§ Amendments reported (according to Order).
§ Clause 4 (Lodger Franchise in Boroughs).
§ EARL RUSSELL
moved an Amendment of which he had given notice—namely, to insert £10 in lieu of £15 as the qualification for the lodger franchise. The noble Earl said, that in the greater part of the towns of this country artizans, even of the poorest class, were the occupiers of dwelling-houses; but in London that was not the case; there the greater portion 822 of the artizans lived in lodgings; and the object therefore was to fix upon such an amount of value to entitle the lodger to the franchise as should not exclude in London those of the working classes who were admitted in every other town in the country. As he was informed the amount of rent commonly paid by the artizans in London was about £10 or £12 a year; and therefore to fix upon a clear yearly value of £15 would have the effect of excluding the working men from the franchise, and of giving it to an entirely different class of persons. Such a proceeding appeared to him to be not only a very unjust and impolitic proceeding, but one that was wholly inconsistent with the agreement come to on that subject in the House of Commons. He had a copy of the Bill as it came from the other House; and there the amount stated was not £15 but £10; and, as he understood, there was no dispute on the question between the different sides of the other House, but the limit of £10 was generally agreed to. Their Lordships could hardly expect their Amendment to stand. There were, he believed, no better or more skilled class of workmen than those of London on the face of the globe; and it was impossible, if those workmen were shut out from the franchise, as they would be should the limit of £15 be insisted upon, that that could be a final settlement of the question. The workmen of London would naturally feel themselves injured by that provision of the Bill, and agitation would not cease until the decision lately arrived at by the House of Commons on that subject had become law.
§ Amendment moved, in line 12, to leave out the word "Fifteen" and insert "Ten" in lieu thereof.—(The Earl Russell.)
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
It may be in the recollection of your Lordships that this question of the lodger franchise is one which was not long ago regarded as not being of any very great importance; and even now it is doubtful whether it would not have very little effect except in the metropolis; but in the metropolis it would operate with considerable effect in respect of the number of voters. As your Lordships are aware, I was not in the House when the Amendment was moved the other night on this subject, and was carried by a majority. At the same time, I must take upon myself the full responsibility of having concurred in raising the amount from 823 £10 to £15, provided there was a general agreement among your Lordships on the matter. The misfortune of the position in which we are placed is that we have no reliable statistics on the subject. The question of the lodger franchise was first originated in 1859, when the Government of which I was a Member introduced a proposition fixing the amount at £20 a year; and I must fairly say that the object of fixing the amount at £20 was to introduce a class of lodgers not lower than the £10 householders. The Bill of 1859 was based on what is called a laternal extension of the franchise; and it was supposed that by proposing a £20 lodger franchise we should admit to the register a considerable number of persons of great respectability and of considerable means, and thus add to the constituency without, at the same time, introducing voters of a lower level than the £10 householders. But Parliament having thought fit—and I do not complain of it—considerably to reduce the occupation franchise, it is therefore very fair to take into consideration at what amount the lodger franchise ought to be fixed, so as to make it equivalent to the rating household franchise. Your Lordships will bear in mind that with regard to the lodger there is this additional security—namely, that the term of occupation required from the lodger is considerable, and must be an occupation, not of different, but of the same, lodgings; now, the lowest class of lodgers and those occupying the poorest kind of lodgings are most likely to be persons of a migratory character, and not those who remain in the same lodgings for a year, or who would be likely to put forward their claim from year to year. Consequently, a considerable reduction in the amount fixed upon for the lodger franchise would not be likely to operate very largely upon the numbers who would practically come upon the register. I have taken some trouble to get at the comparative numbers who would be admitted at £10 and at £15 respectively, but I have not been very successful; nor do I believe that any great means exist for obtaining the comparative numbers. But your Lordships will observe that the question is not one of the rent paid, but of the clear yearly value of the lodgings if let unfurnished; and that makes a considerable addition to the amount of the rent as a whole, inasmuch as it adds to the rent actually paid, among other items, the amount set aside for rates, supposing the premises to be 824 separately rated. Probably £15 of clear yearly value would represent a rent of £18, and £10 clear yearly value a rent of £13. This is, as nearly as I can make out, the probable proportion. I