§ Mr. Croker
said, that the proper time had arrived for him to put on record the views and opinions which had been maintained by him and several of his hon. friends who acted with him with respect to the Reform Bill. For this purpose, he had drawn up a series of Resolutions in which those opinions and views were embodied. He would not put the House to the trouble of dividing upon them, to negative them would be sufficient for his purpose. His object was, to have his opinions placed on the journals of the House, in order that, in future times it might be known upon what principles he and the party with which he had the honour to be connected, had acted with reference to this great question. He would not enter into any detailed statement respecting the Resolutions. The matters of fact which they contained, every man must admit to be truth, but the inference which was drawn from them of course the noble Lord opposite would deny. He believed the usual course for the mover of an Amendment was, to read it regularly through in the first instance, but as that which he held in his hand was rather long, he would, to save the time of the House, at once move his Resolution as an amendment on the Motion of the noble Lord.
The Amendment having been seconded, the Speaker read it as follows:—The preamble of the Reform Bill professes to have five principal objects in view—1. The disfranchisement of inconsiderable places—2. The enfranchisement of large, populous, and wealthy towns—3. The creation of an extended and uniform right of voting in boroughs—4. The increasing of the number of county Members—and 5, and last, the diminution of the expenses of elections. That, in every one of these points, the provisions of the Bill are, in a greater or less degree, erroneous in their principle, inconsistent in their details, and irregular and unjust in their operation.
1. That the Bill states no rule or principle by which to determine what places are to be deemed "inconsiderable," and that, in fact, several places are wholly or partially disfranchised, which, in the ordinary acceptation of the words, and in public estimation, are more considerable than some others to which the franchise is preserved:—Thus it cannot be doubted that Appleby, the county town of Westmoreland, the only bo- 209 rough, and the largest town but one, in that county, is a more considerable place than Midhurst or Westbury, and that Dartmouth, a sea-port town, with a population of 4,566 inhabitants, 411 houses of the value of 10l., having 367 registered ships belonging to it, and paying Custom duties of 3,630l. a-year, is a more considerable place than Marlow, which has but 3,370 inhabitants, and only 180 10l. houses. That it has been stated, as another principal and just cause of disfranchisement, if a borough should be so much under the influence of some individual interest, as that a person recommended by that interest is almost certain of being elected; but it is notorious that some of the boroughs, which are to be totally, and many which are to be partially disfranchised, are, even now, more independent than several others to which the franchise has been preserved, and even than some in which a new franchise is to be created; and that the majority of disfranchised boroughs would, if their limits were to be extended, as has been done in the case of the majority of boroughs preserved or created, obtain a constituency, in some cases, equally numerous, and, in almost all, equally independent. That, whether a town be or be not "inconsiderable" must depend on the facts, and on the actual circumstances, of the place itself, its population, its extent, and its wealth, and not on any arbitrary tests, or ingenious devices, by which such facts may be coloured or concealed, and that no tests can be just and satisfactory which produce different and contradictory results from the same unaltered premises, yet, it appears, that the tests applied to form the schedule under the three Reform Bills, have drawn such different results from the same facts, that the five towns, viz. Aldborough, Buckingham, Malmesbury, Okehampton, and Saltash, which were to be utterly disfranchised by the first Bill as inconsiderable places, were by the second Bill to retain one Member, and that eight others, viz., Leominster, Morpeth, Northallerton, Sandwich, Tam-worth, Truro, Westbury, and Wycombe, which were partially disfranchised by the first, were maintained in their full franchise by the second; while, on the other hand, the following towns, viz., Eye, Midhurst, Petersfield, Wareham, and Woodstock, which were by the second Bill to have been totally disfranchised as inconsiderable places, are, by the present Bill to retain one Member, and that no less than 210 eighteen boroughs, viz., Bodmin, Bridport, Buckingham, Chippenham, Cockermouth, Dorchester, Evesham, Guildford, Honiton, Huntingdon, Lymington, Maldon, Marlborough, Marlow, Richmond, Sudbury, Thetford, and Totness, which were by the former Bills to have been wholly or partially disfranchised, are, by the present Bill, to preserve their entire franchise; and that, again, five other places, which, by the former Bills were to retain one Member, are by the present, to be utterly disfranchised, and that, during all these changes, it is notorious, that there was no change or alteration in the circumstances of any of these places, but only in the varying and uncertain rules by which it pleased his Majesty's Ministers to measure their importance. That the numbers of fifty-six and thirty boroughs in schedules A and B are arbitrary, and assumed without any stated rule, or any reference to the actual or to the future possible state of the Representation or constituency of the several boroughs. That the list prepared by Lieutenant Drummond for determining the order in which the said fifty-six and thirty boroughs should be selected for total or partial disfranchisement has been formed on disputed facts and on inapplicable principles. That the statement of the amount of population and of assessed taxes on which the said list is formed are, in many instances, incorrect, and not derived from one common rule applied impartially to all the boroughs. That the population of some of the boroughs in the said list is apparently increased by the addition of districts beyond the actual town, while in others the account was closely restricted to the actual town, and, in some instances, to less than the actual town; by which means towns of a less population have been partially and unjustly placed in the said list, above towns really having a greater. That the amount of assessed taxes stated in the said list is liable to a similar objection, the taxes of adjoining districts being in some cases admitted, and in others excluded; but it is also liable to this further objection, that it does in some cases include, and in others exclude, one class of taxes, which might affect the position of the respective boroughs on the list. That in cases in which the sum of assessed taxes was disputed, contradictory decisions have been made; as in the case of Dartmouth, it was contended, that the amount should be calculated on the sum assessed, and not on the sum actually paid; while, in the case 211 of Helston it was held, that it should be made on the sum actually paid, and not on the sum assessed. That even if the data on which the said list was formed were undisputed, the mode in which they are applied is arbitrary and erroneous. That, in order to determine the position of fifty-six and thirty boroughs respectively, the averages of one hundred boroughs were arbitrarily taken, which number of one hundred, excluded from the calculation of the averages ten of the boroughs which are to be disfranchised, and included fourteen others which are not to be disfranchised. That, by such arbitrary selection of one hundred boroughs, and by the arbitrary exclusion from the calculation of ten boroughs which are concerned in the result, and by the arbitrary addition of fourteen others which are not concerned in the result, the remaining boroughs are placed on the list in an order different, in numerous instances, from that in which they would have stood had their importance in relation to each other only been considered. That the principle of classing the boroughs, by the comparison of the population and taxes of each, with the averages of the whole might be correct and fair for any purpose in which the whole of the boroughs entering into the calculation should be concerned, and in which each were to have a proportionate interest, as if a contribution were to be levied from, or a certain quantity of Representation divided among, all the boroughs in the proportion of their population and taxes:—thus, if it were proposed that one hundred boroughs should contribute to the election of one hundred Members, this mode would fairly enough determine how many votes each borough should have in the election of the general number; but when, as in the present case, the question is of a very different nature, namely, which of two boroughs should be disfranchised, the result should be determined by a comparison with the boroughs immediately concerned, and not by their relation to various distant places with which they can by no possibility enter into competition.
