Lord John Russell
moved the Order of the Day for a Committee of the whole House on the English Reform Bill. On the question being put from the Chair,
moved, that the Petition of the Burgesses and Inhabitants of the Borough of Appleby, which was presented on the 22nd of June, should be read, and it having been read, his Lordship went on to move the said petition be referred to the Committee, and that the petitioners be heard at the bar of the House by Counsel, and be permitted to produce evidence in respect to the facts stated in the petition, in order to show their claim to be exempted from the operation of that clause in the Bill by which they were to be included in the schedule A, containing a list of those boroughs that were to be disfranchised altogether. The noble Lord observed, that the petitioners grounded their request on the fact, that the population of Appleby had been greatly underrated, in consequence of a very material error which had crept into the population returns of 1821, in which the parish of St. Michael only had been taken into calculation, and which was represented as containing a population of 1,344, whilst the parish of St. Lawrence had been altogether left out of the calculation, although the gaol, the town-house, and the poor-house were in that parish, the population of which was 1,272 persons; making, in the whole, an aggregate population of 2,616 souls. In the census of 1811, the population of both these parishes had been taken as that of the borough of Appleby, that of St. Michael's being stated at 1,100, and that of St. Lawrence at 1,060—together 2,160 per- 1106 sons. The petitioners, therefore, it was evident, were subjected to a very great injustice by being placed in the schedule A, as they were clearly entitled, according to the principles laid down by the noble Lord who introduced the measure, to retain one Representative. They did not question that principle; on the contrary, they admitted it in its fullest force, and they confined their prayer to the simple demand to be heard by counsel at the bar of that House, in order that their claim to be left in possession of one part of their franchise might be established. Having stated the facts of the case, he should leave it to hands better qualified to deal with it than he was; but perhaps he might be permitted to add, that it had been his most anxious wish to support his Majesty's Government, but the nature of the proposed Reform was so sweeping, that he had found it impossible to agree to it. He begged to move that the petition be brought up.
rose, to second the motion. In doing so he should take the liberty of stating some of the reasons why he opposed the Bill. He was not hostile to Reform, but so large and wanton an alteration as this [order, order.]
§ The Speaker
reminded the hon. Member that the present motion was simply whether the petition should be brought up. He ventured to express a hope that no hon. Member would diverge from the subject of the petition.
§ The Petition brought up and read.
Lord John Russell
observed, that in his opinion, the noble Lord who had just sat down had not shown sufficient grounds to induce the House to postpone going into a Committee on the Bill. The Bill was not a bill of pains and penalties— on the contrary, the preamble stated its objects to be of a very different nature; it was to make amendments in the Representation, and deprive certain inconsiderable places of the elective franchise, and he did not see on what grounds the House could allow the petitioners to call in counsel to say whether it was, in their judgment, expedient to do this or not. If, as the noble Lord had stated, Appleby was found to be incorrectly described in the population returns, the noble Lord, or the other hon. Member for that borough, could prove that fact to the Committee, and if it could be satisfactorily shewn, that there was an error, the House would be 1107 ready to admit the claims of Appleby to retain one Member. It was not, however, expedient to open the doors of that House to counsel to argue upon such claims, and against the principle of the Bill; for he did not see, if once counsel were admitted for Appleby, why every other borough in Schedules A or B might not pour in their counsel and agents, in order to support their claims to retain their Representatives. On these grounds he was opposed to the motion of the noble Lord, to which he should certainly give his most decided opposition.
Sir Robert Peel
expressed his earnest hope, that the majority of the House, anxious as they all must be to guard against establishing so dangerous a precedent as would be clone in this case, would well weigh the nature of the petition before them. Should the noble Lord who last spoke prevail on the House to reject the Motion now before them, it would be decisive as to disfranchising all these boroughs without hearing them. The noble Lord said, that the House was competent, as a Legislative body, to decide whether they would proceed to disfranchise certain boroughs, on the principles laid down in the preamble of the Reform Bill. He would not discuss the question as to the competency of the House to do so; the petitioners, themselves, did not controvert this opinion—they did not deny the Legislative body to be capable of making laws, but they argued thus:— "We admit, that the principle upon which the disfranchisement of boroughs is to be effected, is a correct one, but we want to show, that the principle does not apply to us." And would any majority of that House, however powerful, and satisfied of the policy of adhering to that principle, refuse these petitioners the opportunity of showing that the principle of the Bill did not apply to them? They urged that, as the borough contains more than 2,000 inhabitants, they ought not to lose the right of returning Members to Parliament, and they desired to show that such is the fact, that the population Return of 1811 was correct, and that of 1821 erroneous, by omitting one of the parishes. In what way were the facts they asserted to be established? Surely not by general discussion in the House, but by satisfactory evidence. Admitting the distinction between property and franchise, let us shew the latter the respect to which it is en- 1108 titled. If the House were prepared to refuse these parties a fair opportunity of proving their case, it would establish a most dangerous precedent; for what would prevent the same precedent from being extended to any other Bill which might be brought before them; and by which the rights of property or of persons might be endangered.
The Attorney General
said, that it was quite impossible, that the House should not at once see that this proceeding was altogether a mask, which the borough-mongers had availed themselves of, for the purpose of endeavouring to defeat the Bill, and of preventing its further progress. The right hon. Baronet opposite had urged the House to beware how they established so dangerous a precedent as refusing to admit counsel to be heard for the borough of Appleby, as if the influx of counsel to that bar would stop at Appleby, and as if every other borough which was to be found in either Schedule A or B would not urge their right to be heard in the same manner. In the mean time, what would be done with the question of Reform? For other petitioners would come before them, at least with such a case as would entitle them to say, "examine whether the Bill ought to operate upon us;" and then a host of counsel would be poured in to the bar of that House, not to admit the principle which was laid down of disfranchisement, as had been done by the present petitioners, and to allow that any place which had not 2,000 inhabitants was not entitled to a Representative, but to dispute that ground with the House, and to argue the competency of the Legislature to effect a Reform. Such, in his opinion, was not the duty of counsel, nor was it their province, and if the House were to suffer such a discussion to arise, they would be greatly wanting in their duty, and would derogate greatly from the proper maintenance of their dignity. If the House were to admit the claims of the petitioners to be heard by counsel, would not every other borough endeavour to obtain the same privilege, and endeavour to show that, by some means or other, the principle of the Bill was not applicable to it? Why then suffer any such argument to be raised by a class of persons, who had no connection with the House as a legislative body, on the principles of the Bill; for though the petitioners in this case had conceded the 1109 principle of the Bill, would every other borough do so? He would at once say, no; such as found it convenient to deny the principle of population, and to found their claims on some other basis, would do so. If those hon. Members who supported this motion, thought that by so doing they could obtain a fresh delay, and check the progress of public opinion, which had been found to confirm the justice of the principle of the Bill, and which principle had also met the approbation of two successive Parliaments, whilst the whole country were satisfied with the details of the measure; if, he repeated, any hon. Member hoped to effect this object by supporting the present motion, he did not envy the state of mind which the connexion of hon. Gentlemen with certain boroughs appeared to have caused. When they cried "No," to the arguments which he had adduced, they shewed that they only sought for delay, and would not listen to the statements which justified refusing the prayer of the petition. He did not, indeed, accuse the noble Lord who presented the petition, or the gallant Officer who supported it; of any want of candour, for one had avowed his hostility to the Bill, and the other could hardly be prevented from transgressing the order of the House to make known his objections. The proper course to be pursued on this occasion was, for the hon. Members for the borough of Appleby to state their objections to the entire disfranchisement of that borough when the Bill was in Committee, and the case of Appleby under consideration, and then all the apparatus of Counsel to argue their claims would be needless. If disputes should arise, it would then be open for any person to consider whether or not it might be necessary to make further inquiries. If, however, the motion were pressed, he should be satisfied with appealing to a majority of the House, who would, he had no doubt by their votes give a convincing proof of the inexpediency, to say the least, of acceding to the petition. He would ask those who were in favour of Reform whether they were disposed to be trifled with in this manner, or whether they would not at once proceed in the business of the Committee, and do their duty to their constituents and their country.
Mr. C. W. Wynn
observed, that the objections made to the motion of the noble Lord were such, as in the experience of 1110 thirty years in that House, he had never heard before. There had never even been so much as an attempt to answer the noble Lord's case. In the first place it had been said, that this was not a Bill of Pains and Penalties; and therefore those parties who were directly affected by the measure —who were by name deprived of their valuable franchise—had not established a right to be heard. He was glad to have it in his power to inform the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last, that he need not be under any great apprehension that if this petition was acceded to, every other borough would petition against the principle of the Bill; it was the first A B C lesson of the House, and known, he should have thought, to all but the very youngest Members, that it was only on the second reading of a Bill that parties could petition against the principle of it; the time to petition against any particular enactment of the Bill, being when it was going into Committee. He had not heard a single argument against the motion which would not equally apply to the case of any Road or Canal Bill. Parties might apply to them, as the burgesses of Appleby had done, and might be asked "Do you mean to assert this Road or Canal is unnecessary, and ought not to be made?" They might answer "No, we do not; we do not touch the principle of the Bill, but we think the Road or Canal should not take the particular line proposed, for we believe another, more convenient, may be found." It was the constant practice of the House to hear counsel in such cases, and surely this was a matter of as much importance as a Road or Canal Bill. It was said, the petitioners might be heard by their Members, but this was not the answer the House was in the habit of giving to petitioners. And was it at this particular moment, when it was pretended that Members elected by Corporations were not the Representatives of the people, that the inhabitants of such places were to be told they could not be heard except by their Members. This was not a principle laid down by the Bill, but stated by the Government, and was not sufficient for that House; if it were to act on such a statement it would do so for the first time. Take the case of a borough, which the Government said should be considered the same as the parish, or the case in which the Government decided that the limits of a borough were not the same as those of 1111 the parish; either of these was a case in which they had no principles to guide them —at least no other principles than those laid down by the Government, and enforced by a majority. And was it to be said, that by such a decision the House was to be entirely precluded from further examination. Admitting the principle of disfranchisement, as laid down by the Government, was it not better to allow each borough which chose to do so, the opportunity of disproving that it came within that principle? Would the majority stop all inquiries? Would they say at once, that they were prepared to give their votes to the propositions of the King's Ministers? What would be said if a Jury were to act so? Here there were forty-seven boroughs arraigned before them, and there was a call for a verdict, without the Jury being allowed to hear the evidence, though they knew not how the evidence applied— though it was offered to be shown of some of these boroughs that they were not guilty. No; they were told that they must give a general verdict, and must not examine the evidence of each particular case. They were to disfranchise forty-seven boroughs —they were to condemn them, taking no time for consideration, not allowing them to be heard in their own defence, and not even asking them why sentence of death should not be passed on thorn. Once grant the principle contended for by his hon. friend, the Attorney General, and let the House see the great injustice to which it would lead.
§ Mr. Attwood
had never witnessed, since he had been in that House, more improper, more unjust, or more unfair conduct, than that which was then advocated by the Ministers. He for one would say, that the hon. and learned Gentleman (the Attorney General) had no right to assert the petitioners were approaching that House under insincere pretexts; he had no right to charge the petitioners with wearing a mask. They approached the House to defend their rights and privileges, and the hon. and learned Gentleman had no right to impute to them that they meant to throw obstacles in the way of the Bill, when they distinctly disavowed any such thing. If the proceedings of the petitioners were calculated to obtain in their case the just application of the principles laid down by Ministers, it would not be denied, if those proceedings were an obstruction to the progress of the Bill, that 1112 the fault was not in the petitioners, but in those who proposed an incongruous measure, which they could not, without committing injustice, carry into execution. Those who brought forward the Bill should be blamed, not those who petitioned for justice; and the fault principally lay, he believed, with the hon. and learned Gentleman himself. The Bill proceeded, as he understood, on the principle, that when a borough had more than 2,000 inhabitants, it was not to be totally disfranchised. The Minister, however, had inserted Appleby in the Schedule of total disfranchisement—and on what authority? That of the population returns, by which it appeared that Appleby had only 1,344 inhabitants. It was on that account placed in Schedule A. But the inhabitants of Appleby offered to show, that the borough contained 2,616 inhabitants, and they offered to show that the return of 1,344 people only, was an error in the population returns, arising from a parish having been left out in 1821, which was not left out in 1811. The case was clearly an error, and the population was under-rated. Why then would the Ministers not allow the error to be rectified—the Ministers who professed liberality, to whom was ascribed a love of liberty, but who were behaving most tyrannically? If the House sanctioned this measure, there was no injustice, no tyranny, which a vote of the majority of that House might not sanction.
Mr. Charles Wood
denied, that the Ministers were entering into the question without having made inquiries, though they were treated as if they had, and as if they had refused to receive information. The question before the House was, should the petitioners be heard by Counsel at the Bar? He begged to remind the House, that the Speaker, in the last Parliament, had declared, that the question should be put on each borough, and that was the time to determine whether the borough should be kept in the Schedule or not. He believed, that there was a mistake in the population returns as to Wareham [cheers from the Opposition.] He was prepared for those cheers, but if he appealed to the House, it should be to its reason, not to its passions. They did not mean to talk everything opposed to them down by the majority, which, he was happy to acknowledge, was ready to support the Bill. If he brought the question of Wareham before the House, he should 1113 not wish to succeed unless he had the votes of the Gentlemen opposite, and unless the House was fully satisfied of the justice of the claims. He did not think so lightly of the justice of the House as to deem it necessary to have counsel to argue his case at the bar, but he would confidently appeal to the majority, which, thank God! they (the Ministers) enjoyed, because he was persuaded that the majority would do even-handed justice both to Appleby and Wareham. He denied that Ministers refused inquiry—Ministers had declared, that if any borough could make out a case which entitled it to be exempted from the operation of the Bill, it should be exempted, and to that declaration they would adhere. That was not a new question; but the question before the House was a new one; for that was, whether the petitioners should be heard by Counsel at the Bar? The conduct of the Ministers had been described as unfair, and it was said, that they refused inquiry. The answer was, that it was not unfair, for they had not refused inquiry and investigation. If this had been a Bill of Pains and Penalties against a corrupt borough, it would be just to hear Counsel, but it was not such a Bill, and the principle upon which Appleby would be disfranchised could not be made different, whether Counsel were heard or not.
