§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
I am sure both sides of the House will hear with great regret that the Prime Minister is unable, from the present state of his health, to come down to the House, and in his absence, therefore, I am obliged to move that your Lordships go into Committee on, the Bill.
§ Moved, "That the House do now resolve into a Committee on the said Bill.—(The Earl of Malmesbury.)
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
I now rise to move the Amendment of which I have given notice. I am quite aware, from the question addressed to me by the noble Earl on Friday, and also from some observations which fell from the First Lord of the Treasury on Tuesday, what line the Government are likely to take on the subject of this Motion. They will say it is a vague proposition, and that it points to no definite plan. If I had adopted a 257 definite plan I am afraid I should have been obnoxious to the censure of a noble and learned Lord, who told us the other night that the party to which I belong claimed for themselves a monopoly of dealing with the question of Reform. I can assure your Lordships that I have no wish to interfere unnecessarily with the course that the Government have pursued. I am actuated by one motive, and by one motive only, that of contributing as far as I can to — that which I believe to be of the greatest importance to the public interest — an early and satisfactory settlement of this great question of Reform. It seemed to be assumed the other night that objections were taken by the Leaders of the Liberal party to the settlement of this question by noble Lords opposite. That, my Lords, is not my opinion; for I believe they are better able to deal with it and to pass it to a satisfactory conclusion than the late Government was. We have seen this Session that their influence with the great Conservative party has induced that party to support a measure which they will hardly deny that, under other circumstances, they would have steadily opposed. But further than this, some experience in public matters has led me to think that forming a detailed plan upon so large a question as the present is far easier for the Government than for any individual Member, or even the party in Opposition. An individual Member of your Lordships' House, or of the other House, may bring forward, and may even succeed in carrying, an isolated Motion, or may obtain the opinion of the House, and lay down some principle of action. But when it is necessary to form a detailed plan the Government is in possession of information, or, at any rate, has the command of information, which no individual Member of either House can have, and without which it is perfectly impossible to form a detailed plan upon a large scale. Having said this I need hardly disclaim any intention of making this Motion in any way whatever as a party Motion. I confess that I am a party man, and that I attach great value to party. I believe that the organized action of party in support of the principles by which that party is bound together is not only the mainspring but the safeguard of Parliamentary Government. And if I had thought it desirable to make a party Motion, I should not have hesitated to do so, and to avow it. But I am not sure that the Motion which I now make is as good 258 as a mere party Motion; and, at any rate, and however that may be, I conceive that the importance of settling this question is far above any party purpose, and I should be ashamed of myself if I allowed any party consideration to interfere with what I believe to be for the real interest of the country. That is the reason why I have not brought forward, as I was invited to do, a detailed plan. I was anxious to bring forward no plan which could even appear as a rival plan to that of the Government. That might have been called a party movement. The noble Earl talked the other day of being influenced by a determination not to be outbid by his opponents; but we were determined not to propose a plan in rivalry with that of the Government with the appearance of outbidding them to be again out bidden in our turn. Such was not our view of our duty under the present circumstances. My object, and that of the noble Lords among whom I have the honour of sitting, is to point out that the scheme of the Government in respect to re-distribution is inadequate and unsatisfactory. That is not our opinion only, it is the opinion generally entertained—the opinion of every man one meets in the streets; and only this morning I received from a steady Conservative Member the expression of his dissatisfaction with the scheme as proposed by the Government, which he said gave satisfaction to none but to the very small boroughs. I am anxious to point out the defects of the scheme of the Government; and, without pledging myself to any detailed plan, I wish to suggest in what manner those defects may best be remedied, and to impress on your Lordships the importance of settling this question in the present Session. In one sense only can I admit that this is a party Motion — that on the part of noble Lords near me I tender our support and co-operation if the Government will undertake to amend their scheme. My noble Friend the noble Earl near me, in the debate on Tuesday, offered our support to the Government if they would amend their Bill, and if he had met with any response I should not have been standing here to propose this Motion. But we feel it of such importance that the question should be settled, that now, in a more formal and solemn manner, we offer our assistance, that we may not fail in anything we can do towards settling this question this year. Having disclaimed any party object, I hope I may receive the support of some of your 259 Lordships, whose opinions I am inclined to think concur with my own on this subject, but who, if I had made the Motion in a hostile temper and spirit, would naturally and rightly have voted in opposition to it. Before, however, I touch upon the question of the re-distribution I wish, in order to clear the way, and to have no concealment from your Lordships, to say one word on the other part of the scheme—that relating to the franchise. The Government have proposed the largest measure in respect to the franchise that has ever been proposed to Parliament, and I have no doubt they have proposed it with a view of effecting a settlement. I believe it is large enough to effect that object. And, although there may be some details which may be capable of amendment with regard to the franchise, I can only say that with that part of the measure I, for one, am perfectly satisfied. I do not participate in those fears which have been expressed by some of your Lordships as to the effect of an extension of the franchise. I have perfect confidence in my fellow-countrymen. I have had some experience in dealing with all classes of society, in canvassing large and populous towns. Every one who has gone through contested elections knows well to what an extent a candidate is brought into contact, not only with electors, but with all classes of society. I have had the advantage of having gone through ten contested elections, and have been fifteen times returned to Parliament. I speak, therefore, with some experience, and I can bear my testimony to the almost universal reasonableness of the working classes with whom I have been brought into contact, and I can especially bear testimony to their vast improvement of late years. I never found them unreasonable even when I differed with them. I found no development of democratic spirit among them, and I have perfect confidence that they will not abuse the franchise with which they are about to be intrusted. With this part of the Bill I am perfectly contented and satisfied; I wish the other half of the Bill had been conceived in the same spirit. Before entering into the detail of the proposed plan of re-distribution, I wish to notice two of the objections which have been made to my proposal. One is that it is too late to amend the Government scheme; and the other is that the House of Commons will not be willing to receive a measure on the subject from your Lordships. I trust, my Lords, that you will not allow yourselves to be influenced by 260 these arguments. I believe that there have been occasions when your Lordships have threatened to refuse to entertain a Bill brought up so late in the Session as this has been. This, however, is certainly not a Bill which you can refuse to entertain, and I believe it has been brought up to your Lordships' House as early as the exertions of the other House rendered it possible. If this be the case, are we not to discuss the measure because it comes up so late? Are we to be reduced to the situation of merely registering the decisions of the other House in the case of measures brought up late in the Session? I cannot believe your Lordships will entertain so low an opinion of your Constitutional functions, or that you will grudge the time necessary for the fair and proper consideration of the measure. I feel it the more necessary that we should do so because the scheme of redistribution was hardly discussed in the other House. Indeed, I believe that such was the weariness of that House with regard to the Bill that the Schedules passed at a single sitting. It must likewise be remembered that some Members of the House of Commons are more nearly affected by a measure of re-distribution than is the case with your Lordships, and I am inclined to think, therefore, that the matter may be considered here in a fairer and more impartial spirit than it was in the other House. Nor do I believe that there is any ground for supposing that the House of Commons would not entertain Amendments proposed by your Lordships. We might, indeed, appear obstructive if we narrowed the measure of enfranchisement adopted by the other House, but we shall clearly be only performing our duty in assisting to frame a proper measure with regard to the seats; and, if it should happen that in any line of disfranchisement we touch a borough over which a Member of your Lordships' House exercises a predominant influence, depend upon it that our dealing with it would be regarded as a graceful sacrifice on the part of this House, even by those who might object to our interference in other matters. I am convinced that an enlarged scheme of re-distribution, emanating from your Lordships' House, would, if founded on just principles and fairly carried out, entitle this House to the gratitude of the other House and of the country. Nor do I believe that, if the Government would accede to the representation I am now making, and would reconsider and amend the defective parts of their plan, there would be any indisposition 261 either here or in the other House to devote such prompt and unremitting attention to the amended scheme as to allow of the measure being passed through both Houses without any great loss of time. I have thus explained the sense in which I am anxious that this Motion should be considered—not as a hostile or party Motion, but as expressing the opinion generally held that the measure in its present shape is insufficient, and as pressing on the Government the propriety of reconsidering the whole plan with a view to framing such a scheme as, in the opinion of the public at large, may settle for some time this long-vexed and important question. I now proceed to point out what I regard as the prominent defects of the scheme of re-distribution, and I will take first, as it stands in the Bill, the proposal for disfranchisement. The Bill of the Government takes away one Member from all boroughs with less than 10,000 population; but it leaves untouched many of those smaller boroughs which are the great blot of our representative system. From a Return which has been laid on the table giving the existing boroughs in the order of population, your Lordships will find that there are ten boroughs, each with less than 5,000 inhabitants. They contain altogether a population of 38,900, and have 3,190 electors. Of these ten, moreover, six are so decaying that they have now less population than they had in 1831. Now, let me contrast these ten boroughs with the great hives of wealth and industry. The town of Liverpool alone has 440,000 inhabitants, or more than ten times as many as the whole of these ten boroughs. The city of Bristol — for I do not wish to refer merely to Northern places — has a population of 154,000, or four times as large as the whole of these boroughs. Let me refer to those boroughs which have of late years largely increased both in wealth and population. Why, the increase of Wolverhampton within the last thirty years is twice as large as the whole population of these ten boroughs. The largest borough with one Member—Birkenhead—has also increased during the last thirty years to as large an extent as the whole population of these boroughs. Excluding the metropolitan boroughs, which I do not allude to, because they are so beyond all calculation, three of the boroughs which this Bill proposes to enfranchise have a population as large as the whole of these ten boroughs. Now, I ask the most Conservative Peer whether 262 the maintenance of these small boroughs on their present footing is defensible. I have taken the ten boroughs with the smallest population, only as an illustration of my views; other persons might prefer a different test, the number of houses or the number of electors. Take any test you like, that of population, of houses, or that of electors, you will find that there are a number of small boroughs at the bottom of the list which cannot be maintained in their present position, and which are a source of weakness and object of attack. It must be remembered that the disproportion between them and the larger boroughs is increasing every year. I have taken the population of 1861, but a Return laid before the other House gives the computed population of 1866, and you will find that the small boroughs are smaller still, and the large boroughs infinitely larger. Moreover, the enfranchising provisions of this Bill will increase the electors in the large towns out of all proportion to the increase which will take place in the small towns, so that the anomaly will become more patent than ever. I come now to the plan for enfranchisement, and I will first take the proposal as to counties. The Government proposes to give six Members to nine counties and four Members to four divisions of counties. The noble Earl (the Earl of Derby) told us that the principle on which the Government proceeded was to give six Members to counties, with a population of 300,000. Six Members are to be assigned to Derbyshire, with 296,000 inhabitants, and six to Cheshire, with 306,000. Cornwall, however, with 306,000 inhabitants, is left out, and the West Riding of Yorkshire, with 842,000 inhabitants, is to have only six Members. Now, do not imagine that we in the West Riding grudge counties smaller than our own the representation which it is proposed to give them; but we do think that when you distribute Members in this way, and increase the county representation, there ought to be some proportion between population and representation. I should be sorry to see the country cut up into electoral divisions with equal population and an equal number of Members; but, while a more than adequate representation is bestowed upon smaller counties, an adequate representation surely ought to be bestowed on the larger ones. Under this Bill Derbyshire will have one Member to under 50,000 population, the West Riding one Member to 140,000, and South Lancashire 263 one to 150,000. In many of the smaller counties there is one to every 30,000 or 40,000 inhabitants. I do not pretend to say that these Northern counties ought to have Members proportionate to their population, according to the scale of the smaller counties; all that I say is that a greater approximation ought to be made to what is fair. There cannot but be discontent with a plan so inadequate and unequal. Nor is the proposal for enfranchising the new boroughs any better. In their first scheme the Government proposed to enfranchise twelve boroughs; in the next two were struck out and three inserted — namely, Keighley, Luton, and Stockton—making thirteen in all. Then came the proposal made in the House of Commons for giving three Members to six of the largest boroughs. The Motion was resisted and defeated by the Government, but before long they changed their minds—very properly, as I think—in deference to what they found to be a general opinion of the House. I entirely approve what they did so far as it went, and if they had taken the four Members from some small boroughs the Government would have done perfectly right. But, instead of taking away the Members from some of those petty, decaying places, they withdrew the Members which they had promised to four flourishing towns, which a week before were in their opinion entitled to representation. And not only did they do that, but they did not leave out the smallest of the proposed boroughs. Why they left out one borough while they retained another I cannot see. The Government is no doubt in the possession of better information than we can be, and it may be that they are right; but look at the figures, and you will find that, primâ facie, the case is entirely against them. Before I refer to the particular places, I wish to say that I do not in the slightest degree grudge a Member to any one of the places which has received it. The Government have retained on the list Darlington and Stockport, the population of each being between 16,000 and 17,000. But then there are St. Helens with 41,000 inhabitants, Keighley with 34,000, Barnsley with 30,000, and Luton with 22,000, and these they have struck out of the list. I have here taken the population within the proposed Government boundaries. I am perfectly ready to admit with respect to one of those boroughs (Barnsley) that the boundaries proposed by the Government Bill comprised an area of twenty square 264 miles, which was perfectly preposterous. But if you take the area in the same boroughs which, strictly speaking, may contain the nucleus of representation, you will find that precisely the same difference exists as I have stated with regard to the large areas. The township of Darlington contains 15,000, and the municipal borough of Stockton 13,000 inhabitants. There is no distinct and smaller area for St. Helens—it forms a part of different townships; but I understand that what would be a continuous town area would contain about 35,000 inhabitants. But in other cases there is a restricted area. The township of Darlington contains 15,000 inhabitants, the township of Barnsley 17,800, Stockton has 13,000, Keighley 18,000 inhabitants. Therefore, neither as regards the larger area nor the restricted area is there as large a population in the boroughs which have been retained as in the four which have been left out. I have illustrated the case from places with which I happen to be acquainted, not because I have any particular leaning to those places, but because what I have stated I know to be accurate. There are also, as I find from a Return which has been laid before the other House of Parliament—I am not quite sure that it has been laid upon the table of your Lordships' House—some other boroughs which have a population larger, or as large as those to which the franchise has been given. I find that Glossop has 19,000 inhabitants, Leamington 17,000, Doncaster 16,000, and there are others with populations nearly as large. I am aware that one cannot depend altogether on these Returns, and that is the reason why I say that the Government ought to undertake the question. I know, for instance, one town in Yorkshire, which appears in this Return, with a population of 7,000—the town of Rotherham—and I am confident that the population, within reasonable limits, is above 20,000. I think, then, I have shown, first, with respect to the small boroughs that they are insignificant and decaying; and secondly, that the scheme of redistribution proposed by the Government is unequal as respects both counties and boroughs. I say, therefore, that I do not think it can be expected that when these sources of discontent are created by the Bill satisfaction and content will be produced throughout the country. It cannot be expected that those towns which, even in the opinion of the Government, are entitled to representation will be content to 265 remain quiet and not agitate, or that those persons throughout the country who take an interest in Reform, and wish to see the question put upon a satisfactory footing, will be content that the question should rest as proposed by Her Majesty's Government. Well, my Lords, I think I have satisfied your Lordships that there are just causes of dissatisfaction with the measure of the Government. If I were to propose anything in the shape of a rival plan, I might be exposing myself to the imputation of having acted in a party spirit. But I think your Lordships have a right to expect from any one standing in my position that he should suggest, at least in general terms, a remedy for the state of things with which he has found fault. My Lords, I am prepared to make such a suggestion; but I beg your Lordships to understand that I am most anxious not to commit any of your Lordships to my plan, still less to propose it in the light of a rival scheme. I will leave it to the Government on their own responsibility, and with the information they possess, to state how far they can go. Now I say, in the first place, that I think we ought to deal with some of these small boroughs. I do not say whether the test should be a population of 6,000, 8,000, 10,000, 12,000 or any other figure. I do not say that population alone should be taken as the test. I leave it to the