§ Order for Consideration, as amended, read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now taken into Consideration."
§ MR. T. DUNCOMBE
said, he would appeal to Mr. Speaker whether, in the course of his experience, he had ever witnessed a Bill so changed in its passage through the House as the Bill then under consideration? It was to all intents and purposes a new Bill. The Bill as it stood had never been read a second time, and had never passed through Committee. It proposed to give four Members to the West Riding of the country of York. The 115 original Reform Bill only gave two Members to the country of York; the original Appropriation of Seats Bill, as introduced by the Government, proposed to give an additional Member; but they were now asked to cut up the West Riding into two divisions, and to give two Members to each. The Bill was only popular at all because it proposed to give an additional seat to the metropolitan district entitled from its wealth, intelligence, and population to the addition. But the Government were defeated upon that proposition, and after their defeat they ought not to have condescended to proceed with a Bill so completely altered—he would not say mutilated. At all events, if the change now proposed was to be made, it should not be done upon the Report, but the Bill should be recommitted. Since he had had the honour of a seat in that House—a period of thirty-five years—he had never before seen a new Bill brought in upon the Report in that manner. Why, the borough of Wakefield, which had been convicted of corruption, would have its share in this distribution, for they were going to give two additional Members to the very district in which that corrupt borough stood. Let them, if they chose, take away a seat from Wakefield, and give it to the West Riding; but let them not refuse a seat to Chelsea, and afterwards to Middlesex, and then carry it to the West Riding, and place it at the very door of the seat of corruption. He understood a Motion had been made by a gallant Officer the other night to issue a new writ for Wakefield, and that that Gentlemen could not understand why he had withdrawn from the question. After he found that he could not bring forward his Motion as a matter of privilege at the commencement of business he considered that it would have been a perfect act of folly to bring forward the question on constitutional grounds, which were the grounds he took. He maintained that if they were not prepared to approach the question constitutionally, and if they were not prepared to extend the limits of the borough, so as to bring in a greater number of electors, they ought not to issue the writ. But that was a question of too great magnitude to be discussed after twelve o'clock at night; not that he meant to say that the hon. and gallant Officer might not succeed where he might fail, but he certainly did consider that it would be an act of folly to introduce the question at a late hour, and the hon. Gentleman could 116 speak from experience whether he was far wrong in that opinion. With regard to the particular question before the House, he thought the Bill at all events should be recommitted if it were proceeded with. The Government intended to introduce six new clauses to give effect to their Amendments with regard to the West Riding, and to make twenty of thirty Amendments besides. Such alteration had never before been proposed upon bringing up of a Report, and if they were afraid to recommit the Bill he recommended that it should be given up altogether, for it was unworthy of a Government. They were beginning, too, at the wrong end. They first of all brought in a Bill early in March to amend the law of election, and to do away with the corrupt practices that prevailed, and yet they were now going to give away four new seats without any alteration in the election law being made—to bring new seats into the very corruption of which they complained. Let them do what they could to stop corruption, and then, if they liked, they might give away the four new seats with an opportunity for the electors to act honestly. For the reasons he had stated he thought he was justified in moving that the order of the day for the Amendments to the Bill should be postponed for three months.
Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."
§ MR. VINCENT SCULLY
said, he rose to second the Motion. The present Government called upon the Irish Members to assist in putting out the Government of the Earl of Derby, in order that they might bring in a more comprehensive measure of Reform than they had proposed, and that the interests of Ireland might be better attended to. They had a pretty specimen in this Bill of the way in which those interests were cared for by Her Majesty's Ministers. The Dublin Evening Mail, an lrish paper which knew very well what was going on here, made some comments on this Bill, which he would read to the House. It stated the case as well as he could do it himself. The extract was not a long one. [The hon. and learned Member read a paragraph from The Dublin Evening Mail, in which it was inferred that the Government had been "jockeyed" with regard to the proposed re-distribution 117 of seats, as the House had sanctioned an arrangement under which it was probable that three, if not four, would eventually fall into the hands of the Conservative party.] At a recent meeting in Rochdale the hon. Member for that borough and the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) expressed their opinion that there should be a measure of Reform. The hon. Member for Birmingham said, "A comprehensive measure of Reform." Was the Bill before them, he would ask, a comprehensive measure of Reform? In his opinion it was a measure not of progressive but retrogressive Reform.
§ MR. CONINGHAM
said, he should certainly give his support to the Motion of the hon. Member for Finsbury. Anything less satisfactory than the mode in which the Government had dealt with the question it would be difficult to conceive. They had not only acted in a way very little to promote the interests of the Liberal party, but very little calculated to strengthen their position. He believed that the working classes were quite able to obtain an extension of the franchise if they wished, and that the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) could best promote the interests of the Liberal party by changing the distribution of seats. The Bill before the House was altogether for that purpose, and it dealt with it in a manner most unfavourable for the Liberal party. Three of the seats were given to the counties, and, so far as they could judge, to the Conservative party. It was a scheme which ought to receive no support from that side of the House.
