§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. GLANVILLE
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
In moving the Second Reading of this Bill I do not propose to occupy the time of the House to any extent, because the main purpose of the Bill has been before the House in the Plural Voting Bill yesterday, and in the Bill which was read a second time on last Friday, introduced by the hon. Member (Mr. W. Pearce). That Bill referred to the hours of polling, and there is another Bill which I hope will come on to-day, introduced by the hon. Member for Devonport (Sir C. Kinloch-Cooke), and I should be sorry if he had not a fair opportunity of having his Bill considered. This Bill, which is now before us has been before the House, so far as its main provisions are concerned, on more than one occasion. It is a matter of general knowledge that it passed this House and went to another place three or four years ago. The proposals of this Bill are, in the main, that London should be for Parliamentary purposes one borough, whereas at present we have twenty-eight separate boroughs in the Metropolis, the residents in which are debarred for twelve months from voting if they remove into another constituency. Under the provisions of this Bill, London becomes one borough, and voters will be entitled to take their Parliamentary vote with them as they are now entitled to take their municipal vote with them, and I think every fair-minded man will agree that it is only right they should receive the same treatment with regard to the Parliamentary vote as is meted out to them with regard to the municipal vote. That London should be one borough was the opinion of the Government which was in power in 1888, when they carried the measure which created the London County Council. There would be one effect of the Bill which I must mention. It would remove from the register a certain number of plural voters. The Bill which passed its Second Reading yesterday dealt with the same question on these lines. But the advantage of this Bill is that it would restore to the register something like 30,000 or 40,000 people who are precluded from voting now and so make up the deficiency which would arise from the removal of the 1548 plural voters. I do not think that the restoration of these "successive" voters to the Parliamentary vote is in any way a Parliamentary question. I cannot trace anything which indicates very clearly what the politics of these 30,000 or 40,000 successive voters are beyond this fact, that they have a tendency to move to the outlying parts of the county which are more largely represented by the supporters of the Opposition in this House. There is only one other indication, that where these 30,000 or 40,000 are precluded from voting the political party to which I belong gets an advantage to a certain extent as indicated in the last Parliamentary election, but where they are allowed to vote as they are in the county council elections the balance is slightly upon the side of the party opposite. But there is no clear indication of what party politics these 30,000 or 40,000 are. I am rather glad of that because it relieves this part of the proposal from any imputation of a party character. There is another point that we in London have an absolute right to get, the same treatment as the other boroughs and cities in the United Kingdom. It is an extraordinary thing that our map in London should have all kinds of boundary lines running in every part and in every direction of the entire city, whilst in every other city of the country a man may move from one part to another and there is no boundary which debars him from the right to record his vote. Under our present system we have some extraordinary anomalies. A man may move two or three miles in one direction and he will take his Parliamentary vote with him, but if he happens to cross the road he may lose his Parliamentary vote, because he goes into another Parliamentary borough.
An instance in my own Constituency, which I think is somewhat astonishing, was brought to my notice. There is a fire station in the constituency of Bermondsey, in the borough of Southwark. There are eleven municipal voters in it, but of those eleven municipal voters only four have the Parliamentary votes, because the other seven have removed from other parts of London under the necessities of their service and not from their own particular desire. They retain their municipal votes, but seven of them are debarred from voting in the Parliamentary election because they happen to come from another borough. That is not the worst aspect of the case. If those firemen happen to 1549 remove from one part of the station into another part they lose their Parliamentary vote because the first station is located partly in the borough of Camberwell and partly in the borough of Southwark. If they remove from one part of the house into another part because their rooms are being repaired they lose their Parliamentary vote in consequence of our present defective arrangement. This is a particular injustice to firemen, because they are constantly removed from one part of London to another part under the exigencies of the service. The same remark applies to policemen. A policeman may be promoted to a sergeant and sent to another area in his own police division, and, although he did not seek the removal, he is debarred from his vote for twelve months because he happens to go to another part, of the Metropolis. Every year from 30,000 to 40,000 people of every section of the community are deprived of their right to vote because Parliament has not considered it wise to allow the Parliamentary vote to follow the municipal vote. What would be the feelings of hon. Members if they knew that they were allowed to vote municipal in November and when the Parliamentary election came, as it did in January, they were told they could not vote, and then at the commencement of March they were told again that they were entitled to vote because it was a municipal election once more? Is that how you expect the community to have a high respect for Parliament? When, further, people find that proposals to alter that unsatisfactory state of affairs are opposed by hon. Members, I think that their respect for Parliament becomes less still.
Clause 3 of this Bill proposes that the clerk to the London County Council shall be the registration authority. Anyone who knows anything about registration must realise that arrangement would be satisfactory and an improvement on the present conditions, because it would make for uniformity. We should have the same kind of arrangement in every part of the Metropolis. The clerk to the London County Council supervising the whole of it would get it done in a more efficient manner and certainly on the lines of uniformity to a much greater extent than now. Another proposal in the Bill is that the clerk to the London County Council shall also be the Returning Officer for London. I think any London Member would welcome that, because, in the first 1550 place, it would considerably reduce the cost of elections, a not unimportant point to almost every Member of this House. If the clerk to the London County Council made all the entire arrangements for the fifty-eight or fifty-nine constituencies, all the preliminary work, the preparation of the notices and everything connected with the work of an election, would be conducted by him and his special staff acting under him. Prices would be obtained for many things required for the conduct of an election, and the expenses would be reduced from 10, 15, or it may be 20 per cent. I think that is an important point. I can see no reason why we should refuse the opportunity of reducing the cost of elections from whatever pocket the money comes, and I think it would be for the advantage of the people of London that we should be allowed to carry out this arrangement.
Clause 9 contains the only other important proposal in the Bill. It is that the hours of polling should be extended to ten o'clock whereas the Bill which passed its Second Reading last week proposed that all over the country the hours of polling should terminate at nine o'clock. We must all realise that life is later in London than in the country. People work later and go to bed later in the Metropolis than they do elsewhere, because it is much more difficult for men to get to their homes right across the city, the distance in some cases being from five to ten miles. I have some interesting figures on the question of the extension of the hours of polling which will probably astonish the House. We have no clear evidence as to the number of persons who would vote between nine and ten o'clock because, except for the guardians' election, we have no election when the poll has been open during that hour, but I have managed to secure the figures with regard to the last guardians' election in Bermondsey, and they are somewhat surprising. Over 40 per cent. of the electors voted. I think from what we know of guardians' elections that is somewhat surprising to start with. There were 18,000 voters, and 7,300 recorded their votes. Between the hours of eight and nine o'clock 4,076 voted. That is the hour which under the Bill which passed its Second Reading last week you add to the hours of polling. And between the hours of nine and ten o'clock 983 voted. Therefore, 33½ per cent. voted after eight o'clock and 13½ per cent. voted after nine o'clock. I think that, to a certain extent, is a revela- 1551 tion to us. It explains why it is at a General Election the number of votes recorded in London is from 10 to 15 per cent. lower than the votes recorded in other parts of the country. It is because the Londoner does not get the opportunity of recording his vote. If at guardians' elections you did not allow men to record their votes between the hours of nine and ten o'clock you would have shut out in my district alone 983 men. If the poll had been larger and the interest keener, I think it is reasonable to say that the number would have been double.
We have now the fact that 983 men wanted to record their votes during that last hour, and I say that if the number had been 98 instead of 983 this House would be doing a wrong thing if it did not give those 98 men the opportunity of recording the votes they are entitled to record. What right have we to give votes to men, and then make such arrangements that they cannot record them? It is not fair, and it is not the right way to create good citizenship or good feeling among the general section of the community. Take the case of carmen. A carman leaves his home between five and six o'clock in the morning, and he finishes his work somewhere in the vicinity of nine o'clock in the evening. He has to put his horses in the stable and to groom them. He knows, as he has been about all day, that an election is going on, but he cannot get back to his own district in time to record his vote. Is that the right way to treat that man? I do not think it is. We have in my Constituency 500 carmen. London is a city which has far more carmen in proportion to population than any civilised city in the world. Until you extend the hours of polling till ten o'clock nearly the whole of that hard-working body of men are precluded expressing their opinion as to how the country should be governed. It is most unsatisfactory. This House has already given power to extend the hours for certain elections: it now has an opportunity of granting another hour. I hope it will do it ungrudgingly. I trust it will realise that although some may vote easily at any hour of the day, there are others who cannot, and will accordingly afford them this further opportunity of recording that vote which the law of the land has given them the right to exercise.
If the hours of polling are extended till ten o'clock we shall get this effect, that it will be impossible to count the votes the 1552 same night. That is not the case with the poll closing at nine o'clock. The result of the later closing hour will be that people knowing the election is over will go quietly to their homes. Last year when we were debating this question it was pointed out that from a police point of view it might be unsatisfactory to have the extension of the hours. But if the poll does not close until ten o'clock there will be no reason for men to loiter about the streets. Under the present arrangements, an hour or so after the close of the poll almost the entire population of the district converge around that portion of the area where the poll is going to be declared: they wait in the streets or in public-houses, but about eleven or twelve o'clock enormous crowds—thousands, and it may be tens of thousands—are to be found in the locality awaiting the result. All that will disappear, and it will render the work of the police much lighter, while it will make for sobriety. If only for the sake of the quiet and order of the neighbourhood, it is certain this change would have a beneficial effect. I beg to move the Second Reading.
§ Mr. DICKINSON
I am sure the House appreciated the speech to which we have just listened, and is thankful to the hon. Member for having put the case on behalf of the Bill so clearly and so concisely. He certainly has saved me from having to say very much, and I hope to imitate him in the brevity of my remarks. This question is by no means a new one. So long ago as 1892, Mr. Gladstone took it up, and in a speech he made in that year said:—The case of London is a very peculiar case. No place suffers as London suffers from the defective state of the law. It suffers more than any other from plural voting. The constituencies of the Metropolis are bloated on the one hand and starved on the other: bloated by the plural vote and starved by the fact that successive occupation does not run throughout the whole area of London.That was recognised by so high an authority as Mr. Gladstone twenty-one years ago as being a condition of affairs which ought to be remedied. We have tried year after year to bring this matter before Parliament. In 1908 I presented to this House a Bill somewhat on the lines of this measure. It was discussed on a Friday afternoon, and as it raised an entirely novel question Mr. Speaker could not give the Closure, and the Bill got no further. But by the following year we had, I venture to think, made such an impression on the Government that they dealt with the question in a Government 1553 measure, which, as the hon. Member has stated, they passed through this House by a very large majority and sent to a Committee. It ultimately reached the House of Lords, which House, however, by a[...] almost equally large majority the other way threw it out after a very short debate. The Bill now before the House is somewhat more lengthy and complicated than the one presented in 1908, but with one or two exceptions it is almost entirely a reflex of the Bill which passed the House and was discussed in Committee after preparation by a Government draftsman, and it necessarily contains a good many more details than my Friday afternoon Bill of 1908. I venture to submit that inasmuch as the subject has been fully discussed already, so far as principle is concerned, the House should give a Second Reading to this Bill.
The Bill proposes to constitute the county of London a single Parliamentary borough, instead of being a conglomeration of twenty-eight Parliamentary boroughs, as at the present moment. There are twenty-eight Parliamentary boroughs and twenty-nine municipal boroughs in London, but these numbers are merely coincidences, and the boroughs are in no way the same. In many cases they differ enormously, the bounds are not coterminous of Parliamentary and municipal boroughs except in a single case. I wish the House to understand that nothing we are doing in this Bill is going to affect the Metropolitan boroughs, with one slight exception—with regard to registration, a point I will deal with later on. The Metropolitan boroughs constituted as governing bodies will remain exactly as they are at present. All we propose is that, instead of having a more or less fortuitous system of Parliamentary boroughs, there shall be but one borough. Let me give an example of what obtains under the present system. Tower Hamlets is one Parliamentary borough; it includes two Metropolitan boroughs. The City of Westminster is a Metropolitan borough; it includes three Parliamentary boroughs. There is no kind of system in existence at the present moment; it is simply a continuance of the old Parliamentary boroughs quite independently of any consideration affecting the municipal government of London.
The principal proposal contained in this Bill—and the one to which we attach the most importance—is to allow some system of successive occupation to run throughout 1554 London as it runs now through Liverpool and Birmingham and other great cities. We claim that if there is justification for a person in Birmingham, who merely changes his residence from one street to another to have his residence in the one house count as residence in the other for registration purposes there is no less justification for applying the same system to London, and there is no reason why a person who changes his residence in London should lose the vote for a year or two, as the case may be. The position at the present moment is almost ridiculous. A man changes from Bond Street to Piccadilly, but does not move out of the same Metropolitan borough. He pays the same taxes, he is represented by the same council, and there is no change in his municipal status, but he changes his Parliamentary borough and thereby loses his vote. If a man moves from Poplar to Whitechapel then he retains his vote, although he moves from one Metropolitan borough to another, because he continues in the Parliamentary borough of Tower Hamlets. The result of this has been very important to Londoners.
If you look into the figures of the number of voters in proportion to the population of the country, you will find that in London there are only 550 voters to every 1,000 adult males, whereas in the rest of the country there are 671 voters to every 1,000. That is largely, although not entirely, due to the difficulties of registration, and especially to the fact that people lose their vote so easily when they move. In 1908 I assumed that the annual number of removals was 25,000. I have since found, on further investigation, that that number was very much underestimated, and that at least 40,000 persons lose their vote every year by moving from one place to another. So far as I am able to estimate it, I should say that, on the whole, there must now be 100,000 persons in London who should be on the register, but who are off the register simply because they have lost their vote at one time or another in this way. You are dealing with the question, as I believe, of the enfranchisement of at least 100,000 persons who, if they lived in Liverpool or in Birmingham under the same conditions, would have their vote, but who have not their vote at the present moment simply because of what I call the most unreasonable system we have allowed to continue in the Metropolis. That is what we wish to remedy. I cannot quite understand 1555 why any hon. Member on the other side of the House should wish to oppose the Bill. The main cause for their opposition in former years has gone—that was that the result of this Bill would have been the abolition of the plural voter in London, just as the plural voter is abolished in Liverpool, Birmingham, or Manchester. Great exception was taken to that by hon. Members opposite. I did not attach very much importance to that point at that moment, and I attach still less importance to it at this moment, because the Plural Voting Bill, which we anticipate will go through this House and become law, will have settled the question of plural voting for the whole of the country, and therefore it will not arise in regard to London.
There is one other result of this Bill to winch exception is taken, although I have never understood the grounds for it. It is that when you make London one Parliamentary borough you will have all the elections on a single day. That, in my opinion, is a great advantage. It is an advantage to everybody, and there is no real objection to it. It was urged by some people at one time that it was such an enormous undertaking that we should want armies of police, and that we should interfere with the Post Office, and so on. We have the same thing happening with regard to the county council elections. There is a larger number on the register for the county council election, yet all the elections are held on a single day, and there is no difficulty in carrying out those elections. I hope that objection will not be raised, and I am sure it will not be raised with any force on the present occasion. The other proposals in the Bill deal merely with reform of machinery. By making London one borough you will thereby alter slightly the system with regard to the returning officers. At the present time the returning officers vary in different parts of London, and it would be very much better if you had one system. There are many reasons for that. In some parts of London a solicitor is appointed as returning officer and in other parts the town clerk. I have no hesitation in saying that where the town clerk is appointed as returning officer the elections are much better and more cheaply conducted. In the county council election a very good system has been brought about by the county council, under which the clerk of the county council is the 1556 returning officer. He acts through and in co-operation with the town clerk. That system works admirably, and I believe that no exception can be taken to adopting that system for Parliamentary elections as well as for county council elections.
The other point of machinery is a new point, namely, that the registration will be conducted, not as it is at present, independently by the town clerks, but by the clerk of the county council, acting in close conjunction with the town clerk. He does so at the present moment. The variety that exists in the areas of the Parliamentary borough and the Metropolitan borough has made it necessary to have a special Order in Council passed for London. Under that Order in Council the clerk to the county council is brought in principally for the purpose of printing the register. They have an organisation at Spring Gardens which more or less brings the whole system of registration into line. That should be made statutory instead of voluntary or semi-voluntary, as it is at the present moment, and I believe the machinery will thereby be greatly improved. Another point is the alteration in the system with regard to revising barristers. In that matter we have copied the proposals in the Government Bill of 1909, and we propose one revising barrister, whose duty it will be to clear the lists of duplicate votes. We shall thereby bring about a more uniform system of revising the lists. We have suffered very much in London from the lack of uniformity in this respect. Hon. Members will remember that a few years ago there was a great question about the latch-key vote. While that question was passing through the Law Courts totally different views upon it were held in one part from those held in another part by the revising barrister and also by the town clerks. The consequence was for one or two years thousands of latch-key voters were taken off in one place and were left on in another. No greater improvement could be brought about in regard to registration and the revision of the lists for London than to make it part of one uniform system, which will be the case under the provisions of this Bill. I repeat that the main object of this Bill is to enfranchise people who, living in any other town but London, would not have lost their votes. They are chiefly working men. The working men of London change their abode very rapidly, sometimes two or three times in the course 1557 of a year. Why should they be disfranchised for that? They very often have to change their abode in order to follow their work, or they change for various personal reasons. What we want to do under this Bill is to provide that these men, who from every point of view are entitled to their vote, should not lose it because they move from one street to another in the county of London.
§ Mr. HOARE
I beg to move to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "this day six months."