Government to determine what test they think best to act upon, but I say that the smaller boroughs must be dealt with. In 1852 the Bill of the Government proceeded on the principle of retaining every existing borough as the nucleus of representation, and adding other towns in order to strengthen them. My Lords, in some cases I think that might be done very well; but in many cases it would be found absolutely impossible, and there is this further argument against it, that you could not, by pursuing this method, obtain Members to be given to large constituencies. I think there are strong arguments against any increase in the number of Members of the House of Commons. Of course, I do not pretend to say that there is any particular charm in the number 658. But depend upon it it is far more easy to adhere to the existing number than to lay down any limit at which you can stop if you once depart from that limit. As boroughs increase in population to 15,000, or 20,000, or 25,000, what answer can you make when they say "Give us now a Member?" I do not see where you can stop if you once begin to increase 266 the numbers of the House of Commons, and I think that anyone who has had any experience of the working of that House will pronounce such an increase to be inconvenient and uncalled for. I am aware it is said that you must increase the number of Members for the purpose of giving additional representation to Scotland. Now, I am not opposed to that additional representation. Two successive Governments have proposed such an addition, and Scotland is fairly entitled to it. But it is absurd to draw between the two countries a distinction which would make them jealous of each other. There are some differences of law and custom between the two countries, but their feelings and interests are identical, and if the large counties or large towns in Scotland are entitled to additional representation, I have not the least objection to give it to that country by taking it from some petty English borough. I am strongly opposed, however, to an increase in the total number of representatives. There are, then, but two ways in which these small boroughs can be dealt with. One is the same course as that taken in the Bill of 1854—that of disfranchising altogether certain small boroughs. The second is that proposed in the Bill of 1866, which was also proposed by Mr. Laing in the other House, and which a noble Friend of mine has given notice he will bring under your Lordships' notice now—I mean the system of grouping. The Government has expressed a strong opinion against total disfranchisement. I do not wish to say anything which will bind myself or any of your Lordships to either of these proposals. There are arguments in favour of each course; I leave it to the Government to decide in accordance with what they hold to be their duty or their principles which they will adopt. All I can say is, that in one way or the other these small boroughs ought to be dealt with, and the Members taken from them should be given to large and populous districts. The measure of disfranchisement must depend on what you think the just claims for additional Members of the large counties and towns — Parliamentary boroughs now existing or boroughs to be enfranchised. When you have made up your minds to what extent these claims ought to be met, you will have the measure of your disfranchisement. If you cannot obtain a sufficient number of Members in this way, you may obtain more Members by extending your 267 partial disfranchisement to boroughs with a population of more than 10,000. My noble Friend proposes to extend the limit to boroughs with a population of 12,000. But you must first decide upon the enfranchisement which is necessary, and then, and not till then, you will know to what extent to carry your disfranchisement. What places, then, are there which have the best claim to increased representation? I, myself, have no doubt, and I think your Lordships will agree with me, that the large counties of England are at this moment under-represented, and have the best claim for additional representation. The Bill proposes that a third Member shall be given to every borough with a population above 200,000, and I entirely concur in the propriety of that proposal. But there are five divisions of counties with a population above that number. Why are they to be put in a worse position than these large boroughs? There is no conceivable reason why they should not be placed upon the same footing. I suggest, therefore, to the Government, that a third Member should be given to counties with a population over 200,000—namely, the two divisions of South Lancashire and the three divisions of the West Riding. Mr. Laing proposed further to give a third Member to two other boroughs with a population of between 150,000 and 200,000, and he was supported by a very large minority of the House of Commons. The Government refused to extend the limit so low; but I confess I can see no reason why these two boroughs should not receive a third Member too, and in that case it would only be just and fair that a similar increase of representation should be given to counties containing a similar number of inhabitants. There are seven counties or divisions of counties with a population of over 150,000, and I think it only right that each of these should receive a third Member. No doubt they are chiefly counties in the North of England, because the wealth and population have increased in the North out of all proportion to the rest of the country. Surely, however, representation ought to follow wealth and population. Three counties in the South of England—Middlesex, East Kent, and West Cornwall — come within the same category. Speaking without partiality, I think that such constituencies as I have referred to form the best constituencies, because they are constituencies of a mixed character. It may be true that in the House of Commons a 268 fair decision may be arrived at by the balance of the conflicting opinions of Members who represent antagonistic interests; but it is infinitely better, in my opinion, that each Member should, as far as possible, be returned by a mixed constituency, for he brings to the discussion of questions a mind much more impartial and dispassionate than he otherwise would be likely to bring, because he represents differeut classes and different interests, different wants and opinions. I have presented a Petition from Marylebone asking for additional representation. With regard to the claims of the metropolitan boroughs, I may fairly say that I do not consider the representation of the metropolis exactly on the same footing as that of the large constituencies in different parts of the country. You have here one immense town, you divide it into districts, and you assign two Members to various portions of it. At the same time, the Bill acknowledges the claims of these large metropolitan constituencies by the division of the Tower Hamlets, and the creation of Chelsea and Kensington into a new borough; and therefore the claims of the larger of the other metropolitan boroughs may be well worth considering. But with regard to the four or six towns which the Government thought entitled to representation, I do not see how you can expect them to sit quietly down without an effort to obtain it. Other towns, according to their own showing, have claims to representation equal or superior to some of those which the Government have enfranchised; and if the Government are disposed to reconsider their scheme, I think it will be well worth their while to examine more closely the different claims of these towns—and no doubt they will do so fairly and equitably. My Lords, I have now performed the task which I have undertaken. I have stated in what respect the scheme of the Government is, in my opinion, defective, and I have pointed out generally in what way I think those defects might be remedied. As to the particular boroughs, or the exact number of boroughs, to be enfranchised or disfranchised, it is the function and the duty of the Government to settle that point, and with it I wish in no degree to interfere. I am against any further subdivision of counties, and I am in favour of giving a third representative to the large constituencies. A good deal has been said of late of the representation of minorities, and the noble and learned 269 Lord opposite has given notice of a Motion to effect that object. It is no party question; it has been advocated by what I may call the philosophical Members of the Liberal party; it has been advocated, also, by strong Conservatives. I do not in the slightest degree wish to mix up that question with my own Motion. Those who are in favour of the proposal may be inclined to support my Motion, as affording more scope for the introduction of that principle. All I wish to say upon that subject is, whether the Motion of the noble and learned Lord be carried or not, I think the giving of a third Member is favourable to the representation of minorities under any circumstances. Every one knows there is in this country a strong feeling in favour of a fair compromise; and, quite irrespective of the adoption of any distinct Motion for the purpose, I believe the giving of third Members is favourable to the representation of minorities. I have very little more to add, except to press upon your Lordships most earnestly how desirable it is that an early settlement of this question should be come to, and, if possible, that it should be one which is likely to be satisfactory and lasting. I have before alluded to the difficulty there will be in point of time; but I must say I cannot express to your Lordships too strongly the importance I attach to the passing of a measure for England in the course of the present Session. I would address an observation to those who are afraid of going too far; I would have them take warning by what happened last Session. We know upon the authority of one of the leaders of the Conservative party that they then thought that the proper figure of the borough franchise was £8; they objected to £7. This year they have passed that and every other figure; and now it is not £8, £7, £6, or £5, but absolute household suffrage, without any figure at all. Last year the opponents of Reform declared that there was no feeling in favour of Reform in the country; they taunted Reformers with apathy; they provoked an agitation, and have yielded to it. Depend upon it there is a pressing necessity for the early settlement of this question. A noble Lord behind me told us the other night that we had outgrown our Institutions. If so, your Lordships may be assured that it would be wisdom to adapt our Constitution as soon as possible to our altered circumstances. It is true Conservatism to be wise in time. I have stated 270 that I am not afraid of the changes to be produced by this Bill; but I am afraid of the agitation which may arise if there be any delay in the settlement of the question. The First Lord of the Treasury reminded us the other night of the agitation which accompanied and carried the Reform Bill of 1832. I think the noble Lord somewhat exaggerated what took place then, and he did not give credit to the authors of that Bill for the deliberation and consideration with which its form was determined. I saw something of the agitation and turmoil which then prevailed, and I saw more than enough to make me glad when the measure was passed into law. I do not profess for a moment to compare that time with this; but I remember enough to be sure that a chronic state of agitation is the worst condition a country can be in. Let me also remind your Lordships of the arguments that were used last year when the Government, of which I was not a Member, introduced a Franchise Bill without a re-distribution scheme attached to it. It was argued, and perhaps justly, that if you lowered the franchise as far as £7, you were incurring great risk of democratic changes, for you were creating a lever with which in a future Session of Parliament a Radical scheme of re-distribution would be enforced. What are we doing now? You have increased the strength of the lever—you have weakened the foundation of the object to which that lever may be applied. You cannot withhold the lever which you have created, and all you can do now is to strengthen the object so as to prevent the overthrow of that on which the lever may be exerted. I can only hope your Lordships will do so, that you will build the foundation of the structure on the confidence and affection of those in whose hands you place the lever, and that they may see it to be their interest, not to destroy, but to maintain and uphold our institutions. I have to thank your Lordships for the attention with which you have listened to me. I have endeavoured to say nothing which could savour of party; I have endeavoured to say nothing which could indispose any of your Lordships to support the recommendation I make, or the Government to accept it. I believe that the Government are the best qualified to promote the passing of any measure, and the fittest parties to do it; and if we look for the passing of this Bill in an amended shape this Session, we must look to the influence and authority of the Government 271 for its success. If, in compliance with the opinion, which I hope may be expressed by a considerable number of your Lordships, the Government are induced to reconsider and amend their scheme, it will be no discredit to them to do so. It will be no party triumph to us, for it in is no party sense that this Motion is made. I believe, and my noble Friends near me believe, that it is of vital importance to the interests of this country that no time should be left open for agitation, but that this long pending and difficult question of Reform should be closed, and that the representation of the people of England should be placed as soon as possible upon a basis which will form a permanent settlement.
§ Moved to resolve, "That for the Purpose of effecting a Settlement of the Question of the Redistribution of Seats the proposed Scheme is inadequate, and that it is expedient to provide the Means of giving more Representatives to large and important Constituencies than are given by this Bill."
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
My Lords, I find myself at the eleventh hour of this great controversy obliged to take the place of one of those eminent and distinguished Leaders who are rightly reckoned by us the pride of Parliament: and, my Lords, I feel that, although I may take his place, I cannot replace him. Under these circumstances, I hope to meet with all the ndulgence which your Lordships are wont to extend, not only to me personally, but to all who are placed in a difficult position. Your Lordships will understand me when I say I never was so anxious as I am at this moment to stand well with this House. If I did not feel rather discouraged by the circumstances under which I am obliged to address your Lordships, I should at once go fully into the subject which the noble Lord (Viscount Halifax) has brought before you, and answer to the best of my ability the arguments he has adduced. But, before I do this, I feel myself obliged, from motives of personal honour, to make a few remarks upon what has been said with reference to the course pursued by the Government on the debate which has already taken place upon this Bill. During that debate upon the second reading we were much taunted with inconsistency—indeed, stronger words even than inconsistency were employed. We were charged with having utterly abandoned our principles, and with being—in fact, I will quote the expression, which I must say is a most offensive one—"organized 272 hypocrites." My Lords, we were attacked by two noble Earls, one young in years, but who will soon be old in honour. Both showed great ability—as they always have done—but they did not show equal fairness in charging the Government with great inconsistency. My answer to them, as far as they are concerned, is that they are young in politics, and too young to have been inconsistent; when they are as old as I am they will probably find their opinions, their ideas, and their views in all matters connected with politics, and even on all other subjects, will not fit them any better than the clothes they wore at twenty-five. The noble Duke, also, who now sits on the opposite Benches (the Duke of Argyll), also made an attack upon us. I regret very much the expressions he made use of, because I cannot but think he sacrificed facts to the temptation of forming a sonorous sentence. In the second sentence of his speech, the noble Duke spoke of all the Members of the Government as "steeped to the very lips in prophecies of those most dangerous consequences that would arise from the power of numbers;" and he spoke of us as public men discredited, and discredited most of all, for the time, by our very successes. As the noble Duke spoke of all the Members of the Government and all the Members of the Cabinet, I challenge the noble Duke to state on what occasion and in what place he ever heard me say one word on the question of Parliamentary Reform, or where he ever read a single sentence to that effect of mine in writing. Not only have I never expressed any opinion on the subject, but the only occasion from which the noble Duke could possibly judge of my opinion with respect to Parliamentary Reform was in 1859, and that rests solely on the circumstance that I was then a member of Lord Derby's Government, and that Government brought in a measure of Parliamentary Reform. That certainly would not go to show that I am an anti-Reformer. What is the history, not only of myself, but of thousands of others in this country, with respect to their sentiments on the question of Parliamentary Reform? Let us go back a few years. Some of your Lordships are too young to recollect the events of 1832. I had then the advantage of the personal friendship of that illustrious statesman Lord Grey, and I shall never forget the kindness and openness with which he spoke to me, then a young man, in reference to the subjects 273 which agitated the public opinion of that day. I was also acquainted with others who took a great part in passing the measure of 1832, among whom were Lord Sydenham, then Mr. Poulett Thomson, and Lord Durham. I was too young at that time to have entertained any opinions of value, but I could judge from the language used what were the intentions by which the promoters of that Bill were actuated. Their first and most generous intention was, undoubtedly, to enlarge the constituencies by extending the suffrages and Parliamentary privileges of the people; but there was also another intention, and that was, no doubt—for often did I hear it stated—to prevent the Tory party as long as possible from coming into office. In both these objects they succeeded. They succeeded in enfranchising a large portion of the population, and in placing a preponderating power in the hands of the middle classes: they also succeeded in preventing, for many years, the formation of a Tory Government. We, the Conservatives, anticipated the consequences of the Bill, and we accepted them. Everything went on quietly enough, and the authors of that great measure were silent and apparently satisfied with the results they had attained by that Bill until the second object of their labour was subsequently frustrated by the great innovator of all things — Time. They found, as time wore on that the Tory party, which, after having retained power for so long, had become very unpopular in 1832, were gradually being more favourably regarded by the people. A storm rose upon the subject of Free Trade, and the Tory party came into office, and remained in office, for five years. When, therefore, the second object of the Reformers of 1832 became frustrated, then for the first time the noble Earl opposite (Earl Russell), who of all men had shown so much ability in connection with the measure of 1832, manifested dissatisfaction with his own handiwork, and commenced blowing the trumpet of discontent, and telling us, not only that the Bill was a failure, but that a new measure had become necessary. But this discovery was not made until a Tory Government had come into office. Then commenced an agitation which resulted in one Reform Bill after another; and the country, finding that it was a perpetual see-saw between Reform Bills and Governments, became weary of the procrastination which was the inevitable consequence of party conflicts. 274 When we proposed in our Bill, in 1859, reducing the franchise in counties to the amount of the borough franchise we were met by the adverse party in the House of Commons by very much the same sort of opposition—I am not speaking of language, for nothing could be more fair or courteous than the language of the noble Viscount (Viscount Halifax)—as we have to encounter to-night in what the noble Viscount terms his innocent proposal. Years passed away; and then came the Bill of 1866. The debate of last year showed that the question of the franchise had become a simple sliding scale. At one time £8 was proposed, at another £7, at another £6, so that it became evident, not only to myself, but to thousands of others, that there was no resting-place to be found but in household suffrage, because between £8 and £7, between £7 and £6, there can not be any real and important difference—there can be no reason for maintaining one figure more than another. That is the explanation of what the noble Duke opposite is pleased to regard as my conversion. I now turn for a moment to my noble Friend, lately one of our Colleagues (the Earl of Carnarvon), who accused me of being one of those who, entertaining a secret opinion in favour of household suffrage, could only be regarded as belonging to a party of "organized hypocrites."