§ MR. DENT
said, he could not agree in the view taken of this question by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Coningham). The question was not whether the Liberal or any other party should be strengthened, but what was best for the good of the country generally in regard to the distribution of the four seats at the disposal of Parliament. He thought the measure, on the whole, a satisfactory one.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, that the North Riding of Yorkshire had 224,000 inhabitants, and the East Riding 281,000, making together 525,000; whereas the West Riding contained 1,570,000 inhabitants. The southern division of the West Riding contained about 400,000 inhabitants, and the only borough representation for that immense population was Sheffield. The rateable value of the property of the West Riding was no less than £3,126,669, and, 118 therefore, it was entitled to two additional Members. He did not approve, however, of making so corrupt a borough as Wakefield the place of election and nomination for the whole of the West Riding, and he trusted that an Amendment would be made in the Bill, so that the southern division would be entitled to have its election conducted at a place where purity of election had never been questioned or doubted.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
observed, that the hon. Member for Finsbury had urged no satisfactory objection to their proceeding with this Bill. The House, in considering a Bill as amended could take the whole of that Bill into consideration; and when it was argued by the hon. Member that there ought to be a new Bill, they had to consider whether or not it had been totally altered in its provisions, and whether it was a different Bill from that which had been originally introduced? The Bill when it was introduced, proposed to give an additional Member to the West Riding of Yorkshire, and one to South Lancashire, and also to give one Member to Birkenhead and one to Chelsea and Kensington. The three first propositions were assented to by the Committee, but the proposal relative to Chelsea and Kensington was rejected. He did not wish to argue that question again. A Motion was made by the noble Lord the Member for Middlesex (Viscount Enfield) that the county of Middlesex should have an additional Member, but that was, likewise, rejected by the Committee. His noble Friend (Viscount Palmerston), with the view of bringing about a settlement of the question stated that he would make or support a proposition that the West Riding of Yorkshire should be divided, and that two Members should be given to each division. That was the only seat now in dispute, and the question was—would they further consider the Bill and say whether it was expedient to divide the West Riding and give it, not one but two additional Members. He thought the original proposition of the Government was a preferable one; but, at the same time, they all knew that the West Riding of Yorkshire, both in point of population, wealth, and the number of electors, very considerably indeed went beyond other counties. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Coningham) said "Oh! but Wakefield, which was in the West Riding, was a corrupt borough." He quite agreed with the hon. Member, and he would be shocked 119 to see a proposition carried for the issue of a writ in the case of that borough; but that was not the question before the House. The question was whether because the borough of Wakefield stood in the West Riding, the latter should be disqualified from having an additional Member? He could not see that that was a just and reasonable proposition. The case was this—a Bill had been introduced to appropriate four seats; three of these had been appropriated, and they had to decide as to the fourth. As to there being anything radically wrong in the proposal, he would remind the House that in many cases which from time to time had been brought before Parliament, including such places as Shoreham, Grampound, and East Retford, Parliament, when it disqualified a borough from returning Members, made a provision for the substitution of some other place. But in the case of St. Albans and Sudbury that course was not followed, because these places were intended to be dealt with and were dealt with in every general Bill that for some years had been introduced for the disposal of seats by successive Governments. No general Bill was introduced this Session, and it only seemed reasonable that Parliament should proceed with regard to St. Albans and Sudbury as it had done in other instances. He saw no force in the objection which had been taken by the hon. Member for Finsbury, and hoped the House would proceed with the consideration of the Bill.
§ LORD FERMOY
said, he did not think the proposition of the Government so very clear as the noble Lord had endeavoured to make it. On the contrary, it appeared to him that the Bill proposed in effect to alter the Reform Bill—one of the most noble and distinguished acts of the noble Lord's political life. The noble Lord had observed that the House had already agreed to the disposal of three seats, and that, therefore, there was only one now to dispose of. If, however, they dealt with the seat in the manner proposed by the Government, they would give the preponderance of representation as regarded the four seats to the agricultural districts. The original proposition of Government was to divide the seats between the urban and the rural districts, two and two. He went further, and said if the House wished to keep up the proportion established by the Reform Bill, they ought to give the whole of the four seats to the urban population. But the Government, as he had 120 said, proposed to divide the seats two and two, and the proposition had in it and appearance of fairness; but in the course of the debate the Government was beaten, and the whole principle of the Bill was reversed. But if there was any question on which the present Government ought to have a fixed principle, and ought to stick to it too, it was on the question of Parliamentary Reform. The Government, however, had been beaten, and the noble Lord, the Member for the City of London, then said it was a small affair, "it was only a little one," and he would be content with one urban representative. But what was the borough that had been struck out? The very best in the list. Metropolitan representatives were, he knew, at a discount in that House. He did not admit that that was right. He would, however, not go into the question. The fact remained that a borough with its tens of thousands of people of education and wealth were bowled out from the Bill, and it was proposed to substitute for it an agricultural constituency. The right hon. Gentleman opposite had been in the habit of saying that Government ought to be a Government of party, but in that case the Government had abandoned all their principles to subserve the convenience of the moment. It was because the Government had not the manliness to stand up as against a majority of the House. Yes; a majority got together on different principles and with different objects. It was because the Government had not the manliness to appeal to the people of England, and ask them who was right, that there was that abandonment of principle, and that Liberal Members felt called on to come down to the House and endeavour to defeat the passing of the Bill. He meant to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Finsbury, and for this simple reason—that he would rather see no Bill at all than to see the Bill before the House pass in its present shape. He would rather see it put off; he would rather see it deferred till the people of England could decide on the question whether they would have anything like a radical reform in the representation of the people. It was a question that would have to be sent to the country to be tried before long; and he thought those who sat on the ministerial side below the gangway would be abandoning their duty to the people if they consented to see such a Bill passed without offering it every opposition in their power.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 204; Noes 28: Majority 176.
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. STIRLING
* Sir, I have proposed the omission of South Lancashire from this Bill, because I believe the House has already expressed, so far as it can be expressed by individual speeches, an opinion unfavourable to what are called unicorn constituencies. Members of great authority have stated strong objections to constituencies of this kind; none, I believe, have said a word in their favour. Were a more comprehensive measure to be introduced and passed, I think it is probable that constituencies would be so divided that triple seats would cease to exist. I see no reason why we should now extend an anomaly which we all disapprove. Nor do I see why South Lancashire is better entitled to return three Members than several other of our great constituencies which equal or surpass that important county in the number of their electors.
The chief reason, however, why I seek to amend this Bill at all, is, that I find in this measure for the redistribution of seats, no provision for a great and important interest which is at present wholly unrepresented. The Universities of England and Ireland have a fair and influential direct representation in this House. Deprive them of their Members and still they would be represented here by a large body of graduates and old university men, well-informed as to their interests, and well-disposed to defend them. In the same manner you might deprive any city or county of its Members, and yet the interests of that city or country would be sure to be efficiently, though indirectly, represented by the Members for places similarly circumstanced as regards agriculture, or manufacture, or trade. But this remark is not applicable to our Scotch Universities. These institutions differ so materially from the Universities of England and Ireland, that the Members for those Universities, however kindly they may feel towards the northern sisters of Cambridge and Oxford, cannot fairly be said even indirectly to represent them. Of the Scotch Members who are Scotchmen by birth, only a small number have received their education at their native Universities. Yet, although the attractions of the great English seats of learning may have drawn many of the sons of the wealthier classes 122 of Scotland from their native seminaries, it by no means follows that these are of minor importance as places of national education. Indeed, I may venture to assert that they have a stronger hold upon the affections, and exercise a larger influence on the character of the people of Scotland, than even the great English Universities possess and exercise on this side the Tweed. In England twenty millions of people maintain less than 3,000 students at Cambridge and Oxford. In Scotland a population under three millions maintain upwards of 3,500 students at our four Universities.
