HL Deb 08 July 1884 vol 290 cc375-480

Order of the Day for resuming the adjourned debate on the Earl Cairns amendment to the motion for the Second Reading, road.

Debate resumed accordingly.


My Lords, I think one of the most remarkable features of the debate of last night was the singular unanimity on many parts of this question which was expressed by different speakers on opposite sides of the House. I have no wish, in anything that I may say to-night, to mar that unanimity. At the same time, my Lords, I shall not paint in quite such rosy colours as some noble Lords did last night the substance and the principle of this Bill. I prefer to introduce into my picture some light and shade; and if, when I come to my conclusion, I find myself in general agreement with those who have preceded me, that conclusion, perhaps, at least so far as I am concerned, will not be the less satisfactory and valuable.

My Lords, in that point of view, I would ask your Lordships to bear with me for a few minutes while I remind you of some historical inferences and lessons to be drawn from this Reform Question before I pass on to its present aspect.

It is now little more than half-a-century ago since the Reform Act of 1832 was passed, which constituted a revolution in this country. I have always thought that the two great landmarks, whether for good or evil, in modern European history, were the Revolution in France, and the Reform Act of 1832. They each of them constituted a new departure; and though, happily, in part owing to the temper of our people, and in part owing to the nature of the measure itself, and the mode in which it was carried out, the alterations have been in many respects satisfactory, still the new departure has been great, and the change has amounted, as I said, in many ways to an absolute revolution. A gulf seems to lie between the thoughts and habits of 1832 and 1884. My Lords, what was it that that Reform Bill did? I am ready to acknowledge that many improvements were made, and many abuses removed by that measure; but the Act also made changes which were unnecessarily destructive and sweeping, and fraught with unexhausted consequences of peril to the Constitution.

It swept away the small boroughs. Those small boroughs gave admission to Parliament to some of the grandest names that English Parliamentary history records. Both the Pitts, Fox, Burke, Romilly, Canning, Brougham, Palmerston, and other illustrious men, owed their admission to Parliament, their public training, and their fame to the small boroughs. My Lords, more than that, the Reform Act of 1832 swept away the representation of classes, to enthrone in its place the principle of numbers. It destroyed the representation of Colonial interests. I am no admirer of the late Mr. Hume; but he, at least, saw the disadvantage of the change that was impending, and, if I remember rightly, he moved that the Colonies should be represented by a considerable number of Members. That proposal was, I believe, approved and supported by the Conservative Party; but, unfortunately, it was overborne by the prevailing influences of the hour. Again, the Reform Act of 1832 destroyed the representation of labour as such. We have the authority of no less a person than Mr. Gladstone in saying that, between the years 1832 and 1867, labour was less represented than it had been previously to 1832. And what was the consequence? By sweeping away that direct representation of labour, you paved the way to its virtual supremacy. Once more, to sum up some of the indirect changes effected by the Reform Act of 1832, it unquestionably lowered the intellectual level of the House of Commons; it weakened the connection which had hitherto subsisted between your Lordships' House and that Assembly, and which is necessary for the practical working of the Constitution; and it led in time to an increase of expense in elections, and to much electoral corruption. Lastly, from that time forward to this, in an ever-increasing ratio, there has been an absence of that continuous policy without which no country can be long maintained in the stability of its institutions at home, or the maintenance of its honour abroad.

My Lords, all this may sound like heresy in the ears of men who have grown up in the belief that the Reform Act of 1832 was an unqualified blessing; but those who will study history dispassionately cannot doubt the facts which I have now stated. Much of it was predicted at the time; and, though the predictions were not immediately verified, they were for the most part only delayed for a time in their operation.

Such, from my point of view, and briefly summed up, were some of the results of the Reform Act of 1832. Let me now touch on the next Reform measure which has become law—I mean the Reform Act of 1867. My Lords, I was connected with the circumstances of that measure, and I have no wish to dwell more than a few minutes upon it. I can only, after the experience of 16 years, re-affirm generally the opinion which I then entertained. I think, on the one hand, that it went too far, and, on the other hand, not far enough. On the one hand, the safeguards with which it was originally surrounded disappeared in the course of discussion; on the other, the redistribution of electoral power—and my opinion was quoted last night by a noble Lord opposite on this point—was incommensurate with the franchise. The result has been, as I ventured to predict, and as many foresaw, violent oscillations in the electoral body, which has again led to a gusty temper in the people, a lower view of duty in candidates and Members, and, lastly, a ten- dency,which I greatly deplore, to convert the Members of the House of Commons into delegates. I adhere to the opinion I then expressed; but I think that the moral which the Reform Act of 1867, as well as that of 1832, teaches is this—that, as far as possible, in touching the Constitution we should endeavour to avoid rapid and violent shocks; that we should make changes as gradual as may be; that we should seek, as far as practicable, to provide for the representation of those diverse feelings and classes which have been and are the strength of this country; and that we should endeavour to make the House of Commons, as nearly as may be, a true mirror of the people in all its varied interests.

I come now to the Bill before the House. In a great measure that Bill is the outcome of the two previous Acts. The noble Earl who moved the second reading last night (the Earl of Kimberley) used an epithet which struck me much. He described the measure before your Lordships as a "simple" measure. Now, my Lords, if you look back to 1832, you will find that Lord John Russell and his contemporaries argued the question, at all events, on high and varied grounds of Constitutional right; if you look back to 1867 you will find that there were great Constitutional arguments used by such men as Mr. Mill, by my noble Friend opposite (Viscount Sherbrooke), who was then Mr. Lowe, by Mr. Disraeli, to say nothing of those who were Members of your Lordships' House. Whatever was the ultimate result, neither of those measures was argued or recommended on the ground of simplicity. But this Bill is eulogized because it is a simple measure. Anyone can propose a simple measure, and experience proves that simple measures are generally singularly barren of ideas. All history concurs in this—that an uniform franchise means a class Government; and that a class Government—I do not care what it may be, whether rich or poor, whether philosophers or uneducated, means a selfish Government. A great German historian has truly said that there are only two histories worth studying—the history of Rome, and the history of England. And why? Because they alone give that mixed government and Constitutional play of Parties which en- sure the representation of the different classes and interests of a great country. Such is my view. I cannot hope that it is a very popular one; but I shall not for that reason disavow it. I have seen too much of public life to induce me to change my opinion on such grounds; nor is anything in public life worth it. But, on the other hand, I am prepared, in view of present circumstances, to accept the facts, to recognize the new position in which we are placed, and, so far as a private individual can, to work loyally under the new conditions. To me there is nothing more admirable in the whole of Sir Robert Peel's life than the course he took after the Reform Act of 1832. He had been no party to that Act. He disapproved it; he foresaw its consequences; but he frankly embraced the new order of things, and endeavoured, to the best of his power, to give effect to it.

Now, my Lords, what does this all mean with regard to the present Bill? It means this—that we accept and are ready to work loyally under the changed condition of things. It means that we are prepared to accept an extension of the franchise—I say emphatically, a large extension of the franchise, based on household suffrage; provided only it is accompanied by such a redistribution of electoral power as will give full play to all the different opinions in the country, will secure a fair representation of the different interests and classes, will in one word save all that is best in the Constitution at home and abroad.

Let me test the Bill, and see whether it at all answers to these conditions. What does this Bill do, and what does it not do? On the one hand it gives a large extension of the franchise; on the other it omits certain other things that seem to me to be essential.

It extends the suffrage largely, and I have no quarrel with it on that point. That which we give let us give frankly and ungrudgingly. On former occasions we have had the doctrine of finality paraded before us; and those who desired to be deceived have been cheated with the idea of it. But there is no such doctrine proclaimed now-a-days; and I congratulate the House that, throughout this debate, we have not gone through the hypocrisy of talking of it. At the same time, a household franchise in counties and boroughs ought, I think, to give in the eyes of all reasonable people a certain resting-place, which, in logic and in practice, should not be disturbed. I was always unable to understand how the distinction between the boroughs and the counties could be permanently tenable, and I foresaw that the time must come when the two would be equalized. I am, therefore, prepared to accept the basis of household franchise. It is a suffrage which will enfranchise the semi-urban artizan on the one hand, and the agricultural labourer on the other. I have seen enough of the artizans of the great towns to view their admission to the franchise with different eyes to those with which I should have viewed it 20 years ago. I recognize in them their many high qualities; and I trust that, as years roll on, they will become more and more the strong pillars of the Constitution; whilst, as regards the agricultural labourers, I have lived far too much among them, have known them in their homes intimately and even affectionately, have appreciated them, and believed that they would have done anything for me, as I would have done anything for them, to withhold from them that which is given to their urban and semi-urban neighbours. Therefore, I would give to them what is to be given with a free and ungrudging hand.

I have, then, no contention in regard to the extension of the suffrage which this Bill proposes. But I must refer to some points of omission in it. And, first of all, there is the question of Ireland. Your Lordships, I am sure, do not desire to embark on an Irish discussion in connection with this question. I will, therefore, only say this—that, looking at the state of Ireland, and the certain results of this Bill in Ireland, I must felicitate the Government upon what has been well described as "a tremendous act of courage." I have no fault to find with the Irish Party, or with the Irish Gentlemen in the other House on this point. I give them credit for absolute candour. They have told us what they want, and the use they intend to make of this large enfranchisement. Let not then the Government and their supporters hereafter complain of the logical and inevitable result of their action.

So much as regards Ireland, But there is another great omission in the absence of any provision for the representation of minorities. Should not minorities be represented? Whatever may be said as to fractional minorities, it is manifestly unjust that large minorities should be absolutely excluded from representation. In old and rough days, a rough rule was accepted, and the inequalities in one place were balanced by inequalities in another. But with modern ideas, and with immense constituencies, this is impossible. I say it is impossible, because it is essentially unjust, and so long as their exclusion from the rights of the Constitution remains, so long will there be a sense of injustice that will eat into men's hearts and prevent all acquiescence in any electoral system. Take, for instance, a constituency of 30,000 electors. On what conceivable principle are two Members to be elected for it, in order to represent 15,100 of its electors, and to misrepresent 14,900? Yet that is the case that may, and will, and does happen. It is flagrant and indefensible injustice.

But there is another, and a scarcely less important question, which, though the Government hope to evade and ignore it now, must before long be faced, and fairly considered—I mean the question of female suffrage. I am bound to say for myself that when you enfranchise more than 2,000,000 of persons, some of them confessedly illiterate, ignorant, and of very questionable character, I cannot understand on what ground, either of logic or justice, you propose to exclude a small section of persons, who by intelligence, by the possession of property, and by every conceivable quality of fitness, are entitled to exorcise the right of voting. Women take part in municipal and school board elections; why should they not take part in Parliamentary elections? Nor can I understand the morality of retaining on the Register men who are guilty of almost every crime, who thieve, rob, break every law, who beat and ill-treat their wives, and yet refuse the suffrage to duly qualified women.

Lastly, I come to that which has been the principal subject of discussion—I mean the omission of all provision for a redistribution of electoral power. People talk about redistribution till it passes into a mere catch-word, of the meaning of which they have no very definite idea; and it is suggested that we are complaining of a mere shadow, when we say that we cannot accept the Franchise Bill without one for redistribution. I will therefore give your Lordships a pithy definition of this new contrivance for separating the extension of the franchise from redistribution. It was described by the present Secretary of State for the Colonies (the Earl of Derby) in 1866, as— The impolicy, the inconvenience, the confusion, and the mischief which are involved … in the mode of procedure which the Government has thought fit to adopt on this question,"—(3 Hansard, [182] 1163.) My Lords, these are hard words; but they are not harder than the case justifies; and the action of the Government will lead in 1884, as it would have led in 1867, to impolicy, confusion, and public mischief for many reasons; but, perhaps, especially for this—that it is unfair to Parliament, unfair to the old voters, and unfair to the new voters. It is unfair to Parliament because, as it was argued last night, a measure of enfranchisement might be passed by one Parliament; whilst the redistribution of seats, which is really an essential part of it, might not be passed by it at all, or it is conceivable, even by the next, or the next Parliament. It is unfair to the old voters for this reason—that, in many cases, you are swamping and virtually disfranchising them by the admission of the new voters in overwhelming numbers; and I maintain it is even unfair to the new voters, because so far as the agricultural labourers are concerned, in many of the constituencies they will be enormously outnumbered by the new semi-urban voters. What you give with one hand you take away with the other. It has been calculated that the agricultural labourers to be enfranchised by this Bill will number about 500,000, whilst the semi-urban voters will represent about 1,500,000.

Now, my Lords, we are invited to this act of faith, not in the promises and engagements of one man, but of a mixed and changing body. The Government give a pledge to do a certain thing next year, provided they are still in Office, provided circumstances allow them to do so, and provided, also, that they do not change their minds. My Lords, I might quote my noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies at great length upon this subject; and, if I did so, it would not be to convict him of inconsistency, but because I sincerely believe that his speech was, as indeed it was at the time described to be, unanswered and unanswerable; and though I doubt not that he believes he can draw a distinction between the circumstances of the time when his speech was made and the present day, I think that any impartial mind will feel that the propositions he has laid down are too broad and clear to be separated from the present state of things. In 1866 he said— What I contend for is simply this—that we ought to know what the constituencies are to be as regards their nature and extent before we settle the question of who is to vote in these constituencies. I contend that we ought to settle the outlines before we proceed to fill in the details. That seems to me to be the rational, the logical, the natural mode of proceeding. We can, I believe, adopt the course which I recommend without incurring any loss of time; but if we act upon the proposal of the Government, we shall, from first to last, be working in the dark. I believe that we ought to take the question of the redistribution of seats before we take the question of an extension of the franchise."—(Ibid., [183] 2061.) Let me go a step further, and say that Parliament has, up to the present time, insisted upon the union of redistribution with the extension of the franchise, and that that has been the emphatic advice of all Leaders of the Liberal Party. But we cannot suppose that they have urged this so strongly, unless they had some distinct and cogent reason. And who were those men of mark and leading? Mr. Gladstone laid down the opinion in very plain terms, both in 1859 and again in 1866; and Mr. Bright, in 1859, went so far as to say— I consider these differences of opinion on the subject are of trifling importance when compared with the question of the distribution of seats and Members. This is the vital point in the coming Bill, and unless it be well watched, you may get any amount of suffrage, and yet find, after all, that you have lost the substance and are playing merely with the shadow of popular representation. Lord Hartington, in 1875, said pretty nearly the same thing. He argued strongly that Reform should be accompanied with redistribution; for "redistribution," he said, "is far the most difficult part of any Reform scheme." I say, then, that I am prepared to accept the reasoning of all these distinguished men, and that what they affirmed in 1856, 1859, 1866, and 1875, I endorse in 1884.

Well, then, my Lords, we have come, it seems to me, to a comparatively narrow question. I, for one, agree to the extension of the franchise, and on a very large scale; but I desire to see it fair and full and complete; for I cannot understand how anyone can advocate a separation of these two inseparable parts of a common measure, any more than a man who undertakes to build a house can build it without plans or specifications. But there are other parts of this question to which I must allude. I am not, my Lords, going to refer to the political Billingsgate—it is somewhat difficult to find a word to express what I mean—which has been used out-of-doors, and by men, I am sorry to say, whose education and literary studies should have offered some guarantee against coarseness and violence of language. If those are the weapons which our opponents seek to employ they are welcome to a monopoly of them. Nor shall I discuss the advice of candid friends, or the alarms of timid politicians, who see a lion in every path; nor shall I repeat the threats that have been used. They seem to me to be monotonous, stupid, and rather ridiculous, and they form a part of that wire-pulling system for the manufacture of political agitation as it is now understood in America and in this country. But I must say one word as to what we are sometimes told to expect—namely, the anger of the country, if we adopt the course proposed by my noble and learned Friend (Earl Cairns). But I ask, what is there in this Bill, which can reasonably conjure up against us the anger of the country? I can quite understand the anger of political clubs and partizans; but what is it we propose to do? We ask the Government to set their whole scheme before us, before we vote on it; we should be even content for some fair compromise between their views and ours; but, failing that, we ask the country for their decision on this subject. That is the sum and substance of the whole thing; it may be a question of the House of Lords as opposed to Her Majesty's Government; it may be a question of this House being in opposition to the House of Commons for a time, but it cannot possibly be a question of the House of Lords in opposition to the country, for it is to the judgment of the country in the last resort that we look. We appeal to Caesar.

But what are some of the reasons which we have heard against the course proposed by my noble and learned Friend? In the first place we have been told that there has been a "mandate," as it is the fashion in Frenchified English to call the opinion of the people at the polls, given for this Bill at the last General Election. I entirely deny that; and, unless I am greatly mistaken, the case stands thus—It is true that the question of the franchise was discussed in certain constituencies; but those constituencies were comparatively few in number, and, except for some brief and occasional allusion to the subject, the Leaders of the Liberal Party said little or nothing. This does not look like a "mandate." Again, it is said that, by taking the course which is now proposed, we are creating delay, and, possibly, obstruction. That argument of delay is not a good one in the mouths of a Government who have been spendthrift of public time, and who have notoriously mismanaged Public Business. But this, at all events, is clear, that, under any circumstances, a Dissolution of Parliament is comparatively near at hand; and if we ask you to dissolve, we ask you simply to anticipate the position in which you must be placed in little more than a twelvemonth. Your Lordships were intreated last night, from the other side of the House, not to expose yourselves to misunderstanding on this subject. My Lords, none are so blind as those who will not see; none are so deaf as those who will not hear. You may be misrepresented, my Lords; but, after the explicit declarations which have been made here, you certainly cannot be misunderstood. My noble Friend (the Earl of Jersey), whose conscientious convictions are so strong that whatever he says I am satisfied is due simply to his sense of duty, whose allegiance to his Party no man will doubt, asked us why we should not read this Bill a second time, and then amend it in Committee. I will tell my noble Friend that that would come to pretty much the same thing, in the long run, as the course which is now proposed. If your Lordships are accused now of throwing out the Bill, you would then, if the Bill were amended in Committee, be accused of mutilating it and killing it indirectly. In this, as in other things, you must look facts in the face, and dare to be brave in the exercise of the functions and duties which the Constitution has imposed upon you. The real truth of the matter is this—and there is not a soul who does not know it—the case is in the hands of the Government. They have the power, even now, at the eleventh hour, if they have the will, to settle this matter in conformity with what is just and expedient, and in conformity also with that which I believe to be the almost unanimous feeling of this House. Why, then, should there be this disinclination on the part of the Government—which boasts itself to be a popular Government, led by a popular Minister, the favourite of the people—why should there be this disinclination to go back to the source of their original strength, to the fount of their earlier inspiration? Why do they falter and doubt? Have they changed their opinions in this as in so many other matters? What can be the cause of this disinclination? Is it the memory of Mid Lothian, or of the Transvaal, or of Egypt? The Prime Minister is fond of quotations from Shakespeare. May I recommend him this one— My conscience hath a thousand several tongues, And every tongue brings in a several tale, And every tale condemns me. Or is it the recollection of recent elections that holds Her Majesty's Government back — the recollection of West Somersetshire, South Hampshire, Mid Surrey, North Warwickshire?

But I do not desire to enter into Party politics and recriminations. I desire rather to consider this matter on the broadest ground. I was in this House, and I remember well the declaration that was made by the Earl of Derby, when he characterized the Bill of 1867 as a leap in the dark; and I do not desire that we should make another such change under conditions of confessed ignorance and darkness. I am not myself opposed to democracy. That word, of course, means a great many different things. Ancient democracy differs largely from modern democracy; the democracy of France differs largely from the democracy of the United States, as the democracy of to-day differs from what was considered the democracy of 1832. But I have always believed that democracy was in some form an integral part of the English Constitution. Sir Robert Walpole, on one occasion, described it as a Republic which was crowned with a Monarchy; and, if that description was at all true in his day, it is certainly correct now. But though I desire always to see democracy a part of the Constitution, I desire to see it a part only; I do not desire to see it any more than I wish to see any other class absolute and paramount. And let me say that it depends, in my opinion, very much on the gentlemen of England so to form and guide our English democracy as to keep the Constitution within its right limits; whilst equally it depends upon that democracy, whether they will have the self-control to submit to those checks which are necessary for them as well as for others. There are two alternatives before us, if we would avoid that godless and lawless chaos which is said sometimes to threaten Europe. Either you must retain your mixed government, and submit to the checks which the Constitution imposes, or you must accept the certain alternative of the decline of your popular Chamber, you must see it become year by year less and less a true mirror and representation of the people, less and less competent to perform the high functions which are given to it to discharge. What the consequences of that decline will be I do not pause to inquire; but I have heard Americans, whose opinions I value—men who, by high, legal, and political lore, and by the experience of their own Constitution, have learnt to value the Constitution of England—I have heard them say how they watched with the deepest anxiety and interest the progress of public affairs here, and how they marvelled that we could dream of throwing away the great heirlooms which have been bequeathed to us by earlier and wiser generations.

We have many great problems which have to be solved; and noble Lords were not far wrong last night, when they said that we were passing through a great political change—a change, it seems to me, as great as any recorded in English history, as great as the Reformation, the Civil War, the Revolution of 1688, and the Reform Bill of 1832. Measures such as these swell the volume and increase the difficulties of the change. Such measures are, indeed, serious; but what appears to me far more serious is the temper in which they are proposed and debated. I would, then, venture to appeal not only to the Members of this House, or of the other House of Parliament, but to all educated and intelligent men who love their country and desire its prosperity, to rise superior to the influences of the time, and to recognize that that prosperity depends, in a great measure, upon the maintenance of the old landmarks, and that the greater the power which is intrusted to the hands of the people, the greater the necessity on their part to submit to chocks and to exercise self-control. The clock which I see before me, and which marks the hours of our debates, would not be a better clock if all its elaborate contrivances, its springs, and chains, and wheels were removed; it would not go truer, if it went twice as fast. The Prime Minister, the other night, gave a warning to this House. He bade this House "beware," and he used the ominous word "quarrel." It was an unfortunate, and an unprovoked attack; but it is a pity that the right hon. Gentleman stopped in his quotation where he did. The full words of the poet might have been a caution to him as well as to those whom he challenged. The right hon. Gentleman said— Beware Of entrance to a quarrel; but, being in, Bear't that th' opposed may beware of thee. But Shakespeare's teaching is generally not quarrelsome; and had the right hon. Gentleman quoted the next two lines, the poet's text would have borne a very different interpretation— Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice; Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment. That, indeed, would have been worthy counsel for a man placed in the high and responsible position of the Prime Minister of England to give. I grieve that precipitation, or violence, or Party spirit should have triumphed over better and more generous impulses. But the House of Lords cannot consent to legislate under a menace. I hold it for certain, and I say it deliberately, that it would be better for us to cease to be, in the fulness of our traditions, and with unstained honour, than to pretend to exercise functions of which we are the trustees, but which we cannot fulfil. These are the feelings with which I shall vote for the Amendment of my noble and learned Friend, not to reject this Bill, not to shelve it, not for long to delay it, but to insure for it that full, fair, and comprehensive treatment which it has been confessed by men of all Parties to deserve, and upon which I believe that the prosperity and security of the Realm depend.