"2. That the schedules C and D have been framed either without any principle or rule whatsoever, or that any principle or rule which may have been applied in some cases, has been arbitrarily departed from in others; as when the continuous mass of buildings which compose Manchester and Salford, containing 182,000 inhabitants, and paying 32,000l. a-year in 212 assessed taxes, are divided into two boroughs, and return two Members for the first, and one for the second, while the continuous mass of buildings which compose Liverpool and Toxteth-park, containing 189,000 inhabitants, and paying 65,000l. a-year in assessed taxes, are united in one borough, and return only two Members, and Gateshead, which is contiguous to Newcastle-on-Tyne, and in which a considerable number of the electors of Newcastle actually reside, is separated from Newcastle, and formed into a distinct borough, by which means the mass of buildings which compose Newcastle and Gateshead, containing 57,700 inhabitants, and paying 17,000l. a-year in assessed taxes, obtains one Member more than Liverpool and Toxteth, which contain above three times the population, and pay nearly four times the amount of assessed taxes. That, in some cases, as that of Stoke-upon-Trent in the Potteries, and that of Stroud, in the clothing district of Gloucestershire, many populous places, situated many miles distant from each other, are included in one borough, while in the coal and iron district of Staffordshire, the towns of Wolverhampton, Dudley, and Walsall, have been divided into three distinct boroughs, although these towns are not so distant from each other as some of the places in the boroughs of Stoke-upon-Trent and Stroud, and, although they are connected, like the towns in Stoke and Stroud, by common commercial interests. That, if it be expedient to create so many boroughs in that district of Staffordshire, there are places which have stronger claims than Dudley or Walsall, or than Dudley and Walsall put together, namely, that district comprising the towns of Darlaston, Wednesbury, Tipton, and West Bromwich, which lies between, and immediately contiguous to, the proposed boroughs of Dudley and Walsall, and which contains on a space not, as is supposed, so large as these two proposed boroughs, a population of 45,362 souls, while Dudley contains but 23,000, and Walsall only 15,000. That, in the case of Walsall, a district called the Foreign of Walsall, is added to the township of Walsall, which raises the apparent population from 6,401 to 15,000, while the similar districts called the Foreign of Reigate, and the Foreign of Kidderminster, have not been so added to the towns of Reigate and Kidderminster. That his Majesty's Ministers have declared, that, in forming those sche-, 213 dules C and D, they have been guided by the amount of population of the several towns, whereas it, on the contrary, appears by the population returns, that several towns which are not constituted into boroughs, have a larger population than several others which are thus enfranchised, the apparent population of these latter having been (as in the case of Walsall above stated) swelled to a greater amount by the addition of neighbouring districts; while, if similar neighbouring districts were to be added to these unrepresented towns, their population would maintain its superiority over that of several of the proposed boroughs. That, notwithstanding the additions thus arbitrarily made to several proposed boroughs, it appears that the principle of population has not been carried into effect; for each of the towns of Merthyr Tydvil and Toxteth-park have a greater population than any of the nineteen boroughs in schedule D, except only two; that the proposed borough of Whitby (even with the addition of two townships) appears, by the population returns, to have a smaller population than eight unrepresented towns, Whitby being, with its additions, stated at 10,300, while Gosport has 12,637, Croydon 12,447, Trowbridge 10,863, Doncaster 10,801, Loughborough 10,800, Tunbridge 10,380, Margate 10,339, and Barnsley 10,330; and the proposed borough of Kendal, containing, with its additions, 11,600, is less populous than Gosport and Croydon. That this declaration of his Majesty's Ministers, that, in conferring the franchise, they have been guided by the amount of population, is not only contradicted by the above stated facts, but is inconsistent with the preamble of the Bill itself, which states, that it is expedient to grant Representation "to large, populous, and wealthy towns". Notwithstanding this declaration of the preamble of the Bill, that "wealthy" towns should be so selected, and notwithstanding his Majesty's Ministers have adopted, in the schedules A and B, the amount of the assessed taxes as the test of wealth, it appears, that there are four proposed boroughs in schedule C which are to send two Members to Parliament, which pay less assessed taxes, namely, Blackburn 2,300l., Bradford 2,444l., Macclesfield 2,500l., and Oldham 2,000l., than seven unrepresented towns, viz., Croydon 7,273l., Leamington 5,925l., Margate 5,069l., Doncaster 3,503l., Ramsgate 3,493., Gosport 2,943l., and Kingston-on-Thames 2,913. That another 214 principle which has been advanced is, that, in creating new boroughs, regard should be had to the state of Representation in the neighbourhood, so that large districts having distinct interests should not be left unrepresented, and that an undue share of Representation should not be accumulated on one point; that, nevertheless, in contradiction to this principle, Salford is to be created a separate borough, though it adjoins the proposed borough of Manchester, and is within twelve miles or less of the proposed boroughs of Stockport, Bury, Bolton, and Rochdale; that the proposed boroughs of Wolverhampton, Dudley, and Walsall, are contiguous to each other, and the last is within nine miles or less of Birmingham and Lichfield:—That Gateshead is to be erected into a borough, though it adjoins Newcastle, and that South Shields and North Shields are to be also distinct boroughs, though separated only by the river Tyne, the medium of their common commerce and interests; and, although Gateshead, Newcastle, North Shields, South Shields, and Sunderland, are in the immediate neighbourhood of each other, while Merthyr Tydvil, with a population of 22,000, is twenty-one miles from the nearest borough, and that Dorchester, Alnwick, Ely, an episcopal city, the only one in the kingdom unrepresented, and the centre of the peculiar interest connected with the fens, and Yeovil, the seat of considerable manufacture now imperfectly represented, are all situated in districts where there happen to be no borough nearer than seventeen, twenty, and even thirty miles, and are also superior in amount of population and of assessed taxes to Walsall and Whitby.
"3. That, although the new right of voting in boroughs will, in many of the old boroughs, and in all the new, create a large constituency, it appears from a comparison of the statements of the Commissioners as to the probable amount of future electors, with the existing numbers, that in many towns the constituency will be materially diminished, and in some to such a degree, as must affect the independence of the borough. That the supposed uniformity and equality of this new right of suffrage, will be, in many instances, delusive, as houses of the same nominal value of 10l. are very different in real value and respectability in different parts of the country; so that in some towns the number of houses of the value of 10l. and upwards, are to the whole number of houses in the 215 town only as one in five or six, and even sometimes so few as one in eight, while in others, they are three out of five, and, in the proposed borough of Marylebone, seven out of eight:—from this it is obvious, that persons of an equal condition in life, who happen to reside in different places, will not enjoy an equal right of suffrage under this supposed system of equality and uniformity. That the supposed simplicity and certainty of this right of suffrage will also be, in a great measure, delusive, and liable to great uncertainty and litigation, inasmuch as the right of voting is made to depend on the value of the house, though there is no rule given by which such value can be ascertained, the most obvious, convenient, and usual test of value, namely, rent or rating, having been intentionally excluded; and no check is provided against such individuals affixing, for the purpose of obtaining a vote, what value he may please on his own tenement; and it is possible that a house of the real value of 2l. per annum might, with the adventitious value of conferring a vote in a borough, be, in the owner's estimation, worth 10l. That in all the other details relative to this right of voting, every check which might tend to secure the respectability and independence of the elector has been rejected:—it was at first proposed that the voter should have inhabited one tenement for an entire year, he may now change his residence every week:—it was at first proposed that he should have held at a yearly rent, and have paid up the rent before he could vote; he may now hold by the week or even by the day, and need not have paid any rent whatsoever; all that is required is, that he should have been rated, to any amount, however small, and should have paid such rate and all assessed taxes due by him; it being notorious that the great majority of persons inhabiting houses of about 10l. value pay no assessed taxes whatsoever, and, finally, that different persons may vote out of the same tenement, by all which provisions it may happen, particularly in great towns, that there may be more electors than houses in a borough, and in all places the respectability and independence of the electoral body must be considerably impaired. That the reservation of the rights of freemen, provided they reside within seven miles of the borough of which they are free, will operate in some instances great inequality and injustice, as in the case of Newcastle-upon-Tyne; which has some hundred freemen 216 resident in Gateshead, North Shields, South Shields, and Sunderland; the freemen resident in the three latter places will be disfranchised, while those resident at Gateshead will not only preserve their franchise, but, if inhabiting a 10l. house in Gateshead, will have votes for both the boroughs, and be thus in a better condition than the most respectable inhabitants of Newcastle itself.
