask is not that very representation of property the greatest anomaly you have at present? No one has had the courage to take up the question of persons having an interest in a constituency for their business premises having a vote. Under the existing law you have simply given it to persons who have a residence within seven miles except in the case of the City of London, which is treated more favourably. If hon. Members opposite think that property should give a right to the vote in the place in which it is situated, totally apart from the qualification which the individual has in his residence, they ought to have the courage to propose to sweep away the seven miles restriction. I shall be told by the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) that his constituency is in a more favoured position. It always has been treated much more favourably. There they have a radius, both in regard to the livery, franchise, and property in the city, up to twenty-five miles. We believe that we are standing forward quite rightly to get rid of one of these anomalies, and when the case is urged, with regard to universities or with regard to the City of London, that property should have this qualification, why should you not give it to the large manufacturers in Manchester as well as to the manufacturer in the City of London? "Oh," say hon. Members opposite, "they cannot live at present inside the borders of the City of London on account of changed conditions." I admit it, but neither can you do so in the neighbouring constituency of East Finsbury, and does not the same thing apply to Manchester and Liverpool? If you want to see what are the conditions of life of Manchester, go at the time business ceases to the railway termini, and you will see an exodus similar to what you will see at every railway terminus in London. Go to Liverpool, and see not only the railways, but the pier and harbour, and see the boats taking the people away.
§ Mr. ROWLANDS
That is the point I want to come to. The hon. Baronet has the courage of his convictions. He is an 941 out-and-out advocate of the plural voter, but that is not what we have had advocated during his absence this afternoon. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Pretyman) said that possibly under some conditions it might be done away with and he has made a special plea not for the people I am alluding to, but especially for the university voter and for the voter in the City of London, and we have had that put forward by every hon. Member opposite since then. The whole thing is an inconsistency. It is based upon the old idea that you have to base all your suffrage on the qualification of the individual and not on the human being. Since 1832, in 1867, and in 1884, we have been getting away from this and getting nearer to giving the franchise to the mass of the people, not because they have particularly high qualifications, but because we believe that as citizens they have a right to take part in the election of those who are to make the laws for them that they have to obey. This is another anomaly being swept away I admit, and I should have been pleased has it been possible for the Government to bring in a measure much broader in its principle than this. I believe the time is coming, and very speedily, when you will have to abolish your property qualification and get rid of your livery franchise, and your 40s. franchise, and the whole lot of them, and you will have to give a vote to the individual, not because he is a lodger or any occupier or a livery man, or anything of that kind, but because he is a human being.
=The whole basis of the argument has been on this one question of property. We have had the same thing over and over again. Whenever I want to see the horrible things which are going to happen to property if there is an extension of the rights of the people, or if anomalies which restrict their power are removed, I read up the Debates this House in the year prior to the passing of the Reform Bill of 1832, and when I have read enough of that I turn to 1867, and when I want to see the end of the world coming with regard to reform I turn to the Debates which preceded the sweeping away of the property qualification in 1858. You had all these prognostications of what would happen to the country if you did not have these favoured individuals given an extra vote, yet the other day an Amendment was moved showing the high idea one hon. Member had of what was necessary for a qualification, which was that supposing a plural voter could pass some test equal to 942 the standard of an elementary school he should not have the vote taken away from him. The whole thing has been asked for for a long period of years by the people, and when I am told that they do not desire it, all I can say is that I have patience enough to wait until the time comes when, if this receives the fate in another place which some people say it will, we shall see what the feeling of the people outside is in connection with the plural voters. There is no justification for it in these democratic days. The people who live in these areas ought to have the selection of the person who is to represent them, and should not on the polling day have their votes overborne by persons coming in from any part of the earth. Even this afternoon we have had suggested many palliatives that might be accepted. We have had it hinted that, it is possible voters on the borders of county constituencies should not flood the ballot boxes with votes in opposition in many cases to the people who live inside the constituencies.
I congratulate the Government on having got this Bill to the position in which it now is. I welcome it as one step towards the reforms which we desire. Surely those people who are always saying that they have confidence in the mass of the people of the country cannot be afraid to allow the mass to vote as freely as possible, without having their votes checkmated and overborne by plural voters. It is not a question as to who is to vote inside a constituency. We are dealing with the man who has a dozen, or it may be thirty, votes, and who at election time runs round day after day voting in the different constituencies. Hon. Members opposite say they have the support of working men. If that is so, what have they to fear? If they have the support of a majority of working men, surely they do not want plural voters to flood the constituencies. I look with the keenest satisfaction to this Bill passing the Third Reading to-day. I am sure that, whatever may be its fate in another place, we have nothing to fear, because the day of the plural voter is doomed. I recollect that so far back as 1885 we had some talk about the plural voter. Hon. Members opposite were not so keen on the question of plural voting then as they are to-day. Some hon. Members had the support of plural voters at that time. They are keen to-day when we are attempting to pass this Bill. Whether the measure becomes law this year or next year, we are going to have the elections 943 of the country purified in such a way as to give every man the right to act on his manhood.
§ Sir WILLIAM BULL
Now that the back benchers are allowed to speak, I find from the speeches of the hon. Members for North Somerset (Mr. King) and the hon. Member for Dartford (Mr. Rowlands) that they have something like a conscience. They say that this measure ought to be immediately followed by a Bill for Redistribution. When I interrupted the Under-Secretary for India, I wished to call his attention to the anomalies arising out of the numbers of the electorate in different constituencies. I wanted to know about Kilkenny and Donegal. Kilkenny has 1,731 electors as against 58,145 in Romford. So long as snob an anomaly is in existence, it is not for the Government to press through a measure of this kind. That the Government are attempting a very difficult thing is proved by the history of the measure. They have in the past tried to abolish the plural voter by more elaborate proposals. They are now attempting to do it by a one-Clause Bill. It is practically a one-line Bill, because all the rest merely deals with machinery. The difficulties in the way have been shown in the course of the Debate, and I venture to warn the Government, as one who knows a little about the subject, that even now there are still glaring flaws in the Bill which certainly ought to receive some attention on the part of the Government. There are two points with which I wish to deal. The Solicitor-General practically did not deal with them at all. I believe these flaws will rapidly show themselves, and that an amending Bill will have to be put on the Statute Book. There is, in the first place, the question in regard to expenses. It is clear that General Elections will cost more than they ought to cost. The cost is calculated at present in respect of the number of electors in a constituency, and if plural voters still remain on the register the total expense which a candidate may incur will be the amount allowed in respect of that number, though many electors will be unable to vote. In the second place, I wish to call attention to the much-boasted fact that the plural voter still has a choice as to the place where he will record his vote. I say that he has not got that choice. Hon. Members will recollect that at present borough nominations may take place within three days after the receipt of the writ for the elec- 944 tion, and the polling might very well take place, and indeed it often does take place, on the day following nomination, that is to say, on the fourth day after the receipt of the writ. In a county the fourth day is the earliest upon which the nomination can take place, and the seventh day is the earliest for polling. I want the House to consider the ease of the man who has a vote in a borough under the first of the conditions, and a vote in the county under the second of the conditions. The result is that when the pollings occur in a majority of the boroughs the nominations in a large number of the county constituencies have not taken place. That being so, a man may wish to exercise his vote where he thinks it is most wanted, but if he does not vote in the borough he may find that there is no contest in the county. The result will be that he will be absolutely defrauded of his vote in that way. I find that at the last General Election in