HC Deb 26 March 1855 vol 137 cc1109-64

Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


said, he had not had the good fortune to be present upon a former occasion, when the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced to a Committee of the whole House the Resolutions upon which this Bill was based; but on reading in the usual channels of information the account of what then occurred, he (Mr. Deedes) had been forcibly struck by the very slight encouragement that appeared to have been given to the right hon. Baronet by those who followed him in the debate. It appeared to him that every hon. Member who spoke on that occasion had some stone to cast at the right hon. Gentleman, and that they generally concurred in pointing out to him that the measure he proposed to introduce was not likely to secure the approbation of the country at large. It was his sincere belief that if the right hon. Gentleman had adopted the advice then tendered to him, if he had abstained from proposing legislative interference on this subject, and if he had not followed the example of his predecessor in office, he would have escaped a very difficult task, and he would have had no difficulty, under existing circumstances, in justifying such a course both to the House and the country. He considered, indeed, that the observations of the right bon. Gentleman himself established a strong case against the necessity or advisability of bringing forward this question at the present moment. The right hon. Gentleman based the necessity of the measure upon certain Resolutions which were passed unanimously by that House during the last Session, at the instance of the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson). Now, he might observe in passing that he considered abstract Resolutions and abstract declarations of opinion, whether proceeding from bodies or from individuals, as extremely dangerous. Such Resolutions ought to be adopted with very great caution, for they were very apt to rise up in judgment against people at times when it was exceedingly inconvenient to carry them into effect. With regard to the financial portion of the question, the observations of the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) seemed to him to dispose altogether of the necessity for the introduction of this measure. The right hon. Gentleman said— If we had at this time a surplus revenue, and if the expenditure of the country did not greatly exceed its ordinary revenue, the newspaper stamp would have a fair claim to be considered on any plan for repeal or any readjustment of taxes, and those who object to it might claim that its repeal should have precedence in any financial scheme. This, however, is not the present financial state of the country. and, if the House should decide in favour of this measure, it would be my duty to call upon them to provide for the deficiency of the revenue Which might thereby be occasioned by some other mode of taxation."—[3 Hansard, cxxxvii. 786.] The right hon. Gentleman afterwards went on to say— It is my duty to inform the House that the estimate of persons of authority as to the loss or revenue must not be taken to be less than 200,000l. Such a loss of revenue is no doubt inconvenient at the present moment. On the other hand, the House will bear in mind that to refuse to repeal the stamp would be to recede from the unanimous resolution which it agreed to last Session, and will render necessary the passing of SUMO measure declaratory of the law,"—{3 Hansard,cxxxvii. 787.] He (Mr. Deedes) would be the last person to argue arue that any general Resolution of that House should be lightly passed over; but there was, in his opinion, a fitting time for all things, and he grounded his opposition to the present Bill on the conviction that this was not the fitting time for proceeding with such a measure as the one now under the consideration of the House. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had, however, determined to proceed with the Bill, and he (Mr. Deedes) would propose as an amendment that the second reading of the measure be postponed till after the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made the financial statement. It might be supposed, frmn the terms of this amendment, that his objections to the Bill were entirely of a financial nature, but that would not be a correct idea of the fact, for he thought it was open to objections infinitely stronger than those of a financial character, and to which he would shortly draw the attention of the House. His objections went far beyond pounds, shillings and pence, and he would therefore state at once some of those objections. The first clause of the Bill was to him at once a "stopper." He considered that that clause contained the pith and marrow of the Bill, the subsequent provisions relating almost entirely to matters of detail. He found the first clause provided that there should be no further compulsory stamp duty upon any newspaper—that, consequently, did away with the necessity for compulsory registration, and also that no declaration should be required. The regulations which would thus be dispensed with had been established by previous legislation on this subject in order to prevent unfair attacks from being made upon private character, and with the object of raising as much as possible the character of the publications to which such legislation referred, as well as offering a remedy for abuses of the press. These regulations, however, were no longer thought necessary by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he (Mr. Deedes) must say, he would regard with very great reluctance, and even with considerable dread, any relaxation of the law which would allow persons to write upon public affairs in such a manner as to excite the minds of those who were comparatively uneducated and ignorant, and whose powers of discrimination were not of a high order. He had seen within the last day or two some papers and publications of the description to which he referred, and he could only say that he should be very sorry to see them multiplied in this country. He objected entirely to the principle of taxing information by the inch, and he saw no reason why the conductors of a paper, who took great trouble and incurred great expense to provide information which was palatable to its readers, should be called upon to pay higher taxation than the conductors of a paper who catered less expensively for the public amusement and information. He would ask the House whether they were satisfied that the present law was so faulty as to require immediate amendment, and, if so, whether the proposition of the Government was calculated to remedy any evils that might exist? He was quite ready to admit that there were faults in the present system that required amendment; that there were anomalies which it was desirable to remove; but he denied that those faults and anomalies existed to such an extent as to render it necessary for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to come down to Parliament at this particular moment with a Bill on the part of the Government expressly providing for their remedy or removal. At some future time a measure of that kind might be introduced with considerable benefit, but he did not think the present Bill was calculated to remove faults and anomalies with fairness and justice to existing interests. He was one of those who thought that the press had sometimes, perhaps, exceeded its fair powers—that it had at times pressed unfairly on individuals, and in its attacks laid hold of points of character which it was very difficult indeed, for those so attacked to set right, or scarcely to defend. He thought that in some of the letters and communications sent from the seat of war the state of matters there had been over highly coloured—so much so as to cause one to entertain a measure of doubt as to the whole of the transactions reported to have taken place. But, notwithstanding the high colouring and some exaggeration that might have occurred, he believed that on the whole this country was greatly indebted to the press for the exertions which it had made to furnish us with information from the seat of war, and he should have deeply regretted to see the press restrained in the discharge of that duty; for he was of opinion that the advantages more than counterbalanced the occasional hardships that might be experienced by indiscreet or over-charged descriptions. In looking at this question, he could not altogether disconnect it from the subject of the general education of the country. There were at that moment on the table of the House two Bills relating to the improvement of general education, and no man could be more anxious than he was to see the working classes partake to the utmost possible extent of the blessings of sound religious instruction. There were on the table of the House the Bill of the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonial Department and the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), and a third Bill was likewise promised from the other side of the House upon the same subject. These Bills, it was said, were to be referred to one Committee for consideration; and he would say that if the tendency of the measure at present before the House was to multiply in the country, or place with greater ease and readiness in the hands of the young and less educated portion of the community, publications which it would be better for their morals they should not have an opportunity of reading, it should be in the power of that Committee to say whether the system of education which they might propose would be improved by having a measure, like the one for which a second reading was now asked, carried through the House. He should like, if it were possible, to have the opinion of the Committee on this question as one closely connected with the general education of the country. Another question of great importance to which he would allude was that of copyright. In dealing with this point he had the advantage of the opinion expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the late Chancellor of the Exchequer. When speaking on the subject he said— There is another point which is not a matter of indifference to me—namely, the question of copyright for the protection of literary property in newspapers. I don't wonder, so far as we know anything of the plan of my right hon. Friend from his explanation to-night, that he has not included in his Bill any clauses upon this subject. I think, indeed, it is a matter with reference to which it would be very difficult to devise a plan. At the same time I am under the impression that the proprietors of newspapers, in many cases, entertain great anxiety that the provisions of the law with respect to the protection of literary property should undergo special consideration, and should, it practicable, receive some extension with a view to the protection of literary property in newspapers. Undoubtedly, so far as the article that is most strictly called 'news' is concerned—for instance, the communication of facts, which may generally be comprised within a very brief space, and the language, the outward shape and form of which can be varied almost at will—I do not know how you are to introduce any further provisions than the law at present contains; but I have understood from some persons, who ought to be well informed on the subject, that the great anxiety of those who think this question worth consideration in the press as it stands, is not so much directed to the protection of their 'news,' strictly so called, which, in point of fact, it would be very difficult to protect, as to the protection of what may more fairly be called their literary compositions: … I, for one, am very anxious that, either in the plan of my right hon. Friend, or in some other effective form, this question should be brought to a settlement."—[3 Hansard, cxxxvii. 792–3.] Having read this opinion, he would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to say whether he saw any settlement of this question in the Bill before the House. There was no protection whatever to copyright in this Bill. The words in which the right hon. Gentleman concluded this part of his address were so strong that he would read two sentences more:— I do not venture to prejudge this question, but I would venture to express a hope that, in endeavouring to carry out the principle of the freedom of the press, my right hon. Friend will not be indisposed to take into his favourable consideration any reasonable proposition which may be made to him for the improvement of the law of copyright, in order that we may not run any risk of breaking down that system under which the highest talent in the country is applied largely and advantageously devoted to supplying the public with intelligence, and to the discussion of that intelligence. I must confess that I should regard the destruction of that system as a public misfortune—a misfortune which I am the less disposed to incur, because I do not look upon it as a natural or necessary consequence of the important measure of emancipation which is now contemplated by Her Majesty's Government."—[3 Hansard, cxxxvii. 794–5.] Now in his (Mr. Deedes's) way of reading the measure, he could see no chance of remedying the misfortune which the right hon. Gentleman deprecated. He thought the general tone adopted by the press of this country had very much improved compared with what it was some years ago, and therefore he thought that its interest should be the more protected. He remembered, not so very long since, when day after day, and week after week, prosecutions were instituted on the part of the Attorney General against publications that were a disgrace to the country, and he should be excessively sorry to see that time return again. He believed that the country at large was very well satisfied with the law as it now stood; that it was equally satisfied with what the press did for it in the way of publishing all events that it was desirable to know, and which were increasing every day, and therefore he submitted that, unless in much more favourable circumstances than the present, there was no ground for interference, particularly of the nature proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It might be asked why, when he (Mr. Deedes) had these objections to the Bill, he did not at once move that it he rejected altogether. This would probably be best answered in the reply which he gave to a question put to him several times since he had placed his Amendment on the paper—namely, whether he wished to turn out the Government. To that he answered decidedly not. He did not wish to turn out the Government; on the contrary, he would regard it as a calamity were such an event to happen at a moment when a distinguished Member of that Government was carrying on negotiations for peace at Vienna. He brought forward the motion in no hostile spirit to the Government. He was one who approved entirely the course taken by the noble Earl who was first sent for by Her Majesty on the occasion of the recent Ministerial resignations, and who thought it was advisable to endeavour to call in the assistance of those not immediately connected with him in politics, as he could not form a strong Government without so doing, and he considered that he was right in the course he subsequently took. He was ready to give every independent support to the Government, and he did not know it could be said that he had, ever since he had a seat in that House, manifested anything like factious opposition. He would now pass to the financial aspect of this question, and in referring to which he was at a loss to imagine on what ground the proposition he now made could be reasonably resisted. He had already stated the opinion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer with respect to the finances of the country, and he would now bring before the House the view taken by his right hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. Baring) who once held the high position of Chancellor of the Exchequer. That right hon. Gentleman thought the House might count on the loss of 250,000l. of revenue in adopting the proposed arrangement. He added— The Chancellor of the Exchequer has fairly told you that if you pass this measure he must of necessity propose some other taxation to compensate for the sum it is now proposed should be lost. Well, then, let us know what is the taxation which the right hon. Gentleman will propose in lieu?"—[3 Hansard, cxxxvii. 796.] That was but right and reasonable in his (Mr. Deedes's) opinion, as the present was not the time when large sums could be passed over without explanation, or without the House being told what was the remedy to be applied in each case. His right hon. Friend (Sir F. Baring) proceeded to say— We ought not to proceed to vote away a quarter of a million of public money until we have before us the whole state of the finances of the country, and are thereby able to take a full and comprehensive view of the subject. I will not now enter further into the details of the plan which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had explained so clearly and candidly to the House, but if he proposes, after bringing in his Bill, to pass it before his financial statement is made, I am afraid that he will find me prepared, even if I should find myself in a minority of one, to vote for the postponement of the measure."—[3 Hansard, Ibid.] He (Mr. Deedes) claimed to be allowed to make number two in that minority. The hon. Member for Wick (Mr. Laing) said— It was impossible for that house to conceal from itself that the expenditure of the country exceeded by many millions any sum which could reasonably be expected to be raised by taxation during the year; and, under these circumstances, it was, in his opinion, wrong to remit a tax which produced 200,000l. At such a time it was not expedient to remit taxation in order to court popularity, however unpopular any tax might be."—[3 Hansard, cxxxvii. 807.] The hon. Member for Evesham (Sir H. Willoughby) and another hon. Member followed in the same strain. He alluded to the speeches of these hon. Gentlemen in order to justify the course he had adopted of submitting an Amendment to a Bill of such importance as that before the House, and to show that other Members took the same view that he did, whose opinions were entitled to infinitely more weight than he could pretend to. Turning to the speech of the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) and that of his hon. colleague (Mr. Bright), he could not hope to receive much support from them, but he was thankful for the little he could get. The right hon. Gentleman had said, "that he quite agreed with the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to the difficulties to be met, and that they must be careful in a time like this of abandoning any sources of revenue." He (Mr. Deedes) thanked the right hon. Gentleman for so much, as it strengthened the view which he (Mr. Deedes) took as to the impropriety of interfering, as they would by the present measure, with the sources of revenue at the present time. The hon. Member for Manchester's speech gave but little indication of support to the Amendment, and he, indeed, seemed to anticipate that an application would be made for the postponement of this measure, for he said, "that he did not consider the measure to be as good as that proposed by the late Chancellor of the Exchequer. He denied its being a matter of revenue, and urged upon the Chancellor of the Exchquer to bring in a Bill, and to pass it as fast as the House would allow him to do so." He should not trouble the House with any further extracts, and should say but little more in support of his Amendment. He had said that he considered that the press of the country was generally well conducted, and that its exertions were so meritorious, and that in it was embarked so vast an amount of property as fairly to entitle it to protection; he looked, also, to the present measure with fear, as he thought it would lead to the introduction of papers of a low and immoral character, which would tend to injure the ignorant and the young, and to detract from that high character and standard which the press of this country had now taken. He believed, moreover, that the country did not require this change, and that by far the greater portion were satisfied with the law as it at present stood, and that, if the country could be polled as to the advisability of the change proposed, and of substituting a fresh tax for 250,000l., that there would be no doubt as to the result. He also pressed the adoption of his Amendment on the House, on the ground of the extreme unfitness of the moment chosen by the Chancellor of the Exchequer for making this change. He considered also that this question had not been sufficiently long before the House to enable them thoroughly to understand all its details, and if the postponement of the Bill should be permitted, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer should be disposed, after he had made his financial statement, to press this measure, he would be able to do so then with as great advantage to himself as he would derive from pressing it forward at the present time.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon Monday the 30th day of April next."

Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question.


I can, Sir, assure my hon. Friend the mover of the proposed amendment, that it is with great pain that on this question I am conscientiously compelled to differ from him, and, I fear, from some other gentlemen on this side of the House with whose opinions on most subjects I cordially concur. Before I sit down I shall examine the validity of the arguments on wide!) my hon. Friend has based his amendment; but I am glad to hear from him that he would not restrict the debate to the cramped and narrow ground on which his amendment would place it—that he would not reduce to a question of pounds, shillings, and pence a principle which I will endeavour to show to be one of the most important, and in point of time, one of the most pressing, which a House of Commons can entertain. I can, indeed, advance some claim to the original paternity of the measure my bon. Friend considers to be so mischievous. I believe I was the first person who ever introduced into this House a motion for the repeal of the taxes on knowledge, including the stamp duty on newspapers. Sir, when my hon. Friend says that this subject has not been sufficiently long before us, he must allow me to tell him, that it is more than twenty years ago that I first brought this question before the House; I was then a very young man, but the opinions I then entertained in favour of the total repeal of the newspaper stamp duty are not removed—they are strengthened by the lapse of time; for within the last twenty years there has been a great increase of intelligence among the people, and any danger to be apprehended from the sudden diffusion of cheap newspapers is, therefore, considerably less now than it was then. But Why is the danger less? Why has intelligence increased? Because within the last twenty years all kinds of cheap publications have abounded, and the public have had the wisdom to choose the best and reject the worst. The very arguments now used by my hon. Friend against cheap newspapers were once used much more boldly against the principle of cheap publications altogether. We were then told that the common mass of the people would prefer worthless and inflammatory works, and that to adapt the market to their pockets would be to corrupt their understandings. Now what has been the fact? why that in proportion as good books have been made cheap, bad books have retreated from circulation. Ask any where what books most please the artisan or mechanic, and you will find it is either elementary works of science, or if books of amusement, the very books of amusement that scholars and critics themselves prefer. And now that the people have thus nobly disproved the fear of cheap publications which prudent men might once have entertained, have we a right to listen for a moment to such assertions as I see the newspaper proprietors have put forth, and my hon. Friend has condescended to echo—that any newspapers cheaper than their own must necessarily appeal to the worst passions and prejudices of the lowest class? Now, Sir, is it the cheapness of the newspaper that will corrupt the artisan, or is it the baseness of the artisan that must corrupt the newspaper? What are these assertions but the most groundless declamation, disproved by all the experience we have now obtained of the taste and inclinations of the working class, disproved by the thousands and hundreds of thousands of cheap publications which have brought to the cottage and the loom—what?—a debased and contaminating literature? No, the same refined and elevated knowledge which delights and instructs ourselves. I beseech the House to separate the details of this measure from the broad principle. On the second reading of the Bill, it is to the principle we should look. I agree with my hon. Friend (Mr. Deedes) that there are provisions in the measure that require alteration, but those portions of the Bill that are objected to can be altered in Committee. Many details may require hereafter our most serious consideration, but I will now only make upon some of them one or two passing remarks. For example, I think it an act of justice and sound policy, not only to secure the copyright of all original matter to newspapers, but to give a cheap and summary mode of protecting that copyright similar to that which exists for copyright in manufacture under Sir Emerson Tennent's Act. I think, too, that the complaint of The Times as regards itself is just. When you are introducing a general law by which newspapers are to go through the post at a penny, it seems to me fair and reasonable that you should take as your standard of weight or size that newspaper which has the largest circulation and in which the public feel the deepest degree of interest. I am told that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer means to recur to the principle of weight. If so, I say, weigh The Times as your standard— Expende Annibalem—quot libras in duce summo Invenies. And it seems to me not a worthy distinction in so wholesale a change to separate The Times from the Supplement, which is an integral part of the paper, and that, too, a part of which the unrestricted diffusion is of so great an importance to the intellectual and commercial community. I agree in all that my hon. Friend has said with regard to the high character of the press of this country. Far from entertaining any grudge to the existing newspaper press, far from seeking to undervalue its signal merits, I grant that it is an honour to the country from the ability of its compositions, the integrity of the men who adorn it, the vast and various information it diffuses, and making fair allowances for the heat of party spirit and the temptations of anonymous power, for its general exemption from wilful calumny and personal slander. And if I desired to leave to remote posterity some memorial of existing British civilisation, I would prefer, not our docks, not our railways, not our public buildings, not even the palace in which we now hold our sittings; I would prefer a file of The Times newspaper. Could I, then, believe that the change proposed would deteriorate the moral and intellectual character of the newspaper press, I fear I might have the weakness to cling to the existing system, if it had not so crumbled away that I can find nothing to cling to but an Attorney General who dares not prosecute, and a jury that would not convict. But then it is the taste of the public that forms the newspaper, not the newspaper that forms the taste of the public; and if the press is an honour to the country, it is because it represents what honours the country still more—the good sense and civilised humanity from which the press takes its colour and its tone. Now, you have been told that this change will degrade our press to the level of the American, and you have been led to infer that the American press is left solely in the hands of ignorant adventurers, whereas the remarkable peculiarity of the American press is that it represents nearly all the intellect of that country. There is scarcely a statesman of eminence, an author of fame, who does not contribute to the American periodical press; and, therefore, the editor of one of their journals says on this very subject, "If the American press is inferior to the English, it merely argues that the intellect of the country is inferior, for nearly all the available intellect of the United States is engaged in their press." This serves to show you that if our press is superior to the American, it does not depend upon fiscal laws, but upon the general standard of civilisation; in other words, the press can but reflect the public.

Upon the financial part of the question, on the alleged loss to the revenue, I will touch later; but I cannot consent to allow the grand principle involved in this Bill to be dwarfed down to the level of a budget. What is that principle? I will place it upon broader ground than that taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, indeed, seems to regard the Bill rather with the reluctant and frigid toleration of a stepfather than the glowing love of a parent. The principle is this—that you ought not in a free country to lay a tax on the expression of political opinion—a tax on the diffusion of that information on public affairs which the spirit of our constitution makes the interest and concern of every subject in the State. Still more, you should not, by means of that tax, create such an artificial necessity for capital that you secure the monopoly of thought upon the subjects that most interest the public at large to a handful of wealthy and irresponsible oligarchs. That is the principle at stake; that is the question before you. Turn it as you will, you cannot get rid of the fact that as long as this newspaper stamp duty exists no man, whatever his knowledge, his honesty, his talent, the soundness of his conservative opinions, can set up a daily journal on the affairs of the country without an enormous capital—not even a weekly one without a capital of some thousand pounds; and, therefore, the stamp duty does confine the liberty of expressing opinion as much as if the State actually sold for a large sum of money the right to monopolise the market of public information. Now, one result of thus narrowing the representation of opinion is, that large sections of opinion are either not represented at all or represented very inadequately. And I doubt very much if there are ten thoughtful men on either side the House who can say that, on many of the most important questions, there is now one daily newspaper with which they can cordially agree. Take the great Conservative party; consider, first, its numbers throughout the kingdom — in the counties generally a large majority; in the towns, even most hostile, generally a large and influential minority; compute its strength, not in numbers alone, but comparative intelligence; consider how large a share of the highly cultivated classes, in the learned professions, in commerce, among the gentry, entertain Conservative opinions. Now turn to the daily newspapers, and ask yourselves if those opinions are represented in any proportion to the numbers and intellectual eminence of their supporters throughout the country? There are two ways of representing opinion—one through Parliament, the other through the press. Now, I ask, how are the Conservatives represented in Parliament? My hon. Friends will tell me that they are confessedly the largest single and integral body in the House of Commons. How are they represented in the press? Why, no single subdivision of political opinion is represented so sparingly. Compute the number of Conservative journals, compute the number of copies they sell, at the price you are told to keep up, and you will be perfectly astounded at the disparity between the influence of the Conservative party in the country and their representation in the press. But if this stamp duty were removed—if every able man among you had the right to defend your cause in the form of a journal without this necessity for capital, can you doubt that all which talent or knowledge can bring to bear on behalf of your political creed would find its fair and natural channel? And though the best newspaper, as a record of news, will be always that which has the largest capital, yet the best opinions are not always found in the best newspapers, and many readers who would take one journal for the sake of its general news would take another on account of their sympathy with its political doctrines. No doubt all opinions—those you condemn as well as those you approve—would obtain their utterance. But twenty years ago I assured myself that on the liberal side of the question safe and sound thinkers would hold it an imperative duty to stand forward and counteract the danger of all socialist and revolutionary doctrines, and, on the Conservative side, are we so barren of literary talent, or so indifferent to the spread of our principles, that free competition will not yield us additional advocates? No; a host of writers would appear to divest the popular mind of those prejudices against existing institutions which are now left to circulate in defiance of this law, and without any answer at all; for I cannot learn that there is at this moment a single Conservative journal which penetrates the mass of the working class. Sir, I am convinced that if this stamp duty, this obstacle were removed, many an eminent public man, many an eminent man of letters, would start small cheap papers, not attempting to vie or interfere with the special province of The Times, but conveying opinions stamped by the responsibility of his avowed name. You would thus call in the principle of cheap competition, not to lower, but to elevate still more the character of the newspaper press; for nothing would so exalt the social position of gentlemen engaged in newspaper literature as some signal exceptions to that anonymous mystery which now shrouds all attacks on the characters of public men. I do not mean to say that the preservation of the anonymous system may not at times be useful and even necessary; but I do say that its rigid and uniform use is the only power of the press which I hold to be invidious and derogatory. No more able, no more accomplished gentlemen than the contributors to the higher departments of the press can adorn our circles; yet it is in vain to deny that we feel a certain uneasiness in the social intercourse with men to the exercise of whose talents secrecy is so imperative a law that the man who clasps us by the hand to-day, may, in the discharge of his professional duty, sting us to the quick to-morrow, darkly and in secret. Mr. Fox once told this House an anecdote of a witness on a trial, I think, for murder, who gave his testimony against another man on the ground that a ghost had appeared to him, and said so and so. "Well," said the Judge, who was a person of considerable humour, "I have no objection to take the evidence of the ghost; let him be brought into court." These anonymous newspaper writers are as ghosts. We do not object to take their evidence, but there are times when I should like them brought into court.