"4. That the county representation is, by the provision of the Bill, arbitrarily and irregularly distributed, and will not, in many instances, it is apprehended, represent a county constituency. That it is professed to give to certain counties, having large populations, twenty-six in number, four Members each; to certain middle-sized counties three each; and to the lowest class of counties two, as heretofore; but in this class is included Middlesex, which is more populous and wealthy than any other county in England, and the West Riding of Yorkshire, which exceeds every other county in England, except only Lancashire. That the counties which are to receive four Members are to be divided into two, for all the purposes of the Bill separate and distinct counties, while those which are to have three Members remain undivided; the result of this arrangement is, that the new counties which appear so favourable with a double representation, will, in fact, have a smaller representation than the smaller counties; thus, supposing the old counties to be divided into two parts nearly equal in population, twenty of the new counties returning each two Members, will have a greater population than the largest (Dorset) of those returning three Members, and twenty-six of the new counties, with only two Members, will have a greater population than the seven other returning three each:—thus several counties having less than 150,000 inhabitants, will have three Members, while West York, with 976,000, and each division of Lancashire with 667,000, will have only two; but excluding from this consideration Middlesex, West York, and Lancashire, which may be thought to be peculiarly circumstanced, the counties of Devon, Kent, and Somerset, containing 300,000 inhabitants more than the eight counties altogether, are yet to return but half the number of county Members; and these results are produced by a system which affects to give to county population proportionate representation. That the amount of county representation in general 217 was allotted by the Bill, and supported, as bearing a certain proportion to the general amount of borough representation, insomuch that, when in the course of discussion, a Member happened to be added to the county representation, his Majesty's Ministers thought it expedient that a corresponding addition should be made to the number of borough Members; but, notwithstanding this proposed system of distinction and balance, the county constituency is virtually subjected to a great, and, in many instances, predominant interference from the borough constituencies, by admitting persons who may happen to have a freehold in a borough, to vote for the county at large, by which a large class of persons may obtain double votes, and the balance between the influence of the towns and the influence of the counties, will be every where impaired, and, in some cases, wholly destroyed.
"5. That, with regard to the fifth and last object of the Bill—the diminution of the expense of elections—it is not easy to foresee whether candidates will be as ready to incur great expenses for obtaining seats under the new system as under the old; but supposing that they will be so, it may be doubted whether, under the present provision of the Bill, any saving will be effected to the candidates, while it is certain that a great and a new expense will be imposed on the parishes and counties, and on the public at large. That, as to parishes and counties, although the expense of lists, registers, and other clerical arrangements may not be considerable, yet it is provided, by the 55th clause, that not only such expenses, but "all others incurred by the Overseers in carrying into effect the provisions of the Act," shall be defrayed out of the poor-rate. That the most important of the Overseer's duties, is the careful and impartial selection of the names to be placed on the lists of votes; that persons omitted from such lists have a right of appeal, and third parties have a similar right against any names which they may think unduly placed on the list; that, unless the Overseer is to defend his list, or at least attend to explain the grounds on which a claim was admitted or rejected, all these provisions will, in practice, become inoperative and mere formalities; but if the Overseers are to maintain their lists, it will be found that they are not in general competent to conduct investigations of such a nature, and they will necessarily require legal advice and 218 assistance, and thus the parish may be involved in a series of litigation and consequent expense. That, as regards the public, the expense, though indefinite, cannot fail to be of a considerable amount; there must be above 200 courts for the revision of the registers and the decision of disputed claims, held every year in England and Wales; that the Barrister holding such courts are to receive five guineas a day, and their travelling and other expenses, and although it is impossible to foresee to what extent of time these courts of revision may be employed, it is evident that, on the lowest calculation, a very considerable expense will he incurred, and a considerable number of legal offices created. That, as regards the expense to individual candidates, it is obvious that at each of these annual investigations, the candidate must take care that his interests are looked after, that the names of his friends are put on the register, and that the names of adversaries are not incautiously admitted, and these matters can hardly be managed without legal advice and attendance, and consequent expense; so that candidates may be involved in a constant canvass and an annual contest. That, of the expenses now incurred by candidates, the only one which the Bill seems likely to diminish is that of the travelling charges of the voters—no doubt a very considerable article—but there are many counterbalancing expenses created by the Bill—there may be in counties so many as fifteen polling places, and two days poll at each, which will be equivalent to thirty days poll at one place, whereas at present a poll cannot exceed fifteen days; at each of these fifteen polling places the candidate must have clerks, agents, and perhaps counsel, and as the poll is to last but two days, the expenses of the candidate, for the slightest contest, will be nearly the same as for the most obstinate and protracted. That, with regard to illegal expenses, the Reports of Election Committees (and particularly some of late occurrence) do not show that a large extension of the franchise to the lower class of householders is likely to prevent bribery, but that, on the contrary, some of the most flagrant instances of gross and general corruption, have occurred in those places of which the constituency approaches most nearly to that which may be expected from the present Bill. That the trial of election petitions—one of the most serious expenses now incident to a contest—will not 219 be rendered more easy or less expensive by the provisions of the Bill, but, on the contrary, will probably become more frequent and more chargeable, not only from the increased numbers of electors, but from the complication of the machinery of the Bill, and, above all, from that provision which leaves returning officers no option in admitting votes, and of course leaves the candidate who may consider himself as aggrieved, no remedy but an appeal to an Election Committee. That, for all these reasons (without adverting to the general principle of Parliamentary Reform), it appears that the Bill now before the House is, in many of its most important provisions, partial, inconsistent, contradictory, and unjust, likely to aggravate many of the evils which it professes to remedy, while it may produce new and serious difficulties and abuses, and inadequate to the accomplishment of many of the most important purposes for which it has been especially recommended.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Lord Althorp
said, he had avoided addressing the House on the subject of the right hon. Gentleman's Resolutions until they were disposed of, as he thought it better to be a little irregular in entering on the discussion, rather than run the risk of imposing on the Speaker the labour of reading the right hon. Gentleman's pamphlet (for he could call it nothing else) over again. The only analogy that he could find for this essay of the right hon. Gentleman was, the case of a protest in the other House of Parliament; with this difference, however, that the right. hon. Gentleman had taken care to make every Member hear his protest, by having it read from the Chair, while, in the other House, it was privately entered on the Journals, and only read by those who had a fancy for Ole perusal. There was, however, one point on which he must congratulate the right hon. Gentleman for the discretion that he had displayed, which was, that he himself declined reading his production to the House. It was a matter of some curiosity with him to know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman who seconded the Resolutions had given them a careful perusal.
