§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 3 (Occupation Franchise for Voters in Boroughs).
The Question is to add at the end of Clause 3 these words—Provided always, That, except as hereinafter provided, no person other than the occupier shall, after the passing of this Act, be rated to parochial rates in respect of premises occupied by him within the limits of a Parliamentary Borough, all Acts to the contrary now in force notwithstanding."—(Mr. Hodgkinson.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
With regard to the addition to Clause 3 moved by the hon. Member for Newark in Committee last Friday, I wish to state that Her Majesty's Government have expressed their entire concurrence with the policy indicated by the proviso, 780 which appeared to be generally approved by the House. I, however, at the same time, expressed my doubts on the part of the Government whether the clause proposed by the hon. Gentleman would effectively and completely bring about the result that was desired, and I offered that, if he would not press his Motion at that moment, I would undertake on the part of the Government to consider the best means by which our object could be accomplished. We have given that subject consideration; and it is our opinion that the policy recommended by the Proviso can be effected by clauses in the Bill before the House, and if it can be so accomplished it shall be. There are, however, some difficulties with respect to which that information is not at hand, even in the most authoritative places, which we consider necessary. We think it will be necessary to make some inquiries, and that prevents me speaking positively on the form, although my general impression and that of the Government is that we can accomplish the object by inserting clauses in the Bill. I hope that very shortly—probably on Thursday—I may be able to lay on the table clauses by which this can be effected in a manner, I trust, that will be generally satisfactory. At the same time, I shall suggest to the House the method by which I think the general progress of the Bill should be hereafter conducted; so that we may be able, if this measure should obtain the ultimate sanction of the House, to send it up to the House of Lords at a convenient time. Under the present circumstances, it will be unnecessary for me to say that it will not be expedient to proceed with the 34th clause. I say this in deference to what I believe to be the general wish of the House; and if that is so we shall proceed to-night, after disposing of the 3rd clause—which I hope we shall do very shortly—to the consideration of the 4th clause.
§ MR. CHILDERS
As I have an Amendment on the Paper to follow that of the hon. Member for Newark, I think, after the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I shall consult the convenience of the House by saying at once that, understanding the right hon. Gentleman will bring up complete clauses on the subject, I shall not proceed with my Amendment.
§ MR. HODGKINSON
After the statement we have just heard from the right 781 hon. Gentleman I shall, with leave of the House, withdraw ray Amendment.
§ MR. POULETT SCROPE
said, that as all the questions of rating hung together it would probably not be convenient to the House to discuss the Amendment which he had placed on the Paper until the question of the compound-householder had been finally disposed of. He would therefore, by leave of the Committee, postpone his Amendment until after the dicussion of the clauses which had been suggested, by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ On Question, that Clause 3, as amended, stand part of the Bill,
§ MR. LOWE
Sir, I do not think that I should make a very unreasonable request of the Committee if I were to suggest that this clause—which is probably the most important that was ever submitted to the House of Commons—should be reprinted and considered as a whole on a future day. I confess that I have very little hope, in the present temper of the House, that I can prevail upon the Government to do so; but I think it would be more for their and our dignity if they did. None of us know the form of the clause as it now stands. It is impossible, indeed, that we should. It has been more amended and more cobbled than any other clause probably ever was, and it is a clause which comprises in itself a whole revolution—and yet I gather that it is the opinion of the House of Commons that I am not warranted, and that I should be over bold and presumptuous if I were to ask them to let us see the clause in full before we discuss it further. I gather that to be the opinion of the House, and as I have never sought to place myself in opposition to the opinion of the House during the discussions which have taken place on this Bill, I will not press this now at the risk of being thought desirous—which is not the case—to delay the progress of the measure. I am doing that which I very much dislike to do—namely, going counter to the wish of the House at this moment, which is, no doubt, to pass the clause at once; but I must beg them, before adopting this clause, to listen for a short time to objections against it which have never been urged in this Committee, and which, in fact, have never been urged at all. Had this clause ever been debated in the House—I mean the principle of it—I would not now trouble the House in the middle of 782 a Committee whose natural business is to investigate details with a statement of my opinion upon it. But the truth is that it is only now, since the right hon. Gentleman has spoken this evening, that we know what the real principle of the measure is to be. The principle of the Government measure has never been debated in this House. The principle is this—that all householders are to have the franchise except such as are excused from the payment of rates on the ground of poverty. Now, I think nobody can say that this is not a fair description of the principle; and, whatever any one else may say, I, for one, think it a principle worth discussing before we adopt it. No blame, of course, attaches to the House for not having discussed the principle, because it has never been before us. We have had it, indeed, as a part of a measure; but it was accompanied by so many safeguards and restrictions, that it was impossible to separate it from them and to look at it in its simplicity and totality. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) has adopted a course which is infinitely creditable to his dexterity as a tactician. He well knew that had he proposed the measure as it is now before us and shown it to his party at first they would have started back from it in horror. The right hon. Gentleman has treated them as we treat a shy horse—a horse which is in the habit of shying at a milestone or a perambulator, or anything of that kind — take him gently up, walk him round the object, show him what is the real cause of his fright, and make him touch it if we can; and then, when the process has been repeated often enough, we hope we shall get the creature to pass it quietly. And this has been the process which the right hon. Gentleman has adopted with his own party; and he has done it, not privately and secretly, but in the sight of the whole country and the whole Empire. I can only say, for one, that I hope they like it. I trust they like to have it made public to all the world that the right hon. Gentleman has been playing with them for the last three months — that they have been the targets of his wit, the sport of his dexterity. I hope they like the publicity and the openness of the matter. Remember what the right hon. Gentleman told us last Friday night. He said, "Adopt the Amendment of the hon. Member for Newark? Of course, I will adopt it. Why, it is the very thing that we wished to do 783 when we first devised the measure. We saw"—he did not say in so many words, but his speech amounted to this—"we saw from the first that the principle of personal rating and the compound-householder were things absolutely antagonistic — that one must kill the other; and we determined from the first that the principle of personal rating should overthrow the compound-householder. But we did not say so. No; we had a precious cargo on board, and we did not wish to overload our ship with something which might sink it. That is to say, we kept before the eyes of our party duality of voting, a long residence, and the compound-householder, to intervene between our proposal and household suffrage, until we had familiarized them with the idea of household suffrage, and then we dropped them one by one, assuring our party all the while—as we have been told by three Secretaries of State of the present Government — that the measure was not a measure of household suffrage, not a democratic measure, but that it was, and would be, safely guarded." Indeed, one of them stated that if the Bill were not safely guarded he would have nothing to do with it; and another would rather do penance in a white sheet. All this has been done; and now, one by one, the disguises have been taken off, and we are introduced to this measure for the first time as it really is — that is, household suffrage, limited practically only in not being extended to those who on account of poverty are excused from paying their rates. And then comes the lodger suffrage; but when put beside household suffrage it dwindles into insignificance. I will describe it as I understand it. It seems to me to be a franchise which will give a vote to anybody who likes to have one, guarded only by the proviso he is not a householder. He is not even required to pay any rate or any rent; there is no notoriety in the transaction on which his vote rests—he has nothing to do but to ask and to have; there cannot be a more general and sweeping clause. I ask, why should the House adopt it? What arguments and what reasons have been adduced why we should adopt this measure? Last year, on the question of the £7 franchise of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire, we argued the question—we went into points of expediency—we debated pro and con what the effects of such a measure would be on the interests of the country and of the Empire. Some considered that the effects would be good, 784 and others that they would be bad. We entertained the question then as we entertained all other questions. Have we done so this year? Has there been a word said to show what state of things the measure would introduce, and what will be the result to the Constitution when it is passed? What are the hopes? what are the fears? Has there been a word said on the subject? No; from first to last we have been engaged in the most revolting details, endeavouring to adapt the proposal of the Government to a state of things, as regards rating, to which it was not possible to adapt it, but which it has at last destroyed in order to make a place for itself. The measure, as has been well said, in an able paper, has proceeded like the car of Juggernaut, crushing under its wheels the principles of those who supported it, destroying the state of things to which it endeavoured to adapt itself, and now the very principle upon which it was to be founded, by the admission of a lodger franchise. I say that if we adopt it it will not be from any argument we have heard. We have not heard any of those considerations of that higher policy which ought to dictate measures of this kind; nor do I believe there is any conviction entertained by this House of the expediency of the measure. There may be such a conviction; but I have observed no trace of it in this debate. How am I to account for this fact—that we have arrived at the point of a complete revolution in our Constitution, at an alteration so vast that no one seems to have been able to bring his mind to measure its extent, and that without the consideration we are in the habit of bestowing on the principle of the smallest and most insignificant measure? Many causes may be assigned for this. I will not weary the House by going into them at length. One is—weariness of the subject. Members are tired of it, and well they may be; and being tired of it, they are willing to accept anything without looking narrowly at it in order to be delivered from a nuisance that is becoming intolerable to us all. There is, also—for this great change does depend in some degree upon the faults of our existing system—there is, also, dread of dissolution—dread of dissolution more than ordinary deep and hearty because the last election was one of more than ordinary profligacy and extravagance. The third point is a very potent one—dread of the new class of voters who are to be brought into existence. Power is to be 785 transferred from an existing class to another class of voters, and Gentlemen are afraid that if they stand up for the existing order of things they may give offence to those who are to come into existence, and so lose their seats. These motives, no doubt, have been powerful, especially with this side of the House. What shall we say of the other side of the House? What motives can have influenced hon. Gentlemen opposite—after what we heard last year in opposition to the £7 franchise—to turn round and vote for something which turns the flank and gets into the rear of the Liberal party, and has thrown the most violent among them utterly into the shade? What can have induced the Conservative party of England to enter into this ruinous competition—to abandon the useful and honourable position they held of defending the traditions and existing institutions of this country, of scanning even minor measures critically with reference to such considerations, to say nothing of such measures of vast and unspeakable importance as this? What can have made this wonderful change in hon. Gentlemen opposite? I do not want to be unjust or unfair to them. No doubt hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House had laid out for themselves an exceedingly agreeable programme on this subject of Reform. They were always to be bringing in Reform Bills. They were to enjoy the popularity that is to be caught by bringing in Reform Bills; they were probably to enjoy office as the result of that popularity. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were to do their duty by resisting Reform; they were to incur all the unpopularity to be got by such resistance; and they were to incur almost perpetual exclusion from office as the natural result of that unpopularity. Speaking candidly and fairly, I do not very much wonder that hon. Gentlemen opposite got rather weary of a system of this kind, and endeavoured to reverse the programme—and, looking at the matter from a mere party point of view, I think there is a great deal to be said in palliation of their conduct. But this is not a question of party—this is a question of the country. I think both those who are most friendly to this measure and those who are most hostile will alike agree with me when I say that this is a measure which will, for good or for evil, alter, change—I do not wish to mince the matter—revolutionize the institutions of this country for all time to come. I do not think I expect 786 too much when I say that it might have been hoped that among the great party opposite, with such an enormous stake in this matter, there would have been found some who would have lifted their minds a little above these wretched considerations of party, and who would have accepted the very disagreeable party alternative I have described, rather than consent, in order by a clever manœuvre to checkmate their antagonists, to sweep away all that we have hitherto regarded as the bulwarks of the institutions of this country. It appears that this is not so; party is to be dominant; the country is to be put aside and forgotten. I do not hope, I do not expect for a moment that I can make any impression on them. Why should I? They have their Leader such as I have painted him; they trust him, they follow him. Who am I, that I should be able to persuade them to an opposite course of action? But as I hope and expect to live a few more years in this world, I think it due to the historical aspect of the question that it shall not be said that this thing was allowed to pass without some voice being raised to protest against the subversion of the most useful and honoured institutions of the country, and their subversion by those in whose hands the country proudly and foolishly believed they were safe.
Let us now consider what this Bill will do. We had statistics last year; this year we have souls above statistics. Nobody can tell to within 100,000 what the enfranchising effect of this Bill will be. We have no guide whatever: how should we, when it is changed from day to day? Of course, the municipal franchise is no sufficient guide, because of the residence clause, and the limitation of the new franchise to householders. I do not think it would be an unreasonable thing to suppose — putting aside the lodger franchise — that the Bill will at least double, and probably it will more than double, the existing constituency. If any Gentleman can give information, now is the time; let him speak now, or for ever keep silence. I should have thought—in my old-fashioned way of looking at things—that before we hand over the country to a new power in the Constitution, it would have been right to have had information on the subject. But this is one of my obsolete prejudices. I should have thought that, before we handed our Constitution over, as I have said, to persons who are more numerous probably than the present constituency, 787 and before we effected a complete and absolute transfer of power, we ought to have had some little inquiry. The hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Moncreiff) has told us that the notion, which every statesman in England has held up to the present time, that property and intelligence ought to be represented in this House as well as numbers, is one of those platitudes that has long since been buried. I only wish that all other platitudes were buried with it. As it is, things are daily said which make me hardly able to believe my ears. Scotland, it is said, is a highly-favoured country; and England is an ill-used country; because, in Scotland, according to the declaration made the other night, a greater amount of poverty and ignorance will be admitted into the constituencies than in England. The hon. and learned Member for Sheffield (MY. Roebuck) is congratulated beyond measure. He is happy above all the children of men, because he is to have 28,000 electors let loose upon him in addition to and below his present constituency. On the other hand, the hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Bright) has been treated with the most cruel ingratitude by the House, because it has withheld from his embraces 36,000 men of Birmingham who are burning to record their votes for somebody. People are happy according to the proportion of poverty and ignorance they are allowed to represent, and are miserable in proportion to the prevalence in their constituencies of those elements which used to be sovereign in this country—property and intelligence. I should like to bury that platitude with the rest. In like manner words have faded from our recollection. Nobody could get up last year without making use of the strong vernacular expression—"swamping." Who talks of "swamping" now? The only idea now is to see how many persons we can enfranchise, to take care that they shall be as poor and ignorant as possible, to adopt, indeed, a principle like household suffrage—occupation of a house being, no doubt, in the abstract, some proof of respectability—but then to strain that principle until you do away with the respectability by bringing in the dregs of the house-occupying class to control the respectable householders. That seems to be the idea on which we are acting. Lamenting this as I do, I must beg the House to consider for a few moments what will follow. I never thanked the House more sincerely than I now do for their patience in listening to me. I am 788 quite aware that I am arguing a beaten and a hopeless cause, and I feel very grateful, in the present advanced and progressive state of opinion on the subject, that hon. Members are willing to hear the voice of perhaps its solitary advocate. This cause, which was triumphant last year, is now lost and abandoned, "and who so poor as do it reverence?" You are going to transfer power mainly to the non-electors, who are more numerous than the present constituencies. Now, what do you know of the non-electors of this country? What are their politics? What are their views? What will be their influence for good or for evil upon our institutions? Last year my right hon. Friend the Member for South Lancashire wished to enfranchise skilled labour, the élite of the working class. That has dropped out of our discussions. Nobody talks of skilled labour. The object of this Bill, so far as I understand it, or except as it may be modified in some degree by the lodger franchise, is to enfranchise unskilled labour. We know what the politics of skilled labour are. I confess they are not much to my taste. Trade unions, mechanics' institutes, and the gregarious life which working men lead, have helped to form a school of opinion which I will not examine, because we have got past it. The question now is not what is the opinion of the élite of the working classes, but what is the opinion of the unskilled labour class. For instance, in the borough I represent you will, I rather think, give us some Wiltshire labourers with 8s. a week wages. Will any Gentleman favour me with a précis of the politics of these men? [Laughter. But it is really no joke. You are handing over to new and untried persons the institutions of this country, and everything which is dear to us as Englishmen, and it is well that we should know something about them. The fact is, that the great mass of those you are going to enfranchise are people who have no politics at all. Their politics are yet to be learnt. It has not been worth anybody's while to teach them or to agitate them because they have had no vote, and they are unacquainted with even the rudiments of political instruction. You are about to take away the management of affairs from, the upper and middle classes, who have managed affairs since the Reform Bill, as I think with some little success, and you are about to place it in the hands of people of whose politics you know nothing, for the best of all possible reasons—because they 789 do not know what their politics are themselves. But they will not be always without politics; and what will they be? What must be the politics of people who are struggling hard to keep themselves off the parish—whose every day is taken up with hard, unskilled labour, and who are always on the verge of pauperism? With every disposition to speak favourably of them, their politics must take one form—socialism. What other aspect can politics bear in their eyes? What can be their view of a state of society in which all the good things ore given to others, and all the evil things are given to them? They know nothing of the laws that regulate the distribution of wealth. They attribute to society the inequalities of society. Unless they are absolute angels, they will suppose that they are being treated with great harshness and great cruelty. What man will speak acceptably to them except the man who promises somehow or other to re-distribute the good things of this world more equally, so that the poor will get more, and the rich and powerful will get less? Is it possible to suppose that any other language will be acceptable to them? It would be idle to deceive ourselves. Once give them power, and the use they will make of it will be to try to remedy evils which no doubt grind them very sorely, and which, I suppose, we should all like to remedy if we could, but which most of us believe to be beyond the reach of legislation. Do you suppose that the working classes will not take any steps in this direction? We are going to make a revolution, and on the Continent when a revolution is made (a thing of which we have no experience from 1688 till to-day) the first step is always to take the duties off spirituous liquors. That is the first flight which young freedom has always taken. "Why," it will be said, "why should your beer, your sugar, your tea, and spirits be taxed when there are so many rich people who can pay these taxes perfectly well." And will not all this come with the force of absolute conviction to the minds of these people? "Why," it will be said, "should the comforts and luxuries of the poor man be taxed? Let the duties be taken off these things and put upon the rich. Where is the difficulty of imposing a graduated income tax? Is it not monstrous that while you are paving £20,000,000 a year upon sugar, tea, spirits, tobacco, and so forth, here is a great nobleman with a house full of the most valuable pictures, plate, jewels, statuary 790 —all