On the history of these Universities I need not, and I shall not, dwell. Three of them are very ancient. St. Andrews founded in 1411, Glasgow in 1450, Aberdeen in 1494, have papal bulls among their earlier charters, and belong to the days of the revival of arts and letters. Edinburgh, the youngest of the four, was founded by Royal charter in 1582. Slenderly endowed from the resources of the poor and a rude country, these Universities have ever held an honourable place in the commonwealth of letters. Early in their career they furnished teachers to the universities of fairer and wealthier lands, and in their venerable yet vigorous age they are the survivors of many prouder seats of learning. If in some important branches of scholarship they cannot pretend to a foremost place, they have been the means, for many generations, of diffusing sound knowledge, at a cheap rate, over an entire people. They have been open, not in theory merely, but in practice, to the poorest of our countrymen. Long before England began to think of sending the schoolmaster abroad, these Universities had sent a schoolmaster of considerable erudition to almost every parish in Scotland. English literature has inscribed on its own bright roll the names of many of their professors, especially of those who have cultivated philosophy and political science. To England herself these Northern Universities for long supplied a want—for which she herself has only lately made provision—a place of sound intellectual culture, apart from all sectarian influence.
These facts I think justify me in claiming for the Scotch Universities the character of national institutions, in the British and imperial sense, and in asking the House of Commons to consider their claims to representation in Parliament. The argument that England and Ireland have 123 six University Members, while Scotland has none, is, in my opinion, a strong one; but it depends, of course, for its strength on my power to show that Scotland possesses a University constituency worthy of being ranked with the other University constituencies of the kingdom. The question, therefore, naturally arises, how is this University constituency composed? I must admit, at once, that it differs from those of England and Ireland, inasmuch as it is not wholly composed of graduates. The General Councils of our Universities, created by the University Act of 1858, may be held as strictly analogous in their constitution and power to the Senate of Cambridge and the Convocation of Oxford. In these great English bodies certain degrees have always entitled members of the Universities to sit and vote on the affairs of each University; but in Scotland, until 1858, graduates had no powers of corporate action at all; and degrees were, in fact, mere honorary certificates, of no use or benefit, except as conferring a certain title, and in some cases giving a prefix to the name. There being no great motive for taking them, degrees, except those in medicine, had fallen into general disuse. Degrees in Arts were taken in some of the Universities to the number of perhaps two or three in a year. For the purpose, therefore, of securing to our Universities a really popular element, the Act of 1858 provided that the General Councils of each University should be open not only to graduates, but to all persons who could show that they had previously studied there for four years, or had studied there for three years, and one year in one of the others. Those persons who had not graduated, but who might have done so, were for a time to be entitled to claim seats in the General Council. This time was limited to three years from the passing of the Act, and it expires on the 2nd of August next. From and after the 2nd of August in the present year, graduation will be essential to a place in our General Councils, and these Councils will be completely assimilated in character to the Senate and Convocation of the great English Universities. Meanwhile, the number of graduates in arts has for some years been steadily increasing. In St. Andrews, in 1800, two persons took the degree of Master of Arts. From 1839 to 1859, the average number was about eight. In 1860, after the institution of General Councils, the number was twelve. At 124 Glasgow the average number, from 1851 to 1859, has been about twenty-five. In 1860 the number was forty-five, and 1861, sixty-four. I am, therefore, justified in asserting that the privileges already conferred by the Act have been highly valued, and eagerly and increasingly claimed.
As regards the composition of these Councils, I believe they represent a far wider social field than the corresponding bodies on this side of the Tweed. In Scotland, University education being much cheaper, has long been more eagerly sought after by all classes. Even allowing that a considerable number of our 3,500 University students in Scotland are strangers, our Scotch students are (proportionally to our population) far more numerous than the undergraduates of the English Universities. The body of graduates annually recruited from this large number of students, will therefore represent all classes of the community. It will embrace nearly all the members of the learned professions, the clergy of all denominations, and the most intelligent persons connected with all branches of trade and industry, commercial, manufacturing, and agricultural. No means at present exists enabling me to offer any precise information as to the relative numbers of the respective classes. I have heard some persons express an apprehension that the clerical profession would be unduly represented, and would, in fact, form the majority of the constituency. I may say that I do not share that apprehension. From an examination of the Edinburgh University Calendar, and the information—conjectural I admit—which I have received from persons likely to be well informed, I do not think the number of clergy of all denominations would exceed one-third of the whole. At Cambridge and Oxford the proportion of the clerical element is far higher than this. At Trinity College, Cambridge, of 1,534 masters of Art, 752 are clergymen, and 784 are laymen. At Christ Church, Oxford, of 315 Masters of Art, 209 are clergymen, and only 106 laymen. It must also be remembered that in Scotland the clerical element is divided into three parts with conflicting views and interests, and that this division will deprive it of much of the power which it might otherwise exercise, and will in a great measure neutralize its influence.
So much for the character and composition of these General Councils. I must now beg the House to turn its attention 125 to their numbers. According to the last Return which I have received, dating from the 5th of June, I find they are as follows:—Edinburgh, 1,980; Glasgow, 842; Aberdeen, 775; St. Andrew's, 322: Total, 3,919; a number already larger than that of the Convocation of the University of Oxford. Nor is this all. I think I can also show good ground for believing that, in this Scotch University constituency, there is a fair prospect of a very large and speedy increase. Look at the numbers of our students:—Edinburgh, has 1,530; Glasgow, 1,182; Aberdeen, 653; St. Andrew's, 143; 3,508 in all. Cambridge I find has 1,529 under-graduates, out of which is recruited an electoral body of 4,889. Oxford has about 1,283 undergraduates, who recruit an electoral body of 3,786. In round numbers, therefore, in the English Universities the proportion of under-graduates to electors may be stated as about one to three. Can any reason be alleged why this proportion may not soon be reached in Scotland? With equal inducements to graduation, I believe it would be found that Scotchmen of all classes would graduate in still greater numbers. But accepting the proportion of England, one student to three electors, the constituency of the Scotch Universities is likely are long to be, not 3,900, but 10,500, a body larger than all the existing University constituencies put together, larger than the constituencies of Leeds or Sheffield; twice as large as those of Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Aberdeenshire, Perthshire, and Fifeshire; larger than that of Edinburgh, or any other in Scotland, except that of the City of Glasgow.