§ Lord Althorp
was somewhat surprised, that the hon. and learned Gentleman had not been intrusted with a perusal of the Resolutions; for they seemed to him to 220 embody all the different speeches and all the different objections made by the party to which the hon. and learned Gentleman belonged; and he, therefore, thought it somewhat hard that the hon. and learned Gentleman had not been afforded an opportunity of contributing his share to the compilation. What he now wanted to know was, what the right hon. Gentleman intended to propose with respect to the printing of his pamphlet. It was quite impossible, he conceived, that it could be printed in time to appear in the Votes of the following day; and it was certainly quite unusual to place a series of Resolutions in an Appendix. He was quite aware, that it was usual to print every amendment in the Votes; but he trusted that, under the circumstances of the case, the right hon. Gentleman would consent to this Amendment being made an exception; for the printing of it would be extremely inconvenient; and he thought that, as a precedent, it would be still more unadvisable, for it would be holding out au inducement to every Member who chose, to indite pamphlets in the shape of Amendments.
§ Mr. Croker
could remember instances of a similar course being pursued, though it might happen that the Amendment then proposed had not run to such a length as that which had been offered to the House. That, however, was not his fault, but the fault, if fault it were, of the importance of the question to which it had reference. With respect to the sentiments contained in the Resolutions, the noble Lord seemed to have misunderstood him. He (Mr. Croker) had not said that the Resolutions which he was proposing were those of his hon. and right hon. friends. What he had meant to say was, that they were entirely his own—that he was altogether responsible for them—but that he had endeavoured to insert in them all the arguments that he had heard used by his hon. and right hon. friends against the various propositions contained in the Bill. As to whether it was proper or not that his Amendment should be printed in the Votes, the Speaker was the best judge of that; his only object was, that the Resolutions should be recorded on the Journals of the House, because he was convinced that no page of those Journals would ever, in after times, be so much examined and perused as that which gave an account of the arguments in favour of the Reform Bill, and against it. It was for this reason 221 that he had taken the trouble of drawing up these Resolutions, and he trusted, that be had worded them as briefly and as succinctly as the nature of the case would permit. He certainly should have been glad if he could have saved the House from listening so long to any opinions of his; but, when he recollected the kind of commentaries that had been passed on the Reform Bill, he certainly did not think that the Resolutions were more lengthy than the urgency of the question demanded.
Mr. Robert Gordon
The hon. and learned Gentleman having stated, that he did not second the Amendment, I should be glad to know who did; for, if there has been no seconder, the Amendment, of course, falls to the ground.
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
observed, that the noble Lord had, from inadvertence he presumed, been led into an error, by which he had been induced to utter what might be interpreted into a sarcasm on his opinions, but which he was willing to suppose the noble Lord did not intend to cast upon them; at the same time, he must confess, it was perfectly immaterial to him whether the noble Lord meant to do so or not. With respect to the Resolutions themselves, he had never heard any that were more able, more acute, more learned, or more analytical, and he gave his opinion because the noble Lord seemed to have some curiosity as to his sentiments. He must, at the same time, beg to inform the noble Lord, that not only did he not second the Resolutions as the noble Lord had erroneously supposed, but he did not even know that his right hon. friend meant to propose any such Resolutions. If he had been asked to second and to support them, he must candidly confess, that he should have declined giving any pledge to do so, because they admitted what he had always denied, that the principle of the Bill, disfranchisement, was correct. Further, he must say, to the noble Lord, that, although he had been threatened with personal violence in one city in England (Bristol) for having expressed his opinions, yet he had the satisfaction to reflect, that he had received the thanks of another city almost as large—he meant the city of Norwich—for having so strenuously defended the preservation of the hereditary rights of the freemen of corporations. He would leave the noble Lord to settle with 222 the printer of the Votes, the question of whether the string of Resolutions should be presented to the House in that form or not. He could not, however, take leave of the subject without tendering to his right hon. friend his most sincere thanks for the course which he had pursued with regard to this Bill; and he must say, that no Member had exhibited more industry, talent, and success, in exposing the fallacies, blunders, and anomalies of this absurd Bill, than his right hon. friend.
Sir Robert Peel
observed, that the noble Lord had stated, that the Resolutions of his right hon. friend contained all the recommendations of those who had declared themselves adverse to the Reform Bill. He, however, had not, understood his right hon. friend to say that; nor did he well see bow that could be; for the general principle of the Reform Bill was not at all alluded to in the Resolutions. As he, from listening to the reading of the Resolutions (and he had no other opportunity of becoming acquainted with them), understood their purport, it was, that even supposing the principle of the Bill to be admitted, still there were numerous anomalies and inconsistencies which ought to be corrected; and certainly he must say that, in that respect, the Resolutions appeared to him to contain a very able analysis of the demerits of the Bill, as far as detail went. But, at the same time, he begged to say, as a matter of principle, that he did not conceive himself personally bound by the contents of that Amendment; but that the standard by which he was to be judged was, the observations which he had made in the course of the discussion on this Bill. With respect to the printing of the Resolutions, he hoped that the noble Lord would not propose any departure from the customary rule; for he thought that any alteration in that rule would be much worse than any inconvenience that could arise from the printing of a long series of Resolutions.
§ Mr. Croker
observed, that there were already to be found, on the Journals of that House, Resolutions much longer than those which he had then moved, and he was not, therefore, disposed to adopt the course suggested by the noble Lord, for the mere purpose of saving the printer trouble. He had endeavoured, not so much to embody in these Resolutions his objections to the principles of the Reform Bill, as to the mode in which the Ministers had carried those principles into practice.
§ The Order of the Day and Report taken into consideration.
§ Several of the Amendments made by the Committee read a second time without any discussion.
§ On clause 31 being read,
§ Mr. Freshfield
rose for the purpose of postponing, until the third reading of the Bill, the Motion (of which he had given notice) of an Amendment on this clause, in order more effectually to secure the right of persons entitled as freemen and burgesses in respect of birth.
Mr. C. W. Wynn
said, he would take that opportunity of calling the attention of Government to the case of Montgomery. The contributary boroughs connected with that place were in somewhat a peculiar situation. By the Act of Henry the 8th it was enacted, that the shire town of each county should return a Member, which a certain number of places in such county should constitute; in consequence of which two or three places were united to Montgomery. In 1685 their rights were contested, but the House of Commons decided in their favour. In 1728, however, under Sir Robert Walpole's Administration, they were excluded by a vote of the House in the very teeth of the former Resolution of 1685 and the right of election was confined to Montgomery. There was now a petition from those boroughs praying to be placed in the same situation they formerly held; he, therefore, trusted their case would be taken into consideration before the third reading of the Bill.
Lord John Russell
said, his right hon. friend could hardly expect that the request of these places, to be rejoined with Montgomery, could be acceded to, for they must take upon themselves to repeat the very Act his right hon. friend complained of, by rescinding the Resolution of 1728, for that abrogated the previous one of 1685. Perhaps the latter Resolution was not founded on very pure motives, yet to reverse it now would be a very strong measure.
Mr. C. W. Wynn
acknowledged, that there was some difficulty in the case, but he trusted his noble friend would read the particulars, as they were recorded in the Journals of the 16th of April, 1728, and then, if his noble friend did not think a sufficient case could be made out in favour of those boroughs, he would not press the matter further.
