HL Deb 02 August 1861 vol 164 cc1843-5

Protest of Lord CAMPBELL against the Third Reading of the APPROPRIATION OF SEATS (SUDBURY AND ALBANS) BILL.


"1. Because the Third Reading took place out of the Order in which the Bill stood upon the Notice Paper, at a Time when Public Business was not in any way expected, and not upon the Motion of the Minister in whose Name the Bill stood, thus making it impossible for Peers who wished to do so to take any Part on this final Stage.

"2. Because a former Stage, viz., the Second Reading, had been virtually annulled and moved pro forma only at an Hour when by general Admission it was not possible to go into Debate, all Consideration of the Bill being thus reduced to the single Stage of going into Committee on the 29th July.

"3. Because a Resolution of the House has frequently declared, that at that Period important Measures cannot have the full deliberation which they merit.

"4. Because a Precedent has thus been formed for passing to the Statute Book a Measure of organic Change without the genuine and bona fide Sanction of the House of Lords; and if such organic Change as the Public Interest requires is now to be developed in a Series of Measures, and not included in a single Scheme, the Danger of such a Precedent being often followed is apparent.

"5. Because while the Bill has not had the bona fide Sanction of the House of Lords, so neither has it had that of either Party in the Commons, the Opposition and the Government in that House of Parliament having both declared in the Course of the Session that the vacant Seats ought to be otherwise distributed.

"6. Because so long as these Seats were va- cant a notorious Defect in the Reform Act might eventualy be remedied, without increasing the Numbers of the House of Commons, the Defect in consequence of which since 1832 distinguished Public Men, against the Wishes of the Country, have been excluded from the Legislature, and which arises from the Want of a corrective Power in the State to return those whom the united Body of the Nation would have chosen, but who from local Circumstances have not been chosen by any of the Sections into which the Country at a General Election is divided.

"7. Because the Existence of such a Vice in the Reform Act is convincingly established by the Fact, that since 1832 Sir William Molesworth, Lord Macaulay, Lord Carlisle, Sir Edward Lytton, Mr. Bright, Mr. Cobden, Mr. Milner Gibson, the late Mr. Bernal, among others, have, after General Elections, been kept out of Parliament, while the Public could not be said in any of these Cases to have either caused or sanctioned the Exclusion.

"8. Because to form any System by which the casual Deficiences of a General Election might be afterwards removed, according to the Interest and Voice of the Community, the four vacant Seats, if not essential, were desirable, as the Space to build on; while they are now appropriated in a Manner which no Necessity dictated, which meets no popular Demand, which takes away no Public Inconvenience, and bestows no Kind of new advantage on the Empire.

"9. Because the Defect to some Remedy of which these Seats might have been devoted leads to serious Results beyond a palpable Anomaly. An Anomaly of this Kind occurs when a State, however firm in its Opinion that given Individuals ought to serve it in its Representative Assembly, has no Power to return them if they have been outvoted by a single local Body at a General Election, and that upon an Issue joined not of Merit, but of Party.

"10. Because before 1832 the State had the Power in question by a Medium it is not now desirable to call again into existence, the Opposition and the Government possessing at that Time the Means of bringing into Parliament distinguished Men whom the General Election had excluded by the Boroughs which each had at its Disposal. It is only, therefore, necessary that an important End which was gained for many Years by objectionable Means should be now secured by Means which are legitimate.

"11. Because, whatever Means are now resorted to to invest the State with this necessary Power since the vacant Seats have been appropriated, such Means can only be applied by increasing the Number of the House of Commons beyond a point which is generally felt to be excessive. In order, therefore, to remove One Evil in our representative Arrangements, it becomes essential in some degree to aggravate another, a Dilemma into which States may be forced by various Events, but which it is against the Rules of Policy to choose and to create by doubtful Legislation.

"12. Because among the Results of the Evil it has thus become more difficult to remedy, the State may be and has been in this Manner deprived of official Talent it requires, but which can only be exerted in conjunction with a Seat in Parliament. Beyond this, until the Country has the Power, after a General Election, of calling to its Repre- sentative Assembly those whom it deems erroneously excluded, Public Life must always be embraced with the Risk at any Moment of an arbitrary Exile, such as no other Career involves. It cannot, therefore, be embraced by Men whom Prudence governs, and whom the State would most desire to draw into its Service. In effect it is confined to the few whose Property or Family insure a permanent Connexion with a County or a Borough; and at every Change in the Reform Act these few are likely to become fewer.

"13. Because, apart from the Public Wrong these vacant Seats might have been devoted to removing, a Bill which increases the Number of the County at the Expense of the Borough Members, and forms Constituencies open to none but Persons locally connected with them, in place of Constituencies at which all Public Men might equally be Candidates, appears retrograde in Character, and ought not to have been passed without a greater Show of Argument to vindicate it.

"14. Because the Gift of Two Seats to the West Riding of Yorkshire, not to come into use until a Dissolution, is an uncalled for Sacrifice of the deliberative Freedom which might have otherwise employed them, and is no present Gain to the Locality it favours. The Right of Parliament to deal with these Two Seats without Fruit to any Interest or Place or Party is abandoned; and neither Precedent nor Policy imposed upon the Legislature the Duty of appropriating the Four Seats in One Measure, becoming vacant, as they did, at different Times, and under different Acts of Parliament.


House adjourned at a quarter before Seven o'clock, to Monday next, Two o'clock.