sorts of what the French call 'dead values'—upon which he pays no tax at all? Put a tax upon these things and relieve yourselves from the heavy taxes: which you bear." Do not you see that the first step after the enfranchisement of the unskilled labour class must necessarily be to turn indirect taxation into direct taxation, so assessed as to fall mainly upon the upper classes? Are you so "soft" as to suppose that, when you have stripped yourselves of political power and transferred it to these people—and they have twenty times the motive to use it that you have, for their necessity is sorer and the stake to them greater—they will consider political questions fairly, and will not consider first of all how they can benefit themselves? Of course they will. I have said you are now making a revolution in our institutions, and by revolution I mean this—All political institutions ought to be a more or less faithful reflex of the social state of a country. If political institutions reflect the social state of a country, they work steadily and smoothly, and there is no occasion or pretext for any great change. If they do not, there is a struggle on the part of the social to adapt itself to the political influence, or of the political to adapt itself to the social influence. Now, what are you doing here? You are taking power from the classes at the top and are giving it to those at the bottom of the social scale. Political power will now be possessed by those who have little social influence—the least political power will be possessed by those who have the greatest social influence. Do you believe that arrangement will work smoothly? How will the one adapt itself to the other? Do not you believe that the political system will rule the social system and by degrees bring it down to its own level? In this way you are laying the foundation for endless conflicts between the two influences—the results of which cannot be doubtful, for all history shows that the victory will remain with those who have political power. History affords no instance where political power has been given to the lower classes and taken back from them without civil war or violent convulsion. What you do now is absolutely irreversible; and your repentance—bitter as I know it will be—will come too late. With what eyes will the class you are going to enfranchise look when they are told that £26,000,000 of taxation is raised 791 every year to pay the interest on the National Debt! Will they not say in the words of the petition which Mr. Duncombe presented twenty years ago, "We were not represented in the Parliaments which authorized those wars; we had no interest in the objects for which these wars were waged; we had nothing to gain by them; they were to put down French democracy; or American Independence. What right have you to charge us with the cost of them?" This is the sort of question that will be agitated among them. You must expect a movement in favour of an inconvertible currency. In Queensland, one of our colonics, where a popular suffrage exists, the people were nearly murdering the House of Assembly the other day because they would not issue greenbacks without provision for redemption. Work being slack, the people thought that the Government ought to employ them, and that this was the way to raise capital to do it. These things seems to us unreasonable; but let us place ourselves in the position of these men, who are ignorant of the very accidence of politics, and when agitators set these things before them, is not this the way in which such matters must necessarily strike them? Let us not deceive ourselves—let us look the matter in the face—I say it must and will be so. Everywhere, again, where the lower classes get the upper hand, the spirit of protection arises. Look at America. There the working classes acquiesce in allowing the masters to have protective duties to any amount, and consumers are charged an enormous price for goods, in order that the masters may be able to offer higher wages. Not satisfied with this, the working men of America have come to the conclusion that their political influence can be turned to account in other ways, and you see by this morning's papers that in the State of Pennsylvania—and I believe the same attempt is being made in several other States—they have arbitrarily fixed the day's labour at eight hours. These are the directions in which these men's minds will be turned — these are things they feel and comprehend—and you have no right to be astonished that they act as they are sure to think.
No doubt hon. Gentlemen think there is a remedy for these evils. "Yes," they say, "it is very true, that if those people were all left to themselves that is what they would do; but, happily, there is such a thing as 792 corruption." Well, Sir, I beg the Committee not to understand me as doubting for a single instant that you are going to lay the foundation for an amount of corruption such as this country has never seen before. I have no doubt about it. It cannot be otherwise. It is all very well to bring in a measure to put bribery down; but I cannot imagine a grosser hypocrisy than to introduce a Bill for the adoption of means to put an end to bribery and corruption side by side with a measure like that before the House. For how does corruption originate? Sometimes in a small borough a great millionaire comes down and debauches the whole constituency at once. But that is not the usual way. The municipal election corrupts the borough. It is in the small peddling corruption that prevails in the municipal elections that the disease is first engendered. It is a wonder that any person can descend to the petty ways and dirty tricks that prevail in them for the sake of such a small prize; but, unhappily, the instances are only too numerous. But why does corruption get head there? Because these municipal electors (that is, the portion of them who are not now Parliamentary electors) are needy and poor; and the small bribes that are going are great bribes to them. Now, the constituency that we are to have under this Bill is not exactly the municipal constituency, but in quality it is very near it—the two are much alike. And when you have so much corruption where there are only small paltry offices to be got, what do you expect to happen in a constituency which holds the patronage of the great prize — for such it is thought at present, and so it may continue to be thought for some time longer — of a seat in this House? Is it not ridiculous to shut our eyes to this great danger? Besides, by this Bill you give every man who pays his rates a vote, and thus you are raising up an entirely new class of corrupters. A person may hold in these places a considerable property in houses of a poor kind. We know the sort of people these small property owners frequently are—not a very agreeable class to deal with. They must be constantly distraining, constantly turning out poor and sick people, or their property becomes a loss. Such habits are not favourable to great nicety of feeling. Well, these people have hitherto been very much like everybody else — they have had but a single vote. But look on what 793 a pinnacle you are setting them now. A candidate comes down to canvass; the owner of this property goes to him and says, "I have thirty or forty votes which I can influence." The candidate replies that he is very happy to find so influential a person agreeing with him in political views, and he will be very much obliged for his influence. But the other says, "Stop; my own vote you can have; but what are you going to do for me for the other votes?" Depend upon it that either in meal or in malt these persons will have their consideration for whatever exertion they make in behalf of their candidates. But then it may be said, "We are going to make our constituencies so large that it will be impossible to bribe," I quite admit that you are going to make them very large — so large that they will be quite unmanageable—so large that it will be quite impossible to canvass or address them. Even the hon. Member for Birmingham would not be able to address the 36,000 decomposed householders whom he is now to get back from the Small Tenements Act. You cannot poll them; our machinery would break down. In America the ballot is retained—not that the people care for secrecy, but the ballot is the only way they can poll a very large constituency. Oh! you will, under this Bill, have the ballot, of course. I did not even trouble myself by caring to mention that as an argument to the House, the thing is too clear. But what you are not going to have is a cessation of bribery. However large the constituency, if the parties are nearly balanced a small number, whether fifty or 500, will hold the power in their hands, and will take care to be ready to turn the election at half past three o'clock on being properly paid for it. Besides this, there are many, as our municipal elections show, who make it a conscience not to vote for nothing. Bribery is every day making progress in America — though if large constituencies could prevent it it would be prevented there—and you must make up your minds if you pass this Bill that we are about to plunge into a sea of corruption—into a depth of expense that cannot be measured—a degradation both to Members and electors such as even our past experiences — and they are not small—can hardly enable us to realize. But hon. Gentlemen, perhaps, think that when they have bought the constituency they can do as they like;—they think that if they only pay enough, and gorge the people with 794 money, they will not be obliged to go into such questions as a graduated income tax, a property tax, an inconvertible currency, or to tampering with the National Debt. Never was there a greater mistake. Corruption is one of the means of getting a seat, but it is not the only means; besides paying the money you must swallow the whole shibboleth of faction;—you must not only sign the cheque, you must take the pledge, you must drink to its bitter and noxious dregs the cup of corruption and degradation. Corruption gets a man in, but it does not save him from the contamination and degradation of having to consult and conform himself to the opinions of the lowest portion of those whom he seeks to represent. The two things go on pari passu. He will have to bribe, but he will have to pledge too, let him bribe never so well. That is the way this House will be degraded. What has brought about this change we are now considering? What but election pledges thrown in—as hon. Gentlemen well know—in aid of a little money that has been spent, and to prevent the necessity of spending a great deal more. Gentlemen have pledged themselves into what they did not believe—into what they did not expect would ever become a reality. Just as all the world awoke one morning and found itself Arian, so the House awoke and found itself a Reformer, and pledged so deeply that it could not, or thought it could not, draw back. Men are by degrees dragged down; no matter how determined at first to avoid corruption, they will end in it; will swallow nauseous pledges; will bribe; will get in anyhow—even at the sacrifice of their principles and consistency. The men who will be sent here are not the educated and high-principled Gentlemen such as I now address—but men who will represent the passions and feelings of the lower part of these new constituencies. What, then, becomes of the high standard of the House of Commons—of the enviable and honourable position of a Member of this House, when its Members assemble here, not as men who have to consult for the interests of the whole country, not even as delegates of those whole constituencies, but to speak the language and obey the impulse of the poorest and the least informed among them. How can any one doubt that this is the beginning of a downward course, which will place the House of Commons in the position into which so many legislative assemblies before 795 them have descended? This country is great in respect of its capital, but still greater for its credit. Imagine anything in the proceedings of this House at all analogous to what we are familiar with as every-day occurrences in America. Imagine the House of Commons passing a Resolution on some American subject similar to those which Congress has passed, of sympathy with the Fenians. What would be the effect in Europe? Imagine such things as wild words spoken even by a minority of the House about the Debt, about shifting the incidence of