I could not help thinking, as I listened to the two speeches which have just been made, in what a curious position the promoters of this Bill are placed. Last week a Bill was introduced and read a second time which covers one of the explicit objects of the present Bill, and only yesterday another Bill was introduced which covers another one of them, and, further, the President of the Board of Education, in introducing the Plural Voting Bill, promised that in the course of this Parliament every one of the other objects which are now proposed for London should be included in the Government Bill for the whole of the country. In view of these facts, it seems to me that the promoters of this Bill are men of little faith. The only conclusion I can draw is that they do not believe that the Government will carry out the promise which they made the day before yesterday or that the hon. Member (Mr. W. Pearce) will be able to proceed further with the Bill which was read a second time last, week. Surely, in view of these facts, in view also of the fact that this Session is already fully occupied, there is no reason to ask the House to-day to give a Second Reading to a Bill every one of the principal proposals of which is covered by a Government Bill which has either already been introduced or is promised during the course of the present Parliament. First of all, then, this Bill is quite superfluous and it is a mere waste of time to proceed to a Second Reading of it to-day. Supposing the Second Reading is carried, it will merely cumber the ground when these further proposals are considered. Take a single example. The hon. Member (Mr. Glanville) devoted a considerable part of his speech to the advantages of having longer hours of polling. That was covered by the proposals of the hon. Member (Mr. Pearce) last week. [An HON. MEMBER: "Part of it."] That strengthens my contention that 1558 in passing this Bill to-day a second time you will be cumbering the ground. Last Friday a Bill was passed which extended the polling hours by one hour. Now we are asked to give a Second Reading to a measure which is going to extend the polling hours by two hours. [An HON. MEMBER: "In London."] That is worse still. It will make confusion worse confounded. In London you will have an extra hour, while in the rest of the country the poll will close at nine. That is only one example out of many which might be produced to show the illogical confusion in which this House will be placed if this Bill is read a second time to-day.
But that is only my first reason for moving its rejection. My other reasons are of greater importance. I believe that the proposals to which we have just listened are impracticable. I believe that with a question of this kind you must treat the whole question over the whole of the country, and you cannot isolate one part of it. Let me take the proposals of the Bill order. Take, first of all, the question of a single day for polling. It is my belief that the worst possible place in which to try the experiment of a single polling day is London. You will have various districts, which have really very little in common, compelled to poll upon a single day, which must be inconvenient to a great number of them. Let me give an example from the county council election which was fought only a few weeks ago. It was then urged that the single day which was selected, whilst it was extremely convenient to a constituency like my own, was very inconvenient to a number of other constituencies. In other words, you could not select one single day which would be equally convenient to all the great number of sixty constituencies of which the county of London is composed. I could elaborate that argument by pointing to the inconvenience which must arise in London from the great strain which would be placed upon the Metropolitan Police. The police are already extremely hard worked, and whilst it may be quite possible for an election like the county council election, in which no very great interest is taken by the ordinary body of the electors, to make arrangements for a single polling day, I believe it would be extremely dangerous to attempt it for a Parliamentary election. There is also the reason of the strain which will be put upon the Post Office. 1559 There, again, the comparison of the county council elections does not seem to me to apply. Any of us who have fought both county council and Parliamentary elections must be aware of the fact that there is a much greater amount of literature and many more letters sent through the post in a Parliamentary election than in a county council election.
I now come to that part of the Bill to which the hon. Member (Mr. Dickinson) devoted most of his speech, the question of successive registration. There, again, I believe that you cannot isolate London, and if you do you will only be creating a number of other equally glaring anomalies. It is contended, I know, that voters in London move about from one street to another to such an extent that the case for successive registration in London is stronger than anywhere else, and, as the hon. Member implied, with the result that the number of voters in proportion to the population in London is smaller than in other parts of the country. You would have expected that that was the case, but in the last available figures of the Parliamentary Elections, for 1910, the proportion of voters to the population in London is not smaller than in Liverpool, Manchester, or Glasgow, where successive registration is, I believe, allowed. The percentage is 14.4 per cent. in London, 14.3 per cent. in Manchester, 13.3 per cent. in Liverpool, and 14.4 per cent. in Glasgow. These figures are very germane to the argument which was used by the hon. Member. They show that whilst I acknowledge in Birmingham and Leeds the percentage is higher, in the other great cities which I have mentioned it is not higher, and in one of them, Liverpool, it is actually lower. That seems to be another argument to support what I just said, that there is no reason why you should deal with London separately. The hon. Member for Bermondsey quoted a number of hard cases drawn from his own constituency—
§ Mr. HOARE
I do not see really that that applies at all. Obviously you must compare like figures with like figures. In all these places there are plural voters. I do not see that that affects the argument I used at all. I was proceeding to point out the various anomalies which will arise, supposing the hon. Member's proposal becomes law. He said that a man might 1560 cross from one street into another street and lose his vote. Well, that will equally happen if this Bill passes. He quoted hard cases in his own constituency. Let me quote a hard case in my Constituency. Perhaps he is unaware that a quarter of my Constituency is situated several miles from Chelsea. It is on the extreme county boundary. If this Bill passes a man will be able to cross the street from Queen's Park into North Paddington or North Kensington, but if he crosses it the other way, he passes into the Harrow Division of Middlesex, and he will lose his vote. Take a more glaring example. Take the Clerkenwell detached part of Finsbury, situated in the county Division of Middlesex. If the hon. Member's Bill passes a resident in the detached portion of Finsbury will be able to move perhaps twenty miles and yet retain his vote if it is within the county boundary of London. But if he crosses the road into Middlesex he will lose it. I quote these examples to show that in dealing with a particular part of the country you may remove some anomalies, but leave those to which I have alluded still in existence. These anomalies will tend to increase. Those who know the trend at present in London must know that the tendency is to move from the central districts into the outer areas. The statistics of population show that whilst in the last ten years the county of London has decreased in population to the extent of 25,000 individuals, the population of Greater London has increased by 750,000. The anomalies, therefore, by which a man may retain his vote if he remains within the county boundaries under this Bill will tend to increase. There will still be this tendency to move from the central districts to the outer areas, where the grievances will continue in increasing number.
I come to an even greater objection to the Bill. I object to it because I believe it is bad in principle. I believe it is quite wrong to pick out isolated anomalies and all the more when the anomalies are not the most serious, to set aside others, and to concentrate your attention upon one or two. I would ask the House to look at the anomalies of our present electoral system in London. The hon. Member for Bermondsey alluded to one of them, namely, the difference in the cost of elections in the various parts of the county of London. The figures are certainly curious reading. You will find for instance, that whilst the cost to the hon. Member for 1561 St. George's-in-the-East is no less than 5s. a voter, the cost to the right hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-West amounts to the very reasonable sum of 1s. 6d. If you come to analyse these figures you will find that the chief amount has nothing to do with the returning officer's expenses, but with the candidate's expenses. That would not be touched by this Bill at all. This Bill would only touch expenses so far as they relate to the returning officer's expenses, which only amount to something like one-fourth of the expenses of a London Member. Surely, in dealing with a question of this kind, the practical way is to attempt to reform the larger sum by restricting the amount which a candidate may spend on an election. Take another example of the anomalous position of the county of London at the present time. The hon. Member for Bermondsey did not allude in his speech at all to the glaring inequalities of constituencies in the county of London. Wandsworth, for instance, which has the largest electorate in the county of London, has 39,911 electors, whereas the St. George's-in-the-East Division of the Tower Hamlets has an electorate of only 3,269; Lewisham has an electorate of 27,524, and Whitechapel has 4,111. I should have thought that if we really desire to give London the electoral opportunities to which it is entitled, the first thing we should do would be to make the voting capacities of the various constituencies equal.
I remember the hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Crooks) saying that the East of London deserved all it could get, because the wise men come from the East. I am not prepared to dispute that saying, but I do object to the wise men of St. George's-in-the-East having thirteen times the electoral power of the electors of Wandsworth. The proper way to deal with London anomalies is to begin by redistributing, if you think a change is necessary, the London seats. The hon. Member for Somerset, who I know is an expert in these questions, states in a book which I have recently read, that the county of London is entitled to five more seats than it at present possesses. If that is so, and if you have really the interests of the London electors at heart, surely the way to satisfy their just claims is not to introduce a Bill of this kind, which only touches the fringe of the anomalies, but to introduce a comprehensive measure which will 1562 go to the heart of the question and give them the electoral power to which they are entitled. Apart from these explicit and detailed points, I venture to think that the Bill is based upon a wrong principle. I believe that London is much too big an area to treat as a single borough. I believe that we cannot compare a great area like the county of London, which extends to 118 square miles, with great cities, even as great as Liverpool, Glasgow, or Manchester. The population of the county of London is 4,500,000, and to turn it into a single Parliamentary borough would be the same thing as to turn the whole of Australia into a single Parliamentary borough, for the populations of the two are almost identical. The whole population of Belgium is not quite as great as the population of Greater London, and if you turn this great area into a single Parliamentary borough you might as well take a great area surrounding Birmingham or a great area in the West Riding of Yorkshire, or a great area in South Lancashire, and say that each of these shall be a single Parliamentary borough. If you pass this Bill there is no reason why you should not pass a Bill saying that Liverpool and Manchester should be thrown into one Parliamentary borough.
This Bill is going in the teeth of the modern trend of local government. I believe that the just principle upon which London should be governed is to encourage local administrators in various boroughs as much as possible. That is recognised in a number of Acts of Parliament, and in dealing with so great an area, where the interests of one borough are often contrary to the interests of another borough, it is the only way by which you can achieve a proper system of local government. During the discussions which took place over the Shop Hours Act it was made quite clear that for most purposes you cannot treat London as a single whole, but that you must let the individual boroughs work out their own salvation, and make their own arrangements. This Bill goes in the teeth of what I believe to be the wise trend of public opinion. I believe that you will never get up a strong corporate feeling about so great and artificial an area as what is known as the county of London. I believe that you will excite local feeling much better if you begin with the boroughs, and by giving them independence and treating them as independent political units, encourage local men 1563 to take their part in local government. Take the case of my own Constituency and the constituencies by which it is surrounded. Surely men who live in the Royal borough of Kensington, or the City of Westminster, or the borough of Chelsea naturally think first, when questions of government are concerned, of Kensington or Westminster or Chelsea. Some hon. Members opposite may think that that is a wrong feeling. I do not think so at all. I think that you will govern London much more efficiently if you will encourage this local patriotism in its various boroughs, and I am sure that to pass a Bill which would destroy in any large measure the corporate feeling of these particular localities would be a very great mistake. I move, then, the Amendment which stands in my name for three reasons. First, that in view of the other proposals and the promises of the Government and the Bill of the hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. W. Pearce) this Bill is superfluous; secondly, because you cannot isolate London and deal with it separately and leave the rest of the country untouched; and thirdly, that to pass the Bill would be to degrade the present position of the London boroughs and tend to discourage the corporate pride which they now feel in local life.
§ Mr. HARRIS
My hon. Friend has shown clearly that this Bill is superfluous, impracticable, and illogical. I hope to show that it is mischievous in principle, without regard to the merits or the objects which it seeks to attain. The Bill proposes to constitute London a single Parliamentary borough. I wish that the Radical Progressive party would make up their minds as to what area in their opinion is London, and act consistently upon some one opinion. At present they chop and change to suit their requirements or the political exigencies of the moment. In this Bill they maintain that the administrative county of London is London, that it is one great city homogeneous like Birmingham or Manchester which ought to be made into a single Parliamentary borough. But when it suits the purpose of hon. Gentleman opposite they maintain the reverse and say that it is quite a mistake to think that London is one great city. On the contrary, they stoutly maintain that there are large, very populous districts outside what is often called inner London which really form for all essential purposes part of London. My hon. Friend the Member for 1564 North St. Pancras (Mr. Dickinson) has been very prominent in maintaining this latter theory. He went down in 1907 to speak in one of these districts and he told the people there that it is nonsense to talk of Tottenham not being part of London. He said:—Your interests are just as much in London as my interests are.He went on to make this very interesting observation:—I say that the suburbs of London are just as much London, and the suburban residents of London are just as much Londoners as those who live and feast in the City and drive about in their motor cars along Piccadilly and Oxford Street. Therefore any reform of London nowadays must extend to the suburbs.I agree to a large extent, but why, then, is this reform applied only to inner London, and why are you treating part of this great City of London as if it were the whole of London and making it a single Parliamentary borough? The fact is, in the first place, that the Parliamentary boroughs which are set forth in the first Schedule to this Bill are not homogeneous, do not form a single homogeneous city. The second point is—I have Progressive authority for it—that inner London does not constitute London.
In reference to the character of this inner London, if anybody examines the administrative county of London he will find that it differs from all provincial towns not only in size, but in its local diversities. The Royal Commission of 1894 were appointed for the express purpose of constituting the administrative county of London a single municipality, but they were so impressed by the local diversities in that area that they called attention to the fact that London really comprises within itself several towns which ought to have local life and autonomy of their own. Therefore they recommended that local municipal bodies should be created and given as much power as possible. That was carried out by the establishment of the Metropolitan borough councils. I am not going to maintain that the Metropolitan borough councils are in the same position as municipal corporations in the provinces, nor will I maintain that they have the same claim as provincial towns to separate Parliamentary existence. But I do say that there is not the same unified corporate interest in the Metropolitan area as in provincial towns, and that there is not the same reason for making the boroughs in London into a single Parliamentary area as in the case of provincial towns; and if you try to test local feeling in those Par- 1565 liamentary boroughs of London set out in the Schedule of this Bill, you will find that the great majority of opinion is against depriving them of their independent existence as Parliamentary boroughs, and making them mere divisions of a so-called London. I submit, therefore, that this proposal is a retrograde step to stereotype inner London, when you admit and even allege that it is not the whole of London. I put the matter on a somewhat broader and even more important ground—I suggest that it not desirable to ignore outer London in the way proposed by this Bill.
There is a great problem with which we have to deal, and I submit that this great problem of inner and outer London has to be dealt with. We know that the First Lord of the Admiralty suggested that there should he Home Rule for London. But I would point out, in the first plaec, that inner and outer London have very large interests in common, such as for example, locomotion. Anyone who has been going into the question of London locomotion, as I have lately in Committee upstairs, cannot fail to realise the common interests which inner and outer London have in that matter. It is undoubtedly desirable that there should be some means of common action between inner and outer London, and that there should be some federation or method by which they can act together. But you are not going to get that by stereotyping inner London and saying it is to be one Parliamentary borough. I do not believe that hon. Members opposite would propose it if they had not got other objects in view—political objects rather than the good organisation of London. I think there is no necessity to take this retrograde step, because the objects you have in view, whether I agree with them or not, can be secured in other and much better ways. Take the question of successive occupation, on which so much stress is laid. You do not require to make London a single Parliamentary borough in order to get rid of what I quite agree is the injustice of successive occupation. You could by a very simple Bill do away with it everywhere. Let me show the absurdity in which you are landed by this proposal. I represent a border constituency of London. I can walk down a street in my Constituency and come to the last house in Paddington, and the next house to it is in the Harrow Division of Middlesex. Surely you want the same law applied to successive occupation, whether the voter is just in Paddington or is just in 1566 Middlesex. You should, I think, deal with the question by a single Clause applied to the whole country. I think the hon. Member who moved the Second Reading of the Bill to a large extent gave the case away on this point, because he admitted that the population moved largely from Inner to Outer London.
If the object is not to gerrymander London, why not bring in a Bill to cure the mischief of successive occupation once and for all? I cannot help thinking that the real object which led to the framing of this Bill was to get rid of the plural voter in London. The absurdity of the actual proposal I can very easily illustrate in the very case I have already referred to. I can go down that street in Paddington to the last house, which has an occupier with a vote both in Paddington and in the City. The man in the next house has a vote in the Harrow Division and also in the central district of London. By this Bill you will take away one vote from the man in Paddington, and leave both his votes to the man in the Harrow Division. On what principle can that be justified? I submit that it would be absurd to abolish the plural vote in London, and leave it in the rest of the country. I challenge the principle on which that proposal is based. I say it is inconsistent with our present electoral system. Our present electoral system, as Mr. Gladstone pointed out, is based upon the individuality of constituencies. The present electoral system regards constituencies, not so much as aggregations of electors as places with traditions and characteristics of their own. If you are to get an accurate representation of the views of the constituency you must collect the voices, if I may use that expression, of all the qualified citizens in that constituency. On what principle are you to prevent men from voting who occupy premises in and take part in the municipal, commercial, and social life of the constituency? On what principle are you going to do that, under the present electoral system at any rate? The only principle on which you can justify it is that you are going to establish equality of voting power. This Bill does not establish equality of voting power, and I am not sure that even the Government Bill proposes to establish equality of voting power. The Colonial Secretary, when speaking on the Second Reading of the Franchise Bill last year, said:—We shall come to measures which will mike some approach to equality of electoral districts.1567 He did not tell us whether this approach was to be a long one or a short one, but it is clear that the proposals of the Government are not to establish equality of voting power, but only to have Redistribution on the old lines. At any rate, my point is that there is no proposal to establish equality of voting power, and the only principle on which the plural vote could be destroyed at present is really non-existent. My main point is that it is really not necessary to make the administrative county of London into a single Parliamentary borough in order to secure the objects which are sought by this Bill. I second its rejection as not necessary to the interests of London, and as not providing the right way to secure the objects in view.