This subject has been far too much argued as if it were a question between the tax collector and the newspaper proprietors. I could not help smiling when the other evening I heard an hon. Member say that they did not complain of the law, and why, then, should it be changed? What corporate body, I ask, ever did complain of a law which restricted competition, and secured to itself a virtual monopoly? And I am perfectly amazed to see these journals, most of which honoured us poor Protectionists with such hard names, now arming themselves with all the antiquated arguments in favour of protective duties, amounting to absolute prohibition, which during the last ten years of the discussion on the corn laws the stoutest friend of the farmer would not have ventured to use. Sir, the question really is between the tax collector and the public, and it is this—whether it is not time that we should enforce that great principle of the constitution of civil liberty, and of common sense which says that opinion shall go free, not stinted nor filched away by fiscal arrangements, but subject always to the laws of the country against treason, blasphemy, and slander. Those laws will still remain, though the question has been argued as if they were to be swept away. But thus much it is just to say on behalf of the working classes, to whom we are told that cheap libellous periodicals will especially appeal—that no class hitherto has so little supported newspapers of a libellous and gossiping character as the working classes of this country. I remember when certain Sunday journals profaned the Sabbath by hebdomadal ribaldry and scandal. Who supported them? I fear it was the clubs and the drawing-rooms. Certainly it was not the working class; and those journals ultimately perished, because they could obtain no circulation among the common people, and no sympathy from the public in the actions that were brought against them. It is a remarkable fact, and one that shows how little the danger of publications depends on their price, that profligate and licentious literature always begins by corrupting the higher class before it reaches the lower. I know no instance to the contrary in the history of all literature, ancient or modern. Take the examples with which we are most familiar. It was the nobles and wits, the wellborn abbés and great ladies of Paris who brought into fashion and introduced to the artisans of France the chimeras of Rousseau, the infidelity of Voltaire. And I do not believe that the inflammatory catchpennies that now, in defiance of your law, circulate through our manufacturing towns, would last six months after the repeal of the stamp duty had removed the morbid attraction which belongs to things proscribed and forbidden, and exposed them to the competition of sound and healthful writings at the same price. This is not a more theory, it has been partially tried. It appears in the evidence of the Committee of 1851, that the appearance of one or two legal threepenny papers in London, though they were by no means first-rate, sufficed to destroy an immense swarm of unstamped pernicious publications which had before circulated throughout the metropolis. Let us, then, do with this field of letters, what we country gentlemen are learning to do with our fields at home; if we want the corn to have fair play, we clear away an unnecessary hedgerow full of thorns and brambles, and expose the ground well to the sun and to the air. But at this time of day it is superfluous to argue the principle that opinion should not be indirectly suppressed by a tax, when the boldest man among us dare not invade it by an open law; and, indeed, if we desired to do so, we have no longer the power. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us without any exaggeration, though perhaps rather reluctantly, that the stamp duty has broken down in all directions. There are not, as he states, only 100, for there are no less than 250 publications subject to the Statute, only partially stamped, and all liable to prosecution. If you do not prosecute them all, with what justice can you prosecute one. It is all very well for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say, with that grim complacency, if you don't pass this Bill you must arm the Government with new laws —with new powers of prosecution. Now, Sir, I feel confident that this House of Commons will do no such thing; if we did frame new laws for checking the circulation of knowledge, or if we did make what is asked—a new arbitrary distinction between political journals and those of a different nature, we should do more to expedite the march of a democratic reform Bill than all which the restless spirit of the noble Lord the Member for London—that is to say, when out of office—could effect. And if we were blind and harsh enough to frame such laws, I should like to see the Attorney General who would have the courage to enforce them, or the Government that would have the insanity to allow him. While we discuss, the law for all good purposes is virtually dead. You may retain the sword for a time in its nerveless hand. I defy you to renew the energy of its muscles. I defy you to strike the blow.

I now come to my hon. Friend's Amendment. He says, "Will you hazard the loss of 200,000l. of revenue at a time when you will require new taxes for carrying on the war with Russia?" But against what do you wage war? It is not against Russia as Russia. In commercial interchange Russia is our natural ally. It is against Russia when she appears as the symbol of barbaric usurpation and brute force. Why, then, out of the millions you devote to secure the distant boundaries of civilisation, grudge a paltry fraction towards the service of those two great agents of civilisation at home—freedom of opinion and popular knowledge? I ask my hon. Friend, is there any usurpation more barbarous than that which usurps the utterance of thought upon public affairs? Is there any type of brute force more odious than that which an Attorney General will embody if he is to say to a jury, "This publication is harmless—nay, its contents are most valuable; but the proprietor was not rich enough to pay a duty imposed on the liberty of printing, and I call upon you, in the name of the law, to stifle the know- ledge you admire, and to ruin the man who has a claim to your gratitude." Now, Sir, I do not believe the Chancellor of the Exchequer will lose one single farthing, if he adds to his Bill, as is proposed, the privilege of transmitting all printed papers by the post at the same proportional charge as periodical journals. More than twenty years ago I went carefully into the details on this very subject, for it formed a part of my own scheme, and I convinced myself that the number of tracts of all kinds, religious, literary, or commercial—of catalogues of booksellers and land agents —of writings purely intended for diffusion, would, under the plan proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) yield a sum far exceeding the deficit now alleged, while the addition to the paper duty itself will, I think, prove sufficient compensation. But even if it were otherwise—I put this question to my hon. Friends as Conservatives—are 200,000l. too dear a purchase for restoring authority to laws that no more stringent provisions will enable you to enforce? Should the dignity and efficacy of the law be to Conservatives mere items of revenue? No; they are objects beyond all price, and I am persuaded that we should not have heard a word on the fiscal part of the question—never have had this Amendment—if hon. Gentlemen were but convinced that the measure itself were safe and prudent; if certain interested parties out of doors had not sought to alarm us by assertions of another kind of danger than that of loss to the revenue—assertions so absurd to the sense of all who are acquainted with the practical conditions of our literature that those who make them would be the first to laugh at our credulity if we believed them. Assertions that a fivepenny journal must be respectable, and a penny journal must be licentious, and all such trumpery, as I find in this notable electicism of twaddle and bugbear, which has been circulated among us, and called "Objections to the Newspaper Stamp Act." This was against the first Bill, but it is meant equally to apply to the present. Here I find it stated that among the most active agents for a change are persons whose avowed object is the diffusion of opinions adverse to religion and subversive of the rights of property. And this courteous insinuation against those who differ from themselves is put forth by the very innocents who have such a horror of libel! Whom they mean, I know not. Among the most active for a change are the hon. Members for Manchester and the West Riding, who hold doctrines some of us consider extreme, but at least they express their doctrines openly and plainly, and I have never yet heard that they avowed opinions adverse to religion and subversive of property. Among those whom I have remembered most favourable to a repeal of this duty were the late Lord Althorp, Lord Brougham, Lord Campbell. Lord Lyndhurst, has, I think, expressed himself in favour of it. There is also that very natural enemy to the rights of property, the heir of the house of Derby (Lord Stanley). There is that notorious foe to religion, the representative of the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone). And the most active agents for a change are Her Majesty's Ministers, who, whatever their faults, are, I presume, tolerably well satisfied with what is called the established order of things. I have looked well through this paper; all its arguments are comprised in two libels; one against those who advocate cheap newspapers, the other against those who will read them. It reminds me of what Horace Walpole said of a lady, "That she had as fine a set of teeth as any one could have who had only two, and both of them black." Do not let hon. Members be thus led away. Do not let Conservatives continue to be cheated out of all fair chance to explain their opinions to the working class. My right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) in the course of his luminous speech on introducing his noble Bill on education, alluded to the letters of our private soldiers in the Crimea, which have excited such just admiration. Let me ask, Sir, how have the minds of these soldiers been trained to love and defend their country? — trained to those great conservative principles, humanity, discipline, fortitude, and patience? Is it not, in part, by the cheap publications that have instructed the childhood of the present generation; and ought not that to teach you how little, as Conservatives, you have to fear from any department of cheap knowledge? Do not fancy that this penny tax is a slight imposition. Do not fancy that a penny paper is necessarily low and bad. Once there existed a penny daily paper—it was called The Spectator. Addison and Steele were its contributors. It did more to refine the manners of this people than half the books in the British Museum. Suddenly a halfpenny tax was put on that penny paper, and so one fatal morning the most pleasing and graceful instructor that ever brought philosophy to the fireside had vanished from the homes of men. True that it survived the first stroke which laid low its feebler contemporaries; it doubled its price—it did not immediately decline in its circulation; Dean Swift believed that it would still lift up its head, and march gallantly under its burthen. But no, it began to stagger—to droop. On the third month from the day it first took the load, with so haughty a crest, it fell to the ground:—an attempt was made by its writers to raise it under a new name, and strengthen it by the tonic of party politics; that attempt, too, finally succumbed. It then, after a long interval, resumed its old appellation—The Spectator appeared again. Addison put into it the noblest efforts of his strength—in vain. The fatal tax was too powerful for Addison. In a few months it sunk, never to revive. Yes, Sir, a halfpenny tax sufficed to extinguish The Spectator, and divorce that exquisite alliance which genius had established between mirth and virtue. I turn to my hon. Friends around me. I say that I am convinced, earnestly and conscientiously convinced, that a penny journal, containing moderate Conservative opinions, managed by some gentlemen as familiarly acquainted with the tastes and feelings of the humbler classes as, for instance, many of our plain squires and country clergy are, would do more to popularize Conservatism, than half the party speeches we make in this house. For what is Conservatism? Surely not that which its enemies, surely not that which three-fourths of these fivepenny journals represent it to be? It is not a stern and lifeless system of restraint and terror, but a warm and generous love for the free laws, the liberal altars, and the glorious people of the land in which we live. Is it the constitution you would conserve? What is this English constitution? Not a crazy and decrepit form that must shrink from every breath of air, that cannot face the rude popular gaze, nor stand the manly shock of contending opinions. No; it is a robust organisation of sound principles, which has received its life and its soul not more from the wisdom of statesmen than from the courage of dauntless patriots. As such, are we not bound, we lovers of the constitution, to prove that we do not fear discussion? Are we not bound, we Conservatives, bound especially, to justify resistance to wanton inroads on that constitution, by showing that it needs no hazardous Reform Bill to give to the people every access to knowledge—every facility to make themselves better and wiser? And it is because I believe this to be our duty and our policy as true Conservatives; it is because I hail an occasion to show that we do not dread the good sense of the humblest class of our countrymen in any fair discussion between them and us; it is because I am convinced that as we widen the field of literature, we raise up new champions for ourselves, and best counteract the poison to which a worthless law now forbids the antidote, that I give to the main principle of this measure my most cordial and hearty support.