taxation, removing it from labour and placing it upon capital. What would be the effect on our credit in our mercantile and industrial position? The distress that would be produced no one can conceive. The check it would give to the credit of the country is beyond imagination. And what remedy have we? We have nowhere to go to—no backwoods in which to found a new State out of the débris of the old one. We must endure our misfortune as, and where we are now, because the people who had occasioned this state of things by their own violence and folly would only see in that distress reason for more violence and folly. The very mischief they had produced they would attribute not to the true cause, their own folly and impatience, but rather to the obstinacy of society who refuses to aid them in what they would consider most reasonable demands. You are now tampering with a fabric of society infinitely delicate in its organization. It is like raising a tower up to an enormous height and expecting it will resist the tempest just like a building of a single story. See the evil and mischief of comparing the power of resistance possessed by our institutions with that of the institutions of America. As I have said on another occasion, the chief property of America is the gift of nature. It is fertile land, noble rivers, boundless extent of territory. But property in England is the work of art and of time. It has been piled up century after century by the industry of successive generations of Englishmen. The thing is artificial, it depends upon moral causes, upon a feeling of confidence and credit, and it may be overthrown in a far shorter period of time than anybody who has not given his attention to the subject would believe. We are paying now for one of our national peculiarities. We are not an imaginative people. When a matter of this kind is brought before us we add 796 figure to figure—there we stop—we do not picture to ourselves how the institutions of this country and the present state of things are to fare in the tempest we are about to raise. With the state of things which I am describing what possibly can become of the House of Peers? How is it to act in harmony with the other House? Are you prepared for its abolition? Perhaps it is wiser that it should not continue—because when you have got a political state of things in direct antagonism with the social state of things, the best thing you can do is to bring them as far as possible into harmony with each other. And it will probably be done. I know, whatever other changes we may expect, that House can no longer hold its present relations to this House. Remember, I entreat you, the position you occupy. If this House were kept in such good order that it could not ask a question of the Government without the consent of several Committees—if it were not allowed to originate any measures or to make speeches on the Address; if it were not allowed to displace Ministers, while there was at the head of the Executive one who assumed all responsibility, and left the House and his Ministers none; if it were limited merely to criticizing Estimates which it did not understand and to passing measures which it could not resist; and if, besides, a system of centralization pervading the country, whose agents were to be found in every village and parish conducting everything, this Executive were backed by 400,000 armed men, I could imagine that you could change the whole basis of the franchise of the country without doing great or irreparable mischief. Or if side by side with the House of Commons there was a chamber also elective of co-ordinate or perhaps greater authority; if at the head of the Executive was a person elected for a short term of years by the people, and whom it had no power to remove; if it had no power of dismissing the Executive, but its privileges were limited to the making of laws and some few little matters of finance, and if there were, besides, in every county other representative bodies with powers very similar to its own; if it only exercised delegated powers such as it was not thought fit to intrust to the local assemblies—then I could understand that you might alter your franchise without fatal results. The mistake of those who have tried to copy our Constitution is that they look upon Parliament merely as a 797 legislative assembly, and they are astonished that this institution, when they have got it, does not yield any of the results of the Constitution of England, I have said before that the Parliament of England is more than a legislative assembly; Parliament in the last resort is the Executive Government of this country. Not only does it create the Government for the time, but controls and displaces it at will. Whatever we think the qualification of the new House of Commons may be to make laws, what do you think of it with respect to the discharge of the difficult and delicate function of Executive Government? Why should it be able to do that which the Legislators of America have not intrusted to the Legislature? Why should it do what is not intrusted to the Legislature of France? Why are you expected—you who exercise that duty under circumstances so very different, when made like to them, to do what they cannot do?
There is a feeling among hon. Gentlemen opposite that something will be gained for party by their measure. They think that the middle classes have been uniformly hostile to them, and that something may be gained if they get to a lower class—that the one will counteract the other. I have faith in no such speculation. We have inaugurated a new era in English politics this Session, and depend upon it the new fashion will henceforth be the rule and not the exception. This Session we have not had what we before possessed—a party of attack and a party of resistance. We have instead two parties of competition, who, like Cleon and the Sausage-seller of Aristophanes, are both bidding for the support of Demos. Do not suppose this is the mere product of the Reform Bill, and that when you get a new Parliament this unwelcome symptom will disappear. This will be a permanent condition of things. It is the condition of things in America. There the old condition of things has vanished. You have now no Conservative party there—the very tradition of such a thing is forgotten. You have two parties candidates for popular favour, seeking to outbid each other. Each of them is willing to do anything in the world to secure popular favour—the only difficulty is to find out what the people want; and the difference between them is that one calculates well and the other makes mistakes and does not succeed in doing what the people desire. As to not immediately setting 798 themselves to do what the people desire, because what they desire is wrong or foolish, that never enters their heads. As to the working man, for instance—no sooner does he show a disposition to go very near socialism, than a party and a press immediately start up to advocate and develop his views. This is what we are coming to. Hon. Gentlemen may imagine that there will still be a party of Conservatives or Tories, and another of Whigs or Liberals—or, at all events, that their names will be preserved. But what is in a name? Will they be the parties they are now? Will they maintain the same things? On the contrary, will, they not be entirely and totally altered? They will not be advocates of principles, but suppliants for popular favour. They will not even retain their names — the highway of American history is strewed with the skeletons of dead parties. There were the Federalists. It is a matter of antiquarian research now to know what a Federalist is. The Whigs! who knows what they are now? When I was in America ten years ago the Whig party was a great party, but it is now as extinct as the ichthyosaurus. Where are the Free-soilers? Who knows anything of the Know-nothings? These parties were raised up to gratify a momentary impulse of the popular mind, and when they had served the purpose that called them into being they ceased to be. You may see traces of their abject subjection to popular will in their very names. Party names are seldom particularly sensible; in the case of our own Whigs and Tories, one means a rebel and the other a robber, neither of which is as yet a true description. What is the difference in America between Democrats and Republicans? The fact is, the words have no specific meaning. It is an effort to give a name that may be popular with the people, and, at the same time, have as vague a meaning as possible. A Democrat mainly and generally is a Republican; a Republican generally a Democrat. Each has become absolutely meaningless as a distinction from the other, and neither expresses any definite idea.
Well, Sir, I think I have shown the Committee that we are taking a course of the very last and utmost importance. I have raised my feeble voice to arrest our downward course. Last year we succeeded in stopping what I believed to be the beginning of a change, the ultimate result of which I thought would be to laud us exactly 799 where we are now. These sentiments were shared by almost every Gentleman opposite me. Where are they now? Where is that feeling of patriotism, of honour, which induces men when they have taken up a solemn and a great charge to cling to it, even if the worst comes to the worst more than to life itself? How are we to face our countrymen—how are we to face history, when it shall be recorded of us that the same Parliament in two consecutive years, without any violent change of public opinion, or reason for conversion, rejected a Bill with a £7 franchise, and then passed a Bill for household suffrage? I am not at all astonished that the fertile genius of the right hon. Gentleman who directs the party opposite should have devised this scheme. There is nothing new in it. These are the old tactics of an oligarchy allying itself with the lower section of the democracy. There is nothing to astonish us in that. It was so in the French Revolution, and it has been so over and over again in the annals of Greece. What I am surprised at even with fresh proofs of it accumulating daily before my eyes is, that you, the gentlemen of England—you with your ancestors behind you and your posterity before you—with your great estates, with your titles, with your honours, with your heavy stake in the well-being of this land, with an amount of material prosperity, happiness, dignity, and honour which you have enjoyed for the last 200 years, such as never before fell to the lot of any class in the world—that you wildly fling all these away without, as far as I can see, the shadow of an equivalent. Do you look for an equivalent in any personal good? Your own personal interests are diametrically opposed to the course you are pursuing. Is it for the good of the country? Have you so totally unlearnt the simplest lessons of experience as to believe that it is by diving into the depths of ignorance and poverty you can find wisdom to manage the delicate and weighty affairs of this great Empire? Is it for honour? You are branding yourselves with a stigma from which your party will never escape while England has a name, and that name a history. I suppose we shall be told that we have only arrived at our manifest destiny, and that our present position is a justification of the old French proverb, "Man proposes and God disposes." I suppose we shall be told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his party that they have pursued 800 the unexampled course of destroying the very citadel they were set to watch over not, of their own will, but from the perverseness of destiny—Non tibi Tyndaridis facies invisa Lacænæ,Culpatúsve Paris; verùm inclementia DivûmHas evertit opes, sternitque à culmine Trojam.That is the argument; but I am not a convert. I was taunted the other night by the hon. Member for the Elgin Burghs (Mr. Grant Duff) that the Fates and Destinies, at which I had scoffed, had been too strong for me. I have no fear of Fates or Destinies. What have been too strong for me are the shabbinesses, the narrownesses, the littlenesses, and the cowardices of people who prefer the smallest and most temporary private interest to the country and the Constitution. I took upon myself two years ago—only two years — to make a prophecy. I said that if we embarked on the course of democracy we should either ruin our party or our country. Sir, I was wrong, as prophets very often are. It is not a question of alternatives; we are going to ruin both.