My Lords, I always listen to any remarks that fall from my noble Friend who has just sat down with interest and respect, because they are eloquent, thoughtful, and manifestly sincere. But I do not think it necessary to follow him through a considerable portion of the speech to which we have just listened, through the pathetic funeral oration which he delivered over the grave of the rotten boroughs which were put an end to in 1832, nor through what seemed to me the rather despondent and pessimistic remarks which he offered on the subject of popular representation and on the character of modern democracy. My noble Friend ranged over a variety of topics. He mentioned the subject of Ireland, but only to tell us that he agreed with the course which we pursued. He mentioned the representation of minorities and the question of female suffrage, both, no doubt, important topics, and very well deserving the consideration of the House, but topics which are not brought before us on the Amendment of the noble and learned Earl. My noble Friend laid down doctrines so sound on many points that I could wish he had followed them up by his vote. But it is a more agreeable duty to me to agree with my noble Friend than to find fault with him, and I do agree with him in one thing. My Lords, whatever may be the result of this debate, whatever conclusion we come to, one thing at least is both remarkable and satisfactory. We have discussed a great question of Constitutional Reform; a question of who are to be the supreme depositaries of power—for it is that; a question of adding 2,000,000 to an electoral body of 3,000,000; and on the principle at issue—so far as one can judge from the speeches that have been delivered—no difference exists. The noble and learned Earl raises no objection to an increase. It is quite true his Amendment speaks only in vague terms of a well-considered scheme, &c.; but when the Mover of a hostile Amendment declares that he is ready to concur in a scheme for extending the franchise, provided that it satisfies other conditions which he insists on, he, in effect, yields the point as to an identical franchise for town and country. Nobody has suggested—nobody is likely to suggest—any alternative proposal. It is, I think, universally admitted that if you shift the limits of the present county franchise you must place it on a level with that of the towns. A considerable difference between them cannot be kept up if there is to be any large extension of the county franchise; a small distinction between them would not be worth maintaining. Moreover, in no one of the speeches which we have heard has there been any disposition shown to represent the rural voter as unfit to exercise the same privilege as the voter in the town. I lay some stress on that, partly because I think it is to the credit of noble Lords opposite that they recognize the necessities of the case, partly because I think the very absence of any wide divergence of principle between us makes it more undesirable—more unwise, if I may venture to say so—for them to plunge into a conflict by which they can only lose, for the sake of doing themselves a little later, if they succeed, something very like what they want to hinder us from doing now. There is nothing in it new or unforeseen; ever since 1867 it has been felt by men of all Parties that it would be necessary at an early date to do something like that which we propose to do now. My Lords, lean well understand that in 1832 there should have been many men of intelligence who were prepared to run a great risk rather than submit to the Reform then proposed; it did, undoubtedly, involve some risk, and I believe that hardly any man at that time thought that the Bill which was then passed would create so little change in our national life as it has done. I can also understand the apprehension which was entertained with regard to the Bill of 1867, because that Bill gave for the first time to the wage-earning class that which they had never before possessed — a numerical preponderance in the electoral body. But when you admit that the franchise must be further extended—for that is what this Amendment does—when you know that its further extension must involve the identity of franchise between town and country, which is the principle of this Bill, I should scarcely have thought that it was worth while to provoke what may be a violent collision between this House and the majority of the nation merely in order that, in making a change which is acknowledged to be inevitable, you should adopt one method and order of procedure rather than another. My Lords, I know it is said—"We are not setting ourselves in opposition to the expressed will of the people; we only wish to know what that will is. We do not believe that it is represented in the present House of Commons, and we wish the whole question submitted to the electors." My Lords, I shall not for a moment deny the right—the full and perfect right—of the majority of this House to take that course, if they choose. I do not see how it is to be disputed; but as to the wisdom of taking that course I have—I will not say doubts—I have a stronger opinion than in courtesy I should care here to express. My Lords, it has already been said, but it will bear saying again, that the public will not enter into the refinement of this debate. The public does not appreciate nice distinctions. It is very well to say, and I dare say it is said earnestly and sincerely—"We are not opposing Reform; we are only opposing a particular scheme which we consider incomplete." But do you think the constituencies will see it in that light? Grant that it is a misrepresentation to call us enemies to Reform; is it wise voluntarily to take up a position in which misrepresentation of that kind is inevitable? No doubt, no one who has heard or read the debate here will be likely to suppose that you object to the extended franchise; but do you suppose that the classes who have power—the present electors or those who are to be electors—read long debates? Not they. If anybody tells them that the Opposition Leaders have said they were not fit to be trusted with a vote, they will swallow it to a man. They do not go by words. All they will know about it is that the House of Lords has thrown out the Bill which was to give them votes, and all your reasons and qualifications will go for nothing. My Lords, I have heard it said that to refer to these popular judgments or prejudices is to menace your House. I do not admit it. Certainly, I have no such idea. But I do not think it is menacing a man when you tell him that a storm is coming, and that he had better not stay out-of-doors if he wishes to keep dry; and I do not think it is menacing your House if I tell you of the popular inference which will be drawn from your vote. For, my Lords, one cannot help asking the question which Mr. Cobden asked at the time of the Crimean War—"What next? And next? "You throw out this Bill. Perhaps it is offered you again. In that case you cannot yield without acknowledging that your former resistance was a mistake, and that you are giving way merely to pressure from outside. If you still resist, you will have your wish a little sooner or later—you will have a Dissolution; but you purchase that advantage, whatever its value may be, at a heavy cost to yourselves. For just at the moment when popular feeling is most important, you will have supplemented the cry for reform of the House of Commons—which is already popular enough, and will be against you—by that which I am afraid will be a still more popular cry—the cry for reform of the House of Lords. I am not saying that that demand is wise, just, or reasonable; I only say it is almost certain to be made. My Lords, I know it is urged, and I confess I have some sympathy with the feelings of those who urge it—"Why should Members of the House of Lords be expected to sacrifice their personal opinions of what is best for the public more than Members of the other House, or than electors who are not in Parliament?" I answer, it is the penalty we pay for the very considerable privileges which we enjoy. A Member of the House of Commons can take the Chiltern Hundreds and retire, or he can go to his constituency and take his chance of being turned out if he disagrees with them. In any case, he cannot for long set himself against public opinion. Either he carries it with him, or he is swept aside by it. But we are in an entirely different position. We are a permanent Body; we cannot retire; we must give our votes, "Aye" or "No," on every question of public importance that comes before us; and as I suppose that nobody here would claim for the 500 or 600 families who are represented in this House the right of permanently controlling and vetoing popular action, it follows that we must study as best we can and act upon these indications of public opinion which satisfy us that the country has made up its mind. [Cheers.] I think I understand that cheer. Noble Lords opposite say—"That is all that we propose to do now." Well, if among noble Lords opposite, or anywhere else, there really is a belief that public opinion is not made up on this question, if they expect to be supported in their resistance by any considerable popular force, I can only express my humble hope that the awakening from that delusion—for delusion it is—may not be a rougher one than any of us here desire. Reference has been made to recent elections; but there is no doubt that in 1880 the constituencies had made up their minds, and I have seen no reason to believe that they have changed them since. As I have already said, I do not dispute the rights of this House. We have very large theoretical powers which we hold on the unwritten condition of not exercising them to the full. Is it for our interest to strain these powers? Grant, as I do, that they are undoubtedly ours, still that proves nothing as to the use to be made of them. An English landlord has the unquestioned legal right to turn out every tenant on his estate; but if many landlords exercised that right to the full, there would very soon be an agitation to limit their power. And if this House were to do all that it has a Constitutional right to do—well, I decline to contemplate so improbable and so unpleasant a hypothesis—but I think I know what would follow. Then it is said—"Do you mean that we are to do nothing? Are we to be content with registering the decrees of the House of Commons?" No; I do not say any such thing. I believe that in 99 cases out of 100 the revising power of this House is exercised in a manner in which the public, whether it agrees with the particular issues or not, at least acquiesces. But there is just the remaining one case in which the public will not acquiesce. You recognized that in the case of the Irish Church Bill, the Irish Land Bill, the Arrears Bill, all of them, no doubt, disliked and disapproved by a majority of this House; but all of them passed. Why should there be any shame in doing again what you did on those occasions? My Lords, the plea for refusing to consider this Bill is not, I presume, the mere abstract one that it is incomplete; but it rests on the apprehension, which noble Lords no doubt are sincere in entertaining, that if they pass this Bill there will not be leisure to deal with a Redistribution Bill before the time when the new voters will have acquired their rights. Well, is that altogether a reasonable apprehension? There are 18 months before us—that is, one ordinary Session and two autumns available if necessary. Will anyone really say that a Redistribution Bill—to the extent to which such a Bill is urgent—cannot be discussed and carried in that time? I say "to the extent," because where redistribution of seats is in question I suppose we have no right to talk of finality. That is a large question, and finality in such a matter probably means nothing short of equal electoral districts with arrangements for revising them after every few years; there is no other plan that can be final in a country where towns grow as they do here, and where population shifts. But I do not suppose that any man imagines that a change of that magnitude is likely at present. Short of that the readjustment of seats to population is a question of degree; and all that is really and urgently necessary is to divide those enormous, unwieldy, and unworkable constituencies which will be created by the admission of new voters. Surely no one contends that that is too great an undertaking for Parliament to accomplish in 18 months. But then it is doubted whether we, the Government, will take up the question, or whether, if we do, we can settle it; and then it is argued that you will have the new electors voting in the old constituencies, and you will have a constituent body such as nobody intended to create. Well, I will speak frankly on that point. I should regard such a result as inconvenient and unfortunate, as tending to produce confusion and disturbance in our political arrangements. I have no more doubt on that point than I had when a similar question arose 18 years ago. But is there any serious danger of that state of things being brought about? Who has an interest in creating it? No Party can be sure of gaining by it. No Party can be sure that it will not lose. Cer- tainly it is not we, who have every reason to be satisfied in a Party point of view with the constituencies as they are, who would desire to modify them in this temporary and provisional fashion. What have we got to gain by putting off redistribution? Are we specially interested in the retention of small boroughs? Speaking generally, any fair scheme of redistribution must take away power from the South and give power to the industrial communities of the North. Are they specially likely to be Conservative in the sense in which the word is used on the Benches opposite? I do not wish to argue this as a Party matter; but it is notorious that, as a rule, it is the Liberal and not the Conservative candidate who inscribes a large scheme of redistribution on his programme. And why are you to suppose that, contrary to our interest, contrary to the feeling of our supporters, we should put unnecessary delays in the way of completing the work on which we are engaged? It would merely be an inconvenience to everybody, and no conceivable gain to us. But, my Lords, while I say it would be an inconvenience, while I think we ought to do all we can to avoid it, I do not see that it would produce that desperate and revolutionary state of things which the noble Earl described. He said that a Parliament so elected, with the new voters in the old constituencies, would be a convention Parliament. What does that mean? A Parliament not regularly constituted. Why not? Would it not have been elected in due course? Suppose an English Reform Bill had passed, and the Irish and Scotch Bills had fallen through, and that a Dissolution occurred in that state of things, would the noble Earl call that a convention Parliament? The argument really will not hold water. According to the noble Earl, a Parliament wholly reformed is all regular and right; a Parliament left as it is—wholly unreformod—that is all right too; but a Parliament partly reformed and partly left alone, oh, that is an anomaly not to be endured. I admit that it is inconvenient, that it is undesirable, to have a Dissolution with the new franchise and without redistributed seats; but that is all, and, put it at the worst, it is a temporary inconvenience. I cannot understand what those noble Lords mean who say that a Parliament with extended franchise and with the present constituencies would be radical and revolutionary; but if the constituencies are, to some extent, equalized, the danger will be corrected. I will not attempt to decide how far the new voters will be urban, and how far rural. In the part of the country I know best, in the Northern manufacturing districts, the two are so mixed up together that it would be utterly hopeless to try and separate them. But I think my noble Friend is almost alone in the opinion which he expressed just now, that of those who are to be enfranchised a majority will not be agricultural labourers. My Lords, the noble and learned Earl who spoke last night was good enough to say he believes we are sincere in our intention to bring in a Redistribution Bill, but that accidents may prevent us from carrying it. Well, that is true; but you might say the same thing when the Chancellor of the Exchequer makes up his Budget for the year. He calculates what the expenses of the year are likely to be; but a war or some great disaster might intervene and entirely upset his calculations. Are you not to have a Budget once a-year? You cannot estimate with absolute certainty for 12 months. You must be content with something less than absolute certainty in this, as in most human affairs. The noble and learned Earl found fault with us because, having the intention of bringing in a Bill of this kind, and knowing the people desired it, we did not undertake it for four years. I do not know that that is now very material; we might plead the state of Ireland and other troubles as a reason; but I think most people will understand that, inasmuch as a change in the franchise implies an early Dissolution, it was not the business of a Government which had the full support of the present Parliament, and which might reasonably hope to get much useful work out of it, to take steps which should bring it prematurely to an end. The noble and learned Earl used one argument, which, I think, he must feel, on consideration, had more in it of rhetoric than of reason. He said—"Suppose a new Parliament elected by the new voters in the old constituencies, are you sure that you will ever get redistribution at all? Will not the Members object to disturb an arrangement which has given them their seats?" Well, that is reasonable, if you suppose them absolute masters of the situation; but is there no such thing as public opinion? Does he think the public would not care to move in the matter, and that the Members would be left free to do as they pleased? I am surprised that the noble and learned Earl could believe in such a theory, and I do not think that many will be found to agree with him. But for the pressure of public opinion, how many of the great measures of the last 0 years would have been passed? You are pressing forward redistribution because you believe the public wants it, and in the same breath the noble and learned Earl tells us that the public will not move in the matter—that the provisional constituencies created by the Franchise Bill will become permanent because nobody cares to disturb them. If anybody likes to believe that they may. Then the noble Earl referred to a debate in 1874, in which Mr. Disraeli objected to deal with the franchise, on the Motion of Mr. Trevelyan, because he said the two subjects ought not to be separated; and he also added that the subject was not one that could be dealt with by a private Member. Well, the latter objection does not apply now. And as to not dealing with one of these subjects alone, we do not intend to do it. There is no question as to the necessity of dealing with both; the only question is how and when. Then I am asked—"If you acknowledge the inconvenience of the one Bill coming into operation without the other, why not make statutory provision against it?" Well, in the first place, you do not ask us to do that. I am not now prepared to say whether any arrangement of the kind was ever possible, or would have satisfied the majority of your Lordships; but if the only object of the Amendment was to secure delay, surely the reasonable course would have been to read this Bill a second time, thereby affirming its principle, and then to endeavour to insert the provision which you want in Committee. The noble Earl (the Earl of Carnarvon) who spoke last, said that one course was to kill the Bill outright, and the other was to do it indirectly. But surely an alteration of a Bill in Committee is one thing; a hostile Amendment on the second reading is quite another. And noble Lords opposite, if their Amendment were rejected, would still be free to take what course they thought best at a later stage. It may be contended that no arrangement of the kind could be made in view of the feeling which exists in "another place." Possibly; but, at any rate, this House, by taking the course I have indicated, would have put itself in a sounder position, and would have avoided a good deal of misrepresentation to which it will now be exposed. But, my Lords, I go further; and I contend that no legal security of that kind can be given—however much I, for one, should desire to give it—without creating great and obvious inconvenience. You cannot keep the new voters, whose rights you have sanctioned, indefinitely out of the exercise of these rights. Suppose a Redistribution Bill rejected again and again, year after year, can you suspend the exercise of a new franchise indefinitely? My Lords, it would be absolutely new in politics, as far as I know, to give power to this House, or to either House of Parliament, to nullify retrospectively an Act which both Houses have passed by throwing out a Bill which deals with a different, though, no doubt, a closely connected subject. It would be, moreover, a direct inducement held out to those who dislike the Franchise Bill on its own account to neutralize it by throwing out a Redistribution Bill. It would be increasing the difficulties which surround that latter Bill, which are great enough already. And it would be, when all is said and done, a proviso easily evaded if evasion were desired, for you cannot define in a Statute what will constitute a Redistribution Bill for the purposes of that Statute, and a Bill dealing with three or four boroughs would be enough to satisfy legal requirements, while obviously it would be illusory as a measure of redistribution. My Lords, the complaint of noble Lords opposite, which, no doubt, has some foundation, is this—that Parliament will be compelled to pass the Redistribution Bill within definite limits of time. Well, I admit the objection. It is not a desirable thing to do if you can help it. But we proposed it, as the least inconvenient, as the least evil in a matter where no course that you can take is entirely free from objection. If you bring in the two Bills simultaneously, you insure their failure. If you hang up the one till the other is disposed of, you are open to the objections which I have just mentioned. The only alternative left is to allow an ample but a definite time before the expiration of which the work of redistribution must be completed. That is what we have done; and the question I ask is, whether it is in the public interest so much the worst course of the three that we should be justified in wasting two years by the rejection of this Bill, with the consequence that the new voters, who might have entered on their privileges with the feeling that those privileges had been freely conceded, will now come to vote under the impression that this House, and the interests which it represents, have done everything in their power to delay their admission? I read with great pleasure a paragraph in yesterday's papers showing the feeling that exists among Conservatives. There is an extract from a speech made by Mr. Ecroyd, addressing a meeting of Conservatives at Wigan, in which that Gentleman said that he had long been in favour of the assimilation of the county and borough franchise, and the extension of the boundaries of populous districts; and although he should have preferred that the Bill which had passed through the House of Commons by large majorities had been accompanied by a measure of redistribution, he did not think that any delay should be interposed by the House of Lords to prevent its becoming the law of the land. That is the opinion of a respected Member of the Conservative Party, and I suspect a good many others are of the same mind. We know there is not absolute unanimity among the Opposition in this House—and it does not look as if there were in the other. My Lords, I am very reluctant when a great public issue is being tried to take up even a few minutes of your time with merely personal matters. I have always avoided personal explanations, and should do so now; but I have been so often referred to in this discussion in reference to the part which I took on a somewhat similar question in 1866 that it would be hardly respectful to your Lordships if I were not to notice the matter. My Lords, it is argued that the position which I took up in 1866 is identical with that which the noble and learned Earl holds now. Well, if upon a question of procedure, a question not of what shall be done, but of what is the most convenient method of doing it, I had altered my opinion in the course of 18 years, I hope I should have sense enough not to be ashamed to say so. Or, if retaining my own opinion unchanged, I had found, as I should have found, that everybody who wanted the Bill to pass was against me, and that only those were for me who might reasonably be supposed not to object to its being lost, I think that any man so circumstanced might fairly and honourably waive his own view in favour of that which he found was taken by everyone else on his own side. Again, my Lords, it is quite open to me to contend, as I do contend, that, under the conditions introduced by this Bill, the questions of franchise and redistribution are far less closely connected than they were in 1866. I think that can be easily shown. So long as you have a different franchise for the borough and the county the number of persons enfranchised—which is the very essence of the franchise question—depends largely on what you do in the way of creating or destroying boroughs. Every borough created calls so many new voters into existence. Every borough disfranchised suppresses a certain number of voters actually existing. You might enlarge the existing constituencies by a third or a fourth, without altering the legal qualifications of voters, merely by extending the boundaries of boroughs, and putting large ones in the place of small. But when once you have established an identical franchise for county and borough, the whole state of the case is changed. No shifting of boundaries will add a single voter or take away one. Redistribution will always remain a question of immense importance, but it will not be connected with the question of franchise as closely as before. But, my Lords, there is a much simpler way of looking at the matter, and one which, to my mind, is conclusive. The question is not what you may think most desirable ideally, but what it is possible to do. I do not deny that I should like very well to see the whole subject dealt with in one Bill; that is the most complete and logical and satisfactory way of proceeding. But what chance is there of its being adopted? My Lords, the House of Commons in 1884 is not what it was in 1866. At that earlier date, Obstruction as an organized system was unknown; no Party or set of men existed who habitually endeavoured to defeat all legislation by delay. We all know what is the case now. Even standing alone, the Franchise Bill did not reach this House till the end of June. What chance would it have had with a Redistribution Bill tacked on to it, and the possibility of raising a debate on every single borough dealt with? It may be said—"You could have carried a complete Bill if you had sacrificed every other measure, and stuck to that alone." Well, I do not believe it. I do not believe that human nature would have endured—not even Parliamentary nature, which is very enduring—confinement to a single subject night after night through an entire Session; At any rate, those who know the House of Commons best believe it to have been impossible; and as the Cabinet could and can have no possible object in view, except to bring forward its scheme in the shape which was most likely to be acceptable, I think you may credit us with having acted solely on a conviction of the necessities of the situation; and I do not think you would accept the ingenious conclusion of a noble Earl who spoke last night, who feared there might not be time to deal with redistribution, and, by way of saving time, proposed that we should start by undoing what had been done, begin again from the beginning, and, in order to make sure of the House of Commons having leisure to attend to redistribution, throw on it the additional burden of passing a Franchise Bill again. The art how not to do it never was brought to greater perfection than in that proposal. My Lords, I have detained you longer than I had intended. I have stated my reasons for thinking the decision to which this House will come unfortunate and unwise. Only one last word. If by any chance your decision were to alter, if you did give way on this question, there would be in every Radical and Democratic Club in the country, not exultation, but long faces and lamentations over an opportunity missed; if, on the contrary, you persevere, as probably you will, you will have given a victory to your bitterest enemies, and I believe that what you do will be regretted by the sincerest friends of this House.