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
I beg the noble Earl's pardon. The noble Earl has clearly put into my mouth words which I never used.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
If I have misinterpreted what my noble Friend said I beg his pardon, but I certainly understood him to say that if household suffrage had been for some time the secret opinion of the Conservative party and the Conservative Government, we had been living in organized hypocrisy. [The Earl of CARNARVON: Hear, hear!] But what is the difference between the two statements? Let me, however, remind my noble Friend that his evidence is anything but correct on this subject. I am quite sure he is so truthful, and has so good a memory, that he will bear me out when I remind him that, long before this question was discussed in the Cabinet, even, I believe, before we were a Government, when he did me the honour of paying me a visit in the country, we had a long conversation upon this very important subject. I then told him in distinct terms that, in my opinion, there was no resting-place short of household 275 suffrage, and that I believed the adoption of that suffrage afforded the only hope of passing a Reform Bill. My noble Friend will also, I dare say, recollect the long and probably wearisome letter which I wrote him to the same effect. I am entering into these details because I am anxious to vindicate the conduct of the servants of the Crown. I addressed that letter to my noble Friend long before we were Colleagues, and in it I informed him that in a Conservative sense I would rather go to household suffrage than stop at any intermediate figure that has been proposed. My reason for advocating that course is because if republican opinions are entertained at all in this country—and I am sure they are entertained by very few—they are mostly held by that class who would be admitted to the franchise between the line of £7 and household suffrage. The members of that class, as a rule, are not friends of the Church, for a great number of them are, in the nature of their opinions, Dissenters; but those below them I believe to be pre-eminently loyal. The noble Earl (the Earl of Shaftesbury), in his admirable speech the other evening, speaking of the poorer classes, said that in many cases the members of this class were so ignorant that they were not acquainted with the name of the incumbent of the parish. I can only say that I believe the statement of the noble Earl is exaggerated; but, however that may be, there is not one who is unacquainted with the name of his Sovereign. This class, moreover, even in times when the Sovereign has not been popular, has never despised the Throne. Now, I have always thought that there are but two principles from which we can choose in dealing with the question of Parliamentary Reform. One of those principles is that of universality, the other of restriction. We have in this country decided in favour of the latter; but how far that principle of restriction is to be carried is simply a matter of detail, of which men must judge for themselves according to the circumstances of the time. Now, my Lords, a great deal has been said in this House in the way of prophecy—in fact, we have so taken to the habit of prophesying that I am almost afraid we shall soon be consulted by the public as to future events, and be regarded more in the light of an oracular than a deliberative assembly. At all events, we have had in the late debates more of prophecy than argument. For my own part I place very 276 little faith in the prophecy of any sort but one, and in that I have great faith—I mean that in which the prophet has it in his own power to carry his predictions into execution. In that light I think I must look upon the prophecies of many noble Lords, and among such prophets I think I may fairly number the noble Lord who has just sat down (Viscount Halifax). He looks upon this Bill as one that has no permanence. But what, my Lords, is permanent in this world but change? To say, then, that this Bill will not be permanent is, I think, a mere platitude. I cannot help thinking that, when the noble Lord attempts to frighten us with the ephemeral character of our scheme for the re-distribution of seats, he will be one of the first to give effect hereafter to his prophecy. Under these circumstances, we can, no doubt, safely be told that our measure will not be permanent. But let us look at the position in which we are placed, and let us then consider the recommendation of the noble Viscount with a view to determine whether it deserves our approval. My Lords, I ask your Lordships on both sides not to look on this measure as a perfect one, because I confess myself that it is imperfect, as we might have expected it to be from the circumstances under which it was passed in the House of Commons. It could not have been made a perfect Bill because the House of Commons had determined that it should be a Bill of compromise; and if it had not been made a Bill of compromise it never could have reached your Lordships — it never could have been carried at all. It is because former Reform Bills had not been made Bills of compromise, it was because they were put forward and discussed as party measures, that we have waited for Reform so long. If the Bill of last year had been made one of compromise—if the House of Commons had been taken into partnership by the able man then conducting the business of the Government in that House—I verily believe the measure would have passed. But of that distinguished man it may be said he was impiger, iracundus, inexorabilis, acer. He shook hands with no one; he compromised with no one; he put a pistol to the head of the House of Commons, and told them they must pass the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill—and even that they must pass it within a certain date. My Lords, I would ask whether Englishmen were likely to pass a Bill placed before 277 them under such circumstances and under such management, even if they had liked its provisions more than they did? The same fate would have overtaken our Bill if we had pressed it in a similar temper. But the experience of the past had taught us that such a course would be useless, and had shown us that if our Bill was to be passed it must be a Bill of compromise. Remember that the measure has been five months—five most laborious months—in the House of Commons; that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has undertaken the direction of the gigantic work, and has succeeded — after discussions in which all parties expressed their opinions and made their propositions—in sending up to your Lordships' House the most comprehensive Reform Bill that has yet been proposed since the passing of the Act of 1832. Well, my Lords, would you, at the eleventh hour, tamper with the work of so many months, and so many laborious nights—a work, I may call it, of so much diplomatic skill—a work of men who had to consider their own political interests and the interests of the particular House to which they belong? The House of Commons having discussed and divided upon every possible point of the measure over and over again, would it, I ask, be discreet or becoming in your Lordships, at this period of the Session, to interfere in the manner proposed by the noble Viscount with a question so intimately connected with that House? The noble Viscount proposes in a very straightforward way to disfranchise all boroughs with a population under 5,000, and I believe he said there were ten of them.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
I said there were ten of these boroughs, but I would not disfranchise them or any other constituencies.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
I said that as the Government expressed their opinion that no borough ought to be disfranchised, I would not propose any disfranchisement, but that I would leave it to them to determine whether they should obtain the additional seats by grouping or any other means they might think it expedient to adopt.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
This is therefore, in point of fact, an abstract proposition. It is one of those propositions 278 of which the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Argyll) said the other evening that he never would support them. I hope the noble Duke will not vote for the one now under discussion. We really do not know what the noble Viscount wants us to do. Before those boroughs can be grouped they must be disfranchised, as I understand the word. And suppose you resolve in the first instance to disfranchise these ten, there is another proposition coming from the noble Earl on the cross-Benches (Earl Grey), by which all boroughs with a population of between 10,000 and 12,000 should return only one Member. Now, there are twelve of these boroughs, so that, if both propositions be adopted, your Lordships would advise the House of Commons to disfranchise twenty-two boroughs. But in neither proposition do I find any statement as to how the seats thus gained are to be disposed of. The noble Viscount in his speech proposed that the Government should take them in hand and do the best they could with them. I am obliged to the noble Viscount for his confidence in the Government; but I do not think it is our business to fill up blanks which he would create. I altogether object to that. I think that any determination on the part of the House of Lords to alter a Bill which occupied the attention of the House of Commons during five months, and which has decided the question of re-distribution, to the extent of abolishing twenty-two borough seats, would be a monstrous proposition for your Lordships to originate at any time; but to send down such a proposition to the House of Commons on the 6th or 7th of August seems to me the most inconceivable scheme that ever was heard of. Suppose those twenty-two prizes to be thrown overboard, on what coast are they to be stranded? Is it on the coast of Ireland, or on that of Scotland, or in England? My Lords, the proposition before you is one for a new Reform Bill. If you adopt the noble Viscount's Resolution, and take with it the Amendment of the noble Earl on the cross-Benches, the proposal you will make will be nothing less than that of a new Reform Bill. After six months' deliberation, the House of Commons have framed and have sent up to your Lordships what they believe to be a satisfactory settlement of this great question, and the noble Viscount and the noble Earl ask you to send down another Reform Bill when the House of Commons are wearied and, I might say, almost dispersed. 279 You could not expect them to undertake the discussion of a new measure; and the result of adopting these propositions would be that we should again be thrown into a chaos of uncertainty respecting Reform. I think the noble Viscount can hardly have attended to what took place in the House of Commons when he complains that the largest towns are not adequately represented according to population; but we never have taken population as the test of enfranchisement. [Viscount HALIFAX: I deprecated the adoption of that principle.] The noble Viscount says he deprecates the principle; but the question is one of degree or one of discretion. If you do not take population you must use your discretion as to enfranchisement and disfranchisement; but if you take population as your rule, London ought to have sixty Members. Clearly that would be absurd—so absurd that it never has been advocated. But what is it that the House of Commons has done in this matter? They have acted "for the best," to use a common phrase. A compromise took place. The Government at first refused to accept Mr. Laing's proposition, that three Members should be given to each of six great towns; but we afterwards agreed that the representative power of four of these towns should be so extended; and the House of Commons sanctioned that arrangement. It was clearly a compromise. Subsequently, however, an attempt was made to carry the principle further; and with what result? The proposition that two other large towns, Sheffield and Bristol, should have the privilege extended to them was defeated by large majorities. I think the proposition to give Sheffield an additional Member was defeated by 130, and that to give Bristol another representative by 96. Why, then, does the noble Viscount want to interfere with decisions so arrived at, and arrived so recently as within the last three weeks? A very strong argument against the proposition of the noble Viscount is, that the Bill received a third reading in the House of Commons without a division. Mr. Gladstone had opposed the Bill from the first, and if he had thought it possible to induce the House to reverse its decision his eloquence and his arguments would have been used with that object. Mr. Gladstone did not oppose the third reading. Can there be a stronger proof that he felt as a Statesman, and perhaps as a man of honour, that no such attempt 280 should be made, the House of Commons having already recorded its opinion in favour of the Bill being passed as it stands? Well, the Bill passed unanimously on its third reading. If no other argument were forthcoming to induce your Lordships to vote against the Motion of the noble Viscount, that consideration surely would be sufficient. The last argument I shall employ against the Amendment of the noble Viscount is by no means the weakest that can be used—it is the argument of common sense. I ask any noble Lord in this House whether he thinks that, if the Government were to send down to the House of Commons a Bill altered to the extent which the noble Viscount and the noble Earl on the cross-Bench desire—that is to say, meddling by disfranchisement, grouping, or in whatever manner you please, with twenty-two boroughs which now return Members to that House—in the present state of the House of Commons such a proposition would be favourably entertained? Does he believe such a course would assist in giving, in the present Session, to the people of this country the Reform in Parliament of which they are desirous? Does he think it possible that Her Majesty's Government, having incurred all the pains, anxiety, and trouble of passing this Bill through the House of Commons, can possibly consent by this insidious process to have it overturned and lost at the very last moment? In the name of Her Majesty's Government I cannot consent to a course which must have the effect of depriving the people of this country of Reform when it is almost within their reach. I therefore entreat your Lordships to vote against the Motion of the noble Viscount. I by no means ask your Lordships to refrain from passing such Amendments as in their nature you may consider desirable; but I do entreat you not to meddle at this period of the Session with a part of the Reform Bill so wide and so important as the disfranchisement or enfranchisement of boroughs—a question, moreover, which has been so lately settled in the House of Commons.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
, who rose at the same time with Earl de Grey, said: My Lords, I will not stand between the House and the noble Earl for more than a very few minutes. My noble Friend (the Lord Privy Seal) who has just sat down has done me the honour of alluding to me personally, and, having so alluded to me, my noble Friend has been guilty of some 281 irregularities. The practice of your Lordships' House is somewhat more lax than that of the House of Commons, or else I venture to think that the allusions which have been made to a previous debate would hardly have passed unchallenged. More than that, my noble Friend has been good enough to allude to private conversations which I had the pleasure of having with him under his very hospitable roof in Hampshire. My noble Friend has also referred to private letters, and has referred to the opinions he then expressed to me. I have no doubt my noble Friend has stated the facts accurately, though I cannot precisely call them to my recollection. I can only say that I must decline entirely to enter upon that ground. I am perfectly satisfied myself with the result of the debate of a few nights since. I think it would be very undesirable to recur to subjects which were then fully discussed; and I shall certainly not refer to incidents of private and confidential intercourse. My noble Friend, however, used a further argument, to which I most unquestionably demur. My noble Friend spoke of this question of re-distribution as being the special property of the House of Commons. Now, I am quite willing to assign to the House of Commons all that can fairly and legitimately be brought within their sphere; but I say it is monstrous to assert that the re-distribution of seats is not quite as much the property of the House of Peers as it is of the House of Commons. Why, how can it be contended for a moment that if it be the right of the House of Peers to discuss the question of electoral Reform the question of the redistribution of seats can be divorced from that of Reform, of which it is so essential a part? And when my noble Friend tells you that we are now at the close of July, and that you have no right to delay the passing of the Bill by discussing the question of the re-distribution of seats, or to send back the Bill to the House of Commons in an altered shape on the 6th of August—
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
I beg my noble Friend's pardon. What I said was that your Lordships had the right to consider the question; but I doubted whether it would be discreet for the House to raise a question of such extensive disfranchisement.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
My Lords, I submit that whether it be discreet to raise the question or not must 282 depend on whether the question when submitted is in a proper and statesmanlike form. We cannot abandon our duties—we cannot overlook those rights of which we are the guardians—simply because the measure comes to us at a later period of the Session than is advisable, or because our action may involve inconvenience to ourselves or to the House of Commons. With regard to the question of to-night, I think I can state my view very briefly indeed. There are two principles upon which re-distribution may be founded. It may be based upon the principle of a self-acting machinery, adjusting and accommodating itself to the growth of the country from time to time, meeting the case of one town which may increase, and of another town which may decline in population and wealth. Take the case of Middlesborough. That is one of those large towns to which representation is to be granted under the Bill, but which has arisen entirely within the last few years. I believe the existence of Middlesborough rests on the iron and coal traffic; and when the iron is worked out near Middlesborough, it is possible that a large portion of the population in the neighbourhood may disappear just as rapidly as they came together. The first principle consists in adjusting the re-distribution so as to meet the circumstances of a particular town. Another principle is so to frame your re-distribution of seats as to meet temporary exigencies, and to tide over a particular difficulty. I think it is perfectly clear that the re-distribution scheme of this Bill belongs to the second of these two classes. The view which I take, and the view, of course, which will be taken by all those on this side of the House, is simply this — whether the redistribution of seats contains in itself a fair promise of permanence. That is the one question we have to ask ourselves. If, on the one hand, it is likely to be permanent, then it is a good and useful and Conservative measure; if, on the other hand, it is likely to fail very soon, then I say it is true policy and true Conservatism to endeavour to amend it. I observe, in the first instance, this re-distribution scheme is utterly incommensurate with the extent of the admission to the franchise which you have given under this Bill. It is a scheme which would have been perfectly proportionate to the Bill introduced—say, by Her Majesty's late Government. I think they gave something like forty-nine seats; this Bill gives forty-five. That, 283 however, which would have been perfectly proportioned to a £7 rental franchise is wholly disproportioned to a household rating franchise. In the next place observe that the principle of the Bill, as we now have it—if it be really a principle—is this, that representation is founded upon numbers. My noble Friend admitted as much. You have given Members to counties in proportion to their numbers, and you have allocated Members to boroughs in proportion to their numbers. You have given a third Member to large towns, virtually upon no other ground than that of numbers. I say, then, this is a large and great principle; a new principle, and a principle, above all, that has a tendency to develop itself. Whenever you come to re-construct your electoral system, that principle of numbers will inevitably come in. I say, therefore, it is a dangerous principle to introduce. In the next place, observe that, even under this Bill, the county representation is very far from adequate. Recollect that, under the altered circumstances created by this Bill, the county representation is the one steadying influence on which you can now depend. By the introduction of household suffrage all the conditions are altered; it is to the counties you must look for the ballast to enable you to carry such a heavy press of canvass. You have scarcely increased the present proportion between the counties and the boroughs. In the counties you have now a representation, I think, of some 162 Members; they will have, under this Bill, 183. The representation relatively of the boroughs will be diminished to that extent; but the proportion of the counties will stand after all as 33½ to 66½ in the boroughs; and therefore I maintain that the proportion of county influence is still very inadequate. Lastly, bear in mind—and this is very important—that of these boroughs the larger part is practically under sentence. They are sentenced, first of all, because it is impossible you can long maintain the contrast between these small boroughs and vast, growing, wealthy, populous towns. What chance have boroughs like Arundel, Ashburton, and Dartmouth, with populations of from 1,000 to 4,000, against places like St. Helens, with a population, according to the noble Lord, of 41,000? In the House of Commons, again, you have stimulated the appetite for representation on behalf of the large towns. You have made offers to them and you have withdrawn those offers. 284 You have tendered representation to Keighley, Doncaster, and Luton, and then withheld it. What will be the consequence. Depend upon it those towns will not rest satisfied with the present arrangements. And not only have you this contrast between small boroughs and great—which I believe it will be impossible long to maintain—but you will have the constituencies of these small boroughs, already not very pure in many cases, becoming a great deal more impure, becoming very nests of venality and corruption as time goes on. What chance have you, from all these different considerations, of the real permanency of the system you are now laying down? The inevitable effect will be that you will have renewed agitation. And remember this—that that agitation will be renewed under very different circumstances from any that could be raised at the present moment. It will be an agitation renewed under the conditions of a new constituency and a new Parliament in the first flush of their existence. And what will be the result of that? Is it possible if you leave the Bill in its present position, with the principle of numbers engrained in it—is it possible that you can have any other result except a most wide, a sweeping, and a democratic re-distribution of seats? Is it possible that you can see through the vista any other prospect than that? Well, my Lords, for these reasons, I feel most deeply impressed with the importance of re-distributing the seats, late as is the period of the Session, on a wider and more liberal basis. Still, the course now proposed to us is one very full of difficulty. I see, clearly enough, the importance of a better re-distribution of seats than is provided in this Bill, and I feel that it holds out the only hope of permanence that we have. I accept most heartily the statement of the noble Lord opposite (Viscount Halifax) that he has brought forward this Resolution in no party sense, and with no desire to embarrass the Government. I am aware that those who heard his speech must have been satisfied that such was his inner conviction. But, at the same time, when I come to look at his Resolution I see so many difficulties in this vague, abstract proposition that I cannot bring myself to vote for it. It seems to me that all the arguments used the other night against the Motion of my noble Friend on the cross-Benches (Earl Grey) tell with double force against the proposition of the noble Viscount opposite. While, therefore, 285 I must reluctantly abstain from voting for the noble Lord's Resolution, I certainly do not preclude myself from supporting—on the contrary, I desire to say that I, for one, shall most heartily support—the proposal which my noble Friend on the cross-Benches is about to make; and for this reason, that it is a definite and specific proposal, which we shall be able to treat in all its details, and to consider it, I hope, in a spirit free from prejudice or party feeling. I will only say, with reference to that proposal of my noble Friend on the cross-Benches, that when my noble Friend (the Lord Privy Seal) speaks of it as being a Motion of disfranchisement he is under some error. It is not a Motion for disfranchisement; but it is a Motion to carry the line of partial disfranchisement somewhat higher than is proposed by the Government, and, as far as I can see, it involves no real alteration in principle upon the Bill as it has come up to your Lordships.