December, 1910, there were a considerable number of electors who voted on Monday, 5th December, the nominations having taken place on 3rd December in the Chorley, Accrington, Westhoughton, Middleton, and Newton Divisions of Lancashire, and also in the Northwich Division of Cheshire. On Monday, 5th December, nominations took place in the Clitheroe, Stretford, Darwen, Heywood, Prestwich, Radcliffe, Ince, Bootle, and Blackpool Divisions of Lancashire, and also in the Altrincham, Macclesfield, Crewe, and Wirral Divisions of Cheshire. On the 0th about ten nominations took place in the remaining Divisions of the two counties. The candidates did not send round polling cards until after the nominations had been made, because they did not know the names to put on the cards, but if this Bill passes the plural voters in Manchester would have to vote in Manchester, or run the risk of not being able to record their votes at all. I think that is a serious disqualification, and one which ought to be dealt with in this Bill. The Government are running roughshod over the plural voter in that direction. I wish to draw attention to the fact that a Petition may be moved for on the ground that the votes have been bad owing to the fact that a man has voted twice. The result will be that a candidate may very largely suffer by having an immense amount of expense put upon him in trying to find out the person who voted twice at that particular General Election. It will be practically impossible to find out. I 945 think there will be a very heavy burden put on candidates if an election petition is brought forward. The Government in its love of symmetry in legislation has made practically what might be called a "flat rate," which has been so fatal in the National Insurance Bill and the Shops Bill. In both of these measures the same fault appeared. I hope the Amendment will be carried.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. J. H. THOMAS
It is remarkable to find that the ground of opposition to this measure has somewhat changed. It is true that certain Members, like the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury), do not hesitate to oppose the Bill because they religiously believe in the right of the plural voter. The hon. Baronet is of opinion that the plural voter is an asset to the community. It is rather unfortunate for him that the majority on his own side of the House at least have abandoned that claim. It is a remarkable fact that the real opposition to the Bill is not because they believe that the plural voter ought to be maintained, but because this admitted reform does not go far enough, and that logically it ought to carry with it a greater reform which some of us hope will follow this particular measure. What becomes in that case of the usual argument of hon. Members opposite that in all matters of legislation we must move very cautiously? We, on this side of the House, do not hesitate to say that this Bill is not nearly drastic enough. It is an absolute farce to have forty people at a by-election coming in to vote, while they can only give one vote at a General Election. We want the same restriction made applicable to by-elections as this Bill now applies to General Elections. After all, what is the real ground upon which the plural voter claims to vote more than once? I do not agree with the suggestion that property or wealth is the real test. You can never measure a man's stake in a country simply by the property he holds. As a matter of fact, the richer an individual is the more comforts he can secure. Take the ordinary poor man. Some of your laws are vital to him. The whole health and happiness of himself and his family are dependent upon good laws well administered, but rich men, being more fortunate, can go where they like if the locality is not suitable, and get rid of all those difficulties. We say, especially to the working men, "You have got to obey 946 the laws." In great trade disputes, where passions are aroused and feelings are engendered, we have got to say to the working men whom we represent, "Whatever your opinion of the law may be we want you to obey the law," and we can only claim to ask them to obey the law by being able to say to them, "You have equal power in making the law." Therefore, because we believe that there should be equal power, that the stake of the labourers in the country is equal to that of the duke, that their responsibilities are the same, and that property is not a measure of intelligence, we support this Bill, not because it is the end of the subject, but because it is the beginning of what we on these benches at least hope will be really democratic government, founded on manhood suffrage, at least.
§ Mr. MEYSEY-THOMPSON
I rise because I have a very large number of voters in my own Constituency, and I want to stand up for them. I challenge the statement of the hon. Member for North Somerset (Mr. King) that all inequalities of voting power in this country are in favour of our party. What about Ireland? There are more members per head of the population in that country than in any part of the United Kingdom. Are they in our favour or are they not? The Under-Secretary for India (Mr. Montagu) made exactly the sort of speech which I expected him to make. It worthily represented the style of speech which comes from those benches. It was a party speech supported by dishonest argument. His statement was that the value of a vote to the individual was far greater to the poor voter than to the rich one. I do not think that he believes it for a moment. I have a great respect for the hon. Member below the Gangway (Mr. Thomas), who made a similar statement, and I think that he does believe it, but I would like to explain why I disagree with him entirely. He says that the stake of the poor voter in the country is greater than the stake of the rich man whom we take as being the type of the plural voter. The rich man, he says, can move easily from this country to another, whereas they poor man is obliged to remain where he is. Exactly the opposite is the case. You see the enormous stream of emigration to Canada which is going on at the present moment among poor men who have only one vote. It is very much more difficult for a man with a large amount of property in this country to transfer himself and his pro- 947 perty to another part of the world. The justification of plural voting to my mind is that it is one of the rewards of industry. The Under-Secretary for India laughs—I am sure that that is a perfectly absurd argument to him. The minds of the Government are so small that they cannot grasp this, and they can only see the means and not the end. They see the trees and cannot see the forest.
But the justification of holding any property of any kind, whether money or votes, is that in a state of barbarism nobody works hard, because people will not get the reward of their industry, but a state of civilisation induces people to be industrious in order to keep the rewards of their industry. They are just as much entitled to have plural voting because they have accumulated a large amount of property as they are to retain any form of property because they have been industrious and use their talents to the best advantage. If you are going to do away with plural voting and have Redistribution the hon Member for Dartford said that he wanted to stand up for his voters and give them an equal right with other voters. I stand up for the voters in my Division. I have over 30,000 constituents. There are some twenty constituencies in other parts of the country which return twenty Members with the same number of votes as that with which my voters return one. I want to see that my voters have justice done to them and that they have the same power as voters in very small constituencies who return Members with a small number of of votes. This Bill is not brought in for the purpose of equality but for party purposes. The country knows this as the Government will find out at the next election. I shall oppose this to the utmost of my power in this House and out of it. The Government very unwisely are continuing this dishonest policy and continuing to bring in Bills entirely for their own party advantage. The country is coming to understand it, and they will pay for it when they go to the polls.
§ Mr. M'CURDY
I have heard in the course of this Debate the word "anomaly" used a great many times. The question is being continually put from the benches opposite as though it contained some profound political truth: Why, when there are so many anomalies in our electoral system, should the Government select this one for redress at the present time? All those questions 948 proceed upon an assumption that., because there is an anomaly in some section of our laws it, therefore, becomes a duty in some way of this House to redress it. Anomalies are not peculiar to our electoral laws. In a country which has grown up like this, by a slow process of evolution through centuries, we find in every department of our laws anomalies, some of them injurious and some of them innocuous. To say that there are anomalies in our electoral laws, our criminal laws, our shipping laws or any other branch of our laws is not to suggest that it becomes the duty of this House to spend any of its time in proceeding to reduce the code of laws to order and regularity. We remedy anomalies for one or two reasons, either because the anomaly creates a tangible injustice so serious and so much felt that it becomes worth while to devote the necessary legislative time in order to redress the grievance, or because it is a matter upon which the opinion of this country has been obtained, and with regard to which, whether that opinion is right or wrong, the party in power has come in with a certain policy as part of their programme, so that they are in honour bound to carry it into effect. The position with regard to this question of plural voting is this. Only one hon. Member, so far as I know, has in the course of this Debate ventured to put forward any serious argument in defence of this anomaly. That was the hon. Member who last spoke, and who put forward the somewhat startling doctrine that property has only one justification, that it is the reward of industry, and that the plural vote is, therefore, justified and to be encouraged as one form of property which encourages industry in this country.