§ Schedule A, after some verbal Amendments, read. On coming to the borough of Minehead,224
§ Mr. Luttrell
said, that having been prevented on a former occasion, when the Bill was in Committee, from going into the case of Minehead, he felt himself now called upon to enter into the merits of that question. He should not have obtruded himself on the House in this stage of the Bill, if he did not think a very strong case could be made out in favour of that borough, and that sufficient reasons could be urged to remove that place from schedule A to schedule B. When the present Bill was first introduced, Minehead was in the latter schedule, but it had been since removed to the former in improper data, as he conceived. In the first place, he thought that the Commissioner who was appointed and visited Minehead on the 2nd of December last, had made his return with respect to that borough too hastily, in order to meet Parliament on the 6th of the same month. In fact, that appeared to have been the opinion of Ministers, for they had sent for further information to the returning officer—a proof that they were not satisfied with the report. He had further to complain, that the whole parish of Dunster had not been included in the borough as it ought to have been. He had no doubt the circumstances of the borough were in the recollection of the House, in consequence of the discussion which they underwent during the progress of the Bill of last Session, but still it might be necessary for him shortly to recapitulate them. The borough of Minehead was composed of the parish of that name, and of a portion of the parish of Dunster; and the inhabitants of the remainder of the parish of Dunster, had, also, an inchoate right to vote for the borough. A parishioner of Dunster had the right, on occupying premises in Minehead, to vote for Members for the borough. The borough, taking it within its narrowest limits, contained 1,682 inhabitants, and 326 houses; but, if the whole of the parish of Dunster was included, the number was considerably beyond this. There were ninety-one houses in the place of the value of 10l., according to the assessment for the poor-rates; but, in reality, the number was considerably beyond this, because, in assessments for the poor-rates, only two-thirds of the value of the houses were taken. The part of the parish of Dunster, the inhabitants of which had not the direct right of voting, was surrounded by the borough of Minehead, and, in point of fact, was 225 nearly in the middle of the borough. Taking, then, the borough, and the whole of the parish of Dunster, there were 165 houses assessed at upwards of 10l. The number of the inhabitants of the borough and parish, or rather of the two parishes of Minehead and Dunster, was 2464. There was 3,900 acres of land in the parish of Minehead, and 2,900 in the parish of Dunster. Again, the number of voters was considerable; at present there were 18O resident electors in Minehead, and thirty-five in the portion of Dunster included in the borough. In the year 1802 there were 269 votes polled, and in the contested election of 1807, although the poll was kept open only one day, nearly that number was again polled. One of the objects of the Bill was, to create respectable constituencies: that might be done with great advantage in this case by adding the surrounding districts. If the adjoining parishes within a circle of four miles were taken, it would add 146 houses assessed at 10l. Taking, then, the 165 houses assessed at this value in the borough, and adding them to those he had just alluded to, they had the elements of a most respectable and numerous constituency. The borough was situated in the heart of an important agricultural district, and there was no other borough within a considerable distance of it. Great injustice had been committed towards Minehead for boroughs were placed in schedule B, which were in every point of view, of less importance than Minehead: Petersfield for instance had seven houses and 187 inhabitants less than was Minehead. The number of voters polled in Minehead at a contested election was 269, the greatest number of voters ever polled in Petersfield was 56. The amount of the assessed taxes paid by the parishes of Minehead and Dunster, during the last year, was 509l.; the amount of assessed taxes at Petersfield was taken at more than this. The borough of Wareham, placed in schedule B, contained 143 houses; the borough of Minehead contained 326 houses; and if the whole of the parishes of Minehead and Dunster were taken, the total number of houses would be 522. Again, Minehead was a seaport, and one of the safest harbours in the Bristol Channel. In addition to these facts he must remark, that the borough nearest to Minehead, Bridgewater, was twenty-three miles distant; and the large and important agricultural district in which it was situated 226 ought not to be left without representation. The population of Minehead, according to the boundary which should have been taken, was 2646, but the population of the limited borough was 1606. If however, the district which he suggested was taken in, the most distant point of which was not four miles from the borough, the population would be 4332. Further he must call the attention of the House to the manner in which Somerset had been treated by this Bill. No less than seven Members were taken from that county, and from the landed interest, and only two Members were granted. He therefore called upon the friends of the agricultural interest to make a stand on this case, and to resist an act of gross injustice about to be committed. He would conclude by moving that the borough of Minehead be omitted from schedule A.
Lord John Russell
said, the hon. member had stated a variety of reasons to induce the House to agree to his proposition, of which several were not applicable to the case. The whole question in this instance turned upon the fact, whether the borough of Minehead included the parish of Dunster. As it did not include that parish, it was retained in schedule A. The hon. Member had stated no new reasons for his opinion, and therefore it was unnecessary again to refute those which had before been refuted.
said, the whole of the parishioners of Dunster had such an interest in Minehead, that they ought to have been included within the limits of the borough. Besides which it was a sea port, and the centre of an important rural district. On these accounts, the boundary ought to have been as much extended as the principles of the Bill, would admit instead of this, however, they had been contracted. Had the strict limitation which had been applied to Minehead, been applied to other boroughs, it would not have been inserted in schedule A.
§ Lord Althorp
did not think it necessary to go into the discussion of this case, which had undergone so full a discussion on a former occasion, and as no new facts had been elicited he would content himself with saying that he could not agree to the motion of the hon. member.
§ Sir Edward Sugden
had not heard a single word that went to show that Dunster ought not to be included in Minehead, so as to save that borough from disfranchisement. It appeared from some arbi- 227 trary rule laid down, that different places were to be treated in a different manner. In Whitby a part was added which had no positive connection with the town, to bring it within the line of enfranchisement, and in Minehead Dunster was excluded, although it actually formed part of the borough or at least was most closely connected with it to bring it within the line of disfranchisement.
§ Lord Althorp
said, the difference of the two cases was, that the portion added to Whitby was actually a part of the township, while the greater part of the parish of Dunster was a rural district which had no direct interest in the borough of Minehead.
had no doubt whatever that a portion of the township added to Whitby was more rural than that part of Dunster, which he contended ought to have been added to Minehead. Besides which, the inhabitants of Dunster had an inchoate right to vote for Minehead, and might be considered as half freemen.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ On the motion that the borough of Dartmouth stand part of schedule B,
§ Sir Henry Willoughby
said, he must again call the attention of the House to the case of Dartmouth, which he conceived had been hardly treated and ought not to be included in this schedule. An error had existed in the mode of taking the assessment of that town, which, if corrected, would exempt it from the disfranchisement to which it was now condemned. He had the particulars of one case in his hand where a Gentleman of the name of Higgins had paid 9l. 1s to the collector who had only returned 2l, to Government. There were many other similar cases; but after the decision of the other night he was aware that it would be useless for him to move any amendment on the present occasion. At the same time he felt it to be his duty to recommend the case of this town to the serious consideration of the noble Lord.
Mr. Bonham Carter
maintained, that the amount of the assessment of Dartmouth had been correctly given, and consequently that that town had no claim to exemption from this schedule.
said, he must support the statement of the hon. Baronet who had directed the attention of the House to this borough. He was convinced that the hon. Baronet had taken a correct view of this borough, for in his opinion the assess- 228 ment had been erroneously taken. If justice was equally dealt out to the town was fairly entitled to representation.
Lord John Russell
said, the collector committed a fraud on the people of the town and made them pay more than they ought, but the proper assessment to which the borough was actually liable, not his fraud, was taken as the measure of disfranchisement.
§ Mr. Holdsworth
insisted that the amount of the assessment had not been correctly stated, and that therefore this borough should be excluded from schedule B. He maintained that it was most unjust to retain it there.
§ The question that Dartmouth stand part of schedule B agreed to.
§ The remainder of schedule B agreed to.