§ Captain JESSEL
I am surprised that no one on the other side of the House has ventured to get up to reply to the very weighty arguments put forward by my hon. Friends who have moved and seconded the Amendment. I cannot understand the action of hon. Members opposite who profess to support this Bill and yet come down to this House and do not attempt to justify it. I suppose the real fact is that there is very little justification for the Bill at all. This is part of the policy of the party opposite, as instanced in the last few Bills introduced, to do their utmost to change the jury. I am much inclined to think that they are rather frightened to appeal to the jury as it is at present constituted, and by every sort of device that is possible they are trying to select another kind of jury to procure a verdict in their own favour. Last week we discussed on Friday the question of the hours of polling, and this Bill changes one of the principal provisions in this respect, that the hours are different and we are to have the advantage of having an extra hour in London over the rest of the country. I should have thought the promoters of this Bill would have consulted the promoters of the previous Bill and have taken counsel together, so as to get some uniform measure for the whole country and not make London an exception. We have, then, had the Plural Voters Bill this week for the purpose, in my opinion, of disfranchising a large number of voters. On the last day of the same week we have this special dose of medicine for London. I should have thought, from all the sympathy we 1568 hear expressed so often by the party opposite on behalf of social reform, that the House of Commons might have been a little better occupied in devising some treatment of social questions rather than these machinery Bills, which, if carried out, I do not believe are going to benefit one single human being. Last week we challenged hon. Members opposite, and they said the Bill for extending the hours was not a party Bill in the least. They did not devote their attention to bringing in a Bill, say, for the better housing of the working classes in London. We know that the Government at present have no sympathy in the least with measures of that sort, as is instanced by what happened yesterday in Grand Committee. I think this Bill is simply a gerrymandering Bill, brought in for the purpose of trying to get rid of a lot of voters whom hon. Members opposite think are not in their interest, and also for the purpose of securing what they think will be some advantage in their favour.
The hon. Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. Dickinson), who I am sorry to see is now gone out of the House, some time ago, when he was chairman of the London County Council, spoke about the enormous quantity of work which fell to the lot of members of that council. He said that really the time has now come when there ought to be some relief given to the members of that body from the very great work and details thrust upon them. What do we find in this Bill? The clerk of the London County Council is to have full control of the registration in London, and there will have naturally to be a committee set up at Spring Gardens to supervise that work, and thus more important work will be thrown on the London County Council. I think it would be a much more expensive system of registration by the county council, because the London boroughs will have to do the work, and, as happens now at county council elections, time is wasted and delay is caused because of letters and memorandums passing from the county council, who do not do the work, to the borough councils. Under this duplicate system there will be overlapping and more expense on the ratepayers of London. There is another point on which the hon. Member for Chelsea was very insistent, and as to which I think we are entitled to some reply from hon. Members opposite. On which particular leg does the Progressive party stand at this moment when it talks about London? Is that London the 1569 administrative county of London as at present constituted, or is the London that the hon. Member for North St. Pancras has foreshadowed as his ideal in an article he wrote in one of the Liberal Reviews before the election, or what is it to be, because that makes the whole difference. If this Bill is passed London will be stereotyped as it is, but according to the view of the hon Member opposite there ought to be no finality in this question, and London ought to grow, and grow according as population increases in the surrounding districts. I noticed that in the last municipal contest in London there was very little heard about this Greater London scheme, and I can only suppose that the Progressive party found that it was not particularly popular. When I come to more closely scrutinise the details this is not a Bill for the benefit of London or the simplification of the register or anything of that sort, but is simply to carry out an ideal that is being constantly brought forward by the Progressive party of making London one borough and one city. What is the verdict of London? I think we are entitled to use that as an argument against this Bill. At no less than six successive municipal elections, three for the borough councils and three for the county council, the chief plank of the Progressive party has been to set up a new central body in London, abolish the City of London, and to degrade the borough councils into mere district committees. That has been repudiated over and over again by the people of London. By this Bill London is practically made one borough, and the whole registration machinery is placed in the hands of the county council, and that is one of the proposals which London has emphatically neglected. I think, therefore, we are only doing our duty to the people of London and to our constituents when we refuse to vote for this Bill. I should like to come to closer quarters with the argument about the people being disfranchised in London. I do not take the last election in December. That took place on a rather old register. If you compare the percentage of voters in London with the percentage in Glasgow, you will find that it is about the same—84 per cent.
§ Captain JESSEL
Actual voters. Great play has been made with the argument that the London County Council elections all take place on one day. It is said that there is no difficulty in the matter, because London already has an example of elections taking place on the same day. The answer is very simple. I presume that it is the wish of hon. Members opposite that as many electors as possible should record their votes. I quite agree with that theory. One of the great difficulties at the municipal elections is to get as many people to vote as one would wish. The figures in the last three elections have been in all cases well under 60 per cent. That is not a satisfactory state of affairs. It is open to question whether one of the causes that lead to such low polls at the municipal as compared with the Parliamentary elections is not the fact that the elections are held all on the same day. Constituencies vary. In some constituencies a considerably higher proportion of the electors vote than in others. The probable reason is that the day fixed for the poll does not suit particular constituencies. If there was latitude of choice, so that constituencies could make arrangements to suit their own particular local convenience, you would probably have a higher general poll in the London County Council elections. Another important proposal in the Bill is to take away the right to vote in more than one district in London. It has already been pointed out that London is a very big place, and that a man may live in one part and have his business in another. If a man should be deprived of his right to vote in more than one place, it would be very difficult for him to make up his mind in which division to vote.
Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present. House counted; and forty Members being found present—
§ Captain JESSEL
I was dealing with the question of plural voting in London, and was trying to show that plural voters had some right to sympathy in this matter. The assessable value of London is about £40,000,000, of which at least £10,000,000 is not represented for municipal purposes by any voting power at all. In the City of Westminster the ratable value is over £6,000,000, of which at least £2,000,000 is not represented by any voting power for 1571 municipal purposes. There are large businesses in the hands of private companies, which have no votes, and many public institutions, hotels, and so forth. It would be a great grievance if this vast amount of property had no representation in Parliament to equalise its lack of representation from the municipal point of view. I submit that there is something to be said from that aspect for the plural vote in London. If you are going to abolish plural voting, why not make the provision applicable to the whole of the country? Hon. Members themselves must feel that it is not quite fair to treat London in this exceptional manner. Another provision in the Bill deals with the returning officers. At present they are appointed by the Sheriff of London. I do not know that their charges are any higher than the charges in provincial constituencies. It has been the growing practice for the Sheriff of London to appoint the Town Clerks of the various boroughs to be the returning officers, and you would probably have considerable difficulty and expense in the matter of compensation for existing officers if they were abolished by this Bill. I do not believe there has been any ground for complaint in regard to the present system.
Another proposal is that there should be one Revising Barrister to revise the lists for the whole of London as regards plural voting. It is difficult enough in a single borough as matters stand at present, but if the whole of the twenty-eight boroughs are to be done by one man it will take the Revising Barrister months and months to complete his work. I can see no reason at all for the change. The only point which has been made out for the Bill which is the slightest justification for it is no doubt the hardship there is that the man who lives in one borough in London loses his vote simply because he steps across the street. That is extremely hard. In Westminster there are three Parliamentary divisions: for municipal purposes Westminster is one area, but if a man steps from St. George's into the Strand he loses his Parliamentary vote. That, of course, is a very stupid thing; but that only happens because it is an anomaly, and one that happens very naturally, because, as the House knows, it is only a few years ago that the City of Westminster was recreated. It only needs a very short Act to be passed to make Westminster one borough for Parlia- 1572 mentary purposes, exactly the same as any other borough in London is. After all the grievance in London is no worse than in any other part of the country. If a man leaves Birmingham where he has a vote and comes to London, after having in Birmingham fulfilled the duties of a citizen, it is a hardship that he loses his vote, but I see no logical reason whatever why you should single out London in this matter. It could be arranged that a man coming from Birmingham or any other place to London should have the right to vote in the new place. That, I think, you might take on logical grounds, but I cannot see why London should be made an exception. You must have boundaries somewhere. As the hon. Member for Paddington has pointed out, his borough is quite close to the Harrow Division, and disability applies there just the same. The same applies to Manchester and Salford, and to Liverpool and Birkenhead. In conclusion, I regret very much that, as I said at the commencement, hon. Members opposite did not choose a better Bill to bring in upon a Friday afternoon in view of all that has happened this Session. We might have had some really useful discussion and some illuminating proposals from the other side of the House.
§ Mr. RADFORD
I desire to say a few words in support of this Bill, and that notwithstanding the fact that a few moments ago we were charged on this side of the House with not being ready to produce any arguments in support of the Bill now before us. Without any disrespect to hon. Members opposite, I have listened to their speeches without having noted any serious objection to the Bill. I admit that we have listened to the argument, which is too familiar to hon. Members on this side, that because we are not doing everything we shall do nothing at all. Hon. Members opposite admit that a man being deprived of his vote by reason of changing his place of occupation in the county of London is a subject of grievance which ought to be remedied. I submit that, as this Bill proposes to remedy that, that so far it is a good thing and ought to be passed. The only reason, we are told, we ought not to remedy an admitted injustice is that because a man moves from the county of London outside the borders of the county of London that he also loses his vote. I admit that grievance. Let us remedy that when we have time. In my opinion that is no reason why we should fail to remedy an admitted injustice which comes before us 1573 as citizens of London. The whole of the arguments on the other side appear to me to be entirely of the character I have indicated. I do not think they need refutation. They only need to be stated, for hon. Members know that if you wait till you do all that can be done to remedy grievances, it will be quite impossible, having regard to the conditions and time prevailing in this House, to do anything at all. Any hon. Member who has had the experience that I have had of being elected as a Member not only for this House for a Parliamentary Division of London, but for the London County Council, will, if he looks through this Bill and reflects upon his own experience, recognise the numerous improvements and conveniences which are introduced into this Bill. If such an hon. Member will think only of his own advantage and of his own personal comfort, he will necessarily embrace the provisions of this Bill as an alleviation of the miseries he has gone through as a Parliamentary candidate.
§ Mr. RADFORD
I hope so. I am coming to that. The hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London is premature in his reproaches. In regard to the elector we are proposing to remedy an injustice that has already been admitted by hon. Members on the other side of the House; to give the elector the right to vote in respect of successive occupation. We are also proposing to give him the advantage of later hours of polling. The only objection which has been raised to that has been that you ought not to enlarge the hours of polling in London unless you enlarge them all over the country. That argument does not appeal to me in the least, because the conditions of life in London are not precisely the same as those that prevail in country villages and other places throughout the land. The hours of work are in some respects longer in London, but what is more important in this connection, the distances that men live from their work in London is greater than in the country. Anyone who has gone through a Parliamentary election or a London County Council election knows very well from his own experience that there are a very large number, sometimes even a large percentage, of the electorate who are unable by reason of the poll closing at eight o'clock to record their votes. I venture to think 1574 that although it is an alleviation of the situation that we have already passed a Bill to extend the hour to nine o'clock, this Bill might also well be accepted by this House. That is a point for the electorate of London, of whom the hon. Baronet is also thinking. The hon. Member for Westminster has alleged the same reason for reviewing the question about plural voting. I do not propose to go into that question again. We discussed it only yesterday, and I hope we have settled the question of plural voting, and I do not propose dealing with the vote which the House of Commons gave last night.
§ Mr. RADFORD
I did not catch the interruption. Perhaps the hon. Baronet does not think it wise to repeat it.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I understood the hon. Gentleman to say he did not propose dealing with the vote given last night, and I said I agree because I thought it was quite indefensible.
§ Mr. RADFORD
I agree for once with the hon. Baronet. I do not think it needs any defence. The functions of the clerk of the London County Council, as returning officer for the county of London, have been exercised well for many years, and it has been his practice to appoint the town clerks of the boroughs to act as his deputies. The work under this arrangement has been exceedingly well done, and I do not think anyone who has had experience would find fault with it. One might contrast the work of the clerk of the London County Council with what has been done in other centres by returning officers, and I say, without hesitation and without any disparity to returning officers and sheriffs, that there is great reason to be satisfied with the work of the clerk of the London County Council. This is not the first time this Bill has been before the House of Commons. It was before the House two or three years ago, and it was sent to a Committee upstairs, on which I had the honour of serving, and my recollection is that we very happily disposed of it in less than one day. Although the Opposition were represented on that Committee there was no one on the Committee who had the hardihood to propose an Amendment, so we got through our work almost in a few minutes, and 1575 reported the Bill to the House. I think this Bill would be a boon not only to the Members for London, but to the electorate in the City as well.
§ 2.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
The hon. Member who has just sat down has a quaint sense of humour. He says the joys of a Parliamentary candidate would be increased by keeping the polls open from seven in the morning until ten o'clock at night. He, no doubt, has enjoyed his elections. Perhaps that is his peculiar form of recreation, but I do not think it will commend itself to other Members of the House. It may be true that all Bills have the treatment they deserve at the hands of the House. I only draw your attention, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to the condition of the House in order to show the esteem which Members on the other side have for the measure now before us. Perhaps they are right. I do not wish to detain the House many minutes as I am going elsewhere, and as I had the opportunity of discussing a Bill two nights ago which has a similar odour. These Bills do not smell sweet in the nostrils of Parliament; they partake of the nature of jobbery, and if we clear our minds of cant we must confess this is a jobbing Bill. We are a little tired of hearing talk of removing anomalies. After all, the whole of this British Constitution is made up of anomalies. Our whole system—commercial, political, and industrial is anomalous, but the only anomalies to be removed are those which are to give some electors advantage to those upon the other side. If you are going to have a perfect political system, you can only have it by giving to every citizen an equal and an exact share of the representation by means of a proportional system—that is the only way—of election in a standard constituency. Until you reach that ideal, to talk of removing anomalies here and there only means that party advantage is being sought.
Allow me to draw the attention of the House for one moment to the fact that the greatest anomalies will be left untouched under this Bill. It is said you can get rid of the anomaly in London because there the proportion of electors to population is artificially kept down by restrictions imposed in its sub-division into a number of separate boroughs; but the actual percentage in London differs enormously under the present system. In the borough of 1576 Whitechapel the percentage of electors to population is only 6.2, whereas in the Strand it is 20.3. The reason, of course, is, that it is not only the peculiar restrictions and limitations of the London electorate, as sub-divided into different boroughs that count, and the want of successive occupation between one street and another, but there are many other factors. For example, there is the large alien population in London, which is much larger, certainly in the quarter that I represent, than in any other part of the country. The anomalies are left, and the disproportion exists as between London boroughs, and not necessarily and only as between London boroughs and boroughs in the rest of the country. Then may I point out—and this is a most important thing—this Bill does not do away with the greatest difficulty and scandal of our registration system, that when an elector is taken from the lodger list and put upon the occupiers' list there is no question of successive occupation. What could be more monstrous? A man living in a house where the landlord is resident, and is therefore a lodger, becomes a tenement occupier next door. It is impossible for him to retain his vote by means of successive occupation, whereas if in the same street and constituency he moves from one house to another as tenement occupier his vote is continued; that is a far greater scandal than anything with which this Bill deals. Nothing is said about it.
Will the right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench tell us whether the Government will try in Committee to amend the Bill in that respect, or whether they are content to allow the anomalies to survive, if they are to their advantage, and only remove them if they operate against themselves. It is the old tale, and this is accounted for, perhaps, by their estimate of the political knowledge of the electorate. The hon. Gentleman who moved the adoption of this Bill intimated that it was only when the electorate were under the influence of the public-house that they took any interest in the result of political elections, and he said that whereas now there is a great crowd for the declaration of a poll, and great temptation to turbulence, you cannot get them to interest themselves in the declaration of the poll if it takes place upon the next morning when there would be no crowd at all. That is a very low estimate to put upon the intelligence and the interest of the electorate.
§ Mr. GLANVILLE
As I was coming back into the House I heard the hon. Gentleman make a remark about my speech. I do not think what he said was contained in my speech. What he said I think was that you cannot get them to take an interest in elections unless they have been drinking or something of that kind. Certainly, I never used such words in my speech.
§ Mr. LAWSON
I am very sorry if I misrepresented what the hon. Gentleman said. As I understood him he said that electors collected in enormous crowds on the night of the declaration of the poll when you could have the votes counted on the same evening, but if you could not, and you had to hold it over till the next day there would be very few people present. He also said that the public-houses being opened, the electors remained, and frequented them, and I think he suggested that they would not be in a fit state of mind, at any rate under circumstances and conditions of great excitement which were prejudicial to public order. The hon. Member does not deny that. I only pointed it out as showing the estimate of the hon. Gentleman of their intelligence and the interest taken by electors in the result of a Parliamentary election.
§ Mr. GLANVILLE
I am sorry to have to interrupt again; I did not refer to the electors. I spoke of persons. I said thousands and tens of thousands of persons, many of whom are not on the register.