Apart from that argument, which I think would not find much acceptance in academic circles, no one has attempted to suggest that the plural vote is in itself a fair or defensible thing. The party opposite possess many advantages, not the least of which is that they have a reputation which I think they cherish of being a party of sportsmen. As sportsmen they can hardly look with feelings of satisfaction upon an anomaly in our electoral system which gives a man of wealth and influence extra votes at the ballot box when he comes to put his votes against those of his poorer neighbours. It was suggested that the removal of this anomaly is packing the jury. The effect of plural voting is much more clearly described as 949 loading the dice. I do not wish to argue here the abstract question as to whether the plural vote is fair or defensible, or, as I believe, unfair and indefensible, because so far as we on this side of the House are concerned that is a question which was settled very many years ago. So far as my recollection extends, the principle of one man one vote and the abolition of the plural vote has been a leading feature in every Liberal programme placed before the country at every General Election for the last quarter of a century. Hon. Members opposite seem to think that when the Liberals after a long exclusion from any share in the government of the country at last come into power things should go on just as in the past, that although Liberals are at last in power no Liberal measures are to be passed into law, and that though their fellow countrymen have at last returned a Liberal majority none of the electoral pledges upon which they obtained the suffrages of their fellow countrymen are to be carried out. That is a view which hon. Members opposite, if they try to put themselves in our place for a moment, can hardly attempt to maintain. So far as we are concerned this Government has for the last three years been mainly occupied in the very simple task, which there can be no doubt it is their duty as honourable men to perform, of simply paying to the electors of this country the electoral debts incurred not only at the last election, but at every election preceding it for a quarter of a century past.
We are engaged at the present moment in passing into law reforms like the granting of Home Rule to Ireland and the abolition of the plural voters. So far as the Liberal party are concerned, these have been fixed principles of their policy now for very many years. We consider that the business of this country must be regarded as a going concern and as regards a matter like the abolition of the plural voting which has been thrashed out upon the platforms of this country over a. period of many years and which has never lost its place in the party programme, there must come a time in the lapse of years when we must proceed to business to carry that reform into effect. It is said that there are other anomalies in connection with our electoral law which ought to be remedied at the same time. Reference is made to inequality between the constituencies and to the alleged need for registration. I may point out that some of those inequalities between the constituencies and the alleged=950 urgency of Redistribution, as instanced in the case of Romford, do not excite the interest which they aroused a century ago, though the existence of the plural voter has been regarded up and down the country by the Liberal party as one of those reforms which must be carried into effect. I dissociate myself entirely from those speeches made on this side of the House in which the suggestion was made to the Government that when the Plural Voting Bill is carried through, it should then turn its attention as soon as possible to the removal of other anomalies in our electoral law. Really, their removal, interesting as it may be, is an academic subject of Debate; it is not an urgent and vital question which should further and immediately take up the time of this House. The new century has brought new problems for legislation. In the last century we were largely occupied with measures of political reform, creating and improving our system of franchise; but in this new century the House is already confronted in no pleasant way with other social problems; and more than once it has been face to face with a spirit of industrial unrest in relation to great social questions with which our predecessors in the last century were very little troubled. We are engaged at the present time in removing out of the road of useful legislation such subjects of political reform as the plural voter, and the giving of Horne Rule to Ireland—questions which ought to have been settled, and, but for the wrongful action of another place, would have been settled many years ago. We are simply passing overdue reforms in order to make room for a new and vivifying policy of social reform which the workers of this country look for, and which I hope under the present Government they will not look for in vain.
§ Sir JOHN SPEAR
The hon. Member who has just sat down has largely based his support of the Bill on the assumption that it means one man one vote; but surely that is not the case, because in the two-Member constituencies the dual vote will still exist. A resident in a two-Member constituency will have the plural vote as hitherto; and it is very significant that the Government who assert their disinterestedness in promoting this Bill should be face to face with the fact that they propose to do away with the plural vote where used to their disadvantage, while in the two-Member constituencies, which statistics go to show are largely in favour of the Liberal party, the plural 951 vote is allowed to continue. I am not in favour for one moment of disfranchising the two-Member constituencies. I would rather like to see our electoral basis broadened rather than narrowed—extended rather than the present proposal of disfranchisement. My object in voting against the Third Reading of this Bill is largely because it is an unbusinesslike and unstatesmanlike proceeding to deal with one so-called anomaly and leaving great anomalies untouched. I agree with the arguments used by my hon. Friend who spoke from the second bench just now, as to the disparity between constituencies, an elector in one constituency having ten times as much power as an elector in another constituency. The first measure of reform should have been Redistribution and a rearrangement of the constituencies.
Then there is a question which for years we have been urging as one that ought to be dealt with—that is, the question of the registration of electors. It is monstrous that under the existing system a man may be resident in a constituency twelve or fifteen months before he is entitled to record his vote. Surely that is one of the questions that ought to have been dealt with at the earliest possible moment. In the Constituency which I have the honour to represent there are a good many soldiers and sailors, who, when following their occupation and serving their country in their several capacities, are often debarred from recording their votes, simply because they may be at sea or abroad at the time of the election. Surely that is a very valuable section of the community which ought to have every consideration, and surely some arrangement ought to be made by which it can take its part in the government of the country which it does so much to support. In reference to the Bill, it seems to me that the Amendments we made will prove helpful to the rural constituencies, and also very necessary to enable the voters to understand the Bill. In the first election that takes place extreme confusion must necessarily arise, and the Amendments which we were enabled to introduce into the Bill I think will prove very valuable and helpful.
The penalties imposed by this measure are most severe. The man who asks for a ballot paper twice may be punished by fine or even imprisonment I cannot help thinking that it is a vindictive policy in a measure of this kind to have such heavy 952 penalties. I repeat that I cannot help thinking that the penalties which are provided for are vindictive. I believe that the Government in taking the action they are taking are acting merely from a party point of view. I believe also that the country will realise that this is a gerrymandering measure. The Government know very well that if they appealed to the constituencies who put them in power an adverse verdict would be passed upon their work, and hence they want to rearrange the constituencies in a way which is not according to any logical basis or plan, but simply because they desire to destroy the plural vote in those constituencies where they think it will militate against them. I submit that the country is ready for an all-round reform in registration and Redistribution, and surely the Government ought to have dealt with the general question in a statesmanlike manner, so shat all parties would have stood on an equal basis. I shall unhesitatingly vote against the Third Reading of the Bill, which I believe to be a gerrymandering measure, and one unworthy of the Government to present to the House.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
The hon. and learned Member for the Wick Boroughs remarked that this Debate has at any rate contributed nothing new. I venture to differ from him. The hon. Member for Gains-borough told us that the plural vote is the reward of industry and he justified it on that ground, ignoring entirely the fact that a man may, through a long life, be an industrious member of the community, bringing up his family with credit to himself and advantage to the country and yet be without a vote, while another man who happens to inherit a number of houses, and who makes no industrious effort whatever may inherit twenty or thirty votes. Yet we are told that the plural vote is the reward of industry. This is a new defence. The hon. Gentleman showed how entirely wrong is his notion of the basis of the vote. If he bases it on wealth, then the man who has ten times more wealth than another should have ten times as many votes. As a matter of fact, the plural vote is not based on wealth. It is wealth in the form of houses only. If wealth be the basis of the vote, why should there be a differentiation between one kind of wealth and another kind of wealth? If a man of wealth puts his money into land or houses he gets a multiplicity of votes, but if he puts it into shares he does not. 953 The true basis of the vote, is found in the interests, the vital interests, of the individual. In this Legislature we legislate on all those things which touch the vital interests of individuals, whether rich or poor. An hon. Gentleman compared the interests of the agricultural labourer with those of the business man in the city. As a matter of fact, their political interests are equal.
There is no difference, from the political point of view, between the interests of one person and the interests of another. The vital interests of those who toil daily are the interests for which we legislate, and those interests for which we legislate are not measured by the amount of money which a person has but by his vital human interests. Men are politically equal in regard to those interests, as men are equal before the law. It has been endeavoured to justify the plural vote for the university by confusing the qualifications of the voter with the qualifications of a Member of Parliament. They are entirely different. The qualifications of the voter do not depend on his education, on his culture, or upon his wealth, but upon his power to select a man to represent him in this Parliament. That is a very elementary power indeed. A person of a very low form of intelligence can do that. We are all critics, but we are not all of executive capacity. I may criticise a novel, though I may not be able to write one; I may criticise a poem, though I may not be able to compose one. Our power to criticise or to understand others is infinitely greater than any executive power which we may possess ourselves. All a voter has to do is to ask himself two questions: First of all, "Does this man know what my interests are?" And second, "Is this man who asks me to vote for him sufficiently honest and capable to represent those interests in Parliament?"