§ On schedule D being read,
Lord John Russell
said, that the House was well aware that there had been considerable discussion with respect to the town of Merthyr Tydvil, and its right to return one member, and upon deliberation, it had been deemed advisable to allow this privilege to Merthyr, treating it as an English town rather than a Welsh contributory borough. The question was, then, how this could be best effected, and where a Member was to be obtained. It had been proposed at the other side of the House, that for this purpose Gateshead should be omitted, but that could not be acceded to, and it was now considered too late to adopt either of two other propositions—namely, the adding one borough to schedule A, or the taking one out of schedule B. The only other course, therefore, remaining open, if the intention of granting a representative to Merthyr was complied with, was to deduct a member from some of the counties which had obtained additional representation, and it did so happen, that there was one county which, under the old bill, was to receive no addition, but which, according to the new, would have an additional member. He alluded to the county of Monmouth, and to the fact that this was the only county to which three members were given with a population of less than 100,000 inhabitants. Influenced by these considerations, Ministers had deemed it right to leave Monmouth as it at present stood, with two members, and give the third to Merthyr Tydvil. The members for Monmouthshire very probably would not object to this, inasmuch as the member for Merthyr Tydvil would necessarily much partake of the character of the 229 Member who in the other event would be returned for Monmouth, their interests being quite the same. He should therefore propose as an amendment, that one member be given to Merthyr, and that Monmouth be omitted from the clause enabling certain counties to return three members. This would not at all affect the balance between the agricultural and commercial members.
§ Lord Granville Somerset
congratulated the noble Lord on at last discovering that there were reasons which entitled Merthyr Tydvil to a Member of its own. From the statement of the noble Lord, it appeared, however, that the suggestions made, and the reasons urged by that side of the House, had no weight with him, and that it was merely some whim or caprice which induced the Government to give a member to Merthyr Tydvil, It was only on Friday last that the noble Lord argued against Merthyr Tydvil, and urged the superior claims of Monmouthshire, but now he had suddenly altered his mind, without assigning any reason for his conduct. He was glad, at any rate, that Merthyr Tydvil was to have a member, although he must express his surprise at the unjust course now proposed for effecting that purpose. The noble Lord professed that his arrangement would not destroy his nicely-constructed balance between the agricultural and commercial interests, but, in fact, he was about to take a Member from an agricultural county, to bestow him on an important commercial town. The noble Lord might have made a satisfactory and just arrangement by giving up the suburban borough of Newcastle, Gateshead. He, however, declined to do this without assigning any reasons. It, therefore, became necessary for him (Lord Granville Somerset) to look to the returns upon which this new system was founded in order to show that justice had not been done. The three Members which were allotted to Monmouthshire would have been in the proportion of one Member to every 30,000 or 32,000 persons. In the county of Durham there was to be one member for every 20,000 inhabitants. If the House would refer to the returns, they would find that a great advantage had been given to the North over the South. The proportion of Members given to Durham, Staffordshire, and Warwickshire was too great, and more than ought to have been granted. The conceding a member to Gateshead was an injustice to 230 the whole of the south of England. He would, however, proceed with his statement. Berkshire had one Member to 16,000 inhabitants; Buckinghamshire one to 13,600 inhabitants. Cambridgeshire one to 25,000; Hereford, one to 15,000; Hertford, one to 20,000; and Oxford, one to 21,000: while Monmouth, with three Members, had only one Member to 31,000 inhabitants. Moreover, if the counties were tried by another test, and on the old scale of representation, the result would be, that Monmouth had a number in the proportion of one Member to 98,000 inhabitants; whereas, Berks had one to 71,000, and Bucks, one to 58,000. He could in the same manner go through the list of all the counties whose representation was to be increased by the addition of one Member, and in property and population they were mostly inferior to Monmouth. He wished to ask the noble Lord if he meant to say, that there was not to be any balance preserved between the agricultural and manufacturing interest? If he did not, well and good. But if he did, he certainly in this instance, had acted in direct opposition to that opinion. But the difficult part of the case was, to comprehend the reasons which had operated since last Friday to impress the important claims of Merthyr Tydvil upon his Majesty's Government, the noble Lord having then stated, as the great ground of resistance to the motion on that day, that it would affect the creation of smaller boroughs in Wales. But would not his present proposition have a similar effect? He was aware, that he had no chance of success. Government, in effect, said "we choose to have it so, and it shall be so; and whether it be conformable to the principles of this bill, whether it be or be not right or just, or proper, is nothing to us." They took up a measure of this kind, and insisted on its being adopted. Not one single syllable had been said which afforded the shadow of a reason for taking away the third Member from the county of Monmouth. But at the very last moment, when it was quite impossible that this case could be so fully and deliberately considered as it deserved, and when he was thus taken by surprise be felt he could not do justice to his constituents, in a matter which so materially affected their interests. He left it to the noble Lord, if he had any regard to his own consistency, to explain at whose suggestion the change had been made. He could not believe it came from the hon. 231 member for Cardiff (Lord Patrick Stuart), because, after the exertions the freeholders of Monmouth had used to support that noble Lord's pretensions to the borough of Cardiff, they would have reason to complain that they were treated very unhandsomely if he had so acted.
§ Lord Patrick Stuart
said, that he knew no reason the noble Lord could have to convey such an insinuation and in such a manner against him. He had voted for Merthyr-Tydvil on its own grounds, and his reasons he had submitted to the House, and therefore the noble Lord had no right to assume that he had given any advice on the subject.
felt himself called upon to object strongly to the arrangement proposed by the noble Lord, on the ground that it would destroy the balance between the agricultural and manufacturing interests, which they had been at so much pains to adjust. He would maintain that the Government, after the arguments they had enforced to preserve the balance, would act most inconsistently by taking away one of the three Members allotted to the county of Monmouth. In addition to that, he would ask, what security was there, after so many changes had taken place, that Merthyr Tydvil would get the Member which was to be taken from the county?
§ Lord Althorp
said, that the proposition now suggested was one which could not be finally decided upon until Monday, and in a different stage of the proceedings, upon which, if the House entertained a different opinion from the Government, it would go for nothing. Merthyr Tydvil was a commercial and manufacturing town of considerable importance, and Government had fixed on Monmouthshire to lose its third member, because it was the only county with a population under 100,000 which, by the Bill, was to have three Members. He would further beg leave to observe, that from the information which had reached him, he did not believe, that the people of Monmouthshire would feel greatly disappointed at not having the additional member. He, therefore, could not see any cause for disappointment, and he was surprised the noble Lord should complain of change at the last hour, if he admitted that discussion relating to the various claims of places was of any use at all.
§ Sir Charles Wetherell
said, he must complain that no one knew anything of this 232 proposition until it was brought forward. It seemed, therefore, that the authors of it were ashamed of their own act—further, he must observe, that when Ministers were forced into a tardy justice, as far as regarded Merthyr Tydvil, they could not bring themselves to accomplish it, because it was a proposition from his side of the House, without taking away a portion of its merit, by drawing a tooth out of the county of Monmouth. The Opposition had not been consulted on this occasion, nor even any Member of the Ministerial majority; and he challenged any Member of that side of the House to have the honour and the intrepidity to rise and say, that he knew anything of the proposition till he heard the noble Lord mention it in the House. The Bill-men might be contented with this treatment; but he, as an independent Member of the House, was not, and he protested against such a parliamentary contempt. As to the question of taking a Member from Monmouth, he thought that Merthyr Tydvil could be enfranchised much better at the expense of a Calne or a Tavistock.
agreed with the member for Preston in wishing that there had been no third Members for counties; but he thought it of little consequence, except to those who looked at what they called the balance of interests, whether the Member was given to Merthyr or to Monmouth; the former place was, in his mind, clearly entitled to a Representative, from whatever quarter that Member might come. He, therefore, concurred in the proposed alteration.
could see no adequate reason why the member for the town of Merthyr was to be taken from a county. He thought it would be much fairer to take one from Halifax, or Brighton, or any one of those five towns which, by the present Bill, were to have two Members, than to take the Member from Monmouth. He protested against this arrangement, which, in his opinion, was most unjust, and he should feel himself disgraced if he were considered instrumental in depriving Monmouthshire of its third Member.
