§ LORD ELCHO
said, he would beg to ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Whether any investigation has been made as to the rate of increase of the number of artizan £10 voters in Boroughs, relatively to the other Borough voters not of the artizan class, from 1836 to 1846, 1846 to 1856, 1856 to 1866; whether an estimate has been made of the probable rate of increase of the number of artizan £10 voters in Boroughs, relatively to the other Borough voters not of the artizan class, under the existing Law from 1866 to 1876, 1876 to 1886, 1886 to 1896; whether an estimate has been made of the probable rate of increase of the number of artizan voters in Boroughs relatively to the other Borough voters under the proposed Bill, from 1866 to 1876, 1876 to 1886, 1886 to 1896; whether an estimate has been made of the number of artizans in Boroughs that will 844 be enfranchised as lodgers, relatively to the other lodgers not of the artizan class, that will be enfranchised under the proposed Bill; whether an estimate has been made of the probable rate of increase of lodgers of the artizan class, relatively to other lodgers not of the artizan class, that will be enfranchised under the proposed Bill, from 1866 to 1876, 1876 to 1886, 1886 to 1896; and, whether Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the event of such estimates having been made, will lay them before Parliament; and whether, should no such estimates exist, he would cause them to be made?
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, there is no information whatsoever at the command of the Government which would enable them to make an estimate on the subject to which my noble Friend refers. I may add that in our opinion we have prosecuted the investigation with respect to the proportion of the working classes on the register quite far enough, and we think it is not desirable to widen the field of that inquiry. The information which we have got we look upon as of great value, and we consider that the continuance of those inquiries would lead to an entirely wrong estimate of the feelings with which we regard the admission of the working classes to the franchise. There is, however, one element of information which does not touch the artizan voters directly, although I cannot say that we are going to lay, with regard to that, any estimate on the table. It is, at the same time, a matter of some interest, and a calculation in connection with it may be made by any hon. Member for himself or by the Government for the use of Members. It is this, that various Returns having been made at different periods showing the number of the respective classes of borough voters, and that, taking the number of £10 voters that existed at the time when each of those Returns was made, a comparison might be instituted between them and the growth of the population. As to the proportion which those £10 artizan voters bear to the population, that is a matter which any hon. Gentleman may estimate for himself on the basis of the recent Returns. I endeavoured as well as I could to estimate the number, but I had not the necessary means for doing so, because no inquiry with reference to the number of artizan voters was made up to that period. I have heard—I must not pretend to give my noble Friend any official information— 845 from a person who has carefully studied these figures, that which will probably rather surprise the House, that the increase in the list of £10 voters was very much more rapid in the first than during the latter portion of the period which followed the Reform Act. I find that taking the nineteen years from 1832 to 1851 the £10 householders increased at the rate of 90 per cent, while the increase of the population was only at the rate of 43 per cent, so that in those nineteen years the £10 householders increased at a rate more than twice that of the increase of the population. In the next fifteen years, that is to say from 1851 to 1865, the £10 householders have been increasing at the rate of 39 per cent, the population at the rate of 25 per cent, so that as compared with the growth of the population the increase in the number of £10 householders appears to have been very much less during the latter of those two periods. I have now pointed out the very narrow limits within which the inquiry may be made. The Government can easily have the figures looked into, and should they think that any result sufficiently important was arrived at, it shall be laid on the table of the House.
§ MR. WALPOLE
Does the answer of the right hon. Gentleman refer to £10 householders generally, embracing those above that amount?