When the elector comes to a conclusion, he casts his vote accordingly. He does not require to know all the intricacies of legislation, or all the theories of legislation; he does not need to be acquainted with political economy; all he requires to ascertain is, "Does this man know my interests, and can I trust him to represent my interests?" A man who walks into a bank and hands over a cheque may know nothing of the complicated accountancy that goes on behind the counter. He knows only the simple process of putting in or taking out. So it is with the voter in the simple process of casting a vote. 954 The qualifications for a Member of Parliament are very numerous and very complex indeed, but the qualifications for a person to vote for a Member of Parliament are very elementary. The interests of the individual are those of himself, his family, and his substance, and in that respect correspond to those of every other man who has a wife, family, and substance, and those interests require to be represented here. In so far as they are represented here, this House becomes a Clearing House of the people's interests, and we here adjust the self-interests of all the individuals whom we represent. We have been told that we are urging the Bill because of a party advantage to us. Assuming that that is so, it is resisted for the very same reason. You cannot accuse us of bringing in this Bill for our own party advantage while you resist it with the tenacity of purpose with which you have resisted this Bill. It consists of only one simple effective Clause, and notwithstanding that, day after day you have resisted every line and word. You say you do so on principle. If it is an advantage to us, and you resist it with such vehemence, it must be an advantage to you to resist it, so that in that respect we are quits. We are not offending any principle by bringing it in if you are not offending by opposing it.
You say there are other anomalies, but it surely is right to pick out the greatest anomaly first. Of all the electoral anomalies that exist, this is the greatest, because more injustice is done in many ways. Thus, if you give a man twenty-eight votes, every voter in the constituency is at a disadvantage from the fact that plural voters exist in the constituency, and the vote of the ordinary elector is reduced in value in consequence of the existence of those plural votes. It is a greater injustice to deprive a man of a vote or to lessen the value of his vote than it is to have anomalies that exist with regard to Redistribution. I am one of those who believe that if you redistribute the constituencies you will confer greater advantage, or, at any rate, very great advantage, on the Liberal party. Take Walthamstow, for instance. Under Redistribution that constituency would be entitled to four representatives, instead of one, and those four representatives would be all Liberals. You accuse us of being actuated by party motives in bringing forward this measure, and you say we would reduce the party interests for which 955 we stand if we brought in Redistribution. I believe that Redistribution, with the balancing up of the large populous constituencies and sparsely populated cathedral towns, in such a way that you would not materially alter the balance of parties, or whatever alteration there was, would be, I believe, in favour of the Liberal party. While I am in favour of Redistribution, and while the whole party is committed to it, the injustices and the anomalies which arise from plural voting are so much greater that they are entitled to be considered first. This whole policy of doing away with the plural voter is the same policy which in the past the nobility initiated when it demanded from the Monarch a share in government; which wealth continued when it demanded a share from the nobility; and which we now continue when we demand for citizenship to-day its rightful share from wealth. We are readjusting and not creating any anomalies. Instead of creating a new injustice, we are doing away with injustices that are age long. Wrongs that have existed in the past we are trying to rectify by this Bill, which I hope before many hours are over, will pass its Third Reading.
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
The hon. Member who has just spoken has shared with a considerable number of other Members on the other side the impression that the qualification for a Member of Parliament is to represent simply individual interest. He based the whole of his speech upon that hypothesis. He entirely forgot, as far as I can see, that the present qualification for a voter is a property qualification, that is, either owning or occupying property. Therefore the argument from this side has been that as long as that is the qualification, and the man does, in fact, in absolutely different constituencies and different towns have the qualification of ownership or tenancy, he comes within the right and title of having votes in those respective places. I am one of those who think if this question of plural voting is ever to be dealt with upon a reasonable and truly scientific manner, it will have to be by altering the qualification, and not by thinking with the present register. The question of dealing with the plural voters as we know him to-day could have been dealt with by the Government, if they so desired, in one or other of two manners. It could have been dealt with 956 so as to make it impossible for an individual to vote in two places. That has not been done. It could have been dealt with so as to make the constituencies under all circumstances, both for General and by-elections, to be similar constituencies. That has not been done. In both those directions this Bill miserably fails. Then I ask myself, if the Government are in earnest in this matter, and I am willing to assume that they are, why have they adopted this particular method of bringing in this Bill? The answer is, I think, fairly obvious to every man in this House, and also to the country, and it is that they wanted to make their Bill as simple as possible in form, and without really dealing with the merits of the subject to get the utmost party advantage that could be got in the shortest possible manner. I submit respectfully that is a scandalous position for the Government to take up. I do not know how many voters there are in the constituency of the hon. Member for Stirlingshire (Dr. Chapple), but I suppose there are 10,000.
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
That probably represents about 100,000 inhabitants, and I ask what becomes of the other 78,000? The whole of the hon. Member's speech was grounded upon the suggestion that the whole 100,000 ought to be represented, while in fact there are only a majority of those who choose to vote, arid who voted for the hon. Member, and I have no doubt they have made a very admirable and satisfactory selection so far as the hon. Member is concerned. But what becomes of the other 78,000?
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
There are 22,000 voters, and 78,000 in the constituency are without any representation.
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
But a bachelor in the hon. Member's constituency has got exactly the same voting power as the father of a family of ten. Therefore, any argument he chooses to put before the House to show that there is anything like individual representation is obviously contrary to the principle of the arithmetical table. The 78,000 people in the hon. Member's constituency who do not vote consist of a certain number of 957 children and of women and a very considerable number of adults, who, owing to the property qualification of owning or tenanting property, have not got a vote. They also consist of a number of people who unfortunately move from one constituency to the other and who are all temporarily disqualified. The numbers of anomalies and difficulties that arise in dealing with this matter are very great. What I respectfully suggest to the hon. Member is this: If he is going to make a speech again anywhere in public on the lines of the speech he has just addressed to this House, he ought to do so by admitting that all adults in his constituency should have votes. The hon. Member did not deal with the subject from that point of view.
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
I think if the hon. Gentleman were to carry his speech to its logical conclusion he ought to go a step further, and ought to argue that the father of every child under twenty-one ought to have an additional vote in respect of that child. When he has given every man a vote and every woman a vote and every father of a minor child an extra vote in respect of that child, then, and then only, will the whole of the constituency be fairly represented. I have no doubt if he put the matter in that alluring manner before his constituents the next time he addressed them, and if the Radical Government should see fit to adopt his excellent suggestion that everybody in the country ought to be properly represented, then I have no doubt that the new constituency will, by an overwhelming majority, send the hon. Member back again to the next Parliament.
§ Sir ROBERT FINLAY
The hon. Member for Stirlingshire (Dr. Chapple) seemed to think that it is an extremely easy thing to be a good critic, but says it is not so easy to be a good Member of Parliament, but that anyone can be a good elector, as there is nothing simpler, since you have merely to see whether Mr. A or Mr. B will promote the interests of yourself and your family. I venture to think that the representation of the electors is much more complex than the hon. Member thinks, and that there are infinitely better reasons for the enfranchisement of the working classes than the not very flattering reasons which the hon. Gentleman has given. A great 958 many hon. Members on the other side seem to think they have disposed of the plural vote by labelling it an anomaly. I listened with considerable interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Northampton, who, I think, demolished that idea altogether. He said, "It is not enough to say that it is an anomaly; it is not enough that it may be an anomaly; in addition to that you must find adequate reasons for putting an end to the state of things so described." What are the adequate reasons for taking up this particular so-called anomaly of the plural vote, the hon. Member did not state, but I think we can guess what they are. He said, and this was the only reason he advanced, that the abolition of the plural vote had been in the forefront of the Liberal programme for some time. Yes, but why? Why is the plural vote a thing which is bad in itself and ought to be done away with? One difficulty in speaking on the subject at this stage is the extreme paucity of argument advanced in support of the measure. The House is entitled to some more reasoned statement of the grounds on which the party opposite think that the plural vote is a thing to be condemned.