§ Sir Edward Sugden
protested against the proposition of the noble Lord, as not 233 only unjust towards Monmouthshire at large, but as contradictory to the recorded decision of the House. It would have been much better to have adopted the more consistent and equitable suggestion offered on a late occasion by a noble Lord (Stuart), and bestow upon Merthyr Tydvil the franchise which was comparatively thrown away upon Gateshead?
§ Mr. Sinclair
had almost invariably voted with Ministers during the progress of the Bill, but found himself bound, in consistency, to vote against the present Motion. He had voted with them, first, for bestowing the franchise upon Gateshead in preference to Merthyr Tydvil; and, next, for bestowing three Members on the county of Monmouth; and, accordingly, felt that he should be voting in the teeth of these decisions did he then vote for taking away the additional county Representative from Monmouth, for the purpose of bestowing it upon Merthyr Tydvil.
§ Sir James Scarlett
also felt himself bound by consistency to vote against the present Motion. He was surprised that the noble Lord should propose such a reversal of his own former proposition, and that, too, in a comparatively thin House, without notice or explanation.
§ The House divided: Ayes 191; Noes 146—Majority 45.
§ Remaining Amendments agreed to.
§ Lord Althorp
proposed a clause, to the effect that the holders of land by burgage tenure in counties of cities, should be put upon the same footing with others whose rights were reserved in boroughs, and should be required to have six months' occupation before they were allowed to vote.
§ Clause read a first time. On the question that it be read a second time,
§ Colonel Sibthorp
thought, there was some reason for the House to complain that clauses were introduced by the noble Lord without giving notice. No opportunity had been given to examine the proposed clause.
§ Lord Althorp
assured the hon. and gallant Member, that he had adopted the usual course in moving an additional clause, on the bringing up of the Report.
§ The clause read a second and third time, and added to the Bill.
§ Lord Althorp
proposed a clause in substitution of clause 33, on account of a verbal inaccuracy in the clause already in the Bill.
§ Agreed to.
§ Lord Althorp
observed, that it was 234 doubtful whether the Sheriffs of the counties in which the new boroughs were situated had the power to interfere in the election of Members for such boroughs, so as to appoint officers to preserve, the peace during such election. Of course it would be advisable to give him such power; he, therefore, begged to propose a clause, giving the Sheriff the same power for that purpose in the new boroughs, as he now possessed in any of the old boroughs of his county.
Sir Charles Burrell
wished the noble Lord would introduce some words into the clause to prevent Under-Sheriffs from exacting exorbitant fees from candidates at elections.
Mr. C. W. Wynn
said, if such a practice as that the hon. Baronet alluded to existed, it was contrary to an Act of Parliament; and the Under-Sheriff who was guilty of it was liable to a penalty. There was no ground whatever for the exaction of fees by them under any circumstances.
§ Clause agreed to.
rose to move, that there be added to schedule A the fifteen least considerable places (according to houses and assessed taxes) out of the thirty which may have been placed by the Committee in schedule B; that clause 2 and schedule B be omitted; and that the fifteen remaining boroughs out of the thirty which may have been placed in schedule B be extended to the surrounding hundreds. That there be added to schedule C the nine most considerable places, according to houses and assessed taxes, out of the number now named in schedule D; that clause 4 and schedule D be omitted; and that the additional Member then required to make up the number of sixty-three (now in schedules C and D), be given to the West-Riding of Yorkshire. He should set out by saying, that whoever would look for a moment at the effect of these propositions, would see that they had not been framed with a view to strengthen any particular interest, either landed or commercial, at the expense of the other, but solely with a view to a more simple, and, as he thought, a more permanent adjustment of the future Representation of the country. No one had watched the progress of this Bill with a greater desire that it should come to a successful issue, and prove a safe and permanent settlement, than he had; and with this feeling he did not hesitate to confess, that he had seen with regret some features of the measure which seemed to 235 him to be at variance with the security of the settlement, and to contradict the hope of that permanence which it was the object of the framers of the Bill to invest it with. It was for the sake of that permanence that he gave his vote the other evening for the enfranchisement of the metropolitan districts, because, he thought, no system, formed upon the exclusion of such districts, could stand; and it was equally for the sake of that permanence that he refused to give his vote for the creation of such schedules as those of B and D. They were schedules which, in his opinion, were blots upon the face of the Bill; they constituted in themselves a great experiment—a hazardous, and, be could not but think, an unnecessary experiment. They created fifty boroughs, in which the whole of the Representation would be monopolised and absorbed by the majority, to the entire exclusion of the minority; and while schedule B deprived them of an answer to those who asked upon what principle they professed to disfranchise, schedule D left them almost equally without an answer to the twenty-four places which might demand why they were not likewise to be enfranchised. He meant that, by the late returns, there were at least twenty-four places, of which he held in his hand a list, which it was nut intended to enfranchise, higher, or at least equal, in population to some place or places in schedule D. But he did not rise for the purpose of entering at large into the merit of those schedules; the time, he feared, was past, when a resistance to their enactment could be of any avail within those walls. It would otherwise have been easy for him to show the House, that the amendments, which it was his object to introduce, would totally have removed the blemish by means the most simple, and the most consistent with the principle of the Bill; and that, without interfering with the question of the numbers—without weakening the amount of either enfranchisement or disfranchisement, but by simply following up the principle upon which the Government themselves had acted in the last changes which they had made in the Bill. What did they do? They had the numbers of the House to fill up; and how did they do it? By taking eleven places out of their own schedule B, and nine out of their own schedule D. But here lay the difficulty. His (Lord Newark's) propositions were not the Bill; and after that notable division upon the 10l. rate, he thought it 236 clear, that there was a number of Gentlemen of whose support that circumstance alone would be enough to deprive them. They were in perfect accordance with the spirit of the Bill; and that, he feared, would be but a bad title to the support of Gentlemen opposite. There remained only those who might think with him that, when a great end was to be attained, it was desirable, as much as possible to simplify the means by which it was sought; that when a settlement of the Constitution was to be attempted, one main principle of that Constitution—that of double Representation, should not be departed from in fifty instances; and that the disappointment of certain places, to which it might have been proposed to give the franchise, should not have been allowed, in a work of such magnitude, to outweigh the paramount importance of establishing a barrier against a threatening host of further claims. That there were honourable Gentlemen who entertained these opinions with himself, and as sincere Reformers as any of those who cried loudest for the Bill, he knew from communications which he had had with them. That they were sufficiently numerous to give those propositions any reasonable chance of success, if pressed to a division, he did not pretend to say; and, with that impression, looking to the probability of such modifications being made elsewhere, and trusting that, if they should be so made, the House would then receive them in a spirit of calm consideration, and, if possible, of can did acceptance: he thought, under all the circumstances, he should adopt the course most agreeable to the wishes of the House, by not pressing this Motion to a division. Before he sat down, he wished to add one word. It appeared to him that the holiest endeavours of abler heads than his, to improve this Bill, had been somewhat too hastily taken up by the public out of doors, as the crotchets of lukewarm Reformers, or of secret enemies to the Bill. He, at least, was no such secret enemy, but, wishing that so fair a tree might bear conciliatory fruits, he was anxious that, in planting that tree, we should prune it of all superfluous branches—of all that might engender decay, or threaten to convert it into an annual plant, which every lover of, his country must wish to see flourish, a perennial. It was with these views, then,—not to mutilate, but to invigorate the Bill—not to make the Bill ineffectual (for there was nothing in those propositions that would interfere with the amount either of 237 enfranchisement, or of disfranchisement), but to make it permanent, that, if he thought he had any chance of success, he would most certainly press these Amendments to a division. But, for the reasons that he before stated, he was not disposed to do so.