§ Sir George Warrender
contended, as the House always heard Counsel in case of boroughs accused of bribery and corruption, as it had heard Counsel in such cases as Grampound, Aylesbury, and East Ret-ford, that it ought, with much more reason, to hear Counsel on behalf of those boroughs which were to be punished without being-accused of either bribery or corruption. Why should the latter be deprived of a valuable and important privilege, for so it must be considered, when petitions came from those who did not possess it, desiring it might be extended to them. He, for one, wore no mask, and appeared only as an individual anxious to do justice. He was decidedly in favour of the motion, and thought the House would act very unjustly if it did not hear Counsel. His views could not be ascribed to party purposes, for although he disapproved of the principle of the Bill, and voted against its second reading, yet there were many points in it in which he concurred; and he cordially supported that part of it which applied to the county with which he was 1114 more immediately connected. That he wished to see some amendments introduced into the Bill could not be imputed to party motives, for he was connected with no party. He wished only for justice, and if he saw injustice done, he should be inclined to oppose it. He could not assent to the proposition of the noble Lord, that the boroughs in Schedule A should be condemned unheard. The petitioners stated a particular case of grievance, which was, that although the principle of Reform did not apply to them, they were brought within its operation, and if they should be condemned unheard it would be a gross piece of injustice, which would revolt all good men against the Bill. He wished most sincerely to support Ministers; but he could not lend his support to such a measure. Under the present circumstances, when they were sweeping away the old land-marks, he should above all things recommend the House to deal justly by all men, and deal justly by the petitioners, and hear them.
was decidedly against hearing Counsel at the Bar in the case of Appleby. He wished, however, to get some information from the noble Lord as to the extent of Appleby. The noble Lord had stated, that that town was situated in two parishes.
Lord John Russell
rose to order. The noble Lord was not about to speak to the question before the House.
went on. He wished to know from the noble Lord, whether the town and borough of Appleby were distinct places; and sooner or later that point must be ascertained.
§ Mr. Praed
was prepared, from what he had already seen in that House, to expect much party feeling, and much political violence; but he was astonished at the opposition which was given to the proposition of the noble Lord. They were about to take away from a number of boroughs, rights, which, whether a property or a duty, were highly valued by them, and had been long in their possession. In this case, the borough claimed to be heard in defence of a right, and was it contrary to the practice of that House to grant the prayer of such petitioners? In case of the accusation of corruption, such a prayer was granted, and why not, then, in this case? It was said, that the Members might defend the borough, who would be capable of giving evidence in the Com- 1115 mittee as to the facts of the case. That was a new argument; and the reason alleged for thus departing from the usual course was, that if Counsel were to be admitted in this case, they must also be heard in others. If this were inconvenient, it ought to have been considered before the Bill was introduced. The claim to be heard was founded in equity and justice, and he would strenuously support it. With respect to the observation made use of by the hon. and learned Gentleman, of "coming before the House under a mask" he considered it applied to those who advocated the cause of the petitioners in the same manner as a similar observation was applied in a former Parliament. He certainly wore no mask, and as he meant to support the prayer of the petition, so he should certainly oppose the Bill, because he considered its provisions to be dishonest and unjust.
§ Mr. D. W. Harvey
said, that, disguise the petition as Members pleased, it was nothing more nor less than an attempt to give a hearing, at the Bar of the House, to at least two Counsel in favour of each borough which could make out the slightest pretence to be heard. Hon. Gentlemen had assumed, that the petitioners had been charged with some crime, but that was not the case, and it was not for the innocent, but only for the accused or the guilty, to ask to be heard at the Bar. It was the first time, he believed, that ever that House was asked to decide a great and constitutional question by the advice of gentlemen of the bar. It was a most novel and singular proposition. For his part, he disclaimed being one of that marshalled majority which had been alluded to, and he was prepared to deal fairly and justly with any borough, whether belonging to the Whigs or the Tories, which came before the House. He had no sympathy with either faction; he stood there as an advocate of the rights of the people. It was absurd to call Counsel before them, to prove at the Bar what any of the inhabitants of Appleby could prove. What was there doubtful in fact, or what was there doubtful in law, relating to Appleby, which Counsel could prove at the Bar? The question of Appleby might be the question of all the boroughs in the kingdom. If they allowed Counsel to be heard for Appleby, they must allow it for every other borough; then there would be 150 boroughs, each to be heard by Counsel; 1116 and suppose the Counsel were to be contented each with one day, there would be 150 days before the House could go into a Committee. If that were not a masked, and even an iniquitous, attempt to delay the Bill, worthy of its advocates, and worthy of their cause, he did not know what was; and he was sure that the majority would resist the attempt to have its judgment deluded or perverted by the hired advocacy of the Bar. The only question was, if the borough could redeem itself by showing that the amount of its population was above 2,000; and if the noble Lord could prove that fact, the House would be very ready to give him every attention, and allow the borough either to seal its own extinction, or secure its perpetuity.
§ Sir Edward Sugden
said, it was somewhat extraordinary that the noble Lord (Milton) who wished to know the extent of the borough of Appleby, should refuse to adopt the only proper and constitutional way of attaining the information he required, because the Attorney General declared that the House was in too great a hurry to pass the Bill to admit of its hearing Counsel or doing justice. If Ministers had brought down a Bill on imperfect information (as he could prove that they had), were innocent individuals to be made the sufferers? It seemed that it was only Ministers who were to beat liberty to amend their own mistakes, alter clauses, and transfer boroughs from Schedule to Schedule, as seemed meet to them—but they rejected all advice or remonstrance from others. He should be able to show the Bill had been altered in every respect, both in principle and detail; but when the Ministers had done an alleged act of injustice, would the House not give parties an opportunity of setting them right, and claiming protection from the wrong?— Would the House not give them the benefit of the best evidence—of the best mode of defending their rights? In their haste it appeared that Ministers had taken all sorts of liberties with the Bill; altering its provisions, and even principles, by transferring, in some instances, boroughs from Schedule B to A, or from A to B, or striking them entirely out of the Bill; and when any remonstrance was made, they failed not to intimate the strength of their majority. It was not to be endured, much less anticipated, that the application of the noble Lord's petitioners should be repelled 1117 in this unusual and unceremonious manner. He had said before, and now repeated, that it was the bounden duty of Ministers to have rendered themselves masters of the case of every borough included in either of the Schedules, before bringing in the Bill. That they had not done so, the repeated changes made in the Schedules proved—cases, such as the present, proved it—nay, that provision by which three months were to be allowed for the purpose of enabling Commissioners to parcel out boroughs and counties, proved Ministers' ignorance of the details of their own measure. Would it not have been better if they had informed themselves on the subject, and undertaken that duty themselves which they devolved upon others? ["Question."] Gentlemen opposite cried "Question;" let them tell their opponents, in God's name, what treatment they were to receive. Was any Gentleman's time so precious that he could not stop to hear arguments on the details of a measure which the majority were impatient to pass, blindfold, and without due consideration? He did not care if he sat 100 days, or even more, provided justice was done. There could be no such haste that the House, which existed only to do justice to all, could not see justice done in this particular case. The great majority that supported the Bill on the second reading had been referred to. Gentlemen on that, (the Opposition) side of the House, were threatened with a division: very well, let this majority be brought down to vote in the dark, without argument or discussion, and then the people of England would know how the matter stood. If Gentlemen were willing to listen to argument, he was desirous of treating a question, such as this, in a proper spirit, and was willing to lend his aid, with a view to render the Bill as unobjectionable as possible; but if he found that the measure was to be carried through in all its details, right or wrong, by numbers, not arguments, he for one should retire from all discussion of the subject, and content himself with a silent vote. His hon. and learned friend, the Attorney General, by the time, manner, and language, he had used, appeared to attempt to dragoon them into the measure. The argument of the hon. member for Colchester was absurd, when the question was, whether, sitting as they were in their judicial capacity, they should do justice or not. He did not see upon what principle, 1118 either of justice or equity, they could refuse to hear evidence on the part of the borough of Appleby. Here was a case in which the borough consisted of two parishes, which, by the statement made in 1811, would appear to be, both in part, and one principally, in the borough, and both subject to the jurisdiction of the borough. It was absurd, then, to say that this borough should not be considered as comprising both these parishes. Now, notwithstanding the Government had these facts before them, they still determined to disqualify the borough, and, merely as a consequence of that improper determination, they resolved to refuse to hear the petitioners at the Bar in support of their exercise of the right of which they were so unjustly about to be deprived. As to the objection of wanting time, he cared not how long that case or others might last; he (and he could as ill spare the time as most men) had rather sit there the whole year round, provided he could do justice to the country, than allow the Bill to be hurried through at the expense of public and private injury. If the Ministers of the Crown, in the plenitude of the power they enjoyed, refused to hearken to reason, it, very happily for the interests of society, rested with the House of Commons to check their precipitancy, and correct that abuse of their power. He must deprecate the injustice of attempting to carry the point by a strong majority, without fair argument, and must declare his conviction, that justice could not be done in this case unless the House consented to hear evidence and Counsel at the Bar.
§ Mr. R. Grant
wished to recall the attention of the House to the real question, which was very simple, and had been decided in a hundred instances. The refusal to hear Counsel had been spoken of as unprecedented, but was this the first time that such a request had been refused? Was there not a similar refusal in the case of the Catholic Association? That body presented itself to the House, and asked to be heard by Counsel, but its prayer was not granted. That case was strictly in point at present, and the principle which then guided the House must now regulate its decision. In the present instance, was there any disputed matter of fact, or any question of law at issue, which could affect that decision? [cheers.] He hailed those cheers as an acceptance of the proposition on the other side, and was 1119 prepared to argue, that it would be preposterous to delay an important question by hearing speeches or listening to evidence, neither of which could materially affect the decision of the House, because there was no question of fact or law to be decided. The petition said, that the borough of Appleby extended into two parishes, and that the population of the two parishes exceeded 2,000. Granted; but it did not follow, even if this were true, that the petitioners were to be taken out of Schedule A, for it did not appear, that the whole of the two parishes was included in the borough, but rather the contrary. As to the question of law, he maintained there was none in this case, except that which was stated in the bill brought in by Mr. Curwen, which declared that it was contrary to ancient usage, and to the real purpose of Representation, for populous places which were represented in Parliament to have their Members elected by the influence of individuals. It was said, that the House admitted boroughs charged with corruption to be heard by Counsel, but would not admit the innocent to be heard; but those who made this admission, answered their own objections. When parties were accused, they had a right to be heard, but here no charge was brought, nor had the petitioners to defend themselves against any accusation. He thought the question could be fully and conveniently discussed in a Committee, and that such a mode of proceeding was in every respect preferable to the inconvenient course now proposed, of hearing Counsel in the case of every borough. As to what had been said on the other side relative to the commanding majority by which the Bill was supported, he thought that circumstance afforded a reason why the Government should reject all casual and trifling advantages, and proceed constitutionally and deliberately (yet not too slowly), to pass this great measure. He for one should oppose going into this inquiry, because it would create unnecessary delay, and disappoint for an indefinite period, the expectation of the people.
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
had heard no arguments from the other side, which convinced him that Counsel ought not to be heard, but many which seemed to him explicitly to prove that they ought. There was the case of Appleby, and the case of Wareham; both were the same, and both required inquiry and information. He 1120 wished to know who it was that had an uncontrolled license to make mistakes, and set them right? That was his question, and he would answer it himself. It was the King's Government which could make mistakes ad libitum, and which had a power of curing them ad libitum. They shambled one borough out of Schedule A, and they shambled another into Schedule B, just as they liked. An allusion had been made to this by the hon. and learned Attorney General in a spirit of amenity which was natural to him, but which he had, however, subsequently dropped, when he talked in an indignant strain of this petition being a mask; when he assumed somewhat of that sort of look which an Attorney-General is in the habit of assuming when trying a libel case against Government—an experiment in which his learned friend had not lately been so fortunate as he could have wished. He would not give the Opposition credit for absolute impeccability; but "mistake," was a term unknown in the Government vocabulary, belonging only to the Opposition side of the House. Whatever plan the Government undertook, must succeed; whatever bill it drew, must be perfect; whatever Schedule it made, must be unimpeachable; these attributes of perfection belonged to the Ministry, and not to the Opposition. It was too capricious, however, too tyrannical, and too insulting, to the British public, that the noble Lord should have the power on his own arbitrary will, or on the arbitrary will of any Cabinet or Government, to draw up a Schedule, in which he should or should not insert, according to his pleasure, the right of sending Members to Parliament. He hoped, for the credit of the noble Lord's illustrious family, that he would not suffer the insulting and scandalous notion to go forth to the public, that the borough of Appleby was, without a hearing, to be deprived of the privilege which it had enjoyed for centuries,—that one of its Representatives was to be taken from it, and that it was to be reduced to the half-pay list, or that it was to be killed out entirely. To be sure whether his learned friend, and his learned friend's coadjutors, had arguments or not to support their views, they were sure to succeed in that House with the large majority possessed by the Ministers. He must repeat his conviction, however, that the Bill was a bill of pains and penalties, and he called on 1121 the Government to disclaim the assertion of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), that it was not so, and not to proclaim to that House and the country that a Bill depriving so many boroughs of their franchises and privileges was not a bill of pains and penalties. The Members of that side of the Mouse had been charged with going into a premature discussion on this petition. The Attorney General had, indeed, complained openly that they had done so, and entreated them, for God's sake, to keep to the question. It was, however, that hon. and learned Gentleman and his friends who had travelled out of the record. The Attorney General said, keep to the petition; the House is agreed on the principle of the Bill, as well as on its details, and you need not argue them. The hon. and learned Member had been much occupied of late, and he sympathized with him on whatever he had found disagreeable in his duties: his time had been employed so much on other matters, that he probably had not looked into the journals and orders of that House, but if he had he would have found that the Members were anything but unanimous on the subject of the details of the Bill; that there were not a few of them who had given notice of their intention to modify or oppose them, and that already there were no less than seven distinct notices on the Order-Book of amendments to he moved in the Committee by the friends of the Bill. There was the noble Lord the member for Northamptonshire (Lord Milton), he had a motion on the subject of one of the details; and although it might be supposed, that the two noble Lords were so well agreed on the Bill as to make but one, yet it seemed they differed on the details which the Attorney General called on them not to discuss. The learned Gentleman, however, said, and he was supported by his friends—do keep to the question, we are all agreed. Yes, they were probably as much agreed as twelve Jurors who could not make up their mind to give in their verdict. That was their state of unanimity. Some one said, however, wait until we go into the Committee, and see how the case stands. Why that was just what he wanted. He wished to see how the case stood, and he demanded inquiry for that very purpose. He wished that witnesses should speak to the facts, and therefore he supported the prayer of the petitioners. Were they to take the noble Lord's representation who took such capri- 1122 cious and arbitrary liberties with the different schedules? He knew, that the Parliament which was to succeed them, when the Reform Bill passed, would adopt a new course; and that they would say to those who brought their prayers for redress or inquiry, "No; we can't hear you; we are a Parliament strong in numbers; we are come here delegated to fulfil a particular trust, and we will not listen to you." If it were possible to look with a telescopic vision into futurity, they would probably find, that such would be the language of their successors; but, as that time was not yet come, he implored them to support the character for justice and impartiality which had belonged to that House for so many centuries; and, by agreeing to the prayer of the petitioners, fulfil even their own declarations with respect to the principle of the Bill. Some Gentlemen said "Hear the members for Appleby in the Committee;" while others said, that those Members, who, he might say, were now in articulo mortis,? were the Representatives of corrupt boroughs, and ought not to be heard at all. He hoped the House would not, by anticipation, clothe itself with the characters which would so peculiarly belong to its successors. Let the latter consecrate themselves as they might in the public estimation, but let that House not depart from the principle which it had adhered to through centuries—namely, that of not taking away the rights of a borough or even of a single Member, without hearing the party in defence. The noble Lord said, that the rotten boroughs should not be heard by their representatives in that House, for they are interested. Well, then, if they were not to be heard by their Representatives, nor by Counsel, on their petition, he would ask the noble Lord how they were to be heard? In what way were they to be heard against that act of injustice of which they complained? Did the noble Lord mean to say, that the arguments of the two members for Appleby, which were pronounced partial, and unworthy of attention, would be sufficient to induce the House to take the borough out of Schedule A, and to put it in Schedule B. The question was not a matter of argument: all that was to be decided was a mere fact, to be gathered from evidence; and he implored them to hear it, and not lay themselves under the aspersion of declaring all discussion unnecessary when they were able to carry their point by numbers.