Two arguments have been put forward One was our old friend the civilised world. We were told that nowhere else in the civilised world could you find the plural vote. We have had that argument before, but it has always seemed to me that even if it were true, we ought to know our own business best. It is idle to endeavour to regulate the conduct of a great country like this by an assumed subservience to the opinion of other parts of the world under very different circumstances. But it turned out that when the Solicitor-General rather rashly put forward that argument and asserted that in our great Dominions beyond the sea you would look in vain f5r a vestige of the plural vote, he had very insufficiently examined his facts, for an hon. and. learned Friend of mine immediately stated that in Canada for the Dominion Parliament the plural vote does exist, and that at the last General Election he himself voted for the Dominion Parliament in several constituencies. The Solicitor-General said that that was an exception. It is a very big exception when you find that the greatest of our-Dominions beyond the sea recognises the propriety of the plural vote. It was also said that we on this side had admitted 959 that, if the Referendum were introduced, there should be no plural vote in connection with it. The Solicitor-General just touched on that argument. He evidently felt that it would not bear much development, for he passed from it very rapidly. The reason is not far to seek. If you have a Referendum, you refer one specific question to the verdict of the people. The people are asked to say, "Aye" or "No" do you want a particular measure to become law? They are put in the position of a jury. An hon. Member opposite asked, whoever heard of a juryman having two votes while his fellow has only one? I quite agree. If you refer a question to be decided by one great constituency, that of the whole United Kingdom, you must allow each elector who expresses his view only one vote on that specific issue.
But when you come to the question of choosing Members for Parliament, it is obviously impossible to have one constituency, in which I agree each elector should have only one vote. You could not choose the Members of the House of Commons from one constituency consisting of the whole United Kingdom. If you did, according as there was a slight preponderance of votes one way or the other, you would have a House of Commons returned all of one way of political thinking. It would be absolutely impossible to apply the principle of proportional representation to a constituency of such a size and with the number of Members so great as that of the House of Commons. Therefore, for the purpose of electing Members to serve in Parliament you must break up the United Kingdom into a number of constituencies, and the question is, how best to secure the representation of each constituent. The Under-Secretary for India seemed to think that he had hit upon a startling political truth when he said that the party opposite desired to see the representation not of constituencies but of constituents. Whoever heard of a locality being represented apart from the electors in the locality? Of course, what you want is to secure the opinion of every man who is qualified to be a constituent in that constituency. How does the hon. Member propose to develop that He said, "What we want to do is to get the votes of those who work in a factory." But what the hon. Member is doing now is practically to disfranchise the head of that factory, the man who has organised and manages it. I submit that 960 the head of the factory is just as much entitled to a vote in respect of it as any workman who serves under him. He is not disentitled to it because he happens in another constituency altogether to have a qualification of a different kind which entitles him to vote in that other constituency, if that constituency is to be properly represented.
For the proper representation in Parliament of each constituency you must utilise every element in the constituency which will make the choice arrived at thoroughly representative. You cannot leave out any element in the constituency the presence of which tends to increase the representative character of the Member selected. Take the case of a man who has a large estate in a particular county. He resides there, he employs a great deal of labour; he devotes his attention to the management of the estate; he is thoroughly versed in all the affairs of the county. Will anyone tell me that that man ought not to have a vote in respect of the constituency in which his estate is situated? The same man may also reside in a town. He takes an active part in the life of the town, and any meeting held there would sorely miss him if he were absent from it. On what possible ground can you say that he is not to have a vote in each of those constituencies, where the absence of his vote would render the result of the election less thoroughly representative of the constituency? Exactly the same considerations apply to the very common case of a merchant or shopkeeper who carries on business in a town, who takes an active part in municipal life, and who also has a residence in the country entitling him to vote in another constituency. On what principle are you to say that those separate interests are not to entitle the man who possesses them to two votes? The idea is that because most men have only one set of interests and in one constituency, therefore those who happen to have two or more sets of interest in different constituencies are not to enjoy those votes to which those interests entitle them. It is a very crude version of the old saying, "One man is as good as another," with the addition which I dare say many Members opposite would make, "and a great deal better." The contention does not bear examination when you look at the proper mode of securing thoroughly representative Members of Parliament by splitting up the United Kingdom into suitable constituencies and allowing to vote 961 in each of those constituencies all those who have an adequate interest and qualification in it.
The references made in this connection to the Referendum really rest upon some confusion of thought. The two problems are absolutely and essentially different. Such reasons are brought forward as lead one to suspect that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite are really ashamed to give the true reason for this proposal. It may be stated that the plural voter is a man of some business capacity, of some trained intelligence and education, and that the possession of these qualifications leads him to vote against the present Government. If that is not the reason, or the main reason, for this measure, I shall be glad to have from the Prime Minister some more adequate defence of the proposals than has yet been attempted. It is said that the plural voters always vote Unionist. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Or that most of them do. If hon. Members opposite did not believe that most of the plural voters vote Unionist, I do not think we should have heard of this Bill. Many hon. Members opposite have openly stated that they support the measure for that reason, and I think one hon. Gentleman frankly declared that it was a good party measure. The plural voter was not always one who held the Conservative or Unionist faith. One does not need any great knowledge of our political history or to go very far back to be aware that the City of London for a long time was a stronghold of Liberalism, and that the City of London, in Parliament and out of Parliament, rendered the greatest possible services to the cause of liberty in this country. The City of London was a supporter of the old Liberalism. I admit that it will have nothing to do with latter-day Radicalism, but that is because Liberalism, and not the City of London, has changed its character. [Laughter.] Hon. Members laugh, but I think, if they reflect for a moment, they will find that the change is not, I think, in the City of London. The same thing may be said of the universities. The University of London used to be a safe Liberal seat. [An HON. MEMBER: "When?"] Until quite recently. I remember very well when a distinguished Friend of the Prime Minister, and of my own, stood as a candidate for the City of London. He was afterwards a judge, and he is still living. He stood for that university. He was beaten by a large majority, but he said he 962 was perfectly satisfied in having established the fact that there were a considerable number of Conservative electors in the University of London. That, then, was the state of things. The same thing might, to some extent, be said of the constituency which I have the honour to represent. The first Member for the University of Edinburgh and St. Andrews was, I think, that very distinguished man, Sir Lyon Playfair, who entered Parliament a Liberal and remained a Liberal to the end of his life. An hon. Friend beside me reminds me that he was Vice-President of the Council under a Liberal Government. May I just ask the Prime Minister whether he does not feel that if these university seats still voted Liberal he would not have an overwhelming case for retaining their votes?
§ Sir R. FINLAY
The Prime Minister shakes his head, but I venture to suggest that I think he would see the subject from a very different point of view, and I should be very sorry if any unhappy wight below the Gangway wanted to disfranchise the universities merely because they consisted of plural voters who, inside and outside, conceived Liberal principles to be paramount. I listened, if he will allow me to say so, with some amusement to the Under-Secretary for India, and to the excuses which he faltered forth with regard to the treatment of the universities. He says that the Bill does not abolish university representation. Oh, no, the Government do not abolish it, but they take a step which they expect will deplete the ranks of the voters and entail such inconvenience as to facilitate the ultimate destruction of university representation. That is what hon. Gentlemen opposite mean, and that is what the hon Gentleman—
§ Mr. MONTAGU
It is not a depletion of their ranks. They can still vote for the university in as large numbers as before.