The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe), at the beginning of his speech, told us that many hon. Members would do anything sooner than be sent back to their constituencies—that they would not be sent back because the last election was the most expensive and corrupt election that has ever been known; and therefore all that we have been told about possible corruption by an extension of the franchise is, after all, only a question of degree, if it be anything, and applies to all representative government. It is not my intention to go into questions of this kind. I want to state the reasons which have brought me to the conclusion that the proposition of the Government is not only a sound proposal, but I say to my Friends on this side of the House that it is the most Conservative that can be made. ["Oh!"] Allow me to state why. We cannot pretend that it is a matter of option with us whether we will undertake this question or not. We must look a little at the position in which this House and the country is placed. What has been done during the last fourteen years in reference to this question? Successive Governments, of almost every shade of opinion, have been putting into the Queen's mouth distinct declarations to the people that there ought to be an extension of the franchise. One Government, at least, of which the right hon. Gentleman 801 (Mr. Lowe) was a Member, did so, and I heard no dissent from him at the time, and no foreshadowing of all these dreadful consequences that he now seems to fear. Or if he foresaw all these consequences, how could he sit still holding office under that Government when the foundation was being laid for all this mischief? He will not pretend to say—nor will I—that those various Administrations brought those proposals forward dishonestly. I, for my part, cannot believe it. No doubt, circumstances may have hindered them from carrying them to a successful issue; but if they were honestly brought forward, what would be the feeling of the people if we were now to follow the advice of the right hon. Gentleman and do nothing? When such a state of things has been brought about—I will not say by whom—when we are placed in such a position of affairs, is it a more Conservative policy to endeavour to settle the question, or, if I may use the expression, to let the pot go on boiling till it overflows and brings us to a much worse state of things? But is that all? How did the matter stand last year? Why, in 1865 the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Baines) brought forward a Bill for dealing with the borough franchise, and how was that met by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire? We were told by the right hon. Gentleman that every man was entitled to the franchise who was not under some legal disability. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head—if I have misrepresented him I am sorry—but that was the general impression which his remarks produced. And what followed then? Meetings were held in different places all over the country in which no mere reduction of the franchise was talked about, but in which manhood suffrage was insisted upon. That was the state of things we had to meet last Session—and what happened then? Why, a Bill was brought in, not merely reducing the figure, but doing away with all payment of rates. How was that Bill received? Meetings were held throughout the country, but did they assent to it? Far from it. They passed resolutions complimentary to the Government; but what was the language of those meetings—attended, I was going to say, by the right hon. Gentleman's lieutenants, the hon. Member for Birmingham and the hon. Member for Bradford. What was the result of those meetings? The opinion universally expressed at those meetings 802 was that they would accept it—how? — as an instalment. Well, having been brought to such a state of things, I believe no man in the House, except the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Lowe), would say that we could safely stand still. What, then, was to be done? Were you to take something which was defensive, and which everybody could understand—which everybody could plainly say aye or no to—or were you to take a mere line with regard to which no human being could decide whether a man was fit for the suffrage at £7 or £6, and whether he was unfit at £5? The varying values of property in different places will not allow you to lay down such a line. I believe the only mode, and therefore the Conservative mode, of stopping that which these public meetings have asked for is to take in all those who pay their share of the burdens of the State and let them have the privileges of citizenship. I will not go further into what have been the causes of the position in which we are placed; but I believe that if you had attempted to stand still the question would have gone on from agitation to agitation until it had introduced into the country a state of things which all of us would be sorry to see. I believe the ground that has been taken is the true Conservative ground; and for this reason—that it is the old ground of the Constitution. As for saying. "You ought to have done this," or "You ought to have done that"—why, during the whole of these fourteen years, when these various measures have been brought forward, what side of the House or what individuals in the House have ever attempted to move Amendments, or have even spoken in opposition to the Addresses which have been adopted in answer to those Royal Speeches? What does that amount to but an admission by Parliament that something ought to be done? and if something is necessary, I believe you can only meet those abstract questions which have been been put forward — I will not say by whom—as to the right of every man to the franchise, irrespective of property, by the plan now proposed by Her Majesty's Government. Of course, changes of this sort must be attended with some feeling of anxiety—I should be the last man in the world to shut my eyes to that; but are we to stand still till the pot, as I have said, boils over? I think the consequences of that would be very serious, and that if we 803 are wise in time we shall have a much better chance of persons acting together for a common end, the benefit of the country, than we should be if we followed such advice as that of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe), and kept steadily opposing these things until we actually almost forced people in the humbler classes to set themselves in antagonism to all other classes. I believe we have a much better chance of escaping that great evil by acting as we are now doing. When the Bill of the late Government was brought forward last year I opposed it on every ground, because after the declarations that had been made I could see in it no resting-place for my foot. Whether what we are now going to put our loot upon is as firm as a rock, I do not know; but it is, at all events, something, and it is, as I believe, the only ground on which we can stand in endeavouring to adhere to the principles of our old Constitution.
§ SIR RAINALD KNIGHTLEY
thought the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) had paid the Chancellor of the Exchequer a very undeserved compliment in regard to his dexterity and the way in which he had managed the borough franchise. He thought the policy of the right hon. Gentleman had been such as not to deserve any such commendation. He thought the policy of the right hon. Gentleman had been that of catching whatever he could get. Let the House look at the course which he had taken with regard to the compound-householder. As the Bill was originally drawn the compound-householder was entirely excluded from the franchise unless he paid a double rate; and it was only after two or three nights' debate—after the speech of the right hon. Member for South Lancashire—that some light burst in upon the House; and they were then informed that there had been an entire mistake — that it was owing to a gross blunder of some unfortunate man, the draughtsman who had drawn the the Bill; that such were never the intentions of the Government, and that the tenant would be able to repay himself by deducting a portion of his rent. That was the second phase of the compound-householder. But that did not meet the wishes of hon. Gentlemen opposite. The next proposal was that the landlord and not the tenant should pay the "fine"—that we should rob Peter for the sake of enabling Paul to obtain a vote. But the last change of all, which ended this eventful 804 history, was on Friday last. On that morning, hon. Members on the Conservative side of the House received the usual intimation from the Secretary to the Treasury earnestly requesting their attendance, as an Amendment of great importance was about to be proposed—an Amendment of vital importance. He would venture to say that every Gentleman who read that circular imagined that he was pressed to come down to the House for the purpose of opposing the Amendment of the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Hodgkinson.) ["No, no!"] He believed that was the universal feeling on his own side of the House. During the discussion he retired for a short time; and on his return was perfectly astonished to hear that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had embraced the proposition of the hon. Member for Newark with joy and gratitude, stating that it was in perfect accordance with the conclusions to which the Government had originally arrived, and that it was also in perfect harmony with what he still had the assurance to call the principle of the Bill. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman made the extraordinary proposal to the House that it should at once proceed from the 3rd clause to the 34th, for the express purpose of legislating for the phantom—the ghost of the compound-householder. Banquo's ghost had risen, to shake his gory locks at them. He was now glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman no longer proposed to proceed with the 34th clause, and he hoped that as the compound-householder was to be got rid of he would be got rid of at once and for ever. They had now occupied, and he might say wasted, the time of the House for a long period. Every speech that had been made from March to the end of May had been so much wind entirely thrown away on the House.