said, he thought that the House ought clearly to know how this matter stood, for when that was explained he thought, that all hon. Gentlemen would agree with him that it would be most inconvenient any longer to delay the second reading of the Bill. The present condition of the law was most unsatisfactory and perplexing, and matters were in a very anomalous position, arising out of the permission which had been accorded to certain classes of publications to omit the affixing of the stamp. There was no doubt but that, in the first instance, the stamp duty upon newspapers had been imposed for political purposes; of late, however, that view of the matter could hardly be maintained. Hence it was that after a time Government had permitted certain periodicals, which strictly fell within the intention of the Stamp Act, but which did not come up to the popular idea of a newspaper, to stamp only a portion of their impression. Such periodicals were addressed specially to certain subjects, almost, indeed, to certain classes of readers exclusively. As instances, he might name the Athenæum, the Literary Gazette, the Musical Times, the Builder, and certain papers devoted to legal subjects, such as the Jurist, &c. In course of time this led to a new class of papers coming into existence—papers which, though not devoted to those higher and more intellectual subjects which at first were held to form fair grounds of exemption, yet confined themselves to one subject exclusively. Of this class were The Racing Times, which was devoted to subjects connected with the turf, and The Police Gazette, which gave reports of the cases before the police courts. It became, then, a question whether the indulgence should be extended to papers of this description also, and eventually it was considered most advisable that, instead of constituting the Board of Inland Revenue a tribunal to decide how far a particular paper was deserving of exemption, one general rule should be adopted, and that all papers devoting themselves to the discussion of one subject should be alike exempted. A great variety of class papers then came into existence, but presently some of them began to publish what certainly was news in the general and more popular acceptation of the term, and it then became a question as to the amount and character of the intelligence which should take a paper out of the category of class publications. Was a paragraph to be sufficient—or half a column, or a whole column? In this way there arose a most embarrassing difficulty. If, on the one hand, the officers of the revenue did not enforce the law rigorously, and put down papers of this class, then immediately a great outcry arose from the papers subject to the tax against the injustice inflicted on them; and if, on the other hand, they did insist upon the payment of the tax by this description of class papers, there was a great outcry from these in their turn against the system which allowed some papers to be issued without a stamp, and, at the same time, singled out others for prosecution. A further embarrassment was immediately afterwards added to this perplexing state of things. The House of Commons interfered, and, on the motion of the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) declared that the law was not properly administered, and that the Government ought not to take upon itself to make a distinction between one class of periodicals and another. Under these circumstances he had felt it his duty to represent to the Government the position in which he, as law officer of the Crown, was placed. His hon. Friend (Sir B. Lytton) was wrong when he said the law was a dead letter. The law, if enforced, was strong enough; but what would be the outcry if the officers of the Government, called upon to enforce the law impartially, should enforce it against newspapers which had been encouraged by successive Governments, the proprietors of which newspapers had been led to believe that they might safely invest their capital so long as they confined their publication to the exposition of subjects which were not connected with news in the ordinary acceptation of the term? What would be the outcry if these newspapers were called upon to contribute to this tax? So far, also, his hon. Friend (Sir B. Lytton) was right, that they would have to appeal to juries, and how strong would be the impression on the minds of the juries when they were reminded of the impunity and exemption which these publications had so long enjoyed, and they were told that this tax was that which stood in the way of diffusing political information among those classes among whom it was most desirable that political information should be diffused. It therefore became necessary to dispose of this question at the earliest possible period, and although nobody could admire more than he did the tone and temper in which the hon. Member for East Kent (Mr. Deedes) had brought forward his proposition, he (the Attorney General) could find in his observations no argument for delay. No doubt there would be a certain diminution in the revenue, although his Friend the Member for Hertfordshire (Sir B. Lytton) thought that the increase in the revenue of the Post Office would more than compensate for such deficiency; yet, assuming for the sake of argument that a deficiency would arise, they would know the extent of the loss. If they were not prepared to meet that loss, let them put an end to the question by voting against the second reading of the Bill; but, if his views so eloquently put forward by his hon. Friend who had just sat down would induce them to get rid of this tax, they would not surely let 200,000l. stand in the way. The subject, however, would come before them again and again. If they, on the one hand, told him that, as Attorney General, he was bound to enforce the law, that must be done, but that would create such an outcry in the country that the matter must again and again be brought under the consideration of Parliament. They knew the extent of the loss, and they had two Chancellors of the Exchequer who had come forward and said that, although the country was at war, yet they thought that the finances were in a position to bear the loss. It therefore became a question whether, independent of financial considerations, they should put an end to this tax. There were some who thought the tax should be maintained to keep up the present high character of the press in this country. He did not think there was any soundness in that argument. He believed, on the contrary, that they would be doing a great public benefit by getting rid of the tax. Were those who upheld the present system prepared to prove that the remission of this tax would not be beneficial to the interests of the press itself? He thought those who advocated the proposition possessed a great advantage over the opposers, for they said, "This is a tax which prevents the diffusson of political information; it is stated it can be given up with safety to the finances of the country, therefore it ought to be got rid of, unless there are great commensurate evils, which, on the other hand, weigh against the benefits that would result from the remission of this tax, which stops the progress of knowledge." No one would be bold enough to say that it was desirable to keep the great mass of the people in ignorance. If there were any who were bold enough to avow that opinion, he trusted the House would receive such an avowal in a proper spirit. It was said that the abolition of the tax would diminish the character and influence of the present press, and would deteriorate the moral condition of the people, and that it would open a great door to slander. Now, in the first place, was it to be apprehended that they would so impair and deteriorate the character of the existing press that any amount of appreciable evil would result? The argument was, that the more they cheapened periodical publications the more the middle and lower classes would have recourse to the cheaper publications and abandon the dear ones, and the consequence would be that they would diminish thereby the means whereby the dearer publications obtained the information which they communicated, and commanded the eminent skill and ability which they employed. If he believed that the effect of this measure would be to lower the character of the press in this country, he should start with apprehension, but he had not heard one single argument which would cause him to believe it for a moment. Would any man believe that so long as they gave the same facilities for transmission through the Post Office, that The Times, or any of the great leading journals, would lose one single reader? No; the fact was, that the cheaper class of publications would call into existence a totally different class of readers, which would adapt themselves to the capacity, pecuniary and intellectual, of the poorer classes, among whom the dearer publications did not go. No one would believe that a paper published at twopence or threepence could compete in information or ability with a paper that was published at a higher price; and the man who could afford to pay for the dearer commodity would continue to purchase it, and the dearer commodity would maintain its relative value. They would make other commodities cheaper, but the rich man always bought the best article; it was in the nature of things; but was that any reason why they should deny to the poorer man the article which alone he could procure? What right had they, in justice and in principle, to keep up the higher price of the commodity in which the rich man rejoices, and to prevent the poor man, who could not procure that commodity, from getting one adapted to his own means? Then it was said, and this was deserving of their most serious consideration, that they would not only deteriorate the efficiency of the existing press, but that they would produce a class of papers which would disseminate irreligious opinions, and slanderous and immoral articles. He did not believe it. He did not conceive such bad taste existed that publishers would find it to their interest to circulate such publications; but, if they did, the law was strong enough to control them, and it must be remembered that the proposition for doing away with the safeguards of securities and registration formed no integral part of the measure, and could be dispensed with. Why, the hon. Member for East Kent had stated how the improvement of the public press had gone on. But since when had this improvement taken place? Why, since the duty had been reduced from 4d. to 1d. The real truth was, that these were imaginary apprehensions, which sprung up in the minds of men naturally enough when they proposed to deal with existing things. It always had been so, and always would be so. When it was proposed to expose manufacturers to competition by admitting foreign productions, they were told that the British manufacturers would be annihilated. What was the result? That they prospered more than they had ever done. When it was proposed to do away with protection to agriculture, they were told that the agricultural interest, and all the interests that were inseparably bound up with it, would all perish together; but what had been the result? Let hon. Gentlemen opposite say. Again, they were told that if they abolished the navigation laws they would annihilate British shipping, and what had been the result? Let British shipowners say. He therefore did not believe that the great papers would suffer, or that the press would teem with blasphemous or libellous publications. Why, they were told by his hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire that the taste for libel and for slander was not in the poorer but the richer classes. The poorer classes wanted information which applied itself immediately to the circumstances in which they were placed, but the rich and the idle wanted the peppered spice, the condiment of intellectual depravity. The feeling of society was such, that whenever a libel on personal and private character arose there was no difficulty in inducing juries to convict and to give exemplary damages. The Satirist was annihilated by the repeated verdicts for damages that were obtained against it by individuals whose characters were traduced by libels. Such was the feeling of society that he undertook to say if such a paper was produced now it would not exist a month. Then, again, he said that this great question was ripe for solution, and he trusted the House would not adopt the view of the hon. Member for East Kent. An observation had been made on the subject of copyright. The law of copyright was strong now. He did not believe that the great newspapers of the day would be exposed to any more depreciation from their cheaper brethren than they were at the present moment. They were exposed now to depreciation on the part of the evening papers, and on the part of the weekly papers, but yet they did not find, practically, that the great journals had anything to complain of in this respect. Any information that came a day after, or a week after, or which it was necessary to condense or transform, could do no harm, and would not prejudice the paper it was taken from. It was true he had heard it said that if the tax were taken off it was possible some papers might be started to steal from the morning papers the reports of the debates and all the leading events of the day. He believed that if such a publication were likely to answer, the difference of a penny in the price of a paper would not prevent those who would engage in such an act from doing it now. But he was perfectly sure that if such an atrocious attempt at fraud and robbery were to be made by any person, or body of persons, on an action being brought the indignation of the jury at such an outrage would be so great, that they would give such damages as would at once put a stop to such a robbery. But if the law of copyright was not sufficient under the ordinary state of things to protect the great journals, it would be the duty, and he was sure it would be the inclination, of Parliament at once to make a law to render copyright more secure. He was sorry to have detained the House so long, but he was anxious to show the great difficulties which those who have to administer the law were placed in. He implored the House not, for the sake of getting rid of a momentary difficulty, to trifle with this question, but at once to come to a decision. It was perfectly monstrous that the law should continue in its present state. There were at the present moment, in addition to the newspapers to which he had called the attention of the House, others springing up by scores. The great interest excited in the public mind by the events of the war had called up newspapers devoted exclusively to that subject. They were assuredly class publications; but he had no hesitation in saying they were, in point of fact, political newspapers in every sense of the term, and against which he thought the law ought to be enforced. But they were in this difficulty, that at the very moment these newspapers were started the Government had determined to bring the matter before Parliament; and it would have been acting with extreme rigour if they had proceeded against these parties under such circumstances. The matter had stood over; but, on the other hand, it did not stand over with regard to other newspapers which did not pay the tax. They remonstrated and complained, and, he thought, with justice. It was right that that state of things should be done away with. The law must be enforced equally and uniformly; but then it was most difficult to enter on a career of prosecutions which would assume almost the character of persecutions when Parliament had in its hands the decision of this question. He would, therefore, most earnestly impress on the House that it ought not to delay a single moment in dealing with this question, which he considered was now ripe for solution.


Great, Sir, as is the pleasure with which I always listen to the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir B. Lytton) and to the hon. and learned Attorney General, and I certainly have never more admired their talent and the way in which they dwell upon a question than on the present occasion, but I am bound to say that I think neither of them has to-night at all met the objections which have been stated by the hon. Member for East Kent (Mr. Deedes). He stated that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was, by his own explanation, about to propose an arrangement by which there would be a loss to the revenue of 200,000l., and that it would be his duty, if the Bill passed, to bring forward some tax to supply that deficiency in the revenue. The hon. Member for East Kent, therefore, reasonably enough, asks that you will not consider the question without reference to the alternative, and that, if some new tax is to be placed upon the country, it shall be open to the House to decide whether they will submit to the present evil in preference to that of the new tax which is to be substituted for it. If the country is so agitated upon this point as it is stated to be, and if there is that unanimous feeling of the inconvenience of the tax which is said to exist, I am surprised that hon. Gentlemen seem so anxious to get rid of the duty before we have the equivalent before us. I confess that that great anxiety upon their part creates a doubt in my mind whether they are satisfied that the country will receive the equivalent with quite so much pleasure as they seem to anticipate. Upon a former occasion, I stated that the course pursued with regard to the present Bill was unusual and irregular, not merely in point of form but in point of principle. It is the usual course, upon a question of the reduction of taxation, for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to tell you that you should take a full and comprehensive view of your finances, and that before you proceed to apply any surplus, even which you may appear to have to dispose of, you should have the whole plan before you and know what you have got to spend. We only ask upon the present occasion that you should not go out of the usual course, and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should do what his predecessors have invariably done, with one exception, an exception which I think should be a beacon for us to avoid rather than an example to follow—I allude to the reduction in the rates of postage. We reduced the postage duty under circumstances of great political difficulty, and I cannot help thinking that at that time it was a most unfortunate proceeding. But what have I heard to-day? I have heard denied to-day what was stated on that occasion. We were then told that it was a great moral question, and that we ought not to consider it as one of mere pounds, shillings, and pence. We were told that it was for the benefit of a large class of society, and the then Chancellor of the Exchequer was assured that we should lose nothing in point of revenue. I don't underrate the value of that measure; but if you place your finances, from time to time, under these pressures and struggles, and especially at periods when you have large demands upon you, the result may be a great inconvenience. I am not contending that a reduction of 200,000l. in your receipts must necessarily lead to any great financial difficulties; but if you once admit this sort of argument and reasoning to justify the course now proposed to be followed, you may, in a matter comparatively trifling, be breaking through a rule essential to the protection of your revenue, the result of which may be, that year after year hon. Gentlemen will bring forward measures for the reduction of taxation, on the plea that this is a great nation, that the reduction proposed is a very small matter, and that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have no difficulty in finding means to make up the deficiency that may be created. But this difficulty would always have to be encountered, and on the present occasion I see not in what way it can be met. I can only make a conjecture as to what course the Chancellor of the Exchequer will have to pursue. If he is really and bonaâ fide about to follow the principle laid down by his predecessor, and to raise for the services of the year by taxation a revenue for the year, I am afraid he will find that even 200,000l. is not a sum with which he can dispense—that he will want every sixpence—and that he is acting a rash part if he consents to sacrifice one farthing before he knows well what his position is. But there is another possibility. There is the possibility that you may have recourse to a loan. I am not going to enter into that question. It may be justifiable to leave to posterity a part of the expenditure of a war which you may on public grounds enter into. But if you relieve yourselves from taxes already existing, and, by means of a loan, make up the deficiency which that course of policy occasions, thereby leaving it to posterity not only to pay the expenses of your war, but also to pay for the taxation which you have repealed, I do not think anybody can doubt that that is not an honest or rightful course to pursue. I do not, therefore, consider the present proposition for reducing the amount of revenue is so light a matter as it has been assumed to be. It has been said by the hon. and learned Attorney General that great inconvenience must arise from the postponement of this measure till after the Easter vacation. But I venture to remind him that after all it is not so long before the Chancellor of the Exchequer will bring forward his budget. He will do so the first week after Easter, it now being a few days only before that period. The inconvenience and injustice which the hon. and learned Member suggests must result from that delay I believe he greatly exaggerates. The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir B. Lytton) say that they are not surprised at the objections made by the press, or by the persons now engaged in conducting newspapers, to this measure; or that they should acquiesce so willingly in the tax now imposed upon them. But I must say, that when I come to look at the tax now imposed, and the mode in which it is raised, I do not think it a very extraordinary circumstance that those engaged in the newspaper trade should not raise any objection to it, or that they should not be unwilling that things should remain in their present state. Generally speaking, there have been no complaints in the trade that their interests have been neglected. When we look at the taxation of the country, we find that a large portion of the paper duty has been taken off, that the advertisement duty has been abolished, and that the stamp duty on newspapers itself has been reduced from 4d. to 1d.; therefore the course of the Legislature as regards the newspapers cannot greatly be complained of. Most generally persons connected with a trade affected by taxes are found to complain that the taxes are so heavy that they destroy the trade. Is that the case on the present occasion? Do you find the newspaper proprietors complaining that the tax imposed upon them is so heavy that their trade is interfered with by it? That is a complaint which cannot be made, and therefore cannot be urged by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as a reason for proposing the abolition of this tax. But there is one view of the question which has been carefully avoided by hon. Gentlemen, and that is that this penny stamp duty can hardly be called a tax. It is a compensation for a privilege enjoyed under a Post Office arrangement, and which privilege is paid for in the shape of a stamp. The Chancellor of the Exchequer considers that mode of conveyance of newspapers to be so great an advantage to all parties that he is still inclined to keep it up. Will the House, for a moment, reflect what is the payment made by these parties, and what are the privileges they obtain? The Chancellor of the Exchequer the other night stated that of the gross weight carried by the Inland Department of the Post Office, 76 per cent was composed of newspapers, and 9 per cent of mail bags, of which, of course, the newspapers had their share. I think, therefore, it may be near enough to the truth to say that 80 per cent of all the postal carriage of this country was newspapers, and those newspapers paying 1d. each. But this conveyance is not confined to inland communication. Take your Colonies. I asked, the other day, at the Post Office, what a newspaper cost going to Australia, and the answer was that it was free of all postage. It is stated by the present Resolutions that they should be allowed to go to the Colonies for 2d. Now, when we come to consider that this stamp has the power of circulating and recirculating a newspaper throughout the country for 1d., and for a small additional sum throughout the Colonies, my own impression is that the charge is by no means an unfair equivalent for the postage. You pay for the conveyance of mails (and in this statement I throw out of consideration all the costs of the establishment of porters, sorters, and letter carriers); but you pay for the conveyance of letters in this country 693,000l., and for the packet service 792,000l., being about 1,500,000l. for mere conveyance. When we come to consider that the newspapers pay a sum of 400,000l. in stamps, I must say, remembering that upwards of 80 per cent of the weight carried consist of newspapers, that it is by no means a bad bargain for them, and the newspapers receive more than a full equivalent for the stamp duty which they pay. If you take the whole expense of your Post Office and packet service it amounts to 2,430,000l. The sum you receive is 1,208,000l., so that about half the expense is a loss; and the sum paid by the newspapers towards the 1,208,000l. is not 500,000l. When hon. Gentlemen talk to me of taxing thought, and of taxing conveyance of information, my answer is, that the Post Office is open for the conveyance of information both at home and abroad at a cheap rate; and that we give you a great deal more in the shape of conveyance than you give in the shape of a tax. The hon. and learned Attorney General has made out a very grave case about the difficulties of the present state of the law on this subject. He has stated that there are only two courses to be taken on this question; either to prosecute parties according to the present law, or to repeal the stamp duty. It is very odd, but this is the first time in my life that I have heard that there was not a third course. I must say, without presuming to possess the ingenuity of the hon. and learned Gentleman, I should have thought that there was a third course, which was not to leave the law in its present state, as a net spread to catch every publication which it was possible to bring within its meshes, but to cause some better definition of what is and what is not a newspaper. The law was very strict. It was liberally construed. It was from that relaxation probably that most of the difficulties had arisen. I could hardly venture to give an opinion if the hon. and learned Gentleman had told me he had considered it, but if it has not crossed his mind I think I may suggest he might, like the Chancellor of the Exchequer, have consulted Punch, or any common-sense newspaper editor, and they would have helped him as to what, in the present state of public opinion, and of the law, might be considered as a newspaper. The hon. and learned Gentleman has argued this matter as if this were really a settlement of the question, and undoubtedly, if that were so, something might be said in favour of this Bill. But is it a settlement of the question, I ask? I find two clauses which still give newspapers certain privileges. Now, if my hon. and learned Friend is unable to say what is a newspaper, will he tell me how to construe those clauses? It is quite true the power is given to the Postmaster General to allow all newspapers to be transmitted to the Colonies. But if the Postmaster General comes and asks the hon. and learned Gentleman what is a newspaper, to be consistent he must say, the definition of a newspaper is of such a nature that he cannot act upon it, and consequently the same question again arises under those clauses. But that is not all. Two of the most eloquent supporters of the Bill, the right hon. Gentleman the late Chancellor of the Exchequer and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Gibson) who is the leader of this movement, both tell us it will be unsatisfactory to them unless there is some law of copyright. I must say, then, if the matter is to be settled, the Attorney General ought to tell us either that it is impossible to settle the question of copyright, or that, accompanying the Bill there is some arrangement with regard to copyright. I am not inclined to enter into the subject of the moral effect of the law. I hope, if the Bill passes, it may produce all the good which is anticipated from it. We must remember, however, this—that we have the result of the entire freedom of newspapers in a country not very dissimilar to our own, and I observed that the right hon. Gentleman opposite, when he came to speak of the press of America, was extremely careful not to give his opinion as to the state of the American press. The right hon. Gentleman did not say one word about the blessings of the untaxed press of America. Probably, as an Englishman, it is unfair for me to give an opinion on that matter; but, while we have heard in this House the press of America stated to be a great blessing, we have heard it stated by Americans that they considered it anything but a blessing to that country. I therefore think, upon every ground, there is no such strong and pressing necessity as would make this a tax which we ought first to abolish. If there were a great surplus of revenue it might then be considered. But, whether there is a surplus revenue or not, I still contend for the principle that you ought not to take off taxation unless at the same time you can show the means by which to make up the deficiency you create, and if the Motion comes to a division, I shall certainly vote for the Amendment.