It may be also urged that Parliament, it its late legislation for the Scottish Universities, has itself given a strong claim for representation, by confirming and extending a privilege upon which long usage had stamped a political character. In 1858 Parliament found the privilege of electing their rector—an officer invested with considerable dignity and important powers—in the possession of the students of some of the Universities. It was in Glasgow that this rectorial election first assumed a political significance. In former times, the students used to be content to find their rector amongst the civic or provincial notabilities of the west of Scotland. Somewhere about thirty-five years ago, however, they became more ambitious, and conceived the bold idea of choosing him from the front ranks of English 126 statesmen. The English statesmen; I may observe, were quite as ready to accept the honour, as the Scotch students were to confer it. Sir James Mackintosh was elected, and Mr. Brougham, and afterwards Lord Stanley and Sir Robert Peel. Sir Robert Peel's election followed close on his brief tenure of office in 1835; and he seized the occasion of his visit to Glasgow to deliver a speech which was the celebrated political manifesto, with which he opened those brilliant campaigns of opposition, resulting in his reconquest of power in 1841. From that day to this, I remember no rectorial election which was not also in great measure a political contest. Men of letters, no doubt, were sometimes elected, but they were always men of letters who were, likewise, politicians. In 1858, when Parliament was about to reform the Scotch Universities, the question naturally arose, are these political rectors and their elections good things or bad? Is it desirable to extend to them the Universities where they have not hitherto obtained, or to abolish them in those where they have long existed? The opinion of the Scotch Members was a good deal divided on the subject. Some of us thought the privilege a bad one, tending to the disturbance of study, and the formation of premature habits of political partisanship, without any countervailing advantage. Others thought it a useful and valuable privilege, stimulating thought on important subjects, and affording a healthful and intellectual recreation for the youth of a free country. Parliament adopted the view favourable to the privilege and the practice; and finding it in existence at Glasgow and Aberdeen, created it also at St. Andrew's and Edinburgh. Our students all over Scotland now cultivate their political ideas, and indulge their political predilections with the direct sanction of Parliament and the Crown. They invite, with something of the force of a Royal invitation, their rectors from the front ranks of both Houses, and even from the great offices of administration. Only last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at a moment of unusual public anxiety, left the new tariff and the new treaty, the wine duties and the paper duties, to put on at Edinburgh the purple robe of a new office, and to address a vast audience—of which 800 students formed a mere fraction—on the benefits of intellectual culture, and the delights of divine philosophy. These rectorial elections, with all 127 the political significance which long usage have stamped upon them, have been deliberately accepted by Parliament as worthy not only of maintenance, but of wider extension. Does not this acceptance almost imply a pledge of doing something more in the same direction? Is it just or reasonable for Parliament to say to the youth of Scotland, "So long as you are students, you shall enjoy a privilege which cannot fail to make you politicians, but remember, when you become graduates, you must take leave of political privilege and political action? As lads, you make excellent electors, but as men, we really cannot entrust you with the franchise. That is a privilege which must be reserved for those who have studied at Cambridge or Oxford, or Dublin, or for those superior beings, the Glasgow whiskey dealers, the Marylebone publicans, the freemen of London or Liverpool, or the forty shilling freeholders of South Lancashire."
Besides conferring what I must consider a semi-political right on the students of our Universities, the Act of 1858 made provision for various reforms and improvements in these institutions which will cost a considerable sum of public money, and have already created a large constituency of intelligent persons taking a warm interest in their affairs and invested with powers of directing them. By its own act and deed Parliament has repeatedly acknowledged the national character and public importance of these institutions. The Reform Act of 1832 gave a second Member to the University of Dublin. At a time, therefore, when intelligence had hardly begun to be considered as a possible basis of electoral right, Parliament acknowledged the value of University representation. You are now giving away four seats. Will you not seize the opportunity of enfranchising a new constituency, in which education and intelligence will be the qualification? In the Scotch University constituency I believe there would be a greater number of persons well worthy of the franchise, but not at present possessed of it or likely to obtain it, than in any other that could be suggested. The fancy-franchises of our late abortive Reform Bills gave rise to much diversity of opinion, but I believe we all agreed in desiring to attain the end to which these franchises were directed—the end of making character and intelligence a path to political power. The creation 128 of these new franchises would have been an experiment, perhaps a failure; the creation of a new University constituency would be no experiment at all, but is a course suggested and sanctioned by a long and happy experience.
I cannot use, and I do not regret that I cannot use, an argument of a private and personal kind, which might have been urged by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, had he seen fit to bring before the House on this occasion the claim of the University of London to representation in Parliament. I cannot state with any confidence the name, or even the probable political creed of the first Scotch University Member, supposing the Legislature and the Crown were to agree to create one. I cannot appeal to the Treasury bench with the assurance that the new seat would give it a new supporter; nor can I hold out to my Opposition Friends the hope that the new Member will swell our own ranks. I can only assert my confident belief that the Scotch Universities will send us a man well worthy of the honour of holding the seventh University seat in this House. If late rectorial elections are to be taken as any test of his probable opinion, it is not unlikely that he will support Her Majesty's Government. But, on whichever side of the House he may sit, I am sure that he will share the better tendencies of both our political parties. If either party were seized with a paroxyism of faction and folly, I am confident he would go into the lobby with that which retained its sober senses. And the ground of my confidence is, that he would represent a constituency both more enlightened than others and less subject than others to sudden and spasmodic changes of feeling and opinion. He would represent a constituency wholly inaccessible to those external influences to which, in their baser modes of action, Sudbury and St. Albans succumbed, and to which, in their higher forms, broad counties and famous cities have occasionally yielded. Scattered over town and country, the electors of the new University constituency would, each in his own sphere, be in some measure the creators of that public opinion, of which, in their corporate capacity, they would form one of the highest and purest organs. The question which I have the honour to submit to the consideration of this House is, will you give the seat now under discussion to the already largely represented County of Lan- 129 caster, or to the ancient and national Universities of Scotland, which are still wholly unrepresented in Parliament? He would, therefore, conclude by moving the omission of Clause 1, with a view to the insertion of the following clause:—From and after the 1st day of November, 1861, the Universities of Scotland—that is to say, the University of St. Andrew's the University of Glasgow, the University of Aberdeen and the University of Edinburgh—shall be entitled collectively to return one Member to serve in Parliament.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS:
Sir, the Motion which the hon. Member makes is that the clause giving one additional Member to South Lancashire should be omitted in order to substitute for it clauses enfranchising the Universities of Scotland. The Motion, in fact, calls upon the House to rescind a decision which they came to in Committee after full discussion, and by a considerable majority. The main argument brought forward in support of this Motion is that the Universities of Scotland are not represented, whereas the Universities of England and of Ireland have representatives. It is manifest that there has been up to a recent date a sufficient reason for that distinction. The constitution of the Scotch Universities was wholly different from that of the Universities of England and Ireland. In the English and Irish Universities the voters were a body of graduates, whereas in the Scotch Universities the practice of graduation was carried to so slight an extent that such a body had scarcely any existence. If, therefore, up to a recent date, a representative had been given to the Scotch Universities, the power of electing him would, in fact, have been vested in a small body of professors and an extremely limited number of graduates, and there would not have been in existence a body, similar to that which exists in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and in Trinity College, Dublin, capable of exercising the franchise. Up to a recent date, therefore, I am not aware that there even was any serious question of enfranchising the Scotch Universities. At the time of the Reform Bill, when all these subjects were considered, no Member was given to the Scotch Universities. A few years ago the constitution of the Scotch Universities was altered, and there is no doubt that now a system is at work by which the graduation is increasing, and Universities 130 are gradually acquiring a body of persons competent to exercise the franchise; but it can hardly be said, I think, that the time has arrived when it would be desirable to give them that right. Undoubtedly, the Scotch Universities are a highly respectable and intelligent body of persons. They will speedily have a claim to enfranchisement similar to that which has been acknowledged in the case of the English and Irish Universities, and I do not doubt that at some future period their claim will be fairly considered by this House; but it appears to me that, after what has taken place in Committee on this Bill, and in the absence of any sufficiently strong arguments, we should not be justified in giving to the Scotch Universities a representative at present in preference to the southern division of Lancashire, especially since the forfeited seats are exclusively English seats, and, therefore, I trust the House will not agree to the Motion of the hon. Member for Perthshire if he carries it to a division.