think that when your Lordships had the question under consideration the other day, it was not clearly brought to your notice how the question had been discussed in the House of Commons. The question was discussed in the House of Commons, in the first instance, when the proposition made was that a £10 rental should be adopted. An Amendment was moved to introduce a £15 rental instead of a £10 rental; and after discussion it was agreed, as a compromise between £10 and £15 rental, not to adopt the principle of rental, but that of clear yearly value. On that understanding I believe the House of Commons, without a division, adopted a £10 clear yearly value. I was not in this House the other day; but I do not think that point was brought clearly under your Lordships' attention; and it certainly does make a considerable difference in our estimate of this matter. I believe it is generally calculated that one-sixth of the earnings of the labouring man goes in the shape of rent; and, taking that into consideration, a rent of £13, which is supposed to be equivalent to a clear yearly value of £10, would represent an income of the occupier of 33s. per week; whereas £15 of clear yearly value, or about £18 rent, would not include any person who receives a less amount of weekly wages than 40s. Therefore, subject to the restrictions imposed by this franchise—namely, the obligation to remain in the same lodgings for the whole period of twelve months, and to make a claim year by year before the revising barrister, I think if we adopt a qualification as a minimum, introducing a class of workmen constantly earning 33s. per week, it cannot be said that even in the metropolis such a qualification would introduce any dangerous class. Considering, however, that the House of Commons have come to an understanding upon the question; considering that a great deal of feeling may be raised on the part of the working men in London, and not of London alone, but of other populous towns; and, considering that practically the difference between £10 and £15—more particularly if you take the clear yearly value and not the actual rent—is comparatively small—taking all these circumstances into consideration, I think your Lordships will do well to reconsider 825 the vote at which you arrived the other night; and although, for my own part, I should be satisfied with either one or the other, I should humbly advise your Lordships on this question not to raise a question of difference with the House of Commons which it may be possible to avoid, and not to send down this Bill with a second division in favour of a higher rate, possibly to be overruled by the House of Commons; but rather to consider whether it is of importance to maintain this slight difference, or whether it would not conduce to a more satisfactory arrangement of the whole question if the Amendment of the noble Earl were accepted by your Lordships, and not to insist upon the Amendment introduced by your Lordships.
§ VISCOUNT HARDINGE
thought the noble Earl had exercised a wise discretion in giving way on this point. He could not help saying on this occasion that he entertained the same gloomy forebodings that had been expressed by several noble Lords who had taken part in the debate. A noble Earl below him had said that the Bill would prove either a bed of roses or a bed of thorns. He thought it much more likely to prove the latter. Now that every security for so extended a suffrage had been swept away, with the exception of the personal payment of rates, it was impossible to calculate with any certainty upon the effects of the measure. In ordinary times the change might not be prejudicially felt; but circumstances might arise under which one class would be pitted against another, and he feared that the preponderance of numbers enfranchised by this Bill would swamp the existing constituencies as regarded property and intelligence; but, with respect to the lodger franchise, he thought the Government were most wise in not insisting on the £15 qualification. The noble Earl opposite (The Earl of Shaftesbury), in the debate on the lodger franchise, had told their Lordships very clearly that however low it was—and it was extremely low — it would let in a large number of artizans not very well qualified to exercise the franchise; but he had also explained very clearly that if this lodger franchise were raised to £15 there would be so much hubbub and agitation in the country as possibly to lead to very serious consequences. They had heard a good deal of the "give and take" principle, and it was never more needed than in regard to the present Bill. Important 826 Amendments had been carried by considerable majorities in their Lordships' House, and he should very much regret if their principal Amendments should be in danger of being rejected by the House of Commons in consequence of any feeling of irritation produced by the raising of the lodger franchise. Their Lordships had heard a good deal of the "Conservative residuum," in which he had no very implicit belief; but he would ask those who the other night raised the lodger franchise from £10 to £15, why they should fear a £10 lodger franchise if they had so much confidence in this Conservative residuum? Much as he disliked the provisions of this Bill generally, and dangerous as he thought they were, the time had arrived when both sides of the House were called upon to do all they could to pass this Bill through both Houses.