§ Sir R. FINLAY
Yes. But all, or nearly all, of those gentlemen have another place where they are entitled to vote. Has the hon. Gentleman thought this matter out? Has he considered that university representation in its very nature, in its essence is of the nature of a second vote because it is a special qualification? Why take it away in this indirect manner when you have not the courage to take it away directly? The 963 hon. Gentleman gave us another reason which certainly somewhat astonished the House; certainly it amused it. He said that the university vote is bought; anyone who paid, I think he said £40, could get a university vote. He said the university vote does not represent intelligence. He instanced himself. He said, "I have a university vote. I paid £40 for it." He had, of course, to admit the soft impeachment of having taken a degree in Arts before he could get the vote; that he must be a B.A. in order to qualify for the university vote. The hon. Gentleman, if I rightly understood him, actually informed the House that qualifying for the B.A. degree was not at all a test of intelligence. Is it not a test of education? Is it not a test of intelligence? I think that the hon. Gentleman did both himself and the subject a great injustice when he put forward that view. The university vote is not a vote that can be bought. In many of the universities there is no fee to pay at all, or, if there is any fee, it is an extremely small one. The university vote in no university can be got except by having taken a degree, which certainly ensures that the candidate has a certain amount of learning for the acquisition of which a certain amount of ability is required.
I regard this Bill as thoroughly bad in two respects in the way in which it is worked out. We have heard a good deal about faggot voting. We are told that faggot voting is a very bad thing. If the Bill were directed simply to put an end to faggot voting, there might be something to be said for it. But this Bill is not so directed. This Bill is directed to deprive of the franchise a number of men who are just as entitled to their second vote as is any man who has only one vote. In another respect the Bill will work in a very startling way. Is it not a very remarkable thing that under this Bill it would be constantly the case that a by-election would be decided one way in a university constituency—or, indeed, in any other constituency—and an election at a General Election in another way? For this reason: that all the voters would have their votes at the by-election, while at the General Election many of the voters might be requested to vote elsewhere. You will never know where you are with the result of the election, and you will introduce a most extraordinary element of jerkiness into our electoral system. I do submit 964 that if that were the only objection to this Bill, it would be enough to condemn it.
Whenever there is a General Election a man will be entitled, and will be expected, to wait till the last moment before he decides in which of the two or more constituencies in which he has a vote he means to exercise that vote. Is not that introducing a great evil? Is it not enough to say that this Bill is based on a wrong principle; that it introduces into our machinery at election times such an element of uncertainty? The introduction of Redistribution at the same time would not in the least have reconciled me to the abolition of plural voting. But I do say that the fact that you do one and leave the other undone is a very great aggravation of the conduct of the Government in this matter. You say, "Oh, one man one vote." And that "It is a monstrous thing that one man should have two or more votes although in different con stituencies when his fellow has only one vote, because he is interested in only one constituency." You say that each elector ought to have equal power as regards the number of votes he can give. But do you not recognise that it is a much greater anomaly—if that term is to be used—that the voter in one constituency should have a voter power ten times that of the voter in another constituency—and sometimes even more? You strike at the one because you think that it tells in favour of your opponents, and you leave untouched the inequality of voting power in the several constituencies because you know that you would not gain anything by it, that in all probability you would lose, and that there is a very great chance that you would lose very heavily indeed. The long and the short of it is that you strike at the plural vote because you believe it to be predominantly Unionist; you retain the inequality of the distribution of voting power because you think it helps you.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The arguments both on one side and on the other in regard to this matter are so familiar that it is difficult to present them at this stage of the controversy with any semblance of novelty. I shall, therefore, endeavour to be content to leave the defence of this Bill where it stood when my colleague, the Under-Secretary for India, sat down earlier in the afternoon having made, I think, a most cogent and admirable speech. At the risk of again travelling over the ground which he traversed so well, I should like, before the 965 House comes to a Division, to deal shortly with two or three points which have been made by the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and by other opponents of this measure. I notice a great difference in the tone in which its various critics approach the Bill. Many of them, I think most of them, in the course of this discussion, have admitted that the plural vote is what is called an anomaly, that it is indefensible in principle— [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] —that it has got to be got rid of; but they say that this is not the proper time nor the proper way in which to effect that reform. On the other hand, we have from the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down what I may call a thorough-going, full-blooded, uncompromising defence of plural voting in principle. So far as I may judge from his speech—I do not know how much opinion he represents on the other side—if he and those who think with him have their way, in no reform of our electoral or representative system, in which their party is concerned will we see plural voting disappear, or even be substantially reduced. It is a most healthy, desirable, and salutary thing. Yes, but several speakers on the other side to whom I have listened, have adopted a totally different view. Amongst others there is the hon Member who moved the Amendment at the beginning of this Debate. In regard to the analogy of the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, he said that we may ignore what is done in other countries, because we are wise enough to take care of ourselves. Still I do not think it is immaterial to the discussion to state what has been repeatedly said in the course of these Debates, that there is no other democratic country in which this system of plural Toting prevails.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
No, the statement made the other night with regard to Canada applied only to the province of Quebec, and the law has been changed in the province of Quebec since the time the hon. and learned Gentleman recorded his two votes.
§ Sir R. FINLAY
The statement was made in regard to the last General Election for the Dominion Parliament.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Yes, but the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Solicitor-General was perfectly correct. 966 There is no such thing as the plural vote in Canada to-day, nor, so far as I am aware, is there in any of the self-governing Dominions of the Crown in any part of the world; nor, let me point out, is there here in our own system of local and municipal government. It has never been established in our local government, and in regard particularly to our Parliamentary system, where you have a divided borough, like the Tower Hamlets, in which you have seven different constituencies, there is no such thing as plural voting between the different divisions of the borough. I am speaking now of voting for one county council, as I was speaking of one Parliament, and the analogy is complete. When you have Parliaments for different parts of the United Kingdom, then the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London will be able to push home his point. I must make one word of reference to what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said with regard to the attitude of his party, and I suppose of himself, to the Referendum. When the Referendum was, I will not say invented, but promulgated as part of the official programme of the Tory party, the electors of the country were assured that in its application plural voting would not be allowed, and as far as I know, whatever may have been the case with other parts of their programme, there has been no recession from that position on the part of any responsible leader of the party opposite.
How does the right hon. and learned Gentleman endeavour to reconcile the abandonment by his leaders of plural voting in regard to the Referendum with its retention at any rate in regard to Parliamentary elections. He says, "Oh, there, when you are dealing with the Referendum, you have only got one constituency, the whole of the United Kingdom, and you have only the specific question which is submitted to it." But the question submitted to it is ex hypothesi, one of overshadowing and overwhelming importance, a question in which the whole country is concerned, and where you are dealing with that, it is not thought right that any elector in the country, however well educated, even with the advantage of a university education, however many properties he possesses, however many ware houses he may have, it is not thought right to give any elector more than the same proportion of authority as is given to all the other people. Why should a different principle be applied when you are dealing, not 'merely with one overshadowing ques- 967 tion of importance, but when you are dealing with the whole question of how the country is to be governed during a period of five years. Every consideration which applies to the one case applies a fortiori to the other. The more moderate opponents of this Bill who preceded the right hon. and learned Gentleman conceded this. I think the hon. and gallant Member who moved the Amendment did, and I think two or three hon. Gentlemen whom I heard later in the Debate conceded it, and all that they pleaded for was to deal in an exceptional way with exceptional classes of constituencies—the City of London and the universities. In regard to the City of London, I cannot for the life of me see why it should be treated in a different way than any other great commercial centre in the country. The hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) shakes his head. But the same phenomena which you have seen there—that is to say, the growing disappearance of the residential population and the growing monopolisation, if I may use the expression, of the areas for business purposes—you see in a greater or less degree in Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, and in almost all our great industrial and commercial centres It is merely a question of degree as between them and the City of London. To single out the City of London for special treatment on that ground would be, I think, to give it a privileged position to which it is not entitled upon any ground whatever. But, further, when you come to work it out in detail, just see how absurd the consequences will be. As my hon. Friend pointed out a few moments ago, if you treat the City of London as a separate entity, a man who has, to take an instance from my own profession, chambers in the Temple will have two votes, a man who has chambers in Lincoln's Inn will only have one; the Governor of the Bank of England will have two votes, the Governor of the Tower only one; the station-master at Cannon Street will have two votes, the station-master at London Bridge will only have one. The absurdities and injustices and inequalities to which exceptional and favoured treatment would lead are really so numerous and, when you come to examine them, so grotesque, that I am sure it is a proposition that cannot seriously be put forward.