EARL DE GREY
said, he thought their Lordships must have been startled by the marked contrast between the speech of his noble Friend who moved the Resolution and that of the noble Earl (the Lord Privy Seal). His noble Friend (Viscount Halifax), in terms, the sincerity of which no one could doubt, had assured their Lordships that he made his Motion from no party motives and with no party purposes; but when the noble Earl (the Lord Privy Seal) rose to reply on the part of the Government, he occupied twenty-five minutes in making a party answer to speeches delivered a week ago—and certainly he might have been prepared with a better answer than he has given after such an interval—and he only devoted fifteen minutes to the real question now before the House. That question was one of sufficient magnitude and importance—not to the interest of any party, but to the interest of the country at large—to engage their Lordships' close attention. What had been the noble Earl's chief argument against that Motion? Why, that they were now at the end of July; that the Bill had been considered five months in the House of Commons; and that therefore it would not be discreet or "becoming"—for that was the word used—in the House of Lords to alter the scheme of re-distribution passed by the other House. Now, that declaration was singulary inconsistent with what they had heard a few nights ago from the noble Earl the First Lord of the Treasury 286 whose absence they all regretted that night; for the latter noble Earl took his noble Friend (Earl Granville) somewhat to task for having made use of an expression which gave the impression that the noble Earl at the head of the Government did not intend that that House should deal freely with the provisions of the Bill.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
said, he noble Earl was himself now doing that which he had rebuked him for doing—referring to a past debate.
EARL DE GREY
said, he thought he had a perfect right, after what had taken place, to refer to the declaration made by the noble Earl at the head of the Government as to the mode in which the Bill was to be dealt with in Committee, in order to show that the argument of the noble Earl (the Lord Privy Seal) was inconsistent with that declaration. Therefore in spite of the opinion expressed by the noble Earl, that it was too late in the Session to revise the scheme of re-distribution, he trusted their Lordships would not be deterred from dealing with the measure as they deemed best for the interest of the country. As to the House of Commons, which the noble Earl said was almost dispersed, he did not believe it would refuse calmly and deliberately to consider any mode in which their Lordships thought fit to alter the Bill. The noble Earl said the other House had been occupied for five months upon that measure; but only a very small portion of that time had been devoted to the question of re-distribution, which was the only part of the measure which those on his side of the House proposed to alter. They accepted the franchise portion of the Bill—which had so greatly engaged the time and attention of the other House—as it came up to them. But the noble Earl said that that scheme of re-distribution was the result of a compromise or compact. Now, he had never heard of the compromise or compact to which the noble Earl alluded. He knew not with whom it had been made, but he did know that the people of England had been no parties to it; and he said that that portion of the Bill, as it stood, was not satisfactory to the country. The noble Earl talked of his noble Friend endeavouring to raise up an agitation in the country, but he said it was because they deprecated agitation that the Resolution now before their Lordships had been moved; it was because they were firmly convinced that the settlement 287 of the question of re-distribution now proposed was no settlement at all, and would inevitably lead to an agitation throughout the country, that they desired to see it amended. That part of the Bill was deemed unsatisfactory, not by Liberals alone, but by Members of both parties; and only the other day, at the first election which had taken place since the measure passed the other House, the Conservative candidate at Birmingham told the electors that if returned to Parliament it would be one of his first objects to get that scheme of re-distribution altered. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Malmesbury) treated this question of re-distribution as though it were insignificant. That did not agree with the language held by the Conservative party last year, who, mistaking the intentions of the late Government in thinking that they did not mean to deal with the re-distribution of seats before they went to a new Parliament under their Franchise Bill, insisted on the vast importance of the subject of re-distribution; and it would be found recorded in the debates of last Session that there were frequent statements from the then Opposition side in the other House to the effect that the measure proposed by the late Government with respect to re-distribution did not go far enough, and that it was objectionable because incomplete. An opinion prevailed on both sides that this part of the present Bill would not be satisfactory to the country. But the noble Earl asked how it happened that the Bill was read a third time unanimously in the House of Commons and that it was not opposed by Mr. Gladstone. The fact was, that attaching, as the Liberal party did, great importance to the extension of the suffrage, they were not prepared, although they regarded the Bill as unsatisfactory in other respects, to take upon themselves the responsibility of rejecting it on the third reading. The House of Commons, no doubt, looked to their Lordships—they felt that there was another House of Parliament, and they did not think it impossible that the Bill might be amended as regarded the distribution scheme in their Lordships' House. It was his sincere wish—and he believed he might speak for the noble Lords near him—to act in the spirit of his noble Friend the late President of the Council, to co-operate with the Government, and afford them every aid and assistance. If their object had been to get up political agitation and make political capital out of this question their course 288 would have been, instead of proposing this Resolution, to bring forward some rival scheme which the Government could not adopt, and then to have got up an agitation in its favour. It was because they had a sincere desire that the present Government should settle the question that they offered their most cordial assistance if they would only deal with it satisfactorily, and in a comprehensive manner. He thought they might have been met by the Government in a different spirit. The noble Earl the late Colonial Secretary (the Earl of Carnarvon) said, that although he would not support the Resolution on account of its vague character, he would support the Resolution of the noble Earl on the cross-Benches (Earl Grey). He (Earl de Grey) was afraid that if the Resolution of his noble Friend were rejected there would be no doubt as to the fate of that of the noble Earl on the cross-Benches. They were both equally obnoxious to the noble Earl opposite, who taking his stand on the measure as it was—which he said was a compromise—thought it would afford a permanent settlement of the question. The noble Earl must be the only man in the country who held this opinion. He (Earl de Grey) supported the Resolution; but not because he was hostile to the representation of the moderate-sized boroughs. He should greatly regret to see the large towns and counties only represented, and still more should he regret the establishment of equal electoral districts. Boroughs of moderate size were of great importance, and improved the character of the House of Commons by introducing the important element of variety. And as the tendency of a measure of this description was to place our institutions on a democratic basis, and there was thus a danger of bringing everything to a dead level, it became the more reasonable and important to maintain the representation of the moderate-sized boroughs. It was because he desired to retain these boroughs that he felt bound to object to the scheme of the Government. That scheme unsettled everything and settled nothing. It placed this part of the Bill on a basis wholly inadequate to that which related to the franchise, and it left the question of distribution to be dealt with either in another Session or another Parliament. He thought that the question ought to be settled now. It had been one of the great arguments of the Conservative party in favour of this Bill that they wanted a 289 settlement, and that they went further than many of them liked because they wished for a settlement. If that were their principle he asked them to follow it out, and settle the question of distribution as well as the question of the franchise. Otherwise they ran the risk of having this question taken up in a new Parliament, elected under the new franchise by men who were new to the settlement of political questions, and who might be likely rashly to propose a more sweeping measure than he should like to see carried. It was, therefore, a Conservative course in the true sense of the word that they should place this part of the Bill in a position adequate to the other portion, and that both should possess an equally permanent character. While he thought that the Resolution of his noble Friend would, if it were carried, tend to meet the fair and just claims of large constituencies and rising towns, it would, he believed, work in a Conservative manner, by rendering possible the maintenance, in a fair degree, of the representation of moderate-sized boroughs. Upon these grounds he should cordially vote for the Resolution.
said, that all the Conservative portions of the Bill had been swept away, and their Lordships could only look to correct its evils to that part which related to the distribution of seats. He should prefer to see that question dealt with by the House of Lords rather than leave it to be dealt with by the Government. He should not like to see the question re-opened by the new Parliament, and, therefore, he regretted that he could not vote for the Government on this question; but, as the noble Viscount had not told them that the result of his Motion would not be the disfranchisement of small boroughs, and as he could not vote for any Resolution which was likely to bring about such a result, he should have to leave the House when the Question was put from the Woolsack, unless he had an assurance to that effect from the noble Mover. When he reflected of what infinite value small boroughs were to the country, and how generally they were Conservative in the true sense of the word, he could not vote for any Resolution which would disfranchise them.
§ THE DUKE OF CLEVELAND
said, he looked on the re-distribution scheme as incommensurate with that portion of the Bill which dealt with the franchise, and as having no prospect of permanency, and on 290 that account he intended to vote for the Resolution. It could not be supposed that the small boroughs, many of which were decaying and really represented nothing, could be long maintained side by side with, the large constituencies which would exist in the counties and large towns. He thought, too, that sufficient consideration was not shown by the Bill to the importance of counties. The counties would not enjoy, under this Bill, so large a share of the representation as that to which their wealth and population entitled them; and though he did not view electoral districts with such alarm as some of their Lordships did, he was convinced that if the Government persisted in the present plan a new Parliament would adopt a scheme of re-distribution approximating to electoral districts. With regard to Stockton and Darlington he believed that they were more likely to return useful representatives than Middlesborough, which had no claim except numbers, being solely devoted to one particular interest. He admitted that small boroughs played an important part in our representative system by enabling persons representing various interests to enter Paliament; but it was only by grouping or disfranchising some of those boroughs that a permanent settlement of the question of distribution could be effected.
§ THE EARL OF ROMNEY
said, that while accepting the declaration of the noble Viscount (Viscount Halifax) that his Motion was not proposed from party motives, he thought that an abstract Resolution necessarily bore the appearance of a party Motion, and was equivalent to a Vote of Want of Confidence. While, however, giving his vote on this question with the Government, he reserved to to himself the liberty of giving a candid consideration to the proposal of the noble Earl on the cross-Benches (Earl Grey). He protested strongly against the doctrine of the noble Earl (the Earl of Malmesbury) that because the House of Commons had taken six months in settling this Bill their Lordships were precluded from giving it a full consideration, on the ground that the other House would construe it as an insult. The House of Commons did not regard themselves as precluded from discussing Bills sent down to them by their Lordships, and this House had an equal right to discuss measures sent up to them from the Commons.
§ EARL RUSSELL
My Lords, I have been perfectly astonished at the spirit in 291 which this Motion has been met by the Government. My noble Friend (Viscount Halifax) has merely taken the first opportunity of urging the Government to re-consider what they propose with regard to the re-distribution of seats. The opinion, not only of those sitting on these Benches, but of the public is, that the re-distribution scheme contained in this Bill cannot be permanent. It is not a settlement such as was proposed last year; and our conviction is that, in the course of a very few years, it will lead to an agitation for further changes which it may be impossible to limit within any possible bounds—we cannot say that it may not extend to dangerous limits. The Government have now an opportunity of preventing that agitation. It seems, however, judging by the speech of the noble Earl (the Earl of Malmesbury), that the Government resolve to incur that danger and that in their opinion this scheme will be a settlement—or, at all events, that it having been adopted as a compromise by the House of Commons, we ought not to meddle with it. The noble Earl told us there were certain parts of the Bill which we might alter, and certain parts which we might not. He might at least have informed us, when telling us that we could not alter the scheme of re-distribution, what portions of the Bill it is open to us to amend; but this he neglected to do. My noble Friend disclaimed party motives, but, instead of answering my noble Friend's argument, the noble Earl made a thoroughly party speech, and adapted facts to his own party views. I am sorry he so completely misunderstood or misrepresented what happened in former years. He stated that, without any reason whatever, except, as he supposed, party interest, I revived the question of Parliamentary Reform and endeavoured to disturb the settlement of 1832. Now, as I have frequently explained, I had no wish to disturb that settlement; but a Motion was repeatedly made in the other House on the subject of the occupation franchise in the counties, and when that Motion was brought forward in 1850 or 1851, I said I did not wish to disturb the existing arrangement, which had many advantages, but that if it was determined to disturb the settlement of 1832, there were other questions which must be dealt with, and that there were, in this country thousands of artizans who by their skill and industry had shown themselves perfectly fit to receive the franchise. 292 I was defeated and resigned office upon that defeat; but when the noble Earl now at the head of the Government was unable to form a Government, I returned to office, promising to undertake to amend the Reform Act, both as to the County and the Borough Franchise. As the question had been raised we thought it would be necessary to consider it; but it was not we who raised it but the House of Commons. The noble Earl (the Earl of Malmesbury) has stated to-night that he is convinced that there is no safety except in household suffrage. He has told us that the men between £5 and £10 are not loyal, and that you will find loyalty only by going to household suffrage. Now, my opinion is that it is a calumny to say that the persons inhabiting houses of £6 or £7 are not loyal to the Throne. I think the distrust of these men quite unfounded—they are as loyal as the class that will be admitted by household suffrage. But when the noble Earl speaks as he has done of this great body of householders who will now be enfranchised, he may permit me to remind him of what happened in Ireland when the landlords made 40s. freeholders by thousands upon thousands, and brought them up to vote as they dictated at the poll. A time came when Mr. O'Connell roused those tenants—poor and miserable and dependent as they were—by a great national feeling, and the power of the landlords was swept away. Now, my belief is that the noble Earl and his Colleagues are entirely mistaken in thinking that the householders, whom he is creating, will always remain subservient and dependent. Some great national feeling will at some time move them, and their dependence on their Conservative landlords will be swept away, as it was in Ireland. The noble Earl may find that while securing a Sessional triumph for the Conservative party, he has been permanently ruining the Conservative cause. Returning to the re-distribution scheme, I think it far inferior to the scheme of the Bills of 1854, 1861, and 1866. I would remind the noble Earl that in the Bill of 1854 no less than sixty-two seats were disposed of, of which I think forty-two were given to the counties and twenty to the boroughs. I believe that something like that would be a wise course to pursue at present. If the Government refuse to pursue it they must accept the entire responsibility of all the agitation for a new distribution which may follow.