said, their Lordships had hoped to hear some answer to his own celebrated speech in 1866 from the noble Earl who had just sat down; but, although he had asked to be excused while making personal remarks, he had been unable to reply to that unanswerable speech. Ever since his (Lord Brabourne's) entry into Parliament he had never given a vote which was so disagreeable to himself as the vote which he would give that evening. He should have refrained from voting altogether if he had not felt it was the duty of every Member of either branch of the Legislature when such an important measure as the present was before it not to shrink from the honest expression of the opinion which he deliberately held. Ever since he had been a Member of Parliament he had supported the extension of the franchise in the direction contemplated by this Bill. He had no fear of the result of this extension; he was not afraid of his fellow-countrymen, and in the general discretion with which they would exercise that franchise. He believed the wider the basis upon which the Constitution of the country rested the safer their institutions would be, and the more secure would be the future of the country. But to enunciate abstract principles was one thing; it was a different thing to put them to practical application. He ventured to say that he could show to their Lordships, if it was required, that it was not only possible, but that it was reaonable and natural, that the men who earnestly desired the extension of the franchise might yet be profoundly dissatisfied at the manner in which it had been presented to Parliament this year. The Government had told their Lordships that there was not time to produce the Franchise and the Redistribution Bills together, and that they preferred to take them in consecutive Sessions; but if the question of Parliamentary Reform was such a great and pressing question, as he did not doubt but it was, surely it was the duty of a Government to take it up, to press it forward, postponing and putting aside every other attempt at legislation in order to bring the question to a satisfactory conclusion. Would not the time which the Government had given to the consideration of the London Government Bill, the Merchant Shipping Bill, and half-a-hundred other measures have been better devoted to a discussion of a perfect scheme of Parliamentary Reform? In the year 1867 the Liberal Party had not raised the cry that the Conservative Government were not going far enough in extending the franchise; but their great complaint was of the miserably inadequate measure of redistribution which was then proposed; and he (Lord Brabourne) well remembered attending a meeting at the house of the present Prime Minister, at which this was the great topic of discourse. He appealed to their Lordships to judge whether the men who desired a complete system of Parliamentary Reform would not have chosen to take the most difficult part first, and to have dealt with the question of the redistribution of seats before the extension of the franchise. And let their Lordships mark what would have been the result. The people who were about to be enfranchised would have been willing to wait until this preliminary step had been taken, which was so obviously fair and reasonable—the knowledge that they were so waiting would have made it the object of both political Parties to settle the redistribution scheme so that no unnecessary delay in the enfranchisement should be imputed to them, and as soon as it had been settled neither Party would have had any interest in delay. But he maintained that if this Bill were passed it would be the direct interest of the Liberal Party to avoid and postpone the question of redistribution of seats. ["No!"] A noble Lord cried "No!" but what was the fact? If this Franchise Bill passed without redistribution, the voters in the unrepresented towns, where the strength of the Liberal Party was supposed to lie, would, in the event of a General Election, in many counties practically return the Members who were now returned by the more Conservative dwellers in county districts. This was the answer to the remark of the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll), that if this Bill passed, the large county constituencies would rebel against any attempt to give an undue share of Members to the large towns. They would have no power to rebel or protest, for they would be swamped by the unrepresented towns. They talked of being desirous of enfranchising the agricultural labourer; but, in these cases, if landlord, tenant, and labourer all combined, they would be swamped by the urban element, and unless there was a fair redistribution and a grouping of large towns, their measure of enfranchisement would practically disfranchise large classes and important interests in the community. Now, let their Lordships calmly consider the enormous importance of the issue before them. They could not deal with this franchise question alone. It was impossible to treat it as if it was only a question of giving political rights to those who did not at present possess them. They could not give those rights, simply and solely, without seriously affecting the rights of others. They were dealing with the whole Constitution of the country, which was made up of checks and balances of compromises and counterpoises, the object of which was that all classes of the community should share political power, but that no one class should possess it in an absolutely preponderating degree. The inevitable progress of events had led them to a point at which a preponderating power was likely to be given to one class, and at such a time it specially behoved them to review their whole representative system, so that their fair representation might be secured to those classes who might be prejudicially affected by so large an addition to the electoral roll. Moreover, there were other points intimately connected with this question. There was the question of the representation of minorities. Then there was that question which could no longer be put aside with a joke or a sneer—the question of the admission to the franchise of duly qualified persons of the other sex. There was also the most important question whether 100,000 men cooped up within the walls of a town were to be entitled to greater representation than a similar number scattered over a wider area; and also whether, in the division of constituencies, population alone was to be taken as the basis of division, or whether possession of property and contribution to the taxation of the country were to be taken into account. But upon all these points the opinions of the Government were unknown, and their Lordships were quite in the dark as to what the real nature of the redistribution scheme was to be. It was quite true that his noble Friend (The Earl of Kimberley) had vehemently declared last night that he was opposed to electoral districts and a mere population basis, and that, sooner than consent to this, he would prefer that the Bill and the Government should perish together. But, on the other hand, they had the declaration of another Member of the Government (Mr. Chamberlain) that he was in favour of electoral districts and payment of Members; and they could only ask themselves—"Under which King?" The condition of the Government reminded him (Lord Brabourne) of the anecdote of a gentleman who was looking at some plate supposed to be silver, but who, after a close inspection, turned away in disgust, exclaiming—"By Jove, its only Brummagem after all!" So it was that they heard moderate sentiments from his noble Friend, from the Marquess of Hartington and others who were supposed to be quiet, safe, honest Whigs; but when they closely scrutinized the measures of the Government, they found themselves obliged to exclaim—"By Jove, only Brummagem, after all!" It was the noisy section of the supporters of the Government who had the most influence, and who and what were they? In the early part of the present year, he had read in the columns of The Daily News a report of the meeting of the Radical Conference, composed of delegates from a number of Provincial towns. They passed a resolution condemning private ownership in land as "unjust in principle and inconsistent with the welfare of the community," and their chairman stated that— Among the many reforms which Radicals now had to agitate for until they got them, were the disestablishment of the Church, the House of Lords, and at last the Monarchy. And their resolution upon the franchise question was in favour of— The complete and equal enfranchisement of the people, regardless of sex, and representation upon the basis of population. Well, but the persons who composed this meeting were an important section of the supporters of the Government. The whole value of the franchise depended upon the manner in which it was to be distributed. It was true that if they were to pass this Bill without any provision for redistribution, the Government said they would bring forward and pass a Redistribution Bill next year. He believed in the sincerity of the Govern- ment in promising to bring in a Redistribution Bill next Session. He did not doubt their intention, but he doubted their power to carry out their intention. And if the Government did bring in a Redistribution Bill, he feared that the Radical Party would make the Government introduce such a Bill that this House would have to choose between passing a Bill of which it did not approve, or having a General Election without any Redistribution Bill at all. In fact, Parliament would legislate with its hands tied behind its back, and when full and fair consideration would be an impossibility. And now, having found fault with the proceedings of the Government, he (Lord Brabourne) would venture, with all diffidence, to criticize the tactics of the Opposition. It appeared to him that it was altogether a mistake to move an Amendment to the Bill at this stage, as it might be misinterpreted as meaning an opposition to the principle of the Bill. Say what they would, the old Parliamentary practice was that upon the second reading of a Bill you voted upon its principle; and however much you declared that you approved that principle, people in the country would look at the actual fact that you voted against the second reading. It would, in his opinion, have been far better to have assented to the second reading, and moved a suspending Amendment in Committee, which the Government might have accepted or rejected upon their responsibility. He bitterly felt having to say "No" to the enfranchisement of 2,000,000 persons; but he must either say "No," or vote for that which he considered a great evil—namely, a Franchise Bill unaccompanied by redistribution. He did not, of course, say that the Government wished for such a result; but it was certainly the case that the course taken by the Government was the one most calculated to bring the two Houses of Parliament into collision. It was the Government who had placed their Lordships in the dilemma in which they now found themselves, and upon them must rest the responsibility of the consequences. The Government might have done what they pleased in the other House, where they had a majority so faithful to the Prime Minister that it never went into the Lobby against him, except when his own vote was in one Lobby, and his wishes in the other. As a young Member of that House, he did not feel called upon to refer to the derogatory language that had been used towards their Lordships; but he felt that there was no one who heard him who would not agree with him that it would be far better for that House to be swept off the face of the earth than that they should shrink from giving a conscientious opinion on any question which came before them. Gladly would he have voted for the second reading of the Bill; still more glad would he have been if it had passed nem con. But he felt compelled, under the circumstances, very reluctantly, to vote in favour of the Amendment. The question now would be whether or no the country could be humbugged into the belief that their Lordships wished to refuse the franchise to the unenfranchised. Every effort would be made to misrepresent them; the Radical Clubs, of which the Colonial Secretary (the Earl of Derby) seemed to stand so much in awe, might denounce them; but he believed that in the long run the calm, good sense of the country would recognize the true position of affairs, and that a course which was undoubtedly a straightforward and honest course would eventually be proved to be one not altogether of political unwisdom.


I cannot but regret the extreme anguish which the noble Lord (Lord Brabourne) described himself as feeling at being obliged on this occasion to vote in a different Lobby from Her Majesty's Government. When I remember how frequently this has, unfortunately, been the case, I can only look on the noble Lord's coronet as a crown of thorns; because, ever since he has had a seat in this House, it has been his consistent and miserable fate to vote against Her Majesty's Government. The noble Lord said he could not bear to shut the door on these 2,000,000 men whom the Bill proposes to enfranchise; but I can comfort him by the assurance that he will not shut the door upon them; because whatever the vote of this evening may be—and I regret, from certain ominous signs on the Benches opposite, that it will not be favourable to the cause I espouse—the result of to-night's Division will not be to reject, but only to retard, the great measure of emancipation now before your Lordships. ["Hear, hear!"]

I am glad to hear the cheers that come from the Benches opposite, and I will ask noble Lords to consider whether the retarding of a measure of this sort, in the manner in which it is sought to retard it, is altogether the most just and practicable method of proceeding? As far as I can gather from the debate, there is no difference of opinion whatever as to the merits of the Bill which is before your Lordships; and what seems to be the unfortunate part of the case is, that, having arrived at this unanimous opinion, your Lordships are equally resolved, by a powerful majority, to reject the Bill. Outside this House there are a great many rude, honest, simple, ignorant people who are unable, and will be unable, to understand how that state of things has arisen. We on this side do not regard this measure merely as one of expediency; we regard it as a measure of expediency, it is true, but we regard it as a measure of justice as well—a long-deferred measure of high justice to give this boon to 2,000,000 of our fellow-countrymen. But with us it is not only a question of expediency and justice, it is a question of possibility. I venture to say that anyone who has regarded the state of Business in the House of Commons during the last few years will see that it would have been a matter of impossibility to attempt to pass a Redistribution Bill in connection with the Franchise Bill. The noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies (the Earl of Derby) touched on this point in his able speech to-night, which I venture to say will prove as rich a quarry of argument on this question as noble Lords opposite have found his speech of 1866; and he referred to what some, I believe, call Obstruction, but which I would rather call the delay of debate, in the other House. Every Member whose seat might have been affected by the measure of redistribution would have been able to raise a distinct discussion on the point; so that, in this one measure of redistribution, there would have been opportunities for Obstruction which could not have been resisted. Allow me to go a step further. The matters to be discussed when redistribution is considered, are not merely technical, but Imperial. In any Redistribution Bill to be passed under present circumstances, questions must be raised which touch the root of the administration of the Empire, and which call up almost every question that has been before the House of Commons in the four years we have passed through since the General Election.

There is the case of Ireland. Some maintain that it is over-represented; some maintain that the over-representation is not so great as to make it worth interfering with; some maintain that its distance from London justifies a larger measure of representation for Ireland than is given to other parts of the United Kingdom. But every one of these questions would be raised on the first breath of a measure of redistribution; and, what is more, you will have raised the whole question of justice to Ireland, which has been so predominant a question for the last four years.

Then there is the case of Scotland. The case of Scotland is not so clamant as that of Ireland; but Scotland demands and is entitled to a larger representation; and we may be sure that the flock of faithful sheep who come from Scotland would not be very willing that their claim should be overlooked. And when you come to ask whence the addition to Scotland is to be made, you find yourselves face to face with questions of the most vital importance—questions as to how these Members are to be obtained—whether by addition to the numbers of the House of Commons, or some other way.

Then there are the questions of proportional representation, the question of the representation of minorities — all these are vital to redistribution. The noble and learned Earl opposite (Earl Cairns) enumerated these points much better than I can do; but the strange part of his argument was this — that he has drawn from this enumeration a conclusion the very opposite of that which I draw. He seemed to think that because there were so many difficulties and perplexities, and so many opportunities of interminable discussion, therefore it was necessary that the Redistribution Bill and the Franchise Bill should be brought in together, and free play given to all these disadvantages. There are one or two other points connected with this point of redistribution which the noble and learned Earl has raised. It is said that you are unwilling to make this large addition to the voting power of the country without a large measure of redistribution as well. I will test that by a simple argument. The question of redistribution as a part of this Bill was settled on the Amendment of the noble Lord the Member for North Leicestershire (Lord John Manners) on the second reading of the Bill in the other House. It was then put an end to, finally and for ever, in the House of Commons by a majority of 130. There was no more question after that of redistribution forming part of the Franchise Bill. But at the eleventh hour, at the last stage of the Bill, what did the Front Opposition Bench in the House of Commons do? Led by the right hon. Baronet (Sir Stafford Northcote), supported by the noble Lord (Lord John Manners), they brought forward a proposition, and argued it with all the strength in their power, to add 500,000 voters to the 2,000,000 new voters proposed by the Bill—I mean the women vote—and this, without the slightest provision for redistribution. The question of redistribution was dead and gone; it was on the shelf; it was hung up; but that did not prevent the Front Opposition Bench in the House of Commons from raising this question. The noble and learned Earl further said that, if the Government passed this Bill, they might not, after all, from various circumstances, fulfil their pledge to introduce a measure of redistribution next year. I am sure that was not meant as an insult; but I can conceive no greater insult to a body of men like Her Majesty's Government, than the idea that they are coming here with false professions. I tell noble Lords opposite that should that breach of pledge occur, I would join with them, and half the Members on this side of the House would join with them, in any Vote of Censure they might bring forward for breach of faith.

But the noble and learned Earl felt a panic, lest the scheme of redistribution should be rejected, and a new Parliament should be elected on the new franchise, which would be so satisfied with the present state of things, that it might decline altogether to entertain the question of redistribution. I do not deny that, when one is well off, one is content to leave things alone. That is, perhaps, why noble Lords on the Front Ministerial Bench do not listen to the frantic demands that are made on them to appeal to the country by noble Lords opposite. But the measure to be introduced would not vest entirely on the discretion of Parliament. I think you will find that the great constituencies which are unrepresented will take good care that the question of redistribution is not allowed to slumber. The borough of Wednesbury, with 20,000 electors, returning only one Member, will not be willing that the borough of Portarlington, with 142 electors, should have the same representation. Yorkshire which, with a population of 2,800,000, returns 32 Members, will remember that Huntingdonshire and Cumberland, with a population of 120,000, return six; it will remember that those counties, with not a 20th part of its population, have nearly a fifth of its representation; and it will take care that this anomaly shall not continue. I do not think noble Lords need be under any apprehension on this head. If the places I have mentioned would not take care that redistribution was remembered, the great City of London, with 5,000,000 inhabitants, and the Kingdom of Scotland, from which I come, will equally take care that redistribution is not forgotten. I will only make one further remark on this subject, and it is this—if there were to be an Election under this Bill without redistribution, I am in the happy position which is shared by the noble Earl (the Earl of Dunraven) who spoke last night—I have so much confidence in the great mass of my fellow-countrymen, that I am not in the least afraid of their returning a House which would not be worthy of the British House of Commons. That, however, is a question of individual feeling, and. I shall not say anything further upon it.

The noble and learned Earl (Earl Cairns) and other speakers have reproached the Government, because they represented this to be a pressing matter, and yet did not introduce it four years ago. The answer to that seems to me to be one of the most elementary kind. The present Government were returned to Parliament with a very complete programme of work to be done. Would it have been wise, or possible, on their part to have taken first that part of their programme which alone necessitated a Dissolution?

I go now from redistribution to another great stumbling-block, which has been raised by noble Lords opposite as one reason why they cannot vote for the Bill. They have not stated it publicly in so many words; but they have shown a degree of irritation on the subject, which makes me feel that it has a great deal to do with their attitude. I mean the speech of Mr. Gladstone in moving the third reading of this Bill. I venture to say that I do not think any speech ever delivered in Parliament—and I have heard many speeches very much misunderstood—I do not think any speech has been so completely and absolutely misunderstood as that speech of Mr. Gladstone's. I venture to say that, so far from being meant in the sense in which it has been taken in this House, that speech was meant in a strictly Conservative sense. There is no one who has the privilege and honour of Mr. Gladstone's acquaintance who does not know the essentially Conservative bases on which Mr. Gladstone's political opinions rest—[Laughter]—noble Lords may laugh; but, perhaps, they have not had the same opportunities of knowing that I have—and I venture to say, from what I know of him, and from reading the speech, that that speech was meant not to threaten the House of Lords in the slightest degree, but to prevent a collision between the two Houses, which no statesman, much less a Prime Minister, would ever wish to force. But I take it that the policy of the Government in regard to this matter should be judged, not exclusively with reference to Mr. Gladstone's speech, but as a whole; and I do not think the Government can be accused of any special wish to injure the constitution of this House. No one who was in this House a few weeks ago, when I had the honour of proposing, not a modification of the constitution of this House, not even an external inquiry, but only a Committee of your Lordships' House to inquire into the best means of promoting the efficiency of this House, can forget the conduct of the Government on that occasion. Some of my Leaders on the Front Bench, after vainly seeking for guidance from the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury), left the House before the Division was taken, amidst the acclamations of an enthusiastic, but bewildered Assembly. But there was one noble Earl, a Member of the Government, who had the courage of his opinions, and who, gathering together the scattered apparatus of Government, or what wandering votes he could collect, hurried into the Lobby, not to support the unfortunate Motion which I had the misfortune to bring forward, but to assist in its destruction. Who was that noble Earl? Why, he was the Secretary of State for India (the Earl of Kimberley), who moved the second reading of this Bill last night, in a speech of singular ability; and when noble Lords profess to tremble at the menaces of Mr. Gladstone, they should recollect the great fund of security afforded them by our Front Bench in this House. But, as a matter of fact, these complaints of menace are as old as the hills. I have not had the privilege of a seat in this House so very long; but I never recollect any important question arising that there was not a flutter of this kind amongst your Lordships, and it was said that Mr. Gladstone, or Mr. Bright, or Mr. Somebody Else had said something which would render it impossible for your Lordships to vote according to your consciences or judgments; and that you must exercise a great and wise independence, and show what opinion you have of those reckless Demagogues, and how thoroughly independent you are. That seems to me a sort of independence which springs from reaction; but I venture to think that the highest courage of all is shown, when menaces are offered, by disregarding them, and by taking the course you would have taken if they had never been uttered. It requires, I am told, great courage to fight a duel. I believe it is one of the most disagreeable sensations possible to have to get up at 4 o'clock in the morning to become a target for some impassioned fellow-creature. But it requires much greater courage to refuse to fight that duel; and I confess it is precisely that sort of courage which I should like to see animate the noble Lords opposite when discussing the late speech of the Prime Minister.

These are, absolutely, the only arguments which have been brought forward to support this most abstract Resolution which is now under our consideration. It is not contended by anybody, I think, that this matter was not before the constituencies at the last General Election. In the Mid Lothian speeches, indeed, you will find only one single reference to the county suffrage; but it is an important one. Mr. Gladstone said— The question has been so entirely before the country that it is almost impossible to say anything new about it; but so far as I am concerned, I hope and believe that it will form one of the earliest measures which a new Liberal Government will undertake. And I venture to say, when it comes to the fourth Session of a new Parliament, that the Government have faithfully and earnestly redeemed that pledge. As to the House of Commons, it passed the Bill so unanimously, that it spent a whole afternoon in discussing whether two or three Gentlemen said "No" in the Division on the third reading. And, therefore, considering that the question was so entirely before the country at the last Election; that the present Government had an enormous majority at that Election; and that the Bill comes up to this House with the almost unanimous voice of the House of Commons, I am utterly at a loss to understand the arguments upon which the nobl and learned Earl opposite founds his Resolution.