§ LORD CAIRNS
As I believe the proposal was made by myself that your Lordships should raise the figure of the lodger franchise, I should wish to trouble you with a few words before the question is put. There can be no greater mistake so far as I am concerned, and as far as many of your Lordships are concerned, than to suppose that the object of raising the lodger franchise to £15 was to render secure and innocuous a measure which would otherwise have been dangerous. I took the liberty of stating, when I made the proposal, that, so far as I knew, the question of the figure had really not met with any consideration in the other House of Parliament—that it had never been debated—that it had been adopted somewhat hastily and at random—and that it appeared to me that it would be a safe and wise rule to consider what would be the weekly rental represented by the figure at which you placed the franchise; and that what you wanted, whatever the figure you adopted, was, that the possessor of the franchise should be a man who would exercise his privilege with independence and advantage to the State. I pointed out that 5s. a week would amount to £13 a year, and that the sum of £10 would fall below that amount; and we could hardly expect that in large towns, or in the metropolis, artizans of skill and independence living in lodgings would pay a less rent than £13 a year. I believe that in these matters a rough estimate is taken that the rent paid by the artizan is generally about one-sixth of his wages; and if you take a weekly rent of 5s. that will give 827 30s. a week wages; and I think that an artizan receiving that amount of wages may fairly be thought entitled to the franchise. I say, for my own part, that I should still be perfectly satisfied with a lodger franchise of £15, and I believe that by that means you would secure a very large number of voters in the metropolis very well calculated to exercise the franchise with advantage; but since this subject was last under discussion I have heard what I did not then know—namely, what was the actual course of proceeding in the other House of Parliament. I was under the impression that there had been no discussion, no arrangement, and no compromise in the matter in the House of Commons. I now find—and the error was a not unnatural one, because these matters appear to have been transacted without much public discussion—that the lodger clause, which was, in the first instance, introduced by a private Member on the Opposition side (Mr. M'Cullagh Torrens), proposed that the franchise should be taken at a rental of £10. Thereupon a rival proposition was made by an independent Member on the Government side that the rental should be fixed at £15, and after some private negotiation a compromise was made, taking £10 as the figure; but, in place of rental, substituting the clear annual value, bringing up the franchise practically to a rental of £12 or £13. Now, although we are not bound by any compromise or arrangement of that kind, yet, speaking for myself, I would say that after a franchise of this kind has been the subject of arrangement in the other House, and after an influential Member of the Conservative party has expressed himself satisfied with a clear annual value of £10, I should be unwilling to re-open the question for the purpose of introducing a change to which, under the circumstances, we could hardly expect the House of Commons to assent. As far as I am concerned, therefore, I should be quite willing that this question should be re-considered; and if it should appear to your Lordships that the clear yearly value of £10 is a sufficient qualification for the franchise, I certainly shall be very willing to concur in a vote of that kind.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
said, he thought that their Lordships had done exceedingly well in assenting to this concession. The real security of the franchise did not rest on the difference between 30s. and 33s. a week wages. Much better 828 security would be found in enforcing the provision that every one should be disqualified from voting who had received parochial relief within twelve months previous.
§ Motion agreed to; the word "Fifteen" struck out, and "Ten" inserted.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, he had an Amendment to suggest on this subject of a smaller scope than one which their Lordships might possibly be ready to adopt. He believed that the Amendment introduced into the Bill on the Motion of the noble and learned Lord (Lord Cairns) was disagreeable not only to the city of Oxford and the borough of Cambridge, but also to the authorities of the University. Petitions had been presented from Oxford city and Cambridge borough against the admission of the undergratuates to the constituencies, and his information was that the authorities of the University of Oxford were also strongly opposed to the Amendment carried the other night. Undergraduates were subject to restraints such as were not imposed upon other classes, and a common punishment was rustication. Now, if the Head of a College rusticated a number of undergraduates just before an election, he might be open to the imputation of wishing to prevent their voting on a particular side; and the same imputation might be cast upon Proctors if, on the morning of an election, they ordered undergraduates to keep within their Colleges. He did not believe any advantage would be gained by either party from academic votes, for the number of resident undergraduates above twenty-one years of ago was very small; and if they voted on one side all the esprit de corps of the townspeople would be thereby enlisted in favour of the other party. Another consideration was this—the Heads of Houses had very creditably abstained from bringing any influence to bear upon town elections; but the same reticence could hardly be expected from young men in statu pupillari, who might bestow custom upon tradesmen or take it away, according as they voted for or against the candidate who possessed their sympathies. He hoped the noble Earl at the dead of the Government had made inquiries, as Chancellor of Oxford University, as to how this matter was viewed by its leading members.
Amendment moved, at end of clause, to add the words—
But nothing in this Act contained shall apply to any Members of the Universities of Oxford and
Cambridge not having taken a degree, and living in any College or Hall, so as to enable them to vote for any Members for the City of Oxford and Town of Cambridge."—(The Earl Granville.)
§ LORD CAMOYS
said, the citizens of Oxford were exceedingly jealous of academic interference in their elections. It was apprehended that difficulties would arise if rusticated undergraduates came over to vote at an election, and that the participation of members of the University in local contests would lead to "town and gown" rows. He hoped their Lordships would accede to the Amendment.