§ LORD TAUNTON
said, he had heard with the utmost regret the speech of the noble Earl (the Earl of Malmesbury) who had addressed the House on the part of Her Majesty's Government. He could not help expressing his opinion that the course which Her Majesty's Government proposed to take would be satisfactory, neither to the House nor the country. He hoped, however, the division might go on the Amendment of his noble Friend, that the Government would be convinced of the unspeakable importance of reconsidering this question of re-distribution without delay. The same opinion had been expressed by noble Lords of great weight and experience on the other side of the House as well as on that; the opinion of the House had therefore been unmistakeably expressed, and it would be well if the Government would accede to the proposed Resolution. He believed that they stood that moment in a most critical position. He could not conceal from their Lordships that he contemplated—he could not say with despondency, but with anxiety—the great changes which had been made in the suffrage. These changes were so great that they required all the moderating influences possible, to prevent them from overbearing that balance of the Constitution which had produced such beneficial results, and had united, in a degree unknown to any other country, the benefits of liberty and order. It was of the utmost importance, therefore, that they should surround that Bill with such elements of stability as might take away all prospect of immediate agitation. For himself he knew how sincere the assertion was which had been made on that (the Opposition) side of the House, that there was no design to make this a party question. Nothing would give him greater pain than to see a course adopted with regard to distribution similar to that which had been pursued with respect to the suffrage—parties bidding one over another to devise, not a scheme which was best suited to the durable interests of the country, but one which would produce the greatest amount of popularity. Was there any one who knew what was said out of doors, or had heard the debates in Parliament, who could doubt that the distribution scheme of the Government was a mere pasteboard scheme? While, on the one hand, they gave to great popular bodies a new and immense power, and any new power always involved some new danger—on the other they proposed a scheme of 294 distribution which could not be defended in argument, and which was the most obvious and ready justification of popular discontent and agitation. Could their Lordships think themselves justified in separating without attempting to provide a remedy for such a state of things? They would be doing a thing the most revolutionary in its consequences, they would be betraying the great principles of which they were the guardians, if they allowed a Bill of this kind to pass with so fatal a flaw, with so manifest and dangerous an error, that ten men cold not be found in the country who would say that they did not view it with the greatest apprehension. He hoped their Lordships had remarked that the noble Earl who had addressed the House (the Earl of Carnarvon) was quite as hostile to the scheme of the noble Earl on the cross-Benches (Earl Grey) as to that of his noble Friend. The deep interest which he felt in the question would be his excuse for having detained their Lordships at that moment. He could only say in conclusion that he should view any measure which Her Majesty's Government might approve or adopt with a sincere anxiety to see in it a satisfactory settlement of the question. His chief object in rising, however, was to express a hope that Her Majesty's Government would give due weight to the arguments that had been adduced, and would reconsider their decision, or that, if not immediately, they would shortly be able to announce their willingness to do so.
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
thought that the noble Earl (the Earl of Malmesbury) in speaking against the Resolution had, in fact, left their Lordships no alternative but to vote in its favour. The noble Earl said that the Government would resist any attempt to alter the scheme of re-distribution—that it had been settled by the other House, and that it was no business of their Lordships to touch it. Yet last year the Conservatives in the other House thought the re-distribution scheme of such importance that they refused to consider the portion of the Bill relating to the franchise alone and without having the re-distribution scheme before them. Were their Lordships then to be told that they must not touch a part of the Bill which by their own account was of equal importance with that relating to the franchise? No doubt there might be some inconvenience in so doing, but the matter was one which lay within the discretion of their Lordships. 295 Any noble lord who was dissatisfied with the present re-distribution scheme must find great difficulty in voting against the Resolution. In his opinion the Bill placed too much power in the hands of the lower classes in the boroughs, and, for the safety of the country, they wanted increase of representation in the counties. He was sorry on the present occasion to have to vote against the present Government for, on this as on other occasions, his wish was to have supported the Government as far as possible. But, as they had been told that the Government would resist all Motions in this direction, he confessed that he thought that they had no alternative but to express their dissatisfaction with the present scheme of re-distribution, and their determination to have a full and fair consideration of the question.
THE DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM
My Lords, the noble Earl who has just spoken may have advanced arguments sufficient to satisfy himself why he should vote for this or some similar Motion, but I do not think he has adduced any good arguments in favour of supporting an abstract Resolution like that which we are now discussing. The Resolution which was negatived a few evening ago condemned the whole Bill. This Resolution condemns a part of the Bill, and declares that the scheme of re-distribution is unsatisfactory. Now, to noble Lords opposite who support the present Resolution, the re-distribution scheme in the Bill of 1866 was satisfactory enough. Yet the difference between that Bill and the Bill now before your Lordships, so far as the question of distribution, is only four seats out of forty-nine; so that four seats make the whole difference between what is right and what is utterly inadequate and wrong. Surely such a difference affords no sufficient reason for passing such a Resolution. Exception has been taken to the remark of the noble Earl who has spoken in the absence of Lord Derby this evening (the Earl of Malmesbury), with reference to the possibility of this House at this period of the Session dealing with the question of re-distribution. Now, I did not understand the noble Earl to say anything more than that, in his opinion, it was not discreet—that was the term he used—for this House to re-open so important a question as that of the re-distribution of seats. In that opinion I cannot but think that there is a good deal with which most of your Lordships will agree. In the position in which this question now stands it seems to me that it would be hardly 296 discreet for this House to re-open the re-distribution scheme on a vague Resolution not specifying any particular blot or pointing out any particular Amendment. That scheme has occupied a considerable portion of the five months during which the Bill has been discussed in the other House, and has probably received even as much attention as that important portion of the Bill relating to the franchise. This is apparent when you look at the reports of what took place in the other House of Parliament. The question was thought, and justly thought, to be one which at first required what was termed a tentative policy on the part of the Government. Of course it was necessary that in forming their opinions as to the probable success of so important a part of their Bill, the Government should look at what occurred in former years. Now there were precedents to indicate to them the probable result of different proposals. They had before them the angry debates which occurred in 1832, the result of all the several Reform Bills subsequently brought forward, and the conspicuous failure of last year. From these precedents the Government had to gather such indications as might guide them on the present occasion, and they were led strongly to the opinion that they ought not to propose such a distribution as was likely to place the representation in the hands of large masses of the people. It was with that view the Chancellor of the Exchequer laid before the House of Commons a scheme which was scanty, perhaps, in its extent, but which was afterwards enlarged in that spirit of compromise which has marked the progress of this Bill. It is from actual decisions given by, and not from mere opinions expressed in, the House of Commons that the details of the scheme now under consideration have been settled. When we look at the discussions which have taken place there we shall see that the opinion of the other House has been very significantly shown. After the proposal of the Government had been brought forward, the limit of population, in the case of towns from which a second Member was taken, was raised to 10,000, and the House would not exceed that limit; Amendments to that effect were negatived. So was a proposal to add two large towns to those which had received a third Member. The suggestion that the system of grouping should be adopted was not approved. Moreover, when so small an advance was proposed as that the second Members should be taken away 297 from four of the next lowest towns on the list in point of population, the House of Commons, by a decided majority, negatived the proposal and declared, "Thus far shall you go and no further!" After these decisions, and this indication of the spirit of the other House, it seems to me that it would in truth be somewhat indiscreet for your Lordships to say, "We will do that which the other House said it would not do." It is of great importance that parties should work in accord in settling this question; it is of still greater importance that the two Houses of Parliament should as far as possible do so, and that we should not unnecessarily, and without some substantial object to gain, fly in the face of the other House. To adopt a Resolution which points out no Amendment would, I think, be open to the charge that we were merely expressing a vague opinion of our own, adverse to the measure which has been accepted by the other House and approved by the country, without any real purpose of effecting a substantial Amendment. My objection would not apply equally to a Resolution pointing to any particular Amendment; but I do think it would be much to be regretted if, upon a measure which has been adopted by the other House, and which is realty approved by a large majority of your Lordships, and upon this first real and practical stage, we were to adopt such a Resolution as this, which will neither make an Amendment in the Bill nor intimate to the Committee in what direction Amendment is desired. I thank your Lordships for having listened to me, and I trust the division will not show this House in opposition to the opinion of the other House of Parliament.
§ VISCOUNT STRATFORD DE REDCLIFFE
My Lords, the impending division imposes upon me the necessity of saying a few words in explanation of the vote I am about to give. My opinions upon Reform remain unchanged, and I cannot retract the opinions I expressed on a former occasion. I propose to vote in favour of the Resolution of the noble Viscount. I shall do so, first of all, because of the distinct declaration that the Motion is not made in any party spirit. My second reason for doing so is that I hope and entertain the conviction that the Government will take into consideration the important representations made on both sides of the House, and will not push their present intentions to the extent they have indicated. It would be of immense advantage if they 298 would propose a better scheme of re-distribution. If the matter be pushed to a division I hope there may be as many votes from this side of the House as will give importance to the views which have been expressed and induce the Government to take the matter into their serious consideration.
§ The Earl of KIMBERLEY and Earl FORTESCUE rose together, and stood for some time amid the conflicting calls of many Peers. Those for Earl FORTESCUE seemed to preponderate, and the Earl of KIMBERLEY gave way.
§ EARL FORTESCUE
I am always doubly unwilling to obtrude myself since precarious health and impaired eyesight have obliged me almost entirely to renounce the humble part I used to take in public business in and out of Parliament; but in this great crisis I must entreat your Lordships' indulgence for a few remarks in support of the Resolution so temperately moved. I deprecate the party criminations and recriminations, which have added little to the patriotic and statesmanlike character of the debates on this momentous question in either House of Parliament. I doubly regret the absence of the distinguished leader of the Conservative party, when the temperate and moderate speech of the Mover of the Resolution was answered in the manner it has been answered by the noble Earl opposite, who, as he said truly, occupies the Prime Minister's place without replacing him. These party criminations and recriminations remind me of nothing so much as of the internecine conflicts of the Jewish factions during the siege of Jerusalem; and the leaders of the democratic party and the great multitude behind them must have contemplated these party feuds with much the same exultation as Titus and the Roman soldiers did the mutual slaughter of the contending Jews, and their emulous efforts to destroy the inner defences intended for the additional security of the Holy City. I am rejoiced to hear an authoritative statement as to the identity of Lord Palmerston's private opinions with his public professions, and of his declared intention to have introduced a Reform Bill at the right time and place; but that great statesman would have brought in a measure very different from this, and he would have conducted it still more differently. He would not have admitted unknown proportions of unknown quantities to the franchise, nor would he 299 have left such anomalies in the distribution of seats, thereby transferring practically the whole power of the State, from the upper and middle classes to one class only, at one stroke—the wage class, and that not of the whole country, but of the towns. As to myself, I venture to quote a few words addressed by me, nearly ten years since, to a large constituency which I then represented to prove that my present views on this subject are not new. I then said—I have long been in favour of Parliamentary Reform, less however for the sake of removing anomalies in the representative system, than of diminishing corruption and undue influence at elections; of extending the franchise to many hundreds of thousands well entitled to it; and above all of anticipating by timely improvements any clamorous demand for sweeping changes.Before, however, I was an ardent Parliamentary reformer, or had wished to disturb the settlement of 1832, I was a sanitary reformer, and what I have seen in the alleys and garrets and cellars of towns now fills me with apprehension at the step which has been irrevocably taken with respect to the enfranchisement of some of those who are to be admitted to the borough franchise under the Bill of the Government. I wish to know why, in the settlement of this question, the agricultural labourers are to be regarded as the mere residuum of the population? If your Lordships look at the educational statistics for 1865, you will find that agricultural Devonshire contrasted very favourably with manufacturing Lancashire. The number of persons of both sexes, and especially of the women, who made their mark instead of writing their name in the parish register, forms a much larger percentage of the total population in the latter than it did in the former county. Although 95 per cent of populous parishes receive grants from the Privy Council, and little more than 10 per cent of the rural parishes with small populations do so, yet the amount of public money received by Lancashire for educational purposes is not only actually but relatively immensely greater than by Devonshire. The number of criminals and prostitutes and drunkards, as shown by the official Tables which I hold in my hand, but will not trouble the House with, is proportionately enormously larger in the town than it is in the agricultural population. Besides in the calculation of their comparative wealth and taxation, it has been too generally forgotten that the payments to Schedule A of the property tax ought to be put down to the credit of 300 the counties, and not of the boroughs; which would turn the scale considerably in favour of the counties instead of the towns as it is often stated to be. Borough freeholders have a right to vote for counties, and one-fifth of the county constituencies are composed of electors voting for free-holds and copyholds within boroughs. If this fact were remembered in connection with the circumstance that the borough Members were to the county Members in the proportion of three to two, your Lordships would see how utterly disproportionate to the wealth, importance, and intelligence of the counties was the miserable allowance of representation accorded to them by the compact, or compromise, or arrangement, brought forward by the Government, which seems to me to contain no element of permanency, but to be fraught with promise of an immediate and most pernicious agitation. It is worthy of remark that, despite of the enormous sums recently spent on improved drainage and water supply there, the mortality of the manufacturing districts of Lancashire, Cheshire, and the West Riding has gone on increasing. There can be no doubt that the increased mortality is due to overcrowding; and there is as little doubt that overcrowding paves the way to demoralization. In my opinion a population ought to be civilized and Christianized before it can safely be enfranchised. Under these circumstances I do not concur with the noble Earl (the Earl of Malmesbury) that it would be either indiscreet or unbecoming in your Lordships to make large Amendments in the Bill.
I wish to refer the House to the remarks of my late noble Relative, on 19th April 1831, with respect to a Resolution moved by General Gascoyne, and those remarks apply to every Resolution which impedes either the second reading of a Bill or its going into Committee. It was this, that—By agreeing to the Amendment the House would fetter the hands of the Committee in the most inconvenient manner, the pledge might be found to hamper their proceedings, and was clearly unnecessary into the bargain. The whole House being the Committee, had full power to act upon this opinion [as to certain boroughs being disfranchised] if they entertained it, but suppose a certain reduction adopted the consideration how the whole number should be kept up might involve them in the greatest perplexities…… He conceived the friends of the measure could not adopt a course more unwise and imprudent than to give the slightest sanction to a proposition which should have the effect of embarrassing the operations of the Committee. … Yes, it would defeat 301 the measure and.… such was the object of the Motion."—[3 Hansard, iii. 1679.]I will not attempt to add to the value of this opinion by any remarks of mine, and in those memorable words at least, as to the probable effect of this Resolution, I fully concur.