§ MR. HUBBARD
wished to interpose for a few minutes before the 3rd clause was definitively accepted. The 3rd clause was by far the most important portion of the whole Bill—it was in reality the Reform Bill. The measure of last year proposed to introduce some 200,000 or 300,000 new voters into the constituencies, whereas the present Bill would introduce some 700,000 new voters; for, under household suffrage, the number of new voters would be more than doubled. The House therefore ought not to pass the 3rd clause before they had before them all the Resolutions and Amendments bearing 805 on it, and especially not before they had carefully considered what would be the effect of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Poulett Scrope). The hon. Member for Stroud proposed to exempt from liability to rates the owners or occupiers of dwelling-houses within Parliamentary boroughs of less rateable value than £4—such tenements being in the first instance on the register. To this proposed proviso he (Mr. Hubbard) bad given notice of an Amendment to leave out "the rateable value of which shall be less than £4" in order to substitute "gross annual value of £5 5s. 0d." This was not a hostile Amendment to the proviso of the hon. Member for Stroud, but only the same Motion in another form. The hon. Member excused from liability to the poor rate all tenants occupying houses rated at less than £4. He (Mr. Hubbard), on the other hand, interposed, and simply excused the same tenement in its aspect of annual rent, putting that rent at £5 5s. That would be equivalent to 2s. a week, and that was the lowest rent at which a decent tenement could be obtained by the unskilled working man. The effect of the hon. Member for Stroud's Amendment, he believed, would be to minimise to about 200,000 the number of new voters who would be otherwise enfranchised. It was desirable that the House should have the opportunity of considering the Amendment of the hon. Member for Stroud before they gave their assent to the 3rd clause of the Bill. He could not conceive that there could be anything Conservative in descending to the very lowest grade of intellect and intelligence. It had been said that the House had already last year affirmed the principle of a franchise founded upon personal rating. He disputed that proposition entirely: and he could prove the converse of it by showing what were the opinions of the noble Lord the Member for Galway (Lord Dunkellin), who moved the Amendment last year, and of other hon Members. The noble Lord the Member for Galway, in moving his Amendment to substitute the principle of a rating franchise for that of a net rental, said that—If he could persuade the Committee to admit the principle of a rating franchise, it would be the duty of the Committee itself afterwards to fix the figure at which the occupier should be rated. Speaking for himself, he freely owned that he did not think that £7 would be the proper figure to insert in the clause. He was himself prepared to consider a lower figure; and he thought it 806 would be more consistent with the principle of the Bill, and more in accordance with the wishes of those who were anxious to settle the question of Reform, that a lower figure should be adopted."—[3 Hansard, clxxxiv. 539–40.]He (Mr. Hubbard) would ask if the noble Lord believed, in moving that Amendment, that he was paving the way to household suffrage merely backed by personal rating? The personal payment of rates was an indispensable condition of the existing franchise. The right hon. Member for Shore-ham (Mr. Stephen Cave), who seconded the Amendment, said—He thought a £6 rating would be preferable to a £7 rental, not because, as had been said, the franchise would then be 5s. higher, but because the rating principle was the right one, and the municipal and Parliamentary franchise would thus be uniform. But he should not be candid did he not confess that he should prefer a £7 rating because it was higher. He did plead guilty to the opinion that the Government were reducing the borough franchise too low." — [3 Hansard, clxxxiv. 547.]The right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), who had just now spoken so warmly in favour of the course proposed by the Government, said last year that—When the right hon. Gentleman objected to the local authorities fixing the amount of the franchise, he could only have stated that with a view of bewildering, because the simple question is, whether the rateable value column or the gross estimated value column is the better test of the value of a tenement. That is the only matter we have to deal with, and what amount of franchise should be added to that is a matter for after consideration, as is clearly understood on both sides of the House."—[3 Hansard, clxxxiv. 567.]The division of last year expressed no opinion on the question of personal rating, and it left the question as to the extent to which the franchise should go to be settled afterwards. He believed that the effect of this measure, if carried out to its fullest extent, would be to degrade the constituency of the country. He therefore trusted that the House would adopt the proviso of the hon. Member for Stroud, or else his own Amendment to that proviso. If not, he should feel it his duty to vote against the 3rd clause.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) had been severe upon Members on that (the Ministerial) side of the House; because, as he said, they had supported him last Session in opposing the Reform Bill, but had ceased to do so this Session. He (Mr. Newdegate) perfectly acknowledged that he voted last year with the right hon. Gentleman, but not in the sense in which 807 it now appeared the right hon. Gentleman was acting—that of opposing all Reform. He (Mr. Newdegate) had long thought it was necessary that this House should pass a Reform Bill, and he honestly voted for changes, that he thought would be improvements in the measure, introduced by the late Government. It was, in his opinion, extremely unfortunate that the right hon. Gentleman the late Chancellor of the Exchequer refused to accede to the desire of the House that the franchise should be based on rating. The House had decided in favour of that principle over and over again. He (Mr. Newdegate) honestly voted for a franchise based on rating and residence. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) was not quite secure in his own position. The right hon. Gentleman lamented that the present Reform Bill proceeded so far as it did; but the right hon. Gentleman was a party to rejecting a Reform Bill of last Session, which, with certain changes, would have stopped far short of the point at which the House had now arrived. The right hon. Gentleman should not blame the Members on the Government side of the House for supporting principles which they firmly supported last year. It was perfectly true that he (Mr. Newdegate) had not desired to sweep away the £7 rental qualification, which the late Government proposed; and he was not sure that many Members of the House did not deeply lament that that proposal was now impracticable. But the matter had proceeded beyond that point. The truth was, that the Legislature had, during the last five-and-twenty years, been passing change upon change—constitutional change upon constitutional change—until they had gone nigh to reversing the principles of the Constitution as established in 1688; and hon. Gentlemen must not complain or be surprised if those attached to those great principles were determined to revert to the principles of representation, which existed anterior to that period, for the sake of giving the people of this country a more direct voice in their own Government, because they saw the principles abandoned which they believed essential alike to the safety and good government of the State, and to the freedom of the people. He knew that there were Members of that House who would return, if possible, to the measure of last year; and in many respects it would be most desirable that they should do so; for he thought that 808 measure had been much undervalued. But the House had now adopted formally and decidedly the principle enunciated by the Attorney General of the late Government—namely, that of household suffrage for the boroughs, restricted only by rating and residence. A great step had been taken. The present Bill was a Reform Bill, indeed, as far as the borough franchise was concerned; and he thought it was the duty of the House so to adapt the rest of the measure as to make it conform to that very extended basis.
§ MR. BAILLIE COCHRANE
said, he did not dispute, but, on the contrary, concurred in many of the observations which had fallen from his right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Lowe.) No one, he was sure, in that House who considered the question of Reform at all could approach it without the greatest anxiety; and every one must feel that in adopting this Reform Bill, or any other which could be passed, they were, to a certain extent, taking a leap in the dark, and trying what was in the nature of a great experiment. So far, he agreed with his right hon. Friend. But when his right hon. Friend turned round and attacked the party, with which he (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) had the honour of acting, for bringing forward a measure of Reform, they had a right to refer to the past history of that question, and to look back a number of years to the conduct of those who now sat on the Opposition Benches when charged with the administration of public affairs, and who, he maintained, had brought about the necessity in which all parties were at present placed. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire and his Friends had long been associated with that question, not only in that House but out of it; and that right hon. Gentleman adverted, not longer ago than last Friday night, to those manifestations of public opinion which had taken place out of doors at meetings which he termed legitimate. Those meetings might be "legitimate" in the strict sense of the word; yet he could not but think it unwise on the part of the right hon. Gentleman ever to have connected himself with them as he had done. However, it was owing to the popular excitement out of doors, and to the fact that successive Governments had introduced Reform Bills, that the present Chancellor of the Exchequer and his Colleagues had been compelled to take the step they had now taken. For himself, from the first he had regretted 809 that the Government had thought it necessary to bring in the Reform Bill this Session. His own opinion, which he had never concealed, was that they might fairly have taken more time to consider the matter, and that there was not such a demand out of doors for a Reform Bill as necessitated the introduction of the present measure. That, however, was but his individual opinion, and he felt that he must defer to the view of the leaders of his party in that House. He did not believe that the public meetings which had been so often referred to at all represented the present feeling of the people in favour of a Reform. He did not believe that one-half or one-third of those who had taken part in them cared anything for Reform. But they knew well that public opinion was a manufacture—that they might go on month after month organizing these meetings and exciting the people until in the end they persuaded men who were perfectly happy and contented under the present system, that they could not be happy under it, and ought to be discontented. That might be carried on so long as ultimately to convert that which was originally a factitious into a real interest on the part of the people on the subject of Reform. As to the discussion which had arisen from the Chancellor of the Exchequer's acceptance on Friday of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Hodgkinson), it should be remembered that a few night ago the Scotch Reform Bill was introduced. On that occasion he had himself ventured to congratulate the House on a measure having been brought forward which based the franchise on the personal payment of rates, and which was acceptable to hon. Gentlemen on both sides, because there were no compound-householders in Scotland. It was then clear that, sooner or later, the same rule which was inevitable in Scotland would have to be applied to England; and, indeed, that opinion was expressed in the course of the discussion on the Scotch Bill. He had himself stated that he was not afraid of lowering the franchise in Scotland in the manner proposed, because in Scotland education was both higher and lower than in this country—that was to say, the education there was higher in quality, and also lower in the classes of the people to whom it was given. Therefore, although he certainly approached that question with some feeling of anxiety, yet he hoped that if, coincidently with the introduction 810 of changes like these into England, effectual measures were taken to develop the intelligence and improve the education of the people, it would not be attended with the portentous results which his right hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Lowe) had shadowed forth that evening. Everybody must admit, and no one more freely than he did, that, whatever alarm might have existed about the Hyde Park meeting, the attitude and conduct of the people had lately been admirable. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Lowe) said there were no such things as destiny and fate; but surely there were social tendencies and movements of events so strong as almost to amount to destiny. M. Guizot once declared, "Destiny stands before you, and is greater than you are." The House could not ignore the tendencies or disregard the necessities of the times, and he only trusted that the measure before them would have very different results from those suggested by the right hon. Gentleman, and that it might help to maintain and strengthen the institutions of the country. Great injustice had been done to the leading Members of the Government in connection with this subject. The antecedents of Lord Derby proved that he had strong sympathies with the people; and, as regarded the Chancellor of the Exchequer, from the year 1848 downwards, whatever the opinions of others might have been, that right hon. Gentleman had consistently maintained the principle that the question of Reform should be dealt with, and should be dealt with, moreover, by the Conservative party. He had now been twenty years a Member of the House of Commons. During all that time he had consistently acted with the Conservative party; but with regard to the attacks that had been made upon hon. Members who, like himself, had opposed the Bill of last year and now supported that of the Government, he would say it was impossible for every individual Member of a party to have his own way or to do any good if he did not to a great extent yield to the opinions of those who had better opportunities of knowledge and who formed the head of the party. And therefore under all the circumstances and looking to the position which the Government occupied, to the course pursued last year and for many previous years by Gentlemen opposite, and to the attempts which had been made to rouse agitation through the length and breadth of the land, he 811 felt he could not do otherwise than vote with his party in their endeavour to effect a settlement of this difficult question.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
, as the representative of a not inconsiderable borough, could not allow the clause to pass without expressing his belief that its only consequences could be the simple degradation of the suffrage. Its effect on the borough constituencies all over the country would be to assimilate them in the character of their representation to the metropolitan constituencies, which experience showed to be but uncertain mobs of men, whose fickleness was proverbial in the levity with which they not unfrequently turned out well-known and tried servants to replace them by other representatives holding identical opinions. With a widely enlarged suffrage the candidate would find himself less and less able to come face to face with his constituency, and would be compelled in consequence not only to rely more and more on the aid of the election agent, and, as in America, on that of committees and canvassers, whose mouthpiece and delegate he would have to make himself if he intended to succeed, but also to pledge himself deeper and deeper in dangerous and fallacious pledges to pander to the passions of the constituencies. While moderate and wide-minded men would find the door of public life shut upon them, the House would be filled with the apostles of every crotchet and every kind of fanaticism that disturbed the political and social atmosphere; men would be sent in as the advocates of particular ideas pledged to enforce them irrespective of the general welfare of the country, and thus good Government would be rendered impossible. That very day they had read in the papers how the Governor of the important State of Missouri had written a letter truckling to the labour riots of Chicago, in view of his own re-election. He begged the House to apply the moral of that anecdote. The factitious nature of the present crisis was not its least misfortune. Two years since very few men wanted a change, but greed for office on the part of the leaders, and cowardice in the Members, bred this cry for Reform, and it was the apprehension of a dissolution with which they had been dexterously crammed that prevented them now from declaring that a large constituency was not necessarily a good one, or that Reform consisted as much in purifying as in extending the electoral body. But those who had thus acted through fear 812 of a present dissolution, and still more of a dissolution two years hence, were guilty of immoral subserviency. ["No, no!"] Well, then, of moral subserviency to the cause of revolution. The hon. Member for Westminster had described the Toryism of the Chancellor of the Exchequer as democracy guided by the landed interest. Against this interpretation of Toryism—for Toryism was really the cause of property and intellect by whomsoever held against numbers, whether in the boroughs or the counties—he strongly protested; for wealth was as much represented by commerce as by land, and intellect did not inseparably go with acres. In the present fight he did not think the landed interest had fairly supported their brethren in the boroughs. Now, when the county franchise was coming under consideration the Members for counties would be looking to the Conservative representatives from the boroughs for assistance. He hoped they would not be disappointed, for although they might not personally have established much claim, yet for the sake of the country he should be sorry to see, without an effort at assistance, the landed interest passing under the same harrows and axes with which the representatives of the boroughs had been persecuted. He was alive to the fact of certain Conservative supporters of the landed interest imagining that it would be a good thing to bring down the county franchise under the belief that the agricultural labourer would always show himself inert and subservient. He considered this a most dangerous delusion. Wealth could not afford to rely upon the support of ignorance; the more ignorant, he would not say degraded, the serf might be on the days of his serfdom, the more abject his position, the more conceited and unmanageable he was when master of a little knowledge and a little power, and the more tiger-like he became when once his passions were roused. From the proposed degradation of the suffrage he foresaw most disastrous results. We might make sure from the example of Australia that free trade would soon be doomed, and the cry arise for protection of labour, against the employers at home no less than the foreign rival, would come next. Primogeniture, and that keystone of personal liberty, full freedom of bequest, would be dashed down by the fanatic admirers of the Code Napoleon. Then farewell to the old halls rising over the tall trees, and the spacious deer parks, 813 for the peasantry in their ignorance and cupidity would soon be set fancying that these broad acres would best serve their purpose if cut up into freehold allotments. All this, however, would be done in the name of Conservative Reform. It was painful to sever personal and party ties; but duty to the country, duty to the Constitution, whose obsequies they were celebrating, and respect for the grand old House of Commons which he mourned to see toppling into the dust, compelled him to protest earnestly against the degradation of the borough suffrage embodied in this clause.
said, his experience in the House of Commons warned him against imitating his hon. Friend (Mr. B. Cochrane) in making prophecies, and he felt confident that the good sense of the people of England would neutralize many of the evils which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne anticipated would follow from the adoption of the present measure. At the same time, the House ought to look in the face the consequences naturally and logically following from the clause. This had been altered so frequently that he felt some doubt as to its present character. It reminded him of Sir John Cutler's stocking, which, had been so often darned that it was impossible to discern the original texture. He should have preferred two years' residence to one year's, because he believed that permanency was almost always evidence of respectability. A man might move about from one house to another merely from a love of novelty; but frequent changes of residence did raise the suspicion of disagreeable recollections connected with the proceedings on the part of landlords. As to the lodger franchise, it seemed to him opposed to the general principle upon which the Bill was founded. He had no doubt it would be the means of admitting a great number of respectable persons on the Parliamentary register, but he did doubt very much whether those persona when admitted to the franchise would vote. A most respectable witness told the Committee on the Corrupt Practices Act that although he had had the franchise for fourteen years he had never voted but once; and he added that none of the respectable tradesmen in his borough—a large metropolitan borough—voted at elections, for that the fact was that conscientious men refrained from voting when they found that they 814 were outnumbered by less scrupulous persons.
§ MR. SCHREIBER
said, that upon a previous occasion he had stood alone in expressing an objection—though not alone in entertaining it—to the admission of a lodger franchise into the body of the clause; and he wished even now and once again to call the attention of the Committee to the form in which the clause was about to leave their hands. Never, he believed, was there exhibited a more sublime contempt of all the "unities" before—Turpiter atrumDesinit in piscem mulier formosa superné.It began with rating and a principle, and ended with occupation and a figure. Personal objection to the "lodger" he had none. His objection was, and always must be, to his "lodging here." It was elevating the principle of occupation into co-ordinate importance with that of rating; and while he was hugging himself in the belief that they were securely entrenching themselves behind the "old lines of the Constitution," and within the four corners of the rate book, they destroyed their securities with their own hands.Dividimus muros et mœnia pandimus urbis.He did not wish to revive the painful memories of the last Session, but he was forcibly reminded of that noble animal, the Trojan horse. His earnest hope then was, that in "another place," when this Bill got there, the lodger might be embalmed in a clause of his own, somewhere a long way from the rating franchise, and in close proximity to the pecuniary and other special franchises. The section, as it stood, was pregnant with danger to the main principle of the clause, and its admission, he must always contend, entailed no small responsibility upon its author. As to the dangers of the impending change, so forcibly depicted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) in his able speech to-night, he really had no compassion for hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, if they now begin to realize them. It was the old, old story—Evertere domos totas, optantibus ipsis,Dî faciles.For fifteen years they had been praying for "Reform." Indulgent Heaven, at last, had heard their prayer, and cursed them by granting it.