§ Mr. LAWSON
Some of them are, and that is quite sufficient of an admission for my purpose. My principal objection to this Bill is that it will diminish the power of the people and will decrease the number of those who record their votes at the poll. If you watch the statistics of the London County Council elections you will find that a very much smaller proportion of persons vote in London in elections for county council purposes than for Parliamentary purposes. I admit that the general interest may not be so great in the one as it is in the other, but at the same time I believe it to be absolutely true that if you hold all the elections on one day as proposed in this Bill, you will make it increasingly difficult for voters to record their votes at the poll, and diminish the possible number who can exercise their civic right. To that extent, this Bill is opposed to what is called the interest of the democracy and the exercise by the 1578 people of the franchise at a General Election. Nobody can want, in London especially, to decrease the interest in public elections. We want to increase the poll in such cases. We find that now the percentage is discreditably small and we want to increase it. Here is a Bill, one great effect of which would be to decrease the proportion of those who record their votes. Is that a democratic measure? It is one brought forward in the name of democracy, but really in the interest of one political party. It is another example of the wire-pullers' art. I venture to say in conclusion that as a piece of legislation this Bill is a mere travesty and caricature. There is nothing of value in it which is not included in other measures. By all means have a reform of the registration system; by all means do away with the excessive cost of elections; but this Bill will do nothing in that direction. As a matter of fact now, in London, the heaviest expenses incurred will not be dealt with by this Bill because they are not returning officers' expenses per elector under the Corrupt Practices Act. These expenses vary enormously, from £2,000 in Wandsworth, to £300 or £400 in other constituencies. The proportion of that which is made up of returning officers' expenses is very small. In that respect, the Bill will do nothing to make it easier for a poor man to enter the House, because the proportion is so small. The Bill in other ways by increasing the cost of political machinery and the difficulty of obtaining a full expression of the views of the electorate will be actually opposed to the right of the people. I trust it will meet with the fate it deserves, and if I can judge from the present attendance on the benches opposite, we ought not to be in any doubt as to the result.
§ Mr. GLYN-JONES
A very great change seems to have come over Gentlemen in their attitude towards proposals put forward from this side of the House with regard to electoral reform. What they are concerned with is not so much that we seek to make a change, but that we do not make it sufficiently radical or make a sufficient number of changes at one and the same attempt. Last week we had that argument in reference to a private Member's Bill which the House then read a second time, and afterwards we had the same argument with regard to the Government measure. It was admitted that the Plural Voting Bill dealt with an anomaly, but the main reason why the House was 1579 asked by the other side not to remove that anomaly was that there was a large number of other anomalies that ought also to be dealt with, and that unless we on this side were radical enough in our desires for making a change to satisfy the Conservative party we would not be allowed to attempt to remove these anomalies one at a time. I quite agree that our laws, especially those relating to registration and elections, are full of anomalies, but I am not sure that because a thing is an anomaly it necessarily ought to be removed. The point is, is it an anomaly which produces an injustice? Our case is that certainly with regard to London there is an anomaly to-day which works a very great injustice upon a very large number of people who live in this great Metropolis. One of the arguments put against our proposal this afternoon was that we were isolating London in our proposal. The fact is that we are trying to alter a position of isolation. There must, of course, be a very much greater amount of removal among the working classes within a short distance of London, which means at present that they lose their vote, than in other big cities. We are told that if a voter moves from Birmingham to London this Bill does not give him a vote, but how many voters are there who move from Birmingham to London compared with the number of voters who move from one part of Birmingham to another part of Birmingham? Those who move from one part of Birmingham to another part of Birmingham keep their votes, but those who move from one part of London to another part of London in very many instances lose their votes. I was delighted to hear from the other side that it was unjust, and that it was an anomaly, that a man should lose his vote merely because he moved. One Member put before the House the cruel injustice to those in his own constituency, an injustice that would not be removed by this Bill. He said that some of the electors, if they moved into Middlesex, a few streets this way, the Bill would not help them, but if they moved a few streets the other way into another division of London, the Bill would help them. I hope it will be a comfort to the voters in that division who do lose their votes because they move into a certain part of London that the hon. Member who represents them is not prepared to do anything for them because under the same Bill he could not help those who moved 1580 the other way out. The answer to that is one which cannot be resisted. They admit that it is an injustice that a man should lose his vote if he goes from the present county of London over the barrier into a constituency in an adjoining county. Let them pass this Bill, and let them in Committee simply move an alteration as to what constitutes London as a single area, and let them put those parts into that constituency. That is quite possible.
§ Mr. GLYN-JONES
I hesitate very much to express an opinion in view of what the hon. Baronet says, but I think if he looks at the Bill he will find that it is to constitute a single Parliamentary borough. Clause 1 says:—
"The area formed by the existing Parliamentary boroughs in London specified in the first column of the First Schedule to this Act, and in this Act referred to as existing Parliamentary boroughs, shall be a single Parliamentary borough, to be called the Parliamentary borough of London."
I think the hon. Baronet would find a way of introducing an Amendment to that Clause to bring in the outer London, but, if I am not right there, it does not dispose of my argument that this House should not decline to get rid of an admitted anomaly which creates injustice in the county of London simply because it is not in order on this Bill to get rid of it anywhere else. We have had some arguments about the percentages voting, and I agree with the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Harry Lawson) that the figures do not carry us very far. They are some rough guide, but, as he pointed out, there are factors which affect the relative proportion of votes other than this question of removals. Obviously comparing London with an ordinary municipality like Birmingham, with its seven divisions, there is a very much larger plurality of votes in London than there are in the large country municipalities. It necessarily follows that you get an increased electorate. Then we were told—a curious argument that I could not follow—that this Bill was going to do something to minimise the value of local autonomy and local life of London. I cannot for the life of me see that. It simply provides that for Parliamentary and not for local purposes the whole of 1581 London shall be regarded as one area. It comes ill from hon. Members opposite to put forward that argument. They have made London one area for local purposes, and to say that if you do the same thing for Parliamentary purposes you are destroying the local life of London—
§ Mr. GLYN-JONES
There, again, you have the question of percentages of voters put forward. Does the hon. Member say that the percentage voting at county council elections in London is lower than the percentage voting at county council or borough council elections anywhere else? He will not deny—there are good reasons for it—that the percentage of those voting in London at a county council election is higher than the average voting for the great municipal bodies or county councils throughout the country. I was not surprised to hear hon. Members opposite say that we ought not to do anything to minimise plural voting in London, because there is so much wealth in London which goes unrepresented. We had figures put forward showing that in Westminster the assessable value was £45,000,000, whereas only £10,000,000 was represented for local government purposes. If hon. Members think that millions in the shape of money need representation, there may be something to be said for that argument, but I am one of those who believe that it is human beings who require representation. Assuming that hon. Members opposite are right, how does this Bill hurt them? Much of this £45,000,000 is in the hands of limited liability companies. They do not get representation now, and the Bill does not touch them. We have a suggestion of another scandal connected with Parliamentary registration and representation. The hon. Member for Mile End, in dealing with other defects and anomalies in our present registration system, which he is so anxious we should deal with altogether, though he is not prepared to let us try to deal with any one of them separately, said that a lodger in London who becomes an occupier loses his vote. Again I speak with modesty and fear in the presence of hon. Gentlemen, who know so much of what can and cannot be done under this Bill, but I am not at all sure, if the hon. Member lets this Bill go through and he brings in an Amendment to provide that a lodger who becomes an occupier in London shall not lose his vote, that 1582 he would not be in order, and I can assure him that there is nobody on this side of the House who would not give him their hearty support in this respect.
There was the curious argument that we were going to increase the cost of registration and of returning officers. It was suggested that we were going to deprive certain people who act to-day as returning officers in Parliamentary elections in London of their duties without making any provision for their compensation, but the same hon. Member said that there was a growing practice in London for the sheriff to appoint as returning officer the clerk to the borough councils, and he seemed to welcome it. This Bill provides that the clerk to the county council shall be the returning officer, and that by law the clerks of the Metropolitan boroughs shall be the deputy returning officers. Hon. Members know quite well that is what happens now in regard to county council elections. You have a register prepared by the borough council and largely paid for and to some extent under the control of the county council. The same register is used in effect for Parliamentary purposes, and I cannot possibly see what extra expense there would be if you make the clerk to the London County Council the chief registration officer for Parliamentary purposes as well as for county council purposes. Hon. Members opposite seemed very hurt at one time that hon. Members on this side of the House did not show that eagerness to meet the arguments they put forward, but I think we were really waiting for arguments which did demand some refutation. Their only argument with reference to last week's Bill and this week's Bill seems to be that we want to alter the Registration Law and to get rid of all these anomalies at once. I have heard that argument from the Socialist party more than once, but it is new coming from the party opposite. I know Socialists who say, "We will not have you tamper and improve matters, because we want one great radical change." That seems now to be the attitude of hon. Members opposite. They refuse to assist those who in London at present lose their votes to secure them in the future simply because they cannot do it for the whole of the country. I hope the House will give this Bill a Second Reading.
§ Sir HARRY SAMUEL
I have listened with considerable attention to the arguments put forward in support of this Bill. If there is one thing which strikes those of 1583 us who claim to be somewhat old politicians, it is this: If you want to ascertain the probable condition of the weather you will tap the barometer; so an old politician who wants to get at the opinion of the country will look at the Order Paper of this House in order to find out how many changes in the franchise are proposed by the party opposite, as thereby it may be possible to ascertain fairly correctly what the party opposite believe to be their position in the opinion of the country. At the present moment the attempts to tamper with the franchise of the country are very numerous. Not a week passes without some fresh endeavour to alter the franchise. We constantly hear of the anomalies that exist in the franchise laws, and of the terrible disabilities under which the electors of the country are placed, but when we come to examine the question of what anomalies the party in power desire to deal with we find there is always one anomaly, so called by them—I do not admit that it is an anomaly—which they suggest must be dealt with at once, as it may interfere with their probable success on the next appeal to the electorate. It reminds me very much of the old cricket story of the gentleman who was good enough—I believe he was the local butcher—to lend his field for a local cricket match, and who, when he was given out first ball by the umpire, shouted "Out you go—out of my field!" I am very much inclined to think the Government stands in much the same position in regard to this question. The supporters of the Government have a feeling—and judging from recent by-elections in the country there would appear to be some foundation for it—that the umpire will, on their next appeal, give them out; therefore they say they have discovered a terrible anomaly which must be at once remedied, and, while they admit that there are a very large number of other things requiring to be done from the failure to deal with which the electors are suffering, they say they will leave them alone, because they are only matters from which the electors suffer, whereas that from which, as a party, they are suffering must be stamped out at once, and they cannot even wait five minutes for that to be done.
One thing which strikes me as a London Member is that the Government are willing to deal, or are willing to identify themselves on Friday afternoons, only with such things as may in some way or other 1584 prove a benefit to their party. We are groaning in London under many grave disabilities. We have only to look at the Debates in this House and to remember the manner in which the finances of London are being treated. We have only to bear in mind the question of London traffic and other matters which urgently call for consideration. It would have been thought that hon. Members opposite who are fortunate enough—and it is not an easy thing—to secure success in the ballot would have seized the opportunities they gained in order to try and remedy some of these very grave questions which press hardly on the people of London. But what occurs? Last Friday afternoon we had a discussion on the question of lengthening the hours of polling. There would appear to be no finality, no homogeneity, in these matters, because on this Friday we are again asked to deal with a Bill which also raises the question of the hours of polling. I do not think I ever heard a greater condemnation of two Bills than I have listened to within the last few days.
I consider that the Bill before the House to-day is an absolute condemnation of the Plural Voting Bill on which we came to a conclusion last night, for the simple reason that in the course of the Debate on that we heard, from the mouth of the Minister for Education, that there were many other disabilities that ought to be remedied, but there was no time this Session to do more than deal with the particular one then before the House. If hon. Members opposite believe in their leaders on the Front Bench, why have they brought in this Bill? Cannot they trust the word of the Government, that they are going to remove these disabilities? If they can, then it is a waste of our time to discuss this Bill. On the other hand, if really and truly the Government, believing that these are electoral disabilities, do not attempt to deal with them, I do not think that any of us on any side of the House can speak too strongly in utter condemnation of their lack of endeavour to do justice to the electors by bringing in a simple Plural Voting Bill and leaving out of consideration all these other great disabilities, which they are surely bound to rectify at the earliest possible moment. There never has been any question on this side of the House that the electors do suffer under grave disabilities. Why should London be singled out for the work of rectification? London is to be treated in this Bill as one great borough. I should like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that 1585 London is a county area; it is not a borough at all. It is so vast, so large, and has such a complexity of thought, ideas, and interests, that it was considered to be large enough to be created a county area. It has a lieutenant of the county of its own; in fact, it is a county, and, under these circumstances, surely the proper thing to do would be to bring other cities up to the level of London rather than try to reduce this great capital of our Empire to the level of the smaller cities.
This Bill inflicts a very great hardship on London as a whole. You cannot get rid of the electoral disabilities of London by saying that because one man moves from one part into another he shall retain his vote. May I point out to those who represent the Government at the present moment that the trend of removal is not from one borough to another, but from boroughs inside London to districts just outside London, and therefore if you really desire to remove these disabilities you will have to widen the boundaries of London. Where are you going to stop in your widening of that area? Is it to be stopped, for instance, by the sea on the South side, and by the great manufacturing districts on the North-West? Reflect that removals nowadays are very different from what they were in the old days, when you had to go either by coach or some other vehicle, instead of being able, as to-day, to take advantage of rapid transit on an electrified train or tram service. I know perfectly well from my own experience of London, extending over a great many years, that the whole trend of removals from boroughs is from those on the South side down further, through Lewisham and Bromley, right into Kent country districts. It is directed, too, on the Surrey side right beyond Croydon, while on the North side it is extended beyond Walthamstow and Romford. Let us remember how complex are the boundaries. I was motoring the other evening to Tottenham, where I was endeavouring to drive another nail into the coffin of my hon. Friends opposite—I do not know with what success. I asked my friend in the car, who knows the country very well, "Where are we now?" He said, "Here you are in Hackney; there you are in Islington; now you are in my own Constituency." The whole of that was almost in a space of a second. This Bill will have no effect whatever on the vast number of removals which take place to districts outside London altogether. I 1586 think hon. Members opposite will see that is perfectly clear if they look at the enormous increases in such places as Walthamstow and Wandsworth. Wandsworth, of course, is in London, and the hon. Baronet who represents it (Sir H. Kimber) never tires in putting before us the great hardships of any man who is called upon to represent that constituency. In the case of Romford the electorate is now over 50,000, and with regard to Walthamstow I have no doubt that the colleague of the hon. Gentleman who now represents the Government can tell him what an enormous increase has taken place there. It proves that the trend is to move into the immediate districts around London, and not from one borough to another.
Take the case of Manchester, which I know very well. Manchester and Salford are absolutely joined together. If a man moves from Manchester into Salford, or from Salford into Manchester, he loses his vote. Liverpool and Birkenhead are divided simply by a river. Westminster and Lambeth are divided by a river; they are instances which are precisely similar. There is no anomaly whatever. If the Government really desire to do something towards removing real anomalies that exist, they have a large field ready to their hands at the moment they choose to undertake the work. I acknowledge without the slightest fear that it is a hardship that a man who moves from one side of the road to the other should not carry his vote with him. Then let right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite remove it, and they will have the hearty support of this House. The moment they turn from that, and put their hands to one thing or another in order to gerrymander the electorate in some way which will give them new judges, because they are not pleased with the old judges. I say they are doing nothing for the electorate. Incidentally one or two electors may gain something. Hon. Members opposite know perfectly well that this is only one in a long series of party measures. Their whole idea is to benefit their party. They have no consideration for the electors of London, or of any other part of the country or the Empire. I shall personally do everything I can to oppose any party measure of this kind. If they will put before the House a measure which will truly remove disabilities from any portion of the citizens of this country, it will receive from citizens in London the heartiest support.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Ellis Griffith)
We have had a very interesting Debate, and not the least contribution to it was the speech made by the hon. Member who has just sat down. I do not quite follow his concluding note, in which he said this was a matter of party advantage. For my own part, I do not see how he could come to the conclusion that this Bill would be to the advantage of the Liberal party any more than to the advantage of the Conservative party. If he looks at the context of the Bill he must come to that conclusion. At any rate, the hon. Member, like most hon. Members who have addressed the House, has quite frankly admitted that there are grave anomalies which should be taken into account. As I understand it, the attitude of the Opposition towards this Bill is not to deny that these are matters to which attention ought to be given, but the contention is—I think the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) is an exception to this—that there are other anomalies of equal importance that ought to be attended to at the same time.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I think if the hon. Member will look at the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow morning he will see that he said that this Bill dealt with a grave disability, and that a Bill which dealt with it would actually have his support. I understand that his point of view is that there are other greater anomalies which ought to be dealt with first, and therefore ought to be embodied in this Bill, and that we have chosen this particular anomaly because we think it redounds to our party advantage. Let me take the description of the Bill given by hon. Members opposite. It has been described as superfluous, impracticable, illogical, mischievous, and retrogade. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am very glad to be able to summarise the arguments of the Opposition. Let me deal with those five adjectives. First of all, it is said that the Bill is superfluous. Why is it superfluous? I think the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Hoare) said that it is superfluous because the Government have already dealt with part of this Bill in other Bills, or have promised to deal with parts of it in other Bills. He, with a knowledge of Scripture, which is greatly to his credit, and which I fully appreciate, referred to us as men of little 1588 faith. That does not quite finish the analogy, because if it is superfluous from his point of view he must be a man of great faith. I understand that he has such confidence in the Government passing these various Bills that he considers this one is superfluous. I am very glad to know that he has such faith in the Government. The real point made against us, so far as this Bill is concerned, is that it is only a little Bill. The Conservative party is always so eager for reform.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
They are so anxious for real, Conservative, constructive reform. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I need not say how gratified I am to be able to interpret the programme of the Conservative party, which they themselves have experienced great difficulty in putting before the country. They say it is piecemeal legislation; that you must not go slowly like this; that what you want is speed; that you must have a large, comprehensive Bill, and that you must deal with all these anomalies in one great measure. They say the moment you propose to remedy all these anomalies in one great measure, then will be the time to appeal to the Conservative party for their support. I understand that position perhaps much better than I appreciate it, for whenever we have put these measures before the House, hon. Members will admit that they have shown a certain amount of coyness and reluctance in supporting our comprehensive Bills. They have opposed us when we have introduced our comprehensive big Bills because they are too wide, and when we have introduced our small Bills, because they are too narrow, and somehow or other we have never been able to hit upon the happy Conservative medium which would enable us to get their support. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Again, I am glad to be able to interpret their position so accurately. It is said that this Bill is impracticable for the reason that if you have the elections on a single day—I think that was the point of the hon. Member for Chelsea—you would have a day convenient for some and inconvenient for others. I quite agree with the hon. Member that the same day would not be convenient for all the constituents, but 1589 at the same time that is the sort of thing that must be balanced, and if some day can be found convenient to all the constituents as a whole, I think the convenience of having one polling day would be a great advantage to London generally. The other point taken was this, that there will be great difficulties in dealing with elections on one day because of the necessity of having a large body of police. I find that on 23rd March, 1910, the First Lord of the Admiralty, who was then Home Secretary, in answer to a question, said:—I am advised that there would be no serious difficulty in making suitable police arrangements for the holding of all elections on one day. In France, Germany, and most other countries, this problem has been satisfactorily solved, and I may add that the police of Liverpool, where there are nine divisions polling simultaneously, as well as of other great cities, have shown themselves fully equal to the task."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd March, 1910, col. 1142, Vol. XV.]As a matter of fact, I understand that the view of the police is that the great difficulty of looking after an area on election day is not with regard to what happens during the polling hours, but of what happens after the polling is over. It is where there is a great concourse of people coming together to hear the declaration of the poll that disturbance occurs, and still more after the declaration of the poll, when the two sides have to seek refreshment, one as a matter of celebration, and the other as a matter of consolation. In these circumstances there are no doubt difficulties, but if the elections were held on one day and the poll were declared the next day, I understand the view of the police is that really there would be practically no change, comparing the present situation with the then situation, and, on the whole, it would be easier than at the present moment.