But there is another very important question — a question which I cannot escape from myself, and which has not yet been raised in this debate. It is this—every Member of this House, who has spoken upon this Bill, has taken it for granted that this House has a perfectly indefeasible right to reject it. I will not deny, for one moment, the abstract, and, if I may so term it, the black-letter right of the House of Lords to reject this Bill; but I do deny that the House of Lords has any moral justification for rejecting this Bill on the second reading. What is our interest in this Bill? We have an interest, as all British subjects have an interest, in this Bill; and, as a part of the Legislature, we have an interest in the good government of the country; but I venture to say that, as regards this present display of our interest in the good government of the country, our position is materially affected by three considerations. The first is this—if we had no voters on the Register like the voters we are preparing to introduce, I should say that there might be some reason for delaying this Bill, from the locus standi of our interest in the good government of the country; but we have hundreds and thousands of tried and tested voters of the same kind as those we wish to in- Therefore, we cannot say that this is a reckless experiment in legislation. In the next place, I think we shall have an arguable case if we were rejecting, instead of delaying, this Bill. In the third place, I believe we should have justification, if we were about to reject it, as being opposed to all Reform, not merely dictating, as we are prepared to do this evening, the exact order and method of procedure in which the House of Commons is to reform its own constitution. What is our interest in this Bill as compared with another important class of Bills which we are not allowed to touch—I mean Money Bills? This House is supposed to represent property; but the House of Commons may pass a legislative measure to-morrow profoundly and injuriously affecting the position and property of every Member of this House; they may pass a graduated Income Tax, or they may mortgage the whole future of this country by an enormous loan; but when a Bill comes up to this House embodying these proposals this House can only bow to it, and accept it. We have what I have called black-letter privileges even on this subject, I believe; but we should not be so foolish as to disinter them. In the year 1860, indeed, there was an appeal made to the right of the House of Lords to reject Money Bills; but I do not think that that is a right which is likely to survive the reception which it met with on that occasion. If that is our impotence in matters so directly affecting us as Representatives of property, what are we to do in a matter which does not concern us at all? This is not a matter of money. This is a matter that does not concern us directly at all. It concerns us only indirectly. It has occupied and it concerns the House of Commons in the most absolute and direct manner. Let me take a parallel case, and then, perhaps, you will understand what is the position of the House of Commons. Suppose we were to pass a Bill to reform ourselves, and, passing it by acclamation, with only two or three dissentients, we sent it down to the House of Commons, and that when it reached the House of Commons it was met by a lengthy Resolution, and was turned out on the second reading—what would be our feelings in regard to the Bill to reform our own procedure? Yet I cannot see any great difference between the case I have mentioned and the case of the House of Lords with regard to this Bill.

You can well meet me with this argument—that the House of Lords, in 1831, did reject the Reform Bill of that day; but that is a fatal precedent. Think what a storm it aroused. Think how near we were to the brink of a revolution. But the cases are not at all parallel. The legislation of 1831 was not the completion of a measure of enfranchisement already partly begun. It was a totally new, almost a revolutionary measure, brought into a House totally unaccustomed to Reform Bills; and it came up to this House as a thing to be duly weighed and considered before it was passed. There is also another essential difference. The House of Lords was then directly represented in the House of Commons by means of pocket boroughs. By that Bill there were 142 seats disfranchised; while the great majority of the Members for those seats were nominated by Members of this House; and, when the House of Lords rejected the Bill of 1831, they were rejecting it not merely on Constitutional grounds, but were defending their own rights of property in these seats. They preserved these seats by their vote in 1831; but, had they continued in that course, they would have lost all that property and a great deal more by the revolution which would have inevitably followed their action. I am not asking you, my Lords, to limit your Prerogative; but, if this House is to be strong, its authority should be founded, not on the letter of the law, but on good sense and on practical considerations. You need not, if you chose, be crowding these Benches at all to-night; we might decide the matter by the wager of single combat; we might depute the noble and learned Earl to support his Amendment, and the noble Earl the Secretary of State for India to oppose it, and keep the noble and learned Earl on the Woolsack to see fair play; you would have a legal quorum and would be within your legal rights, and you might decide the fate of the Bill in that manner; but I ask you if such a proceeding would be satisfactory to the country or yourselves?

You strengthen your Prerogative by narrowing it to what is useful and practical. I do not, in the least, moan to deny your right to do anything with this Bill that you choose. I think an abstract right is a very useful thing to possess; but, surely, it is much more useful if it is associated with some power of carrying it into effect. And this leads me to ask—What is it that you have the power to effect by passing this Resolution, and by what means do you propose to effect it? What is the Archimedean lever by which you propose to disturb the balance of the world? Who is behind you? Are you sure of yourselves? There have been symptoms of weakening even on the Benches opposite. I know that in all human probability you will have a majority. The "Fiery Cross" has been sent out; the army is there—or thereabouts; and I have no doubt, by the time the division is called, the army will appear. The noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll), in the able and eloquent, though somewhat abstract, argument which he addressed to your Lordships last night, made a spirited defence of those whom he termed the country Peers, and drew a picture of them, studying politics in rural retirement, surrounded by an attached peasantry, and, when the tocsin sounded, hurrying from these rustic retreats, redolent of the library and the hayfield, ready to confirm any decision which might be arrived at by the Front Opposition Bench. I do not blame the noble Lords for non-attendance, nor for any disinclination or aversion that they may feel to politics. But it is one of the inherent disadvantages of this House that, whether we like it or not, by an accident of birth we are compelled to take an interest in politics, and that is why the country Peers are summoned to appear in this House on great nights. It does not matter so much what we ourselves think of the country Peers. What we have to consider is, what may be the opinion outside this House as to the character of these votes? When you analyze the large majority, and find that it is composed of those who have not habitually attended this House, do you feel that that is a weapon which you can, with any confidence, employ in a conflict with the great majority of the country, or of the House of Commons?

But what is it that, by the employment of this instrument, good, bad, or indifferent, you hope to gain? You cannot prevent this Bill from passing. In fact, we have had a unanimous expression of a wish from every Peer who has spoken that he was most anxious that it should pass, but that he was under the unfortunate necessity of voting against it. My Lords, you cannot prevent this Bill passing. You cannot even turn out the Government. If anything is certain, the one thing certain is, that by this action you will greatly strengthen Her Majesty's Government. Whatever misfortunes they may have had to encounter, whatever mistakes they may have committed—and there have been something like half-a-dozen Votes of Censure proposed in this Session—you pass a wet sponge over the slate by the Resolution of this evening, and the Government goes to the country—it does not go to the country in the technical sense, but it presents this issue—"Are you prepared to have this measure rejected by the House of Lords?" I am not a Member of the Government; but if I were, I should pray for nothing more earnestly than this—that noble Lords would give the opportunity which you are anxious to give them by your vote this evening.

You cannot even secure that other appeal to the country. I know that the wish is father to the thought; and it has been thought that you could secure that appeal. I saw some not very obscure indications of that in the speech of the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Carnarvon) who led off this afternoon; but you cannot obtain this appeal to the country. It is quite true that we gathered from the cheers of the noble Marquess that there is to be a second rejection of this Bill when it comes before the House again. It is possible that then you may secure this appeal to the country. But are you quite sure of your army with regard to the second rejection? I am not at all sure, after the months that we are about to pass through before this Bill comes up again, that the army will not have melted away. Some will have listened to the dictates of reason; some will be satisfied with one rejection; some will have married wives and bought oxen, and done the other things of which we are told in Scripture. There will be a falling away; and if the Bill is thrown out a second time, it will be by a majority which will not at all strengthen the position of the noble Marquess. The noble Marquess knows himself—nobody better—what it is to lead a storming party to the breach, and find himself alone. There is a sinister sameness in the results of these attacks. I implore him now, before it is too late, to reflect on the character of the army he is to lead. If he relies on the second rejection of this Bill to give him the appeal which he covets—and, as I think, covets in the most mistaken and unfortunate manner—I do not feel quite sure that he is more right in his anticipations than he has been on previous occasions.

My Lords, having considered what you cannot effect, allow me to put before you one or two things that you can effect by your vote. If your vote is uncertain in some respects, it is absolutely certain in other respects. There will be an agitation in this country of a violent and terrible kind. I am not speaking in any sense in the language of menace; I am only predicting the sure and positive results from which I myself recoil. I cannot help noticing the signs we have had of an agitation of a most deplorable nature. It was only the other day that a Friend of mine, a guide and instructor of the youth of this country, went to a public meeting, and said that, unfortunately, only one Member of this House had been hanged in the last two centuries; but he did not know how many deserved to be hanged. He did not explain how this miscarriage of justice had taken place; but he hinted, not obscurely, that capital punishment ought to be the lot of most of us. I quite admit this was a reductio ad absurdum; I do not think the House of Lords is weakened by language of that sort. But that is only the prognostic of an agitation which would be odious and horrible in its character, but which will not be only an attack on individuals, which would not stop at individuals, but would proceed to generalities, and would attack every Member and the foundations of this House. There is one more result which is absolutely certain from an agitation of this kind. You will have, if we may gather from the experience of 1867, not a less, but a more violent measure of Reform forced upon you by the agitation which you are about to encourage. That is the experience of 1866 and 1867; and whether the more violent measure be passed, as on a former occasion, by noble Lords opposite, I venture to predict it would go further, and be wider than the Bill before the House.

There is, however, another consequence of which I implore your Lordships to think. I do not think that trade, or commerce, or agriculture is in the state that their warmest friends could wish. But there is no such certainty as this—that the great disturbance they must suffer from the agitation, of which you may see the beginning, but of which I deny that any noble Lord opposite can see the limit, will be most injurious to them. Let me quote the weighty words of the citizens of London in the year 1831; they bear so much on the present occasion. They besought their Lordships to consider that the majorities by which the House of Commons has pronounced its own reform have been triumphant and overwhelming; that the rejection or the mutilation of a measure thus unanimously welcomed, and already half-assured, must spread universal disappointment and dismay; and as their daily support depends upon the undisturbed prosecution of their industry, they contemplate with unfeigned alarm the possibility of discontent and exasperation to such a degree as would paralyse commerce, deprive the labouring population of employment, and fatally endanger public credit. They therefore respectfully, but earnestly, implore their Lordships to avert these perilous consequences. These words are not one whit less appropriate now than they were in 1831.

And now, I want to ask your Lordships this practical question. Are you thinking most of the interests of your Party, or of the interests of this House? I put aside the question of the country, because I give to noble Lords opposite the fullest credit for doing the best they can in the interests of the country. I ask if you are doing the wisest thing, not with regard to your Party—for I am afraid noble Lords opposite would not take my advice on questions of Party strategy—but whether you are doing the wisest thing with regard to this House? You are placing this House, this ancient Institution, in a position for which it is most unsuited and most unfitted—I mean the risky and unsuitable position of trying to dam a torrent of popular feeling. You may have a thing which is valuable of itself, but you may put it to a very bad use. A connoisseur paid £4,500 the other day for an ancient, elaborate, costly horn. That would be a very bad instrument for poking the fire with. But that is precisely what you are about to do on this occasion. You are using an Institution of the most ancient and most valuable kind to stir up a conflagration of which neither you nor I can pretend to see the limits.

Let me lay another consideration before you. You are about to put yourselves in antagonism with an army as large as that of Xerxes—2,000,000 strong—2,000,000 of persons determined to have this vote—and in the breach to resist these 2,000,000, there is an army about as large as that which defended Thermopylæ. But the army at Thermopylæ had singular advantages which this House has not. It had natural advantages in its fighting ground, which I do not think noble Lords opposite possess, because they are fighting in a plain, without reinforcements, or supports of any kind. You may say, as was said in reference to another military transaction, C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre. But what will be the feeling of this host of 2,000,000 of men whom you are trying to keep out? You cannot substantially retard the enfranchisement which they desire. They will have the vote in 1886, whether you pass this Resolution or not. They consider it a birthright born of the General Election, and the decision of the House of Commons. I am afraid they will not understand your fine discrimination as to votes being valueless without redistribution. I am afraid they will see the fatal flaw which underlay the whole of the noble and learned Earl's ingenious speech. He said—"Oh, it is nothing to get a vote—it is the question of redistribution which is important." But the point is this, not what noble Lords here think as to the value of the vote, but what the 2,000,000 who want the vote think about it, and whether the millions who have the vote already think it absolutely valueless without an ingenious arrangement of redistribution. My Lords, this House is in want of friends. There is no institution in this country which does not want friends at one time or another. You might admit 2,000,000 friends, you insist on admitting 2,000,000 enemies. Now, there are two classes of voters who will be admitted by this Bill. There are the agricultural classes, who have a fair right to look to the Conservative Party as their friends—who have always looked upon the Conservative Party as their friends, and who, I am afraid, will not understand thn action of noble Lords opposite, who appear determined to retard their enjoyment of the franchise. They will consider your action as a sign of mistrust; they will not understand your reluctance to give them the vote. If you reckon on them for the future, you will have some difficulty in explaining how you came to pass an Amendment disappointing them on the present occasion. Then there is the non-agricultural class. Each time those who belong to that class cross the legal line which parts the boroughs from the counties, they will reflect upon the fact that they might have enjoyed a vote if it had not been for the action of your Lordships. So often as they meet voters who live within the magic line, they will say—"There is no difference between us; but we are not voters, while they are; and this stigma is attached to us by the House of Lords." And I venture to ask your Lordships whether it is a blessing or a curse that they will offer upon this House?

I think I have laid before you considerations which cannot be disregarded by any House, however powerful or authoritative it may be. If the people of this country be with you, you are justified in the course you are going to take to-night. If the House of Commons does not represent the people of this country, you are justified in the course you are going to take to-night. If the 3,000,000 of voters who already possess the suffrage are anxious to preserve the artificial legal distinction between the town and the country, then, my Lords, you are justified in the course you are going to take to-night. If the 2,000,000 non-electors who are reckoning upon the promises and the votes of the House of Commons, and upon the practical unanimity with which the Bill has passed, feel that they are not entitled to the vote which you are about to deny them, and are prepared to kiss the rod with which you chastise them, you are justified in the course you are going to take to-night. But, my Lords, is it on such hopes and on such prognostications that you are about to face the storms of popular prejudice and popular indignation? The crisis is grave. We stand by a precipice, if we are not hurrying to it; and I cannot solace myself with any of those honeyed expres- sions about our authority, and our standing in the country, which afford so much consolation to the noble and learned Earl. I see a situation as grave as the unwisdom of a Leader and the misguided strength of a Party in this House are able to produce. And, therefore, I think that, when we consider what we have at stake to-night, we have a right to appeal to the more independent Members of this House. I do not pretend to say that we have at stake to-night the existence of this House, because I do not think so; but we have at stake that without which existence is not valuable or tolerable—the weight and the authority which are given by wise decisions and by sympathy with the nation, that nation for which we legislate, but which governs us. I venture to appeal to the independent Members of this House to pause before they vote for the Amendment of the noble and learned Earl. I was interested in the defence of the Cross Benches which came from the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) who has sat so long during his Parliamentary career on the Front Bench, and I am quite willing to indorse all that he said. But I appeal to these crowded Cross Benches, which are always calling for enlargement—to those who can regard politics without being influenced by mere temporary Party prejudices—I appeal to them to pause before they endorse the action of the noble and learned Earl. My Lords, if I may make another appeal, it will be to those right reverend Prelates who in this House represent a faith, and who preach a gospel which is not merely a message of peace and goodwill to the world, but which is also the highest and the purest conception of democracy yet vouchsafed to mankind. I appeal to them to assist us in giving this great privilege to 2,000,000 of our countrymen, and I appeal to them to preserve this House from the storms and anxieties that we must face if we pass this Resolution. I do not say that I regard this Motion as a wanton one—wanton is too strong a word. I have no right, either from my standing or my age, to use any such expression. But I have the right to ask your Lordships, on every consideration, public, private, and personal, which can influence an ancient and illustrious Senate; in the interests of your Order, of your authority, and of your Party, to pause before you pass a Resolution which may strike a fatal blow at their existence.


said, the noble Earl who spoke last (the Earl of Rosebery) seemed to forget that there were two sides to the House, and that there were independent men—at any rate, he hoped so—on the Government side of the House as well as on the side of the Opposition. He did not know, therefore, why the noble Earl did not appeal to the Benches on the Ministerial side to give an independent vote, as well as to noble Lords on the Opposition Benches. The noble Earl had declared the Bill to be a great measure of justice. He (the Duke of Rutland) should like to ask the noble Earl one question—he had asked them many. If the Bill involved a question of justice, how was it the Government of the Party to which he belonged, though it had a large majority at its back, had allowed the year 1880 to pass, the year 1881, the year 1882, and the year 1883, without urging on Parliament the necessity of taking into consideration this question of justice? One great advantage that had accrued from the debate was that misrepresentation had been gradually cleared away, until now it was admitted that there was not a single noble Lord who was opposed to the extension of the franchise. He had observed that when the whole wage-earning and labouring classes of a country obtained political power the first thing they did was to demand protection for their own industries. The other night the noble Lord the President of the Council (Lord Carlingford) occupied the chair at the Cobden Club dinner. He was much mistaken if the noble Lord did not feel on that occasion that if the Franchise Bill passed, and if the labouring classes were enfranchised, Free Trade would be in jeopardy, and that the industrial classes would insist upon a return to Protection. The noble Lord who presided at the Cobden Club dinner, not knowing what to say, told an anecdote of a Blue Ribbon man who was found drunk excusing himself by saying that although he was a total abstainer he was no bigot—which was more than the Club could say, for it held that it was right while all the nations of Europe were wrong; and the like bigotry was exhibited on this question. His objection to the present Bill was that em- bodied in the Amendment of the noble and learned Earl (Earl Cairns), that it was not accompanied by the safeguard of redistribution. Redistribution was promised them; but what security was there, if their Lordships passed this Bill, that a Redistribution Bill would be passed next year, or the year after; or, even if one were introduced, what security was there that it would be a fair and honest Bill? Neither the Prime Minister nor the noble Earl who moved the second reading of the Bill (the Earl of Kimberley) had given any satisfactory indication of what the redistribution would be. He (the Duke of Rutland) totally and emphatically denied that the Conservative Peers were opposed to the will of the people. They were merely seeking to give the people a means of expressing their will as to the course proposed. Each Party said it had the country with it. Now, which was likely to be right—the Conservatives who wanted to test that point—or the Government who were afraid to do so? Reference had been made to the Conservative tendencies of the Prime Minister; but he was not the whole Cabinet. In a journal supposed to be inspired by one of the leading followers of the Prime Minister, it was stated that— The House of Lords might continue to exist as a House of respectable dummies, just as Gog and Magog were allowed to occupy niches in the Guildhall, and would remain there as curious relics of the past, even though the government of the City were entirely changed. If, however, the Lords declined to accept the position of waxwork figures, and prove themselves more than negatively obstructive, they would have to be melted down and their wax run into another mould. That was from a paper called Truth. He should be sorry to see his noble Friend opposite (the Earl of Rosebery), who was such an ornament to that House, sitting there as a dummy, wrapped in his scarlet robe, and not having the power of speech or action. Why, nothing could be so lamentable. He would much rather see him melted down and his wax running into the gutter. He hoped their Lordships would do what they thought right, regardless of any sarcasms which might be cast upon them. He believed they would almost unanimously decide to give freedom of speech and liberty of action to the electors and the people, who would thus once more have occasion to exclaim— "Thank God we have a House of Lords."


observed, that he was greatly surprised at the tactics which the Party opposite seemed inclined to adopt in reference to this question. The noble and learned Earl (Earl Cairns), who had spoken on the previous day, was very indignant with the Secretary of State for India, because he suggested that there must be something at the back of the Amendment, and that what was really aimed at was neither more nor less than a Dissolution of Parliament. But what said the noble Earl who opened the debate that night? He derided and ridiculed the idea of the anger of the country, and asked why they should fear it if they rejected this Bill? On the contrary, said the noble Earl, they appealed to the verdict of the country and to public opinion. And then he went on to twit Her Majesty's Government with their unwillingness to face a Dissolution. He said it was strange that a popular Government, with a popular Minister at its head, should be unwilling to face the constituencies. He (the Earl of Dalhousie) listened with no little astonishment to such a declaration—he might say such a revelation—after the disclaimer of the noble and learned Earl on the previous night. He should like to ask which of these two views was correct? They could not both be correct, for they were absolutely at variance with each other. If the House was to be logical, if their Lordships really did approve of the extension of the franchise to the counties—which, after all, was the great principle of the Bill—then the proper and natural thing for them to do would be to pass the second reading of the Bill, and so amend it in Committee as to insure that it would not come into operation until a measure of redistribution was passed. He was sure it was a very important matter, at all events from the point of view of noble Lords opposite, that when they were about to enter into a grave conflict with the House of Commons—and, as he thought, with the people of this country—they should take the greatest possible pains to avoid anything like a misunderstanding of their attitude. It would be very unfortunate if the people of the country did not clearly understand the attitude of their Lordships' House; and with the facts which it was proposed that this House shall now place before them, he (the Earl of Dalhousie) must say that he thought it highly improbable that they would interpret the failure of this Bill in the sense in which noble Lords opposite seemed to expect. The noble and learned Earl who moved the Resolution was very emphatic on this point of Parliamentary tactics, for it was nothing more. He observed that he understood it to be said by some people, why was this Bill not amended so as to prevent it coming into operation until a Redistribution Bill was passed; and the noble Earl's answer was, that he did not propose such an Amendment, because it had been already rejected in the House of Commons, and would certainly be refused in their Lordships' House; while, moreover, it would be merely postponing the final issue to a somewhat later date. But even if that were so, would it not be wise for that House to take up a sound, logical, and, so far as was possible, a defensible position on that question. Noble Lords opposite were much amused when the Under Secretary of State for War suggested that they might, possibly, be denounced on the platforms throughout the country. If, however, they rejected, in the manner now proposed, that Bill, which had passed through all its stages in the other House by such large majorities, and which was there read a third time without a dissentient voice, it would be very difficult for any friend of the House of Lords to make a good defence of its action before the country. The statement that the two things—enfranchisement and redistribution—should go together, was in the nature of an abstract proposition. No one disputed the desirableness of combining the two things. It was extremely desirable. The only objection to that course was that it was impossible, and in the progress of the present Bill they had had proof of the utter impossibility of adopting it. The Bill now before the House had occupied 24 nights of prolonged discussion in the other House. It was introduced into the House of Commons in February, and had finally reached their Lordships at the end of June; and did any sane man believe that if redistribution had been tacked on to it, the Bill would have had any chance of reaching that House in the present Session?

