HL Deb 27 February 1866 vol 181 cc1187-8

, in moving for certain Returns relating to the number of Voters and £10 houses in England and Wales, said, that a general impression existed that the proportion of electors to the population had of late years declined. He had no doubt that vague assertions to this effect had been made to their Lordships; but as far as he was aware there was no evidence to prove the truth of such statements. If he was not mistaken it was shown during the inquiry made upon the subject in 1860 that in some constituencies the percentage of electors to the population was much larger than at the time of the Reform Act. On another point much doubt prevailed as to whether the proportion of houses above compared with those below a £10 rental. Some persons believed that the proportion of the £10 houses was increasing in boroughs, whereas others were of opinion that, owing to the destruction of low-class houses for railways and other purposes, the proportion was diminishing. In order to clear up the matter, he now begged to move for Returns showing the proportion of voters to population in the general election of 1835 and in the general election of 1865, and showing the proportion of houses at and above the value of £10 and the houses beneath the value of £10 in boroughs of England and Wales during 1835 and 1865. The noble Lord then moved— That there be laid on the Table of this House Return showing the Proportion of Voters to Population in General Election of 1835 and in General Election of 1865: And also, Return showing the Proportion of Houses at and above the Value of £10 to Houses beneath the Value of £10 in Boroughs of England and Wales during 1885 and during 1865.


said, he was afraid that the Returns, if agreed to by the House, would not furnish the information the noble Lord desired. In the first place, there were no Returns of the population for 1835. There were certain Returns for 1865 which would before long be laid on the tables of both Houses; but as to the other Return, the only Office from which it could be obtained was the Poor Law Board; but he had inquired there and had been informed that it would be quite out of the question to attempt any such Returns, because no parish could inform them with any accuracy of the number of houses below £10 in the year 1835 within their boundaries. The Government had ordered Returns bearing on the electoral question which had been in preparation since November last, and those papers would show, he thought, everything which could be presumed to appertain to the subject. If, however, the noble Lord should think those Returns, when produced, insufficient, he could move for additional Returns. But he thought it would be useless to order a Return that could not be produced. There were 1,600 parishes in boroughs sending Members to Parliament; and to ask them what was the rating of every house thirty years ago would be a useless attempt. He could not, therefore, consent to the Returns asked for.


said, that after the explanation of the noble Earl, he would withdraw his Motion.

Motion (by Leave of the House) withdrawn.