With regard to the illogical character of this Bill, it is quite true that it does not deal with the whole situation. I have not the intimate knowledge of London which other hon. Members who have spoken have, but I can quite recognise the point made about inner London and outer London. I think it is a point of substance that the migration, which is very considerable, is more from inner London to outer London than from one area in inner London to another, and if "illogical" means that we do not apply the principles of our Bill as widely as they ought to be applied, I appreciate that argument. Still there will no doubt be an opportunity in Committee to deal with this matter. The title is very wide. [HON. MEMBERS: 1590 "London elections."] At any rate I am sure hon. Members opposite next year will be more fortunate in the ballot. There will be ample opportunity of extending the principle of this Bill, and we certainly should not have any objection to applying the principles of this Bill to the area as between inner and outer London. It is said — and I appreciate this point—that what we really ought to do is to get Redistribution, because that is the view of the other side and I feel as anxious as they are for Redistribution. I really do not think we are less anxious for Redistribution, because on whichever side of the House one may be, one must recognise that just as we think there ought to be one man one vote, so we ought to give one vote one value. I do not really think that is a difference of opinion between one side of the House and the other, but still, as hon. Members opposite know full well, this is a very big question. Whichever side has this matter in hand it is inevitable that there should be Redistribution.
At the same time it is quite true that is not a part of this Bill and the real objection, as far as I understand it, to this Bill is that it is not as comprehensive as hon. Members opposite would have it to be. As I understand it, they object to take this matter one anomaly at a time. They want to deal with all these anomalies in a comprehensive measure, and it seems to me really, speaking for myself entirely, that if there be that practical unanimity between the two sides, it seems a thousand pities that we cannot agree on something of a really non-controversial character if we are agreed upon the main lines of reform upon this electoral question. What does this Bill in effect do? It makes London one Parliamentary borough. What will be the effect? First of all, it is quite true that to a certain extent the plural voter will disappear. There are, I believe, about 30,000 plural voters in the London area. As I understand it this is an anomaly. The other side thinks it is not an anomaly. I do not know that anyone has really stood up on the other side for the abolition of the plural voter. One of the most curious arguments was that there were so many limited liability companies holding a large amount of property in London who could not have a vote at all that it was a good thing to get the plural voter in to adjust matters. That is a very curious admission which we should bear in mind. It shows, once for all, that plural voting in this country does represent property and nothing else. That argument is based 1591 upon the assumption that, as there is a good deal of property which has no voter to represent it, the plural voter in a rough-and-ready way should come in and say, "I do not represent that block of flats owned by a limited liability company, but I represent capital in some shape or form, and as the company cannot have a vote it will be some concession to know that there are plural voters somewhere who may look after its interests."
§ 3.0 P.M.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
No, I do not. Certainly not. Does the hon. Member suggest that because a certain block of property representing capital is not represented, it should be represented by a plural voter? There is one point on which there has been practical unanimity on both sides of the House, and that is the hardship of the law as it now applies to successive occupation of houses. You must appreciate the fact that it is too ridiculous that the law now operative with regard to successive occupation should bring about a hardship on London. A man may go across the street and lose his vote and he may go two or three miles off and retain it. At any rate, that gives us some ground on which agreement should be arived at. It was pointed out, quite fairly, that this is a matter that you might remedy by means of a Bill other than this which would make it applicable to the whole country. This Bill, so far as it goes, does remedy that particular injustice. It is calculated that there are at present 40,000 voters who every year lose their votes under the existing law. The discontinuity arises through removal from one constituency to another. Under these circumstances that is one reform which I should have thought would have had a little better reception from hon. Members opposite than it has done this afternoon. Another provision of the Bill is that all the elections will be on one day. That is a matter which I have already dealt with. Apart I think from the question of the Post Office and the question of police, and apart also from the question that it may be more convenient to have an election in one constituency one day and in another constituency on another day, I think that matter might also be the subject of comparative unanimity in 1592 the House. The example of the London County Council election has been referred to, and I think we are entitled to quote that, because the Conservative party in the Act creating the London County Council treat London as one entity for the purpose of local government. I think we are entitled to say that if it is a convenient unit for municipal government, it might also be the unit for a Parliamentary borough, and that all the elections might be held on one day, as in the case of the county council election. I think that removes the argument of the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Hoare) as to the undesirability of having Parliamentary elections in London on one day. It works fairly well in the London County Council election, and I think it would work fairly well in Parliamentary elections. As to the objections which have been stated with respect to the work which would fall on the Post Office and the police, I think these may be dismissed. It is also said that it is proposed to extend the polling hours, so that voters will be able to record their votes between seven in the morning and nine at night. Why should you say that that is a party advantage we are seeking?
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
At any rate, we are absolved from seeking any party advantage so far as this particular point is concerned. It is something which will operate in favour of both parties. I am not going into that this afternoon, became this clay week we discussed the matter of the extension of the polling hours in the way now proposed. Of course, there was some dispute about that. The hon. Baronet has got his eye on the Bill which received a Second Reading this day week. We settled the question then by a majority in this House that the hours should be extended, and that they should be seven in the morning until nine at night. I think that, with one or two exceptions, there was fair unanimity in the House that it would be a good thing that the poll should open as early as seven o'clock. Two hon. Members on the other side were willing that the poll should open as early as six o'clock and another hon. Member suggested half-past five. With regard to the later hour at night, it was pointed out that at present the closing of the poll at eight o'clock did inflict considerable hardships on a great many people in London. As hon. 1593 Members opposite are aware, the population of London is migratory to a much greater extent than in other places. There are carmen, railwaymen, and dockmen who really are so situated that it is extremely difficult for them to get home in time to vote before eight o'clock in the evening, and it is equally difficult for them to vote after eight o'clock in the morning because they have to go early to work. I should have thought that was a matter on which there might be agreement on both sides.
What does this Bill propose to do? It abolishes plural voters of whom it is calculated there are about 30,000. Further, it puts all the elections on one day, and gets rid of the disqualification which exists now in regard to successive occupation. It enables 40,000 men every year to retain votes which they now lose, and it extends the hours of polling. These are the four great reforms embodied in the Bill, and I venture to think that the only question on which hon. Members on both sides of the House have any difficulty is this: Does it provide for the more adequate and the more easy representation of the voters of this country? This day week it was pointed out that there was great difference of opinion as to who should be on the register at all. That is a matter which will come on for discussion on Monday and Tuesday next week. It is a very controversial matter, and it is a legitimate subject for difference of opinion between the two sides of the House, and in fact between different sections of Members on each side. But I should have thought that there was no difference whatever on the question that whoever is on the register and has a vote should have it made as easy as possible for him to retain his vote and to exercise it. If he has a vote in one constituency it should be made as easy as possible for him to retain it if he moves to another. I submit to the House that this Bill embodies a step in the right direction—not a long step I admit—so far as London is concerned, and I suggest to the House that it deserves its favourable consideration. The Government suggest that it should receive a Second Reading on this occasion.
Mr. F. HALL
I have listened very intently to the various speeches that have been made by hon. Members on the other side of the House. I must say that I was particularly surprised at the speech of the hon. Member for East Islington (Mr. Radford). He seemed to convey that, so far as 1594 he was concerned, his chief idea was with regard to the question of elections. He was very careful to tell us of the times he has fought elections for the county council, and of the difficulties he had to contend with. But when he was referring to the duties devolving upon members of the county council, and the important matters they have at the present time to look after, he was particularly careful not to inform the House that, as every member of the county council must be aware, there are many duties forced upon them at the present time which it is impossible for any member to carry out. I venture to say, therefore, that it would be a retrograde step to place upon the county council the burden of practically overlooking the work of the whole of the elections throughout the administrative county of London. I would like to draw the attention of hon. Members to a matter which they seem to lose sight of, namely, that at present the area administered by the London County Council is not a borough as it is intended to make it under the Bill. The administrative county is broken up into various constituencies. In reference to the remarks of the Under-Secretary, I should not like the House to be under the impression that it is necessary to have the poll open for fifteen or sixteen hours in order that the employés of the London County Council may vote. I presume that the hon. Member referred to the tramway men, and it may not be out of place to say that during the past six years the hours of these men have been considerably reduced. At present they work on an average eight hours and fifty-six minutes per day, and I am one of those who look forward to the time when that period also will be reduced considerably. I state this as I do not want the House to be under the impression that it is necessary to have a considerable extension of the polling hours in order that those men may not be disfranchised. The hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. Glyn-Jones) stated that one Member on this side—he did not mention the name—had said that this would cause an increase in the cost of elections. I think that he must have misunderstood what was said. The hon. Member on this side said that there would be no reduction in the cost of the election, that there would still be the same amount to be paid to the returning officer. That was the statement made by the hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Lawson).
§ Mr. GLYN-JONES
Was not the statement made in reference to registration and Parliamentary expenses, that the machinery would be more expensive?
Mr. F. HALL
The hon. Member for Stepney said that the hon. Member on this side stated that it would increase the cost of elections. I think if the hon. Member for Stepney will look at the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow he will find that such a statement was not made by the hon. Member for Mile End. I cannot help thinking that there would be a great deal more benefit derived by London in general if the suggestions of the great Commission of 1905 were carried out, and if my hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Glanville) brought forward a Bill to deal with the general traffic of London, I cannot help thinking—
Mr. F. HALL
I sincerely trust that my hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey is not under the impression that I am telling him that he had no right to bring in this Bill, but I was venturing to suggest that a great deal more benefit might be produced for the people of London in general by a Bill to deal with the suggestions of the Commission of 1905 than by the present Bill. I have looked through this Bill to try to find in it any possible advantage for the people of London in general and cannot do so. The hon. Member for Stepney dealt with the county council election. May I remind him that the register for the county council and the Parliamentary election could not under any circumstances be the same register. The hon. Member for Stepney must know that there are a great many women voters on the register for the county council election, and that is not the case at the present time with regard to the Parliamentary election; and I am not one of those who anticipate that women will be put on the Parliamentary register in the immediate future. It is not so simple as many hon. Members seem to think to adjust these matters. It wants the most careful consideration in order that a large percentage of the electorate shall not be disfranchised. Like my hon. Friend the Member for East Islington (Mr. Radford), I have had the pleasure, as he seems to think it, of fighting a county council as well as a Parliamentary election. I have endeavoured to find out why it was that we could never 1596 get the same percentage of voters to come up at county council as at Parliamentary elections. I perfectly understand that there would not be such a large percentage, because many people do not seem to recognise the work that is done in Spring Gardens, but I have had another aspect of the matter brought to my notice in this way. In reference to the proposal to have all elections on the one day, one man said to me, "I have two partners; there are three of us living in the South of London. We have three different businesses. One partner has to be at each of our departments to look after the business. The consequence is that we have to leave in the morning at half-past seven o'clock to be at the opening of the business at eight o'clock. One man happens to have his business in the southern portion of London, and he is able to leave for a short time to record his vote. It is quite different for the man who would have to come down to the East-End of London, where he has his business, in order to record his vote in the South. He cannot do so. The consequence is that two of those three votes are lost."
I cannot help thinking that this kind of thing, to a very large extent, accounts for the small percentage of votes at county council elections. If that is the case with regard to county council elections, if you are going to make all Parliamentary elections on the one day, you would have exactly the same question arising, with the result that the man who has got his business in the South will be able to record his vote because he is only away from his business for a short time, whereas those who have their business some considerable distance away are unable to do so. That cannot possibly be a fair arrangement. Why is there all this question of altering the laws and conditions? The Under-Secretary told us perfectly plainly that, so far as he was concerned, it was not for the purpose of getting any party advantage. Of course, I always pay great attention to the remarks which fall from my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, but I cannot say that I am entirely in accord with all the arguments he advanced. I am constrained to point out that the idea which he has put forward is not entirely the idea of those who have promoted this Bill. If he had backed the measure I might have accepted at once his statements as representing the intentions of hon. Members on the other side of the House, because any statement made by 1597 the Member for Anglesey, I am sure, would be accepted without hesitation by any hon. Member on this side of the House. But the question is, Where are you going to start and where are you going to finish?—I note that my hon. Friend the Member for Norwood wished to know how far London was to extend. I happen to represent a constituency where, under this Bill, one house would be in a Parliamentary borough of London while the next house to it would be in the Sevenoaks Division of Kent. Is there to be a separate poll altogether for those who are immediately outside the limits imposed by this Bill? Is it intended, in the event of this Bill becoming law, that as soon as an elector in Dulwich moves two or three doors away and becomes resident in the Sevenoaks Division at Kent, he is to be placed in a worse position than he was before? That is rather an important question.
I should like to put this point to the Under-Secretary. There are various constituencies in London. For instance, St. George's-in-the-East has 3,209 electors, while the Solicitor-General has the honour of representing one of the largest constituencies in this House. I wonder whether he would be satisfied that an elector in St. George's-in-the-East should have fifteen hours in which to record his vote, while in the constituency he represents, a constituency in which there are about 40,000 voters, the elector is only to have twelve hours? At all events, that seems to me to be a most extraordinary proposition. If there is to be an alteration, let us have a fair and square Bill in order that all may be placed upon the same footing. I am sure that everybody agrees that it is ludicrous to say that when a man moves from one side of the read to the other he is to lose his vote, and I noted that the Under-Secretary rather sympathised with that view. We on this side of the House do not agree that such a condition should be possible. In the county council we considered this question very carefully, and there was not a dissentient in the whole of the committee when the matter was discussed from the view which I now put forward. To bring forward this piecemeal Bill, to my mind, would seem to indicate that there is a desire or intention among some hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House that there should be some party advantage derived from it. In my judgment, the holding of elections on different 1598 dates has proved satisfactory to the great majority of the electors of the country. We know full well that trade as a rule is more or less upset and hampered wherever a Parliamentary election happens to take place. What are you going to do? Are you, practically speaking, to make this congestion, this trouble, this annoyance more pronounced than it has been heretofore? For what? If any other representative of the Government should speak upon this measure, I should like to put this question: Will he inform us, on this side of the House, what advantage is to accrue from the elections taking place all on one day? If it could be proved to me that some advantage would accrue to the bulk of the electors throughout the country from the adoption of such a proposal, I should say at once that I should be prepared to support it, but until I am told that, and until it is proved to me conclusively, I shall do all I can if this Bill passes its Second Reading to resist and stultify it in Committee.