§ Lord Althorp
said, the hon. and learned Member bad, as usual, allowed his imagination to lead him into much exaggeration. The hon. Member had charged the Government with a desire to overbear all argument by numbers, and to stop all necessary discussion by force. Was there any evidence of such an intention in the course they had pursued? Had not his noble friend distinctly declared, that the whole question would undergo discussion in the Committee? and he would say now. in God's name, let the Mouse go into a Committee, and then let the case of each particular borough be taken on its own merits, and fully discussed. The hon. Member had charged the Government with partiality; but the Ministers had laboured by every means in their power, to deprive themselves even of the means of being partial, and in order to do so, they had bound themselves by a fixed rule, from which they were determined not to swerve. The hon. and learned Gentleman had called the Bill a bill of pains and penalties, and he called on the Government to acknowledge that it was. Now, he had no hesitation in saying that it was not a Bill of Pains and Penalties, but a Bill which, he was satisfied, would prove most beneficial to the whole country. The hon. and learned Member asked how they were to know the population of the borough of Appleby unless they agreed to the Amendment of the noble Lord? He answered, by the Population Returns; he would add, that no other information could be procured, even if witnesses were called. They could not take the evidence of those who had not taken part in making a Population Return; and if they took the evidence of the person who had, that would be unnecessary, for his evidence was already before them in the return itself. The hon. Member had observed on the difference of opinion between him and his noble friend. He was connected with that noble Lord on the most friendly terms, and had been so during the greater part of his life, but those who marked the proceedings of that House must see, that they frequently differed in their political opinions. The hon. and learned Member had asked, was this the way to gain the confidence of the country? He (Lord Althorp) would answer that question by asking, was it the way to deserve the confidence of the country, to persist in motions of this kind, which were purely put forward for the purposes of 1124 delay, and in order to place impediments in the way of the passing of that Bill which the country so ardently desired.
§ Mr. Croker
observed, that the noble Lord had quite passed over the real question before the House. The question was, whether they would consent to allow the Borough of Appleby to prove, that it was entitled to be placed in the same condition as Buckingham, which had also represented its case, and received immediate attention from the noble Lord (Lord Russell) and the Government. The Borough of Appleby was, it appeared, composed of two parishes—St. Michael's and St. Lawrence. In the census of 1811, they were taken together, and the number of inhabitants found to be above 2,200. In the return of 1821, one of the parishes was left out, and the petitioners now prayed they might be allowed to prove that it had been left out, and that the borough, according to the rule laid down by the Government, was entitled to be taken out of Schedule A, and placed in Schedule B. He certainly did expect, from what had taken place with respect to other boroughs, that the noble Lord would have risen at once in his place, avowed it to be a mistake, and expressed his willingness to amend it. He confessed he was disappointed that such a course had not been adopted. What they proposed was, to get evidence; but the noble Lord said, wait till the House goes into Committee. Now he was in the correction of the Chair when he said, that no evidence could be taken in Committee, except that Committee had the previous sanction of the House, and that was what they now required. The Attorney General said, however, that the proposition was a mask for something else; and the noble Lord said it was intended to produce delay. Now he would show how much of mask and of delay there was in it. The Memorial of the Petitioners had been presented to the Secretary of State weeks ago, and the Government had thought proper not to comply with their prayer, but it was impossible for them to have brought their case before that House a moment sooner than they had done. This was the mask they had worn, and this was the delay of which they had been guilty. The hon. Member concluded by observing, that the case of Appleby was the same as that of Buckingham and Truro, and several other places, with regard to which the Ministers had acknowledged their error, and he 1125 hoped the House would now compel them to hear the case, which the people of Appleby believed they could make out.
§ Colonel Torrens
observed, that the people of Ashburton were in the same position as the people of Appleby. They amounted to 4,000 souls, and, therefore, ought not to be included in Schedule B. They had memorialised the Secretary of State, and their prayer was refused, but they did not insist on being heard by Counsel. It appeared extraordinary that so strong a feeling should be manifested with respect to Appleby, when there were other boroughs in a similar situation of which no notice was taken.
§ Mr. Croker
assured the hon. Gentleman that they had the same respect for other boroughs; the only reason for taking Appleby first was, because it stood at the head of the List of those places which it was proposed to disfranchise.
Mr. Alderman Thompson
said, he happened to be more intimately acquainted with the borough of Appleby than perhaps any of the Members of that House, and he must say, from what he knew of the allegations of the petition, and of the persons who signed it, and the respectable and independent situation they held, that he thought the House was bound to accede to its prayer. He could state from personal knowledge, that the jurisdiction of the Mayor of Appleby extended over both parishes of St. Michael's Bondgate, and St. Lawrence, and it could not be denied that they contained more than 2,500 inhabitants. He thought that the borough was entitled to retain one of its Members, and he must say he knew the petitioners to be all highly respectable men, and as little at the beck of any patron, as any voters in the kingdom. He had made these few observations because he felt it his duty to support the Motion. He was anxious to see the principle of the Bill carried into effect, but with fairness, impartiality, and justice.
§ Mr. Cutlar Ferguson
said, there was no occasion to hear Counsel, but there was occasion to hear explanation. It was, at all events, necessary that the case should be understood before Counsel were called in. It appeared, that the two parishes of St. Michael's Bondgate, and St. Lawrence were in the population returns of 1811 combined, and their joint numbers returned as the population of the borough of Appleby; but, in the population returns for 1126 1821, they were divided, and the number of inhabitants described under the head of each respectively. Now the first point he wished to know was, whether St. Michael's and Bondgate were one and the same place? for, if they were, the district would have more than 2,000 inhabitants, and Appleby would come into the Schedule B. He was a friend to Reform and wished to see its principle carried into effect, without the risk of infringing those rights which could be fairly established under its provisions. The principle laid down by the Bill then before them was, that all places that did not contain a population of 2,000 souls should be disfranchised. Now, in the case under consideration, if the two parishes made one and the same place, he with the facts of the amount of population as adduced, thought the borough of Appleby ought not to be disfranchised. He was, nevertheless, against the hearing of Counsel, because he was against delay, and because there was no point at issue to which a Counsel could be required to speak: but he did want witnesses to inform him as to the facts, whether the two parishes were, indeed, one and the same town, and both formed component parts of the borough of Appleby. Unless information was given to satisfy him that the statements contained in the petition to that effect, were not true, he could not vote for its disfranchisement.
said, he rose merely to inform the hon. and learned Gentleman that St. Michael's and Bondgate were one and the same town.
Lord John Russell
said, the Government were prepared to admit the statement of the petitioners, as far as the parishes were concerned, but he would not enter into the case until the Bill was in Committee.
§ The House then divided; for the Motion 187; against it 285—Majority 97.
§ The Motion was then put, that the Speaker leave the Chair.
said, he must enter his protest against the Bill, but he begged the House to understand, that his objections were founded more upon the extent to which Reform was thereby proposed to be carried, than to the principle that no Reform was necessary. He objected only to a measure which, in his opinion, went far to endanger the most valuable institutions of the country; it was far more searching than the people asked for or than was necessary. At no period since the Revolution was that House a more faithful Representa- 1127 tive of the sentiments of the country—at no moment was such an extensive Reform less called for; of which fact, the conduct of the last and the preceding Parliament afforded numerous proofs. He was far from saying that the large and considerable towns of the kingdom ought not to enjoy the elective franchise. But he deprecated the mode in which it was proposed to give it to them; and he still more strongly deprecated the extent to which it was proposed to go. It was repugnant to the principles of justice; it was incompatible with the integrity of the British Constitution; it was destructive of the security of property. To him the measure appeared to be a flagrant insult to the moral sentiments of the nation; and he was persuaded, that when they understood it, they would not tolerate so sweeping a confiscation. The elective franchise was as valuable to any man, as any property he could possess; and nothing could justify its spoliation. It tended to destroy all that just influence of rank and property which had hitherto been productive of so much national benefit. He had been sorry to hear a distinction made, and that by persons for whose talents he entertained the highest respect—between property and franchise. To him they appeared to be so incorporated, to emanate so completely from one another, that he felt it impossible to make any distinction between them. They were, in fact, identical. Those who impeached the validity of the elective franchise, deteriorated property, destroyed prescription, usage, and ancient tenure, and overlooked the sanction which the Legislature had repeatedly given to those particular rights to which they were desirous of putting an end. At the Union with Ireland, the rights of those individuals who were now called boroughmongers, those persons who, by their property and their station in life, possessed a just influence over their tenantry and neighbours, were fully and fairly acknowledged. They received an indemnification for the loss of their boroughs. If it were possible, that the spoliative principle of the Bill could be rendered worse by any circumstance, it would be by the excitement, and by the extravagant speculations to which it had given rise. He could not agree in the propriety of the principle, that one class ought to be robbed to bestow privileges on another. Continued attempts had been made to persuade the ignorant that they would greatly profit by the suc- 1128 cess of this measure; the present state of public excitement was excessive in consequence, and no measure could have been devised more calculated to favour the designs of cunning and wicked demagogues. He could not help making a comparison between this excitement and some of the occurrences which preceded the French Revolution; when the destruction of the Church was threatened. At that period it had been well said by Mr. Burke, that "nothing was more easy than to vilify those whom you intend to rob." At that period the higher classes were held up by the Press to the execration of the people at large. The same game was playing in this country at the present moment. The Press was actively engaged in vilifying those who held property, who held it long, and who held it for the benefit of others as well as themselves. They were held up as dangerous to the rights, and as desirous to supplant the liberties of the country. Surely some doubts might reasonably be entertained of the justice of a measure, the friends of which were obliged in its defence to resort to defamation, and to statements incompatible with common truth, and irreconcileable to common honesty. These reiterated attacks on the motives of the borough-mongers, as they were called (with not one of whom he was acquainted), were all in aid of the projected violation of their rights, and spoliation of their property. When this class were held up as the causes of all the distress which had occurred, the feelings of the people were strongly opposed to them. He resented those attacks, because he saw no reason to believe, that those against whom they were directed were justly liable to them; and because they appeared to him to be the efforts of a weak party, to maintain themselves in the absence of any other support. One of his greatest objections to the Bill was, the extremely extensive way in which it admitted the lower orders to the elective franchise. He had seen too much of the lower orders to speak disrespectfully of them. He was proud of his own privileges, and he should be happy to share them with any classes of his countrymen. He stated this, to show that he did not want to ride over the rights of any men; but he knew, that the democratic principle might be carried too far, and in his opinion the proposed measure so carried it. By that Bill the spoliation principle would be in full action, and backed, as it would be, by the democratic principle, it 1129 was doubly dangerous, and would probably lead to consequences of the most fatal kind. He asserted, with the greatest sincerity, that the action of these two principles in connexion with each other, would occasion the greatest danger to our established institutions. He knew no better way to decrease the influence of property, than to lower the constituency to the confines of pauperism. One step more would admit all classes to the right of suffrage, and if the House would look to the effect of the degradation of the constituency in the French Revolution, they would see he was justified in the fears he entertained. He must therefore assert, that he would continue to oppose the Bill in every stage.
opposed the Motion. His Majesty's Government had introduced this Bill solely to relieve themselves from the difficulties in which their imbecillity as Ministers had involved them. For the attainment of their selfish purposes, and the gratification of their own interested views, they had wickedly and delusively appealed to the people. They had kept the whole country, for several months, in a state of uproar, about a measure which they were now compelled to acknowledge was one of speculation. The House of Commons, even as at present constituted, engrossed almost all the powers of the State. What would be the case when the present Bill was adopted? The result must be popular tumult, and national calamity.
§ An Hon. Member observed, that he found that a variety of information had been laid on the Table, respecting the population, and other circumstances, which Returns had no signature; and as they appeared to contain many inaccuracies, he wished to know by whom they were furnished.
Lord John Russell
said, that the information had been sent from different parts of the country. The member for Aldborough had asked for the production of any information which the Government might have received. He (Lord J. Russell) did not think proper to oppose the motion. The information was of that nature, that the opinion as to any particular parish was liable to correction. At the same time, it was to be observed, that the information was collected solely for the purpose of giving a general view of the population in different places, and not for any special object contemplated by the Bill.
§ Mr. Cressett Pelham
said, that since he 1130 had been a Member of the House, he had never seen such an ill-contrived and confused piece of legislation as this Bill. He appealed to all the learned members in the House, whether what was comprehended in this Bill did not extend over, at least, a hundred Statutes? The wording was so obscure, that it was liable to all sorts of misapprehensions. If the Parliament sanctioned t, they would be ultimately compelled to assent to a measure for universal suffrage.