§ THE EARL OF POWIS
said, this question seemed to have evoked almost as much interest as that of the compound-householder. He could not see why the Proviso, if adopted at all, should be confined to undergraduates living in Colleges. An undergraduate of full age could be registered for any borough or county in respect of any qualification he possessed; and why was he less likely to exercise the franchise with discretion at Oxford or Cambridge? He did not believe that this had been looked upon in the Universities as a party question; but it had apparently been so viewed in some quarters, it being supposed, perhaps, that the majority of such electors would vote on a particular side. The University authorities would not think of interfering with rusticated members who came up for the purpose of voting; and, as the number of these electors would necessarily be very small, for very few undergraduates of full age resided in colleges, he did not believe that breaches of the peace would be thereby created. He would appeal to the noble Earl opposite whether, considering the small numbers to which the clause would apply, it would be worth while to create in their case a special disfranchisement.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
said, that he had been asked the other evening by the noble Earl (Earl Granville) whether he would not communicate with some of those in Oxford in whom he had confidence in order to ascertain, as far as possible, the feeling of the University on this subject. He had not neglected the request of the noble Earl, and he held in his hand the answer which he had received from one of the oldest and most respected of the Heads of Colleges, the President of St. John's College, Dr. Wynter. With respect to the lodger franchise in relation to the University, Dr. Wynter stated that its effect would be "so small as to be scarcely worth consideration;" 830 and with regard to the general question of conferring the right of voting on the members of the University, he said, "there is no doubt a considerable difference of opinion, but the balance of opinion, as I think, is decidedly in favour of it, and I am satisfied that none of the arguments brought forward against it have any real weight or value." The Motion of the noble Earl was limited to the case of undergraduates having rooms in college, and therefore the noble Earl was ready to admit that other persons occupying rooms in college ought to have a vote for the town. Now, he would like to know how many undergraduates there were occupying rooms in college who had occupied the same rooms for twelve months and who were of the age of twenty-one? The number was absolutely infinitesimal. And on what principle could the noble Earl propose to exclude persons living in colleges while he would allow those to vote who had lodgings in the town? But if the noble Earl would exclude both the one and the other, then some special provisions must be introduced with regard to those who lodged in the towns; the noble Earl, however, made no proposition of that kind. He believed there was considerable jealousy on the part of the town in regard to the interference of the members of the University in their elections; but he did not see why any member of an enlightened body should be deprived of his electoral rights. He was decidedly of opinion that the addition of the resident members of the University and of the small body of undergraduates to the general body of the town constituency would be a very great improvement, and he, therefore, trusted their Lordships would reject the Amendment.
§ LORD CRANWORTH
was of opinion that neither at Oxford nor Cambridge was it desirable that the members of the Universities should have anything to do with the town elections. He disclaimed any party view whatever in reference to this matter, he had not the slightest idea how it would work; but of this he was sure, that the allowance of this franchise would create the greatest heart-burnings in Oxford and Cambridge, and if, in a contested election, the members of the University turned the scale it would not be forgotten until next election. The noble Earl laid great stress upon the fact that the number to be enfranchised would be so few that the clause would be virtually inoperative; but the general principle was the same. So far 831 from the University and the town having any interest in common, the feeling between both was entirely antagonistic, and there was hardly any one in the University that associated habitually with any one in the town. The general principle of the University was that of an imperium in imperio; the Universities had elections of their own, and if they gave them a vote in the town elections also, they might depend upon it they would be said to have given them a dual vote — a thing that had been condemned on a previous stage of the Bill in "another place." It would be a very difficult thing to say that this was not a dual vote. At all events it would be sure to create a degree of heartburning between University and town, which, above all things, was to be avoided,
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, he had limited his Amendment to undergraduates residing in College in the hope that it would have received the assent of the noble Earl; but he would prefer altering the words which he had suggested so as to make them apply to all undergraduates.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
Would the noble Earl debar any member of the University of London from voting at town elections?
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said that the University of London was a most excellent institution, but it did not pretend to exercise any sort of academical discipline over the persons who belonged to it, but merely gave degrees after a very stringent examination. It was therefore very differently constituted from the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, which had bodies of officers for the purpose of preserving discipline.
The Motion having been altered as follows:—
But nothing in this Act contained shall apply to any Members of the University of Oxford or Cambridge in statu pupillari, so as to enable them to vote for any Members for the City of Oxford or Town of Cambridge,
the Question was put and Resolved in the Negative.
§ Clause 5 (Occupation Franchise in Counties).