§ MAJOR CUMMING BRUCE
said, he was astonished at the argument of the right hon. Baronet—that because a few years ago the Scotch Universities did not furnish a constituency capable of exercising the franchise, therefore, now, when they possessed a body of electors numbering 3,900, the right to return a Member should not be conferred on them. The only reasonable argument which he had heard against the claim so ably and temperately recommended to the House by the hon. Member for Perthshire was that as the forfeited seats were English seats they should in fairness be given to English constituencies. However conclusive that argument might have been deemed at the time of the Union, it could not be urged with any force now, because the Reform Bill of 1832 proceeded upon the principle of departing altogether from the system of representation established by the Act of the Union, and of setting aside the territorial distinctions as between the three divisions of the United Kingdom. That Bill conferred increased representation on Scotland and Ireland, because it was held to be right, whenever occasion arose for remodelling the representative system, to bestow the franchise upon those constituencies which, from their number and intelligence, were best deserving of that high privilege. As these seats had been vacated on account of corruption, it would, in his opinion, be rea- 131 sonable to confer the privilege lost by them upon a part of the country where no corruption prevailed; and against no constituency of Scotland had such an accusation ever been made. It was said that the West Riding was entitled to an extra Member, upon the ground of wealth and population; but the claim now before the House was not put upon these grounds. The West Riding boasted of the great men—such as Wilberforce and Brougham—who had represented it; but such representatives were due in a great extent to the constituency being the largest in the kingdom; and the importance of the West Riding would, no doubt, be much impaired if the proposition of the Government were acceded to. He did not support the Amendment on the ground of either property or population, but because he was anxious to complete the union of England and Scotland. In England the interests of education and learning were represented by four, and in Ireland by two Members. Scotland possessed no such representation, and its absence was felt to be a badge of inferiority. She asked to be admitted to an equality in that as in other matters. It was true that until within the last few years the want of a constituency furnished a good reason why the Scotch Universities should not be represented. By the Universities Act, for which Scotland was indebted to his learned Friend the Lord Justice Clerk Inglis, supported by the present Lord Advocate, that want had been supplied. There was now in existence a large constituency which was steadily increasing, and the increase of which would, no doubt, be greatly stimulated if the franchise was conferred upon it. It was such a constituency as would, he doubted not, return a Member who would be worthy to take his place beside the representatives of the English and Irish Universities who already sat in that House. He did not mean to say that he would possess the splendid and fervid eloquence of his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Dublin—Scotchmen were not generally gifted with the eloquence which every Irishman appeared to drink in with his mother's milk—nor be gifted with the marvellous ingenuity "to make the worse appear the better cause," for which his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer was so much distinguished; but he would be a sound man, not of extreme opinions, enlightened, educated, Liberal, and Conservative; 132 probably a worthy follower of Adam Smith, whose comprehensive knowledge of detail and depth of philosophical research were so highly commended by Mr. Pitt as furnishing the best solution of all questions connected with the history of commerce or the system of political economy, and an attention to whose teachings upon financial matters, instead of too easy a yielding to the fair promises of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, would prove of great advantage to the country. He hoped that the House would not let slip that opportunity of doing an act of justice to Scotland and conferring a boon upon that House and the country at large.