Then I come to the universities. It is an old subject of controversy between hon. 968 and right hon. Gentlemen opposite and myself. The right hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down was rather indignant at the Statement of my hon. colleague that you can buy a vote at the universities. He was referring, of course, to the ancient Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and not to those more austere bodies on the other side of the Tweed which my right hon. and learned Friend opposite so worthily represents. But is it not the case at Oxford and Cambridge? It is quite true that you have got to pass your B.A. degree; after that everything comes perfectly easy to the man who is ready to spend £20 or £30. He becomes a Master of Arts, and thereupon acquires a university voter's qualification by the payment of money. Will anyone say who is really acquainted with the fact—I do not want to throw any discredit on the old universities, a son of one of which I am proud to be—but could anything be more absurd that. the ordinary pass B.A. degree at Oxford or Cambridge, which a great number of Members in this House have acquired with greater or less difficulty, but if we probe into the recesses of our own consciences will anyone say—I see a large number of B.A's. of Oxford and Cambridge around me—will anyone pretend in his most complacent moments that the fact that he passed an examination and got a degree gives him a certificate of intelligence and qualification as compared with the ordinary citizen of this country which entitles him to a second vote? I do not think so, and I should be very much surprised if we were assembled together to determine the question that anyone else would say so. The truth is you cannot possibly justify the theory—I am, not speaking of the university franchise, a totally different thing, but of the retention of the duplicate vote for persons who have been at the universities—unless you are prepared to go a great deal further and admit other tests of intelligence still more shapeable and authentic, and to apply them by the duplication and the triplication of votes in almost every possible direction.
But as my hon. Friend pointed out, with perfect truth, this is not a Bill to disfranchise universities. We have tried our hands at that before—I dare say we may again—but we are dealing here with a Bill which does not disfranchise the university voter. It give him an option, and if he wishes to take advantage of what he has acquired in his youth at the hand of his 969 Alma Mater, and be represented here in the House of Commons rather by one of the Members for the university than by a Member of the constituency in which he lives or in which he carries on his business, there is nothing to prevent him enjoying such a luxury. I do not say a word against the quality of university representation. Universities have been represented by eminent men, but anyone acquainted with their history knows, and the University of London is a striking illustration, that I am speaking the truth when I say that it is conducted on purely partisan lines. We have had two cases. I do not go back to the case of Mr. Gladstone and Sir Robert Peel. You have two cases in living memory, those of Sir John Gorst and Sir Michael Foster, In London, men elected as the candidates of a particular party, who remained most essentially faithful to the party, at any rate to the principle it goes for, but because they showed understanding and judgment, were treated by these universities, such as they would be treated by any other constituency in the country. It is a matter of experience, whatever it ought to be as a matter of theory, that it is a pure fiction to suppose there is anything more independent in the position of a university representative or anything more broadminded in the attitude of the university elector, than is the case in any other constituency. I submit to the House that the claims for special treatment in these two classes of constituencies entirely breaks down when you come to examine it.
I want to deal with one other point. It is said, and the argument has been repeated almost ad nauseam in the course of these discussions, that we are dealing here with a particular anomaly which we have singled out for special treatment because it happens to be, or we think it is, so long as it continues, injurious to our interests as a party, and it is said that if you were honest and sincere in this matter, you would deal not merely with the abolition of plural voting, but you would deal simultaneously with the Redistribution of electoral power. I am one of those who believe—I have often expressed the belief—that any fair Redistribution of electoral representation in this country, would be not to the disadvantage but to the advantage of the party to which I belong. I do not believe for a moment that hon. Gentlemen opposite are well founded in their view, if it is their view, that such a Redistribution upon fair and equitable lines would redound to their party 970 interests, and I am most anxious to see it undertaken. I hope—I have expressed the hope before, and I repeat it to-day—that it may be undertaken, not only at a very early date, but with something approaching general consent on both sides of the House. I cannot for the life of me see why we should not be able to come to an understanding how to redistribute our areas. I do not sec how it ought to excite party passion or party difference, but, as my hon. Friend pointed out so well in the speech he made, we have in legislation in the present Session made a most important contribution towards the solution, or at least the partial solution, of this problem of Redistribution. What has been the crying and glaring anomaly which has always been preached from the benches opposite, and preached by them when on this side of the House; I agree, with just as much urgency and emphasis with regard to the distribution of electoral power? It has been the excessive representation upon the principle of numbers or anything else which, as you say, under our existing system is given to Ireland. We are going to get rid of that. You have in the Bill which this House passed by so large a majority—I have not the least idea what its fortunes may be at this moment, but it represents the considered judgment of the House of Commons, which it has passed in two Sessions with undiminished majorities, and if it is allowed to go on the Statute Book it will reduce the Irish representation, not to what it ought to be, upon strictly numerical lines, which would he sixty or seventy, but it reduces it to forty-two, so that really the example which you have always put forward as the most urgently calling for Redistribution of electoral representation is the example which, if you will allow our measure to pass into law, will cease to exist to-morrow. Therefore, we have two things about Redistribution: First, we are as anxious for it as you are, and we have as equally strong party motive, if party motive comes in, for wishing to see it take place as you have. In the second place, we have made a very important step in the direction of dealing with this most urgent problem in the course of the present Session; and I say, lastly, as is obvious to anybody in the time at our disposal this year, it is quite impossible to deal with all the subjects until we have the opportunity to do so.
My right hon. Friend opposite asked me to say upon what principle this Bill rested, 971 and I will tell him. It rests on the very simple principle that in a democratic country one ought to count for one. For the purposes of electoral representation every citizen who gets the franchise ought to be on the same footing, neither better nor worse than any other citizen. That is the principle upon which this Bill proceeds. It is a principle which is recognised in every other democratic country and throughout the length and breadth of our own Empire, and I commend it to the House upon two grounds. First of all, the ground for justice, because at the present time you have a privileged class of half a million out of a total electorate of eight millions, who obtain under our existing electoral laws an unjustifiable advantage over their fellow electors, and that is the ground of justice. Secondly, I recommend it upon the ground of policy, not of party policy, but of the high, broad, public policy that the House of Commons ought to be, as everybody admits in theory, as accurate a reflection as you can make it of the minds of the people, and so long as you allow the infusion of an adulterating element at the General Election in the various constituencies of the country you have no security and no real safeguard that the House of 'Commons does really represent the considered judgment of the people.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I do not propose to stand for more than five minutes between the House and a Division. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide, divide."] I rose in order to urge the desirability of proceeding with a Redistribution measure during the life time of this Parliament. I welcome the Prime Minister's statement in that regard, and I hope, before the next General Election, we may pass a Redistribution measure. After the election, we may fairly be said to represent an equal body of electors. There is one other thing I want to say about plural voting, and it is that in the old days Members of this House represented far more particularly than they do at the present moment the constituency which returned them to Parliament—[Interruption.] —and they did far more work for their own particular constituency than for the country. In recent years, we have seen a great evolution and change in regard to the work and duties of Members of Parliament. One hundred and fifty years ago a Member of Parliament represented his constituency only—[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide, divide."] —and now we all represent the country as a 972 whole. [Interruption.] I am quite aware that there is a bargain to conclude this Debate between the two Front Benches, but I think an hon. Member might have the privilege of speaking for five minutes on an important measure of this kind, and I intend to continue my remarks. What I have pointed out is only a legitimate development. When Members represented their constituency only plural voting was necessary, but now that hon. Members represent more the country as a whole, and not a particular constituency, it is only right and fair that we should abolish the plural voter. I regret that this Bill proceeds on a wrong principle, and it does not go to the root of the evil. There are two ways of dealing with the plural voter. You might leave the matter to the revising barrister, or you might make it a crime to vote twice. I am always against making a fresh crime, for it seems to me there is far too much of that kind of thing— [Interruption.]