§ On Question? their Lordships divided:—Contents 59; Not-Contents 100: Majority 41.302
|Cleveland, D.||Blantyre, L.|
|Somerset, D.||Camoys, L.|
|Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.)|
|Clandeboye, L. (L. Dufferin and Claneboye.)|
|Albermarle, E.||Clermont, L.|
|Camperdown, E.||Cranworth, L.|
|Chichester, E.||De Mauley, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Dunfermline, L.|
|Cowper, E.||Foley, L. [Teller.]|
|De Grey, E.||Houghton, L.|
|Ducie, E.||Leigh, L.|
|Effingham, E.||Lyttelton, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Lyveden, L.|
|Granville, E.||Meredyth, L. (L. Athlumney.)|
|Harrowby, E.||Mont Eagle, L. (M. Sligo.)|
|Kimberley, E.||Mostyn, L.|
|Lovelace, E.||Northbrook, L.|
|Minto, E.||Overstone, L.|
|Russell, E.||Petre, L.|
|Spencer, E.||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.) [Teller.]|
|Suffolk and Berkshire, E.|
|Zetland, E.||Saye and Sele, L.|
|Eversley, V.||Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)|
|Halifax, V.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Stratford de Redcliffe, V.||Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)|
|Chester, Bp.||Taunton, L.|
|Belper, L.||Westbury, L.|
|Chelmsford, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Bradford, E.|
|Beaufort, D.||Dartmouth, E.|
|Buckingham and Chandos, D.||Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)|
|Marlborough, D.||Eldon, E.|
|Richmond, D.||Ellenborough, E.|
|Rutland, D.||Erne, E.|
|Wellington, D.||Gainsborough, E.|
|Graham, E. (D. Montrose.)|
|Bristol, M.||Haddington, E.|
|Exeter, M.||Hardwicke, E.|
|Abergavenny, E.||Harrington, E.|
|Amherst, E.||Home, E.|
|Bathurst, E.||Huntingdon, E.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Leven and Melville, E.|
|Belmore, E.||Lucan, E.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Congleton, L.|
|Morton, E.||Crofton, L.|
|Nelson, E.||Delamere, L.|
|Powis, E.||Denman, L.|
|Romney, E.||De Ros, L.|
|Rosse, E.||Dunsandle and Clanconal, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Egerton, L.|
|Stradbroke, E.||Feversham, L.|
|Tankerville, E.||Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.)|
|Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.||Gage, L. (V. Gage.)|
|De Vesci, V.||Hylton, L.|
|Hardinge, V.||Kingston, L. (E. Kingston.)|
|Hawarden, V. [Teller.]|
|Leinster, V. (D. Leinster.)||Lovat, L.|
|Sidmouth, V.||Monson, L.|
|Strathallan, V.||Northwick, L.|
|Ossory, &c., Bp.||Raglan, L.|
|Abinger, L.||Ravensworth, L.|
|Arundell of Wardour, L.||Rayleigh, L.|
|Audley, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Bagot, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Berners, L.||Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)|
|Bolton, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Cairns, L.||Sondes, L.|
|Clarina, L.||Southampton, L.|
|Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)||Strathnairn, L.|
|Strathspey, L. (E. Seafield.)|
|Cloncurry, L.||Tenterden, L.|
|Colonsay, L.||Walsingham, L.|
|Colville of Culross, L. [Teller.]||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)|
§ Resolved, in the Negative.
§ Then the original Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
§ Clause 3 (Occupation Franchise for Voters in Boroughs).
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
said, he wished to draw the attention of the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Cairns) to the distinction between the wording of this and a subsequent clause—the one referring to "rate for the relief of the poor," and the other to "poor rates." The latter consisted of much more than the former, as it included highway rates, church rates, police rates, and county rates. If it were intended to mean the same thing in each clause, he thought that the same expression should be used.
THE DUKE OF BUCKINGHAM
said, that rates were differently levied in various towns, and hence, no doubt, the variance in the form of expression.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
said, that on asking his noble Friend the President of the Council, whether the payment was to be placed at the minimum to entitle 303 a householder to vote, he replied that it was not. If that were so, the clause should be amended by the substitution of the words "poor rates" for the words "rate for the relief of the poor."
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, that the words, though differing, were identical in meaning. The matter was altogether one of detail.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
said, it was important to know what the Government intended by the clause as it stood, as it would make a great difference whether the qualification for the franchise was to be the payment of all rates, or of the rate for the relief of the poor only.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, that the intention was that everything included under the words "poor rates" should be paid by the householder. He had no objection to insert the word "poor" before "rates" in the third paragraph of the clause if that would get rid of the difficulty.
§ LORD CAIRNS
thought there might be danger in departing from a form of words which had received a definite and authorative interpretation; and the Reform Act of 1832 used identically the same form of words as the present Bill, including the very change of expression now complained of.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, there appeared to be a difference of opinion between two noble and learned Lords on the same side, one opposing, and the other supporting, an alteration in the clause.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, that the argument of his noble and learned Friend was a complete justification of the insertion of the words; but it was argued that an improvement would be effected by changing them.
§ EARL FORTESCUE
said, that in the time of the Reform Bill of 1832 there were a great many populous extra-parochial places rated to the relief of the poor. The circumstances were no longer the same, and therefore the retention of the original form of was were no longer necessary.
§ LORD WESTBURY
suggested the omission of the word "poor" and the insertion of the words "rate made for the relief of the poor" in line 3 of the 4th paragraph.
preferred the Amendment of the noble and learned Lord (the Lord Chancellor) to that just proposed on the opposite side of the House.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 4 (Lodger Franchise in Boroughs).
§ THE EARL OF ROMNEY
moved an Amendment providing that the occupation of the lodger should date from the 25th March, instead of from the end of July.
§ Amendment moved, "to leave out ("last Day of July,") and insert ("Twenty-fifth Day of March,")—(The Earl of Romney.)
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
said, that the result of adopting the Amendment would be to require a fifteen months' instead of a twelve months' occupation from the lodger. But if that was the object of the noble Earl it would be better, in his opinion, to make a direct proposal to that effect.
§ EARL RUSSELL
said, he hoped the Government did not mean to sanction such an alteration in the clause.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
said, that he had only suggested a most convenient mode of raising the question.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
said, that when the division took place their Lordships would see what was the course pursued by the Government.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
protested against this method of dealing with an important question. He hoped the House would press for some information as to the intentions of the Government. They were told that they must not fly in the face of the House of Commons; but he trusted that they would fly in the face of the Government, and not submit to such treatment as this. When they asked what were the intentions of the Government, they were told by the Lord Privy Seal that if they "waited they would see what they would see." He could remember no occasion on which, with reference to a measure of this importance, their Lordships had been treated in such a manner.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
thought that the noble Earl was unnecessarily warm. A noble Lord having moved an. Amendment, his noble Friend, the noble Duke suggested that his wishes might be attained by the adoption of another form of words. He could not understand why that should provoke hostile comments. 305 The Government would stand by the Bill as it was.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
thought that he and his noble Friends were justified in pressing noble Lords opposite until they got the definite and satisfactory answer which they had just received.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ LORD CAIRNS
moved that after the words "such lodgings being part of one and the same Dwelling-house" there be added "or being One and the same set of Chambers or Rooms not separately rated." The Amendment would apply to cases where the whole House was divided into chambers or rooms of the same kind and which were not separately rated. It would accordingly admit as voters the occupants of a room in a Hall or College, which had no owner letting out lodgings in the usual sense of the term. His object was to place the question beyond doubt.
§ An Amendment moved in line 29 after ("Dwelling-house") to insert ("or being One and the same set of Chambers or Rooms not separately rated."—(The Lord Cairns.)
§ LORD WESTBURY
said, that students were not tenants in the sense in which ordinary lodgers were tenants of rooms or chambers. They were there for a different purpose, and the Amendment would create a different class of votes and introduce a new element in University towns.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
said, that at the time the Act of 1832 was passed the Colleges were not rated; but they had since been rated under local Acts, and it would be most inconsistent with every principle of justice, when they were passing a Bill founded upon rating, to exclude residents in the University from the exercise of the franchise. A strong feeling had been expressed in the Senate of the University of Cambridge in favour of residents in the Colleges being registered as electors for the boroughs.
said, it was true the Colleges were now rated, but this was done in the case of Cambridge, and he believed in that of Oxford also, under an arbitration, and after long discussion had taken 306 place. Some years ago a claim was made by the town of Cambridge for the payment of rates by the Colleges, to which they had not formerly been considered liable. This claim was resisted by the Colleges, and having been referred to arbitration, it was ultimately decided that they should pay rates, but only a reduced amount, in consideration of which their members were to be debarred from exercising any municipal privileges. This award of the arbitrator, he believed, had been confirmed by Parliament, and what was now proposed was directly contrary to its spirit. If a graduate was married and lived in the town, he would have a vote; but it would be wholly inconsistent with the arrangement which now existed to allow residents in Colleges to vote for the town. The Colleges had a distinct representation of their own, and had no claim to take part in the representation of the town. The clause might be so amended as to provide for chambers in London while excluding the Universities.
§ LORD CAIRNS
maintained that municipal privileges or obligations had nothing to do with the question; it was because the occupants in question were not rated that the question had come before them. The other House had by a large majority decided that these persons ought to possess the franchise as lodgers, but they had inadvertently omitted to insert words fully carrying out their decision. Moreover at Cambridge something like half the members of Colleges occupied lodgings in the town, and would thus have votes for the town, and those living in the Colleges really paid in their rent the quota of the rate, though the Colleges paid it directly. He could not understand on what principle it was sought to exclude them, unless it was on that invariably acted on by noble Lords opposite of excluding from the franchise every one who might be supposed to be possessed of a more than ordinary share of intelligence and education.
§ THE EARL OF ABINGDON
had to state that as High Steward of Oxford, he had received a deputation from the inhabitants both of Oxford and Cambridge, who strongly deprecated the interference of the Universities in their Parliamentary elections. They urged that the Universities had their own Members, and that, had their Members votes for the town, the independence of the inhabitants would be materially affected, and the public peace endangered.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, that not only 307 were the townspeople of Oxford afraid of being overwhelmed by members of the University, but he had been requested by the Bishop of London, who was prevented by indisposition from attending, to present a petition from members of the University, signed by three Heads of Colleges, nine Professors, and twenty-five M.A.'s of different political opinions, objecting to undergraduates being allowed to vote for the city. They did so on grounds wholly apart from politics, believing that it would distract students from their studies, would revive those "town and gown" rows which so much pains had been taken to prevent, and would be very detrimental to academic discipline.
§ LORD LYTTELTON
suggested that the Amendment should be agreed to, and that the question of the Universities should be raised by the Proviso of which the Bishop of London had given notice to introduce at the end of the clause, and which he presumed some noble Lord would propose.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
thought it important that the Bishop of London should be present to explain the grounds on which he had framed the Proviso.
§ LORD CAIRNS
hoped his Amendment would be adopted, in order to meet the case of buildings wholly let out as chambers, where the owner paid the whole rate. The question of Oxford and Cambridge might conveniently be discussed on the proposed Proviso at the end of the clause.
very much doubted whether this franchise was wanted by the Colleges themselves. He wished to know whether the principle of the arrangement which had been made between the Universities and the towns was or was not to be maintained. Considering the number of persons who lived in chambers, and that the Universities were sufficiently represented, he did not think it consistent with justice that the words should be introduced.
§ LORD WESTBURY
said, it had always been an object of the Crown in granting charters, and also of the Legislature in its proceedings, to draw a line between the University and the town; and now they were asked to confound both, and allow persons who had come to the town, not as residents of the town, but members of the University, to interfere with the town elections. This was a very important matter, for they were now about to break down the boundary line between University and town, and introduce a mischievous and dangerous clement into the life of the 308 student. The student went to Oxford for the purpose of learning, not of voting.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
said, that the opinions of noble Lords had been fully expressed, and the division could not be taken at a more convenient moment. He understood the case to be this—it was proposed by the right rev. Prelate, not now present, by means of a Proviso, to exclude the members of the University, residing within the four walls of the Colleges, from voting for a representative of the town. Now, the fairness of that proposal appeared open to considerable doubt. Why should a man who was a member of the University be disqualified for voting at the town elections simply because he was also a member of a constituency which had not got a local character? If he were to live within the town, the question would not arise—he might acquire a vote and no one would complain. If he chose to live a few miles from Oxford he was equally entitled to vote for the town and the University. But because he lived within the four walls of the College it was said that he should be allowed to vote only for one of the two constituencies. Noble Lords on the other side had asked whether undergraduates, if of full age, were to have the privilege of voting for the town. But at Oxford the common practice was that undergraduates when of full age should live, not within the Colleges, but in rooms in the town. The number of undergraduates who would be affected by the proviso in Oxford at least would be infinitesimal. It appeared to him a hard and invidious thing to introduce words to disqualify persons who were of full age, and who morally and intellectually might be as well qualified to vote as any other elector.
§ LORD CAIRNS
hoped the House would not be led astray on this matter. It had been urged that those members of the University who occupied rooms in the town were there for the purposes of learning, and had nothing to do with the town. But, suppose a great public work was to be carried on, and thousands of navigators who had never before heard of Oxford in their lives, came and took lodgings there, every one of them might claim to be put on the register; and yet they were there not for purposes of education but for purposes equally unconnected with the town of Oxford. Why should men who went there to labour be admitted to vote, and those who went there to improve their minds be excluded?
§ On Question? their Lordships divided:—Contents 124; Not-Contents 76: Majority 48.310
|Chelmsford, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Hardinge, V.|
|Beaufort, D.||Melville, V.|
|Buckingham and Chandos, D.||Sidmouth, V.|
|Stratford de Redcliffe, V.|
|Manchester, D.||Strathallan, V.|
|Marlborough, D.||Templetown, V.|
|Wellington, D.||Gloucester and Bristol, Bp.|
|Abercorn, M.||Peterborough, Bp.|
|Exeter, M.||Abinger, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Audley, L.|
|Abergavenny, E.||Bagot, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Berners, L.|
|Bathurst, E.||Blayney, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Bolton, L.|
|Belmore, E.||Boston, L.|
|Bradford, E.||Brancepeth, L. (V. Boyne.)|
|Brooke and Warwick, E.|
|Cadogan, E.||Cairns, L. [Teller.]|
|Carnarvon, E.||Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.)|
|Chesterfield, E.||Clarina, L.|
|Coventry, E.||Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)|
|Denbigh, E.||Clinton, L.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Clonbrock, L.|
|Ellenborough, E.||Colville of Culross, L.|
|Erne, E.||Congleton, L.|
|Gainsborough, E.||Crofton, L.|
|Graham, E. (D. Montrose.)||Delamere, L.|
|Haddington, E.||De Ros, L.|
|Hardwicke, E.||De Saumarez, L.|
|Harewood, E.||Digby, L.|
|Harrowby, E.||Dunsandle and Clanconal, L.|
|Huntingdon, E.||Egerton, L.|
|Leven and Melville, E.||Feversham, L.|
|Lucan, E.||Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.)|
|Malmesbury, E.||Gage, L. (V. Gage.)|
|Manvers, E.||Grantley, L.|
|Morton, E.||Hartismere, L. (L. Henniker.)|
|Powis, E.||Heytesbury, L.|
|Romney, E.||Hylton, L.|
|Rosse, E.||Kingston, L. (E. Kingston.)|
|Selkirk, E.||Monson, L.|
|Shrewsbury, E. [Teller.]||Northwick, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Overstone, L.|
|Stradbroke, E.||Penrhyn, L.|
|Tankerville, E.||Raglan, L.|
|Verulam, E.||Ravensworth, L.|
|Wicklow, E.||Rayleigh, L.|
|Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.||Redesdale, L.|
|De Vesci, V.||Saltoun, L.|
|Exmouth, V.||Sherborne, L.|
|Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)||Strathspey, L. (E. Seafield.)|
|Skelmersdale, L.||Tenterden, L.|
|Sondes, L.||Walsingham, L.|
|Southampton, L.||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)|
|Cleveland, D.||Camoys, L.|
|Grafton, D.||Chesham, L.|
|Somerset, D.||Churchill, L.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Cranworth, L.|
|Normanby, M.||Dacre, L.|
|Westminster, M.||De Tabley, L.|
|Abingdon, E.||Ebury, L.|
|Airlie, E. [Teller.]||Foley, L. [Teller.]|
|Albemarle, E.||Granard, L. (E. Granard.)|
|Chichester, E.||Hatherton, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.)|
|De Grey, E.|
|Ducie, E.||Leigh, L.|
|Essex, E.||Lovat, L.|
|Fitzwilliam, E.||Lyttelton, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Lyveden, L.|
|Granville, E.||Meredyth, L. (L. Athlumney.)|
|Kimberley, E.||Minster, L. (M. Conyngham.)|
|Lovelace, E.||Mont Eagle, L. (M. Sligo.)|
|Russell, E.||Mostyn, L.|
|Shaftesbury, E.||Northbrook, L.|
|Sommers, E.||Petre, L.|
|Spencer, E.||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)|
|Suffolk and Berkshire, E.|
|Zetland, E.||Saye and Sele, L.|
|Eversley, V.||Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)|
|Leinster, V. (D. Leinster.)||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Chester, Bp.||Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)|
|Arundell of Wardour, L.||Taunton, L.|
|Belper, L.||Vernon, L.|
|Blantyre, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.)||Westbury, L.|
§ Resolved in the Affirmative.