said, he did not despair of obtaining the vote of the hon. and learned Attorney General for the postponement of the Bill, because towards the close of his speech the hon. and learned Gentleman said, unless some great financial difficulty were in the way, he recommended the House to pass the second reading. He thought, after the speech of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir F. Baring) who had filled the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, there had been reasons given against surrendering 200,000l. until they knew from the Chancellor of the Exchequer the finan- cial state of the country. The whole question before the House had been completely lost sight of in what fell from his hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire (Sir B. Lytton) and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General. The proposition of the hon. Member for East Kent (Mr. Deedes) was simply to postpone the measure for a certain time, that they might see whether they could part with the money which the Chancellor of the Exchequer anticipated he would lose. No one listened with more thorough admiration than he did to the eloquent speeches of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire; but the House was led away by the proposition of his hon. Friend, that the dissemination of intelligence ought to be free from taxation. That might be true or false, but the Bill before the House did not profess to abolish taxes on newspapers. It only rendered newspapers free of taxes to a certain portion of the population, and he believed the English farmer would, almost without exception, be deprived of the privilege accorded to the rest of the community. In the towns through which a railway passed the readers would receive their newspapers tax free, but he contended that the great mass of the population did not congregate in towns, and that persons in the country would still have to pay the tax, from which the inhabitants of towns would be exempt. The operation of the Bill, therefore, would be extremely partial, and consequently he did not agree in the argument, however eloquently expressed by the hon. Baronet the Member for Bertfordshire and the Attorney General, that it was a measure Which would relieve political intelligence from taxation. They were not arguing whether the Bill should be read a second time or not, but whether it should be postponed until after the financial statement, and he thought that proposition so reasonable that he felt some astonishment that the Government did not accede to it.


said, as one of the very few Members of that House who were connected with the press, he would venture to entreat their indulgence for a few moments while he made one or two observations on the Bill then under discussion. Upon former occasions when the question had been brought forward he had contented himself by giving a silent vote, and he should not have troubled the House then but for the course taken by a considerable and influential portion of the newspaper press of this country, in opposition not merely to the details but to the very principles of the two Bills which had been brought in by two successive Chancellors of the Exchequer. He was very anxious to disclaim all those fears which seemed to be entertained, and which had been expressed by Members of his fraternity, as to the damaging effect which this measure would have on the existing public press. He was still more anxious to disclaim most strongly and emphatically any concurrence in, or sympathy with, the reasons which had been put forward as the grounds of opposition to the measure. He could see nothing in those reasons but the argument always brought forward by those who advocated protective interests whenever threatened with unrestricted competition. The penny stamp appeared to be assumed to be the palladium of the respectability of the newspaper press. Remove that stamp, it was said, and the dignity, the intellectual and moral superiority of the newspaper press will be speedily swept away, and there will be an inundation of libellous and blasphemous publications. Under the existing system, said the proprietors of newspapers, we discharge our duties in a manner satisfactory to the public; and let well alone. He must say, that he quite shared the amazement expressed by the hon. Member for Hertfordshire in his brilliant speech at such statements. Perhaps the House would remember the violent sarcasms which the newspaper press had hurled against the producers of corn, who, under cover of similar pretences, had sought to retain a protective impost. Then the press of the country dwelt upon the wickedness of enhancing the price of bread by fiscal regulations, and they even suggested that the public ought to look with suspicion upon the arguments used by the owners of land, because they were personally interested in the question at issue. Now, however, that the newspaper press was placed in a similar position, it was not above reproducing, without a blush, those very arguments which it at one time was in the habit of treating with scoffing and indignation. He himself, as a Member of that House, connected with the press, could not have remained content had he not at once taken the opportunity of washing his hands of all participation in what appeared to him to be great selfishness and inconsistency. If newspaper proprietors wished to retain the facility of transmitting their papers by the post, there was nothing in the present measure to deprive them of that advantage; but when scarcely one-tenth of the papers published passed through the post, why should nine tenths of the readers of papers pay for a contingent service which was never required? The real fact was, that the penny stamp upon every copy of a paper published was a protection to proprietors against the competition of cheaper publications, and that such was the case many newspaper proprietors were indiscreet enough or candid enough to avow. It was not necessary for him to enter into any vindication of the general policy which had been adopted by this country with regard to the diffusion of information on all points, for he believed there was scarcely a Member of that House who would deny the importance of giving the public as much information as possible of a social, civil, and moral character. It had been agreed by a majority of that House, that it was a matter of public policy that education should be diffused at the public expense, and also that the quality of the education should be improved. It was not to be confined simply to reading, writing, and arithmetic, but was also to embrace history and geography; and what history was more likely to be studied than the history of the occurrences of the day, or what geography so attractive as that associated with the events now passing? After the House, then, had resolved upon stimulating the intellectual appetite of the people of this country, would it, he would inquire, deprive them of intellectual food? It was a fact that of adults who were unable to read more than one-half were in that condition, not from never having been to school, but because, after leaving school, they had met with nothing to tempt them to the exercise of the faculty they had acquired, and that faculty had died from pure inanition. Perhaps the House was not fully aware of the extent to which the existing stamp caused a repression of information. Looking at the return of the number of newspapers issued during the last year, he found that, with regard to the metropolitan press, the total number of copies of daily newspapers issued was 26,450,955, giving in round numbers an average of about 85,000 a day. That number divided among the population of the country would give one paper to every 320 persons, or, divided solely among the population of England and Wales, would give one only to every 200 persons. If he next looked at the weekly metropolitan papers, there was a more favourable result. The total number of copies of them issued in 1854 was a little upwards of 32,000,000; the average weekly circulation was 620,000. This, divided among the population of England and Wales, would be about one in twenty-nine; namely, out of every thousand persons, about thirty-five would be found to take in a metropolitan weekly paper; and supposing there were six readers of every copy, then 800 out of every 1,000 would be found to go without reading a metropolitan weekly paper at all. What was done in the counties? In the West Riding of Yorkshire there were thirty weekly papers published, and the population was about 1,800,000. The weekly circulation of all the local papers was 73,000; so that only one in twenty-four of the population took in some local paper, and rather more than three-fourths of the inhabitants did not read any paper at all. In the county of Kent there were fifteen papers published, and while the population was 490,000, the average weekly circulation of the papers was 72,000, giving one newspaper subscriber only to every sixty-eight of the inhabitants. He might carry the calculation farther, but it was enough to show the great want there was of a cheaper means of diffusing political knowledge. Another fact was, that four fifths of the non-subscribers, both of the daily and local papers, saw them at the public-houses. Thus the Legislature threw a temptation to habits of intemperance in the way of every intelligent young man in the country. But they were told the country was satisfied with the law as it now stood. But the House heard nothing of the feelings of the country except through the medium of the proprietors of newspapers. They pretended to be the mouth-piece of the satisfaction of the public, but he warned hon. Members against being led astray by the representations of the local papers, lest when they got upon the hustings they should find that their opposition to this Bill had given mortal offence to the liberal electors. One fact was sufficient to show the necessity of a change in the law. The desire for information had actually burst the bounds of the present law, and to this circumstance it was owing that successive Chancellors of the Exchequer had brought forward a measure on the subject. It was strongly argued that a deterioration in the character of the existing press would follow from the adoption of this Bill. It was assumed that we should be deluged with cheap publications of a light and blasphemous character, and that our newspapers would be assimilated to those of the United States. If he thought that the Bill would be followed by any deterioration of the British press he owned it would make him pause. He entertained a great respect for the daily and weekly press. For some years it was his duty to read all the organs of the daily press, many of the weekly journals, and from fifty to sixty local papers, and he was persuaded that not even in that House of Parliament was there a more steady and brilliant reflection of the manly intellect of the British people. With some defects, but taking the press as a whole, for intellectual power, promptitude, and vigour, nothing like it had ever existed either in ancient or modern times, and it would be a great calamity if anything should be done seriously to damage the character of the British newspapers. But was there any danger of such a result? Not the slightest. Every new journal would form a fresh circle of readers, and every paper would circulate in the same sphere as previously. There would be no competition between the highest and lowest class newspapers, the only difference between them being that they would circulate in entirely different spheres. The apprehension of piracy was a mere delusion. The difficulties in the way of speedy circulation would prevent piracy from being practised as a system and to any extent. Perhaps, in the transition state to a better system there might be some danger and inconvenience to existing journals, but he had unlimited and unwavering faith that the adoption of this, as well as all other measures of free trade, would be productive, not only of a great increase of production, but of a great improvement in the article. He believed that, if this Bill passed, there would be such an application of the resources of the press as to astound and delight even the most sanguine advocates of the present measure.