§ Mr. Attwood
felt, that he should neglect his duty if he did not once more enter his solemn protest against this Bill, and did not again call upon the House to hesitate before it sanctioned a measure, which he was convinced would lead to incalculable evils. Such a Bill was unprecedented in the history of Parliament, and unprecedented in the history of any civilized country in the world. Never since the first institution of a Representative Government—never, from the day in which it first commenced in this country, to the present time—never before was such a proposition, involving so many important changes, ever submitted to the Legislature; never, until the introduction of the measure of the noble Lord, were the Members of the House of Commons called upon to deprive a vast portion of the constituency that had elected thorn, of the right of suffrage. There was no instance of a portion of the constituency being deprived of their rights, except in cases of bribery and corruption; never, except en account of guilt, had it been considered constitutional or lawful to deprive the people of those rights which had existed for many generations, and which, being the foundation of the rights of the Members of that House, must be paramount to, and have precedence of, them. Was there any instance of this in the annals of history, of the Commons of England being called upon to take away the rights—not, as by the present Bill, of a third of the electoral body—but even of a single body of electors, except upon compensation, or as a punishment on the conviction of delinquency of one kind or another? The measure was opposed to all precedent, and to all the practice, as well as all the principles, of the Constitution. He was not disposed to turn a deaf ear to the voice of the people, but he considered himself more bound to regard their interests than their wishes, and more espe- 1131 cially on a measure, involving, like that, the rights and privileges of several classes in the community, and the preservation of the Constitution of the country. He would tell every Member of the House, entering it under whatever influence he might, whether as the representative of a popular place, or of a nomination borough, that it was his duty to cast from his mind any pledges he might have given out of the House, on that or any other subject, and rely on nothing but his own unbiassed judgment. He had given his earnest attention—uninfluenced by any other circumstance than the desire to promote the best interests of the country, to this question, in all its branches; and with every disposition to support his Majesty's Ministers, he had been unable to arrive at the conclusion, that their sweeping Reform was required by the people, or would promote the welfare of the country. They must either be totally ignorant of the real tendency and importance of their own measure, or they had been influenced by no other motive than a desire to arrest the danger that threatened their own power— regardless of the situation in which they might place the country, and careless of the consequences that might result from their acts. They had exhibited an indifference as to what might follow, highly culpable in those holding their responsible situations. Could it be gathered from anything that had been said by any Minister of the Crown, in the long discussion that had taken place on this subject, that there was a necessity for it? Was it treating the House with becoming respect to propose changes leading to the destruction of the Constitution, without shewing that they were called for? His Majesty's Ministers were only anxious to avert the danger that threatened their own power, and were indifferent to the danger which they might bring on the country. Were they ignorant, could the noble Lord, the member for Devonshire, be ignorant of the advantages of the system of Representation; which he proposed to change for another, of the benefits of which he had said nothing, and of which he had made no attempt to prove the excellence? Could the noble Lord be ignorant that the present system possessed great advantages, even in its anomalies and apparent inconsistencies? Could he be ignorant of the advantage pointed out by the noble Lord, the member for Wootton Bassett, 1132 which arose from the intimate connexion between the two Houses of Parliament? Could he be ignorant of the benefit produced to the House and to the country by that part of the present system of Representation which he proposed to destroy; which gave facilities for introducing into Parliament the Representatives of different interests, and more especially those of extensive colonies? Could any such result be expected from the new system? On the contrary, there was much reason to fear that the reverse would be the result of this violent and uncalled-for innovation on the Constitution, which all past experience should induce the whole people to cherish and uphold. His Majesty's Ministers ought to shew that the proposed change was compatible with the interests of the other branches of the Legislature; but he defied the noble Lord—he defied the whole of them, to prove, that the system which they proposed to establish by the Reform Bill would protect the other branches of the Legislature;—he defied them to prove, that the existence of the House of Commons, such as it would be with a strong democratic cast, under the operation of this measure, was compatible with an hereditary peerage, with the existence of the other House of Parliament, or with the permanency and safety of the Throne. A reference to history would indisputably prove, that changes of this nature—the great infusion of the democratic principle— were incompatible with the existence of the other branches of the Legislature. He called upon the noble Lord to produce, from the records of any nation, an instance of the existence of a body analogous to the House of Commons he proposed to create— a body of democratic constitution—composed of the representatives of the people, in conjunction with an hereditary peerage, and in subservience to the authority of a monarch. The noble Lord might deny, by a quibble upon words, that the reformed House of Commons would be a democratic body, but let him show any instance of the existence of such a body as the House would be under the Reform system, in conjunction with other institutions such as those which we enjoyed. The noble Lord might apply to that body any denomination he pleased, but he had not proved, nor could he prove, that a democratic assembly, representing the whole people, would allow any other authority to exist in the State than their own. the noble 1133 Lord ought to have considered this when he formed his arithmetical scale for the Constitution—when he proposed the population returns as the foundation of his legislative measure, which is to sever the link that binds the Commons to the. Peerage and the Throne. He ought to have remembered that each part of the present system works in harmony with the others, and that all combine in promoting the interests and well-being of all classes of the community, and in commanding the respect of all other nations. The system of the noble Lord was composed of the most discordant materials, which could not possibly work together for any length of time, but which would be followed by the ruin of the country. The noble Lord quoted Lord Clarendon as an authority in his favour, upon the strength of his observations upon Cromwell's measure of Reform. The noble author said, that Cromwell's measure would have been a good measure in better times, and with more warrantable authority. The hon. and learned member for Calne took up that theme, and undertook to shew, that this was that better day—that this was the appointed time, and applied the more warrantable authority to the Ministerial side of the House. He could not agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman. He entertained very considerable doubts whether the passage was in Clarendon, for his hon. friend, the member for Marlborough, had carefully searched for it, and had been unable to find it. But supposing, that Lord Clarendon did say so, what was the quotation worth? A hundred and fifty years, or nearly two centuries, had elapsed since the time of Lord Clarendon, when the system of Representation was as yet but recently settled, and great changes had, within a time comparatively short, been made. It might have been a very good measure to take away certain corporation rights two centuries ago, when they were quite new, but it was a very different proposition to say, that after two centuries of undisturbed possession, it would be either just, or needful, or beneficial, to take away such powers. It might have been a good measure then, but after so great a lapse of time it might become a very bad measure. He thought these rights very much resembled other rights, and were a species of property, partaking, as the noble Lord said, of the nature of a trust. Those who 1134 possessed rights to certain tolls, and to monastic property, and who, under those rights, levied taxes on many of the necessaries of life supplied to this vast metropolis, might, with some degree of fairness, have been called upon, when their rights were new, when the days of confiscation had just passed by, to make restitution of those privileges; but to call on them to do that after the lapse of two centuries, would be to shake the security of all property. The Bill of the noble Lord, annihilating the rights of franchise, would become an apt precedent for the invasion of the right of property, though he trusted that the good sense of the people would prevent the fulfilment of his anticipation. The right hon. and learned member for Knaresborough departing from his usual fairness and candour, charged the whole of the boroughs with venality and corruption, and as a blot upon the Constitution of the country; yet, by means of this very foul, impure, and contaminated part of the Constitution, had the right, hon. and learned Member been invariably returned to Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman said, that Mr. Pitt was of opinion, that Parliament possessed the right to confiscate the elective franchise, whenever it might be deemed expedient to do so; but he forgot to add, that Mr. Pitt at the same time declared, that to take away the franchise without compensation, was an act of violence, to which he entertained insurmountable objections. When the right hon. Gentleman quoted the opinion of Mr. Pitt, he ought, in fairness, to have read the qualification appended to the rule. In his opinion, no borough should be deprived of its privilege of sending Members to the House, unless it were voluntarily surrendered, or compensation given. Such would have been the nature of the reform that Lord Clarendon would probably have supported; and until the present time, no statesman ever thought of submitting a proposition to the Legislature for depriving any body of men of their rights and privileges without compensation. If that had never been done as to a single body, it must be wrong in the case of the whole constituency, upon whose rights was founded the rights of Parliament itself. The noble Lord said, that withdrawing the franchise from boroughs, was in unison with the practice of the Constitution, and he stated, that it was the practice in former ages, and 1135 more especially under the Tudors, to abstain from sending writs to places, at pleasure. To resume the elective franchise without compensation might have been done in the times of the Tudors, but there was no precedents of such things in later periods, and it stamped the character of this measure, that the noble Lord was obliged to justify it by a reference to the conduct of the most arbitrary Monarchs of our history. The noble Lord referred to the surrender of their charters by many boroughs, but he forgot, that in the opinion of great and eminent lawyers, that notwithstanding this surrender, the right was preserved. In opposition to the noble Lord's doctrine, he would remind him, that it was the uniform practice of the House, when proof was given that a borough had exercised the right of sending Members to the House, and this had been suspended, to restore the franchise, whenever a petition required it. But if the practices of the Tudors were the precedents for his Lordship, modern doctrines were directly the reverse; for according to them, the King's writ could not be withheld from any place which had once sent Members to that House. The hon. Baronet (Sir Francis Burdett) said, that it had always been the practice of the Constitution to have elections free, and uninfluenced by any person, and in confirmation of this, he had quoted an Act of Parliament of the reign of Edw. 1st. That Act, however, merely stated, that elections ought to be free, and went no further; and it was a great perversion to infer that it authorized the taking away the elective franchise, because it contained the decision, that elections should be free. He was the representative of one of those boroughs, and had been so since he had had the honour of a seat in the House, and he declared, without hesitation, that he had never seen any of the bribery or corruption that was assigned as the pretext for the sweeping disfranchisement of the Reform Bill. The general assertion was, that all the Members for these boroughs were returned through the influence of bribery, and. in consequence of that assertion being often repeated, the minds of the people had been excited against the boroughs; but such statements were contrary to the truth. The learned Lord Advocate complained of these boroughs, and spoke of their tainted rights, and yet it was through one of them that 1136 he entered the House, and it was by his vote that the former Bill went to a second reading. The tainted rights of the borough for which the learned Lord was returned, gave him the privilege of voting against his constituents. The learned Lord gave a vote to deprive his constituents of their rights, and at the same time insulted them by the language that he used. He did not intend to enter into an examination of all the imputations which had been cast on the motives of Members on that side of the House; but he was sure that a motive of personal interest might be imputed, with as much fairness, to hon. Members opposite, as to Gentlemen on that side the House. But he would not suppose that anything so degrading as personal considerations could influence any Member of the Legislature on a question that involved the very existence of the State. The only consideration was, as to the substitution of a new system of Representation for one under which the country had flourished for the last two centuries, and no other influence, he believed, was exercised over their minds, than the influence the very natural influence of dreading the evil consequences of so vast a change. The Parliaments chosen under the present system had advanced the country in civilization, and promoted the interests and well-being of all classes. The question was, whether Ministers should hold their places, or abandon them, and that seemed to him a more unworthy and more personal motive than any which could with correctness be attributed to the opponents of the Bill. It was to be considered, too, whether they were equal to the task of giving a new Constitution to the country? whether they had proposed an equally good system in the place of that which had promoted the prosperity of all classes—which had advanced England to a pitch of greatness never attained by any other country in the world; which had secured the rights of property, and led to the rapid accumulation of wealth; which had extended all the arts of civilized life, and provided, in an unexampled degree for the comfort, the instruction, and the well-being of the people? He did not charge those with being actuated by improper motives who sought to destroy this beneficial system; but, at least, he claimed the same exemption for all those who thought it their duty to uphold what was obviously so beneficial, and to resist that proposed sacrifice of the rights of others 1137 which was at once unexampled in our history, unjust in principle, and, he firmly believed, would be found most inexpedient if carried into practice. If any hon. Member supposed that his arguments were swayed by personal interest, he would tell him, that it pointed to a different course from that which his sense of public duty called upon him to pursue. For the last ten years he had sat in Parliament representing boroughs now included in Schedule A, and to be totally disfranchised without any adequate cause, except the theory of those who had no other means of preserving place and power but to keep up excitement. In those boroughs he had never seen anything of that drunken excitation, briery, and corruption which were attributed to the system. He was willing to admit, that there were defects in our system; but that was not sufficient ground for destroying the whole. In every political system there would necessarily be instances of venality, and he admitted, that there were corrupt boroughs which were a disgrace to the country; but his great quarrel with the Bill was, that there was nothing in it which would provide against that—no provision to put a stop to the abominable custom. He had represented three several boroughs, and the right of election had been exercised in them without the least corruption; and, although they might be called nomination boroughs, there were none of the electors who could be induced, by any influence, to support a person whom he thought improper to represent the place. Their conduct was guided by motives of public good, and they would despise the imputation by which it was inferred that they were unworthy of the exercise of the franchise. The Bill, which struck at that portion of the elective body destroyed the whole of the elective system; and he denied the expediency or justice of the House taking away from any portion of the constituency the right of sending Members to this House, unless in cases of bribery. In the course of the debates, many strange deductions had been drawn from the provisions of various Acts of Parliament, and the grossest perversions had been used of historical facts. The noble Lord told the House, that one of the chief objects of this measure was, to make elections free and uncontrolled, and at the same time he took away the rights and the freedom of many classes. The preamble of the Bill stated, that, "it is expedient to take away the 1138 right of returning Members," &c. Was that the ground on which the admitted rights of large bodies of men were to be destroyed?