§ Lord A. Hamilton
said, that when he had given notice of this motion, he had flattered himself that it would attract the attention of members; but he thought he should act unhandsomely in the present state of the House, by giving the appearance of solemn discussion where solemn discussion there was not; and he should do violence to his own feelings and to the interests of the, persons concerned, and act in a way 652 not creditable to the House, if he entered at length into the state of the representation of Scotland, in a House which it was rather his duty to count than to address. He could not hope, under existing circumstances, that he should be sufficiently supported in the division; and although he was not disposed to treat the House or the Speaker with the slightest disrespect, he felt it due to his constituents not then to go at length into the subject, and to do little more, than to move his resolutions. He could not act the farcical part of attempting to argue a question on which persons then, scattered about the town would be called, on afterwards to vote. He could not command the time of the House as he could his own, and there fore he could not then name another day for the discussion. The noble lord then stated, that it appeared by the certified copy of the freeholder's roll which had been laid on the table of the House, that the total number of voters for all the counties of Scotland, was 2,889. But it was well known that a great number of persons, especially those who held the paper superiorities, voted over and over again for different counties, so that the 2,889 would be reduced to not probably more than 2,000 real voters. On this simple ground, he called on the House to pledge itself to take the county representation of Scotland into its consideration in the next session, for the purpose of effecting some increase in the number of voters, and creating some necessary connexion between the right of voting and the landed property of Scotland. He had stated thus briefly the grounds of his resolutions, and he should now move,
- 1. "That it appears, by a certified copy of the roll of freeholders of every county in Scotland, as last made up, laid before this House in July 1820, that the total number of persons having a right to vote in all those counties together, did not exceed 2,889.
- 2. "That, by the same return, it appears that the greatest number of persons having a right to vote in any one county did not exceed 240, viz. for the county of Fife; and that the smallest number did not exceed 9, viz. for the county of Cromarty.
- 3. "That it further appears from the same return, that the same persons have a right to vote in several counties, and consequently that the total number, of voters for all the counties in Scotland is considerably less than 2,889.
- 4, "That it further appears to this House, that the right of voting for a Scotch county depends, not on the possession of the dominium utile of a real landed estate in that county, but oh holding the superiority over such estate, which superiority may be, and frequently is, disjoined from the property, insomuch, that of all the persons qualified to vote for a Scotch county, there may not be one who is possessed of a single acre of land within the country while the whole of the land may belong to, and be the property of persons who have not a single vote for the representative.
- 5 "That this House will, early in the next session of parliament, take into its most serious consideration, the state of representation of counties in Scotland, with a view to effect some extension of the number of votes, and to establish some connection between the right of voting and the landed property of that country."
§ The first resolution being put,
§ Mr. Mackenzie
said, that he could not consent to vote for any abstract proposition, or even for the matter of fact stated in the resolution just put from the Chair, knowing that it was to be followed by others intended to form the basis of practical measures. He complained that the noble lord had not at all stated his motives, and had given the House no arguments to enable it to arrive at any conclusions. He contended, that the alteration of system contemplated by the noble lord would hot materially augment the number of freeholders, and that it would be a direct violation of the Union, by one of the articles of which Scotland had stipulated, that she should have the unrestrained choice of her own representatives. A strong case, indeed, ought to be made out to warrant so flagrant a breach of public faith. He was certain that the noble lord was no friend of universal suffrage—that he had no sympathy or communion with its supporters; but the reform he contemplated was most important; and the least that might have been required was, that some opinion should have been expressed by those whom the change was intended to benefit. Hitherto, however, not a single meeting had been held; from which that opinion could be ascertained. He thought that the noble lord had treated the House somewhat contemptuously by the mode of proceeding he had adopted, and should 654 meet the resolution by moving the previous question.
§ The previous question was then put on the first four resolutions and negatived. On the last resolution, the House divided. Ayes 41; Noes, 57: Majority against the Resolution, 16.
|List of the Minority.|
|Blake, sir Francis||Martin, J.|
|Bennet, hon. H. G.||Milton, lord|
|Boughton, R.||Newman, R.|
|Barham, J. F.||O'Grady, S.|
|Bury, lord||Orde, W.|
|Calcraft, J.||Palmer, F.|
|Crompton, S.||Parnell, Sir, H.|
|Crespigny, sir W. De||Phillips, G.|
|Dalrymple, sir H.||Pryse, Pryse|
|Ebrington, lord||Price, Rob.|
|Fergusson, sir R.||Ricardo, D.|
|Gordon, R.||Rumbold, E.|
|Grattan, Jas.||Rickford, W.|
|Guise, sir W.||Smyth, J.|
|Gaskel, B.||Tierney, rt. hon. G.|
|Griffith, J.||Tennyson, C.|
|Hume, Joseph||Taylor, M. A.|
|Langston, G.||Webb, col.|
|Mackintosh, sir J.||Whitbread, S.|
|Monck, J. B.||Hamilton, lord A.|
|Maxwell, J.||Abercromby, hon. J.|