Some noble Lords might think that that might be a very good reason for tacking redistribution to the Franchise Bill; but, at all events, no one had ventured to express that view, or anything like it. As to the inconvenience and hardship which might result from the passing of the Bill without redistribution, in the event of a General Election taking place before a measure of redistribution could be passed, he must point out that such inconvenience would only be temporary, and, so far as it might exist, it would only have the effect of pressing forward a Bill which noble Lords opposite professed to be so anxious to obtain. If they passed the present Bill they would give a practical proof to the country of their anxiety to see the franchise given to the counties; and the influence of their Lordships would thus be very much greater in dealing with redistribution than if they summarily rejected the Bill on the second reading. As to the matter of precedents for the course now pursued by the Government, on which many speakers had laid great stress, he thought there were obvious reasons for the Government departing from them. It was said that formerly they had had separate Reform Bills for England, Scotland, and Ireland, each accompanied with its measure of redistribution. Owing to the recent disturbed state of Ireland, it was, he believed, extremely desirable that that country should be treated on precisely the same footing as the other portions of the United Kingdom, and that no ground should be given for the people of Ireland saying that they had not received justice from Parliament. Supposing separate Bills had been introduced dealing with England, Ireland, and Scotland separately, it was not at all impossible that the Bill dealing with Ireland might have fallen through, or have been so amended as to place Ireland at a disadvantage as compared with the subjects of the United Kingdom. He had heard it said, too, that the people of England did not greatly care about the Bill now before the House, and that there had been no strong agitation in its favour such as there was in the year 1832. One reason for that was that the people knew the Government were thoroughly in earnest on the matter, and that they felt confident that the enfranchisement of the rural popu- lation could not be long delayed. It seemed to him absolutely childish to argue that the people of this country did not want the Bill, or that the question was not raised at the time of the last General Election. If there was one domestic measure to which he believed every single Liberal candidate was then pledged it was the extension of the franchise. In the last Parliament the Liberal Party voted as one man in favour of Mr. Trevelyan's Resolution; and how, therefore, the noble Earl who opened the debate that night could say what he had said on this point passed his comprehension. The people knew very well when they elected the present Parliament that the Liberal Party was pledged by its previous action to extend the franchise to the counties. He could see no reason why the people should change their mind in regard to a great Constitutional measure of this kind. He could not for the life of him imagine what could make them deem a measure which they strenuously supported four years ago to be no longer desirable. Again, their Lordships would do well to remember that that particular Bill was one which referred exclusively to the constitution of the House of Commons, and affected the representative rights of the people by whom the other House was elected. Did their Lordships think they were choosing their battle-ground wisely in opposing the second reading of such a Bill as that? Did they think that, in the long run, they would win? If not, were they content that the ancient House of Peers should be made the stalking-horse of the Conservative Party, for that was what it came to? He did not know what might be the end of the question which it seemed noble Lords opposite were determined to raise; but, sitting on the Liberal side of the House, he would say, if they must come in conflict with the House of Commons, let them choose their ground with wisdom; let them take up good vantage ground; let them have some reason to hope that public opinion would support them; at all events, let them have a just and good cause; and then, if they failed, posterity might perhaps shed a tear over the grave of the House of Lords. If they looked back to history, and judged the present situation by the light of history, they would at once perceive how the House of Lords was weakened by its futile re- sistance to the Reform Bill of 1832. Many men of moderate opinions doubted at that time whether the House of Lords should continue to exist; and it took a great many years, under the able guidance of Lord Aberdeen, Lord Lyndhurst, and the Duke of Wellington, with the indirect assistance of Sir Robert Peel, before the House recovered its position in the estimation of the English people. He thought the situation was very similar to the situation of those days, except in one particular—namely, that the spirit of the age was against the House of Lords. If they lest ground now, they might depend upon it that they would never regain it. There was nothing which the extreme Radical Party in the country disliked so much as wise and moderate action on the part of their Lordships' House. He had himself a good many friends and acquaintances among the Radical Party in the House of Commons, and he knew pretty well what they thought on the matter. He knew at that moment that the enemies of that House were positively dancing for joy at the prospect that their Lordships would reject this Bill. Returning to the House on the previous evening he met a few Radical Members in the Lobby; they were in high spirits, and he ventured to inquire the reason of their delight, and also how things were going on in their Lordships' House, from which place they had just come. "Oh," they said, "nothing could be better; the Lords evidently intend rejecting the Bill;" and one of them added—"The rejection of that Bill will make my seat quite safe, and will be a glorious question for us to go to the country upon; we shall return with a large majority. We do not wish to abolish the House of Lords"—this, no doubt, out of consideration for his (the Earl of Dalhousie's) feelings—"but we shall give it a shock from which it will not recover." That was the view of a sensible and able man who represented a very large borough in the county of Lancaster, and who was a fair sample of the bone and sinew of the Radical Party. From their point of view that was a correct view of the situation; and he therefore asked their Lordships was it wise to play into such hands? What did they expect to gain by this Party movement, even if they fought out the battle to the bitter end? All their Lordships could hope to gain would be that at the next General Election the contest would be fought out on the present Register. The Conservative Party might gain a few seats if that occurred. Recent elections seemed to render that contingency not improbable; and he had no doubt they would come back with a somewhat bettor following in the House of Commons than they at present had; but would their Lordships, for a gain so trivial, so insignificant, so fleeting and temporary in its character, consent to do that which would permanently weaken the authority and influence of the House of Lords? That was a "penny wise and a pound foolish" sort of policy. He would ask their Lordships to consider the matter from another point of view. It was admitted on all hands that the present Franchise Bill was a moderate measure. The "one man one vote" principle did not appear in it. If their Lordships rejected the Bill, did they think it likely that they would ever again see so moderate a Reform Bill? It was, he believed, certain, judging from the events which the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) had brought under the notice of the House, that in framing this measure the views of the Radical section of the Government did not prevail; but did they not think it likely that, if a strong agitation were to be got up on the Bill now before their Lordships, and on the action which their Lordships' House was now asked to take in regard to it, the Prime Minister might be compelled to yield to the advanced section of the Liberal Party? Again, as to the question of redistribution, they knew in a general way the lines on which such a measure would proceed if brought in by the present Administration. They knew the views of the Prime Minister on the question, and they heard last night the views of the Secretary of State for India. In any Government where the present Prime Minister was supreme, or in which the noble Earl (the Earl of Kimberley) held Office, it was certain that the Redistribution Bill would be of a moderate character. If, however, the question were relegated to a future Parliament, it was impossible to say how it might be dealt with, or in what circumstances it might be passed. It was very chivalrous, no doubt, to talk about the House of Lords sacrificing its popularity and its influence for the sake of the country; but how did the matter stand if the House of Lords not only sacrificed itself, but sacrificed the country too? Would it be any benefit to the country to be plunged for months into a state of violent agitation and political excitement? He could understand the Radicals thinking so, and he believed most of them did; but he could hardly believe that to be the view of the Party opposite. A struggle of that kind once begun could only have one end in these days, and that not a favourable one for their Lordships. Could noble Lords not see that the course proposed to be taken would weaken the influence of the House, and that their action would necessitate the bringing in of a more drastic measure of Reform than the present Bill? The experience of 1866 threw some light on that part of the question. For his own part, he did not suppose that the influence of their Lordships' House could continue for ever, in the face of an advancing Democracy, to be as great as it was at that moment. He did not know that it was desirable that it should. But he would far rather, for their own sakes, for the sake of their own reputation for statesmanship, moderation, and good sense, that the diminution of that influence took place by the natural process of time and circumstances than that by a great political blunder they should commit political suicide.


, who was very indistinctly heard, said, it was one of the highest duties of that House to perform the functions of a Court of Review. If, after full consideration of this Bill, they found it to be an incomplete measure, wanting just that which had been termed the pith and marrow of any Reform Bill — namely, redistribution — would they be justified in accepting it with all its imperfections? It was quite true that there was a general unanimity as to the principle of extending the franchise; but there was equal unanimity in describing the present Bill as an imperfect measure. The noble Earl who introduced the Bill told the House so, and added that he should have liked to have dealt with redistribution in the same Bill. It was an imperfect Bill, and their Lordships would not be doing right, in accepting it as such. He lived in a part of the country where there were family houses and vast tracts of land acquired by men through their own industry; men who had conferred unspeakable blessings on a vast number of the homes of the working classes. These men were very proud of their position, and proud of their political power; and they would view with alarm the prospect of obliteration and of becoming political nonentities by the enormous and overpowering majority of votes which this simple Bill would pour into numerous constituencies. They were threatened with agitation, and he had no doubt agitation would follow the rejection of this Bill. They were also told that they were running their heads against a wall, and inviting a collision with the other House of Parliament. He was old enough to remember that the two Houses had collided before on several occasions, and no great damage had ensued. He only wished that all collisions were as harmless. They could judge of the means which would be used to stir up agitation on the rejection of this Bill; but their Lordships would be very much mistaken if they thought that all working men were such excitable beings. They would say, if the House of Lords was to be intimidated by threats, what was the use of it? The Government would be reminded of pledges broken and promises laid aside in the interests of Party. They would be reminded of the women occupiers whose case they refused to decide on its merits, and they would hear a good deal about the bloodstained sands of the Soudan, and about their action in Egypt. There was an institution which he desired to see swept away, and that was the institution of Party cries, to which the Liberals clung with a Toryism which was surprising; and they used them with a power which was alarming. In support of their policy they had forgotten entirely both their principles and their pledges. The supporters of the Amendment before the House did not fear agitation, because they knew who would get the worst of the contest. Those who were excited against their Lordships' House should remember from what quarter the Amendment came. The noble and learned Earl who had proposed it did not take his seat in that Chamber as an hereditary privilege. His position was the result of his industry, talent, and honesty; and a proposal coming from a person in such a high position won by such qualities could not fail to impress the country. He admitted that the question before the House bristled with difficulties on all sides, and to some extent with danger, and he did not know what a poor Peer was to do. If the Opposition were to allow the Bill to pass the stage of second reading unchallenged, and were then to propose in Committee an Amendment likely to upset the Bill, they would be charged, and he thought rightly charged, with insincerity. They were told they were to enter into a conflict; but he did not think it would be so alarming as some noble Lords seemed to apprehend. He did not believe their Lordships would get the worst of the fight if it came to that. Let them in that conflict bear in mind the good old English adage—"Honesty is the best policy." Let them take their stand upon their Constitutional right to amend or to refuse ill-considered, imperfect legislation; and depend upon it, the country would give them credit, at any rate, for their motives, and, in his belief, would afford them a very considerable amount of support.


contended that very little risk of harm was involved in the possibility of an Election taking place next year before the introduction of a scheme of redistribution. The risk was that electors in small boroughs would have their voting power reduced to one-fortieth or one-eightieth of its present value. That was not a very cogent argument to adduce against the Bill, when the promises of the Government to introduce a measure of redistribution next Session were borne in mind. Most of the arguments that had come from the other side of the House dealt with the question of representation, and the manner in which the voting power was to be distributed, but had nothing to do with the question of equalization of the county and borough franchise. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Carnarvon) had spoken as if only 500,000 of the 2,000,000 persons to be enfranchised belonged to rural districts, and the remaining 1,500,000 belonged to urban districts. He thought there must be some mistake about those figures; but he admitted that various classes would be introduced by the new Bill, and that—though he believed agricultural labourers were fit to exercise the franchise—if all the new electors had belonged to the agricultural class, or to any other single class, he would have hesitated to vote for the second reading of this Bill. With respect to the statements that a menace had been addressed to the Crown, he did not believe that any menace was intended. There might be a quarrel. But, in the words of Shakespeare, "Thrice is he armed who hath his quarrel just;" and if there was to be a quarrel, those who voted for the second reading of the Bill would, he believed, have justice and right on their side.


, rising with a number of other noble Lords, appealed to be heard, on the ground that he had risen several times before. He quoted extracts from speeches of the Prime Minister to show that the right hon. Gentleman formerly expressed a strong opinion in favour of accompanying a Franchise Bill with a Bill for a redistribution of seats. Having quoted the words of the Prime Minister with reference to the Redistribution Bill promised for next year, he asked whether it did not appear from the description of it given by the right hon. Gentleman himself, that the Bill was to be of the most colossal form? Was it honest, then, on the part of the Prime Minister, in this fifth Session of Parliament, to ask their Lordships to read a fragmentary Bill, simply extending the franchise, which they were all prepared to do, when next year they were to have a Bill covering all the ground to which he had referred? He would only allude to one of the 11 points which Mr. Gladstone had described as, in his opinion, necessary principles of a Redistribution Bill. The Prime Minister took his stand on the principle that Ireland should have the same number of Members as at present. There was no justification for such a proposal, whether wealth, numbers, or any other qualification was taken into account. While giving the Government credit for sincerity in wishing to bring in an enormous Redistribution Bill next year, he would ask whether they had the power to do so; and unless they could show that they had not only the will, but the power, he maintained that their Lordships would not be justified in passing a measure dealing simply with the franchise. He heartily supported the Amendment.


said, the only remarks which he should address to their Lordships would have reference to the position of their Lordships' House with regard to the debate. All that he intended to have said with regard to the Bill had already been eloquently stated. Whatever might be said as to the conclusion at which their Lordships might arrive, this, at all events, would be said—that on the occasion of a great debate like this their Lordships could rise to the position of the debate, and could conduct it in a manner which would compare not unfavourably with similar debates in "another place." Every Member of their Lordships' House, he felt, had a distinct interest in these proceedings and in the position which was taken up by the House; and he wished to say, in simple terms, exactly what he thought with regard to the course which their Lordships might think fit to take. All the speeches that had been delivered had been made in one tone only, and even noble Lords on the Opposition Benches had refrained from opposing the principle of the Bill. Noble Lords opposite, however, although they had spoken in favour of the principle of the Bill, had come to the conclusion to vote against it. There was really no difference between the two sides of the House with reference to the principle of the Bill; and, that being so, the noble and learned Earl who moved the Amendment was facing a great responsibility; he was declining to accept the measure, not because he disliked it on its own merits, but because he refused the guarantees which the Government had given on the subject of redistribution, which guarantees the other House had considered satisfactory. Was not the responsibility which the noble and learned Earl asked their Lordships to assume of a very serious character? Were they who sat in that House to decline to ask that which the country itself would ask—namely, what was the duty of their Lordships' House as a Second Chamber under present circumstances? Bills had often been passed through that House of which the majority of their Lordships had disapproved, and that course had been characterized as a surrender. But to him such conduct bore an entirely different interpretation. It seemed to him that the House on those occasions had shown that it thoroughly understood its position as a Second Chamber. The speech of the Prime Minister on the third reading of the Bill in the other House, with reference to the action of their Lordships, had been commented upon. He frankly said that he wished that speech had never been made; but he was fully persuaded that in making it the only desire of the Prime Minister was that the Bill should not fail to pass their Lordships' House. On the other hand, it would always stand as an instance in which the Prime Minister used language which they must all admit was of a threatening character towards that House, when a measure which was under discussion had not even been submitted to their Lordships. In performing their duty on that occasion, he hoped their Lordships would consider what really was the true interest of the House of Lords. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Carnarvon) had said this matter was in the hands of the Government; but had the Opposition ever approached the Government on that matter? Had any overture been made to his noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs? Was it not an extraordinary thing to say that, whereas they were favourable to the principle of the Bill, yet because in "another place" an offer was refused, therefore they thought it unnecessary to make an offer in that House? If he thought there was the slightest chance of obtaining any support from the House, he would move the adjournment of the debate; because he could not believe that the House was prepared, without further consideration, absolutely to reject the Bill. He believed that there was a spirit of compromise in that House far stronger than they were entitled to suppose from any expression which had been given to such a sentiment; and he could not think that the House would place itself in a false position by refusing, by a large majority, to go into Committee. He could not believe that they would throw out the Bill. He hoped other speakers would take the tone he had adopted. If anyone would move the adjournment of the debate, he should only be too anxious to support that Motion, and he should do it for this reason. Having sat in the House for many years, and having listened attentively to all the great debates there, he never remembered a situation which had appeared to him so difficult to retreat from, and for which there appeared to him so little of excuse.


said, he would not have trespassed upon the House at so late an hour; but he had listened anxiously to all the speeches made on the chance of their affecting the conclusion to which, after anxious thought, he had come as to the vote which it was his duty to give. He well remembered the astonishment with which in "another place," 30 years ago, he heard the author of the Reform Bill say 20 years had elapsed since it was passed, and it was time to consider another. That was in 1852, after the noble Lord had said in 1848 that the machine was working well, and there was no occasion for Reform. After a succession of Bills they were again called upon to reform the Constitution. This constant pulling to pieces of the machine appeared to him very doubtful policy in an ancient Constitution such as theirs, which had given them more liberty, and, upon the whole, greater security for property, than any Constitution which the world had ever seen. But in the wisdom of Parliament it was again desirable to put the machine in the smelting pot. Now, what were the grounds that were given for this change? They had heard from several speakers that this question of the extension of the franchise was prominently before the constituencies of the Kingdom at the General Election, and was then practically decided by them. He ventured absolutely to dispute that fact. He had applied to a most valuable institution, called the Universal Knowledge and Information Office, in Bloomsbury, which had been instituted by Lord Truro, and had obtained some figures which showed that of the Liberals who were returned at the last Election 153 referred to the extension of the franchise, and 73 who were not returned referred to it. Six Conservative candidates who were returned referred to it, and 23 who were not returned referred to it; 28 Home Rulers who were returned referred to it, and 12 who were not returned referred to it. The general result was that less than one-third of the whole Members of the House of Commons referred to the question of electoral Reform. The argument, therefore, entirely failed that the constituencies had already decided the question. It was said that there were anomalies in their system; but their Constitution was the slow growth of ages, and it was full of anomalies which did not interfere with its vigour. The argument that the franchise was a right, and that to withhold it was an injustice, was not used in former days, was not used by Lord John Russell; he spoke of the right to freedom, to security for property, and to be well governed. That sacred doctrine was now abandoned. The justice which Parliament owed to the unenfranchised and to all was that they should have freedom and security, and Parliament had to consider the benefit of the nation at large; still, as the question stood, it was inevitable that this Bill should pass. Without saying anything offensive of the now voters, it was, nevertheless, true that it was not unlikely that they would be made more or less the tools of interested Democratic agitators; and in these days, when Socialistic doctrines were heard of in public meetings, and for the last 14 years had found their place in the measures of the Government of the day, there was great danger in bringing suddenly into the Constitution 2,000,000 of men who would be made the tools of designing agitators. He would, however, vote for the second reading of the Bill, provided a guarantee was given for a redistribution of seats. But the question he had to put that night was whether, feeling as he did much doubt and anxiety as to the result of this measure upon the Constitution, upon liberty, and upon property in this country, it was not his duty to vote for the Amendment of his noble and learned Friend? After much anxious thought the conclusion he had come to was that it was his duty not only not to vote for the Amendment, but to vote for the second reading of the Bill. And why? The Bill was accepted in principle. It was accepted in principle in the other House by both Parties; its principle was accepted in the Amendment of his noble and learned Friend; and the only question was, whether or not the Bill should be accompanied by redistribution? He was bound to say that, having listened to the speech of his noble and learned Friend who moved the Amendment, he felt that the arguments he adduced in favour of redistribution being concurrent with the enfranchisement of the new voters were absolutely unanswerable. But, still, that speech appeared to him wholly to give the go-by to the alternative which remained—namely, that instead of throwing out the Bill they should pass its second reading, and after that do what his noble and learned Friend wished, only in a different way. Let them, either by a clause in the Bill or by an Instruction to the Committee, insure that the Bill would not become an operative Act except in conjunction with a measure for the redistribution of seats. That appeared to him to be a legitimate course, and an alternative for their Lordships to adopt. The Secretary of State for the Colonies had in his speech shadowed out what appeared to be something like holding out the hand to noble Lords opposite to him, and seemed to say that if they only read the Bill a second time they would consider the question so to tie up the measure as that it should not come into operation without redistribution of seats. No doubt, afterwards, the noble Earl, with his nicely-balanced mind, rather whittled away his previous statement; but he was not without hope that if they received any favourable indication from the Conservative Leaders in that House the Government might be inclined to adopt some step of that kind which might get all parties out of a serious difficulty. But he was afraid that there was little chance of the second reading of the Bill being carried. He dreaded the consequences to a certain extent; because he knew that there was likely to arise in the country an agitation, the effect of which would be hurtful in the extreme to the best interests of this country—hurtful also to the Conservative Party, but highly beneficial to Her Majesty's Government. He did not believe it would add to their difficulty in regard to the question of Reform; but under cover of that Reform agitation, and under cover of that attack which, they might depend upon it, was impending over their Lordships' House, the Government would escape, he would not say from censure and condemnation, but from that hostile criticism, which their administration of the affairs of this great country, whether they looked to Ireland, to India, to South Africa, or to Egypt, had brought, or ought to bring, upon them. It was solely in the interests of the Constitution, for the sake of peace in this country, for the sake of their Lordships' House, and, if he might add, in the interests of true Conservatism —because he could not conceive a greater evil happening to the Conservative Party than that it should go forth to those who were about to be enfranchised that their non-enfranchisement was due to the action of that Party—in the interests of true Conservatism he earnestly prayed that a majority of their Lordships might give a second reading to that Bill.


said, he would not presume to repeat any of the arguments which had been nobly urged on both sides of the House in support of the Bill; but as he felt called upon to vote he believed it was his duty to say a word upon the subject. Like others on both sides of the House, he could have wished that redistribution had been included in the measure of enfranchisement; but the arguments which had been stated convinced him that it was at present impossible to prepare a measure of redistribution. He could not think that having to wait for redistribution was a sufficient reason for stopping the progress of that Bill. To stop it now, when it was evident that it might be amended in Committee and a clause inserted to secure redistribution, was tantamount to denying the principle of the Bill. He could not believe that the principle of the Bill was, after all, to be denied. It was conceded long ago; it had been re-affirmed now by all, and this was really only a measure for the expansion of a reform entered into long ago, and one which had become an essential part of the Constitution. Nor could he think it was intended to contradict the principle of the Bill, when the Bill itself was so moderate, when the country was so moderate about it, and when all the speeches made on both sides of the House had also been so moderate. There was one point which he thought ought not to have been introduced into the debate, and that was the expression of a fear of the consequences of this Bill. He could not say that he entered into the feeling of danger either way. He trusted the good sense of the country. The good sense of the country had brought them onward to where they stood at that moment. If it was said there was danger in passing that Bill it could only be meant that a Democracy would be created or reinforced; and, on the other hand, they were told, and told truly, that if they resisted the passing of the measure the Democracy would be provoked. So that whichever course they took Democracy was the spectre, and, as he believed, only a spectre. They were told that the country was Democratic now. If that were so, what would have been the difference in their Constitution, their habits, and in the behaviour of their people, if they had not been as Democratic as they were? Many ideas looked very revolutionary when first introduced, yet turned out to be the best measures which the country worked by. Nay, almost all the best things must necessarily look revolutionary when first introduced. If ours was a Democracy, it was a Democracy leavened with many saving principles. Their Lordships would remember the story of the rising waters of the Alban Lake, and of the overflow constructed for them by the early Kings. That work remained to this day under the name of the Emissario, and afforded a safe outlet for the water. In the same way there might be no danger from the rising of Democracy; but there certainly would be from badly managed banks. However, if the noble and learned Lord (Lord Fitzgerald), who had referred to his Predecessor's perils in 1832, should ever find himself, though for no fault of his own, endangered here, he would promise him a safe conduct over the Thames. He trusted their Lordships would act on the motto of one of their Members, Che sara sara, and let that be which must be. Let them do their duty, and the danger, if there were any, could be met when it came. A noble appeal had been made the night before to the independent Members of the House which it did the heart good to listen to. It was pointed out that that House ought all to consist of independent Members. If that House ought to be free, as it ought, then the Church ought in that House to be the very freest and most independent part of all. The Churchmen present in that House were—it was impressed upon them by their very dress, the very place assigned for their seats—not bound to any Party; they were markedly in the position of independent Members. He would dare to say let there be no thought of danger in this House. Many things which the House held dear depended upon the Church being independent. The Church trusted the people. How could they refrain from desiring to elevate the people by giving to them that principle of independence upon which so much of progress depended? They were their flocks; they had taught them and educated them; and it was their business, and always would be, to elevate those classes by all the means in their power. He knew from converse with them what these people were. They were very much like other people. Let them not heed what agitators said and threatened to do. When working men were Churchmen there were no such Churchmen. At that moment he believed that Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester, and the East End of London were the very best possible witnesses of what the sympathy of the Church for those orders of their people could do. At that moment, in the very stronghold where Mr. Bradlaugh was enshrined in the hearts of so many people—most mistakenly as a kind of unknown idol—there was in that very place another large body of workmen with a Committee of 300 building themselves a church. Other and wiser men of the same class which supported him were erecting a great church of their own; they had listened to the voice of the Church, and knew it to be in sympathy with them. The Church must go on giving heart and sympathy to those people, and he earnestly hoped and prayed that their Lordships might do the same; that they might, with clear minds, allow this second reading to take place, and then set to work with all energy to frame a measure of redistribution which all admitted to be just as necessary and as much desired as enfranchisement.