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I am aware that hon. Members desire to get away to their dinner, and I wish to enter my protest against an hon. Member of this House not being allowed to speak for five minutes upon such an important Bill. The House is so anxious for its dinner that hon. Members do not mind passing a Bill which creates a new crime. I should have been better pleased if this Bill had been one to prevent the names of plural voters appearing on the register. If their names are allowed to appear on more than one register these people will say that they are still entitled to vote more than once, and what machinery is there in this Bill to prevent them voting. It is bad policy to carry legislation which we have no means of enforcing, and under this Bill there are no means of discovering whether a man has voted twice or not. When you have party feeling running high as you have at the present time, many people will vote twice, and they will run a very small risk of being discovered. I think this Bill is a step in the right direction by making it illegal to vote twice, but my complaint is that you will find it very difficult to carry it out. The risk of the reformed scheme will be more or less agreed to by the House, but the contentious part will have to be forced through 973 under the Parliament Act, and in that way only we shall secure a real reform in the representation of the people. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide."] I believe this Bill, if carried, will not be merely a measure of advantage to the Liberal party but one
§ which will tend to the better democratic government of the country as a whole.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 293; Noes, 222.977
|Division No. 201.]||AYES.||[7.45 P.M.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Leach, Charles|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Adamson, William||Elverston, Sir Harold||Lewis, Rt. Han. John Herbert|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Esslemont, George Birnie||Lundon, Thomas|
|Alden, Percy||Falconer, J.||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Lynch, A. A.|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)|
|Armitage, Robert||Ffrench, Peter||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Field, William||McGhee. Richard|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Fitzgibbon, John||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||France, G. A.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Furness, Sir Stephen Wilson||M'Callum, Sir John M.|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Gelder, Sir W. A.||M'Curdy, Charles Albert|
|Barnes, George N.||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Barran, Sir J. N.(Hawick Burghs)||Ginnell, Laurence||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs.,Spalding)|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Gladstone, W. G. C.||M'Micking, Major Gilbert|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Glanville, Harold James||Manfield, Harry|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Martin, Joseph|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Greig, Colonel J. W.||Mason, David M. (Coventry)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Griffith, Ellis J.||Meagher, Michael|
|Black, Arthur W.||Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Boland, John Pius||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Menzies, Sir Walter|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Hackett, John||Middlebrook, William|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Hancock, John George||Molloy, M.|
|Brady. P. J.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Rossendale)||Moiteno, Percy Alport|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Harmsworth. C. B. (Luton, Beds)||Money, L. G. Chlozza|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Montagu, Hon. E. S.|
|Burke, E. Haviland||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Mooney, J. J.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hayden, John Patrick||Morgan, George Hay|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Hayward, Evan||Morrell, Philip|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Hazleton, Richard||Morison, Hector|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Hemmerde, Edward George||Muldoon, John|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Munro, R.|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Henry, Sir Charles||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Neilson, Francis|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Hewart, Gordon||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaste)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Higham, John Sharp||Nolan, Joseph|
|Clough, William||Hinds, John||Norton, Captain Cecil W.|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Horne, Charles Sylvester (Ipswich)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hudson, Walter||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Cotton, William Francis||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||O'Dowd, John|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)|
|Crooks, William||John, Edward Thomas||O'Malley, William|
|Crumley, Patrick||Jones, Rt.Hon. Sir D.Brynmor (Swansea)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Cullinan, John||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||O'Shee, James John|
|Davies, David (Montgomery, Co.)||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Outhwaite, R. L.|
|Davies, E. William (Elfion)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts., Stepney)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Jewett, Frederick William||Parry, Thomas H.|
|Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardiganshire)||Joyce, Michael||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Keating, Matthew||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|De Forest, Baron||Kellaway, Frederick George||Pearson, Hon. Weetman, H. M.|
|Delany, William||Kelly, Edward||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Philipps, Colonel Ivor (Southampton)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Kilbride, Denis||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Dickinson, W. H.||King, Joseph||Pointer, Joseph|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S.Molton)||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Doris, William||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Pensonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Duffy, William J.||Lardner, James C. R.||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)|
|Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Samuel, Sir Stuart M. (Whitechapel)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Pringle, William M. R.||Scanlan, Thomas||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Radford, G. H.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Raffan, Peter Wilson||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.||Webb, H.|
|Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||Sheehy, David||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Reddy, Michael||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert||Wiles, Thomas|
|Rendall, Atheistan||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||Sutherland, John E.||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Taylor, Theodore C, (Radcliffe)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Tennant, Harold John||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Thomas, J. H.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Robertson. John M. (Tyneside)||Thorn, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||Winfrey, Richard|
|Robinson, Sidney||Toulmin, Sir George||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Ure, Pt. Hon. Alexander||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Roe, Sir Thomas||Verney, Sir Harry||Yoxall. Sir James Henry|
|Rowlands, James||Walters, Sir John Tudor|
|Rowntree, Arnold||Walton, Sir Joseph||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wardle, George J.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Croft, H. P.||Hume-Williams, William Ellis|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Dalrymple, Viscount||Hunt, Rowland|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Denison-Pender, J. C.||Ingleby, Holcombe|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Denniss, E. R. B.||Jackson, Sir John|
|Astor, Waldort||Dickson. Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, E.)|
|Baird, J. L.||Dixon, C. H.||Jessel, Captain H. M.|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Duke, Henry Edward||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Duncannon, Viscount||Kerry, Earl of|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Barnston, Harry||Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.)||Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Larmor, Sir J.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Fell, Arthur||Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Lee, Arthur H.|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Lewisham, Viscount|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Lloyd, George Ambrose (Stafford, W.)|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Fleming, Valentine||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)|
|Bird, Alfred||Forster, Henry William||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Colonel A. R.|
|Blair, Reginald||Gardner, Ernest||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Gastrell, Major W. H.||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Gibbs, G. A.||Mackinder, H. J.|
|Boyton, James||Goldsmith, Frank||M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's)|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Malcolm, Ian|
|Bull, Sir William James||Grant, J. A.||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Greene, W. R.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Burgoyne, A. H.||Gretton, John||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Butcher, J. G.||Guinness, Hon.W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Haddock, George Bahr||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)|
|Campion, W. R.||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Mount, William Arthur|
|Cassel, Felix||Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth)||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Cater, John||Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Newman, John R. P.|
|Cautley, H. S.||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Cave, George||Hardie, J. Keir||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Nield, Herbert|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Harris, Henry Percy||Norton-Griffiths, John|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Harrison-Broadley, H. B||O'Grady, James|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Helmsley, Viscount||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Hills, John Waller||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Peel, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothlan)||Pryce-Jonas, Colonel E.|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Horne, W. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Quilter, Sir William Eley C.|
|Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Houston, Robert Paterson||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Stanier, Beville||Weigall, Capt. A. G.|
|Rawson, Colonel R. H.||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
|Remnant, James Farquharson||Starkey, John R.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Ronaldshay, Earl of||Stewart, Gershom||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Rothschild, Lionel de||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Royds, Edmund||Swift, Rigby||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Sykes, Sir Mark (Hull, Central)||Winterton, Earl|
|Salter, Arthur Clavell||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N.W.)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks., Ripon)|
|Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Sanderson, Lancelot||Thynne, Lord Alexander||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Sandys, G. J.||Touche, George Alexander||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Sassoon, Sir Philip||Tryon, Captain George Clement||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Tullibardine, Marquess of||Yerburgh, Robert A.|
|Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'I., Walton)||Valentia, Viscount||Younger, Sir George|
|Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Snowden, Philip||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord Edmund Talbot and Mr. Sanders.|
|Spear, Sir John Ward||Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
Question put, and agreed to.