, in rising according to Notice, to move that the words ("worth the Rent of Twenty Pounds or upwards by the year,") be substituted for ("of the rateable value of Twelve Pounds or upwards,") said: My Lords, if an apology is requisite for raising the important 832 question of the county franchise at this stage, it will be found, I hope, in the circumstance that the clause passed the Committee at a very late hour of the night, just after a division, when noble Lords had scarcely got back into their places, and that it escaped me as most likely it did the House at large, in the confusion which occurs at such a moment. My Lords, it will not be denied that if there is one point on which rather than another the public is entitled to genuine and calm deliberation from your Lordships it is the limit of the occupation franchise in the counties; and as regards that point there is nothing to control the freedom of the Legislature. Agitation and excitement do not bear upon it. The Parliamentary majority is not based upon the counties, and it is not therefore in that quarter that the democratic party look for the ascendancy they aim at. The House of Commons have not either come to any settled resolution on this question. This year a £20 rental limit has not been rejected, and last year a £12 rating limit had not been adopted. Nor has any league, as yet, inscribed the latter on its banners. It does not represent the judgment of the late Government, and it does not represent the judgment of the present one; since both deliberately offered other propositions. It comes from no political authority whatever, and perhaps there are not many persons in the House who would be able to explain the circumstances under which it fell into the Bill before us. The locus standi of the limit I propose to substitute is a very different one. Originality is not, indeed, the merit which it claims. It has been sanctioned by a longer series of well-known politicans than any single change in the Reform Act you can mention. In 1851 the late Mr. Nassau Senior, one of the most enlightened thinkers who ever influenced the counsels of a party, wrote a letter, which I have in my possession, on the whole subject of Reform, in which he pointed out that although it might not be good policy to extend the Chandos Clause at all, if it was extended £20 would be the proper limit. In 1852, the Prime Minister of that time (Lord John Russell) gave effect in his Bill to the view which Mr. Senior had arrived at. At a later period Lord Palmerston, just before the General Election of 1857, went out of his way to declare in Parliament that £20 ought to be the limit chosen. In the General Election of 1865, Mr. Walter, while candidate for Berkshire, took the opportunity 833 of intimating his opinion that such a change in the Reform Act was desirable. Last year the proposition was maintained by Mr. Spencer Walpole; and in the present year it has had the shelter of the Government who introduced it in their first deliberate proposal. During a range of more than fifteen years rival parties have endorsed, and unconnected individuals have united in approving it. My Lords, I will first state as rapidly as I am able the points in which a £20 rental and a £12 rating limit seem to be contrasted. A £20 rental would include the whole body of those who pay the house tax and rather go beyond it, because the tax falls on houses worth £20 a year, and the county franchise would be given to those whose lands and tenements together came to such a value. The £12 rating has not a shadow of coincidence with any institution which we have or any natural division of society. The latter, therefore, could not be maintained, the former might be easily defended. A £20 rental leaves the 40s. freeholders of England and Wales in a majority; the £12 rating flings them into a minority. This point I have fully ascertained by the statistics of last year, which every noble Lord is able to refer to. A £20 rental is likely to uphold the purity for which counties are distinguished, unless the twelve-pounder is very different from the ten-pounder; under the clause as it now stands, the counties will partake the reproach which has fallen on so many of the boroughs. The point of contrast which must, I think, be more seriously weighed by this House than any other is, that the limit I propose has, at least, a prospect of stability, and that the limit in the Bill will soon be swept away. It is not only because one connects itself with the incidence and operation of the house tax, while the other is as arbitrary as fantastic—capricious as any point you could select; but, because, according to a well-established law, the lower franchise is more difficult to guard against encroachment than the higher one. The more poverty you bring upon the register—and I shall not be thought to speak of poverty in order to disparage it—the more desire of organic change you have among electors who are able to bring their power to bear upon the Legislature. The law has been conspicuously exemplified against the £10 borough limit; since it was created there has been a certain agitation of which we now observe the unrestricted triumph. You could not point 834 to a public meeting which has ever happened in an unrepresented town—where of course the grievance would be felt—to bring down the Chandos Clause to those it does not reach at present. My Lords, let it not be thought that I wish it to remain unaltered. With Mr. Senior I have always held that £20 would be the proper limitation; I refer to an admitted truth by way of showing that the clause ought to be amended in this way if duration is the object. No doubt there are cases in which objects of a different nature are pursued, as in the question of to-night on lodgers, in which your Lordships resolved to give up the higher and to adopt the lower limit in order to extend votes to a certain class in the metropolis; but in settling the county franchise you have no peculiar end except stability to look to.
I should wish to say a word as regards the effect of a £12 rating limit merely in the counties. To say nothing of venality, it adds thousands of occupying voters nearly everywhere, as we may see by looking at the columns of last Session. The legal outlay of the candidate will be extended to a very great degree. It is well known to your Lordships how far it is politic or how far desirable to add to it. The result must, I think, be, either that proprietors belonging to the counties justly fearing the expenditure will not be able to come forward, or that in the course of time their fortunes may be injured and non-residence occur, where residence has been so fertile of advantages. As regards cities, if the instability, which may fairly be anticipated in a limit so unauthorized, brings down the county to the level of the borough franchise, electoral divisions would be the natural development; and in the choice of representatives by such a system cities merge their separate existence. The question for the whole Empire is simply whether or not counties as well as boroughs should fall to the numerical majority; the question is too great to be encountered at this moment. But when a series of distinguished men and leading politicians have pointed out the course to be adopted, should the county franchise have to be enlarged, when nothing has occurred to change the wisdom of their counsel; when no other limit recommends itself except that which they have urged upon us; when no necessity of any kind debars you from adopting it; when it gives the very thing we want the reason for a preference, is it consistent with, the ordinary 835 prudence which ought to govern states to reject that path now, and at the same time to lose the future power of adopting it? Would it not be worth while, at least to ascertain, how far it is the true one? You can always quit but you can only now embrace it. If a £20 limit succeeds we may uphold, and if it fails we may