—the ground of expediency alone? For what act of confiscation and of plunder might not such an act form a fitting precedent?—an Act which recognized the principle of taking away rights, because it was expedient. Some future Member of the House of Russell might look back with pleasure to what he might consider the bright days of the Constitution, when he finds, in a time of legal confiscation and legal plunder, a precedent to sanction any measure of appropriation or spoliation, whether the possessions partake of the nature of a trust, or of private property. A great many allusions had been made to Aldborough and Boroughbridge, which adjoin each other; but these boroughs had repeatedly sent to Parliament men of the most distinguished talents. The preamble to the Bill stated, that it was expedient to abolish the right of Representation belonging to those boroughs. Was it forgotten, then, that these boroughs had given to the House some of its brightest ornaments? The extensive knowledge and great legal learning of Lord Eldon found their way into Parliament through one of them— they first gave to Parliament the great wisdom and the splendid talent of Lord Mansfield, and it was by these means that this House was illumined by the powerful eloquence, the splendid renown, and the deathless glory of the elder Pitt. He took the words in the common meaning of the Act of Parliament, and claimed for these boroughs an acquittal of the charge made against them, in language which he would not give utterance to. Was it proper to strike boroughs from the Representative system that had given to Parliament such distinguished men? They were now represented by men whose attainments were second to none in the House. Every hon. Member would join with him in applauding the high legal attainments and integrity of purpose of his hon. and learned friend, the member for Boroughbridge (Sir Charles Wetherell); as well as the learning and industry of his hon. and learned friend, the member for Aldborough (Mr. Fynes Clinton). With respect to his hon. friend near him (Mr. Sadler) it was unnecessary for him to speak in his praise; the extent of his knowledge —the acuteness of his understanding— 1139 and the accuracy of his judgment were acknowledged by every person in the empire. The names of his hon. and learned friends would be handed down to posterity, with the names of Scott, Murray, and Pitt, as among the brightest ornaments of a British Parliament. Yet the places that elected them were to be struck from the records of Parliament, and no longer to have the privilege of sending Members to this House! In the place of such men, inconsiderable and ignorant persons would be sent to represent large constituent bodies. Under the present Bill, there would be, on each recurrence of an election, a renewal of revolutionary violence. The most eminent men who ever adorned the Legislature came into Parliament through the avenue afforded by the boroughs. He would challenge any one to point out the name of any person who ever represented the city of London, who could be put in fair comparison with either of the persons whom he had mentioned as having satin this House for Boroughbridge or Aldborough. Did the noble Lord expect that his one million of new voters would return to the House a greater number of Members possessed of more talent, consideration, and integrity, and more deserving the confidence of the country? He cared not whether the constituency were one million or seventy millions, but if the Reform did not add to the weight and consideration which the House enjoyed in the estimation of the country, it would not do the least good; while it would, at least, inflict all the evil of an extensive change. On several occasions the boroughs had rendered the most essential service to the country, by procuring admission to the House for members of the Government, who were unable to procure seats for populous places. When the right hon. member for Tamworth lost his seat for the University of Oxford on introducing the Catholic Relief Bill, he took refuge in what was called a rotten borough. But what would have been the consequence, if that right hon. Gentleman, the most efficient advocate of the Catholic Claims, had been unable to find a scat in Parliament? The Ministry would have been compelled to resign, and would probably have been succeeded by those who were inimical to the Catholic Claims. By preventing the small boroughs from sending Members to Parliament, the House would shut out some of the most able and 1140 popular men in the country from the Legislature, and would deprive itself of some of the most able defenders of the existing institutions. The hon. Baronet, the member for Westminster, from whom he always regretted to differ, admitted, that the close-boroughs brought into Parliament men of ability, but he contended that, the Members were returned by an influence which made them adverse to the people. If any hon. Member would cast his eye over the names of the distinguished persons who had found their way into Parliament by this means, he would be convinced that their conduct had exhibited no proof of this improper influence; on the contrary, most of these men—whether as regarded their station in society, their education and knowledge, their personal character, or their reputation and talents as Statesmen—were better adapted than perhaps any other men in the community to take part in the Legislature. If men more attached to republicanism than to tranquillity—the opponents of monarchical government—if men powerful for evil or for good —found their way into the House of Commons, by means unconnected with the settled institutions of the country, they would come prepared to subvert all those institutions. The history of past times had proved that such men had been influenced chiefly by ambition, and they had left behind them imperishable evidence of the fact. Lord Chatham and Mr. Fox were of that class; Sir Samuel Romilly and Mr. Canning, perhaps, likewise belonged to it. If men like these found their way into power, and into the temple of the Legislature, who were not attached to the principles of the Constitution, connected with its institutions, nor identified with its interests, the result he anticipated would most assuredly take place. The lessons lately read to the world, proved the bad effects of the revolutionary spirit of the people, and shewed that their Sovereignty was inconsistent with the Sovereignty of the Crown. What lesson was taught by the Revolution which had agitated France for the last forty years, in which the energy and ambition of the people had been constantly opposed to the power of the Sovereign? If they considered the whole world occupied with change and reformation, they might draw instruction from experience. If they looked to Europe, or to America, they would see the people everywhere engaged in what were properly 1141 called revolutionary improvements. They would see, from one end of the world to the other, a struggle going on between the people and their governments. And of what nature was that struggle? The people demanded Representative Governments; they wished to establish their own Sovereignty; and the monarchs who opposed their wishes were styled bigotted. But what was the meaning conveyed by those terms? Simply this, that the people ought to have all the power. The Sovereignty of the people was inconsistent with the Sovereignty of the Legislature, and, in direct opposition to the monarchical principle. Did not the present state of Europe furnish a melancholy proof of that fact? No country on the face of the globe, possessing an extended Representative system, had been able to maintain the shadow of an hereditary monarchy. The countries in which this conjunction had existed, had resolved themselves either into a republic, or an absolute despotism. The struggle which had been incessant in France since the first calling together the National Assembly, had terminated in the expulsion of the elder branch of the late Bourbons from the throne. The late Monarch might perhaps be called a bigot; and it might be said that he had governed France badly; but what was the character of the present possessor of the throne? He was no bigotted Monarch—he was an enlightened upholder of popular principle, and proceeded in the van of the intelligence of the age. But was his throne secure? Look at the discussions which occupied the attention of the French nation. One proposition Was,, to abolish the hereditary peerage, and another to establish three Chambers instead of two; and with examples of this kind before their eyes, was that a fit time to cast our institutions into the general furnace of revolution. He conceived that the House ought on no account to place itself in the van of innovation, and ought to hold fast by those institutions which it was madly proposed to lay aside as rubbish. Those institutions, which had challenged the praise of all the best men the country had produced, should be looked to as the beacon of safety to the nation, and, instead of building up new systems, the House should steadily oppose the blind career of those who were bent upon trying experiments on the Constitution. He was of opinion, that to effect with advantage any modification in our in- 1142 stitutions, they ought to proceed gradually step by step, and not take a second step till they were fully assured by experience, that the first was in the right path that he conceived to be the only plan of giving security to the country, and of maintaining inviolable the privileges of the Peers, and the stability of the Throne. That House had no right to make experiments upon British liberty—no right to make so great and sweeping a change in that part of the Constitution, as to destroy the sources of its own power. There was, indeed, no limits to the power of Parliament, in the broad and general sense; it might abolish even the prerogatives of the Crown, or suppress the privileges of the Peers; but its right was different from its power. The King, in his Speech from the Throne, called upon the House to have a due consideration to the acknowledged principles of the Constitution, which principles include the prerogatives of the Crown, as established by law, the authority of both Houses of Parliament, and the rights and liberties of the people. That Speech recommended the maintenance of every power, and every portion of power and privilege, as by law established; and in this sense he denied the right of the House of Commons to do aught to the detriment of those privileges. The prerogatives of the Crown rest on no other foundation than the privileges of Parliament, and to abolish the former and to extinguish the latter, would be found to be the same thing. It was a prerogative of the Crown to call Parliament together and to dissolve it—to make war and to conclude treaties. Did they propose to abolish those prerogatives? Parliament had no right to do so; it had never interfered with the great prerogatives of the Crown, and neither had it any right to interfere with the privileges of the people. It was the prerogative of the Crown to call together the Parliament; but it was also the privilege of the first borough which stood on the list of proscription—the Borough of Aid-borough—established by the same law—to return two Members to this House. The Constitution gave Representatives to boroughs which possessed but few inhabitants, and excluded larger populations from Representation. That was called an anomaly, a state of things contrary to the rights of man, and opposed to common sense; but the Constitution never founded the right of Representation on numbers. A century ago Old Sarum was, in respect 1143 to population, what it is now; yet Mr. Locke asserted, that Parliament had no right to disfranchise it; and though from that day to this, other places had continued to increase in population, they had never been invested with the power of sending Members to Parliament. If, upon the ground of such examples being contrary to common sense, they cast aside the Constitution, it would be easy to find examples still more contrary to common sense and the rights of man, both in the Constitution and in the measure now before the House. There was a rumour abroad, to which, before sitting down, he must advert, viz. that Ministers intended to elect a number of new Representatives into the other House (for so he must call the creation of new Peers), for the purpose of carrying this measure. He did not believe the rumour. Surely they could not have the audacity—the profligacy—to do this. When they were called on to reform the state of the Representation in that House, merely because the number of the electors was small, were they to have the spectacle of the Prime Minister or his Cabinet electing new Representatives into the other House of Parliament, when that constituency was so much smaller? That would indeed be a violation of all the principles of the Constitution. The power of creating Peers was given to the Crown to enable it to reward men who had distinguished themselves, or to elevate to high honours the first men among the Commoners of the country; but it was not given for the purpose of enabling it to carry a measure in Parliament. If ten Peers might be created for one purpose, twenty might be created for another. If so, that portion of the Legislature would be absorbed by the Crown. If, on the other hand, a system of deciding merely by numbers was to go on, from the people, and not from that House, would this question receive its final adjudication? If they adopted this measure, they would, as the right hon. member for Tamworth had said, open the floodgates of Revolution, which would overflow every prerogative of the Crown—every privilege of Parliament, and every right of the people.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that if it was the 1144 pleasure of the House to adjourn the question, the adjournment must take place; but he must say, that this discussion was completely unexpected. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman opposite, whether he had not agreed, that one full discussion on the principle of the Bill would be sufficient. He was not surprised that there were hon. Gentlemen who did not agree with him on this subject; but having already expressed his opinion, he rose then only for the purpose of opposing this Adjournment. He was aware that it would be impossible, at that hour, for the House to do more than resolve itself into a Committee, for form's sake; but after the discussion this question had undergone, he thought he did not ask too much, in urging them to adopt that course. If the hon. Gentleman wished to speak on the question of the merits of the Bill, he should not object to his doing so; but he would oppose the Adjournment, and take the sense of the House upon the question.
observed, that although the principle had been discussed on the Second Reading, they had now got to the period when the details of the Bill ought to be examined. There were several Members, and he among the number, anxious to deliver their sentiments on those details; and they considered they ought to avail themselves of the opportunity for doing so, before the Speaker left the Chair. At this late hour of the night, he thought enough had been done, and he should therefore vote for the Adjournment.
Mr. C. W. Wynn
was of opinion, that the discussion ought to proceed for the present; and that the farther discussion of the principle, on this occasion, was not irregular. At all events, he hoped the Adjournment would not be persisted in.
Sir R. Peel
agreed with the noble Lord, that it had been understood that one discussion of the principle, on the Second Reading, would be sufficient. At the same time, hon. Members who had not had an opportunity to deliver their sentiments on a former occasion, were at perfect liberty to speak at large on the principle. It was then only twelve o'clock, and the Debate might be continued for some time. He for one would be no party to any thing like a vexatious delay.
§ Sir E. B. Sugden
said, that the true way to shorten the Debate was, to give every Member a fair hearing.
§ Mr. Cressett Pelham
said, that several Members yet wished to be heard, and were desirous of giving their opinions on the principle of the measure. They had yet had no opportunity of doing so; and many felt uneasy at the manner of proceeding with the Bill.
§ Mr. James E. Gordon, although he had no wish whatever to cause unnecessary delay, meant to persist in his Motion that the further Debate be adjourned.
§ The question was then put, that the Debate be adjourned till to-morrow, and the House divided.
§ For the Adjournment 102; Against it 328—Majority 226.
|List of the Majority.|
|Acheson, Viscount||Burton, H.|
|Adam, Admiral C.||Bush, W. L.|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew||Byng, G. S.|
|Althorp, Viscount||Calcraft, G. H.|
|Anson, Sir G.||Callaghan, D.|
|Anson, Hon. G.||Calvert, C.|
|Astley, Sir J.D., Bart.||Calvert, Nicholson|
|Atherly, Arthur||Calvert, Nicholas|
|Bainbridge, Thomas||Calley, T.|
|Barham, John||Campbell, J.|
|Baring, Sir T., Bart.||Canning, Rt. Hon. S.|
|Baring, F. T.||Campbell, W.|
|Barnett, C. J.||Carter, J. B.|
|Bayntun, Capt. S. A.||Cavendish, C. C|
|Beaumont, T. W.||Cavendish, Lord G.|
|Belfast, Earl of||Chapman, M. L.|
|Belgrave, Viscount||Clive, C. B.|
|Benett, J.||Colborne, N. R.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Courtenay, Rt. Hon.|
|Berkeley, Captain||T. P.|
|Bernal, R.||Creevey, T.|
|Blake, Sir F., Bart.||Cunliffe, O.|
|Blamire, W.||Currie, J.|
|Blaney, Hon. Capt. C.||Curteis, H. B.|
|Blankney, W.||Cholmondeley, Ld. H.|
|Blount, E.||Davies, Col. T. H. H.|
|Blunt, Sir C.||Dawson, A.|
|Bodkin, J. J.||Denison, J. E.|
|Bouverie, Hon. D. P.||Denison, W. J.|
|Boyle, Hon. J.||Denman, Sir T.|
|Brabazon, Viscount||Dixon, J.|
|Brayen, T.||Douglas, W. K.|
|Briscoe, J. I.||Duncannon, Visc.|
|Brougham, W.||Duncombe, T. S.|
|Browne, J.||Dundas, C.|
|Browne, D.||Dundas, Hon. Sir R.|
|Brownlow, C.||Dundas, Hon. J. C.|
|Buller, J. W.||Dundas, Thomas|
