HL Deb 06 July 1868 vol 193 cc710-4

House again in Committee (according to Order).

The Amendment moved on Thursday last (Earl Beauchamp) (by Leave of the Committee) withdrawn.

Bill reported, without Amendment.


rose to move his Amendment, which was that Jarrow should be included in the borough of South Shields. He considered that a great public wrong had been done by the action of the Government in this matter of the Boundary Bill. The question of the boundaries having been removed out of the arena of party conflict by the appointment of a Royal Commission, the Government, without any just ground, instead of adhering faithfully and steadfastly to the Report of the Commission, referred the matter to a Select Committee of the other House, by whom the recommendations of the Royal Commissioners were completely upset, and in consequence of the delay thus occasioned their Lordships were precluded from the opportunity of considering the details of the Bill. Why the recommendations of the Commissioners should not have been adopted he was at a loss to understand. The name of the Chairman of the Royal Commission was alone a sufficient guarantee to the public of the impartiality of its decisions. The Bill had been sent up to this House at a time when it was almost impossible to consider it in its details. Whatever interpretation might be put upon the language of the Prime Minister—and a very forced interpretation was put upon it—it was admitted that any private Member of their Lordships' House might take up the question. His noble Friend (the Earl of Beauchamp) gave Notice of an Amendment, which would have given their Lordships an opportunity of considering some of the details of the Bill; but, upon being appealed to by the Government, the noble Earl withdrew his Motion. He (Lord Ravensworth) then, on the spur of the moment, gave Notice of his intention to call attention to one portion of the Bill. There were many boroughs which, no doubt, presented a strong case for the extension of their boundary, that of South Shields was as strong as any. Its population in 1861 was 35,000, and the Commissioners proposed to add to it Jarrow, which contained a population of 15,000 industrious men, chiefly engaged in shipbuilding. Jarrow was a place of great antiquity, and was in every respect identified with South Shields; yet the recommendation of the Commission was overthrown by the Committee, the grounds of whose decision were not stated in their Report. He had presented a petition signed by 440 of the most influential inhabitants, manufacturers and others in South Shields, praying that the Report of the Commission might be sustained. Much more depended upon their Lordships considering this question than the satisfaction of South Shields and of Jarrow. Unless steps were taken to include such places as Jarrow within the limits of the Parliamentary boroughs next to them, very grave questions would arise in future, for it was impossible to suppose a system of representation could continue which excluded from the franchise the population on one side of the street and admitted the householders on the other side. Yet this description at present applied to many bo roughs, and particularly to Nottingham, Birmingham, and South Shields. He feared the next demand would be to have the county mapped out into equal electoral districts; and this, no doubt, would be followed by the equalization of the county and borough franchises. It was because he was desirous to avoid such demands, and to effect a real settlement of this question for a generation at least, that, in spite of adverse circumstances, he begged to move that the Parliamentary limits of the borough of South Shields be extended, in accordance with the recommendation of the Royal Commissioners.

An Amendment moved, Clause 4, after ("Salisbury") insert ("South Shields.")—(The Lord Ravensworth).


said, he was anxious that there should not be a repetition of the scene witnessed by their Lordships the other evening, and hoped the discussion on this subject would terminate in a way very different from that in which it had been begun. He would, therefore, not follow his noble Friend in his history of what occurred in the House of Commons, but would be content to refer to the reasons which he gave the other evening to his noble Friend, Lord Beauchamp—who was now absent from the House—when, on behalf of the Government, he begged his noble Friend to withdraw the Amendments which stood in his name. He would not repeat those reasons, but must ask his noble Friend (Lord Ravensworth) not to persist in the Motion he had just made. His noble Friend, however, would not infer from this request that he at all dissented from the arguments just addressed to their Lordships. Indeed, from the very commencement of the discussions in the other House the Government had always been of opinion that the decision of the Royal Commissioners was on the whole the best. Under the circumstances, however, he must ask his noble Friend to withdraw the Amendment, and allow the Bill to pass in its present form.