§ Words inserted accordingly.
§ LORD CAIRNS
moved an Amendment to the effect that the limit of the lodger franchise should be fixed at £15 instead of £10. The Amendment, he thought, did not require much argument. This was an entirely new franchise; from the necessity of the case it must be based upon value; and his object was to secure a class of lodger voters who would be possessed of a certain degree of intelligence and capacity 311 for the exercise of the franchise. Now, it was only in large towns that this franchise was likely to be of much use. In small towns no lodgers in any numbers would be placed upon the register. In large towns, however, the lodgers would be very numerous, and at the limit of £10 many of them would not be likely to exercise the franchise with advantage to the State. It seemed to him that, by placing the sum at £15, they would secure a more independent class of voters. So far as he could ascertain, 5s. a week in London was the very smallest rent of a room in which any one could live with any self-respect. That would represent an annual rent of £13. Many persons thought the lodger franchise should be placed very much higher. His noble Friend behind him proposed to fix it at £20. That was, perhaps too high a figure; and, as a medium, he thought that £15 would be a very fair sum to insert.
§ Amendment moved to leave out ("Ten") and insert ("Fifteen.")—(The Lord Cairns.)
§ LORD RAVENSWORTH
said, he had given notice of an Amendment, that the lodger franchise should be fixed at £20, and his reason was because this was the sum named in the Bill of 1859. In London the proposed limit of £10 was manifestly too low, and would bring in every description of persons. His desire was to elevate and not to debase the electoral franchise; but he was ready to withdraw his Amendment and accept the compromise of £15 proposed by his noble and learned Friend.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
said, that in the Bill of 1859 the Government proposed a lodger franchise of £20, but he was ready to join his noble and learned Friend in asking their Lordships to agree to the Amendment of £15.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
said, that this was a most singular illustration of the adherence to compromise, the necessity for which was almost the only argument urged by the noble Earl against the proposal of the noble Viscount. In the debate upon the second reading he (Earl Granville) had ventured to express his humble approval of this lodger franchise as being in itself a Reform Bill for the metropolis, adding, that in the country, a £10 limit would partake very much of middle-class franchise. Lord Derby on that occasion expressed his entire agreement with him in this opinion; and now to hear the noble Earl (the Earl 312 of Malmesbury), without any argument at all, accepting this Amendment surprised him more than words could express. Lord Derby had ended a very eloquent peroration by declaring that this measure was calculated to settle the question of Reform for a long time; but if they took this opportunity of raising the lodger franchise beyond the amount fixed in the House of Commons the "settlement" was scattered to the winds.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, his recollection was that Lord Derby, while approving of a lodger franchise, had not expressed approval of any particular sum at which it should be fixed.
§ LORD STANLEY OF ALDERLEY
said, they had been asked whether they were going to fly in the face of the House of Commons? Were not the Government doing so in making this alteration? The acceptance of this Amendment by the noble Earl, without one single reason for that course, must increase their Lordship's regret at the absence of Lord Derby.
§ THE EARL OF HARDWICKE
said, he had nothing to do with the Bill, but felt very glad when a Motion was made to increase the franchise in any way. He was afraid of this lodger franchise; it was the most terrible part of the Bill, and he rejoiced that the Government had accepted a £15 instead of a £10 limit. In a town with which he was well acquainted the lodgers would be able to outvote the householders. He was not afraid of the householder, who was a man of property and likely to oppose its taxation; but who was the lodger? He was a person who was in no way consistent with the principle of this Bill, for he paid no rates. Was this the man to whom they were going to hand over the government of the country? If lodgers must be enfranchised, let care be taken that they were something like householders in regard to the possession of property and general responsibility; but do not let us hand power over to individuals whose notions with regard to property were not those which ought to influence the government of the country. He therefore seized with avidity upon the opportunity of striking £10 out of the clause.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
said, he honoured the noble Earl for his sincerity and for the frankness with which he avowed his reason for supporting the Amendment—he avowed, in the most straightforward manner, his opinion that the franchise had been fixed too low, and that therefore every 313 opportunity to restrict it should be resorted to. He could not, however, agree with his argument. How was it that the noble and learned Lord opposite a short time ago told them he prefered this Bill to the Bill of last year because it went lower? Now, when they came to discuss the clauses, he regarded the £10 lodger as dangerous. As to property the lodger might easily be as responsible a person as the 40s. freeholder. The truth was the Government were afraid of the franchise they were about to create. They were placing it upon a democratic basis; but did their Lordships think that by the paltry expedient of raising the lodger franchise from £10 to £15 they could impose any obstacle to the advance of democracy? The attempt showed what their true opinions were; it showed that the Government had agreed to a clause in the other House, of the operation of which they were afraid.
§ LORD CAIRNS
explained, that in what he said the other evening, he had expressed a preference for a graduated scale in respect of the lodger franchise, and the Amendment which he had moved was the embodiment of that opinion.
§ THE DUKE OF RUTLAND
expressed his astonishment at the conduct of noble Lords opposite who had spoken of the democratic tendencies of the measure, and yet ridiculed as "paltry" an Amendment which would, to a certain extent, limit the democratic tendency of the Bill. If it were paltry, would the noble Lord who used that expression, support an Amendment for a £20 lodger franchise? If noble Lords opposite were really alarmed at the democratic tendencies of the Bill, he hoped they would support this and other Amendments, and thus show that they really felt what they said.
THE DUKE OF ARGYLL
said, he admired the straightforwardness of his two noble Friends opposite (the Duke of Rutland and the Earl of Hardwicke) who dreaded the effects of the Bill, but he must deny that he and the noble Lords near him had expressed any alarm at household suffrage or at the lodger franchise. He did not complain that individual Members of the Conservative party broke out into rebellion against parts of the Bill; on the contrary, he was astonished they had not rebelled before. But in proportion as he admired the strength of their party ties, he wondered at the debility of their political convictions. Much as he valued party ties, strongly as he 314 believed they were essential to the good government of the country, and little as he appreciated the motives which influenced generally those who threw off the discipline of party, he believed that it had been maintained to an unreasonable extent by the present Government in regard to those who had always held sincere convictions adverse to the admission of the poorer classes into the constituencies. But as regards the conduct of the Government, the Opposition had a right to complain of the course pursued by the Government. Their Amendment for liberalizing the scheme of re-distribution was met by the objection that the Bill was a compact with the House of Commons, and must not be touched; but when a Tory Amendment, limiting the franchise which the other House had agreed to, was proposed, it was accepted on the part of the Government without a word of explanation; and a Member of the Government assented to the violation of that compact which was before regarded as sacred. He could tell the Government that this would be regarded by the House of Commons as a breach of faith, and was one of the most serious mistakes they had committed in the conduct of the Bill. He agreed with what had been said, that this was less important in itself than as regarded the spirit which it manifested. It might not be a matter of great importance; he believed that, except as regarded London, a lodger franchise was in the main a middle-class franchise, fixed at the line at which it was fixed by the late and agreed to by the present Government. The noble and learned Lord (Lord Cairns) had read them a lecture the other night upon the value to be set upon "hard and fixed lines;" and he said it was much better to come to household suffrage, which he defended as more Conservative. Yet he supported a Bill in which there were two "hard lines"—the lodger and the county franchises, and such was the value the noble and learned Lord set upon "hard and fixed lines," that he broke through a distinct compact made by his party with the House of Commons in order to raise the lodger franchise in this House. He believed that would be taken by the Liberal party in the House of Commons as a distinct breach of faith. The lodger franchise was not originally included in this Bill, although it was proposed by the Conservative Government of 1859, and Mr. Disraeli considered himself the father of it; but it was forced upon the Government and accepted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, 315 and, as a matter of compromise, £10 rental was changed to £10 clear annual value, which was somewhat higher. The way in which the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Malmesbury) had given way without a word of explanation or defence would be regarded by the House of Commons and the country as an indication that a spirit of reaction on the part of the Government had already set in.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
explained that he had not spoken of a compact between the House of Commons and the Government as respected the whole Bill, but had said it was carried in the House of Commons by a spirit of compromise which induced parties opposing, at last, to agree on its provisions. At the time he referred to the question of re-distribution, which was the only one before the House, and he said, not that that was a compact, but a compromise. He explained that statement by reminding the House that though the Government had at first refused to add a Member to each of six large towns, they had subsequently consented to make that addition in four cases, the House of Commons deciding, upon a Motion followed by a division, that the addition should not be made to the constituencies of Sheffield and Bristol. On another point, too, he had been misrepresented. He had expressly stated that their Lordships had the right to alter any Bill that was sent up from the House of Commons; but he also said that that right ought, nevertheless, to be governed by discretion, and it certainly did become their Lordships to act with discretion on a question so important as that of re-distribution, of which a settlement, the result of a compromise, had been made in the House of Commons. But between this and the lodger franchise there was no analogy. It might be very fair to urge the existence of such an analogy in a party spirit, in one of those contests in which the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Argyll) would be perfect if he could only keep his temper a little better. ["Oh, oh!" and laughter.] He was glad to see the noble Duke smiling, because he thought that such a frame of mind was happier than the one in which he had just indulged. He was sorry that he did not possess as much self confidence as the noble Duke did; but not being the possessor of so desirable a quality he should have thought it presumptuous on his part if he had risen to supplement what he regarded as the unanswerable reasons urged by his noble and 316 learned Friend. As regarded the Amendment, he could only say that Lord Derby's Government in 1859 proposed a lodger franchise of £20, and the present Bill proposed £10. Now there was nothing inconsistent in proposing an intermediate sum between that fixed upon by the House of Commons and that proposed by the Government in 1859. In fact, unless such compromises were made they would be carrying on the Bill after the fashion in which the Bill of the late Government was carried on last year in the House of Commons.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
said, he was sure that none of their Lordships would accuse him of having any excessive or undue partiality for lowering the franchise. There were two classes of Amendments which might be proposed to this Bill. One class was composed of such Amendments as gave a fair promise of permanency, which might be incorporated in, and become an inseparable portion of, the Bill; and the other of such as were merely separable additions to it, which would probably not only be very soon swept away, but would, at the time of being swept away, carry with them other valuable portions of a Bill which, but for them, might have had a chance of enduring. Believing that the Amendment of his noble and learned Friend belonged to the latter class, he could not support it. He had never complained of a £10 rental qualification as such; in fact, he believed such a qualification to be good rather than otherwise—certainly good in comparison with household suffrage. What he complained of in connection with this lodger franchise was that no provision was made for the payment of the rent. He believed, therefore, that a door would be opened for very great abuse and fraud. Under this clause, in fact, he thought they were doing a very right thing in a very wrong manner. Moreover, as he had stated the other evening, he believed the £10 line to be very precarious, and that if that should give way nothing stood between that and manhood suffrage. The demand for this franchise proceeded from the large towns. Clerks and employés of large tradesmen, attorneys, and so on, would be equally enfranchised whether the limit was fixed at £15 or £20; but the real demand came from the artizan class in the large towns—the class which they desired to place on the same footing as the householders. If they struck out the clause and get rid of 317 the lodger franchise altogether, the thing would be intelligible enough; though, under all the circumstances of the case, he did not think it would be advisable. But if they adopted the Amendment moved by his noble and learned Friend, and fixed the limit at £15 or £20 they would strike off two-thirds or three-fourths of those whom the House of Commons proposed to enfranchise under this clause, and the proposal would then be regarded by the class for whose benefit it was intended as a simple mockery. Remembering all the circumstances connected with the case, and the action of Her Majesty's Government in the House of Commons, he certainly preferred abiding by the clause as it at present stood:—though, he might add, he heartily concurred in the proposal which was to be made by his noble Friend opposite.
§ EARL RUSSELL
said, he could not understand how noble Lords opposite, whose argument had been that they could find no stand-point in any figure—even in a figure so low as £8, or £6—could at the same time believe that a firm footing was to be found on so high a sum as £15. To strike out the clause altogether would be more consistent with the principles of the old Conservative party; but did they imagine that a £15 franchise would last for a single Session? If this Amendment were carried there would be an immediate agitation for the reduction to £10, while the advocates of manhood suffrage would, of course, attempt to get rid of any limit whatever.
§ THE EARL OF ELLENBOROUGH
My Lords, if this Bill had come up to your Lordships' House with the amount fixed at £15 instead of £10, I should have been much better pleased; but we must look at the circumstances under which it is proposed to substitute £15. As I understand, from what has passed, the circumstances are these. In 1859 a lodger franchise was proposed; hilt the present Bill, as originally introduced into the House of Commons, did not contain a lodger franchise. A £15 lodger franchise was proposed by a private Member; and the Leader of the Government in that acceded to a Motion for reducing it to £10. Believing it to be a part of the unwritten law of Parliament that what a Government support in one House they should support in the other, I cannot, whatever may be my own view in favour of £15 in preference to £10, support the Government in departing from that law.
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
The 318 Government may be compelled to yield to pressure in one House, but I would ask whether on that account they are to be tied hand and foot in the other House? Are the Government to be precluded entirely from listening in this House to any proposition to amend what has been done in the House of Commons? I think there would be some force in the objection now made against the course taken by the Government if they of their own accord had proposed to raise the lodger qualification to £15; but as the proposition has not come from them, I cannot concur in the observation of the noble Earl who has just addressed your Lordships.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
I entirely agree with the noble Earl (the Earl of Harrowby) as to the independence of the House and their right to make Amendments; but what I object to is the attempt to tie us down by telling us that we cannot fly in the face of the House of Commons when we propose to make Amendments in the redistribution scheme; and then, as soon as a Conservative and reactionary Amendment is proposed, the representative of the Government should jump up, and without assigning any reason for departing from the compromise to which they had come in the other House, not yielding to pressure, but on the mere speech of the proposer, express an intention of accepting it.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
My noble Friend (the Earl of Ellenborough) is as jealous of the independence of this House as any of your Lordships can possibly be; but his position is, that an agreement made by the Leader in one House ought to be adopted by the Leader in the other House. I have no hesitation in saying that the Amendment of the noble and learned Lord would improve the lodger franchise. I am convinced that the £10 lodger franchise will bring in many voters who are only just above the condition of paupers; but, whatever may be the view which I take of the lodger clause, the latter is now irrevocable, and if your Lordships make an alteration in it, so far from closing the question, you do but open it. If we wish to keep the franchise up to the present amount, we had better agree to the clause as it comes from the House of Commons; for if it should comes under discussion in that House, next Session, or in the first Session of the next Parliament, the amount will be reduced below £10—perhaps, to 2s. 6d. a week.
§ THE EARL OF MALMESBURY
I wish to understand what the House hold to be 319 the position of the Government. When, in the early part of the evening, I refused on the part of the Government to accede to a proposition for opening the whole redistribution scheme, I was told that was extraordinary conduct on my part. Now, three hours after, I am told that the Government ought not to give way on anything which the Leader of the other House has agreed to.
