HL Deb 30 June 1868 vol 193 cc362-6

I do not desire to oppose or delay the progress of this Bill; but it seems to me, I must say, that we are not in a condition to-night to consider the Amendments which were printed only this morning. I ask any of your Lordships to look at these Amendments. They are so numerous that I have not counted them; but I think, at a rough computation, there are about fifty. One of these Amendments contains a proposal of a most important character. It refers to the representation of the great city of Glasgow, and the intent of the Amendment is no less than this—to extend the Parliamentary boundaries of Glasgow, so as to include within its limits a population, as I am informed, of 62,000 persons who: ire not now within them. Now, my Lords, this is not the first time the question has been mooted. When the Bill came originally into the other House it proposed to extend the Parliamentary limits of Glasgow. A division took place in the Committee, and the Government were defeated; and now, after this decision of the House of Commons, leaving the boundaries of Glasgow as they are, the Bill having come up to your Lordships' House it is proposed not merely to reverse the decision of the other House, hut it is proposed by this Amendment to include a very much larger population than the original draft of the Bill proposed to include. I hold in my hand a petition of the inhabitants of those burghs it is proposed to annex against the Amendment; but I do not want to go into the merits of the case now, for it is merely on the ground of time that I object to going into Committee; and I therefore propose that the Committee be postponed till Monday next.


I quite agree with the noble Earl that, owing to circumstances over which I had no control, these Papers have been laid upon your Lordships' table later than was intended, and certainly without giving your Lordships time to consider the Amendments. The fact is that the Amendments were sent to be printed on Friday night; but from some cause or other, which I have not ascertained, they have taken longer than usual to print. So far, however, was it from my wish to surprise your Lordships in any way, that I informed my noble Friend who manages the arrangements on the opposite side (the Earl of Bessborough) of the intention of the Government to renew (his question, in order that he might communicate with his Friends on the subject. This particular clause is, however, the only one upon which the Amendment is of any importance. The others are merely verbal Amendments, and I shall recommend your Lordships to go into Committee and to proceed with the Bill in Committee; and then on the Report let it be understood that we shall fully discuss this question of the boundaries of Glasgow. I do not think the Government can consent to put it off so long as the noble Earl asks us to do. We have a great deal of Business before the House; and I think if we put it off till Friday, we shall by that time have had sufficient time to obtain all the information we may require. That, I think, will be the most convenient way for your Lordships to proceed.


said, he had no objection to the course proposed by the noble Earl; but he wished it to be understood that this Bill would be taken the first thing on Friday night.


Do I understand that the Bill is to be taken in Committee to-night, and the merely verbal Amendments agreed to, and that the Bill will be re-printed with these Amendments and reported to the House on Friday? This question of the boundaries of Glasgow is of considerable importance; and I hope, therefore, that it will be made the first Order of the Day.

House in Committee (according to Order.)

Clauses 1 to 26 agreed to, with verbal Amendments.

Clause 27 (Qualifications for Members of General Councils).


said, he thought the words of the clause were very wide and liberal, but they omitted all mention of a new degree which a good many students were now beginning to take—he meant the degree of Bachelor of Science. He thought that those who had taken that degree should not be excluded from the franchise, and he would therefore move an Amendment supplying the omission. There was also another matter in this clause to which he wished to refer. Until four or five years ago there were two Universities at Aberdeen—that was to say, the two Colleges were both Universities, and both granted degrees. Now, however, they were united into one University, and had only one body which conferred degrees. It would be obviously wrong that those who had taken degrees from the two Colleges before they were united should be excluded from the franchise, but the wording of the clause would have that effect. He would therefore move words supplying the omission.


said, that as to the noble Duke's second Amendment there could be no objection, but it was possible that some might arise with respect to the first. He thought, therefore, that the noble Duke had better give Notice, and postpone the Amendments until the Report was brought up.




proposed to add the following proviso:— Provided always that no graduate of any University shall be disqualified from being a member of the General Council of such University by reason of this being enrolled as a student in any class of the University.

Proviso agreed to, added to the Clause.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 42 (Certain Boroughs in England to cease to return Members).


said, that on bringing up the Report he should call attention to the proposed disfranchisement of seven English boroughs in a Bill relating to the representation of Scotland, and should propose that, at least, some notice of this fact should be taken in the Preamble. This was one of the edicts of the other House, which their Lordships would be obliged to register now, though they refused to adopt a proposal of his to the same effect last year.


said, the disfranchisement of these boroughs to give Members to Scotland was a departure from the principle asserted by the Government that no place should be wholly disfranchised. Mr. Wilkes, who had not been sufficiently acknowledged as the originator of Reform in 1776, had condemned the departure from the proportion of forty-five Members granted to Scotland by the 22nd Article of the Union. Since then, in 1832, eight new Members had been added, and now seven Members were to be taken from England and given to Scotland. He should have thought that on the probable discovery that the representation of minorities, which was only an experiment, did not answer, that fresh seats might hereafter have been found without depriving the small boroughs of their rights; at the same time, he considered that the temptations to bribery in very small places with enlarged constituencies were so very strong that they might soon forfeit their right of having representatives. He could not but remark on the inconvenience pointed out by the noble Viscount the Chairman of the Boundary Commission of the mixed constituencies of the four boroughs—Shoreham, Cricklade, Aylesbury, and East Retford—in which county voters voted with a borough franchise; and as it was observed that very few of the new voters had been in time to be placed on the register, it might be proper even now to deprive each of those boroughs of a Member, and thus part of the required number of seven would be filled up. As time went on, the working of the Bill would be watched, and it might be considered as settled that bribery in small boroughs would be followed by total disfranchisement, which would afford vacancies for further representation.

Clause 48 (Corrupt Payment of Rates to be punishable as Bribery).


said, he did not wish their Lordships to pass a definition of a house which would exclude from the franchise persons resident in boroughs where there were no rates.


said, he believed there were only two boroughs in that position, and he suggested that the matter should be allowed to stand over until the Report.

Amendments made: The Report thereof to be received on Friday next; and Bill to be printed as amended. (No. 192.)