I submit that it is unfair to deal with London differently from any other of the large cities throughout the Kingdom. Why not have a fifteen hours poll for Liverpool? Indeed, I do not see why there should not be a fifteen hours poll for Anglesey; but perhaps the right hon. Gentleman knows more about what would be convenient for that constituency than I can possibly know. At all events, after all I have heard—and I have listened carefully—I fail to see what possible advantage can be derived from this Bill. I have been a Member of this House for a short time, but I have, at all events, been closely connected with various county council elections, and I am not unfamiliar with Parliamentary elections, and what has always struck me very much is that it does not signify at what time you may get men coming from work, whether at six o'clock or half-past six o'clock, if you extended the poll even to ten o'clock, as in the case of the election of boards of guardians, you would still have the same rush of voters in the closing hour of the poll. The congestion would be just as great, even if you extended the hour to twelve o'clock. You might even open the poll for the whole twenty-four hours, and the condition at the close would be the same. Indeed, on the principle of this Bill, why not start at midnight and finish at midnight? Anyone who has had to do with elections knows full well that it is in the last hour, whatever that may be, that the rush is experienced, 1599 for it is to the last hour that electors will leave the recording of their votes. I submit that there is no possible advantage to accrue from this proposal to the great body of electors. I have listened with the utmost interest to the various remarks of hon. Members opposite, and I am always open to conversion. I came here for the purpose of being converted by the speeches from the other side, but I have been greatly disappointed up to the present at not having heard adduced a single argument to alter my opinion. Perhaps some strong argument may yet be brought forward, and, if it should, I shall be only too delighted to hear it, and go away better satisfied than I am at this moment.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
The hon. Gentleman who represents the Government seemed to be very hurt that we should indulge in any suspicion that this Bill was brought forward on the part of its promoters because it might possibly result in advantage to the party opposite. He seemed also to think that we ought to regard this Bill as one brought forward by a certain number of London Members who, in the words of the Memorandum, were most anxious to "remedy evils which are peculiar to London." The Mover of the Bill said that the greatest object was to put an end to plural voting, and a short time since the Minister for Education acknowledged that if we put an end to plural voting we should put off four Conservatives for one Radical. The hon. Gentleman says that one of the objects of this Bill will be to remove 30,000 plural voters in London, though I think there are rather more, and of those, according to the Minister for Education, who is evidently very learned in these matters, 24,000 are Unionists and 6,000 Radicals. After that, hon. Gentlemen opposite will not complain that we say that this Bill is a gerrymandering Bill, and a measure which is not fairly directed towards removing all the anomalies or even the principal anomaly connected with the franchise, but is directed towards removing certain anomalies, if they be, and I never admitted they were, which removal would really be of great advantage to the party opposite and a corresponding loss to the party I am representing. Is this Bill after all such an innocent Bill of a non-party character designed to remedy certain evils in London? Amongst the names on the back of the Bill, in addition to six London Members, I find one Gentleman representing 1600 the Nationalist party in Ireland has given his blessing to the Bill, that is a Member for Wexford (Sir T. Esmonde). What does he know about London elections, and why is he so anxious that this Bill should become law? I suggest he had much better turn his attention to electioneering matters in Ireland, and let him remember that little constituencies like Kilkenny might give up their membership to redress some of the grievances which we feel in London, where a great constituency like Wandsworth returns only one Member, while a delightful little place called Kilkenny with 1,800 voters is also entitled to one Member. I notice also the name of a Member for Glasgow (Mr. MacCallum Scott) on this Bill. What is his particular interest in remedying the evils of London?
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
Then he wants to remove himself. I find also Members from Scotland and Wales, as well as Ireland, backing this Bill. I have here a Member for Glamorganshire. They all regard this London as a great milch cow out of which they get as much as they can for themselves, and that is the only interest they appear to take in London. If they are so interested in London, why do they not help us to get some of our real, substantial grievances redressed? I observe that when anything is brought forward to confer substantial benefit on the electors of London, that every one of the Gentlemen who backed this Bill is invariably to be found in the opposite Lobby. I really cannot admit that those Gentlemen are particular friends of London, and I think they are rather the reverse, from all their actions. Let us look at some of the points in this Bill. The hon. Member opposite complains that we on this side are not at all willing to help in the redress of any of our electoral imperfections. That is not the case. We should be only too glad to support a Bill to reduce the very long period of qualification for voters, and we should hail with delight a Redistribution Bill by which London might come by its own and get a fair share of representation but we are not allowed to have Bills, and not even asked to support Bills of that character. For my own part, I believe we might remedy the only real grievance which this Bill touches, and that is the successive vote, very much better if we could have a 1601 Bill applying to the whole of the country, and which would shorten the period of qualification, and by which means you would get rid of the difficutly of successive occupation. The hon. Gentleman opposite must admit that this Bill will only remove the difficulties and the inequalities of successive occupation to a certain extent. He said that we had made a very substantial point when we proved that the tendency was for voters from inner London to go to outer London. Let me give an instance in my own Constituency. When a voter in Fulham does particularly well in trade or business, he is in the habit of going to Wimbledon; he likes climbing the heights. This Bill would do him no good. He would still lose his vote, as the successive occupation of this Bill would not apply to him. The voter in Fulham who came down in the world and went out of Fulham to some slum in another part of London, and I will not mention the particular part, he would keep his vote as the successive occupation of this Bill would apply to him.
Then the hon. Gentleman told us that we could enlarge the area of London by amending this Bill. Let me tell him that I feel perfectly certain that under this Bill it would be absolutely impossible to move any Amendment which would enlarge the area of what is known as administrative London under this Bill. Suppose that some day another Bill should be brought in to embrace, say, Tottenham and Wimbledon, and take West Ham and East Ham, because men now move from the East-End constantly into West Ham or East Ham, this Bill would do nothing to redress their grievance. Suppose a Bill was brought in embracing West Ham, and East Ham, and Wimbledon, that particular Bill would promote further anomalies because the people would be going out from that area still further, so that it is apparent that what we want is a general and not a local Bill, however great an area might be embraced. This question ought to be treated not in a Bill applying to London, but in a Bill applying to the whole of the country. One of my great objections to the Bill is that it disfranchises more than it enfranchises. The hon. Gentleman says that it would enfranchise all those to whom the vote is preserved by means of successive occupation, and he put the number at 40,000. You may set against that all the plural voters who will go out. Say that they just balance. Let me show where the disfranchising effect of the Bill comes in. If all elections were 1602 to take place on one day my knowledge of London tells me that that one day must be a day which will debar a great number of voters from recording their votes. The pressure will be very great to make that day a Saturday. If the hon. Gentleman himself had the fixing of the day he would probably fix a Saturday. His party always do if they can. That is a day which disfranchises an enormous number of shopkeepers. I am not sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite do not desire the absence of shopkeepers from the poll, because the shopkeepers feel more than any other class the Government inaction in regard to the grievances from which they suffer in connection with the rates. I am not sure that from the Government point of view it would not be very much better if they could keep the shopkeepers away from the poll altogether. I have heard over and over again from shopkeepers that a Saturday poll disfranchises them.
Mr. EDMUND HARVEY
The Bill proposes to allow shopkeepers to vote between seven and eight o'clock in the morning. The shops are not open then.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
Even so, shopkeepers tell me that they will not be able to record their votes without very great difficulty, especially if it is a Saturday; they will not go out in the morning. If you keep the poll open till ten o'clock it is worse for them, because they have to keep their shops open still longer to cater for the wants of the people. Then there is the week-ender. You may say that you do not care about the week-ender. But, at all events, the week-ender must be considered, and he does not belong to one class only. There is no doubt that if you fixed all the elections for one day we should not have the machinery available—I mean motors. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite laugh, but do not they also use motors? I fancy that at the Whitechapel election there were just as many motors on their side as on ours. Members of the Government possess just as many motors as Members of the Opposition. Although certain hon. Members opposite have recently backed a Bill to prevent motors from being used at elections, yet I am confident that, so far as motors are concerned, we do not gain at their expense. Why should not people be brought up to the poll? There are a very great number of highly intelligent voters who cannot walk to the poll. Why should they not be brought, especially as they exercise the freest possible choice 1603 when they get to the poll as to whether or not they vote for the person whose motor brought them? It would be highly inconvenient in London to have all the elections on one day. I gather from the Under-Secretary that he has learnt in some mysterious way that the police think that they would not be inconvenienced by all the elections for the sixty boroughs in London being fixed for one day, and the polling in each of those boroughs being extended until ten o'clock. I should be amazed if he could produce such an opinion from those who are really competent to speak on the subject.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I said that on the supposition that the declaration of the poll was made the next day, and not the same night.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
Has the hon. Gentleman put this particular case to the head of the police who are capable of advising on the question? Have those who advise him merely taken the opinion of the inspectors in the various parts of London as to whether, if all the elections were taken on one day and the poll was extended until ten o'clock, they would, under ordinary circumstances, be able to fulfil the duties which the police are expected to fulfil on election days? I very much doubt if the Under-Secretary has an opinion which will warrant him in saying that they can. I think the hon. Gentleman made a very fair point in regard to the declaration of the poll. It would make a great deal of difference if the result of the poll was not declared on the same night. It is, however, a very great convenience to candidates, their friends, and all engaged in the conflict, that the result should be declared the same day. This matter is very important from the police point of view. We must not consider that elections will always be as peaceable and as peacefully conducted as those in which we have been engaged recently. I have known elections where an enormous number of police were required. I recollect having forty mounted police to take me from the town hall, and on that occasion all the available police had to be imported into my Constituency. We must look forward from time to time to elections which excite a great deal of feeling and animosity, and on those occasions the police will be wanted in very large numbers at the polling booths themselves to prevent scenes of disturbance and disorder, espe- 1604 cially if the poll is extended until ten o'clock. This question ought to have very much more consideration than has probably been given to it by the representative of the Home Office. The argument has been used that, after all, the London County Council elections take place on one day. They do, but with what result? The poll is very much lower than at Parliamentary elections. We have, however, recently proved that the poll is 52 per cent. on a Thursday, whereas it was only 50 per cent. on a Saturday. I believe that one reason for the lowness of the poll is the fact that all the elections take place on one day, and there are not the same forces of all kinds available to get the people to the poll. I do not think that we can really judge from the London County Council elections that it would be a good thing if the same principle were applied to Parliamentary elections. For my own part, I think it would be far better to leave the various boroughs a choice as to the day on which the elections should take place. They will in the long run choose the day which is most convenient to the great majority of the people. I believe it is better so, and that in that way we will get a fairer representation of the electors. Just let me wind up my speech by saying that, to my mind, the whole policy of hon. Gentlemen opposite seems to be directed much more towards disfranchisement than enfranchisement. Why do they not bring in a Franchise Bill which could be agreed upon by all sides, and a Redistribution Bill to embrace many of the points on which we are all agreed, more especially in relation to shortening the period of qualification? Instead of that, they bring in a Bill of this kind, which is obviously and plainly directed towards giving them a party advantage, and towards striking off the register those who are thoroughly well entitled to be there.
One argument, so far as I am aware, has not been advanced during the last two days on behalf of the plural voter, is that the plural voter who, of course, is, as a rule, a man of some property, does not now get the advantage that he did get in voting for the county council representation or the borough council representation. There was a time when rates could hardly be imposed upon him or enforced against him except by the county or the borough council for whom he voted, and which covered that part of the country where he had his property. Nowadays rates are imposed upon him and enforced 1605 against him, not by the local representatives, but by this House. More and more this House is becoming a power that enforces rates upon the elector, and therefore upon his property, and more and more there is a great and growing defence of plural voting from that point of view—that the man concerned has no opportunity of defending his property in the district in which his property is situated. Therefore he should have more power, and not less, to defend his property, by choosing the representative for Parliament or for the borough or county council of the district in which his property is situated. Here, again, the object of the present Government is that of disfranchisement and not enfranchisement. If this Franchise Bill is passed, as doubtless it will be, many thousands of shopkeepers will be disadvantaged. When we are going to deal with this question—we all admit there are very great imperfections in our electoral law—our object should be to work from the point of view of effectively putting upon the register all those who are reasonably entitled to be there, and to give everyone of them the fullest and amplest opportunity of recording their votes according to their wishes.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I would not have intervened in this discussion except for the extraordinary arguments which have been adduced by the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. He seems to think that the Irish Members ought to be kept in London to attend to the nation's business, denied rights in their own country, and be abused if they put their names to a Bill dealing with a matter of this kind. The right hon. Gentleman underlined the names on the back of this Bill and objected to the name of an Irish Member because he represented a small constituency, and to a Welsh Member because he represented a very large constituency. What does it all mean?
§ Mr. BOOTH
Of course not. The right hon. Gentleman drew attention to the small size of the constituency of the Irish Member, and he also objected to the name of a Welsh Member appearing upon the back of this Bill, and that hon. Member, the right hon. Gentleman knows very well, represents one of the largest constituencies in the Kingdom. What becomes of the right hon. Gentleman's contention? If the Irish Member is objected to because 1606 his constituency is small, by the same, argument one may say that the Welsh Member, because of his large constituency, is an ideal Member to put his name to the Bill? The right hon. Gentleman objects to both, but he did not make clear to the House why. The position of the right hon. Gentleman all through was simply a screaming paradox. If he will forgive me for saying so. He objected to this Bill because he said it was a disfranchising Bill yet he would not extend the hours of polling. I do not really know what the right hon. Gentleman means. He brought in the question of motor-cars, but what that has to do with this Bill I fail to understand. For some reason or other he seemed to think that motor cars are connected with the question of longer hours. His complaint against the Radical party is that they have in London more motor cars than the Conservative party. If his party have fewer motor cars, then it would seem to be desirable that they would wish the hours of polling to be extended so that their lame-leg voters may have longer to get to the poll. Really you cannot please the right hon. Gentleman. His point was that hon. Members ought not to interfere in a London matter unless they represent London constituencies, or at least according to him there must be some suspicion attaching to their proceedings. Why? Is that a great Imperial doctrine or the doctrine of a Little Londoner? The right hon. Gentleman doubled upon himself a few moments later for he asked for a general Bill, so that in one breath he claims that London in these matters should be apart, and that in a general Bill London should be included with a great many other places, so that all these people he has objected to can settle questions for London.
I was anxious to hear some of the London representatives upon this Bill which deals with London, but I must say that a more remarkable speech it has not been my misfortune to listen to in this House even on a Friday afternoon. The right hon. Gentleman made another point. He seemed to think that shopkeepers are regarded as hostile persons by the Liberal party. That is a most astonishing thing for one who like myself comes from the North, where the bulk of shopkeepers and business men, very properly, are Liberals. If you go through the Liberal Executives in the North of England you will find that a very large proportion of those who compose them are thrifty shopkeepers. It 1607 may be that in Fulham the right hon. Gentleman gets the support of shopkeepers. If so I congratulate him, but if that is an argument to prove that he wants a general Bill, then surely it falls to the ground! The right hon. Gentleman suggests that the shopkeepers are a particular class apart, because they have to pay the rates which are imposed by the legislation of this House. I will undertake to say that every measure brought forward in this House which will place a burden upon the local authorities has been protested against by me, and supported by the right hon. Gentleman and his party. I think every private Bill they bring forward adds to the rates and adds to the burdens of the ratepayers. If a Bill is brought forward to ask local authorities throughout the country to spend money to give themselves away, it almost invariably comes from the benches opposite. I object every night at eleven o'clock to all sorts of Bills, sometimes on successive nights, sometimes at intervals of days, moved from the opposite side of the House, which induce local authorities and county councils to spend money. Hon. Members opposite assume that in any matter that affects Scotland, for instance, they know more than what my hon. Friends the Members from Scotland do. I should have thought that from the right hon. Gentleman opposite, as one of the leaders of public opinion in London, and I have always attached great weight to what he says upon London matters, we would have heard something like an able analysis of this Bill, instead of throwing taunts across the floor to the effect that the Bill was introduced because it would work in favour of the Radicals and against the Tories. This Bill is brought forward by the democrats of London, and, that being so, there is only one course open to Members like myself, and that is to give the Bill their hearty support.
§ 4.0 P.M.
The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken was so very indignant at the speech made by my right hon. Friend that he really does not appear to have mastered the argument my right hon. Friend laid before the House. My right hon. Friend's observations with regard to the names on the back of the Bill brought before the House what I think is one of the most striking peculiarities of the character of this Bill, and one which especially deserves the notice of the House, namely, that while it deals with something 1608 of general importance to the franchise laws of the country, it is confined to a single locality, and hon. Gentlemen who put their names on the back of the Bill come from various parts of the country, where anomalies in our electoral system not less great, perhaps even greater, exist, and they commit themselves to the proposal, not merely that you should deal with one element in our general electoral law of which there may or may not be something to be said, but that we should deal with one particular locality at a time for which I say there is nothing to be said. If this was a purely London matter, one would expect the names only of London representatives on the back of the Bill; when you find the Bill is backed by Gentlemen from all parts of the United Kingdom, yet the Bill does not attempt to touch the general anomalies in electoral law, in relation to the United Kingdom, but deals with only one small part of it, I think my right hon. Friend has done very good service in bringing that one of his objections to this form of legislation in a very striking fashion to the attention of the House. In truth we have heard a great deal to-day from both sides of the House in regard to anomalies, but the greatest anomaly of all is the manner in which this House has apparently in these days attempted to legislate upon electoral matters. I have always understood that the tradition of this House was that when the rights of the people, the electoral rights of the people were in question, Bills dealing with those rights should be introduced by the Government on the responsibility of the Government and that they should not be introduced on a Friday afternoon in a House which is obviously suffering from having. I suppose, sat nearly twelve months out of thirteen, or thirteen months out of fourteen with no Cabinet Minister present, and no Cabinet Minister, I think, present from the very first hour, with only one Under-Secretary in attendance who watches and directs the course of the Debate, and that, I think, is one of the several anomalies and breaches of well-established practice of which this House ought to take notice. Another is that they are attempting to deal with a fragment of the country on different and special principles without taking a general measure. That, I venture to say, is wholly new, wholly anomalous and wholly unjustifiable. The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, when dealing with this question amazed me by saying that we on this side of the House always 1609 object to any electoral measure brought forward on the ground that it is either too small to be adequate, or too large to be passed. We always object, he said, because it was too little or too great, and then he proceeded actually to recommend the procedure of this Bill as a precedent, so I understood him, for dealing with this question. He suggested we might begin with London this Session, go to another district in another Session and gradually embrace in our electoral reform one part of the country after another until the whole was collected under a general scheme. That is not the way to deal with the franchise or with our electoral system. You must take the question as a whole, you must regard the country as a great unit, and you must bring forward general principles applicable to the whole of the country. I entirely object to this piecemeal method in dealing with electoral questions. It may be true you cannot deal with the whole at one time, but you must not deal with it area by area, constituency by constituency; you must deal with one aspect and keep that aspect in its most general and universal form. I think that is a very great objection to this Bill, and I think everyone must admit that, as I have put the point, it is unanswerable. They may say I have put it unfairly; they may say what this Bill really does is to assimilate London to other parts of the country, that it is to make London like Liverpool or Manchester or Glasgow or any other of our great provincial towns. If they will allow me to say so, they are labouring under a mistake. It does not assimilate London to those places.