I did not understand the noble Earls on the Opposition side to contend that the Government is bound to maintain the Bill exactly in its present shape, nor do I see any inconsistency between their condemnation of the course taken by the Government on this Amendment, and what they said earlier in the evening, when they objected, and I think justly objected, to the statement that this House had no right to exercise an independent judgment at all. The Government and the House must exercise their judgment on the various points as they arise, and I am very far from saying that in no case ought the Government to yield to the arguments urged in favour of Amendments that are proposed; but there are certain leading provisions of the Bill which, once adopted, it would be extremely difficult and most dangerous to depart from, especially when the provisions it is proposed to alter were introduced into the Bill in the other House with the concurrence and approval of the Ministers in that House. This appears to me to be one of those leading and important provisions of the Bill to which the Ministers were thus committed; and therefore I was surprised to hear Her Majesty's Government, without assigning any reason, state to this House that they were quite prepared to adopt the Amendment of the noble and learned Lord. This is a course which they certainly ought not to have pursued. I agree with the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Shaftesbury), that the only result of altering the £10 limit will be to carry the franchise lower. Without going into the question of the lodger franchise, I must say that after what has been done in the matter I cannot support the Amendment of the noble and learned Lord.
§ LORD CAIRNS
I wish to say a few words before your Lordships divide on this question. The observations made by the noble Earl on the cross-Benches (Earl Grey) and by the three noble Earls on the opposite side raise a point that is deserving of consideration. Is this proposition laid 320 down—that any number of Amendments may be proposed by noble Lords opposite and by noble Lords on the cross-Benches, going even to the overthrow of the whole Bill, and be discussed fully and fairly, no one being allowed to suggest that, as this Bill comes from the other House of Parliament, it ought not to be summarily condemned; but that the moment an Amendment comes from this side of the House it ought to be summarily rejected, on the ground that there has been a compact or compromise in the other House; and that even where no compact or compromise can be suggested everything done in the other House is to be regarded as infallible, and your Lordships are not to agree to any Amendment? I am very anxious that this Bill should become law; I am very anxious that there should not be even the appearance of a collision between this and the other House of Parliament; and therefore I, for my part, should be perfectly willing, though I think Amendments are required, to accept the Bill as it comes to us, and have it passed into law. But we must either accept it in that way or consider it open to Amendment throughout. Her Majesty's Government must either deal with each Amendment on its merits, or apply the same rule of indiscriminate opposition to all Amendments, come from whatever quarter they may;—which latter course would no doubt facilitate very much the discussion of the Bill. Now, as to the compact which is suggested, I think it would be very difficult to find who were the parties to a compact or compromise in this case; but if I supposed that the amount of £10 was deliberately settled by the House of Commons after a full discussion of the different figures I should be extremely unwilling to open the question—especially as the Bill has to go down to that House again. The noble Duke is mistaken, I am informed, in supposing that the figure of £15 was ever proposed and the figure of £10 taken as more acceptable to the Government. I do not state the fact of my own knowledge; but I am assured that there was no discussion as between different figures—that the only proposition submitted to the House was one by an independent Member, proposing to fill up the blank in the clause with the words "Ten Pounds." I repeat that if it had been a matter of deliberate discussion and determination by the other House of Parliament, I should not have asked your Lordships to re-open this matter, which I quite agree with noble 321 Lords who have spoken is a small matter, whatever my individual opinion might be. But I believe that no such discussion or determination took place; and, therefore, I do think it desirable, if your Lordships should concur in the opinion that the figure of £15, as against the figure of £10, should be inserted in the Bill, and thereby submitted to the other House of Parliament, who will have an opportunity of considering the Amendments, and of saying whether they think it desirable or not to insist on the lower figure.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
If the noble and learned Lord will allow me to say so, he is not quite right as to the matter of fact. I believe the fact was that a £10 rental was proposed to the House of Commons. It was then suggested, as an Amendment, that either a £15 rental, or a £12 rating should be substituted.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
At all events, the plan which was ultimately carried by compromise between the two sides of the House, and assented to by the Government, was the amount of £10 clear yearly value.
hoped that the Government would not consent to this alteration, which, for the first time, disturbed the text of this Reform Bill.
§ On Question, That the word proposed to be left out stand part of the clause? their Lordships divided:—Contents 89; Not-Contents 121: Majority 32.323
|Cleveland, D.||Essex, E.|
|Grafton, D.||Fitzwilliam, E.|
|Somerset, D.||Fortescue, E.|
|Sutherland, D.||Granville, E.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Harrowby, E.|
|Camden, M.||Kimberley, E.|
|Normanby, M.||Lichfield, E.|
|Westminster, M.||Lovelace, E.|
|Abingdon, E.||Morley, E.|
|Airlie, E.||Powis, E.|
|Albemarle, E.||Russell, E.|
|Camperdown, E.||Shaftesbury, E.|
|Carnarvon, E.||Sommers, E.|
|Chichester, E.||Spencer, E.|
|Clarendon, E.||Suffolk and Berkshire, E.|
|Dartrey, E.||Zetland, E.|
|De Grey, E.|
|Ducie, E.||Halifax, V.|
|Leinster, V. (D. Leinster.)||Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.)|
|Chester, Bp.||Londesborough, L.|
|Audley, L.||Lyveden, L.|
|Bateman, L.||Meredyth, L. (L. Athlumney.)|
|Blantyre, L.||Minster, L. (M. Conyngham.)|
|Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.)|
|Camoys, L.||Mont Eagle, L. (M. Sligo.)|
|Charlemont, L. (E. Charlemont.)|
|Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.)||Northbrook, L.|
|Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)|
|Churchill, L. [Teller.]||Rollo, L.|
|Clermont, L.||Romilly, L.|
|Cranworth, L.||Saye and Sele, L.|
|Dacre, L.||Seaton, L.|
|Denman, L.||Sefton, L. (E. Sefton.)|
|De Tabley, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Dunfermline, L.||Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll)|
|Foley, L. [Teller.]||Taunton, L.|
|Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.)||Vernon, L.|
|Granard, L. (E. Granard.)||Wenlock, L.|
|Harris, L.||Westbury, L.|
|Hatherton, L.||Wrottesley, L.|
|Chelmsford, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Haddington, E.|
|Beaufort, D.||Home, E.|
|Buckingham and Chandos, D.||Huntingdon, E.|
|Manchester, D.||Macclesfield, E.|
|Marlborough, D.||Malmesbury, E.|
|Richmond, D.||Mansfield, E.|
|Rutland, D.||Manvers, E.|
|Wellington, D.||Morton, E.|
|Abercorn, M.||Romney, E.|
|Bristol, M.||Rosse, E.|
|Exeter, M.||Selkirk, E.|
|Salisbury, M.||Shrewsbury, E.|
|Amherst, E.||Stradbroke, E.|
|Bathurst, E.||Tankerville, E.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Verulam, E.|
|Belmore, E.||Wicklow, E.|
|Bradford, E.||Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.|
|Brooke and Warwick, E.|
|Cardigan, E.||De Vesci, V.|
|Cawdor, E.||Exmouth, V.|
|Chesterfield, E.||Hawarden, V.|
|Coventry, E.||Lifford, V.|
|Dartmouth, E.||Melville, V.|
|Denbigh, E.||Sidmouth, V.|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)||Stratford de Redcliff, V.|
|Gainsborough, E.||Gloucester and Bristol, Bp.|
|Graham, E. (D. Montrose.)|
|Abinger, L.||Hay, L. (E. Kinnoul.)|
|Arundell of Wardour, L.||Heytesbury, L.|
|Aveland, L.||Hylton, L.|
|Bagot, L.||Kingston, L. (E. Kingston.)|
|Bolton, L.||Lyttelton, L.|
|Boston, L.||Northwick, L.|
|Brancepeth, L. (V. Boyne.)||Penrhyn, L.|
|Cairns, L. [Teller]||Raglan, L.|
|Churston, L.||Ravensworth, L. [Teller.]|
|Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)||Redesdale, L.|
|Clifton, L. (E. Darnley.)||Saltoun, L.|
|Clinton, L.||Sherborne, L.|
|Clonbrock, L.||Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)|
|Colonsay, L.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Colville of Culross, L.||Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)|
|Crofton, L.||Sondes, L.|
|Delamere, L.||Southampton, L.|
|De L'Isle and Dudley, L.||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|De Ros, L.|
|De Saumarez, L.||Stratheden, L.|
|Digby, L.||Strathnairn, L.|
|Dunsandle and Clanconal, L.||Strathspey, L. (E. Seafield.)|
|Egerton, L.||Templemore, L.|
|Feversham, L.||Tenterden, L.|
|Gage, L. (V. Gage.)||Walsingham, L.|
|Grantley, L.||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)|
|Hartismere, L. (L. Henniker.)|
§ Word "Ten" struck out accordingly.
§ Then it was moved to insert the word "Fifteen."
§ Motion agreed to.
§ THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY
moved an Amendment in Line 32, after ("July") to insert ("and shall not during the same Twelve Months have received or applied for Parochial Relief").
§ LORD CAIRNS
said, there was a general clause in the old Reform Act disqualifying from being registered as voters for a city or a borough, all persons who had received parochial relief within the previous twelve months; and by the 37th clause of the present Bill it was enacted that that section of the Reform Act (the 36th) should apply to the case of a county as well as that of a city or borough; so that no such person should be registered as a voter for a county. It was also provided that the Reform Act and the present measure should be read as one Act. Thus, as the Bill stood, it perfectly attained the object which the noble Earl had in view, and did not require any alteration whatever in that respect.
said, it was necessary, not only to prevent persons who were in receipt of parochial relief from voting, but also from being put upon the register.
§ LORD CAIRNS
said, that the 36th section of the Reform Act was directed specifically against the registration of such persons. That section of the Reform Act would be read along with that Bill, and thus become virtually a part of it; and it would also be extended to counties as well as cities and boroughs.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, that, once a man's name was on the register he would be entitled to a vote, even though he might have received parochial relief after the time of registration.
§ LORD CAIRNS
said, that if their Lordships desired to make the receipt of parochial relief between the time of registration and the time of an election a disqualification they would, in the first place, be introducing an entirely new principle, and, in the next place, the Amendment of the noble Earl would not answer the purpose, for it spoke only of the twelve months before registration
§ Amendment withdrawn.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 5 (Property Franchise in Counties).
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
proposed an Amendment altering the copyhold property qualification from £5 to £10.
§ Moved, To leave out ("Five") and insert ("Ten").—(The Earl of Harrowby.)
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, that the Government in the other House proposed £10 as the copyhold qualification, and were beaten, and therefore it was quite competent for them to accept the proposal of the noble Earl without being charged with inconsistency.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
put it to the Government, whether it was wise on the part of the House to make a number of restrictions in the franchise as settled by the House of Commons. It was rather a blot in the Bill that it went so low in the borough franchise and so high in the county franchise. Persons living outside the borough boundary would, as it was, feel great discontent at seeing their neighbours vote for so small a qualification, and it would be unwise to increase this difference 325 between the county and the borough franchise. Noble Lords opposite seemed to take every opportunity of restricting the franchise agreed to in the other House.
§ EARL FORTESCUE
said, he should have liked to have seen a comprehensive Reform Bill. He thought it very desirable that the county franchise should be kept up to prevent property being swamped. He feared that the present Bill would be anything but a satisfactory settlement of the question, and he could not help confessing that he took a very gloomy view of the political situation.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
said, that £5 leaseholders and copyholders were clearly richer than 40s. freeholders, and ought, therefore, to be enfranchised, if it was desired that property should have influence.
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
urged the injustice of allowing the agricultural interests to be swamped by small leaseholders and copyholders living in the large boroughs. He would move to omit the clause.
§ Moved, to leave out Clause 5.—(The Earl of Harrowby).
§ LORD LYVEDEN
deprecated these wretched nibblings at the Bill. To put themselves in collision with the House of Commons on mere questions of a £5 or £10 copyhold franchise, and a £10 or £15 lodger franchise would serve no useful purpose, and would only discredit their Lordships in the eyes of the country. He hoped the Government would adhere to the clause as it stood.
§ On Question, That the said clause stand part of the Bill? their Lordships divided:—Contents 56; Not-Contents 118: Majority 62.327
|Grafton, D.||Morley, E.|
|Somerset, D.||Sommers, E.|
|Sutherland, D.||Spencer, E.|
|Suffolk and Berkshire, E.|
|Normanby, M.||Halifax, V.|
|Leinster, V. (D. Leinster.)|
|Albemarle, E. [Teller.]||Sydney, V.|
|Cowper, E.||Chester, Bp.|
|De Grey, E.||Belper, L.|
|Ducie, E.||Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.)|
|Granville, E.||Camoys, L.|
|Kimberley, E.||Chesham, L.|
|Lichfield, E.||Churchill, L. [Teller.]|
|Lovelace, E.||Cranworth, L.|
|Minto, E.||Dacre, L.|
|Ebury, L.||Petre, L.|
|Foley, L.||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)|
|Granard, L. (E. Granard.)|
|Harris, L.||Seaton, L.|
|Hatherton, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Houghton, L.||Stratheden, L.|
|Leigh, L.||Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)|
|Lyveden, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Monson, L.||Wenlock, L.|
|Mostyn, L.||Wentworth, L.|
|Chelmsford, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.|
|Buckingham and Chandos, D.||De Vesci, V.|
|Manchester, D.||Hardinge, V.|
|Marlborough, D.||Hawarden, V.|
|Richmond, D.||Lifford, V.|
|Rutland, D.||Melville, V.|
|Wellington, D.||Sidmouth, V.|
|Abercorn, M.||Templetown, V.|
|Exeter, M.||Gloucester and Bristol, Bp.|
|Salisbury, M. [Teller.]|
|Amherst, E.||Peterborough, Bp.|
|Belmore, E.||Abinger, L.|
|Bradford, E.||Arundell of Wardour, L.|
|Brooke and Warwick, E.||Aveland, L.|
|Cadogan, E.||Bagot, L.|
|Cardigan, E.||Bateman, L.|
|Carnarvon, E.||Berners, L.|
|Cawdor, E.||Blantyre, L.|
|Chesterfield, E.||Boston, L.|
|Dartmouth, E.||Brancepeth, L. (V. Boyne.)|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)|
|Eldon, E.||Clarina, L.|
|Erne, E.||Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)|
|Gainsborough, E.||Clifton, L. (E. Darnley.)|
|Graham, E. (D. Montrose.)||Clinton, L.|
|Grey, E.||Cloncurry, L.|
|Hardwicke, E.||Colonsay, L.|
|Harewood, E.||Colville of Culross, L.|
|Harrowby, E. [Teller.]||Congleton, L.|
|Home, E.||Crofton, L.|
|Huntingdon, E.||Delamere, L.|
|Macclesfield, E.||De L'Isle and Dudley, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||De Saumarez, L.|
|Mansfield, E.||Digby, L.|
|Manvers, E.||Dunsandle and Clanconal, L.|
|Nelson, E.||Egerton, L.|
|Powis, E.||Feversham, L.|
|Romney, E.||Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.)|
|Shaftesbury, E.||Gage, L. (V. Gage.)|
|Shrewsbury, E.||Grantley, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Hartismere, L. (L. Henniker.)|
|Verulam, E.||Heytesbury, L.|
|Hylton, L.||Southampton, L.|
|Kingston, L. (E. Kingston.)||Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)|
|Northwick, L.||Strathnairn, L.|
|Raglan, L.||Strathspey, L. (E. Seafield.)|
|Rivers, L.||Templemore, L.|
|Rollo, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Saltoun, L.||Walsingham, L.|
|Sherborne, L.||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)|
|Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)|
|Skelmersdale, L.||Wynford, L.|
§ Resolved in the Negative.
§ Clause 6 (Occupation Franchise in Counties) amended and agreed to.
§ House resumed; and to be again in Committee To-morrow.