My Lords, in rising to take part in this great debate, on which I feel that issues of the most momentous character depend, I must plead guilty to a certain sense of unreality which almost depresses and discourages me when I think of the difference between the real question which your Lordships have to determine to-night — the question whether this Bill, enfranchising 2,000,000 of your countrymen, shall be read a second time or not—and the form of the Motion of the noble and learned Earl, which tenders a technical issue, merely as to the proper mode of procedure for the attainment of that object. My Lords, I must endeavour to deal with the Motion of the noble and learned Earl; but in doing so I feel that it is like fencing with a shadow, and that the real enemy is in the background. What are the two propositions contained in the Motion? I will postpone the noble and learned Earl's Preamble. I shall have some words to say about that afterwards; but the two propositions are—first, that there shall be no enfranchisement unless accompanied by redistribution; and, secondly, that if your Lordships can prevent it, there shall be no General Election in the interval between enfranchisement and redistribution. Now, my Lords, it has been said, by more than one speaker, that the arguments advanced for those propositions by the noble and learned Earl, who we all know has advanced them with as much skill as any man could, and the like arguments adduced on a former occasion by the noble Earl (the Earl of Derby), now one of my Colleagues, are unanswerable. I do not care to enter into nice academical discussions about abstract arguments and theories, when we have to do with such practical issues as those on the present occasion; but, to the statement that they are unanswerable, I oppose the statement that they are arguments on which it is impossible to act—impossible politically, impossible in the light of past experience, impossible in present circumstances. My Lords, I recollect when I was at school a preacher in whose annual sermon on certain occasions we were told, among other things, that what is impossible cannot be done. That is the first answer which I make to the first proposition of the noble and learned Earl—the thing cannot be done; and I venture, differing here from him, to say that the whole light of past experience, as well as the force of present circumstances, shows us that it cannot be done. I grant that between the great events of 1831 and 1832 and the circumstances of the present time there are wide and important differences. I only hope and trust that the course which your Lordships may take to-night will not tend to make those differences less than at present they seem to be; but there were circumstances, independent of the great public excitement and public danger which accompanied the first Reform Bill, there were circumstances in the history of that measure which are not without an important bearing upon the question of the practicability of the proposition of the noble and learned Earl. That is the only great measure in which anyone has yet attempted to combine on a large scale, for England only—but I will not dwell upon that—all the branches of this great subject—enfranchisement and redistribution—and what the Secretary of State for the Colonies in 1866 said was as necessary a part of the entire scheme as redistribution itself, the adjustment of boundaries. Well, my Lords, those were times in which, when the House of Commons addressed itself to any great work, it had, at least, the command of its own resources and of its own time. But even then what was the time occupied in getting that great measure through all its difficulties, and what was the nature of those difficulties, and from what source did they arise? It took three Sessions of two Parliaments. The first Bill of 1831 was wrecked by a Motion on one of the points of redistribution. Then, although the country had with one voice returned an immense majority to the new Parliament pledged to vote for the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill—still, to get through that measure with the mass of detail and the number of questions necessarily involved in such an entire scheme, the second Bill took in Committee of the House of Commons 40 days of continuous Sittings, and was not passed until the end of September. It was then sent up to your Lordships' House; and your Lordships, in that Session, and in those circumstances, rejected it by a large majority. There was a Prorogation of one month. It was brought in again; it passed again for several months through the same course in the House of Commons of continued Sittings for a vast number of days, and it came up to the House of Lords for the third time, when it was all but wrecked at the cost of violent revolution. On what point was it almost wrecked? Upon the Amendment of Lord Lyndhurst, which singularly enough not only turned upon the question of redistribution, but upon a proposition virtually the reverse of that now tendered by the noble and learned Earl. Lord Lyndhurst, having before this House a Bill which included all those subjects, made and carried a Motion to postpone the part relating to redistribution until the enfranchising clauses should have been carried, recognizing this principle—a principle unquestionably true and unquestionably practical—that you must know what your franchise is to be as the basis for your redistribution. We know what the sequel of that was. I pass now from that; and I only hope that your Lordships will not unnecessarily, at all events, bring back again those days and the dangers which it took so much to overcome. Then I come to the next step in this history. In 1866 we had a situation somewhat similar. The Government were very well aware that they had no chance of carrying a measure which included both franchise and redistribution; still, desiring to meet as far as they could the plausible and reasonable desire to deal with the whole subject in one view, as far as that might be practicable, they brought in their Bill for the enlargement of the franchise, and afterwards promised also to lay upon the Table a Bill for redistribution. Then Earl Grosvenor moved his well-known Amendment, which bears a strong family likeness to the Amendment on the present occasion—an Amendment which declared that it was inexpedient to discuss the question of the franchise until the House was in possession of the entire scheme of redistribution; and my noble Friend, who was then Lord Stanley, reversing the proposition of Lord Lyndhurst, said the Government had made a mistake, and had commenced at the wrong end, and that the question of redistribution ought to be taken first. Well, my Lords, those were criticisms addressed not to the House of Lords, but to the House of Commons; and the House of Commons was not then willing to extend the franchise, or to pledge itself to an extension of the franchise, unless it could at the same time consider and settle those other points. Earl Grosvenor's Amendment was lost by five; but in Committee an Amendment opposed to the Bill on a question relating to the franchise was moved by Lord Dunkellin, and carried. Now, what is the moral to be drawn from the fate of that measure? That if you mix up those things together, each part of the measure is played off against the other—redistribution against franchise, and franchise against redistribution; and the consequence is that you cannot, under any ordinary political circumstances, extricate yourselves from the difficulties in which you are entangled by the attempt to deal with so large and so complicated a matter, not in its natural order, but all at once. Nothing proved this better than the sequel, which occurred in 1867. One would have thought that when the men came into Office who had supported Earl Grosvenor's Amendment, and had laid down those propositions in the House of Commons, they would have brought forward some "well-considered and complete scheme." Those who remember the singular occurrences of the early part of 1867 can form their own opinion as to whether there was any such scheme. I will not dwell on that point; but it shows how easy it is to lay down rules for other people, which, when you come to act upon them yourself, break down under your feet. At last a Bill was produced in 1867. That Bill, in its progress through the House of Commons, took from the 18th of March to the 22nd of July. As to whether it was a "well-considered measure," I shall say nothing; but certainly it came out of Committee a very different Bill from what it went in. Was it a complete Bill? Did it deal with the question of redistribution in a large and complete way—in the sort of way in which we are now expected to deal with redistribution? It created 38 new seats, without wholly disfranchising any borough, however small; those seats being provided, partly by the appropriation of a few which were previously in abeyance, and partly by taking away one Member from certain constituencies which had before returned two Members. As has been well said, the effect of connecting redistribution with the franchise on that occasion was that the redistribution was of a very trifling and merely temporary character. A good many things have happened since 1867. There were at that time not so many speakers in the House of Commons, not so many Questions were asked, the machinery of legislation moved much more smoothly and easily, there was no systematic "Obstruction." There has since been a general change in the habits of business of the House of Commons, the effect of which is that the Government have now much less command over the time of the House, and less power of obtaining the time necessary for carrying great measures. Under such circumstances, to introduce such a Bill as the noble and learned Earl makes a sine quâ non would be regarded, I be- lieve,by almost every sane man except the noble and learned Earl himself, as inconsistent with a sincere desire to pass it into law. Next Session, as the noble and learned Earl reminded your Lordships, we shall have to consider important questions arising out of the termination of the Prevention of Crime (Ireland) Act. Some time must be allowed for the consideration of Irish affairs. Nobody, I suppose, can be so sanguine as to hope that the affairs of Egypt will then be in such a position as no longer to give any occasion for discussion or debate. Under such circumstances, to insist on doing at once two things which can be done separately is certainly not a very practical proposal. But the matter does not rest there. Even the present Bill of 13 clauses, which are of so reasonable a character that they seem at this moment to receive universal consent, not even your Lordships having bestowed upon them adverse criticism, took from, I think, the 28th of February until the very end of June. The future redistribution ought to be large, and the Prime Minister has not improperly compared it to the measure of 1832 rather than that of 1867; and what possibility would there have been of carrying a measure, including the whole of that great subject, with I suppose boundaries also, if the Government had attempted to do so? It has been suggested that we should re-introduce a Bill next Session made up of the present Franchise Bill with a redistribution scheme added. The franchise part of the scheme would not, it is said, demand any discussion. A greater fallacy could not be put before your Lordships. The very point of this whole discussion is that you refuse to deal with the franchise at all until you know what you are going to do with regard to redistribution. And the Franchise Bill would be rediscussed with special regard to the new light in which it might appear by the side of the Redistribution Bill. Even in the course of this debate, although there has been some appearance of unanimity with regard to the general principle of the extension of the franchise, several noble Lords have shown that there are large questions with regard to the extension of the franchise, on which they have objections in reserve. This is the case with regard to Ireland. It is also the case with regard to the minority vote, and to female suffrage. The House of Commons, in 1866, when the two schemes were presented simultaneously, decided that it would not proceed with one without the other; but the House of Commons has now, by a majority of 130 in a House of between 500 and 600 Members, decided against the proposition now made by the noble and learned Earl. Surely, when the responsible Government feels it impossible to deal in the way proposed with this matter, and when the House of Commons, by that enormous majority, has decided against that way of dealing with it, and that without any reason whatever to suppose that there was any sinister motive behind their decision—is it not too much to say that these propositions which are brought forward in the Motion of the noble and learned Earl belong any longer to the region of practical politics? They appear to me more suited to the Senate of Laputa than to your Lordships' House. I ask, What are the dictates of practical reason in this matter? If you are agreed upon the extension of the franchise, surely the dictates of practical reason are, to do it as best you can, and do it when you can—to effect that extension of the suffrage, upon which you are agreed, without, at the same time, encumbering and embarrassing yourselves with much more intricate and much more difficult questions which will have to be settled afterwards. For I maintain, if you look not to the arguments that have been adduced, but to the good sense of the question—I say the true relations between the two subjects are these—enfranchisement when made will give you the proper basis for redistribution. It will give you, as far as the numerical element goes, the lines on which that redistribution should proceed, it will indicate the natural course of redistribution, and point out, as a guide post, the direction in which you ought to move. And, my Lords, I venture to say that if your Lordships had taken an opposite course to that which you are now invited to take, if you had passed the second reading of this Bill, and had done all that you could, cordially and generously, and with confidence in Parliament and in the people, to pass it into law, you would have stood in a position of enormous advantage, if any Ministry had been so for- getful of its duty as afterwards to propose to you a measure of redistribution framed for selfish or Party purposes upon lines not consistent with just deductions from the enlargement of the franchise. I believe the lines of redistribution would have gone far to settle themselves; or, at all events, had it been otherwise, there would have been no difficulties which might not have been overcome by those who approached their consideration and discussion in a fair and reasonable spirit; and if anyone attempted to deal with them otherwise, then there might have been an opportunity for your Lordships to vindicate your independence and exercise your legitimate power. What do your Lordships think that the 2,000,000 of people who were to be enfranchised by this Bill will say, if it is thrown out? They want the vote; and if you refuse to pass this Bill they will know that you are refusing it to them. I cannot understand what is meant by the argument that, unless the enlargement of the franchise is accompanied by redistribution, you take away from the rural householder what you profess to give him, by diminishing his voting power, or the value of his vote; the idea being, apparently, that in a greatly enlarged constituency some classes might be swamped by others. Is it seriously believed that this is a consequence which makes the rural householders unwilling to be enfranchised without redistribution? Is it not the necessary condition of the franchise, under all circumstances, that everyone shall have his fair share of power, his fair chance of being, at one time or another, in a majority, varying as majorities do from time to time; and not that the constituencies shall, or ever can, be so arranged as to secure that one side or the other shall be in a constant majority? Do noble Lords forget that they have always been living, since the Acts of 1832 and 1867, under the very conditions which they now represent as so unreasonable? We have not got electoral districts; we have got boroughs with only 1,000 voters or less, and we have got constituencies, like Liverpool and Manchester, with 50,000 or 60,000 voters. I grant that you have given them three Members; but, so far from that making each man's voting power greater in those constituencies, it makes it less; because where the mi- nority vote exists you get two Members on one side and one upon the other, and therefore the majority has only one. Next, I come to the point which seems to have most influence upon the minds of noble Lords—namely, the terror of a possible intervening Election. The noble and learned Earl says that a General Election might take place with the old distribution and the new constituencies, and that the ensuing Parliament would not be elected by men intended to be the permanent depositaries of political power. But if an Election by the enlarged constituencies would be an Election by a body who were only the temporary depositaries of power, would not exactly the same thing happen if you were to succeed in forcing a Dissolution now, and in getting an Election by the present restricted constituencies, which you admit ought to be enlarged, and which, therefore, are not intended to be the permanent depositaries of power? You know what is the attitude and what are the views of the Government upon this matter. They think it very desirable that the enlargement of the franchise should be followed by a proper measure of redistribution. They have not withheld from the knowledge either of this House or of the House of Commons their general views as to what the outline and principles of that measure of redistribution should be. They have pledged themselves, as far as men can control events, that if this Bill is passed they will introduce a Redistribution Bill in the coming Session. If your Lordships are satisfied with that measure it will be passed, and there will be an end of all the difficulty. If your Lordships are dissatisfied with it you can throw it out, in which case it will not be our fault that redistribution is postponed; or you may amend it in Committee, and if such a course does not end, as it usually has done, in a reasonable accommodation between the two Houses, your Lordships may not have yourselves to blame. I should be sorry, for the sake of the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition personally, as well as for the sake of the great interests which are in his power, if I thought that he was always going to take up a line of à priori suspicion against the future action of Governments and Parliaments, and to presume, with regard to measures not yet before the House, and not perfected, that they will be unfair, and that this House will not be permitted in Committee to deal reasonably with them, and that they cannot be the subject of reasonable accommodation between the two Houses. I agree that it would be in the power of this House, by rejecting such a Bill, or by insisting on provisions to which the House of Commons could not assent, to make the passing of a Redistribution Bill impossible; and it might happen, through no fault of the Government, that an Election might take place by the enlarged constituency. Even if Parliament were dissolved upon the Franchise Bill, and if this House were then to give way, it does not follow that there might not be another Dissolution before a Redistribution Bill was passed; so that the thing which noble Lords seem so much to fear might even then happen. But I cannot for the life of me see whore the harm would be of a General Election by the enlarged constituency, which, I think, as far as the popular interests are concerned, would be likely to give an impulse to redistribution. It is possible that noble Lords on the Front Opposition Bench may think they have gauged the intentions of the proposed new voters in the existing constituencies, and have come to the conclusion that the result of such an Election would be favourable to the Party now in power. I really think too highly of your Lordships, of your patriotism and public spirit, to believe that you could regard this, even if such calculations could be trusted, as a cause sufficient to induce you to reject a measure of this sort. This brings me to the Preamble of the noble and learned Earl's Amendment, which declares if the House adopts his Resolution that it is prepared— To concur in a well-considered and complete scheme for the extension of the franchise," but "does not think it right to assent to the second reading of a Bill having for its object a fundamental change in the constitution of the electoral body of the United Kingdom, unless accompanied by a Redistribution Bill, and so on. I have heard what the noble and learned Earl said, and what most of those said who followed him. They argued that your Lordships were not asked to dissent from the principle of the Bill, and the noble Earl who opened the debate to-night said that the object was not to reject the Bill, or even to shelve the Bill, or to delay it. My Lords, this is the very first time in the history of either House of Parliament in which either House has been asked, on that stage of a Bill of the highest public importance which properly raises the question of its principle, to attempt to decline the responsibility of rejecting it, or shelving it, or delaying it by bringing forward a Resolution which professes to lean to the object in view, but says that it shall not be accomplished, except upon conditions at the time certainly impossible, and which, considering the difficulties of the subject, and the necessity of satisfying, not your Lordships only, but the House of Commons and the country, may be equally impossible at any future time. You have been told by many speakers who have preceded me in this debate that the country at large will not understand your reasons; and more especially that the 2,000,000 who are to be enfranchised will not understand them. What they will understand is the practical effect of your Lordships' vote. What they will not understand, and will discount pretty freely, are the reasons which are alleged for the Resolution of the noble and learned Earl. We are indebted to the noble and learned Earl in a speech which he made, I believe on the war in Afghanistan, for a phrase which has often since been used, "the policy of the ostrich," a creature which has been supposed to put its eyes under the sand, and to think that no one will see it. The noble and learned Earl has now adopted "the policy of the ostrich." I agree with the noble Earl who opened this night's debate—that "none are so blind as those who will not see;" and I fear that noble Lords on the Opposition side are at present in that condition. There are a great many persons in this country who will regard your Lordships' action with feelings like those described in the well-known lines— Perhaps it was right to dissemble your love, But why did you kick me downstairs? Of course, there are occasions on which your Lordships would have not only a technical, but a moral, right to reject measures brought before you; but is this an occasion on which you should incur that responsibility, an occasion on which you profess to agree with the principle of the Bill submitted to you? Is this an occasion for imperilling the respect, honour, dignity, and estimation of your Lordships' House by rejecting, on grounds relating, not to its own merits, but to the order and time of procedure, as to another distinct though connected subject, a Bill of first-rate importance, which specially concerns the House of Commons, and in regard to which that House has expressed the contrary opinion by enormous majorities? If it were not for the respect which I have for those from whom this Amendment comes, I should be tempted to say that it is very much like gambling away the highest interests of the country. If your Lordships reject this Bill, you will be playing into the hands of those who desire to push beyond moderate limits both franchise and redistribution; you will be introducing that "beginning of strife," which is "as the letting out water;" and you will be giving to violent and extreme men an opportunity of setting class against class, and interest against interest, and of attacking and vilifying Constitutional functions, the authority and the name of your Lordships' House. You will be doing even worse than this. You will be turning many men, otherwise disposed to be moderate, into violent courses: young men especially, on whom much of the future of this country may depend. A noble Earl (Earl Cadogan), and some others on the same side, have said that they set no value at all upon the existence of this House, unless it is free to take such a course as that to which the noble and learned Earl now invites it. That shows how extremes can meet. I am not such a Radical as to agree with that opinion. Those who value, as I do, the just and legitimate position and office of this House will not be delighted to see it brought into jeopardy without a cause. The hereditary constitution of this House can only be justified on the principle that it is independent of mere Party influences, and likely, on important occasions, to exercise a dispassionate judgment, in the interest of public security, and of the stability of our Constitutional system. If it allows its independence to be subordinate to Party discipline, to the commands of Party Leaders, to the Party interests of the moment, then your authority and power are imperilled. In closing, I may perhaps be permitted to make an allusion to what was said by the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) last night with respect to myself. I have had no experience of the Cross Benches; but the noble Duke did not exceed the truth when he described me as being no violent Party man. I have never been that—many people might, perhaps, like me better if I were. It may be due to various causes—to early training, perhaps to some coldness or dulness of temperament, or to the habit of looking at all sides of all questions, formed by my professional life; perhaps, also, to the fact that I have always had the happiness to possess friends among those with whom I did not politically agree. And I am one of those who think that the government of the world and the issues of great events, after all, do not depend wholly or mainly upon politicians or Parliaments. These considerations have always restrained me from intentionally giving to Party what was due to public interests. I cannot now be far from the close of my political life; and whatever the results of this measure, it is probable I shall not long be in a situation to be greatly benefited or injured by them, otherwise than as a citizen. I refer to these considerations because the noble and learned Earl, towards the close of his speech, said— I feel persuaded that you will not be deterred by threats from supporting this Amendment if you approve of it, and that, on the other hand, you will not be provoked, as some might be, by threats to support the Amendment unless it has your entire approval. I may therefore claim the authority of the noble and learned Earl, and I may at the same time fairly ask you to believe that I am not myself acting upon a principle different from that which I endeavour to press upon your Lordships, when I entreat you to rise, upon this occasion, above the level of Party. If this were the last time I could address your Lordships, I should feel bound to appeal to you to separate yourselves from this most ill-advised proceeding, and not to compromise the House by rejecting a measure the principle of which you profess to approve.