|Buller, Sir A.||Easthope, J.|
|Bulwer, H. L.||Ebrington, Viscount|
|Bunbury, Sir H.E., Bt.||Ellice, E.|
|Burdett, Sir F.||Eliot, Lord|
|Burke, Sir J., Bart.||Ellis, Wynn|
|Etwall, R.||King, Hon. R.|
|Evans, Col. de Lacy||Labouchere, H.|
|Evans, W. B.||Lamb, Hon. G.|
|Evans, W.||Lambert, H.|
|Ewart, W.||Lambert, J. S.|
|Ferguson, Robt. C.||Langston, J. H.|
|Ferguson, Sir R. C.||Lawley, F.|
|Fitzgibbon, Hon. R.||Leader, N. P.|
|Fitzroy, Lieut.-Col.||Lefevre, C. S.|
|Fitzroy, Lord James||Lemon, Sir C., Bart.|
|Foley, John H. H.||Lennard, T. B.|
|Foley, Hon. T. H.||Lennox, Lord J. G.|
|Folkes, Sir W, Bart.||Lennox, Lord A.|
|Fordwich, Lord||Lester, B.|
|Fox, Lieut.-Colonel||Littleton, E. J.|
|French, Arthur||Lloyd, Sir E. P., Bart.|
|Gillon, W. D.||Loch, J.|
|Godson, R.||Loch, Jas.|
|Gordon, R.||Lowther, J. H.|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Maberly, Col.|
|Grant, Rt. Hon. C.||Maberly, J.|
|Grant, Rt. Hon. R.||Macaulay, T. B.|
|Grattan, J.||Macdonald, Sir J., Bt.|
|Greene, T. G.||Mackenzie, J. A. S.|
|Grosvenor, Rt. Hn. R.||Macnamara, W.|
|Guise, Sir B. W., Bt.||Mahon, Viscount|
|Gurney, R. H.||Mangles, J.|
|Gilbert, D.||Marjoribanks, S.|
|Hall, B.||Marryatt, J.|
|Handley, W. F.||Marshall, W.|
|Harcourt, G. V.||Martin, J.|
|Hardinge, Sir H.||Maule, Hon. W. R.|
|Hardy, Sir R.||Mayhew, W.|
|Harvey, D. W.||Millbank, M.|
|Heathcote, G. J.||Mildmay, P. St. J.|
|Heron, Sir R., Bart.||Mills, J.|
|Heywood, B.||Moreton, Hon. H..|
|Hodges, T. L.||Morpeth, Lord|
|Hodgson, F.||Morrison,. J.|
|Hodgson, J.||Mostyn, E. M. L.|
|Holmesdale, Viscount||Mullins, F.|
|Home, Sir W., Bart.||Musgrave, Sir R., Bt.|
|Hort, Sir W., Bart.||Noel, Sir G. Bart.|
|Howard, P. H.||Norton, C. F.|
|Howard, H.||Nugent, Lord|
|Howard, R.||O'Connell, D.|
|Howick, Viscount||O'Connell, M.|
|Hughes, W. H.||O'Ferrall, R. M.|
|Hughes, Col. W. L.||O'Grady, Hon. Col. S.|
|Hughes, J.||Ord, W.|
|Hume, J.||Osborne, Lord Francis|
|Hoskins, K.||Ossory, Earl of|
|Ingilby, Sir W. A., Bt.||Owen, Sir J., Bart.|
|Innes, Sir H., Bart.||Paget, Sir C.|
|James, W.||Paget, T.|
|Jeffrey, Rt. Hon. F.||Palmer, Gen. C.|
|Jephson, C. D. O.||Palmer, C. F.|
|Jerningham, Hon. H.||Parnell, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Johnston, A.||Parnell, Colonel|
|Johnston, J.||Payne, Sir P., Bart.|
|Johnstone, Sir J. V.||Pelham, Hon. C.A.W.|
|B., Bart.||Pendarves, E. W. W.|
|Johnstone, J. H.||Penlease, J. S.|
|Kemp, T. R.||Penrhyn, E.|
|Kennedy, T. F.||Perrin, L,|
|Killeen, Lord||Petit, Louis H.|
|King, E. B.||Petre, Hon. E.|
|Phillips, Sir R. B., Bt.||Thicknesse, R.|
|Phillips, G. R.||Thompson, P. B.|
|Phillips, C. M.||Thomson, Right Hon.|
|Polhill, Captain F.||C. P.|
|Ponsonby, Hn. W.F.S.||Thompson, Wm. Ald.|
|Ponsonby, Hn. J.G.B.||Throckmorton, R. G.|
|Ponsonby, Hon. G.||Tomes, J.|
|Power, H.||Townshend, Lord C.|
|Poyntz, W. S.||Torrens, Col. R.|
|Praed, W. M.||Trowbridge, Sir E. F.|
|Price, Sir Robert||Tufton, Hon. H.|
|Protheroe, E.||Tyrrell, C.|
|Pryse, P.||Venables, W.|
|Porchester, Lord||Vernon, Hon. G. J.|
|Ramsbottom, J.||Vernon, G. H.|
|Rice, Hon. T. S.||Villiers, F.|
|Rickford, W.||Vincent, Sir F., Bart.|
|Robarts, A. W.||Waithman, R.|
|Robinson, Sir George||Walker, C. A.|
|Robinson, G. R.||Warburton, H.|
|Rooper, J. B.||Warre, J. A.|
|Ross, H.||Wason, W. R.|
|Rumbold, C. E.||Waterpark, Lord|
|Russell, Lord J.||Walsh, Sir J.|
|Ruthven, E. S.||Watson, Hon. R.|
|Ridley, Sir M. W.||Webb, Colonel E.|
|Schonswar, G.||Wellesley, Hn. W. T. L.|
|Sebright, Sir J., Bt.||Westenra, Hon. H.|
|Sheil, R. L.||Weyland, Major R.|
|Sinclair, G.||While, S.|
|Skipwith, Sir Gray, Bt.||White, Colonel H.|
|Smith, J. A.||Whitmore, W. W.|
|Smith, J.||Whitbread, W. H.|
|Smith, R. V.||Winnington, Sir T.|
|Smith, Hon. R.||Wilbraham, G.|
|Smith, G.R.||Wilde, T.|
|Spencer, Hon. Capt.||Williams, W. A.|
|Stanhope, Capt. R. H.||Williams, Sir J. H.|
|Stanley, Right Hon.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|E. G.S.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Stanley, Lord||Wood, Colonel T.|
|Stewart, Sir M. S., Bt.||Wood, M.|
|Stewart, E.||Wood, J.|
|Stewart, P. M.||Wood, C.|
|Strutt, E.||Wrangham, D.|
|Stuart, Lord D. C.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Stuart, Lord James||Wrottesley, Sir J.|
|Strickland, G.||Wyse, T.|
|List of the Minority.|
|A'Court, Capt. E. H.||Burrard, George|
|Alexander, Dupre||Churchill, Lord|
|Alexander, James||Clerk, Sir George|
|Ashley, Hon. John||Clive, Lord|
|Astell, William||Clinton, E. J. F.|
|Attwood, Matthias||Cockburn, Sir G.|
|Bankes, George||Cole, Hon. Arthur|
|Barne, Capt. Fred.||Cole, Lord|
|Bateson, Sir Robert||Conolly, Colonel|
|Bentinck, Lord Geo.||Croker, Rt. Hon. J.W.|
|Best, Hon. W. S.||Cumming, Sir W. G.|
|Boldero, Capt. F. G.||Cust, Hon. Capt. P.|
|Bruce, Charles C. L.||Cust, Hon. Capt. E.|
|Brudenell, Lord||Davidson, Duncan|
|Brydges, Sir John||Dawkins, James|
|Burge, Wm.||Dering, Sir E.|
|Douglas, Charles||Lyon, D.|
|Douro, Marquis of||Maitland, Hn. Cap. A.|
|Drake, T. T.||Maitland, Lord|
|Dugdale, W. S.||Maxwell, H.|
|Dundas, R. A.||Miller, W. H.|
|Fane, Hon. H. S.||Mills, W.|
|Farrand, R.||Morgan, C. M. R.|
|Ferrand, W.||Peach, N. W.|
|Forbes, Sir C.||Pearse, J.|
|Forrester, Hon. C.||Pelham, C.|
|Fremantle, Sir T.||Perceval, Colonel|
|Freshfield, J. W.||Perceval, S.|
|Gordon, Colonel J.||Pollington, Lord|
|Gordon, J. E.||Pringle, A.|
|Handcock, R.||Sadler, M. T.|
|Harris, Capt. G.||Scarlett, Sir J.|
|Holdsworth, J.||Severn, J. C.|
|Hunt, H.||Sibthorp, Col. C. D. W.|
|Ingestrie, Lord||Stewart, C.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H. Bart.||Stormont, Lord|
|Jolliffe, Colonel H.||Sugden, Sir E.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.,||Taylor, W.|
|Bart.||Trench, Col. F. W.|
|Kearsley, J. H.||Tullamore, Lord|
|Kemmis, T. A.||Walrond, B.|
|Kenyon, Hon. L.||West, F. R.|
|Kerrison, Sir E.||Wetherell, Sir C.|
|Knight, J. L.||Wood, Colonel T.|
|Lefroy, A.||Wynn, J.|
|Lefroy, Dr. T.||Wynn, C. W.G.|
|Lindsay, Colonel J.||Young, J.|
§ From this time till after three o'clock, strangers were excluded from the Gallery. A desultory discussion took place during the period, and several divisions, of which the following is believed to be an accurate account:—
§ The question was again put, that the Speaker do leave the Chair; whereupon it was proposed by Mr. Cresset Pelham, that the House do now adjourn. The House divided on the Amendment—
§ Ayes 90; Noes 286—Majority 196.
§ Question again put that the Speaker do leave the Chair—
§ Lord Tullamore
said, it was his intention to support the Motion, and expressed his determination to move a further Adjournment; as the noble Lord opposite, by the course he had pursued, had endeavoured to check free discussion.
§ Lord Althorp
assured the noble Lord, that he had not made any such statements as the noble Lord attributed to him. The noble Lord had said, that it was his wish to stop free discussion on this great subject. He would appeal to the House, whether the question had not received the most ample, and the fairest possible attention. He had consented to adjourn- 1149 ments in every case, where, by doing so, that object could be promoted; but, on the present occasion, he should be wanting in his duty, if he did not mark the opinion which he entertained of the Motion now made, by continuing his opposition to it.
said, that it was impossible to mistake the motives which prompted the motion for adjournment. The motion was made to create delay, and throw obstacles in the way of the great measure under consideration. The country would understand what was meant, and the public would duly appreciate, both the conduct of his noble friend in resisting such a course, and that of those who sought to pursue it.
§ Sir J. Brydges
said, the question did not appear to him to have received sufficient discussion; the question of Reform certainly had, but the question now under discussion was, whether Counsel should be heard at the bar.
Lord G. Lennox
said, that the interruptions which had been complained of, as having been given to the hon. member for Borough bridge's speech, could not have taken place, for he had counted eighteen hon. Gentlemen asleep during different parts of it, including the right hon. member for Tamworth, and the late Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Sir C. Forbes
declared he would not act under a mask, but would fight under an able leader, if one could be found. He had fought to the utmost, and would still continue to persevere. He only wished he could turn Ministers out. His object was to throw out the Bill and Ministers too.
§ Mr. Lefroy
hoped, that he might seize the moment of good humour to propose that both sides should now consent to adjourn.
hoped, that the Ministers would have the firmness to resist the motion for an adjournment. The country could not mistake the true motives which actuated those who brought it forward. What was the use of continued discussion? He had listened to all that had passed to-night; he had heard a most sudorific speech from the hon. member for Borough-bridge, and what was the result? Nothing but a repetition of what he had heard before.
proposed that the member for Boroughbridge should withdraw 1150 his motion, on an understanding that no further proceeding should take place towards continuing the present discussion.
§ Lord Althorp
said, as it was now too late to proceed with the debate, he did not contemplate any further proceedings, and would agree to the noble Lord's proposition.
Lord John Russell
stated the inconvenience of having no person with whom, an arrangement for facilitating the business of the House could be made. He had fixed this day for going into the Committee on the Reform Bill, on an understanding with the right hon. member for Tamworth, that the House should do so, and he should have fixed an earlier day if he had not believed that this understanding would have been adhered to by the right hon. Gentleman.
Mr. Spencer Perceval
would consent to the motion being withdrawn, upon an understanding, that the debate could again be resumed to-morrow on the Speaker leaving the Chair.
§ The House divided.
§ For Sir Charles Wetherell's Amendment 63; Against it 235—Majority 172.
§ The question was again put, that the Speaker leave the Chair.
§ Lord Brudenell
said, when the hon. member for Dundalk first moved the adjournment, he thought it was too early, and they had better let business proceed, but as certain Members had unfairly created uproar and confusion, he felt it his duty to convince the Ministers that they on that side of the House were not to be browbeaten. He begged leave therefore to move, that the debate be adjourned until this day at five o'clock. If he were defeated, he would sit there till five o'clock the next day.
§ The motion being seconded, the question was put.
§ Lord Althorp
said, that he did not think the noble Lord had any reason for his motion, because his object to make the House hear the debate, having been gained, he hoped that the noble Lord would then allow the Speaker to leave the Chair.
§ Mr. Courtenay
begged to put a question to the noble Lord. There was an impression on his mind, that if he would use his influence to allow a discussion at 1151 the next sitting, on the question then before the House, the present embarrassment might be avoided. He thought this was reasonable and usual, especially on considering the short discussion that had taken place, and the number of hon. Gentlemen who wished to speak on the question. If the noble Lord did not agree to this he must desert his colours, to his motion under which he had sailed the last hour.
§ Lord Althorp
said, the opposition was very factious, because it was open to any Member to pursue the course advised by the hon. Member.
§ Lord Ebrington
wished to know why the opposition was continued, as no object could be gained by it.
§ An Hon. Member said, the House was evidently struggling on a false point of honour. Did any Gentleman believe he would acquire a greater claim on the attention of the House by wearing out those hon. Members who had serious business to transact. These Gentlemen, for instance, who had public business in Committees to attend to, they certainly would not be induced to attend to speeches from protracting the sitting of the House.
said, he had risen in all the divisions against adjourning, and he now begged to remind the noble Lord (Althorp) that the Government had always, after such a struggle, given way, and to suggest the propriety of its then doing so. He had witnessed many of these absurd disputes in the course of his parliamentary career. They always led to a most unprofitable waste of time. He was aware that such motions were the only protection the minority had; nevertheless, if the amendment was pressed he would vote with the noble Lord, should he resist the Motion for an adjournment.
agreed with the gallant Colonel, that the privilege of moving an Adjournment was one of the most valuable privileges of the minority; but he requested hon. Gentlemen on the other side to consider whether they might not strain their opposition and their valuable privilege of moving the adjournment too far. The only difference between them was as to a point of form, and not to any substantial advantage on either side. He thought the Minority of 63 should give way to the Majority of 235. The minority would lose nothing, and the majority would gain nothing but the advantage of not yielding. 1152 If the minority would consent to the House going into a Committee, pro forma, the House would be as ready to hear the opponents of the measure when it came next under discussion, as if they were not to go into a Committee at that time.
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
said, since he had been a Member of the House, he had never heard the question of Adjournment put on that ground before. If he recollected right he had known the question of adjournment moved five times in one night by the hon. Gentlemen who had taunted them with factious opposition. He thought the motion might stand adjourned till five o'clock, as he considered it for the advantage of the country that the debate should be adjourned. He had chosen this path to shew the public that the Opposition would not be put down by clamour, but would assert their privileges of being heard. Such motions had been frequently made by the Ministers when they were in Opposition.
§ Lord Althorp
had never moved an adjournment when in Opposition, and had seldom supported such a motion. He had seldom seen a case important enough to warrant a minority in insisting on an adjournment. He could not, consistently with his duty to those Gentlemen who supported him, give way.
Mr. Spencer Perceval
said, he had hitherto voted in the minority, to maintain the principle of fair discussion, but as an assurance was now given, that the minority would have a right to address the House again, when the Bill was in Committee, the case was altered. He should then vote with the noble Lord (Althorp) and would have done so before, had he expressed himself in the terms he had now adopted.
§ Mr. Praed
said, he had hitherto given his vote in opposition to the principle that the debate should terminate at twelve o'clock, but it appeared now, they were only required to consent to the motion for going into a Committee, to satisfy the dignity of the opposite party, which he, for one, could not agree to.
§ There were loud calls for "Question!" before the hon. Member concluded, and on his sitting down, strangers were again ordered to withdraw.
§ On a division there appeared,
§ For the Adjournment 44; Against it 214 —Majority l80.
|List of the Minority.|
|Attwood, M.||Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.|
|Bankes, G.||Jolliffe, Colonel H.|
|Boldero, F. G.||Lefroy, Dr. T.|
|Bruce, C. C. L.||Lefroy, A|
|Brudenell, Lord||Lowther, J. H.|
|Brydges, Sir J.||Maitland, Hon. Capt.|
|Burge, W.||Maitland, Viscount|
|Cole, Hon. A.||Maxwell, H.|
|Cole, Lord||Peach, N. W.|
|Courtenay, Rt. Hon.||Pearse, J.|
|T. P.||Pelham Cressett|
|dimming, Sir W., Bt.||Perceval, Colonel|
|Davidson, D.||Pollington Viscount|
|Dering, Sir E. C. Bart.||Praed, W. M.|
|Encombe, Viscount||Pringle, A.|
|Fane, Hon. H. S.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Forbes, Sir C.||Stormont, Lord|
|Fremantle, Sir T., Bt.||Trench, Colonel F. W.|
|Freshfield, J. W.||Tullamore, Lord|
|Gordon, J. E.||Walrond, B.|
|Gordon, Colonel J.||West, F. R.|
|Harris, Captain G.||Wetherell, Sir C.|
|Herbert, Hon. E. C.H.||Wynn, C. W. G.|
|Hodgson, F.||Wynne, J.|
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
said, after the repetition of the majority in favour of Ministers, he trusted they would now grant the minority the privilege to which they were entitled, and no longer oppose the adjournment of the House; they would derive no advantage from persevering in their present course. He moved that the House do now adjourn.
expressed his hope that his noble friend would persevere to the last in opposing the Motion for adjournment. The conduct of the Opposition was a great abuse of the important privilege of the minority; they proceeded on the principle that at two o'clock some hon. Gentleman fancied he was not receiving a proper degree of attention, and he persevered, consequently, with his friends in throwing every obstacle in the way of public business. They must not submit to this proceeding; and he trusted, therefore, that all who were of his opinion would determine to keep their seats to the last. For the consequence of yielding would be, that the same course which the Opposition had now taken, they would take on Wednesday, and on Thursday; that the same course which they had taken on the 12th of July, they would take on the 12th of August, on the 12th of September, and so on, until, by these repeated delays, on affected pretexts, they would defeat the great and important measure which had been brought forward by his Majesty's Government.
§ Mr. Cressett Pelham
observed, that on former occasions a minority had successfully persevered in a similar course, and trusted they would do so in the present instance. He remembered the then hon. Member for Durham dividing the House seven times on the introduction of a measure which the then Government were anxious to hasten through the House. He trusted Gentlemen, taking that case as a guide, would divide over and over again before they would submit to see any further stage of the Bill proceeded with.