said, he rose under the painful sensation of holding opinions very different to those he had heard expressed on both sides of the House. He was perfectly conscious of addressing a body of the most devout idolaters, and he was conscious, also, that they would not like to have their idol examined, or, to use the figure of the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir B. Lytton), in the course of his elo- quent speech, their idol was a ghost which they would not like to have looked at. It was his firm opinion that the press, in its present state, instead of being the greatest glory and advantage to the country, was one of our greatest curses. These speeches, these panegyrics of a free press, would have been very valiant in the days of the Tudors, or even of the Stuarts, but everybody knew that the majority of them were base adulation of a power which the speakers were afraid of and dare not resist; and the writers in the press, who were the best judges themselves, boasted and said plainly that they were the true directors of the policy of the country, and that the Gentlemen who condescended to sit on the Ministerial bench and receive salaries had only been recorders of the decisions of the press. Well, the press ought to know their own business best, and for that reason he believed The Times, and three or four other newspapers of that kind, when they said that this Bill was a personal attack upon them, and that the standard of the press, such as it was, if this measure was allowed to pass, would be materially lowered. Now, he must confess that he was of that opinion too. People talked of this press as being the means by which the country was instructed. No wonder, then, the country was so ill-instructed. Then it was said that it was from the press we should study history, and he had been told not long ago by hon. Members sitting above him that it, was more worth while to read a page of The Times than to read the whole of Thucydides. The truth of the matter was, that this was all cant and nonsense; the press was a mercantile speculation, and nothing else. He wanted to know why it should not be so. He wanted to know why Messrs. Walter and their families should not set up a manufactory of gossip just as well as the hon. Gentleman near him should set up a manufactory of calico? You must suit your manufactures in different countries according to the tastes of the public. In Rome, for instance, people occupied themselves in manufacturing antiquities. Well, nobody cared much for antiquities in this country. In Munich, again, they used to carry on a great manufacture of old medals. That would not do here, either, though, if somebody were to set up a manufactory of old china, that might turn out a good speculation just now. Upon the whole, however, the taste of the English people was for gossip—political gossip—and political gossip of one sort or another they must have, cost what it might. The Times seemed to him to carry on their business in this way better than any other people, and that was the reason, perhaps, why they were now attacked. It was not a very long time ago since this newspaper was set up. The first person belonging to it, whom he remembered, was a Mr. Tucker, and then after that came a great number of very clever men, because, of course, the Walter family could not carry on the whole thing themselves, and there was always a man of that accommodating class—a seven years' barrister, or some one of that stamp, who was ready to take up anything. These people, these barristers, reminded him a good deal of what they called on board a ship a "handy Billy"—a tackle that came in upon all occasions whenever it was wanted. There were since then Barnes, Alsager, Stirling, Delane, Morris, Lowe, Dasent, and others. Well, why should they not write? But why was it that when you heard these Gentlemen speak (and there was one of them in that House whom he was always delighted to hear), they then never frightened or alarmed you, but en the contrary, you were always excessively amused and instructed, whereas, when they used that dreadful "We" everybody was terrified, and looked upon them as most awful men. The press, in fact, frightened us with its editorial "We." Observe the art of this. These Gentlemen were all of different opinions. Now, the foolish papers who did not understand the matter, like The Morning Chronicle, for instance, took up with some particular party. One was a Peelite; another something else. When the Peelite party was thriving, the paper throve too, but when the Peelites went down, down went the paper. It was quite clear these were not men of business. The thing was to get a set of Gentlemen of different opinions, and to set them writing. Of course you could accuse no one man of inconsistency; he might always have held the same opinions; and so, individually, these writers were most consistent, while, collectively, nothing in the world could be more inconsistent. It seemed to him that the very perfection of journalism was—individual honesty and collective profligacy, political and literary. There was, nevertheless, a great advantage in this, and The Times newspaper always put him very much in mind of a bit of bog he had near a farm of his. He once thought of draining it, and asked the opinion of the farmer, who replied, "No, no! don't drain it. In wet weather there's something for the cow, and if there's nothing for the cow, there's something for the pig, and if there's nothing for the pig, there's something for the goose." So it was with The Times, if there was nothing in it for one man, there was sure to be something for another. There was, however, one very great evil, which he did think the House ought to have the manliness to contend with, and that was the present lawless system of libelling. This was carried to a most outrageous extent, and, so far from thinking the press better than it was, he believed, as far as his experience went, it was much worse. He never had any acquaintance that he knew of with the editor of a newspaper, but he was once obliged to go to the late Mr. Perry, who had it in his power utterly to ruin a friend of his, Mr. Perry had a letter in his hand which he was to have published the next day, and the publication of which would have been most detrimental to his friend, but, upon requesting him not to make it known, Mr. Perry in the most liberal and gentlemanly way, promised not to publish a single word of it. He (Mr. Drummond) therefore always had pleasure in bearing testimony to the kindness of Mr. Perry, and to his behaviour upon that occasion. But instances of the libelling to which he referred were without end; they were of daily occurrence, although people did not get to know all the cases. For example, his hon. Friend the Member for Launceston (Mr. Percy) brought forward the other day a most gross and most circumstantial libel upon a Dr. Meyer, who was described as a worthless, ignorant German, who knew nothing at all, and who was merely put into office because he flattered Prince Albert. This turned out to be a gross lie from beginning to end. Dr. Meyer was an Englishman, had received a good English education, and had never seen Prince Albert in his life. A circumstance happened with regard to a relation of his own the other day. In the course of his evidence before the Sebastopol Committee of the House of Commons, Lord Lucan said that the Commissariat sent out a parcel of ignorant boys, and on being pressed to give the names, he mentioned the name of Mr. Murray, the son of the Bishop of Rochester. At the end of his evidence he spoke of this same young man, and said how well he behaved and how well he had fulfilled his duties. Well, the first part of this evidence was inserted next day, but the second never was, and when he (Mr. Drummond) sent by Mr. Macdonald, a message to The Times, saying how unfair it was, they never made a single word of explanation, nor did they make any contradiction until Lord Lucas himself wrote to the newspapers to do so. A letter in his possession spoke of the admirable manner in which this young man had behaved, how, in some cases, he had personally distributed the provisions in order that the men might not be kept waiting; and, when remonstrated with for undertaking so degrading an office, he replied, that the only way to receive or to impart instruction in the duties of his office was first to perform them himself, and that he was not afraid of degrading himself by showing how the subordinate ditties of the office ought to be discharged. The same thing happened with regard to Lord Balgonie, against whom some aspersion was directed, and the remark was revived that our soldiers were fighting under the cold shade of the aristocracy, whereas his general said he was one of the best officers he ever had. Then there was the case of a friend of his, whose trial he attended last year. The Times attacked him most shamefully for a long time, and upon the trial his justification came out, but while they published the whole of the first day's proceedings, which aggravated his offence, they never published his justification. These cases were occurring every day. The newspapers were accused of being bribed, but that seemed to him one of the most absurd charges that ever was made. Why did they set up shops except to sell their goods? Of course they took that which happened to be the popular side of the day. They did not want to guide public opinion, they wanted to follow it; and whatever the cry of the day was they repeated it. They did this on the trial of Queen Caroline. The Times first advocated one side, and then finding that the mob, who were not inclined to argue the merits of the case, took the woman's side, round went The Times and took the woman's side also. Well, there was no harm in that. The only harm in it was that people were apt to fancy that this paper was the guide and teacher of the piddle. At the same time they hated it, and they hated it the more because it was the very best of its kind. As to the bribery of newspapers there was positive proof respecting The Times of which Napoleon said, "You have sent me The Times—that infamous Times, the journal of the Bourbons"—and it was stated in a work by Mr. O'Meara that 6,000f. had been paid for the supply of 100 copies a month. He had found the receipt for the money, signed by the editor. Mr. O'Meara also stated that several offers had been received from the editors of newspapers, and among others from The Times, to write for Napoleon before he went to Elba. Napoleon declined to accept the offers made to him, but afterwards regretted the course he took, observing that he would not have been so hated by the English people had he accepted the offers made to him, for in England the newspapers forced public opinion. The real evil of these newspapers was their insolence of language. They used language which they would never think of using if it did not suit their purpose—if they did not find Ministers tremble before them—and if they did not find Ministers not ruling the country, and governing the country, but suffering themselves to be driven into war by the language of The Times. The Times the other day remarked, in reference to a remark of the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Bright)— If he means to intimate that notwithstanding injustice we are successful, he is certainly right. We are so, and as long as we discharge the duties which the empire and the world expect at our hands, we trust to continue so. That was all very good; but then came another passage in which The Times offered an opinion upon the present state of affairs in the Crimea— The position of the allied army is precisely one of which a bold and original military genius might take advantage to retrieve the fortunes of the campaign. Such an opinion would scarcely be given by any number of lawyers in Lincoln's Inn; but, nevertheless, it was volunteered by the lawyers of Printing House Square. The whole thing was absurd. In short The Times said, with the old sign of the public house on the road to Acton— We are the old magpie on the right, The other has set up in spite. We may chatter black one day and white another; we have the only right to chatter, and we are the only teachers of the world and the empire.


said, he felt it his duty, as an Irish journalist, to explain why he was prepared to support the measure now before the House. Since he had held a seat in Parliament he had never missed an opportunity of voting in favour of the removal of all taxes upon knowledge, and he felt that in supporting the propositions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was supporting a measure that would confer a great benefit upon the country. In Ireland the masses of the people, having the political power to send Members to that House, never saw a newspaper at all under the present system, and it appeared to him to be a very bad arrangement that political power should exist without political knowledge to counterbalance it. He was not indifferent to the effect which the proposed change might have on existing newspapers; but his opinion was, that the best of those journals were not what the right hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. Baring) had called them; and still less what the hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond) had described them—mere mercantile speculations, the best of the existing journals not merely had newspapers to sell, but had opinions to promulgate, and though the hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the whole of the existing newspapers, and especially the more marked and capable among them, were of necessity to be bought and sold, he might tell the hon. Gentleman that a journalist had duties which were not less responsible than those of any Member of that House, and was quite as careful how he discharged them. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer estimated the loss to the revenue of removing the newspaper stamp at about 250,000l., but it must be remembered that that quarter of a million was now in a great measure taken from parties who got no return for the money, the stamp being charged in many cases for the postage of a newspaper, which never went through the post at all. One objection to the Bill was, that it proposed no securities against libel, and he thought that objection ought to be removed, as, without some protection, libellers were likely to swarm. It was also urged that the effect of the measure in cheapening the price of newspapers would lower the character of the press of this country. That objection, however, could be met by referring to the case of other countries where papers were published at a low price, and contained a carefully selected epitome of news, without pandering in the least to low tastes. With regard to the objection, that the Bill would create a class of publications which would be addressed only to the lower orders, he confessed that that was one great reason why he gave the propositions of the right hon. Gentleman his support. He was most anxious so see the lower classes of society more particularly addressed than they were under the present system. The last reason given by some journalists for the maintenance of the present law was, that under the new system journals would spring up which would come into collision with the authorities, but he could not see the force of the objection, for if such a collision should occur, the new journals could fight it out with the Government, and the old ones would not suffer. In conclusion, he would entreat the House not to adjourn the question, as it would be very inconvenient to a large number of persons to leave it in its present unsettled state.