My Lords, at this late period of the evening I should not venture to long address to your Lordships any observations which might seem to be a mere repetition of those that have been made before, if it had not been for some of the arguments used by the most rev. Primate (the Archbishop of Canterbury). As it appears to me that the irrelevancy of the reasoning he employed may seem to impute to others who differ from him that they do not agree with him in the excellent sentiments he expressed, it is necessary I should guard myself on that point. In my judgment, the statements of the most rev. Primate were admirable in themselves, but were wholly unconnected with the issue before the House. We, too, have the same admiration for the working men that he has; we, too, believe that with a due and proper consideration for that redistribution, that allotment of power which alone can furnish a fair and true representation of the people, they may, with perfect safety to the great interests of this country, be entrusted with the franchise if they desire to have it. Upon that point there has been no adverse opinion expressed or felt by the Conservative Party. I am in a condition to know what are the opinions of Conservatives, not only within these walls, but in various parts of the country; and there has never been any adverse feeling to the extension of the suffrage on the ground of the presumed incapacity or unfitness of those to whom it has to be extended. Such a feeling has not been avowed—has not been felt by the Conservative Party in this House or out of it. But the issue turns on a totally different question. The question is—How is political power to be so distributed that all classes may receive their due position in the State, that all interests may be respected, that a true mirror of the actual numerical condition of opinions in this country may be produced within the walls of the other House of Parliament, in order that minorities may be able to receive that just power of expressing their opinions, which is essential to the just protection of their interests, and which belongs, as one of its characteristics, to the first idea of true and genuine representation? We must not for a moment forget—although this debate may almost have banished the fact from our minds—that we are asked to assent to a measure which is absolutely unprecedented in the history of this country. Never before has any Government attempted—certainly, never before, at all events, has any Government succeeded in dealing—with the question of the extension of the franchise without dealing at the same time with the question of redistribution; and never before have we been asked to admit a number of new voters within the pale of the Constitution without provision being made for redistribution of the power so conferred upon them. We have been told that such a perfect measure has never been passed; but that is a mere play upon words. What is a perfect measure? What you mean by a perfect measure is one that involves the representation of Scotland and Ireland; but you can deal with the representation of England without affecting the representation of Scotland; and you can deal with the representation of Scotland without affecting that of Ireland; but you cannot settle the extension of the franchise without profoundly affecting in every part of the country the question of the redistribution of seats. Extension of the franchise and redistribution are absolutely bound together, and they mutually affect each other. Now, what are the practical results that are to flow from this measure? The noble and learned Earl who has just sat down (the Lord Chancellor) treats the matter as though it were of no importance, and as if it were one merely of large or small constituencies, and as though it does not matter two straws whether, after the passing of this Extension of the Franchise Bill, we went to an Election on the old constituencies or the new. That is a very important point for our consideration, and it is instructive for us to consider the effect that that remark of the noble and learned Earl may have upon the supporters of the Government. It throws considerable light upon the absence of any great zeal on their part with regard to the question of redistribution, and upon the likelihood, or otherwise, of their pushing the question during the present Session. I am bound to say that, if the views of the noble and learned Earl, and of the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Kimberley), on this point are shared by their Colleagues, that it is not necessary to push the question of redistribution next year—the only year which remains to the other House in which they can pass a Redistribution Bill—we may form a very good estimate of what the conduct of the sup- porters of the Government is likely to be, especially if the Government themselves are inclined to stand by, and do not attempt to prevent their followers from going into the Lobby to negative the promises which they have made. Therefore, the fact that the noble and learned Earl does not regard it as a matter of great importance that a Redistribution Bill should be passed next year is one that ought not to be lightly passed over. But the question is not one of mere theory. The hour is far too late for me to attempt to enter into details; but the fact remains that, from the first creation of our Parliamentary system, there has been a broad and strong distinction between counties and boroughs, and between the rural and the urban parts of the country. We may not always be able to define that distinction with precision, and we may not be able always to say where the one begins and the other ends—that is, the character of natural as contrasted with artificial distinctions. But the distinction between them is real, and is bound up with our everyday life in town and country, and has existed in our Constitution from the first. This Bill deals with those constituencies which have up to this moment been rural constituencies, and it projects into them a vast mass of purely urban electors; and the result of that projection will be that, in a very considerable number of cases, the balance of power will remain, not with the rural, but with the urban electors; and that upon all points on which the interests of the one class are opposed to those of the other the effect of the Bill will be to efface the opinion of the rural portions of the counties and to prevent them from having due representation. Do not say that this is done in justice to the interests of the urban portions of the country, for they have representation already very largely—even more largely, more abundantly and superfluously, than any numerical theory as to their mere numbers of electors can justify. Therefore, you are going not only to leave them what they have, but to give them this additional representation at the expense of, and to the destruction of, the rural element. Another result of your action will be this—there has always been great difficulty in highly developed representative systems, in which democratic theories have a large preponderance, to secure the adequate representation of minorities. In the old times there was no such difficulty, for there were always a great variety of interests represented; and the result was that the minorities always found themselves adequately represented. But this Bill altogether overlooks the representation of minorities, and the further you go in the direction of a dead and mechanical uniformity, the more you expose minorities to the danger of having their opinions altogether overlooked. That is what you are doing by this Bill. In these constituencies into which you propose to project a large mass of urban voters, you have minorities which find considerable representation. By minorities I do not mean the rich, or the landowners merely, but the middle classes. Lord Hartington, speaking on the 25th of March last, saved me a great deal of trouble upon this point as to proving what the effect of the Bill would be upon one very important interest of the country, for he said— It may be that this measure, if passed into law, will terminate the supremacy which up to now has been exorcised in the county elections by the tenant farmers. The tenant farmers as an interest will cease to exist. Well, my Lords, is not that an interest worthy of being protected? Is it, as the noble and learned Earl tells us, a mere technical reason which induces us to step forward to protect from utter, absolute, and final effacement the representation of a class which probably has done more than any other to give to the English character its solid and sterling qualities? It is not only to England that these two great objections apply. It is not only in England that minorities of special portions of the population will be effaced. No doubt, your Lordships have heard and studied the very interesting speech made by my noble Friend the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Water-ford), who so often represents the affairs of Ireland in this House with such ability. He pointed out that the effects which here will be anomalous and injurious, in Ireland would be fatal to the existence of a great class, and that a class upon which the supremacy of England and the integrity of the Empire largely depends. He showed, if I remember his figures right, that, whereas there is a loyal minority of something like 1,500,000, if this Bill passes as it is now, 95 or 96 per cent of the represention of Ireland will pass into hands to which the epithet loyal cannot be applied. My Lords, it is a commonplace of discussion on these questions to tell us that our prophecies in the past were gloomy, and that they have not been fulfilled. In reference to England, that may seem, in some measure, true. If it is true, it is a very great and happy tribute to the qualities of our countrymen. But in respect to Ireland, it is, unfortunately, not true. In this House we warned you 10 years ago of what would be the result of giving the ballot to Ireland. We warned you, and we did the best to carry our warning into effect, that the passing of that measure would take power out of the hands of those who love the English connection and put it in the hands of those who did not love it. Have we been right, or have we been wrong? Has not the result amply justified the very gloomiest warnings that we uttered 10 years ago? The same warnings that we uttered then we now utter to you again. This measure, in its present incomplete and inchoate form, has, among other things, this disadvantage—that it seriously menaces the integrity of the Empire. I have pointed out, sketchily, I am afraid, but quite as lengthily as I can venture doing now, the danger that we apprehend from the passing of the measure in this form. How are we to meet those dangers? Noble Lords opposite tell us that they intend to pass a Redistribution Bill, and that they will be able to fulfil their intentions. But before referring to them, allow me to say one sentence in regard to a small school of opinion existing between the two great Parties in this House—the school of opinion characteristically represented by the noble Earl who sits on the Cross Benches (the Earl of Wemyss). He is of opinion that we can pass this Bill; that we can put in a clause which will prevent its having effect until a redistribution scheme is carried; and that, in that way, we shall conjure the dangers to which I have referred. My Lords, we have had considerable experience in this House of what comes of Amendments of that nature. We know perfectly well — the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Kimberley) will not contradict it—that the Government—we know it from the noble Earl opposite the Secretary of State for the Colonies (the Earl of Derby) that the Government entirely declines to admit any such clause into their Bill. We know it from what the noble Earl has said. We know it from the emphatic language of the Prime Minister. He said that any such Proviso would end in giving ashes instead of fruit to the populations we are intending to enfranchise. Well, the consideration that I wish to address to that small school of opinion to which I have referred is that, whatever happens, their action will end as ours will do in the failure of the Bill. And do they really believe that, when it comes to discussion in the country, any one of those demagogues of whom we hear so much, and of whom so many persons profess to be afraid, will draw a distinction between the House of Lords destroying the Bill by a Resolution and the House of Lords destroying it by adhering to an Amendment which the Government have, beforehand, announced that they are absolutely resolved to reject? It is idle to suppose that any distinction whatever will be drawn between those two methods of proceeding; but I will draw the attention of my noble Friend to this consideration—that while they, by withdrawing their vote, may injure, and, in a contingency which I trust is not probable, might destroy our power, by our method of conjuring the evils to which I have referred, they cannot possibly themselves obviate these evils. The distrust of any such measure in Committee is too strong on this side to allow of any hope that such proposals, if they were made, would pass in Committee. The Government would certainly resist them, and they would certainly not be ultimately adhered to. The only consequence of parting from us on this mere question of procedure, in attaining the object we have in common, is that we shall allow the common enemy to step in and secure the prizes. But, my Lords, that school of opinion is entirely dying away. Noble Lords opposite have given no encouragement to that idea. The main controversy is, are they able to guarantee to us, by their mere promise, that this Redistribution Bill shall pass along with this Enfranchisement Bill? My Lords, the question of their willingness is, of course, one that I cannot, and should not for a moment, dream of contesting. Nobody on this side of the House has suggested, and I trust that they will not, that there is anything but the most perfect honesty in the intentions which noble Lords opposite express of carrying a Redistribution Bill next year. We have always found them loyal adversaries, and I am quite sure none of us suspect them of any backwardness, or of concealing their thoughts in this respect. The only question is, have they power to fulfil the promise which they make? Well, we all know that they have not had much power over their proceedings for the last four years. Why, then, should we think they have the power now? We are told that it is a matter of absolute impossibility—that was the word used with great emphasis by the noble and learned Earl on the Woolsack—to pass a measure of redistribution and a measure of enfranchisement in the same year; but this measure of enfranchisement has taken 23 Sittings, and I believe there is no doubt that more than half of those were occupied in discussing, in one form or another, whether redistribution should or should not be mixed up with it. Therefore, if the two Bills had been brought in together, there would have been an addition of 11 Sittings to the consideration of the work of redistribution. Eleven Sittings, when the Government take all the nights as they do at this time, mean less than three weeks; so that we arrive at this result—that it is absolutely impossible to pass a Redistribution Bill plus the three weeks; but that it is the easiest and most certain thing in the world to pass a Redistribution Bill without those three weeks. They make all the difference; they make all the difference between absolute impossibility and absolute certainty. But the noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies, I thought, in a cruel and heartless spirit, talked of two autumns that he, sitting very comfortably in this House, was willing to throw on the shoulders of his Colleagues in the other House. He must be anxious to make promotion in the ranks of the Government. At all events, those two autumns which he so generously gives us might, at least, have furnished us with the three weeks which makes the whole difference between entire certainty and absolute impossibility. My Lords, it really is not necessary to argue. Everyone acquainted with the present condition of Parties in the House of Commons knows the power that has been obtained by a particular section connected with the neighbouring Isle, as well as the general course of Business and habits of the House, makes it certain no Government, not even the most powerful, can insure, as a matter of absolute certainty, that a Redistribution Bill should be passed before the Dissolution. But even if it were passed, should we be any better? My Lords, what we want is, not only a Redistribution Bill, but a Redistribution Bill that we can handle; something which, if manifestly unjust, we should be able to modify. But how should we be able to modify it, if we had this pistol put to our heads—"Unless you pass this Bill, you shall have no Bill at all; and you go to the country with a new enfranchisement on the old constituencies?" We shall have no power over such a Bill; and, therefore, not even if they were able absolutely to promise, they could not, if they once allowed this measure to pass out of their and our hands, engage to us that we should have a free hand in modifying the details of redistribution. But, my Lords, when we are told that terrible evils are to result from the course of events, we are tempted to ask whose fault is it? If all those horrible things are to come in consequence of this Bill not passing, why does not some Member of the Government get up and say—"We will put you a clause into the Bill which shall prevent this measure coming into operation until the Redistribution Bill is passed?" If they did that, then the difficulty would be at an end; and if they refuse to do that, on them, and not on us, the responsibility of any consequences will rest. My Lords, I ask myself what cause is there, what reason is stated, why we should not take the course it is proposed to do—what harm should we do? Well, we shall disappoint, we are told, 2,000,000 of people who have made up their minds that this thing is their right. Well, if they have made up their minds, they have done so in a very short time, because we heard nothing of this imperative necessity last year. The noble Earl—so many noble Earls have spoken, that he has himself noticed the difficulty of distinguishing between them, but I will call him the noble Earl the patron of Mid Lothian (the Earl of Rosebery)—told us that this measure was not merely one of expediency—that it was a matter of justice; and he went on to say that the franchise was the birthright of these 2,000,000 persons, their birthright, born of the votes of the House of Commons and the pledges of the Election of 1880. I will lay aside that very queer parentage; I did not know before this that birthrights were born. But, be that as it may, I wish to point out that it has become a birthright—I think the noble Earl called it an eternal birthright—within a very recent period — merely some few weeks. We do not desire, we have not the slightest wish to deny, this birthright to those who claim it, and all that can result from our action is delay—delay which will have the very wholesome and salutary effect of enabling the proper complement to this measure to be passed. Then we are told that delay is such a frightful thing—that it will bring down unnumbered curses on our heads. If that be so, if such haste is required in this matter, why have the Government been doing nothing with regard to it during the last four years? The noble Earl opposite has answered that question in a manner that is certainly creditable for its candour, if not for its conclusiveness. He says—"You could not expect a Government, with a large majority, to bring in a Bill which would render it necessary to dissolve Parliament." There it appears that we have got the truth of the case—that we are not in the presence of any great conscientious scruples, that we are not fighting for eternal birthrights, or great and splendid principles. We are not contending for a great principle of political expediency; it is merely a question of Parliamentary tactics, and a recognition of the fact that a Government which has a majority does not wish for a Dissolution in order to lose that majority—that has been the reason that for four years past these 2,000,000 of people have been kept pining for their birthright, and have been subject to this intolerable hardship. And yet we are told, because, in the interest of good legislation, we seek to maintain the precedents from which no one has ever before departed, and we ask for one year's delay, that we shall bring down the skies and shake the Constitution of England to its centre. That, after all, has been the gist and burden of the speeches made on the other side of the House. We have heard of nothing but references to the interests of this House, and the dangers to this House, and of the terrible calamities that are impending over us. The noble Earl to whom I have already referred (the Earl of Rosebery) talked of torrents, and tempests, and precipices, and a great many other terrible things, in the midst of which we are to find ourselves if we reject this Bill. The noble and learned Lord of Appeal (Lord Fitzgerald) condescended to go more into detail, and he warned us to remember the fires of Bristol and Northampton. He told us that, I think in 1832, the Archbishop of Canterbury had to escape in a boat, in order to avoid the consequences of voting against the Reform Bill. Whatever else the result of that anecdote may have been, it appears, at any rate, to have had its effect on the mind of the present Archbishop. The noble and learned Lord told us, I think, that the result of these events was so terrible, that this House had been specially built by the side of the river, in order that the Members of the Conservative majority might, on emergencies, escape by the penny steamboats while the people were thundering on the other side. These were very inflammatory suggestions of the noble and learned Lord; and there is a story now current in the House—I will not vouch for its truth, however—that, at the time the noble and learned Lord was making this speech, there was standing at the Bar a distinguished Member of the Irish Party, one who in the vicissitudes of his career and in the pursuit of those projects which he esteemed to be a duty, had contrived to get inside an Irish prison, and his observation on hearing the speech of the noble and learned Lord regarding Bristol and Northampton, and the Archbishop escaping by the back-door in order to get aboard a penny boat, was this—"If I had made that speech in Ireland, they would have locked me up for exciting to murder and outrage." It was certainly quite possible. The noble Earl the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (Earl Spencer), whom I see opposite, looks very grim. He has no power on this side of the water; but I would recommend the noble and learned Lord to change the style of his oratory before he ventures to Ireland again. It seems to me that the observation of the distinguished Irishman to which I have referred has, at least, this in its justification — that all the incendiary language which I have heard yet against the House of Lords has been uttered within these walls, and the only attempt to stir up agitation of a serious kind has proceeded from the Benches opposite. The noble Earl the Secretary of State for the Colonies made the observation that we were coming into an obvious collision between this House and the vast majority of the people of England. Now, he seemed to have an impression, while dwelling upon that subject, that he was a little open to the charge that he himself was menacing the House of Lords, and, in order to clear himself of that imputation, he said—"I am no more uttering a menace than a man who sees a heavy rain storm before him and calls your attention to the fact." I do not think that gave an accurate simile. I should say that he was more like a man who had previously placed a row of small boys with stones in their hands, some distance off, at a particular spot in the road, and then proceeded to warn you, in a spirit of friendship, that if you went down the road you would probably have stones thrown at you. That is, perhaps, a more exact description of the position of the noble Earl. There are a number of very dirty boys, and some very learned dirty boys, who are employed—I will not say by noble Lords themselves, but at all events employed by the subordinates of noble Lords opposite—for the purpose of vilifying this House and agitating against it; and that is the real answer to all these stories that we shall be misunderstood. It was well said by my noble Friend near me that if we are not misrepresented we shall not be misunderstood. Misunderstanding, if it comes, will come in consequence of the deliberate, persistent, and unscrupulous efforts of those taking the side of Her Majesty's Government. Well, they say—"This misunderstanding is a terrible thing. Your motives may be perfectly pure, your action perfectly Constitutional; but if you are misunderstood all is over." But if there is an organized body whose function it is to take care to see that we shall be misunderstood, I do not see under what conditions our legislative functions can be carried on, or in what way they are to be left to us. I have been a long time in this House; but, on every important question on which this House has proposed to exercise an independent judgment, we have always had this ghastly array of misunderstandings and popular indignation placed before us. It is a miserable—I was going to use a word belonging to the vocabulary of my adversaries, and call it trick—but it is a miserable contrivance, this constant representation of the dangers to the House of Lords. My Lords, we have heard and are told much about the dangers this House is running. I heard, with the greatest pleasure, the speech of the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Argyll) with respect to the position of this House. We have, as he says, great privileges, and those privileges are balanced by large disabilities; but whatever may be the outcome and balance of those two considerations, which undoubtedly weigh with many, I feel sure that, upon the view of our privileges as presented to us by noble Lords opposite, nobody, no man who values his manhood and his self-respect, and no man who prizes his intellectual freedom, would wish to retain the privileges of the House upon the terms upon which they offer them to us. Just consider what the position is in regard to which all these grandiloquent threats are hurled at our heads. We have to deal with a proposal absolutely unprecedented—a proposal which affects the whole future of the legislation of this country. It threatens to efface some of the most important classes of the country, whose voices, as expressed by their Representatives, have hitherto been heard at Westminster, and it threatens to crush minorities; and it is here, for the first time, we ask to know the whole plan; and we ask, if we may not know the whole plan, at least that such delay may be granted that the people may be consulted upon the question, and the results of this vast change. We are told that even this humble and moderate exercise of independence is sufficient to call down destruction on our heads. I do not believe a word of it; but if it were true, I should say that the powers entrusted to this House were fettered by conditions so humiliating that no man of honour could accept them. I will not, at this hour, detain your Lordships further, though the subject is endless. I will only say this—that the arguments which are addressed to us having reference to existing agitations, or to impending processions and demonstrations, seem to me to be the idlest of all. We know perfectly that demonstrations and expressions of anger can be produced to order by our adversaries so long as the balance at their bankers remains unexhausted. We know that there are plenty of Radicals in this country; and if it pleases them to walk up and down the roads, and spend their Sundays in the Parks, and to do other things from which they may derive wholesome exercise, and exhibit themselves in the open air, we know that that gives no indication whatever of the real opinion of the majority of the constituencies, which is the only opinion for which we care, and by which we are bound. Some noble Lord reproached us, saying that we wished to force a Dissolution; but he reproached us wrongfully. Apart from this question, we had no wish to force a Dissolution. If I could separate the patriotic from the Party view, I should say, though it is a ghastly thing to say, that matters were going on charmingly in Egypt. The longer the Government have that matter in hand, the more hopeless will be the muddle they will make of it, and the more completely will they discredit themselves in the eyes of the people. As a mere Party matter, we have no desire to force a Dissolution; but we do, with reference to this great revolution in the machinery for electing the Members of the House of Commons—we do urge upon the Government, not only the prudence, but the justice of consulting the people. We do urge upon them that they have no right to make these vast Constitutional changes without formally consulting the opinions of those by whose authority they really, in the long run, make them, and whose interests will be specially affected. I know what the answer to that will be. We shall be accused of desiring to keep these electors off the franchise. We shall be accused of distrusting those whom it is proposed to add to the franchise. I repudiate all such charges. They are utterly unjustified by anything we have done, or by any opinions we have expressed. We are taking the course which is the true safeguard of the liberties of the people, and of the institutions of the country, in the presence of vast proposals wholly unprecedented, in the presence of a proposal for a change which is admitted to be so tremendous, that it exceeds the effects of the Revolution of 1688. In the presence of such vast proposals we appeal to the people. We have no fear of the humiliation with which we are threatened. We do not shrink from bowing to the opinion of the people, whatever that opinion may be. If it is their judgment that there should be enfranchisement without redistribution, I should be very much surprised; but I should not attempt to dispute their decision. But now that the people have in no real sense been consulted, when they had, at the last General Election, no notion of what was coming upon them, I feel that we are bound, as guardians of their interests, to call upon the Government to appeal to the people, and by the result of that appeal we will abide.