§ SIR JAMES GRAHAM:
Sir, I shall not follow my hon. Friend who has just sat down into a disquisition upon the rival claims of Irish eloquence, Scotch prudence, and English common sense. I am very glad to be relieved from the necessity of pitting the claims of an English University against those of the Universities of Scotland advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Perthshire; but, having given notice of my intention to bring under the notice of the House the claims of the London University in the event of a Member being refused to Kensington and Chelsea, I shall very shortly state to the House the reasons which have determined me not on the present occasion to press that claim. I am happy to be relieved from even appearing to deny the claims of the Scottish Universities. I should be sorry to urge any national ground against that claim, and, personally, I am under too much obligation to the University of Glasgow for an honour once conferred upon me not to be the very last man who should contend that the Universities of Scotland are not on a proper occasion entitled to be represented in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. When I undertook to prefer the claim of the London University, I stated distinctly that I could not urge that claim in preference to that of the metropolitan constituency of Kensington and Chelsea. The House has decided against that claim, although it was founded upon numbers, respectability, and wealth; and certainly I should have hoped that, failing that metropolitan borough, a claim might have been recognized on the part of the metropolitan county. The House has, however, decided against any addition to metropolitan representation; and in the present balanced state of opinion in this House I thought that, upon 133 the whole, it was my duty to consult what appeared to be the feeling of the majority on both sides of the House in favour of conferring two additional Members upon the West Riding of Yorkshire. Having consulted the Senate of the University of London and the chairman of Convocation, I have resolved, in conformity with their wish, on not obtruding the claims of that University upon the present occasion on the consideration of the House. But if past pledges are to be remembered, I need only state that when the Reform Bill of the Government of the Earl of Aberdeen was introduced by my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, it was proposed to confer on the London University the elective franchise. So, also, on the last occasion of the introduction of the Reform Bill, under the Government of my noble Friend the noble Viscount, it was proposed in the Bill of 1860 that the elective franchise should be conferred on the London University. If I mistake not, in the year 1852, that claim was brought under the notice of the Earl of Derby, then at the head of the Government, who expressed himself favourably to its consideration; and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire, in his place, representing that Government, stated that on a future and fitting occasion he was not indisposed to consider that claim when it should be brought forward. In addition to all this, the Home Secretary of Lord Melbourne's Government, who advised Her Majesty to confer on the London University a charter, did distinctly state on that occasion that it was the intention of the Government in granting that charter that the London University should be placed on a footing of perfect equality with the ancient Universities of the kingdom. I mention these facts, which concur strongly in favour of this claim in the hope that on a fitting opportunity it may not be cast aside. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) has referred, but rather tauntingly, to an expression which I had used on a former occasion when I spoke of "large and comprehensive measures or Reform." Well, Sir, the House on both sides, has had experience of the difficulty of carrying such measures. I hope, therefore, that it will recur to the doctrine of Lord Chatham, and Mr. Pitt, and the early Reformers, who were of opinion that when extensive delinquency was proved against any borough, the proper 134 punishment was a forfeiture of the right of returning Members to this House, that disfranchisement should ensue. My belief is that that would be found, in present circumstances, the surest and most effective punishment of bribery, and the best security against its further inroads on the constituency. Opportunities would not then be wanting of conferring on unrepresented boroughs the valuable right which had thus been abused. If those opportunities should occur, I hope justice will be done both to London University and the Universities of Scotland, and then, I think, there will be a larger infusion into this House of the representation of learning, intelligence, science, and those habits of strict propriety and conduct which superior education, in my judgment, never fails to enforce. On the whole, without preferring the claim of one University to another, on national grounds, my hope is that before very long the elective franchise may be bestowed on both these learned bodies, but on the present occasion, there being only four seats to be disposed of, and these being English seats—three having been now by general concurrence settled, and only one remaining—on the whole, I think that the decision of the House will be more unanimously in favour of giving the fourth Vote to the West Riding than can be expected with respect to any other proposal; and, on the grounds I have stated, I certainly do not intend to prefer the claim of the University of London, which, I think, were it urged, might be shown to be, on the whole, prior to that of the Scotch Universities. I, therefore, satisfy myself by withdrawing that claim for the present, voting with some reluctance against the proposal of the hon. Member for Perthshire, and giving my support to the Motion for assigning the fourth Member to the West Riding.
§ MR. BLACKBURN
observed, that the right hon. Gentleman had not clearly understood the proposition before the House; for his hon. Friend the Member for Perth did not wish to take a Member from Yorkshire, but to prevent South Lancashire from having three Members. [Sir JAMES GRAHAM: That proposition has been already agreed to.] The very hesitating denial which the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had given to the proposal of his hon. Friend the Member for Perthshire was based on two grounds—first, that the time was not ripe for giving representation 135 to the Scotch Universities, there being no proper constituency; and, secondly, that the House had already decided the question, and it was now too late to urge this claim. Now, as to the ripeness of the constituency, he begged to remind the right hon. Baronet that the clauses proposed by his hon. Friend were taken from the Reform Bill of the Government last year; and if the constituency was then ripe for representation why not now? The Scottish Universities had a constituent body of 3,900, while Oxford had only 3,786, and Dublin about one-half the number. The first ground, then put forward by the right hon. Baronet certainly did not stand him in good stead. Then as to the second ground of objection, that the seat had been already disposed of, he believed that there was a very strong opinion in the House that there should not be a third Member in any county. Besides, it was but fair to remember that the very first proposal for the transfer of seats was that of his hon. Friend the Member for Perthshire in favour of the Scotch Universities. On the ground of property, population, and on the joint basis, Scotland had a strong claim for an increase in the representation. Proportionately to population Scotland should return 71 Members instead of 53; proportionately to revenue and taxation she ought to return 74; and proportionately to the mean between both she ought to return 73 Members. Scotland might claim the whole four seats to be disposed of; but the Members for Scotland had the modesty to put forward their claim to only one. Lanarskhire had much stronger claim to an additional seat than South Lancashire. He did not know what particular interest South Lancashire represented. Cotton was already sufficiently represented; he appealed with confidence to a sense of British justice on the present occasion, and should certainly support the proposal of his hon. Friend the Member for Perthshire.
As a very humble but a very steady supporter of Her Majesty's Ministers, I hope I may be allowed to express, in a very few sentences, my deep regret at the course which they have thought fit to take with regard to this Bill. If they had given one Member to the West Riding, one to Birkenhead, one to the London University, and one to the Scotch Universities, they would have conciliated at once the county interest and the borough interest, the metropolitan interest 136 and the educational interest. They have not done so. I do not think they have the least idea how popular a measure it would have been in that part of the kingdom whence come their steadiest supporters, if they had yielded to the proposal of the hon. Member for Perthshire. It must not be forgot that, while the English Universities are chiefly frequented by the upper classes, the Scotch Universities are chiefly frequented by the middle, and, to a certain extent, by the lower classes. This consideration is a sufficient answer to the reproaches which have been directed by some of my Friends, who sit below the gangway, against the conduct of the Scotch Members about Chelsea and Kensington, as if they had been untrue to the wellknown policy of the Liberal party, to increase the power of the middle, and of the better section of the lower classes. Far be it from me to disparage the claims of the London University. I am free to confess that a simple degree at the London University guarantees a higher amount of attainment than a simple degree at the Scotch Universities; but then a simple degree at the London University guarantees higher attainment than a simple degree at the older English Universities. The University of London is a noble growth, but it is a growth of yesterday; whereas the Scotch Universities are some of them coeval with the beginning of true civilization in Scotland, and are connected with all that is best in her history. The greatest evil which afflicts Scotland is the want of encouragement for high scholarship and remarkable attainment. The perfervidum ingenium of my countrymen, if not guided by the highest intelligence, may still give trouble to English statesmen, and the best way in which you can aid the development of that highest intelligence is by fostering those Universities which do not at present exercise sufficient influence in elevating the standard of acquirement amongst us, or occupy their proper place in the national regard.