said, he wished to state why he should support the Amendment. He had not entered into the debate the other night because it was carried on in a tone which he did not desire to adopt; but on the present occasion he deemed it necessary to make some remarks on the manner in which the House had been treated in regard to this Bill and the Scotch Reform Bill, which were two of the most im- portant measures that ever came under the consideration of Parliament. They related to the Constitution of the country, and yet their Lordships were told they were not to introduce any Amendments into them. Now, why had not the Boundary Bill been sent up from the House of Commons at an earlier period? Because, he would reply, the Opposition had taken up the time of the House with the consideration of another uncalled-for and totally useless measure. Their Lordships were now told, however, that the Bill could not be altered, because it was of great importance that the elections should occur in November; but was that object of such vital importance as to call for the passing through their Lordships' House without any discussion of a measure effecting the representation of the people? To compare the two things was what no Statesman ought to do, and what no man, with any regard for the country, could do. Why should not this Bill be amended? The Scotch Bill had been amended, and there would nevertheless be time for its being re-discussed in the other House. It seemed to him that the question of passing a good Boundary Bill was of much more importance than whether the elections took place in November or not. He could not understand, therefore, why the Amendment of the noble Duke the Postmaster General with regard to Glasgow was not to be entertained. The addition of it would not lead to more than a couple of hours' discussion, which would cause no delay whatever. He hoped that on the third reading that Amendment would be moved; for he believed that the arguments in favour of extending the boundary of Glasgow were unanswerable. The independence of their Lordships' House was concerned in this matter. Even now Amendments might be introduced into the Bill, and yet they were told not to make them, as there might be some hazard about the proceeding. Now, the House of Commons might discuss the Amendments in the same time their Lordships would probably take in inserting them. If the House of Commons accepted them, well and good; if they rejected them it would then be the duty of their Lordships to determine whether they would insist upon them, or whether they would consent to withdraw them in order to prevent further delay. For these reasons he should certainly vote in favour of the Amendment of the noble Lord.


said, that a most important constitutional principle was in- volved in this question; and if the noble Lord pressed his Amendment to a division he should feel it his duty to vote in favour of it.


said, the proposal of the Government that no alteration should be introduced into the Boundary Bill was made simply because it was desired to have the dissolution in November; and the 20th July was the last day for sending in claims for the county votes. Under the circumstances the Government felt bound to abide by the pledge which they gave to the House the other evening.


Nobody can complain of the course which the three independent Peers have taken this evening. Although, in discussions which were certainly carried on with great spirit, to say the least of it, on both sides, we complained of the course which Her Majesty's Government seemed inclined to take, we never pretended to impugn the right of the House to act as it thought fit. To-night Her Majesty's Government have behaved in a most honourable way; and I may add that I believe my noble Friends opposite are incapable of intentionally acting in any other way.

On Question? their Lordships divided:—Contents, 9; Not-Contents, 27: Majority, 18.

Resolved in the Negative.

Bill to be read 3a To-morrow.

Bristol, M. Redesdale, L. [Teller.]
Sondes, L.
Colchester, L. Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)
Denman, L.
Fitzwalter, L. Walsingham, L.
Ravensworth, L. [Teller.]
Cairns, L. (L. Chancellor.) Halifax, V.
Hawarden, V.
Buckingham and Chandos, D. Clifford of Chudleigh, L.
Clinton, L.
Mar. lborough, D. Colonsay, L
Colville of Culross, L.
Normanby, M. Crofton, L.
Farnham, L.
Airlie, E. Foley, L.
Camperdown, E. Lyveden, L.
Clarendon, E. Monson, L. [Teller.]
Graham, E. (D. Montrose.) Seaton, L.
Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)
Granville, E.
Kimberley, E. Stratheden, L.
Lichfield, E. [Teller.] Sundridge, L (D. Argyll)
Malmesbury, E.