Lord John Russell
said, that the noble Lord proposed to carry the principle both of disfranchisement and enfranchisement further than the Government deemed it advisable. The present plan which they had adopted enabled them to act with less harshness towards those boroughs than if they had disfranchised them entirely. On the whole, he thought there was more of disadvantage than of benefit in the noble Lord's proposition, and he should, therefore, oppose it.
§ Sir Richard Vyvyan
said, the noble Lord spoke of the Bill as being an annual plant; he feared it would turn out so, and would require annual renewal. There was not, in his opinion, one feature of permanence in it.
§ Motion negatived.
§ Mr. Hodges
believed the proper time had arrived for him to bring forward the Motion of which he had given notice. His object was, to unite the town of Ramsgate to the borough of Sandwich. In bringing this Question forward, he was only discharging a duty he owed to a numerous and highly respectable body of his constituents—the inhabitants of Ramsgate—as well as gratifying himself in advocating a measure in the success of which they felt their interests deeply concerned. He did not think he could state their case in any manner so well, as by quoting a passage from their own well-drawn petition to this House on the subject, which he would, therefore, take the liberty of reading.The town of Ramsgate contains a population of 7,891 persons. The town, from its large and spacious harbour, and from its being much frequented as a watering place, is fast increasing in wealth and population; the said town is situate within the proscribed distance of seven miles from Sandwich, and is a member of, and under the immediate jurisdiction of, that ancient town and port, the Mayor of which annually appoints the High-Constable or deputy, and other subordinate officers in Ramsgate; and the Mayor and Jurats of Sandwich, at their sessions, take cognizance of all offences committed within the said town of Ramsgate, and the said town of Ramsgate is assessed and annually pays about two-thirds of the whole liberty-rate, the remaining one-third being paid by the three parishes of St. Clements, St. 238 Peter's, and St. Mary's, Sandwich, and the parishes of Walmer and Satre.He begged the House would particularly bear in mind the large proportion which Ramsgate contributed towards the municipal expenses of the town of Sandwich. It was evident, that the borough of Sandwich could not have retained its privilege of sending two Members to that House, unless a large addition was made to its constituency, and this could only be effected by an alliance with some neighbouring town. By the present Bill, Sandwich and Deal were to be deemed one borough, and return two Members; the town of Walmer, which was included in the rejected Bill, being omitted in the present one. It was to this arrangement that the inhabitants of Ramsgate objected, and, in his opinion, justly. He could not comprehend how the relations in which Ramsgate stood with reference to Sandwich, in ancient connexion, jurisdiction, and taxation, came to be overlooked. Unless he was greatly misinformed, the noble Lord, the member for Devonshire, expressed surprise when a deputation from Ramsgate waited upon him and explained the very large proportion of local taxation contributed by Ramsgate to the municipal expenses of Sandwich; and the deputation were led to entertain expectations of a more favourable result from that interview. He was persuaded the noble Lord would feel himself called upon to offer to the House his reasons why so powerful an appeal had been disregarded. It was not the wish of those he represented on this occasion, that any other place should be deprived of privileges proposed to be conferred upon them; but their earnest hope and desire was, to be permitted to share with Sandwich in the electoral privileges of that town, towards the expenses of which they were now by law compelled to bear so large a proportion. The principal points in this case were few; but, in his opinion, extremely strong; and he really did not feel that he could add to their force by extending his remarks upon them. He would only, therefore, intreat his Majesty's Ministers to give this representation their most favourable consideration, and sanction an act of justice to those, who, while they felt themselves entitled to receive the privilege they prayed for, would ever regard its concession as a boon which they would most gratefully acknowledge. He would conclude by moving, "That Rams- 239 gate be united with Sandwich in sending two Members to Parliament."
Lord John Russell
said, that Government considered that they had already extended the constituency of the borough of Sandwich sufficiently, and he, therefore, regretted he could not accede to the Motion.
thought it was wholly unnecessary that such an addition to the constituency of Sandwich should be made. Government had selected Deal to be added to the former constituency of the borough; the population of Deal was about 9,000. If another place was also to be added, with a population of 8,000, such a measure would overwhelm the population of an old and ancient sea-port, and would, therefore, be most unjust.
said, the claims of Ramsgate to be added to Sandwich were greater than Deal, inasmuch as the former place was attached to Sandwich by local jurisdiction. Moreover, the proportion of charge which Ramsgate paid to the Sandwich liberty was 37,160l., while the other five parishes, which were equally liable, only paid together the sum of 14,193l. If the hon. member for Kent pressed his Motion to a division, he should feel bound to vote in favour of it.
§ Mr. Hodges
said, as he found he should not have the support of Ministers to his proposition, he had no hope of succeeding with it; he felt, therefore, it would give unnecessary trouble to divide the House.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. Charles Stewart
moved the substitution of the following words for those in lines thirty-four to thirty-seven of clause 11:—"That no person nominated and appointed as returning officer for a borough, now sending, or hereafter to send, Members to Parliament, shall be appointed a Churchwarden or Overseer therein, during the time for which he shall be such returning officer."
§ Colonel Sibthorp
complained that neither he nor the hon. member for Preston could understand what was going on.
§ The Speaker
observed, that he could not assist the hon. Members; but they might, perhaps, arrive at a clearer knowledge of the subject, when the Bill with the Amendments should be printed.
§ Lord Granville Somerset
said, he felt bound to support the Motion, although he could not consent that a Member should be taken from the county of Monmouth.
Mr. Alderman Thompson
was of the same opinion. Though he should rejoice to see Merthyr Tydvil in possession of a Representative, yet he should be sorry to see that advantage conferred on it at the expense of the county of Monmouth.
§ Mr. Sinclair
said, he must repeat that he had uniformly, hitherto, supported Ministers throughout all the discussions on this Bill; but be could not support them on the present occasion. He had, however, this consolation, that they deserted him, and not he them. He could not consent to be a party to undo one night what they had just done the night before.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
moved, that the further consideration of the Report be adjourned to the next day.
§ Lord Althorp
objected to that Motion. The proposition of the hon member for Lincoln was the only Motion remaining, and he would, therefore, have a full opportunity of taking the sense of the House on it at a future stage of the Bill; and, as there was other business of importance fixed for to-morrow, he hoped that the hon. Member would not persevere in pressing his Motion.
§ The House divided: Ayes 16; Noes 162—Majority 146.
§ Report finally received, and Bill ordered to be engrossed, and read a third time on the following Monday.