London is not a borough. This Bill does not make it a borough, and therefore to treat it in this Bill as if it were a borough is not to apply to London the principle in operation elsewhere, but is to invent a wholly new principle for London and applicable to London alone. If this Bill passes you will have your county constituency, your great borough constituency and you will have London—three areas in which the principles applied were different. I do not think that is the proper way in dealing with the matter at all. Of course, it is accepted by certain hon. Gentlemen, in accordance with their theories of treating London, as if it were a municipality in the sense that Liverpool or Manchester is a municipality, but this House never so treated London. It did not so treat London when it established the London County 1610 Council; it did not so treat London when it established the borough council, and it did not so treat London when it established the water board. It was always felt in all these departments of legislation that London cannot be treated as a borough, that it is not a borough. Not only is it differentiated from our great municipalities by the fact that there is no common London sentiment, in the same way that there is local sentiment in Liverpool or Manchester, but it cannot be created, and I venture to say it ought not to be created and it is not desirable that it should be created. It is differentiated from these great centres in that way, and it is differentiated in many other ways. Its economic conditions are entirely different and the actual structure of its organisation is different. The sentiments that animate it are entirely different, and if there was no such difference, if all the differences I have mentioned had no existence or were small and insignificant matters, its very magnitude would make it quite incomparable really even with the greatest of our provincial centres. Therefore, merely to say that this Bill is justified because it assimilates London to other municipalities is really to condemn the Bill, because it is to say that London is to be treated like other municipalities, when for every reason, both of statesmanship and of actual legislation, London cannot and ought not to be assimilated to any other region in the country. The hon. Member who has just sat down complained that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hayes Fisher) on this side had not analysed the Bill. There were many analyses of the Bill delivered by my Friends on this side of the House, and many excellent speeches to which I think the hon. Gentleman who preceded me had not the advantage of listening. If he had listened to them I think perhaps his enthusiasm for the Bill would have suffered some slight diminution. Let me call his attention at all events to one or two points. This Bill says that all the voting in London is to be on one day, but the case for that part of the Bill was entirely given away, I think, by the Under-Secretary for the Home Department, who spoke in general defence of it. Of course, he admitted in the frankest fashion that it would not be equally convenient for every constituency in London to have its election on the one day. He told the House so, and I am sure the House will be ready to accept his view that that is the case. Why, then, should 1611 you make the whole of the constituencies do that which the Under-Secretary of State, speaking in defence of the Bill, says is inconvenient. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am not misrepresenting the Under-Secretary. Hon. Gentlemen may think my opinion is wrong, but I am not misrepresenting him. He is present, and if I am he will say so.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to repeat what I said it was this—that it is quite possible and even probable, that the same day may not be equally convenient to all constituencies, but I said that even taking that into account the balance was yet in favour of having all the elections on one day.
I do not think the hon. Gentleman will regard me as greatly misrepresenting him if I say that while he did say that it would not be equally convenient for all the constituencies he did not explain the other advantages of having them on one day, which would counterbalance that plain and obvious disadvantage. I do not know what the special advantages are to which he referred. I listened with attention to what he said, and I am quite positive that he did not mention any single advantage that would be given by this measure. He mentioned the inconvenience, but he did not mention the counterbalancing conveniences. Surely it is highly improper that this House should proceed, without further inquiry and further consideration, to force every constituency in this immense area to have its election on one day, not the day which suits it, but which suits its neighbours, or some of its neighbours, when it would suffer this disadvantage without any counterbalancing advantage having been laid before us by the speaker who was defending this Bill. Please observe that while the Under-Secretary admitted that these disadvantages follow upon forcing a rigid uniformity upon all constituencies he gave a most lukewarm reply, a faint answer, to the contention which has been made by more than one speaker on this side of the House that the inconvenience to the police would really be considerable. I do not think he gave any answer at all, except to read an extract from a speech of the present First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Churchill) made some years ago upon this subject. The Under-Secretary did say that the police would find their task greatly lightened if the poll were always declared 1612 on the day after the election and not at some late hour of the day of the election itself; but that is not in the Bill. If it be true, as is alleged, that any chances of disorder or of over-excitement are really mitigated or minimised by having the poll declared in the cool and early hours of the succeeding day instead of late at night after the contest, I think it would be well worth this House considering whether they could not make that a general principle applicable to the whole of the country, but it is not made applicable even to London by this Bill; it is only the opinion of the hon. Gentleman who moved the Bill that the fact of having a later hour of polling would have the indirect effect of postponing the counting until the succeeding day.
I do not see any necessity for it. The poll ends at ten o'clock, and there are many cases in which the counting could take place the same night. If the object be to have the poll declared the next day, say so frankly and do not leave it an open question, and do not under the guise of giving extra privileges to the elector indirectly attain an object which everybody may think is a worthy object, that namely, of minimising and relieving the labour of the police and diminishing the chances of over-excitement, and so on. I pass from that to the question of keeping the poll open for another hour. What will be said of the legislation of this House when it is occupied one Friday with a Bill dealing with the hours of polling generally, then spends the greater part of the week discussing a Government Bill for the abolition of the plural vote, and then the next Friday brings in another Bill—applicable, not to the whole of the country, but only to London—which deals with the hours of polling on a different principle from the Bill which the House deliberately adopted the previous Friday, and which also deals in a different fashion with the problem of the plural vote with which the Government themselves intend to deal in the general Bill? This is to make legislation on the franchise question utterly absurd. It is to treat the whole matter in a derisive fashion. It seems to me quite clear that as the House has already dealt with the hours of polling in one Bill and with plural voting in another Bill it is perfectly absurd to have a third Bill brought in in the same week dealing with those points. I 1613 cannot see what justification there is for that method of legislation. It seems perfectly clear there is no special reason why a Londoner should be allowed to vote until 10 p.m., while another voter, living just outside the London area, is debarred voting after 9 p.m.
I have referred to the fact that this Bill deals with plural voting. We have discussed that question during the last few days, and I certainly do not propose to say much on the subject now. But I do protest, as far as I can, against the argument which I have heard this afternoon that plural voting is to be regarded as a privilege of the rich. That is not the way to look at it at all. Its historic origin, as we all know, is deeply rooted in the principle of representative Government, namely, that localities and not individuals are the units sending representatives to this House. Quite apart from that perfectly familiar truth, may I point out that, as it works out at the present time, plural voting, in so far as it does give any representative advantage to any class, gives that advantage to enterprise and not to wealth. There are cases in which, through the simple accident of birth, a man happens to possess houses in two places and has a double vote, but, speaking broadly, the double vote is due to the fact that, under modern conditions, a man's place of residence and his place of business are not the same. I am not going into these abstract questions. I have a great contempt for such questions in my heart. I never regard the vote as a personal privilege to the voters. I regard the whole system as a machine for getting the best House of Commons possible. But are you sure that in this crusade against plural voting you are doing what you intend to do. Men directing enterprises are not necessarily or commonly very rich men, but you are giving them the impression that they are the special subject of your attack. They feel that, because you suppose, rightly or wrongly, that at this particular juncture of our national controversy the weight of their vote is more often given on the side of the Unionist party than on the Radical side, they are being made the object of of your attack, and, considering how much we owe to them, and how important they are to the real direction of our affairs—our commercial affairs, on which is based after all the whole prosperity of the nation, I do not think you are very well advised in the course you are taking. Whether you are well advised or not, it is not by this Bill that the question should be dealt 1614 with. We passed a Bill—I voted against it with the utmost satisfaction—we passed the Second Reading of a Bill last night dealing with this very point, in relation to the whole country. Is it not perfect folly for some private Member to come down here the day after and to propose another Bill partially dealing with one particular locality on this particular point. I think it makes our whole legislative system ridiculous in the eyes of all who look at it.
Surely there is no subject on which this House and the Government ought to be more careful than this question of the franchise. I will tell the House why. They have deliberately compelled us to live under a provisional constitution, a constitution admitted by themselves, and admitted on all hands, to be transitory passing and provisional. During that transitory period, during that period of transmission, this House arrogated to itself most of the powers of a Single Chamber. I think it intolerable that, during a period of transition, we should take the opportunity of manipulating the country from an electoral point of view, without any Second Chamber to revise our proceedings. If you like to say that, bad as the existing system is, it is better than the old system, because the Chamber that would revise our method of dealing with the constituencies is too much pledged to the policy of one particular party—I do not agree, but I am not going to quarrel with it—that is not the point. You ought to wait, before dealing with these electoral questions, until you have a Second Chamber to your mind.
§ Sir WILLIAM BYLES
We did try. [HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] We did pass a Plural Voting Bill when there was a Second Chamber in full power.
I understand what the hon. Member says, but I do not quite see how it affects the argument. Let me remind him what the argument is. This House passed the Plural Voting Bill when there was a Second Chamber, and the Second Chamber threw it out.
I say they threw it out. That shows that the Second Chamber, as it was then constituted, and as the House of Lords was understood until two years ago, did not approve of the Bill. That may be a reason for saying that the House of Lords is so prejudiced a body that you 1615 must replace it by another form of Second Chamber, but it certainly cannot be an argument for saying there should be no Second Chamber at all. Here we are, Mr. Speaker, not merely bringing in these Bills once a week dealing with small fragments of a gigantic question, but bringing them in to gerrymander the constituencies, with no Second Chamber in existence. I cannot conceive anybody who cares for either the practice or the theory of constitutional legislation not regarding that as an intolerable anomaly. Make it an elective Second Chamber, by all means, if you like. You admit there must be a Second Chamber, and that it must be a reality. You admit, or you ought to admit, that it ought to have a voice in any action of this House in manipulating the constituencies, as any Second Chamber ought to have a voice, yet you choose this passing moment, when the Constitution has been destroyed, but not rebuilt, to carry out not merely the dismemberment of the United Kingdom, but the manipulation and re-manipulation of the constituencies. I can see no justification at all for that procedure. I do not think it is likely to redound to the credit of this House. If I were asked what the great danger of popular Government is at this moment in all countries, not least, perhaps, in this country, I should say it is the extraordinary difficulty of finding any method by which a Chamber directly elected on a wide franchise can secure the necessary prestige which ought to attach to it, and can obtain the reverence and esteem of those who create it. That is the great difficulty. Any schoolboy can draw you up a plan under which every man, possibly every woman, who has reached a certain age shall have what is called an equal weight in the returning of Members to this House. I agree that our existing system does not give us that, even leaving the women's question on one side. It is quite easy to devise plans of this sort, but when you have done so, have you done anything serious towards getting over the difficulty of which we are all conscious? I am not one of those who think that in point of ability or power of speech or manners this House is inferior to its predecessors. I have never seen any evidence of that at all as far as my knowledge goes. But which of us can deny that as a corporate body we do not stand where our forefathers stood? It is certain that we do not trace the great danger and the great evil 1616 which we have to deal. I regard all these hardships of electors and all the rest of it as not unimportant, but really, comparatively speaking, as utterly trivial. I am very sorry a man should lose his vote for a year and a half by going out of my hon. Friend's constituency into Middlesex, but that is relatively unimportant. What is important is that we should somehow so contrive our affairs inside this House and outside it that we do not merely fit in some paper plan of permanent representation, but that we who represent them are better than those who sent us here. We have not to represent them in the narrow and crude sense. We have to think now what they will think when all the facts are before them. We ought not to be a mere reflection of their transitory passions but something more. We ought to reflect them in a fuller sense. We have in our keeping, after all, the interests, not merely of the present generation but of posterity, and in a certain sense we ought to represent the future as well as the present and the past. I do not think, somehow, that we are improving in that respect, and I think the light-hearted way in which the Government are dealing with these electoral questions is not helping us. I am not going to dwell again upon the allegations that these Bills are brought forward purely as party manœuvres, but we all know that that side of them, at all events, is never absent from the minds of the framers of the Bills. No one doubts it, and I dare say if we were in power these considerations would not be absent from our minds. Under the party system there is always the difficulty, when you deal with electoral matters, that you think of party. I have not the least doubt that hon. Gentlemen opposite, in their candid moments, will never hesitate to admit that both the structure of the Bills and the way in which they are being forced through the House have a party motive and a party object. That is only possible and legitimate if you have taken every constitutional precaution that crude gerrymandering shall not be allowed. You have taken no such precaution. You have abolished all the precautions provided by the Constitution and you have put none in their place, and I must say I deeply regret the events of last week. Three Franchise Bills have all been brought in with this not very elevatory party object—two of them, at all events, not treated seriously—covering the same ground, blessed by the Government, when 1617 they are brought forward by private Members, and yet blessed in a manner which I should have thought would have made the very promoters of the measures feel that the authorities on their own Front Bench did not look upon them with very high esteem.
There is another point which I thought the House must be careful to consider. I suppose the Bill last Friday was sent up to a Grand Committee. Was it not sent up automatically to a Grand Committee?
The Bill to which we gave a Second Reading last night, however, is going to be kept in the House. If there should be a Division on this Bill to-day, which I should regret, and if it should be sent upstairs, there would then be a third Bill before the Grand Committee. This House will be occupied in discussing the Plural Voting Bill downstairs, while the Grand Committee will be discussing other Reform Bills upstairs, which, mark you, cover a great deal of the same ground. I think that is ridiculous. It is a gross waste of time, and a gross and utter perversion of the use to which Grand Committees ought to be put. I think it is almost discreditable that one kind of electoral questions should be discussed by the Committee of the Whole House downstairs, while another kind are being dealt with by a Grand Committee upstairs. Such a thing, I should have thought, would never have been tolerated at all. Do the Government mean to send this Bill to a Grand Committee?
What has that got to do with it? There was no Government Bill before the Committee of the Whole House in 1909. When somebody says that this is not a Government. Bill, I reply that the Government are responsible for the Committees in this House. I ask the Under-Secretary, Does he really contemplate permitting this Bill, which covers the same ground as the Government Bill—which is to be kept in Committee of the Whole House—to be sent to a Grand Committee?
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
It covers the same ground to some extent, but it covers a great deal more. The Plural Voting Bid brought in by the Government will apply all over the country. This Bill, which is promoted by private Members, proposes that London, for the purposes of Parliamentary elections, should be constituted one borough. If the promoters wish it to go upstairs I shall certainly support that myself. May I add, if there is an opportunity of avoiding conflict, I would be disposed to consider some other course.
I do not know what machinery for avoiding conflict the right hon. Gentleman contemplates. But conflict or no conflict, supposing there should be established harmony between the work of the Committee upstairs and the work of the Committee of the Whole House—let us indulge our imaginations and accept that as the happy result—I think the discussion of the same subjects upstairs and downstairs at the same time is a great waste of Parliamentary energy and a great waste of Parliamentary time. The whole way the Government are treating this question of electoral legislation is wrong, whether it is looked at from the higher and wider constitutional point of view, or whether it is looked at from the narrower point of view that we have Bill after Bill—three Bills in a week—tinkering with this subject, and then on the top of it all, not bringing them before the same Grand Committee. The old fashion was, when several Bills on one subject had been passed by the House, to refer them to the same Committee. There was some sense in that. I do not know whether a Grand Committee is to consider last Friday's Bill and this Friday's Bill together. I do not know whether it is permissible for it to do so. I think there must be separate Committees. Therefore you have two Grand Committees both dealing with hours of polling, and you will have the Grand Committee upstairs and a Committee of the Whole House downstairs both dealing with plural voting. I suppose that if the Women's Bill passes next week, this general confusion of electoral legislation will become twice confounded. Without at all prophesying what is to occur next week, what has occurred during this last week is quite sufficient for my purpose. I earnestly hope that the house will not stultify itself and bring discredit upon its whole proceedings by reading this Bill a second time. If by any chance that misfortune should arise. I hope 1619 the House will not add to it the further folly of sending the Bill upstairs to another Grand Committee, thereby wasting the time of the House, confounding and confusing our whole legislative machinery, and, as I think, while throwing quite unnecessary labour on Members of the House, throwing the utmost discredit on the whole of our methods of dealing with these great questions of Parliamentary reform. For these reasons, if this Bill is voted upon this afternoon, I shall most heartily vote against it. I trust that even now the hon. Gentleman representing the Government may have an opportunity of consulting the Leader of the House and putting before him this point in reference to the Grand Committees, so that when the hour comes he may reverse the absurd policy which he has, I hope hastily, announced to the House of supporting the proposal that this Bill should be considered upstairs.