Sir, I do not accuse my hon. Friend the Member for East Kent of any intention to make a factious Motion, or of being influenced by motives of party opposition, or of endeavouring by means of the Amendment which he has submitted to the House to achieve a party or political triumph, nor should I have had any difficulty in acceding to it if I could have brought myself to look upon this question as exclusively, or even principally, a financial question. When I introduced the measure I was under the impression that I was giving effect to the declared and recorded opinion of the House in the Session of 1854. Let me call the attention of the House to the words of that Resolution— That it is the opinion of this House that the Laws in reference to the Periodical Press and Newspaper Stamp are ill defined, and unequally enforced; and it appears to this House that the subject demands the early consideration of Parliament. Now, it is important to observe the time when this Resolution was agreed to. My right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) made his second financial statement, proposing an addition of 10,000,000l. of taxation for the expenditure of the war on the 8th of May last, and on the 16th of May my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) moved and carried this Resolution. The House, therefore, passed the Resolution with a full knowledge that a great war expenditure was to he met by increased taxation, and passed it within a few days after the statement to that effect had been made, with the impression of the fact fresh upon their minds. If, therefore, the financial objection had pressed upon the House last Session as strongly as it now seems to weigh with hon. Members opposite, it is clear that the Resolution could not then have been carried. But an attempt has been made upon the opposite side to throw doubt on the meaning of the Resolution. Abstract Resolutions upon questions of finance are open to objection, and I regret that my right hon. Friend did not move some specific plan in a Committee of Ways and Means instead of leaving us to dispute as to the precise meaning he intended to convey; but it appears to me that no reasonable doubt can exist as to the meaning of this resolution. As in the case of an oath which is construed secundum animum imponentis, so a Motion must be construed according to the intent and meaning of the person who makes it. My right hon. Friend was Chairman of the Committee which reported that news was not a proper object for taxation, and in introducing his Motion he fully stated his views to the House, which were inimical to the continuance of the newspaper stamp. After hearing his opinions and his arguments the House assented to his Motion. Can there be any doubt that when that Motion was carried it was understood to imply a relaxation of the law? Can any one doubt that it was a virtual condemnation and repeal, as far as a Resolution could repeal it, of the newspaper stamp? The Resolution, by its very terms, implies that the law was to be altered. Will any one in this House have the hardihood to maintain that it could mean that the law should be rendered more stringent and severe? If, then, the law was to be altered, and it was not to be rendered more stringent or severe, what meaning; could the resolution have but that the law should be relaxed? and how could it be relaxed in any other manner than by rendering the stamp not compulsory but optional? For the reasons I have stated I believed that in introducing this measure I was giving effect to the distinct and declared opinion of the House in its last Session. If it should please the House to recede from their determination—if they should now change their opinion and depart from that Resolution—let them, by distinctly rejecting the Bill, not by acceding to the dilatory Motion proposed by the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Deedes), but by voting for a Motion that it be read a second time in six months, simply rescind the Resolution, and so place the Government in a clear and intelligible position with respect to the administration of the law. If you reject the second reading of the Bill, in what position will the Government stand with respect to those publications, the nature of which has been so fully and ably explained by my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General? Do you propose to legalise class publications? Will anybody undertake to define the precise difference between class newspapers and other newspapers? It has been found difficult enough to define a newspaper in its extended sense, and will any one lay down such a definition as would satisfy Judges and jurymen? Will any one with metaphysical minuteness draw a line for practical purposes between class and other newspapers? If that task is to be imposed upon the Government, I trust that some Gentleman who has supported the Amendment will give us the benefit of his valuable advice as to the proper definition to be laid down. Is the Attorney General to prosecute some 150 newspapers which have hitherto received the indulgence of the Government, which have grown up under a permission not sanctioned by the letter of the law, but which has induced proprietors to embark their capital in extensive literary and commercial enterprises? They have formed large connections with classes of customers and of readers through the long-continued toleration of the Government, known to the public, known to this House, and not censured or objected to by the House; and are they suddenly to find themselves the objects, or, as it might be said with truth, the victims, of ex officio prosecutions, and to be at once deprived of the privilege they have so long enjoyed? If that is the course to which the Government is to be driven, I trust the House will distinctly signify its opinion by the rejection of the Bill, and not by the adoption of the Amendment of the hon. Member for East Kent. I will not attempt to travel over the general topics which have been so ably illustrated and almost exhausted in the eloquent, and not more eloquent than argumentative, speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for Hertfordshire (Sir B. Lytton). It would be arrogance in me to enter into the various topics to which he referred, and I will only advert to one of the points he so copiously illustrated; I mean that of the great alarm which appears to have seized both the metropolitan and the provincial press from the proposed abolition of the stamp duty. The metropolitan press appears to think that when the penny stamp is removed it will be ruined by the provincial press; the provincial press, on the other hand, believes that it will be ruined by the London press; and both the London and provincial press believe they will be ruined by some possible press which has not yet been called into existence. Now, I confess that I cannot but regard all such fears as fears inspired by imagination rather than by reason and by examination into futurity founded upon facts and experience. Let us only consider what has been the effect of reducing the stamp duty from 4d. to 1d. Surely that reduction must have affected the interests of the great newspapers more than the removal of the last penny can affect them; and yet we know by experience that the newspapers with a large circulation, both in the metropolis and in the provinces, rather derived benefit than suffered injury from that reduction of the stamp duty. They are in possession of the market, they have the command of capital, they have an established connection, they are known to the public as the chief channels for advertisements, and they must unquestionably enter the new field of competition which will be opened to them with much greater advantages than any new competitors can possess. It will doubtless be expected that I should say something with respect to the financial aspect of this question, which has received so much attention during the debate. I am not about to deny that the estimated loss of 200,000l. a year is a material circumstance for the consideration of this House. Nevertheless, in the construction of the financial plan which it will be my duty to submit to the House immediately after the Easter recess, allowance will be made for the loss of revenue that will be thus occasioned, and Her Majesty's Government will, upon their responsibility, propose such a scheme of finance as will provide amply for the expenditure of the year, including the loss which may be occasioned by the repeal of the newspaper stamp duties. Whatever risk may exist of such a sacrifice of revenue, the Government, with the full knowledge that that reduction is to be provided for, upon their responsibility, have proposed this measure to the House. The sum of 200,000l., which I have mentioned, is the estimate made by the Post-office authorities, not assuredly upon very certain data, but upon the best which the subject admits of obtaining. That estimate does not include any allowance for an increase in the paper duty. The paper duty now produces about 1,000,000l. a year, and certainly, if the anticipations of which we hear, that the country will be inundated with new newspapers, should receive a verification to any perceptible degree, we may calculate upon some considerable increase of the paper duty. I do not myself venture to give any estimate of the increase of the paper duty. I merely state that the estimate of the loss of 200,000l., which I laid before the House, does not include any allowance for the increase in the paper duty. There is another point which has been adverted to by more than one hon. Member as affording the means, in some respect, of supplying the loss occasioned by the abolition of the compulsory stamp—I mean a cheap book post—a charge of postage for printed publications, not being periodical publications, not coming within the terms of the Bill now upon the table, but which would at present be subjected to the letter rates of postage. Having conferred with the Postmaster General on this portion of the subject, I can state that, in case this Bill should receive the sanction of Parliament, Her Majesty's Government will be prepared, by a Treasury Warrant, to introduce a book postage at lower rates than the scale now existing. The lowest rate of the present book postage is 6d. for one pound weight. That rate of postage was established by a Treasury warrant. It is proposed to amend that Treasury warrant, so that it may include a lower scale of rates; facilities will thus be given for the transport of books and printed matter at a cheap rate, and it is anticipated that this change may lead to some considerable augmentation of the Post Office revenue. This is an arrangement which can be carried into effect by the warrant of the Lords of the Treasury, for, as it involves a mere variation of the existing rates of book postage, it does not require the sanction of an Act of Parliament. Having thus explained the financial portion of the question, I shall leave this Bill in the hands of the House, only pressing upon them this consideration, that it is most important, not upon financial grounds, but with reference to the recorded Resolution of this House, for the purpose of maintaining the consistency of the House and of its proceedings, and also for the purpose of putting an end to a most anomalous and unconstitutional state of the law, and to perpetual scandals which consequently arise, that the House should pronounce a clear opinion upon this Bill; that they should either read it a second time this evening or reject it; and that they should not accede to the unmeaning, the useless, and the dilatory Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for East Kent.


Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has founded the course he recommends the House to pursue upon a principle which in practice he would find it very difficult to maintain. I understand from him, that he founds it not so much upon those great principles of policy which have been so eloquently advocated by the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, (Sir B. Lytton) and with great ability by other members of the House, as upon the principle that the recorded opinion of the House upon this subject is, in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman, a fact of such gravity and importance that it is impossible for him, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, to resist an intimation so precise and definite. Now, Sir, how can this principle be maintained in practice? Has it always been—I may almost say has it ever been—the principle adopted by Chancellors of the Exchequer, that they should, as a matter of course, assume a vote of this House, with respect to a particular tax, as an indication which cannot be mistaken, and as a sanction of a course which cannot be relinquished by the Government; and that the policy or expediency of repealing a tax, and the proper time for taking such a step—the question before us to-night—are to be omitted from all future discussion? Now, what is the fact? Why, in 1853, only two Sessions ago, the subject of what are called Taxes on Knowledge was before this House, and a Resolution for the abolition of the advertisement duty was carried by a large majority; but the Government did not on that occasion express their opinion that that vote was final on the question, nor did the Government think proper to act upon that vote. Have we not had the malt-tax repealed by a vote of the House of Commons before this, and were we then told by the Minister that, as a matter of course, it was the duty of the Government immediately to propose the repeal of that tax in consequence of the vote which this House had adopted? On the contrary, were we not reminded the other night by the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford (Mr. Gladstone) that a former colleague of his, the late Sir Robert Peel, had to his honour resisted the vote of the House of Commons upon that subject, and that he had successfully called upon the House to rescind it? Why, Sir, I remember a vote of this House for rescinding the sugar duties being carried against a powerful Government, but were the sugar duties abolished by the Minister of the day in consequence of that vote? No; on that occasion he called upon the House to rescind the Resolution at which it had arrived. But what happened in our very recent experience with respect to the vote of this House on the subject of attorneys' certificates. A vote for abolishing the duty was adopted by a large majority—a greater majority than has ever voted for the repeal of the taxes immediately under discussion to-night; but did the Chancellor of the Exchequer then come forward and say that, in consequence of the vote of the House of Commons, he felt it incumbent upon the Government to propose the repeal of the attorneys' certificate duty? Why, Sir, that duty is actually not repealed at this moment. You have had financial reform, you have had the revision of taxation, you have had the whole question of taxation considered in every possible light, and yet you have not got the duty on attorneys' certificates repealed although you had repeated votes on the subject and large majorities in favour of the motion. But, now, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in vindication of himself, not for proposing the repeal of these taxes on introducing his financial statement to the House, but in vindication of his proposing the repeal of a tax before the House is favoured with his financial scheme, or knows what substitute he is going to recommend—lays it down as a proposition which cannot be controverted, and as a principle of action which the Government adopts, that the moment the House has consented by its vote to the repeal of a tax, it is the duty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to act in conformity with that vote. I certainly connot agree with the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon that point, for I remember very well the arguments that were used by the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford with respect to the repeal of the attorneys' certificate duty. That right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) then said, that it was the duty of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, not only to hear arguments in favour of the particular proposition then before the House, but also to hear arguments in favour of the repeal of any other taxes which the House might think ought to be abolished, in order that he might avail himself of the information he could obtain from such discussions in framing his financial scheme. The right hon. Gentleman argued against being called on to give any opinion on the part of the Government before the introduction of their financial scheme; and the right hon. Gentleman then said— If it be acknowledged that it is the privilege of the House of Commons to propose the repeal of one tax after another by a majority, and so dictate to the Chancellor of the Exchequer what shall be the financial policy of which he is to be the organ in this House, what, I want to know, is the use of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? I say, then, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer's position to-night is founded on that principle, I shall have to say to him, "What is the use of the Chancellor of the Exchequer?" I shall feel it my duty, Sir, to support the hon. Member for East Kent in the proposition which he has made. It is not a proposition which at all enters into the general merits of the question. When we are favoured with the financial statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he feel himself justified in offering a proposition to the House with respect to newspaper stamps, I shall listen to that proposition without prejudice; but I think there is no proposition that can be made at this moment that recommends itself to the House by arguments of more unanswerable reason, than that at this moment, when we are, according to the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the very verge and threshold of the budget, we should not be called on to repeal a tax when the right hon. Gentleman will not, and possibly cannot, tell us what is the compensation to be afforded to the revenue for the tax we are going to repeal, and what is the substitute which we are to be asked to impose. The right hon. Gentleman has, indeed, stated to the House to-night that the Government have a scheme in which they have perfect confidence that will make up for the loss the revenue will sustain in consequence of the repeal of the newspaper stamp duty. No doubt the Government have full confidence in their project; but has the House of Commons confidence in the project of the Government? It may be doubtful whether we shall have confidence in that project when we are asked to give it; but to ask us to have confidence in what the right hon. Gentleman does not condescend to communicate to us, is to exact somewhat too much from the trust of this House, and to take a somewhat more sanguine view of the existence of the Government than the right hon. Gentleman is warranted in doing. The right hon. Gentleman tells us that, if we postpone this proposition, the Government will be involved in difficulties, and he shrinks from attempting the task of defining what is news. Now, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. Baring), that there is not much difficulty in solving a question that appears so great to the Government. So far as I could perceive froth a somewhat hasty examination of the 150 journals to which the right hon. Gentleman refers there is but an insignificant fraction of them that will require his attention. I was amused the other day on meeting with a cabalistic definition of news, in a book of childish instruction, that might have afforded some hints even to a Minister of Finance. The word "news" was there described by the initial letters of the four points of the compass. It is the initial letters of the four points of the compass that make the word "news," and he must understand that news is that which collies from the North, East, West and South, and if it comes from only one point of the compass, then it is a class publication, and not news. If he takes that simple hint as his guide, I think he will not find his difficulties in the definition of news so insurmountable as he takes them to be. I do not now mean to enter on the merits of the general question, I address myself only to the amendment of my hon. Friend (Mr. Deedes), an amendment, in my estimation, so sound, so just, and so suited to the circumstances with which we have to deal, that I feel it my duty to give it my support.