§ Mr. John Campbell
expressed his hope, that the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not yield to this most improper and unconstitutional attempt on the part of the opponents of the Bill. They had heard it said, that in conformity with ancient practice, the adjournment should be allowed; and it was undoubtedly of consequence that the customs and usages of the House should be observed; but in the present case it was important to consider what induced the Opposition to act in the manner they had done. Was their object the legitimate one of protecting the rights and privileges of the minority? Far from it; as a proof of which they were deserted by their leader, who had been in bed these five hours. On the last division, the minority had amounted only to forty-four, and it was decreasing on every occasion. Their privilege had been made a sword not a shield. The hon. and learned member for Boroughbridge had proposed that the present discussion should resolve itself into this question, "which party was wrong?" He should be happy to join issue on this plea, for he believed it would fully justify the course pursued by his Majesty's Ministers. During the last five hours they had had five divisions, on each of which the minority had decreased. He trusted that it would decline still more, and that he should have the pleasure of seeing the Speaker leave the Chair for the temporary formation of the Committee on the Bill.
§ An Hon. Member said, that the Attorney General, in the course of the evening, observed, that Gentlemen who were opposed to the Bill would lose no opportunity of discussing its merits, by allowing it to go into Committee. Why, then, did Ministers continue to oppose the adjournment? They could not get more forward by that course. The cause of these repeated Motions for adjournment was the very im- 1155 proper refusal of the House to hear the hon. member for Dundalk. The friends of the measure throughout had not been desirous to hear any but their own supporters, which evinced no great degree of argumentative strength. He therefore maintained, that if those who were opposed to the Bill, and who felt it to be their duty to advocate the rights of the persons who sent them there, thought proper to take the course which they had adopted, they had a perfect right to do so.
§ Mr. Spring Rice
observed, that the adjournment was proposed at the unusually early hour of twelve, after it had been decided but a few nights before that public business should commence at five and terminate at one. The continued Motions for adjournment, therefore, could not have arisen in consequence of the hour to which the original Debate had been protracted. He denied, that any interruption had been given to the hon. member for Dundalk, whose sentiments would have been listened to with the utmost patience. There had been some little impatience in the House, but there was no interruption attempted or intended. Every effort was made to induce him to proceed, but he refused to do so.
§ Lord Althorp, in answer to those who contended, that to abandon the motions for adjournment, would be to admit one step of the Bill, and to allow that it was proper that the Speaker should leave the Chair, observed, that that was not the case. That the Bill should go into a Committee was determined immediately after it had been read a second time; and the only question to decide, therefore, was, when it should go into the Committee? If the House were now to go into the Committee pro forma, any hon. Member might again address the House on the recommitment of the Bill to-morrow, or for whatever day that recommitment might be fixed; and as that would be a new motion, the opponents of the Bill would enjoy the advantage, of having the opportunity of repeating on that new occasion the speeches which they had made on the present.
Sir Edward Kerrison
was' resolved to persevere. If the elder Members of the House felt inclined to go into the Committee on account of the lateness of the hour, he trusted the younger ones would remain and support motions for an adjournment till they succeeded.
said, it was clear, that one side must give way. Now, when it was known that an arrangement had been made with the leader of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the Bill should go into the Committee that night, he thought that, out of deference to that right hon. Gentleman, his friends might concede the point; a proceeding which, in his opinion, would be highly honourable to them. If they objected to do so, it would be quite clear, that the arrangement made with the right hon. Baronet did not meet with the approbation of his own party.
Sir Robert Inglis
was of opinion, as the noble Lord had said, that he should merely move, that the Bill should go into the Committee pro forma, that the case was on a different footing from that on which it formerly stood; For many reasons he felt inclined to agree to this course; at the same time he had recognized the propriety of adjourning in the early part of the evening, on observing that the hon. member for Dundalk did not receive the attention of the House. He therefore suggested to hon. Gentlemen the propriety of no longer resisting the Motion. The only question was as to the propriety of going into a Committee at all, but as that question had been decided on a former evening, he hoped no farther opposition would be made to then going into the Committee pro forma.
§ Mr. Praed
said, that whatever deference he might be disposed to pay to the right hon. Baronet to whom the hon. Gentleman opposite had alluded, his conduct could not be regulated by whatever might, perhaps, have been the opinion of that right hon. Gentleman four hours ago. As Ministers would gain a step by the House assenting to go into the Committee that night, he should support the adjournment. The very step which the Ministers wished to gain, was that which he and his friends wished to go oh discussing. If there were nothing but a point of form involved in this discussion, he would not object to letting Ministers have the advantage of it: but it was a point of substantial advantage, and therefore he would not yield it. It had been said, that the privilege of moving the adjournment, which was intended as a shield for the Minority, had, upon this occasion, been used as a sword: he saw no reason why it should not. In the words of Horace he would say— 1157—" Me veluti custoediet ensisVaginâ tectus. Quern cur distringere conerTutus ab infestis latronibus?
§ Lord Brudenell
thought it very improbable that his right hon. friend should have given such a pledge as that which had been adverted to. Were they to go, at four o'clock in the morning, into a Committee on a Bill, the discussions on which would last five weeks, merely because his Majesty's Government thought it a point of dignity to persevere? He trusted they would be successfully resisted, for he was one of those who were determined not to withdraw the Motion for adjournment while he could get one single Member to join him.
had not said, that the right hon. Baronet had made the pledge to which he had alluded, to him (Mr. Maberly) personally. But the arrangement had been made by a noble Lord on the other side of the House, to whom he would appeal in confirmation of his statement.
§ Lord Althorp
confirmed the statement which had just been made by his hon. friend; such an understanding as that to which he had alluded, did subsist between the hon. Baronet and himself.
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
said, that if his right hon. friend had acquiesced in allowing the Bill to go into a Committee that night, he had merely expressed his own individual opinion, without reference to the conduct of any other hon. Member
§ Mr. Fynes Clinton
said, that as it would be competent to any hon. Member to express his sentiments on the Motion for the Speaker leaving the Chair to-morrow; and as the noble Lord had pledged himself that no attempt should be made to interrupt any hon. Member in so delivering his sentiments, he did not see any advantage which would be derived from a further perseverance in opposing the noble Lord's proposition. At the same time, he thought that Ministers would have acted more gracefully if they had conceded the point, and had not shown so much pertinacity upon it. They were so elated, however, by their majorities, that it was not surprising their conduct had not been so judicious as it might have been.
§ Lord Stormont
was sorry that he must differ from his hon. and learned friend who had just spoken, in thinking that the opposition to the course which had been so perseveringly pressed by his Majesty's 1158 Ministers might now cease; in proof of which he would move, that the Debate be adjourned until Thursday, at five o'clock.
§ A division immediately took place:—
§ For the Adjournment 37; Against it 203 Majority—166.
|List of the Minority.|
|Attwood, M.||Kearsley, J. H.|
|Bankes, G.||Lefroy, A.|
|Best, Hon. W. S.||Maxwell, H.|
|Brudenell, Lord||Miller, W. H.|
|Brydges, Sir J.||Morgan, C. M. R.|
|Burrard, G.||Pearse, J.|
|Cole, Hon. A.||Pelham, Cressett|
|Cole, Lord||Perceval, Colonel|
|Churchill, Lord||Pollington, Lord|
|Cumming, Sir W. G.||Praed, W. M.|
|Dering, Sir E.||Sibthotp, Colonel|
|Fane, Hon. H.||Stewart, C.|
|Ferrand, W.||Stormont, Lord|
|Forbes, Sir C.||Trench, Colonel F. W.|
|Freshfield, J. W.||Tullamore, Lord|
|Gordon, Colonel J.||Walrond, B.|
|Gordon, Captain J.||Wetherell, Sir C.|
|Harris, Captain G.||Wynn, J.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H. Bart.||Young, J.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W. Bart.|
§ The question was then again put, that the Speaker do leave the Chair.
was glad that the House had divided so frequently, for it clearly proved the factious nature of the present opposition. The people of Glasgow might now hoist their black flag as soon as they pleased. The real question before the country was simply this—shall the. power of voting away the liberty and property of the country be given to those who are ready to pay the highest price for rotten boroughs. He trusted, therefore, the noble Lord would persevere in his determination to resist the factious conduct of the Gentlemen who opposed the Bill.
§ Mr. Cresset Pelham
said, he was not what the hon. Gentleman called a Member for a rotten borough, but he opposed the Bill upon principle, because he believed it to be mischievous, dangerous, and unconstitutional. As an independent Member, he protested against the language of hon. Gentlemen, who stigmatised his conduct in common with all those who stood forward boldly, and manfully, to oppose this destructive measure, by applying to them the term "factious."
§ Lord Tullamore
rejoiced, that there was still a party in the House which, so long as it 1159 had political existence, would defend the rights of the minority to assert their privilege of moving an adjournment. The Opposition had been urged to this course most reluctantly. He had understood the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say, that the minority must eventually succeed in this course; and therefore, though it was but for a trifle, he should pursue his former career, and support this amendment.
§ Sir C. Wetherell
said, he was determined to persevere and support the amendment, although one of the unfortunate few who remained. With the exulting majorities which the Government had obtained, it ought to take for its motto—Parcere subjectis et debellare superbos.But it would do no such thing. It was not content with dancing in and out of the House with a comic train of attendants, exulting and triumphing in their superiority—it must also clamour its opponents into silence. What the minority had that night done to maintain their own consistency and independence, was precisely what had been done by the noble Lords and the hon. Gentlemen opposite when they were placed in similar circumstances. During the period to which his own recollection extended, the maximum of the number of times which motions of adjournment had been successively made by them, and carried to a division, was five or six. Some hon. Members, however, remembered a score of successive divisions having taken place on a motion of adjournment. When he and his friends had got up to this Opposition standard—when they had divided a score of times, it would then be time enough for them to consider how to proceed. But until they had completed the full number of twenty, let not Ministers think that this motion, which originated in the refusal to give a patient hearing to the hon. member for Dundalk, would be abandoned. The noble Lord and his triumphant majority, should have frequent opportunities of quitting the House, like a comet with its tail, and of returning to a renewal of the same exercise.
observed, that men might live long and learn little. The hon. and learned Member opposite had lived long and had learnt little of his own situation or that of his party. He seemed perfectly ignorant of the situation which had uniformly induced the majority, in cases of this kind, to give way. The minority in 1160 which he (Mr. Hume) had been when such amendments were proposed, was a minority contending against an unpopular Ministry. Here the situation was quite the reverse. It was a popular Ministry contending with an Opposition consisting of a handful of factious men.
§ Lord Stormont
denied, that he proposed these amendments from faction. He did it to teach a lesson to those on the other side of the House. He would give them a few more lessons out of his spelling-book, and would not give up his situation of schoolmaster so long as a single Member could be found to second his amendments.
Mr. C. Wood
asked, to what other motive but faction could they attribute such conduct as had been pursued by hon. Gentlemen? He had divided on questions of adjournment before, but always with the distinction remarked by the hon. member for Middlesex. It was a popular minority, contesting with an unpopular Government.
Mr. Spencer Perceval
implored the House to consider the situation of the Speaker, and intreated one of the conflicting parties to give way out of consideration to that illustrious individual.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
said, that factious motives had been attributed to those who supported the adjournment. He disclaimed any motive of the sort; he conceived it their duty to persevere in the course they had begun. If, therefore, the noble Lord, the member for Woodstock, flagged in his determination to go on, he would take the matter up, and persist in moving the same amendment.
thought the country would know how to appreciate a proceeding so characteristic of Gentlemen on the other side of the House. In their zeal for adjournment, they had already exhausted every device the forms of the House allowed. They wanted to procure delay until Wednesday or Thursday, and having wholly failed, another Gentleman was found to move, that the debate should be adjourned to Friday. He trusted his Majesty's Government would not give way, but resist all such proceedings.
§ Mr. George Robinson
was sorry the hon. member for Tiverton had not, five hours ago put the observation which he had just made, regarding the Speaker, to the Gentlemen of his own party. He thought they had now got to that point, that if 1161 Government gave way, it would never be able to carry the Reform Bill. It was asserting a monstrous doctrine to say, that a small minority was to outweigh a majority which was increasing on every division.
Mr. Alderman Waithman
was perfectly satisfied, the conduct of the Opposition would have a powerful effect on the country at large, and more particularly in London, where a rumour had been afloat, that the opponents of the measure intended to pursue some vexatious and factious course. A general impression had existed, that some extraordinary step would be taken to obstruct the Bill, and the people would now see how completely their expectations were fulfilled. The matter had now arrived at a point from which it would be unpardonable for the Government to give way, and if the determination to carry the Bill into Committee were abandoned, he should be ashamed to look his constituents in the face.
declared, he was not actuated by factious motives in supporting the motion for adjournment; he had voted against the proposal for the first adjournment, because he thought, at that hour, they might still continue to consider the Bill. But as time advanced, and there was no probability of resuming the debate with advantage, he had changed his course. But now, when it was proposed to adjourn the debate until Friday, he must return again to his former course, lest, by lending himself to the support of such a motion, he might appear to have been actuated by factious motives, a spirit by which he hoped never to be guided.
said, they were disputing about a shadow. He did not sec why factious motives should be attributed to the minority in particular. As there appeared no probability of either party giving way, it would be well if some kind of compromise could be made. Nothing could be more absurd than the point they were then contesting.
§ An Hon. Member said, he was not acquainted with the forms of the House, but as there appeared no probability of settling the point in dispute, it would be well for the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his Amendment, and allow the hon. member for Dundalk to go on.
§ Mr. James E. Gordon
did not rise to comply with the proposition of the hon. Gentleman, but simply to state, that his 1162 intention to speak at midnight could have nothing to do with the series of adjournments since moved. As he could not obtain a hearing then, he had proposed an adjournment, but with no intention of connecting it with the proceedings which had since taken place. He was of opinion, however, the parties who had done so had acted right, since it was the duty of every one to see the subject fully and amply discussed.
§ An Hon. Member hoped, they intended to continue to move adjournments until the noble Lord would consent to the debate being postponed: it was now obviously too late to go on with the debate, he would therefore suggest, that the other Orders of the Day be read.