§ MR. H. BAILLIE
said, he would venture to recommend the hon. Member for Perthshire (Mr. Stirling) not to press his Resolution to a division, but to remain satisfied with having stated ably, clearly, and satisfactorily to the House the claims of the Scotch Universities, which he hoped the House might, on some future he hoped the House might, on some future occasion, be induced to recognize. He must protest, however, against the view of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Lewis), that, 137 because these seats were English, they ought to be redistributed amongst English constituencies, as though the Act of Union and the Reform Act of 1832 had not identified Scotland with the rest of the United Kingdom in point of representation.
remarked, that he had heard it said that the hon. Member for Perthshire was playing a foolish game in combining with the Irish Members to disturb the Ministry, and that a cabal had been entered into between the representatives of Scotland and Ireland for that purpose. Now, he was not aware of the existence of any such combination or cabal, but, for his own part, he should be one of the first to join in it, and to give the right hand of fellowship to the Irish Members in fighting the battle of the two countries. Numerically speaking, Scotland was not properly represented in that House, and now that the vacant seats were to be filled up an opportunity offered for doing justice to that country. A deputation lately waited on the noble Premier to advocate the claims of the Scotch Universities, and with his usuul affability the noble Lord told them he thought a strong case had been made out, but that the remedy was in their own hands; they had only to corrupt a borough in Scotland, and get the Government to disfranchise it, and then its seat might be given to the Scotch Universities. The hon. Member for East Lothian having rejoined that bribery was impossible in Scotland, the Home Secretary, who stood behind the noble Lord at the time, remembering the words of the hymn of their childhood which referred to the work a certain gentleman found for idle hands to do, observed that there was another way in which the Scotch Universities might obtain representation—that Sutherlandshire, for example, and some of the other least populous Highland counties should be conjoined. Now, he could only say, on the part of the Lowlands, that if any attempt of the kind thus indicated were made by the right hon. Gentleman, the card which the Scottish gentlemen would play would not be the nine of diamonds, but a card of a darker suit and fewer spots, and in the words of the Scotch proverb, he would advise the right hon. Gentleman before going to Sutherlandshire to touch the wild cats, to put on a pair of very thick gloves.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, he hoped that the hon. Gentleman who had brought 138 forward the Motion would adopt the suggestion of the hon. Member for Inverness-shire (Mr. H. Baillie). The hon. Gentleman had made a very able speech, stating very temperately all the reasons in favour of giving a seat to the Sctoch Universities. For his own part, he should be very glad to see those Universities returning a Member, and he could not agree in the proposition that in no circumstances should Scotland have an additional seat, if that additional seat was to be derived from England. Still, when they remembered that no less than eight additional Members were given to Scotland by the measure of 1832, they could not come to the conclusion that the claims of Scotland had been overlooked. That not being an occasion on which the hon. Member for Perthshire could gain anything by dividing the House, it was to be hoped that he would now be content with having stated his case. At a future period that case might be fairly considered.
§ COLONEL SYKES
said, that he merely wished to protest against the attempt being made to throw the Scotch Universities overboard. Everything appeared to be cut and dried, and any appeal by a Scotch Member to the sense and reason of English Members in this matter would be wholly unavailing.
§ MR. STIRLING
said, he was quite satisfied with the discussion to which his Motion had given rise. He desired, therefore, with the permission of the House, to withdraw these clauses. He begged to thank the right hon. Member for Carlisle and the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary for the admission they had both made that the claims which he had ventured to advance were not unfounded.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. COLLINS
said, that when the Bill was in Committee he gave notice of a series of Amendments to carry out the object to which the Government had acceded that night. Since then the Home Secretary had laid on the table a series of clauses to the same effect; but on Saturday last the Government proposals were altered in one material particular, inasmuch as the place for holding the election was changed from the central town in the Southern Division of the Riding to Ponterfract. It would be more convenient that he should waive his own clauses, and allow those of the Government to be proceeded with, and when they came to the word "Pontefract" he could move that it be struck out.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
then moved to insert the following Clause before Clause 1:—After the dissolution of this present Parliament the West Riding of the County of York shall be divided into two divisions, to be called respectively the Northern and Southern Divisions; the Northern Division shall contain the Wapentakes of Staincliffe and Ewecross, Claro, Skyrack, and Morley; the Southern Division shall contain the Wapentakes of Barkston Ash, Osgoldcross, Strafforth and Tickhill, Staincross, and Agbrigg.
§ MR. BAINES
said, he objected altogether to these seats, which were taken from boroughs, being given to counties. He would remind the House that although undoubtedly both Sudbury and St. Albans were small places, they were frequently represented by men who represented large mercantile interests, and not principally by gentlemen connected with the landed interests. As the representative of one of the largest boroughs in the West Riding, he wished to make one remark with respect to the intended division of that important constituency. It appeared to him that there were serious objections to be made to the division of the West Riding, and although he should not object to four Members being given to the West Riding, he must confess that in his opinion Middlesex had a better claim; because in the metropolitan county there were eight Members to 2,800,000 of the population, whereas in the West Riding, important as it was, there was the same number of Members to a population of 1,500,000. But the separation of the present united districts of the West Riding was most objectionable, there being at present one compact feeling throughout the constituency. There was no difficulty in taking the votes at an election for the West Riding in one day, and certainly there would be no saving of expense to candidates by the proposed division. However, he should not divide the House on the subject; though he must confess that he was glad that the importance of Leeds, as a place for holding the election, was recognized.
§ Clause agreed to.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, he would then propose the following clause:—In all future Parliaments there shall be two Knights of the Shire to serve for each of the said Northern and Southern Divisions, and such Knights shall be chosen in the same manner, and by the same classes or descriptions of voters, and by the same classes or descriptions of voters, and in respect of the same rights of voting, as if each such Division were a separate county, and all enactments now in force applicable to divisions of counties returning Knights of the Shire to 140 serve in Parliament, shall apply to the Divisions hereby constituted.