reduce it. As regards the £12 limit, if it has the bad results which are anticipated you cannot hope to raise it; and even if it works well it is not likely to be permanent. I fear no answer, my Lords, to these considerations. If they do not prevail tonight it will be from a mode of feeling which cannot be encountered in debate or satisfied by argument. It is clear from what has passed before that the Bill is not regarded with any great degree of hope or exultation by your Lordships. It is seen that in boroughs, if the new rights are practically exercised, that transfer of power will arise which in this House and out of it has been so powerfully deprecated; and a reluctance is in consequence engendered to avert a risk, to vindicate a policy in counties, or to withhold the remnant of our system from a force by which the greater part is likely to be mastered. On this dangerous principle of lassitude, despondency, faint-heartedness, every retreat would be a rout, and every battle lost a capital abandoned. The man whom it controls, because his house was burning to the ground, would refuse to give directions for the safety of his furniture, his library, or children; and, if his property was gone, would not consent to move a step to rescue his existence. On such a principle alone, your Lordships will be able, because the boroughs have been drawn into a region you do not view as safe, by your own inaction, to permit the counties to be swept into the vortex. The House, I know, of course, will be determined, not by what they hear from me, but by what falls from the customary Leaders on this side and on the other. If the noble Earl, the head of the late Government has not lost all respect for his own convictions and engagements, he will sanction the Amendment I propose. He has never ceased to dwell on the position that to carry the Chandos Clause beyond a certain limit would bring humiliation on the freeholders, and so involve a peril to the State; and he cannot but know that a £12 limit will put an end to the ascendancy of freeholders in counties. It is on this account that the Amendment I have 836 offered, instead of bringing obloquy upon the House, would give it higher claims on the affection of the people. As regards the noble Earl the First Lord of the Treasury, it would be absurd to recommend to his approval the proposition which in February he offered. He can resist it only on the ground which he is not prepared to take—namely, that no Amendment of the franchise should be permitted to your Lordships. There is not any reason to ascribe to the other House of Parliament tenacity of so unauthorized and so impolitic a limit as that which I have ventured to impugn; but even if there was, I utterly deny that your Lordships ought to be determined by the prospect of it. The House of Commons ought to have, at least, the option of accepting the proper limit, or refusing it. In that case — even if the clause as it stands should finally prevail, if after overpowering the freeholders it brings a train of outlay, of impurity, of agitation on the counties; if after that it gives to the numerical majority command of every place in which a representative is chosen, descending as a fatal blot on the institutions of the country, it will not sully, as it falls, the credit of your Lordships.
§ Amendment moved, in line 9, to omit the words "the rateable value of Twelve Pounds or upwards," and insert "worth the rent of Twenty Pounds or upwards by the year."—(The Lord Stratheden.)
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
said, their Lordships had determined to throw no obstacle in the way of the speedy passing of this measure, and they had already given a proof of that determination by reversing the vote at which they had arrived on a previous evening. The noble Lord had appealed to the Government to accept his Amendment on the ground that they had proposed the value of £20 on a previous occasion. But he would remind the noble Lord that the limit proposed by the Government was originally £15, and that its reduction to £12 was unanimously concurred in by both sides of the House. Not only, therefore, could not the Government concur in the Amendment proposed by the noble Lord, but the Amendment would certainly in any case be rejected by the other House.
said, it might not be a reproach to the noble Duke that he had not yet acquired the history of the Session but when he did so he would find that £20 was the original proposal of the 837 Government in the first Bill they introduced, although it had not been adhered to.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 17 (Certain Boroughs to return Three Members).
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
begged to move the Amendment of which he had given notice, the effect of which would be that instead of forming Chelsea and Kensington into a new borough to return two Members, those districts with Fulham and Hammersmith, should be added to Westminster, which should hereafter return three Members, and a third Member would be given to Marylebone. Their Lordships on the Motion of the noble and learned Lord (Lord Cairns) had decided by a very large majority on giving to the minorities in some of the largest constituencies a chance of securing representation, although they had also determined by their vote the other evening not to go to the length contemplated by the Amendment of the noble Earl on the cross-Benches, (Earl Grey). The state of the metropolitan constituencies, however, deserved, in his opinion, some consideration at their Lordships' hands, and it seemed to him that as regarded at least Westminster and Marylebone a good case could be made out upon which the principle of giving minorities a share in the representation could be extended. In the City of London the minority could possibly elect one Member out of four; but the same opportunity was afforded to none of the other constituencies, although they were going to add to the representation of the metropolis. He would therefore suggest whether it would not be better instead of making Chelsea and Kensington a borough, and giving it two Members, to join them to Westminster, giving one additional Member to the latter city, and the other additional Member to the constituency of Marylebone, and extending to them the principle sanctioned in regard to the "three-cornered" constituencies. Marylebone contained already 473,000 inhabitants, and so narrow was the majority in this borough that no less than 200,000 of the inhabitants might be regarded as being totally unrepresented. He would ask was this fair? His proposal would have the effect of giving the minorities some chance of being represented, while the effect of giving as it was proposed to do, two Members to Chelsea would be to leave probably the two largest and most important communities in the world, composed 838 of the minorities, as regarded superior education, position, and political intelligence, in Westminster and Marylebone, to all effects and purposes totally without representation. Westminster which at present had a population of 261,000 would with the addition that he proposed to make contain only 418,000 inhabitants—so that the number even then would be less than was at present the case in Marylebone, which possessed only two Members. He could not but think that the principle of which their Lordships had approved in respect of the boroughs of Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, and Leeds, deserved in some slight degree to be extended to the metropolis. He had not much hope of success, because he knew that their Lordships had been almost exhausted by the discussions on this Bill, and that they considered they had done the work of the Session. But he should not think he was discharging his duty if he did not, even with the view of entering a protest, bring under their notice the fact that the principle of a representation of minorities had not been extended to the metropolis.