My Lords, I believe that you have so far confidence in me as to believe when I promise not to be long that I shall keep my word. I agree that it would be wearisome to your Lordships, and not very beneficial to the cause in which we are interested, to repeat ad nauseam the arguments which have been already used. You will, however, perhaps, allow me to make a few observations in concluding a debate with regard to which I do not use any mere common phrase of compliment when I say that it will not only maintain, but increase the reputation of your Lordships' House as regards its power of discussing important questions. With regard to the debate of yesterday, I must acknowledge that the speeches made on the other side were remarkable for the moderate and conciliatory tone in which they were made. The only defect which I observed in them was almost a want of reality, and of earnestness in many of them. They were not quite in consonance with the Amendment before the House of the noble and learned Earl opposite (Earl Cairns). That Amendment implies a distinct insinuation that the measure introduced by the Government is not well-considered—so much so, that an Amendment has been placed on our Minutes to rectify it. Well, I have listened to the discussion, and I really am not aware, with a slight exception to which I shall presently allude, of any criticism that would apply to the measure itself. It is quite true that the noble and learned Earl made some objection to the extension of the franchise to Ireland; and he was followed in that objection with much more energy by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Waterford). But I appeal to your Lordships whether the arguments then used can, in the slightest degree, weigh against those brought forward by my noble Friend (the Earl of Kimberley), and by the noble and learned Earl who sits upon the Woolsack? Compare the arguments of the noble and learned Earl (Earl Cairns) with those of the noble Viscount behind me (Viscount Powerscourt), and the noble and learned Lord (Lord Fitzgerald), and, above all, with the very excellent and solid argument in favour of the extension of the franchise to Ireland of the noble Earl (the Earl of Dunraven), who put it in the strongest possible manner, though he followed up his general argument in support of the Bill by saying that he would vote against it to-night. The noble Marquess made use of one of the most extraordinary arguments I ever heard; because he said that when, 10 years ago, we applied the ballot to Ireland, we took away from the landlords of that country the power of coercing their tenants to vote against their convictions and wishes. We can well stand up against such a charge. But for the rest, so far from any criticism being made on the Bill, the noble Earl on the Opposition Front Bench (Earl Cadogan) admitted that it was moderate in principle and Conservative in character. How, then, are you better to consider it? Are you to make it violent in character, and Radical and Democratic in tone? Otherwise, I do not see how you are to improve it. My Lords, there was one argument used—not, perhaps, so much an argument as a well-known phrase brought in pretty often, at least a dozen times, in the course of the debate—that this was a leap in the dark. It has been said that it was all very well to leap in the dark once; but that was no reason for leaping into an unfathomable abyss now. I think there is no doubt if a Leader asks his supporters to follow him in a leap in the dark, it requires some recklessness, and a great deal of courage, to join in the performance. But when the darkness has dispersed, and the jump has been taken, and the jumper finds himself safe on firm ground, and much better for the exercise, it does not require much courage or rashness to make the same leap in similar circumstances. If there is any unfathomable abyss at all, I think it is one the House is now asked to throw itself into. The noble and learned Earl said that the concession which Her Majesty's Government had made, by fixing a date in the Bill, was illusory; because, in any case, they could not have secured an earlier date. That is an entire mistake. There was no reason why, in bringing in the Bill in February, Her Majesty's Government should not have a reasonable expectation of passing it before the end of June; and if that had been the case, then there would be no difficulty. If, on the contrary, your Lordships pass this Bill now, we are quite ready to bring in a Registration Bill if necessary, which it would be absolutely our duty to do, and which I think it would be impossible, under the circumstances, for noble Lords to reject. In the first place, the Bill was introduced to come into operation as soon as it was passed; and, almost from the outset, the Prime Minister made a promise that we should do our best to introduce and pass a Redistribution Bill during the next Session. Afterwards, there was a proposal for a fixed date. That proposal was most distasteful to many of the most earnest supporters of the Bill; but the Prime Minister received it favourably, in deference to the Conservative Members, and especially in deference to this House. He felt that it was right for Parliament to record its desire that there should be time for the passage of a Redistribution Bill before the other came into operation; and he stated, in the most positive manner, when the clause upon the subject was introduced, that it became a covenant with Parliament that the Government would do that which he had indicated. There is not the slightest doubt about the intention of the Government to do that which they have promised. They feel in the strongest way; and I am empowered by my Colleagues to say that if there be any neglect, omission, or caprice on their part—if they fail to do their utmost next year to introduce and pass a Redistribution Bill—they will be open to the gravest charge of an absolute breach of faith. The noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) made an eloquent defence of the Cross Bench mind. I agree with a great deal that he said; but one little difficulty I have is that the Cross Bench mind does not always follow the same groove; for instance, a noble Lord today (Lord Brabourne), perfectly consistent with all his conduct ever since he has had a seat in this House, in a speech which he made against the Government, and which was perfectly consistent with his vote, declared strongly in favour of the Amendment. I will not say one word more as to the action of the noble Lord. I should be afraid of diluting the feelings of condolence which were raised by the speech of the noble Earl who followed (the Earl of Rosebery) as to the numerous sacrifices the noble Lord is always making to his conscience. Another noble Lord made a speech the greater part of which was in favour of the Bill, though he said he should vote the other way. Another, who mixed up in his speech severe remarks against the Government, said, at the end of it, that he was prepared to vote in favour of the Bill. If the debate of yesterday had something of the sound of a muffled drum, the noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Carnarvon) began the debate to-day with some of the higher notes of the trumpet. The noble Marquess who followed in the course of the evening (the Marquess of Salisbury) brought out some of the strongest and fullest notes of that warlike instrument. He made a magnificent speech, of that fighting quality which is perfectly sure to be cheered to the echo at the moment, but which may possibly be remembered hereafter. One of the most remarkable speeches I have heard delivered in this House was from the noble Earl (the Earl of Rosebery), who, I think, may be complimented on the share he had in the Mid Lothian campaign. His was a blast which not only filled this House, but which will reach the furthest confines of the United Kingdom. Now I have a painful duty to perform, because I am going to say something in disagreement, not only with noble Lords opposite, but in disagreement with all my Friends on this side of the House. The noble and learned Earl opposite (Earl Cairns), with some warmth, repudiated the observation of the noble Earl behind me (the Earl of Kimberley) that there was something behind the Amendment. He said there is nothing of the sort. But, singularly enough, two noble Lords on the Front Bench—the noble Earl and the noble Marquess—have absolutely contradicted the noble and learned Earl. They have raised a cry, and said that what they wanted was a Dissolution, and that is a very large thing behind the Amendment. It is not the first time the announcement has been made; it has been made in electioneering speeches. I have very great doubt whether it is a perfectly Constitutional doctrine that the House of Lords has the right to arrogate to itself the strongest Prerogative right of the Crown—of dictating the time of the Dissolution. It has been asserted by several speakers that it is the greatest mistake in the world to think that the Conservative Party are in the least opposed to the extension of the franchise, and each one of my noble Friends has entirely accepted that assurance. I also am quite ready to accept it; but, at the same time, I feel a difficulty in arguing the matter with persons who may be a little more incredulous than myself, because I have not the slightest assistance in this debate to justify my firm confidence in that assertion. The noble and learned Earl quoted a most statesmanlike passage from a speech of the late Lord Beaconsfield in favour of combining the county with the borough franchise. But that was made 10 years ago. May I ask what any Conservative Government have done since, either by action or by speech, to further that statesmanlike statement of Mr. Disraeli? I am perfectly unconscious of their having done anything. In the remarks made by the Leaders of the Conservative Party at the present moment, I do not find any confirmation of the statement made by the noble Marquess. I think if people will read the speeches made before the Sitting of Parliament, they will only strengthen them in that opinion. Take the one by Sir R. Assheton Cross, when he said that no proof whatever had been given of the fitness of those 2,000,000 people for the franchise. Lord John Manners made a speech in which he admitted that the exclusion of those 2,000,000 was an anomaly; but he said it was an anomaly which was necessary for this ancient nation; in fact, he defended this anomaly as part of the British Constitution. Then I come to the noble Marquess himself. During the last few months he has used two arguments. One was that the new voters would swamp the farmers, whom he considered to be the strength of the Conservative Party; if so, their admission must be distasteful to him. He further said there was not the slightest wish on the part of the agricultural labourer to be admitted to the franchise, and that, being thus indifferent, he was perfectly certain to become the victim and the prey of artful and agitating democrats. These arguments are perfectly inconsistent with the assertion that the whole Conservative Party are dying to extend the franchise, and what I have heard in the debate does not produce that impression. The objection was taken that we were extending the occupation franchise. But who introduced the principle? I think it was the Marquess of Chandos, and afterwards it was the Conservative Party who introduced the £12 occupation franchise. The noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) extremely objects to any warning; but still he thought fit to give a warning to my most rev. Friend the Primate for the speech he made this evening. It is a singular fact that whenever the Lord Archbishop or a Bishop happens to give an opinion or a vote on a political question contrary to his own, nobody is so severe upon them as the noble Marquess. To my mind, however, the Lord Archbishop's opinion, supported, as it is, by the majority of those sitting round him, is an element of great weight, and not to be disregarded. I am perfectly sure that the line which he has taken, based upon the feeling that the business of a pastor is not connected with any particular class, but with all classes in the country, is one that does him honour. I am afraid that my noble Friend below the Gangway (the Earl of Rosebery) is a little angry with me, when he told me, with some little natural indignation, that we were not quite agreed on the subject of the appointment of a certain Committee to consider the efficiency of your Lordships' House the other day. I never, however, pretended that this House is the very best possible House in the very best possible world, or that it is entirely free from defects; but my only objec- tion to the appointment of that Committee was that it would not be judicious to appoint one without placing before it some definite proposal; and that certainly the present time would not be opportune for appointing such a Committee. For my own part, all my memories, all my associations, are connected with this House; and my most sincere wish has always been to prevent and to compose any difference arising between the two Houses of Parliament. I do not think that it is right that your Lordships should treat as something like an insult any advice which may be given to you by anybody without your walls. Great indignation has been exhibited with regard to what has been called Mr. Gladstone's threat to your Lordships' House. But it has been stated, and I believe with absolute truth, by the noble Earl (the Earl of Rosebery) that Mr. Gladstone only wished to avoid a conflict between the two Chambers. It is said that he gave his advice perfectly unprovoked. But is that statement exactly accurate? We have had the noble Marquess running about the country giving his own opinion in a strong way, and good reasons why your Lordships should reject this Bill; and we have read accounts, which have never been contradicted, of meetings at the noble Marquess's house, where it was decided to reject this Bill, at a time when it had not come before your Lordships, when it had not even gone through Committee in the House of Commons, and when, consequently, it was impossible for us to know what shape it would assume. On the other hand, in that very House of Commons, we had a Member of the late Government saying that this measure was as dead as a doornail, because the House of Lords would never pass it. Under those circumstances, it was impossible for Mr. Gladstone, full of years, full of experience, full of knowledge, and who had worked so hard on this Bill, both in and out of Parliament, not to say what he did in regard to a measure which, as it has been described, was so temperate in its character and so Conservative in its tone; and a few words from me will show how true that description of it is. As the noble Duke (the Duke of Argyll) said, there had been a cry for certain things—for the abolition of all ancient franchises, for the abolition of the property vote, for the principle for one man to have one vote, and for electoral districts. The result is, that you have a Bill before you which retains all the ancient franchises, which retains the property vote, and which introduces a new franchise of a decidedly Conservative character—namely, the service franchise; and although we are determined to put an end to the very bad practice of creating fagot votes, although we have done away with rent-charges, except in peculiar circumstances, and have refused more than one vote to one tenement, yet we retain the right of existing fagot voters. The noble Marquess did not use the word "jerry-mandering" in the House, although he did so in the country; but his whole insinuation was that it was the intention of the Government to deal with the question of redistribution in a manner to serve Party purposes. My Lords, we demand to be judged by what we have done. In all the four or five months' debates in the House of Commons on this measure, not the slightest Party feeling has been shown by the Government in framing such a Bill as that which is now before you. I read yesterday, in a short letter in The Times, an observation from one Member of your Lordships' House (Earl Grey), whose age prevents him from being present; and certainly he will not be accused by any of your Lordships of any undue or partial leaning towards Her Majesty's Government. What does the noble Earl say in that letter? That he views with alarm, or rather with consternation, the course that your Lordships are going to pursue, and the Amendment which was moved here yesterday; and he adds that the very words of that Amendment take away the only reason you have for rejecting this Bill. My Lords, I do really trust, even at this late period, that your Lordships will think for yourselves on this subject; and in that case I feel that you will then come to a truly statesmanlike and judicious decision on this great occasion.

On Question, "Whether the words proposed to be left out shall stand part of the Motion?"

Their Lordships divided: — Contents 146; Not-Contents 205; Majority 59.

Canterbury, L. Archp. Blachford, L.
Selborne, E. (L. Chancellor.) Blantyre, L.
Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.) [Teller.]
York, L. Archp.
Bramwell, L.
Bedford, D. Braye, L.
Devonshire, D. Breadalbane, L. (E. Breadalbane.)
Grafton, D.
Marlborough, D. Calthorpe, L.
Norfolk, D. Camoys, L.
Saint Albans, D. Carew, L.
Somerset, D. Carlingford, L.
Westminster, D. Carrington, L.
Carysfort, L. (E. Carysfort.)
Ailesbury, M.
Normanby, M. Chesham, L.
Northampton, M. Churchill, L.
Clements, L. (E. Leitrim.)
Camperdown, E.
Chesterfield, E. Clermont, L.
Chichester, E. Clifford of Chudleigh, L.
Clarendon, E.
Cowper, E. Coleridge, L.
Derby, E. Crewe, L.
Durham, E. Dacre, L.
Fitzwilliam, E. de Clifford, L.
Fortescue, E. De Mauley, L.
Granville, E. Dorchester, L.
Innes, E. (D. Roxburghe.) Dormer, L.
Dunning, L. (L. Rollo.)
Jersey, E. Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.)
Kimberley, E.
Leicester, E. Emly, L.
Minto, E. Erskine, L.
Morley, E. Ettrick, L. (L. Napier.)
Northbrook, E. Fingall, L. (E. Fingall.)
Saint Germans, E. FitzGerald, L.
Shaftesbury, E. Foley, L.
Spencer, E. Granard, L. (E. Granard.)
Suffolk and Berkshire, E.
Greville, L.
Sydney, E. Haldon, L.
Yarborough, E. Hammond, L.
Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)
Canterbury, V. Hatherton, L.
Gordon, V. (E. Aberdeen.) Hothfield, L.
Houghton, L.
Hampden, V. Howth, L. (E. Howth.)
Leinster, V. (D. Leinster.) Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)
Powerscourt, V. Lawrence, L.
Leigh, L.
Bath and Wells, L. Bp. Loftus, L. (M. Ely.)
Carlisle, L. Bp. Lovat, L.
Chichester, L. Bp. Lurgan, L.
Durham, L. Bp. Lyttelton, L.
Ely, L. Bp. Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)
Exeter, L. Bp.
Manchester, L. Bp. Methuen, L.
Oxford, L. Bp. Moncrieff, L.
St. Asaph, L. Bp. Monson, L. [Teller.]
Winchester, L. Bp. Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Abercromby, L. Mount-Temple, L.
Aberdare, L. Oxenfoord, L. (E. Stair.)
Acton, L.
Alcester, L. Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)
Auckland, L.
Barrogill, L. (E. Caithness.) Ramsay, L. (E. Dalhousie.)
Belper, L. Reay, L.
Ribblesdale, L. Suffield, L.
Robartes, L. Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)
Romilly, L.
Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.) Tennyson, L.
Thurlow, L.
Sandhurst, L. Truro, L.
Sandys, L. Tweeddale, L. (M. Tweeddale.)
Saye and Sele, L.
Sefton, L. (E. Sefton.) Tweedmouth, L.
Skene, L. (E. Fife.) Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.) Vernon, L.
Waveney, L.
Strafford, L. (V. Enfield.) Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)
Stratheden and Campbell, L. Wenlock, L.
Wentworth, L.
Strathspey, L. (E. Seafield.) Wolverton, L.
Wrottesley, L.
Sudeley, L.
Beaufort, D. Kilmorey, E.
Buckingham and Chandos, D. Lanesborough, E.
Lathom, E. [Teller.]
Leeds, D. Leven and Melville, E.
Northumberland, D. Lucan, E.
Portland, D. Lytton, E.
Richmond, D. Macclesfield, E.
Rutland, D. Malmesbury, E.
Wellington, D. Manvers, E.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn.) Milltown, E.
Morton, E.
Abergavenny, M. Mount Edgcumbe, E.
Ailsa, M. Nelson, E.
Bristol, M. Onslow, E.
Exeter, M. Poulett, E.
Hertford, M. Powis, E.
Salisbury, M. Radnor, E.
Winchester, M. Ravensworth, E.
Redesdale, E.
Abingdon, E. Romney, E.
Annesley, E. Rosse, E.
Ashburnham, E. Rosslyn, E.
Bandon, E. Sandwich, E.
Bathurst, E. Selkirk, E.
Beauchamp, E. Sondes, E.
Belmore, E. Stanhope, E.
Bradford, E. Strange, E. (D. Athole.)
Brooke and Warwick, E. Strathmore and Kinghorn, E.
Cadogan, E. Tankerville, E.
Cairns, E. Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)
Caledon, E.
Carnarvon, E. Verulam, E.
Clonmell, E. Waldegrave, E.
Coventry, E. Wharncliffe, E.
De La Warr, E. Zetland, E.
Denbigh, E.
Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.) Bolingbroke and St. John, V.
Clancarty, V. (E. Clancarty.)
Eldon, E.
Ferrers, E. Gough, V.
Feversham, E. Hardinge, V.
Graham, E. (D. Montrose.) Hawarden, V. [Teller.]
Hereford, V.
Haddington, E. Hood, V.
Harewood, E. Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)
Harrington, E.
Harrowby, E. Melville, V.
Howe, E. Sidmouth, V.
Strathallan, V. Hopetoun, L. (E. Hopetoun.)
Templetown, V.
Torrington, V. Howard de Walden, L.
Hylton, L.
Gloucester and Bristol, L. Bp. Inchiquin, L.
Keane, L.
Abinger, L. Kenlis, L. (M. Headfort.)
Amherst, L. (V. Holmesdale.)
Ker, L. (M. Lothian.)
Ardilaun, L. Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)
Arundell of Wardour, L. Lamington, L.
Ashford, L. (V. Bury.) Langford, L.
Aveland, L. Leconfield, L.
Bagot, L. Lovel and Holland, L. (E. Egmont.)
Balfour of Burley, L.
Bateman, L. Lyveden, L.
Bolton, L. Manners, L.
Borthwick, L. Massy, L.
Boston, L. Minster, L. (M. Conyngham.)
Botreaux, L. (E. Loudoun.)
Moore, L. (M. Drogheda.)
Brabourne, L.
Brancepeth, L. (V. Boyne.) Mostyn, L.
Mowbray, L.
Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.) Napier, L.
North, L.
Byron, L. Oranmore and Browne, L.
Castlemaine, L.
Castletown, L. Ormathwaite, L.
Chelmsford, L. Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)
Churston, L.
Clanbrassill, L. (E. Roden.) Penrhyn, L.
Poltimore, L.
Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.) Raglan, L.
Rayleigh, L.
Clinton, L. Rodney, L.
Cloncurry, L. Rossmore, L.
Colchester, L. Rowton, L.
Colville of Culross, L. Sackville, L.
Crofton, L. Saltersford, L. (E. Courtown.)
De Freyne, L.
Delamere, L. Saltoun, L.
De L'Isle and Dudley, L. Scarsdale, L.
Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)
Denman, L.
de Ros, L. Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)
De Saumarez, L.
Digby, L. Somerhill, L. (M. Clanricarde.)
Dinevor, L.
Donington, L. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Douglas, L. (E. Home.) Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)
Egerton, L.
Ellenborough, L. Templemore, L.
Elphinstone, L. Tollemache, L.
Fisherwick, L. (M. Donegall.) Tredegar, L.
Trevor, L.
Fitzhardinge, L. Tyrone, L. (M. Waterford.)
Forbes, L.
Forester, L. Ventry, L.
Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.) Walsingham, L.
Watson, L.
Gage, L. (V. Gage.) Westbury, L.
Gerard, L. Wigan, L. (E. Crawford and Balcarres.)
Grantley, L.
Harlech, L. Willoughby de Broke, L.
Harris, L.
Hartismere, L. (L. Henniker.) Wimborne, L.
Windsor, L.
Hastings, L. Worlingham, L. (E. Gosford.)
Hawke, L.
Hay, L. (E. Kinnoul.) Wynford, L.
Headley, L. Zouche of Haryngworth, L.
Heytesbury, L.

Resolved in the negative.

Moved to resolve("That this House, while prepared to concur in a well-considered and complete scheme for the extension of the franchise, does not think it right to assent to the Second Reading of a Bill having for its object a fundamental change in the constitution of the electoral body of the United Kingdom, but which is not accompanied by provisions for so apportioning the right to return Members as to ensure a true and fair representation of the people, or by any adequate security in the proposals of the Government that the present Bill shall not come into operation except as part of an entire scheme.")—(The Earl Cairns.)

Moved as an amendment to the foregoing resolution to leave out ("a well-considered and complete scheme for the extension of the franchise") and to insert ("the principles of representation contained in this Bill.")—(The Earl of Dunraven.)


said, he had no objection, as far as he was concerned.

Amendment agreed to.

Said resolution, as amended, agreed to.