§ Clause agreed to.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, he would then move a third Clause to the effect that—The court for the election for the Northern Division should be held at Leeds, and the court for the election of the said Southern Division should be held at Pontefract; but the justices of the peace should name the polling places for each of the said Northern and Southern Divisions, and divide such Divisions into convenient districts for polling.Clause brought up, and read 1°; 2°;
said, he wished to call attention to some defects in the framing of the clause. The selection of new polling-places was left to the justices at Quarter Sessions, but it was utterly impossible that the appointments could be made in the brief interval which elapsed between the dissolution and the nomination. It would, therefore, be better to give the justices a power to act provisionally. If new polling-places could not be fixed upon in the time it would be necessary to fall back on the old ones, and, the districts apportioned to these being partly in one division and partly in another, much inconvenience would necessarily arise. That was not as trifling an affair as it might at first sight appear, for it affected about 2,000 voters, most of whom, under such a system of polling, would be practically disfranchised. He was also informed that there were only twelve working days for the Sheriff of Yorkshire to make all his arrangements, which would clearly be impossible, unless power were given him to appoint a sufficient number of returning officers. Having only obtained some of his information that day, he was not in a position to move that the clause be amended; but he would gladly place all the facts in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman, and as these clauses were of a purely technical character they could easily be postponed, and brought up in an amended form.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, he saw great difficulties in the way of enabling justices to make any provisional arrangement, because in the event of a vacancy occurring before the dissolution of Parliament took place, it was necessary that the present register should be kept in activity. It was extremely difficult to legislate on the particular case, for none of the previous Reform Acts contained anything which could be regarded as a precedent. The 141 information with regard to the position of the sheriff had already been conveyed to him, but the reason he did not propose any special clause on that point was because he thought it better that any number of under-sheriffs should be employed than that an alteration of the law should be made to meet a particular instance. He had no objection to withdraw the three clauses following that before the House, with which he proposed to proceed, and he would consider whether the objections referred to by the hon. Gentleman might not be obviated.
§ MR. COLLINS
remarked, that in the Reform Bill of 1854 the Government overcame the difficulty which the right hon. Gentleman appeared to contemplate by a clause providing that, in the event of an election prior to the dissolution, the register of the two divisions should be considered the register of one undivided county.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, he would move the omission from the clause of the word "Pontefract," and the substitution of "Sheffield," which he contended was a more convenient place for the nomination and declaration of the poll in the southern division of the West Riding.
§ Amendment proposed, in line 3, to leave out the word "Pontefract," and insert the word "Sheffield," instead thereof.
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, he did not think the question raised by the hon. Member one of paramount importance. The polling would not be affected by the selection of Pontefract as the place of nomination and declaration for the southern division of the West Riding. Wakefield had been first proposed, because it was at present a polling-place for the undivided West Riding; but the Government were afterwards informed that Wakefield was not so conveniently situated as Pontefract. The latter would seem to be very central for the southern division.
§ MR. COLLINS
said, he hoped that the first part of the hon. Member's Amendment would be adopted, and Pontefract struck out. Wakefield was at present the place for the central business of the Southern division, and Pontefract would not be as convenient for the electors. Seven of the polling-places were nearest Pontefract, but twelve were nearest to Wakefield. No less than 13,325 of the electors were nearest to Wakefield, while only 4,504, or about one-third that number, were nearest to Pontefract. It might be said that Wakefield had been convicted of bri- 142 bery, but Mr. Oliveira and his wife were found to have committed bribery and corruption at Pontefract.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, he thought that the gentlemen of the southern division ought to be left to settle this question. All the residents of that division claimed was that they might select the place which they thought best for themselves. The question before them was between Pontefract and Sheffield. The general impression was that in times of great political excitement it would be impolitic to have the election in a large and populous borough like that of Sheffield. The question then was whether they would select the agricultural tranquil town of Pontefract, or the somewhat tumultuous town of Sheffield, and he hoped the House would decide that Pontefract was the more preferable of the two.
§ COLONEL SMYTH
said, that in 1854, when the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary brought in his Reform Bill, Pontefract was inserted in the Bill as a place of election. A deputation waited on the noble Lord, of which he (Colonel Smyth) formed one, when the noble Lord stated that Pontefract had been inserted in the Bill by mistake. He, therefore, should claim the vote of the noble Lord against Pontefract on this occasion. Wakefield was in many respects a more convenient place for the election than Pontefract.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, he thought there must be some mistake in what had fallen from the gallant Colonel. He had not understood that Pontefract was inserted in the Bill of 1854 by mistake. He was satisfied that Pontefract was more suitable for a place of election than either Wakefield or Sheffield. Wakefield was certainly the most central for the whole Riding, but there was a large portion of the agricultural population who had no opportunity of travelling by railway, to whom Pontefract would be the most convenient place.
§ VISCOUNT GALWAY
said, he thought that Pontefract, on the whole, was the most convenient place of election, but Doncaster had also a good claim to the honour.
§ Question put, "That the word 'Pontefract' stand part of the Clause."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 97; Noes 67: Majority 30.
§ Clause added.
§ MR ABEL SMITH
said, he had given notice of a Motion to take away the third seat from Lancashire, and to form a bo- 143 rough consisting of St. Albans, Watford, Hemel Hempstead, Great Berkhamstead, and Tring. In his opinion the county of Hertford had not been fairly treated. It used to return six Members—two for the county, two for Hertford, and two for St. Albans. The borough of St. Albans had been a great political sinner for many years, and had been very properly disfranchised. But it had been now disfranchised for seventeen or eighteen years, and hon. Members who were so anxious to condone the delinquencies of Wakefield, might now well agree that St. Albans should have its privileges in part restored. Looking to the importance and population of Hertfordshire, he thought six Members a fair quota. As he had given very short notice of his Motion, he would not press it on the present occasion, but he trusted that in any future Reform Bill the claims of the new Parliamentary borough he had proposed, which would have a present constituency of 1,500 electors, would be duly considered.
§ Clause 1 (Additional Member for West Riding of Yorkshire and Southern Division of Lancashire),
Sir GEORGE LEWIS
said, he would propose in page 2, line 3, to leave out the words from "the" to "Yorkshire and," in line 4 inclusive, and insert "passing of this Act." The effect of the Amendment would be, that the election would take place immediately after the passing of the Act, instead of in the month of November, as originally proposed.
§ MR. COLLINS
said, that on a former evening he had made precisely the same proposal. The right hon. Gentleman, the Home Secretary, had then opposed it, because of the harvest. Would the right hon. Gentleman now state what steps the Government had taken for the acceleration of the harvest?
SIR GEORGE LEWIS
said, that the Amendment had been thought upon the whole to be most convenient. The Bill had made such progress that he trusted the probability against which he wished to guard would not occur, and that the elections might be held under the Bill before the harvest.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Other Amendments made.
§ Bill re-committed for Thursday, in reference to certain new Clauses relating to the Elections for the West Riding of the County of York, and to be printed. [Bill 212.]