An Amendment moved in page 7, line 8, after "Parliament," to insert—
The Parishes of Chelsea, Kensington, Fulham and Hammersmith, shall form part of the Borough of Westminster, and" also in line 9, after the second "of" to insert "Westminster and Marylebone."—(The Earl of Harrowby.)
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
said, he objected to the Amendment on the ground that there was an ample constituency in the proposed new borough—it would contain a population of 173,000 persons. His noble Friend could not suppose that his proposition would be listened to for one moment by the House of Commons. He would not enter upon the general principle of the representation of minorities, to which their Lordships had given effect to a certain extent; but he confessed for himself that he should not like to see it carried much further. He hoped their Lordships would not consent to so material an alteration as that proposed by his noble Friend.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 29 (Power to vote by Voting Papers).
THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
said, he would now move the Regulations relating to voting papers, which he would ask their Lordships to insert at the end of Clause 29.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, he would read the Regulations seriatim. The first was—1. The Returning Officer of every County or Borough shall, on the Occasion of every Election, provide a Book or Books containing a sufficient Number of Voting Papers for the Use of the Voters at such Election:
§ EARL RUSSELL
must say that the Regulations of which the noble Marquess had given notice did not reconcile him to the plan of voting papers. A strong objection to voting by ballot always had been that under such a system the voter would be exercising a great public trust in a manner which would keep from the knowledge of his fellow-constituents and of the public the way in which he voted. That objection appeared to him to tell with great force against the system of voting by voting papers. Then, an objection to open voting was that it exposed the voter to the revenge of his landlord, or of any other person who might have power to oppress him. That objection also appeared to him to apply to the plan of the noble Marquess; so that this latter system was open to the objection against the ballot, which he had always deemed to be very strong, and likewise to the objection against open voting. He could not conceive that such a plan would last long. When an election was going on, it was customary to publish returns very frequently throughout the day, showing the numbers polled for the respective candidates; but, under the voting paper system, a mass of papers unfolded at the last moment might show the candidate who had been supposed to be in a minority of 100 to be in reality at the head of the poll by double that number. He could not but think that there would be great public discontent at the system to which their Lordships had given their sanction.
§ THE EARL OF DERBY
said, he would call the noble Earl's (Earl Russell's) attention to the fact that by Regulation No. 10, which would be proposed by his noble Friend (the Marquess of Salisbury), it was directed that the Returning Officer should, during the hours of polling, publicly open all voting papers transmitted to him, and read out from each voting paper the votes given for the candidates therein named.