§ The House then divided on the motion, that the debate be adjourned until Friday. Ayes 25; Noes 187—Majority 162.
|List of the Majority.|
|Acheson, Viscount||Denman, Sir T.|
|Adam, Admiral C.||Dixon, J.|
|Althorp, Viscount||Duncannon, Viscount|
|Atherley, Arthur||Duncombe, T.|
|Baring, Sir T., Bart.||Dundas, Hon. Sir R.|
|Baring, F. T.||Dundas, Hon. J. C.|
|Barnett, C. J.||Easthope, J.|
|Bayntun, Capt. S. A.||Ebrington, Viscount|
|Belfast, Earl of||Ellice, E.|
|Benett, J.||Etwall, Mr.|
|Berkeley, Captain||Evans, Col. de Lacy|
|Bernal, R.||Evans, W.|
|Biddulph, R. M.||Ewart, W.|
|Blake, Sir F., Bart.||Ferguson, Sir R. C.|
|Blamire, W.||Fitzgibbon, Hon. R.|
|Blankney, W.||Fitzroy, Lord James|
|Blount, Sir C, Bart.||Foley, Edward T.|
|Bouverie, Hon. D. P.||Foley, Hon. T. H.|
|Boyle, Hon. J.||Fordwich, Lord|
|Brabazon, Viscount||Fox, Lieut.-colonel|
|Brayen, T.||French, Arthur|
|Briscoe, J. J.||Gillon, William D.|
|Brougham, W.||Gordon, R.|
|Browne, J.||Graham. Rt. Hon. Sir J.|
|Browne, D.||Grant, Rt. Hon. C.|
|Buller, J. W.||Grant, Rt. Hon. R.|
|Bunbury, Sir H. E., Bt.||Greene, T. G.|
|Burke, Sir J., Bart.||Grosvenor, Rt. Hn. R.|
|Callaghan, D.||Gurney, Hudso|
|Campbell, J.||Hall, Mr.|
|Calcraft, G.||Harcourt, G. V.|
|Carter, J. B.||Harty, Sir R.|
|Cavendish, C. C.||Heneage, G. F.|
|Chapman, M. L.||Heron, Sir R., Bart.|
|Creevey, T.||Hodges, T. L.|
|Cunliffe, O.||Holmesdale, Viscount|
|Curteis, H. B.||Home, Sir W.|
|Davies, Col. T. H. H.||Host, Sir W., Bart.|
|Dawson, A.||Howard, Hon. W.|
|Denison, J. E.||Howard, P. H.|
|Denison, W. J.||Howick, Viscount|
|Hughes, W. H.||Ponsonby, Hon. W.|
|Hughes, J.||Ponsonby, Hn. J. G. B.|
|Hume, J.||Ponsonby, Hon. G.|
|James, W.||Power, R.|
|Jephson, C. D. O.||Poyntz, W. S.|
|Jerningham, Hon. H.||Protheroe, E.|
|Johnston, A.||Pryse, P.|
|Johnson, J.||Rice, Hon. T. S.|
|Kemp, T. R.||Rickford, W.|
|Kennedy, T. F.||Rider, T.|
|Killeen, Lord||Robarts, A. W.|
|King, E. B.||Ross, H.|
|King, Hon. R.||Robinson, G. R.|
|Labouchere, H.||Ruthven, E. S.|
|Lamb, Hon. G.||Schonswar, G.|
|Lambert, H.||Sebright, Sir J., Bart.|
|Lambert, J. S.||Sheil, R. L.|
|Langston, J. H.||Skipwith, Sir Gray, Bt.|
|Leader, N. P.||Smith, J. A.|
|Lefevre, C. S.||Smith, R.V.|
|Lennox, Lord J.G.||Smith, Hon. R.|
|Lennox, Lord A.||Smith, G. R.|
|Lester, B.||Spencer, Hon. Capt.|
|Littleton, E. J.||Stanhope, Copt. R. H.|
|Lloyd, Sir E. P., Bart.||Stanley, J. E.|
|Loch, J.||Stanley, Rt. Hn. E. G. S.|
|Maberly, Col. W. L.||Stanley, Lord|
|Maberly, J.||Stewart, Sir M. S., Bt.|
|Macauley, T. B.||Strutt, E.|
|Macdonald, Sir J. Bt.||Stuart, Lord D. C.|
|Mackenzie, J. A. S.||Tennyson, C.|
|Macnamara, W.||Thicknesse, R.|
|Mangles, J.||Thomson, Rt. Hn. C. P.|
|Marjoribanks, S.||Throckmorton, R. G.|
|Marshall, W.||Torrens, Colonel R.|
|Martin, J.||Townshend, Lord C.|
|Maule, Hon. W. R.||Trowbridge, Sir E. T.|
|Milbank, M.||Tyrell, C|
|Mildmay, P. St. John||Venables, W.|
|Mills, J.||Vernon, G.H.|
|Morpeth, Lord||Vincent, Sir P. Bart.|
|Mostyn, E. M. L.||Waithman, R.|
|Mullins, F.||Walker, C. A.|
|Musgrave, Sir R. Bt.||Warburton, H.|
|Nugent, Lord||Wason, Rigby|
|O'Connell, D.||Waterpark, Lord|
|O'Connell, M.||Watson, Hon. R.|
|O'Ferrall, R. M.||Westenra, Hon. H.|
|O'Grady, Hon. Col. S.||Weyland, Major R.|
|Paget, Sir C.||White, S.|
|Paget, T.||White, Colonel H.|
|Palmer, C. F.||Wilde, T.|
|Payne, Sir P., Bart.||Williams, W. A.|
|Pelham, C. A. W.||Williams, Sir J. H.|
|Pendarves, E. W. W.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Penlease, J. S.||Willoughby, Sir H.|
|Penrhyn, E.||Wood, M.|
|Perrin, L.||Wood, J.|
|Petit, Louis H.||Wood, C.|
|Petre, Hon. E.||Wrightson, W. B.|
|Philipps, Sir R. B., Bt.||Wyse, T.|
|Polhill, Captain F.|
|List of the Minority.|
|Brudenell, Lord||Cole, Hon. A.|
|Burrard, George||Cole, Lord|
|Brydges, Sir John||Fane, Hon. Henry|
|Ferrand, W.||Pollington, Lord|
|Forbes, Sir C.||Pringle, A.|
|Freshfield, J. W.||Sibthorp, Col.|
|Gordon, Col. J.||Stewart, C.|
|Jolliffe, Sir W.||Stormont, Lord|
|Kearsley, J. H.||Trench, Col.|
|Lefroy, A.||Tullamore, Lord|
|Maxwell, H.||Young, J.|
|Miller, W. H.||TELLERS.|
|Pearse, J.||Praed, W. M.|
|Pelham, C.||Wetherell, Sir C.|
§ An Hon. Member then said, that as the feeling of the House had been so strongly manifested against the adjournment of the debate, he trusted the hon. member for Dundalk would proceed with his speech.
§ Mr. James E. Gordon
must decline the suggestion of the hon. Member, as the patience of the House must be too much exhausted to listen with calmness or indulgence to anything he could offer. Even if the House was disposed to hear him, he was unable to proceed at that hour of the morning, and the proposition to allow him to proceed originated from anything but a desire that he should do so.
§ Mr. Cressett Pelham
said, the hon. member for Middlesex had completely forgotten the manner in which he had often opposed former Governments, He remembered many instances of his continuing to divide the House on questions of adjournment. With respect to the distinction he had drawn, between the present and former oppositions, that was more founded in his feelings than reason. For himself, he had no wish to offer an unfair opposition, but it was clear they could not go on with the debate at that hour in the morning.
said, they had now a sufficient proof that hon. Members opposite were actuated by factious motives in their opposition to Ministers. They had been defeated on every point, but still continued to manifest the same determination not to yield to the majority. He trusted, the night's debate and divisions would go forth to the country, and that the public would hear who were the men who opposed their wishes. He should have no objection to go again to his constituents, and had no doubt they would approve the course he had pursued that night. He must further observe, that by hon. Gentlemen adopting this unconstitutional opposition to a measure of paramount import- 1165 ance to the well-being of the county, the feelings of the people might be excited, and carry with them a day of retribution.
§ Lord Brudenell
said, the present question involved nothing connected with the public interests; it was a mere dispute about which party should yield.
§ Mr. Praed
said, that though he had formerly moved an amendment for the Mouse to adjourn till Friday, he had no intention that the House should not proceed with business to-day. He had made this motion because, having entered into this "quarrel," he would pursue it. He had not been actuated by improper motives. He had at first voted against the adjournment, but had since voted for it, because he had seen a marked disposition on the Ministerial side of the House not to listen to any suggestion from the other. In addition to this, the first motion for adjournment was made at twelve o'clock, which was too early an hour to postpone the debate, but the same objection could not be urged against the subsequent motions. He wished, therefore, to ask the hon. and learned member for Stafford (Mr. John Campbell) whether he intended to impute factious motives to him in the remarks he had made. He was a young Member, and was, therefore, very unwilling to labour under such an imputation.
§ An Hon. Member of the Opposition side of the House said, he for one, repelled the imputation, of being actuated by factious motives, with indignation. He had been returned to that House by a Cornish borough, but was as independent as any Member of the House. He resisted the proposed measure of Reform as dangerous: he would oppose it to the utmost of his power, and had given his cordial support to the motions for adjournment; he would continue to do so, because it was now impossible to proceed with the discussion.
said, that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Praed) was in error in supposing the allusion he referred to was made by the hon. and learned member for Stafford; on the contrary, it was made by himself, but he had no intention of bringing a specific charge against the hon. Member. The House gave a great latitude to Members for particular purposes, but it would be improper to take advantage of that. The charge he had brought was general, and he did not mean to apply it to any individual Member. 1166 The continued motions for adjournment had appeared to him most extraordinary, and made with the intention of delaying or defeating the measure.
The Solicitor General
regretted the manner in which the last six hours had been spent, in impeding, not in carrying on, the public business. They had had six divisions, and were exactly where they began when the first motion for adjournment was made. Could any Gentleman of candour deny, that the minority ought to yield to the majority, and not the majority to the minority? An hon. Member had admitted, that he moved one of the adjournments to continue, what he was pleased to call a "quarrel;" and another hon. Gentleman had stated that the whole subject of dispute was a trifle, unworthy of serious notice. It was merely a point of etiquette which party should give way. Moving an adjournment was, he admitted, a valuable privilege to the minority, but required to be exercised with much judgment, or it would be brought into disrepute. The first adjournment was proposed because it was said an hon. Member could not obtain a patient hearing, but the House had been ever since ready, and was so still, to listen to him. The question of adjournment had then been abandoned by the original proposer, but had since been taken up by other hon. Members, with different views, and for different purposes. They had had every sort of adjournment proposed, evidently with the object of delaying and defeating the Bill, which surely could not be a proper exercise of the important privilege possessed by the minority. To continue these constant divisions upon what they allowed themselves were trifling grounds, could not be suffered. It was obvious, a stop must be put to this, or there must be an end of public business.
§ Mr. James E. Gordon
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman was mistaken in supposing that he had moved the adjournment solely from an impression that the House was not disposed hear him with attention. He was now too much exhausted to attempt it, and it was extravagant to suppose he could then command a hearing.
§ Sir C. Wetherell
said, that his hon. and learned friend had stated, that the motion 1167 for adjournment had originated in mistake, when the fact was, the hon. member for Dundalk could not obtain a hearing, and was therefore, in his own defence compelled to make the motion. He would break a spear with any man who said, that he was acting wrongly on this occasion, for it was necessary to be firm, and persevere in addressing the House when there was a chance of being attended to, and the intention of preventing discussion was so very glaring. It was in consequence of this that the first motion was made, 'and the subsequent motions for adjournment originated from the lateness of the hour. Never were amendments brought forward on more constitutional grounds. The worthy Alderman had stated, that the wise men of the East believed that a few Members proposed, by a factious opposition, to defeat the Reform Bill. These might be very clever people in the Stock Market, Corn Market, or the Royal Exchange, but they knew nothing at all of the matter now before the House, and he would advise the worthy Alderman not to retail his soporific stories there, but confine himself to things more germane to his own understanding, and when he next charged hon. Members with being factious, to state his prediction before the event, if he wished to be taken for a prophet. Now, in answer to his learned friend he would say, there was a sort of parliamentary understanding that a majority should give way, and he never remembered a case analogous to the present, in which the Government, on its being pressed, had not consented to an adjournment. There had been, undoubtedly, a great waste of time, but Ministers had themselves to thank for it. As an allusion had been made to what the public would think of the proceedings of that night, he declared that he had no doubt of the public giving the warmest approbation to the proceedings of Members on that side of the House. He should continue to pursue the path which he had hitherto followed, being convinced, that in that House he should be deemed to have acted the part of an independent Member of Parliament, though he was only the Member of a rotten borough [coughing.] He would not be coughed down, as others had been. Though they had been nightly, performing their duty in that House, the public believed that he and his friends had been colluding with the Government, and not conducting their cause with the ge- 1168 nuine sincerity of men who conscientiously believed themselves to be engaged in a great cause. "For this reason," said Sir Charles, "I have made up my mind to perseverance—and persevere I will."
§ Mr. Robert Grant
begged to reply to that part of the learned Gentleman's speech, in which he declared there was no precedent of a minority yielding to a majority: he would ask him, on the other side, to produce an instance of a minority persevering against a majority for a trifle, the attaining of which could not benefit the question at issue. There might be cases of its being done, when, under particular circumstances, the opponents of any measure might stop it for one stage.
§ Mr. Sheil
said, that as the hon. Gentleman the member for Dundalk, the first cause of the debate, had receded, he thought the hon. and learned member for Boroughbridge ought to have followed his example, instead of which he still continued to persevere, and though he was abandoned and deserted by all his supporters, he stood his ground with a strange and perverse obstinacy. One Member said, that they were contending about trifles, and another about straws; but it ought not to be forgotten, that straws might be lighted, and set fire to the public mind. The course taken was most unwise. The Gentlemen opposite were reduced miserably in numbers and influence; on this side, there was an immense majority, and was the public business, he would ask, to be arrested under such circumstances? When this debate went forth to-morrow, the whole metropolis would be in a ferment. What estimate would be formed of a party which had recourse to such measures, to defeat the desires of the whole nation? The hon. member for Boroughbridge spoke slightingly of public opinion; was that in accordance with his boast that he represented the whole mass of the community; that although delegated for a rotten borough, he was yet a trustee and image of the national will? Let him beware of proclaiming his disregard for public opinion. It had too much power to be scorned, and however it might be eluded, it must not be despised.
§ Sir J. Brydges
proposed that they should draw lots to decide whether they should or should not adjourn the Debate. If the House would not accede to that proposition, he should support the amendment.
§ The Attorney General.—Are we then to understand that the hon. Baronet supports the amendment, because the House refuses to decide this question by a toss-up?
§ The House divided on the motion to Adjourn.—Ayes 24; Noes 187—Majority 163.
§ Sir C. Wetherell
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he had any proposition to make about the resumption of this Debate at five o'clock that day? He and his friends had been engaged in these discussions so long for no other purpose than to secure the independence of this House, and to prevent the freedom of debate from being stifled. He did not wish to impede, but to facilitate, the settlement of this great question.
§ Lord Althorp
was anxious that the House should have the fullest opportunity to discuss the question this evening. If the House would allow him to go into Committee pro forma, the Chairman might report progress, and ask leave to sit again to-morrow, and the discussion might take place as before.
§ Mr. Littleton
said, that on the condition that all those who had before spoken should have a right to speak again, he would agree to the proposal.
§ Lord Tullamore
also assented, as he wished to do every thing to accommodate the progress of public business.
§ This arrangement was agreed to.
§ The Speaker
then put the question, that "I do now leave the Chair." [The cries of "Aye" were deafening: a few "Noes" were heard.
§ The House resolved itself into a Committee pro forma, and immediately resumed.
§ Adjourned at half-past seven o'clock.