Sir, the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, has stated with great accuracy that cases have occurred—and he stated several—in which this House having come to certain Resolutions in regard to taxation and finance, the Government of the day have not deemed it its duty, or necessary, to adopt the Resolutions to which the House may have come; but I think the right hon. Gentleman has omitted to consider the peculiar character of the Resolution to which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer addressed his remarks. Anybody may easily understand that, if a Resolution to abolish a tax is proposed to this House, and the Government of the day resist it, but that the Resolution is carried in spite of that resistance, the Government holding by their own opinion of the tax, may abstain from taking any steps in consequence of the Resolution so carried in spite of their opposition. But the Resolution to which my right hon. Friend alluded was a Resolution carried without a dissentient voice, a Resolution in which the Government of the day concurred, and to which the Government are as much bound as the persons by whom it was proposed to the House; and it will be seen at once that there is an essential difference between a Resolution so carried, and one that is resisted and carried in spite of the opinions and strong determination of the Government. With regard to the financial part of the question, if my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, were picking out a tax which he thought in itself objectionable, and simply because he thought some other taxes would be preferable, it would be very reasonable for those who objected to that course to say, "Let us wait till we see whether the tax you are about to propose will be less objectionable than the one you propose to abolish." If it were a question of mere preference in regard to financial operations, I could understand the ground on which Gentlemen opposed to the tax might wish to see whether another arrangement, better suited to the wants and wishes of the country, might not be proposed; but the measure of my right hon. Friend is not founded merely on financial preference. It is grounded on the injurious, and, indeed, intolerable state of the law—a state in which it is impossible the Law can be enforced as it stands, and which we feel requires to be altered. The law must be altered, because it is a scandal that a law should exist that cannot from its nature be enforced. If the law be altered, you must either make it more stringent, more precise, and enable the Officers of the Crown to carry out its provisions and enforce its penalties in any case where it is violated—a course which I think this House will not be prepared to adopt; or, if you will not do that, you must do that which is pointed out by the Resolution of last year, and the Bill of my right hon. Friend and adopt the line of relaxation, and make the law more indulgent. Now for my part, I do not contemplate the proposed change as likely to be attended with those dangers that have been anticipted by some gentlemen in the course of the debate of this evening. I do not in the first place anticipate that this change will be productive of that injury to existing newspapers which they themselves have so industriously endeavoured to persuade us is awaiting them. I am persuaded that those newspapers—commercial speculations, such as described by the hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond) in that amusing speech with which he has entertained the House this evening—that those great establishments will maintain their ground in spite of any competition that my right hon. Friend's measure may bring against them. I am equally convinced that there is no real danger to the morals or loyalty of the country from those cheap publications that are likely to rise up when this stamp duty is removed. I agree with those who have such confidence in the good sense and good feeling of the lower classes—for it is to them only that these cheap publications will be addressed—as to believe that no danger will follow to them from this change; that those publications from which danger is to be anticipated will not have such a circulation, or such an encouragement as will conduce to their permanent existence. Of course they may be attempted; but they will share the fate of others that have gone before them. If they rise they will soon fall again and share the fate of those which have gone before. On the other hand, I believe there will arise cheap publications for the use of those who are unable to buy dear ones, which will convey instruction, enlarge their understandings, improve their morals, and at the same time tend to make them good and useful members of society. I therefore entertain no apprehension on that score. This being my opinion, I am convinced that the House will best perform its duty to the public by concurring in the Bill proposed by my right hon. Friend. Of this I am sure, that we ought to determine one way or the other, and that the motion—the insidious motion I must call it of the hon. Member who proposes delay—will not mislead any Member of this House. We clearly understand that that for which we are voting is, whether the measure shall be adopted or not. No man will be misled into the error of fancying that, though in favour of the Bill, he is only voting for delay, and not against the Bill. If this is clearly understood, and the votes given "Aye," or "No" upon the measure, then the tactics resorted to by those who do not openly declare themselves will not succeed; and although they say the amendment is only for delay, let it be clearly understood what the truth is. Let every Member know that in giving his vote on this Motion he will practically be giving that vote "Aye" or "No" for the measure. ["No, no!"] Hon. Members may say "No." I do not expect them to concur in the interpretation which I give. They are against the measure. They wish to vote against it, but they feel some difficulty in doing so after having concurred in the Resolution of last Session. They cannot well get out of the position in which they are placed, and therefore seek to escape by a side door, and endeavour to accomplish it by a Motion for delay; but we require that the votes should be given in plain terms, for or against the measure. If the votes be so given I am confident in my expectation, that the House will make good its Resolution of last year, and concur in the second reading of this Bill.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 215; Noes 161: Majority 54.

List of the AYES.
Acton, J. Brady, J.
Adair, H. E. Brand, hon. H.
Adair, R. A. S. Bright, J.
Alcock, T. Brocklehurst, J.
Anderson, Sir J. Brockman, E. D.
Baines, rt. hon. M. T. Brotherton, J.
Ball, J. Brown, H.
Barnes, T. Bruce, Lord E.
Baxter, W. E. Buckley, Gen.
Beaumont, W. B. Burke, Sir T. J.
Bell, J. Byng, hon. G. H. C.
Bellew, T. A. Cardwell, rt. hon. E.
Berkeley, Adm. Cavendish, hon. C. C.
Berkeley, C. L. G. Challis, Mr. Ald.
Bethell, Sir R. Chaplin, W. J.
Biggs, W. Cheetham, J.
Bland, L. H. Clay, Sir W.
Bonham-Carter, J. Clifford, H. M.
Bouverie, hon. E. P. Clinton, Lord R.
Bowyer, G. Cobden, R.
Cockburn, Sir A. J. E. Kennedy, T.
Cowan, C. Keogh, W.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Kershaw, J.
Craufurd, E. H. J. Kinnaird, hon. A. F.
Crook, J. Kirk, W.
Crossley, F. Langton, H. G.
Currie, R. Laslett, W.
Dashwood, Sir G. H. Layard, A. H.
Davies, J. L. Lee, W.
Dent, J. D. Lewis, rt. Hon. Sir G. C.
De Vere, S. E. Locke, J.
Dillwyn, L. L. Lowe, R.
Drumlanrig, Visct. Luce, T.
Duff, G. S. Lytton, Sir G. E. L. B.
Duff, J. Mackinnon, W. A.
Duffy, C. G. M'Cann, J.
Duke, Sir J. M'Gregor, John
Duncan, Visct. Maguire, J. F.
Duncan, G. Mangles, R. D.
Dundas, F. Marjoribanks, D. C.
Dunlop, A. M. Matheson, A.
Ebrington, Visct. Matheson, Sir J.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Miall, E.
Ewart, W. Milligan, R.
Fenwick, H. Milnes, R. M.
Ferguson, J. Mitchell, T. A.
FitzGerald, Sir J. Molesworth,rt.hn.Sir W.
Fitzgerald, J. D. Monck, Visct.
Foley, J. H. H. Moncrieff, J.
Forster, C. Moore, G. H.
Forster, J. Mostyn, hon. T. E. M. L.
Fortescue, C. S. Mowatt, F.
Fox, W. J. Murrough, J. P.
Freestun, Col. North, F.
Gardner, R. O'Brien, P.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. O'Connell, D.
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. Oliveira, B.
Glyn, G. C. Osborne, R.
Gordon, hon. A. Ossulston, Lord
Gower, hon. F. L. Paget, Lord A.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Palmerston, Visct.
Greenall, G. Pechell, Sir G. B,
Greene, J. Peel, Sir R.
Gregson, S. Peel, F.
Greville, Col. F. Pellatt, A.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Percy, hon. J. W.
Grey, R. W. Perry, Sir T. E.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Phillimore, R. J.
Grosvenor, Earl Phinn, T.
Hadfield, G. Pigott, F,
Hall, Sir B. Pilkington, J.
Hankey, T. Pollard-Urquhart, W.
Hastie, Alex. Portman, hon. W. H. B.
Hastie, Arch. Power, N.
Headlam, T. E. Price, Sir R.
Heard, J. I. Pritchard, J.
Herbert, rt. hon. S. Ramsden, Sir J. W.
Hervey, Lord A. Ricardo, J. L.
Heywood, J. Ricardo, O.
Heyworth, L. Ricardo, S.
Higgins, G. G. O. Richardson, J. J.
Hogg, Sir J. W. Robartes, T. J. A.
Horsman, rt. hon. E. Roche, E. B.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Roebuck, J. A.
Howard, Lord E. Russell, F. C. H.
Hudson, G. Russell, F. W.
Hutchins, E. J. Scholefield, W.
Hutt, W. Scobell, Capt.
Ingham, R. Scrope, G. P.
Jackson, W. Scully, F.
Johnstone, Sir J. Seymour, H. D.
Keating, R. Seymour, W. D.
Shelley, Sir J. V. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Sheridan, R. B. Walmsley, Sir J.
Smith, J. B. Walter, J.
Smith, M. T. Warner, E.
Smith, rt. hon. R. V. Whatman, J.
Stafford, Marq. of Wickham, H. W.
Stanley, Lord Wilkinson, W. A.
Stephenson, R. Willcox, B. M'G.
Stirling, W. Williams, W.
Strutt, rt. hon. E. Wilson, J.
Swift, R. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Tancred, H. W. Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.
Thompson, G. Wortley, rt. hon. J. S.
Thornely, T. Wyvill, M.
Thornhill, W. P. TELLERS.
Traill, G. Hayter, rt. hon. W. G.
Uxbridge, Earl of Mulgrave, Earl of
List of the NOES.
Adderley, C. B. Follett, B. S.
Archdall, Capt. M. Forester, rt. hon. Col.
Arkwright, G. Franklyn, G. W.
Bagge, W. Frewen, C. H.
Bailey, Sir J. Fuller, A. E.
Baillie, H. J. Gallwey, Sir W. P.
Ball, E. Galway, Visct.
Bankes, rt. hon. G. Gilpin, Col.
Baring, T. Gladstone, Capt.
Barrington, Visct. Gooch, Sir E. S.
Barrow, W. H. Graham, Lord M. W.
Bective, Earl of Granby, Marg. of
Bennet, P. Greaves, E.
Bentinck, G. W. P. Grogan, E.
Beresford, rt, hon. W. Guinness, R. S.
Blackburn, P. Gurney, J. H.
Bramley-Moore, J. Gwyn, H.
Bramston, T. W. Hale, R. B.
Bruce, C. L. C. Halford, Sir H.
Buck, L. W. Hanmer, Sir J.
Buck, G. S. Harcourt, Col.
Burroughes, H. N. Hardinge, hon. C. S.
Cairns, H. M. Hawkins, W. W.
Campbell, Sir A. I. Heneage, G. H. W.
Carnac, Sir J. R. Henley, rt. hon. J. W.
Cayley, E. S. Herbert, Sir T.
Child, S. Hildyard, R. C.
Cholmondeley, Lord H. Holford, R. S.
Christy, S. Hotham, Lord
Clinton, Lord C. P. Irton, S.
Clive, R. Jolliffe, Sir W. G. H.
Cobbold, J. C. Jones, Capt.
Cocks, T. S. Kelly, Sir F.
Codrington, Sir W. Kendall, N.
Cole, hon. H. A. Ker, D. S.
Corry, rt. hon. H. L. Knatchbull, W. F.
Cubitt, Mr. Ald. Knox, Col.
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. Knox, hon. W. S.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Labouchere, rt. hon. H.
Duncombe, H. A. Laffan, R. M.
Dunne, Col. Langton, W. G.
Du Pre, C. G. Legh, G. C.
East, Sir J. B. Lennox, Lord A. F.
Egerton, W. T. Leslie, C. P.
Egerton, E. C. Liddell, H. G.
Elmley, Visct. Lushington, G. M.
Emlyn, Visct. Macartney, G.
Evelyn, W. J. MacGregor, James
Fellowes, E. Malins, R.
Filmer, Sir E. Massey, W. N.
Fitzgerald, W. R. S. Masterman, J.
Floyer, J. Meux, Sir H.
Michell, W. Smollett, A.
Montgomery, Sir G. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Moody, C. A. Spooner, R.
Mowbray, J. R. Stafford, A.
Mullings, J. R. Stuart, W.
Mundy, W. Thesiger, Sir F.
Naas, Lord Tollemacho, J.
Newark, Visct. Trollopo, rt. hon. Sir J.
Newdegate, C. N. Tyler, Sir G.
Newport, Visct. Vance, J.
North, Col. Vansittart, G. H.
Northcote, Sir S. H. Verner, Sir W.
Oakes, J. H. P. Vernon, G. E. H.
Packe, C. W. Vernon, L. V.
Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J. Vivian, J. E.
Palmer, Rob. Vyvyan, Sir R. R.
Parker, R. T. Waddington, D.
Peel, Gen. Waddington, H. S.
Pennant, hon. Col. Walcott, Adm.
Phillips, J. H. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Robertson, P. F. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Rolt, P. Whitmore, H.
Rushout, Col. Wigram, L. T.
Sandars, G. Woodd, L. T.
Scott, hon. F. Wyndham, Gen.
Seymour, Lord Wynn, Lt.-Col.
Sibthorp, Col. Yorke, hon. E. T.
Smijth, Sir W. TELLERS.
Smith, W. M. Deedes, W.
Smith, A. Baring, Sir F.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill read 2°.