§ Regulation agreed to, and added to the Clause.840
2. Each Voting Paper shall be attached to a Counterfoil bound up in the Book in which it is contained, and shall be in the Form numbered (1) in the Schedule (F.) to this Act annexed:
3. On the Application of any Voter, in Writing under his own Hand, in the Form numbered (2) in the said Schedule (F.), transmitted by Post or otherwise, and received by the Returning Officer after the Issue of the Writ for the Election and before the Day of Polling, the Returning Officer shall, in manner herein-after mentioned, transmit to such Voter a Voting Paper:
4. Previously to transmitting a Voting Paper to a Voter the Returning Officer shall enter the Name and Address of the Voter and his Number in the Register of Voters on the Voting Paper and also on the Counterfoil:
5. On the Receipt of the Voting Paper the Voter shall enter therein the Name or Names of the Candidate or Candidates for whom he is entitled and intends to vote, and shall subscribe the Voting Paper with his own Name:
6. The Entry of the Name or Names of the Candidate or Candidates as aforesaid and the Subscription by the Voter of his own Name shall be made in the Presence of a Justice of the Peace, who shall retain the Voting Paper, and cause it to be in manner herein-after mentioned transmitted without Delay to the Returning Officer:
7. The Identity of the Voter with the Person named in the Voting Paper by the Returning Officer shall be attested, if the Voter is personally known to the Justice, by such Justice, or otherwise by some Person being a Householder and personally known to the Justice:
8. The Transmission of a Voting Paper to a Voter by the Returning Officer, or to the Returning Officer by the Justice of the Peace, may be by Post, and if by Post shall be Post-free; but any other Mode of Transmission may be adopted, in the Case of the Returning Officer, upon the Application or with the Consent in Writing of the Voter, and in the Case of the Justice of the Peace, at his Discretion, if he think such other Mode more speedy than and equally secure as the Transmission by Post:
9. The Returning Officer shall take proper Means for securing the prompt Delivery to him of Voting Papers, whether sent by Post or otherwise, and shall give Notice of the Poll Booth at which he will enter all Votes that are given by Voting Papers:
10. The Returning Officer or his Deputy shall, during the Hours of polling on the Day of polling, publibly open at the Booth aforesaid all Voting Papers transmitted to him, and read out from each Voting Paper the Vote given for the Candidates therein named, and duly record such Vote in the Poll Book, and Votes so recorded shall be of the same Validity as if they had been given personally:
11. The Returning Officer or his Deputy shall reject any Voting Paper that on Comparison with the Book of Counterfoils does not tally therewith, or which contains the Names of more Candidates than the Voter is entitled to vote for; but, except on the Grounds aforesaid, he shall not reject for Informality any Voting Paper that contains the Surname of any Candidate for whom the Voter is entitled to vote, and that purports to have been subscribed by the Voter with his own Name in the Presence of a Justice of the Peace:
12. All Voting Papers the Votes in respect of which are recorded at the Election or which are rejected for the Reasons aforesaid shall be filed by the Returning Officer; and any Person shall be allowed to examine such Voting Papers, and take Copies thereof, on payment of a Fee not exceeding One Shilling:
13. A Voter at an Election shall not be entitled to more than One Voting Paper; and when he has signed a Voting Paper in favour of any Candidate at any Election he shall not be entitled to vote personally at such Election:
14. The Returning Officer shall, on the Occasion of an Election, give public Notice in some Newspaper circulating in the County or Borough within his Jurisdiction, and in such other Manner, if any, as he thinks fit, of the Manner in which Applications for Voting Papers are to be made, and of the Address to which such Applications are to be sent:
15. No Person, except the Returning Officer, his Deputy or Clerks, shall be entitled to inspect the Counterfoils of Voting Papers before the Day of Polling, or to ask the Names of the Persons who have applied for Voting Papers; and it shall be the Duty of the Returning Officer, his Deputies and Clerks, to give no Information until the Day of Polling with respect to the Names of the Persons who have applied for Voting Papers.
If any Person forges any Voting Paper, or attests or transmits any Voting Paper knowing it to be forged, he shall be guilty of a Misdemeanor.
If any Person signs the Name of any other Person to an Application for a Voting Paper, he shall be guilty of a Misdemeanor.
If any Person fraudulently defaces, destroys, withholds, or abstracts any Voting Paper, he shall be guilty of a Misdemeanor.
If any Person wilfully delays the Transmission of a Voting Paper to the Returning Officer, with the Intent of preventing the Vote contained in such Voting Paper being recorded, and such Vote by means of such wilful Delay is not recorded, he shall be guilty of a Misdemeanor.
If at any Election any Person who has signed a Voting Paper afterwards votes personally at the same Election, he shall be guilty of a Misdemeanor and his Vote shall be invalid.
Instead of the Second Question authorized to be put to a Voter in pursuance of the Eighty-first Section of the Act of the Sixth Year of the Reign of Her present Majesty, Chapter Eighteen, the following Question shall be substituted:
Have you already voted personally or by Voting Paper at this Election for
[describing the County, Borough, &c., for which the Election is held]
and the said Section shall be construed as if the above Question were inserted therein in place of the said Second Question.
All Expenses incurred by any Returning Officer in respect of Voting Papers under this Act, on the Occasion of any Election for a County or Borough, shall be deemed to be Expenses incurred in respect of Polls and Poll Clerks, and shall be defrayed accordingly.
§ These Regulations having been severally moved, and agreed to,
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.842
§ Schedule F, containing the forms, &c., agreed to.
§ Clause 49 (Payment of Rates to be punishable as Bribery).
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, that the word "corruptly" had been struck out of the clause in Committee. As the clause originally stood it was rendered punishable as bribery for any candidate or other person, either directly or indirectly, to pay any rate on behalf of any voter for the purpose of enabling him to be registered as a voter. Now, at the time of the registration there were no candidates or voters. He should therefore propose to substitute the following words:—Any Person either directly or indirectly paying any Rate on behalf of any Ratepayer for the Purpose of enabling him to be registered as a Voter, thereby influencing his Vote at any future election.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Bill to be read 3a To-morrow, and to be printed as amended. (No. 293.)