§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read. [Bill No. 43.]
§ LORD LYVEDEN,
in moving the second reading of this Bill, said, it was a measure to facilitate the registration of voters for the convenience of the constituencies throughout England and Wales, by providing an alphabetical Index to the Register of Voters in Counties, Cities, and Boroughs. The Bill had been passed through the Commons and sent up by a large majority, and the Members for South Lancashire and Middlesex had supported it. Under these circumstances he hoped their Lordships would assent to the second reading.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.
THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
said, the noble Lord who had charge of the Bill had studiously neglected to point out how his measure would prove advantageous or useful to the counties. On the other hand, as he believed a very considerable expense would be thrown on the counties, and that the measure was wholly unnecessary, he should oppose the second reading.
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
said, that no great interest had been manifested in the other House of Parliament in respect to this Bill. It was evident that the measure would impose a very considerable expense upon counties, and he was quite at a loss to see what possible advantage would accrue from the passing of the measure. The present system of registration was quite sufficient. When the revising barristers had concluded their duties, they sent the revised lists of electors to the clerks of the peace of the counties and the returning officers in the boroughs 1542 respectively, who arranged the lists alphabetically and had them printed. He submitted that that course of practice was found to be quite sufficient for all practical purposes. The result of passing this Bill would oblige the authorities to print the names of the electors twice instead of once; and, consequently, in such a borough as the Tower Hamlets, where the electors numbered 29,918 names, the expense would be doubled. As the noble Lord has given no satisfactory reason for incurring those extra expenses, he trusted that the second reading of the Bill would not be assented to.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
objected to the measure. It effected no more than was already done by a far better and more useful arrangement. The Bill merely doubled the existing register. The Bill ought not to pass, at any rate, in its present compulsory form. The matter ought at least to be left to the option of the counties and towns.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, the Bill involved no great constitutional question of any sort; and as the House of Commons had agreed to it by a large majority, it would, he thought, be most ungracious on the part of their Lordships to refuse the second reading.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday next.