Mr. EDMUND HARVEY
The right hon. Gentleman has dealt in his own inimitable way with the arguments which have been adduced on behalf of this Bill. He has dealt with them by avoiding them with great skill, and leading the House from subject to subject, until we passed altogether from the consideration of the very real grievance brought before the House by my hon. Friends to entirely different questions. It is hardly possible for many of us on this side of the House to listen to the right hon. Gentleman on any subject without feeling great admiration. We see him dressing himself in his dialectical armour, and going out into the field as a new St. George to slay some political dragon. This afternoon we have seen him fighting in his own way; he has gone forth in all the panoply of his armour, and we have followed his course with admiration. When he comes to the place where the unhappy princess is, and when the dragon is approaching, instead of putting his lance in position to charge it, he takes out his eyeglass to look at it more closely, to see that after all it is perhaps not a dangerous beast, and it is even doubtful whether it is carnivorous, and, in truth, it was an old friend. But he sees in the distance a still greater dragon. He calls upon all about him not to touch this harmless and amiable creature, but to go out against the more terrible dragon which he sees in the distance. So he leaves the unfortunate princess to her fate, and he goes out into an unknown country to chase a fabulous 1620 creature. That is really what has happened this afternoon. It is a very real grievance in London which has been brought before us this afternoon, and the right hon. Gentleman has not really faced the difficulty. Indeed, what arguments he advanced could be met by his own previous legislation. The right hon. Gentleman began by saying that it was a very bad thing to deal with so important a question for one part of the country, yet when he himself dealt with the education question he found it necessary to deal with London in an Act separate and subsequent to the Act of 1902. That is quite a sufficient reason for London being dealt with separately in the case of the electoral franchise. Again, when the right hon. Gentleman dealt with the case of the plural voter, he forgot that in his proposal for the Referendum the plural voter was abolished. If on a constitutional question the plural voter is undesirable, surely on the important questions which come before the Parliamentary elector the plural voter ought to have no place. We ought not to be misled by the dialectics of the right hon. Gentleman, but face the actual grievances which this Bill proposes to remove. It may not remove them all, but it will remove some of them, and we ask the House to support the Second Reading.
§ Mr. WALTER GUINNESS
The hon. Member who has just sat down does not seem to have addressed himself to the question why we should have this Bill as well as the two other Bills already before the House dealing with the particular question which he deems a grievance. The Under-Secretary, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour), stated that these Bills do not overlap, but I think that the other two quite fairly cover the same ground as this one, and cover it in a very sufficient manner. What is the machinery of this Bill to abolish the plural voter? It is to set up a very expensive clearing house, to create a new machinery under which the clerk to the London County Council shall be put to great expense on behalf of the ratepayers in seeing that no man's name appears twice in the list of electors for the new Parliamentary borough of London. That would be an extremely costly procedure, and apparently its sole object is to prevent plural voting. A much cheaper way to abolish plural voting is perhaps found in the Bill of last night—namely, to make it an offence for any man to vote twice, and not to worry how many times his name 1621 may appear in the list. The question of abolishing the plural voter is the aim and object of the Bill, but I think it is quite clear that that will only land us in greater absurdities than exist at present. The county of London is not a homogeneous community; there is more distinction between, say, Hampstead and Woolwich in their interests or between Bow and Wandsworth than there is between Wimbledon and Putney, yet you would allow the man who had qualifications in Wimbledon and in Putney to exercise both his votes, and you would rule out the man who had quite different interests, dockside interests in Greenwich and residential interest in Hampstead, and prevent him having more than one vote. In the same way, the Bill lands you in equal anomalies in the matter of successive occupation. You cannot remove the anomaly in full, and you only shift it, as wherever you make the edge of your central area you get the same trouble. Why should you draw the line outside the four and a half millions who live in the inner circle and shut out the two and three-quarter millions who live in the Census district of Greater London? Those who move from the four and a half millions area would equally lose the vote with the man in Hampstead, who would lose his vote if he went across the street to Golder's Green. The hon. Member who moved the Bill said that, generally speaking, those who were going out from the central district did not support hon. Members opposite, but that they were supporters of those who sat on this side. I do not know whether that is the motive in drawing this arbitrary line, which breaks Greater London into two parts.
A very great anomaly in the matter is that the London County Council, whose area you are taking for the Parliamentary borough, has recognised the community of interest between the central and the outer area by instituting enormous housing schemes in Greater London. They have bought 220 acres at Tottenham and two other large estates in other outlying portions of the suburbs. Is it not absurd that those tenants who are to live in those new towns which are to be created by municipal enterprise should be shut out from voting in London if they move across the boundary into Tottenham, whereas if they cross a street or from one side of London to the other they will still retain their qualification? If the House wishes to 1622 prevent the difficulty of successive occupation the simple way is to shorten the period of qualification as in the Bill of last year. The Government must make up their minds on this question. There must be one way better than another, and surely they ought to chose the cheaper. The clearing house system is not only impractical, but very expensive and very cumbersome. It is not true that the provincial boroughs will be on all fours with London in regard to this new machinery for registration. In the case of the provincial borough the registration and rate books are in the hands of the registration officer, who is also in possession of all information about rating, but in this case you are going to give the clerk to the London County Council authority over registration, although he is not the rating authority. How is he to check the duplicate entries? I have just looked at the London Post Office directory and find that there are about seventy people trading under the name of George Smith.
§ Mr. GUINNESS
There are about seventy trading in the name of Charles Smith, and there may be other names with an even larger number. How is the clerk to the London County Council to trace all these people? The Post Office London directory only deals with those who are trading in these names, and you have got to multiply the number enormously if you are going to take into account all the residents in different places who will appear on the register in the same name. It will lead to an enormous amount of expense, and probably prove quite unworkable, to try to prevent people appearing on the register more than once. It is much better not to attempt it, but to content yourself, if you do wish to abolish plural voting, with the system that has already been proposed, making it an offence, as in the case of the London County Council elections, for a man to vote twice. If hon. Members opposite wish to deal with the London difficulties, surely they should begin with Redistribution. Redistribution is just as suitable an object to be dealt with by a private Member's Bill as this great question of electoral reform. In St. George's-in-the-East we have got 3,000 electors, while in Wandsworth we have 40,000. Therefore, between those two there is an inequality of 1,000 per cent. 1623 What is the good then, of tinkering with an electoral anomaly, if it be an electoral anomaly, where there is only 5 per cent. difference, which you bring out as the effect of plural voting? The hon. Member for Bermondsey stated that this Bill would cause a great saving in expenses. At the present time in any of the provincial boroughs when a man appears twice on the same register for different qualifications it is the political agent that communicates with the elector, and asks for which qualification he wishes to be starred. That duty does not exist except within the same Parliamentary borough in London. If you are going to extend the area of the political agents' duties, you will increase enormously the expenses that fall upon the candidates, and side by side you will create a new and very large expense on the county rate in connection with the very heavy work which will have to be performed by the clerk of the London County Council. I do not think that the extension of the polling hours is a matter which affects one side of the House more than another, but I think that there is a great objection to dealing with it piecemeal, and I honestly believe that there is a stronger case for this in country districts than in London. In London owing to the means of locomo-
§ tion it is comparatively easy for every man who wants to do so to record his vote and I do not think that we need worry very much about the dead-heads who do not wish to go to the poll except under compulsion, but there are many country districts where men, after a hard day's work, have to walk 6 miles if they wish to record their vote. I think that there is a much stronger case for dealing with rural districts than for dealing with a centralised area like London, where there are trams and 'buses enabling electors to go to the poll. I think that this Bill is impracticable and absolutely unnecessary in view of the legislation dealing with the same points which is at present before the House. Above all things, I think that it is objectionable, because I cannot help thinking that the Members who have brought it forward have been largely interested in changing the general law with the only apparent motive, so far as we can judge, of securing their own seats at the next election.
§ Question put, "That the Question he now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 192; Noes, 105.1625
|Division No. 82.]||AYES.||[4.57 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Delany, William||Hinds, John|
|Adamson, William||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Hogge, James Myles|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Devlin, Joseph||Holmes, Daniel Turner|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Dickinson, W. H.||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Alden, Percy||Doris, William||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Duffy, William J.||Hudson, Walter|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Duncan. J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)|
|Barnes, George N.||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Barton, William||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Essex, Sir Richard Walter||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Esslemont, George Birnie||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)|
|Boland, John Pius||Farrell, James Patrick||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Ffrench, Peter||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts., Stepney)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Field, William||Jowett, Frederick William|
|Bryce, John Annan||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Joyce, Michael|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Ginnell, L.||Keating, Matthew|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Goldstone, Frank||Kelly, Edward|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Griffith, Ellis Jones||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Chancellor, H. J.||Gulland, John W.||Kilbride, Denis|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Hackett, John||King, J.|
|Clough, William||Hancock, John George||Lardner, James C. R.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hardie, J. Keir||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Cotton, William Francis||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Low, Sir F. (Norwich)|
|Cowan, W. H.||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Lundon, Thomas|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Lynch, Arthur Alfred|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Hayden, John Patrick||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Crooks, William||Hazleton, Richard||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Crumley, Patrick||Helme, Sir Norval Watson||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Cullinan, John||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||M'Callum, Sir John M.|
|Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Henry, Sir Charles||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Higham, John Sharp||M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)|
|Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Snowden, Philip|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Pringle, William M. R.||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Martin, J.||Radford, G. H.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Meagher, Michael||Reddy, M.||Thomas, J. H.|
|Molloy, Michael||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Morgan, George Hay||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Morrell, Philip||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Morison, Hector||Richardson Thomas (Whitehaven)||Wardle, George J.|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Waring, Walter|
|Muldoon, John||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denblghs)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Murphy, Martin J.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Webb, H.|
|Norman, Sir Henry||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Nuttall, Harry||Roe, Sir Thomas||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Rowntree, Arnold||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Samuel, Sir Stuart M. (Whitechapel)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|O'Donnell, Thomas||Scanlan, Thomas||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|O'Dowd, John||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.||Wing, Thomas|
|O'Grady, James||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||Wood, Rt Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Sheehy, David||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|O'Sullivan, Timothy||Sherwell, Arthur James||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Shortt, Edward|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Glanville and Mr. T. Wiles.|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Gilmour, Captain John||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Astor, Waldorl||Grant, J. A.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Baird, J. L.||Greene, Walter Raymond||Peel, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.|
|Baker, Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Land.)||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Harris, Henry Percy||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Barnston, Harry||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Feel|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Bird, Alfred||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Blair, Reginald||Hills, John Waller||Royds, Edmund|
|Boyton, J.||Hill-Wood, S.||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Hunter, Sir C. R.||Stanier, Beville|
|Butcher, J. G.||Ingleby, Holcombe||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Jessel, Captain Herbert M.||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Cassel, Felix||Joynson-Hicks, William||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Kerry, Earl of||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Touche, George Alexander|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (St. Geo., Han, S.)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Courthope, George Loyd||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Cripps, Sir C. A.||Macmaster, Donald||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Dairymple, Viscount||M'Mordie, Robert James||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E. R.)|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Dickson. Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Falle, B. G.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Fell, Arthur||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Younger, Sir George|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Newman, John R. P.|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Newton, Harry Kottingham||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Hoare and Mr. Frederick Hall.|
|Forster, Henry William||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Gibbs. G. A.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."1626
§ The House divided: Ayes, 193; Noes, 103.1629
|Division No. 83.]||AYES.||[5.5 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Bowerman, C. W.|
|Adamson, William||Barnes, George N.||Bryce, J. Annan|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Barton, W.||Burke, E. Haviland-|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Beale, Sir William Phipson||Burns, Rt. Hon. John|
|Alden, Percy||Bann, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Byles, Sir William Pollard|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Boland, John Pius||Carr-Gomm, H. W.|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Booth, Frederick Handel||Chancellor, H. G.|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk. E.)|
|Clough, William||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Radford, G. H.|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts. Stepney)||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.|
|Cotton, William Francis||Jowett, Frederick William||Reddy, M.|
|Cowan, W. H.||Joyce, Michael||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Keating, Matthew||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Kellaway, Frederick George||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Crooks, William||Kelly, Edward||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Cullinan, J.||Kilbride, Denis||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||King, J.||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Lardner, James, C. R.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Delany, William||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lundon, T.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Dickinson, W. H.||Lynch, A. A.||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Doris, William||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Duffy, William J.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Samuel, Sir Stuart M. (Whitechapel)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Essex, Sir Richard Walter||M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Sheehy, David|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Shortt, Edward|
|Ffrench, Peter||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Field, William||Martin, Joseph||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G.||Snowden, Philip|
|Ginnell, L.||Meagher, Michael||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Molloy, M.||Spicer, Rt. Mon. Sir Albert|
|Goldstone, Frank||Morgan, George Hay||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Morrell, Philip||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Gulland, John William||Morison, Hector||Thomas, J. H.|
|Hackett, John||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Hancock, John George||Muldoon, John||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Hardie, J. Keir||Murphy, Martin J.||Wardle, George J.|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Waring, Walter|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Norman, Sir Henry||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Nuttall, Harry||Watt, Henry A|
|Hazleton, Richard||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Webb, H.|
|Helme, Sir Norval Watson||O'Connor, John (Kildare N.)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Henry, Sir Charles||O'Doherty, Philip||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||O'Donnell, Thomas||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Higham, John Sharp||O'Dowd, John||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Hinds, John||O'Grady, James||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Hogge, James Myles||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow. W.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||O'Shee, James John||Wing, Thomas|
|Holt, Richard Durning||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Hudson, Walter||Parker, James (Halifax)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Glanville and Mr. T. Wiles.|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Hewins, William Albert Samuel|
|Astor, Waldorf||Courthope, George Loyd||Hills, John Waller|
|Baird, J. L.||Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Hill-Wood, Samuel|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Dalrymple, Viscount||Hoare, S. J. G.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond)||Denniss, E. R. B.||Hunter, Sir C. R|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Ingleby, Holcombe|
|Barnston, Harry||Falle, Bertram Godfray||Jessel, Captain Herbert M.|
|Beresford, Lord C||Fell, Arthur||Joynson-Hicks, William|
|Bird, Alfred||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Kerry, Earl of|
|Blair, Reginald||Forster, Henry William||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Boyton, James||Gibbs, G. A.||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Gilmour, Captain John||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo., Han. Sq.)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Grant, J. A.||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh|
|Butcher, J. G.||Greene, W. R.||Macmaster, Donald|
|Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||M'Mordie, Robert James|
|Cassel. Felix||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Morrison Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Newman, John R. P.||Royds, Edmund||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Newton, Harry Kottingham||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R)|
|Paget, Almeric Hugh||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Stanier, Beville||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Peel, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Perkins, Walter F.||Talbot, Lord E.||Yate, Col. Charles Edward|
|Peto, Basil Edward||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, N.)||Younger, Sir George|
|Pole-Carew, Sir R.||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Pollock, Ernest Murray||Touche, George Alexander||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. P. Harris and Mr. Fletcher.|
|Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Rees, Sir J. D.||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
§ Question put, "That the Bill be com-1630
§ mitted to a Committee of the Whole House."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 98; Noes, 181.1631
|Division No. 84.]||AYES.||[5.15 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Grant, J. A.||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Astor, Waldorf||Greene, Walter Raymond||Peel, Lieut.-Colonel R. F.|
|Baird, J. L.||Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||Perkins Walter Frank|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Hall, Frederick (Dulwich)||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Load.)||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Harris, Henry Percy||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Beresford, Lord C.||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Rees, Sir J. D.|
|Bird, A.||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Blair, Reginald||Hills, John Waller||Royds, Edmund|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Burdett-Coutts, William||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Butcher, John George||Hunter, Sir C. R.||Stanier, Beville|
|Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Ingleby, Holcombe||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Cassel, Felix||Jessel, Captain H. M.||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Joynson-Hicks, William||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Kerry, Earl of||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Ward, Arnold S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Cripps, Sir C. A.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo., Han. S.)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Macmaster, Donald||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||M'Mordie, Robert James||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Felle, B. G.||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Fell, Arthur||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Younger, Sir George|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)|
|Forster, Henry William||Newman, John R. P.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Touche and Mr. Boyton.|
|Gibbs, G. A.||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Doris, W.|
|Adamson, William||Chancellor, H. G.||Duffy, William J.|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Clough, William||Duncan, J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)|
|Alden, Percy||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Cotton, William Francis||Essex, Sir Richard Walter|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Cowan, W. H.||Esslemont, George Birnie|
|Barnes. G. N.||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Farrell, James Patrick|
|Barton, William||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Ffrench, Peter|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Crooks, William||Field, William|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Crumley, Patrick||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Boland, John Plus||Cullinan, J.||Ginnell, L.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Gladstone, W. G. C.|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Dawes, James Arthur||Goldstone, Frank|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Delany, William||Griffith, Ellis J.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Gulland, John William|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Devlin, Joseph||Hackett, John|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Dickinson, W. H.||Hancock, J. G.|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Hardie, J. Keir||M'Laren, Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Harmsworth R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Hazleton, Richard||Martin, J.||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Meagher, Michael||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Henry, Sir Charles||Molloy, M.||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||Morgan, George Hay||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Higham, John Sharp||Morrell, Philip||Samuel, Sir Stuart M. (Whitechapel)|
|Hinds, John||Morrison, Hector||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Hogge, James Myles||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.|
|Holmes, Daniel Turner||Muldoon, John||Sheehy, David|
|Holt, Richard Darning||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Murphy, Martin J.||Shortt, Edward|
|Hudson, Walter||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)|
|Illingworth, Percy H.]||Norman, Sir Henry||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Nuttall, Harry||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Brien. Patrick (Kilkenny)||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Thomas, J. H.|
|Jones. Leif Stratton (Rushcliffe)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Doherty, Philip||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts., Stepney)||O'Donnell, Thomas||Waring, Walter|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Dowd, John||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Keating, Matthew||O'Grady, James||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Kelly, Edward||O'Shee, James John||Webb, H.|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Sullivan, Timothy||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Kilbride, Denis||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|King, Joseph||Parker, James (Halifax)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Lardner, James C. R.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Lawson, Sir. W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Pringle, William M. R.||Wing, Thomas|
|Lundon, Thomas||Radford, G. H.||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Lynch, A. A.||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Reddy, Michael||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Glanville and Mr. T. Wiles.|
|M'Callum. Sir John M.||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
Bill committed to a Standing Committee.