§ MR. POULETT SCROPE
said, there 815 was much in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne in which he agreed; but he could not help regretting that it was throughout pervaded by a tone of considerable exaggeration. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to be opposed to any reduction of the borough franchise; and he (Mr. Scrope) concurred with him to this extent—that he thought that to grant the franchise to the lowest class of unskilled artizans would neither be for the interests of those persons themselves nor for that of the country at large. He hoped to have on a future occasion—probably on Thursday next — an opportunity of submitting to the Committee a proposal which would, he believed, afford the means of escaping from the difficulty. That proposal was, that the lowest class of householders should be exempted altogether from the payment of rates, and should, at the same time, not be entitled to the franchise. By a Parliamentary Paper issued this Session it appeared that the total number of voters under £10 would be 722,000, while the number above that figure would be 644,000. His proposal was to eliminate from those 722,000 the lowest class of householders. After this had been done, there would still be left considerably over 500,000 who could get their names placed on the register under the present Bill; and though he was perfectly aware that all who were entitled to claim the franchise would not do so, he maintained that even half that number, according to the proportion estimated by the hon. Member for Birmingham, would be as many as ought to be enfranchised at one time by any measure of Reform. It was impossible that the lower classes of householders—men who paid from 1s. to 1s. 6d. a week for their houses—could be capable of understanding the complicated questions which ought not to be at all difficult to those who were to elect Members to serve in Parliament. The proposal was perfectly consistent with the principle of the Bill, and with the Act of Elizabeth, and was not a new one, for he himself had brought it forward in 1850, when the Act which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) had characterized as "the device of Old Nick" was passed. The result of that Act had beyond question been to deteriorate the dwellings inhabited by the poor. A man who formerly occupied three rooms had to content himself with two, and those who occupied 816 two had to be satisfied with one. Under the present system nothing could be worse or more demoralizing than the process a man had to go through in order to procure exemption from the payment of rates on the score of poverty. The man and his family had, of course, in such cases to dress themselves as poorly as possible, to keep their dwellings in as bad a condition as they could, and to make appeals to the parish authorities and to the magistrates—pretences which were ruinous to any feelings of independence, and tended to encourage an indifference to pauperism. His proposal was to lay down the general rule that no occupier of a house of or under the rateable value of £4 should be liable to be rated. In other directions there did not appear to be any objection to such an exemption. Incomes below £100 were not liable to income tax, nor was the house tax levied on houses below a certain value. The class for whom he desired exemption would not, he believed, regret the loss of their vote; but would, on the contrary, regard their non-liability to be rated as an excellent equivalent. It could not, in his opinion, be urged with any truth that the only effect of such a plan would be to put the money into the pockets of the landlords, because all experience had shown, not only that the burden of a tax fell upon the consumers, but also that when a reduction was made in any particular tax the consumer was the person who benefited. The result of the adoption of his proposal would, he believed, be that the poor would be enabled to obtain for the rent they now paid a larger and a better class of houses. No one, he thought, in the face of the fact that stock-in-trade was exempt from taxation, could maintain that those dwellings of the poor ought to contribute on the ground that all property ought to be taxed. The total number of houses in the boroughs under £4 was 304,000, and their rateable value did not amount to more than 3½ per cent of the rateable value of the whole of the houses rated. But, owing to exemptions on the ground of poverty and other causes, the actual amount collected bore a still smaller proportion, and did not, he believed, exceed 2 per cent of the total sum raised—a proportion so small that the sacrifice was nothing when compared to the benefit which would result from its adoption.
§ Clause, as amended, agreed to.817
§ Clause 4 (Occupation Franchise for Voters in Counties).
MR. J. STUART MILL*
I rise, Sir, to propose an extension of the suffrage which can excite no party or class feeling in this House; which can give no umbrage to the keenest asserter of the claims either of properly or of numbers; an extension which has not the smallest tendency to disturb what we have heard so much about lately, the balance of political power, which cannot afflict the most timid alarmist with revolutionary terrors, or offend the most jealous democrat as an infringement of popular rights, or a privilege granted to one class of society at the expense of another. There is nothing to distract our attention from the simple question, whether there is any adequate justification for continuing to exclude an entire half of the community, not only from admission, but from the capability of being ever admitted within the pale of the Constitution, though they may fulfil all the conditions legally and constitutionally sufficient in every case but theirs. Sir, within the limits of our Constitution this is a solitary case. There is no other example of an exclusion which is absolute. If the law denied a vote to all but the possessors of £5,000 a year, the poorest man in the nation might—and now and then would — acquire the suffrage; but neither birth, nor fortune, nor merit, nor exertion, nor intellect, nor even that great disposer of human affairs, accident, can ever enable any woman to have her voice counted in those national affairs which touch her and hers as nearly as any other person in the nation.
Nor, Sir, before going any further, allow me to say that a primâ facie case is already made out. It is not just to make distinctions, in rights and privileges, without a positive reason. I do not mean that the electoral franchise, or any other public function, is an abstract right, and that to withhold it from any one, on sufficient grounds of expediency, is a personal wrong; it is a complete misunderstanding of the principle I maintain, to confound this with it; my argument is entirely one of expediency. But there are different orders of expediency; all expediencies are not exactly on the same level; there is an important branch of expediency called justice; and justice, though it does not necessarily require that we should confer political functions on every one, does require that we should not, capriciously and 818 without cause, withhold from one what we give to another. As was most truly said by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Lancashire, in the most misunderstood and misrepresented speech I ever remember; to lay a ground for refusing the suffrage to any one, it is necessary to allege either personal unfitness or public danger. Now, can either of these be alleged in the present case? Can it be pretended that women who manage an estate or conduct a business — who pay rates and taxes, often to a large amount, and frequently from their own earnings—many of whom are responsible heads of families, and some of whom, in the capacity of schoolmistresses, teach much more than a great number of the male electors have ever learnt — are not capable of a function of which every male householder is capable? Or is it feared that if they were admitted to the suffrage they would revolutionize the State—would deprive us of any of our valued institutions, or that we should have worse laws, or be in any way whatever worse governed through the effect of their suffrages? No one, Sir, believes anything of the kind. And it is not only the general principles of justice that are infringed, or at least set aside, by the exclusion of women, merely as women, from any share in the representation; that exclusion is also repugnant to the particular principles of the British Constitution. It violates one of the oldest of our constitutional maxims—a doctrine dear to Reformers, and theoretically acknowledged by most Conservatives—that taxation and representation should be co-extensive. Do not women pay taxes? Does not every woman who is sui juris contribute exactly as much to the revenue as a man who has the same electoral qualification? If a stake in the country means anything, the owner of freehold or leasehold property has the same stake, whether it is owned by a man or a woman. There is evidence in our constitutional records that women have voted, in counties and in some boroughs, at former, though certainly distant, periods of our history. The House, however, will doubtless expect that I should not rest my case solely on the general principles either of justice or of the Constitution, but should produce what are called practical arguments. Now, there is one practical argument of great weight, which, I frankly confess, is entirely wanting in the case of women; they do not hold great meetings in the Parks, or demonstrations 819 at Islington. How far this I omission may be considered to invalidate their claim, I will not undertake to decide; but other practical arguments, practical in the most restricted meaning of the term, are not wanting; and I am prepared to state them, if I may be permitted first to ask, what are the practical objections? The difficulty which most people feel on this subject is not a practical objection; there is nothing practical about it, it is a mere feeling — a feeling of strangeness; the proposal is so new; at least they think so, though this is a mistake; it is a very old proposal. Well, Sir, strangeness is a thing which wears off; some things were strange enough to many of us three months ago which are not at all so now; and many are strange now, which will not be strange to the same persons a few years hence, or even, perhaps, a few months. And as for novelty, we live in a world of novelties; the despotism of custom is on the wane; we are not now satisfied with knowing what a thing is, we ask whether it ought to be; and in this House at least, I am bound to believe that an appeal lies from custom to a higher tribunal, in which reason is judge. Now, the reasons which custom is in the habit of giving for itself on this subject are usually very brief. That, indeed, is one of my difficulties; it is not easy to refute an interjection; interjections, however, are the only arguments among those we usually hear on this subject, which it seems to me at all difficult to refute. The others mostly present themselves in such aphorisms as these:—Politics are not women's business, and would distract them from their proper duties; women do not desire the suffrage, but would rather be without it; women are sufficiently represented by the representation of their male relatives and connections; women have power enough already. I shall probably be thought to have done enough in the way of answering, if I answer all this; and it may, perhaps, instigate any hon. Gentleman who takes the trouble of replying to me, to produce something more recondite. Politics, it is said, are not a woman's business. Well, Sir, I rather think that politics are not a man's business either; unless he is one of the few who are selected and paid to devote their time to the public service, or is a Member of this or of the other House. The vast majority of male electors have each his own business which absorbs nearly the whole of his time; but I have 820 not heard that the few hours occupied, once in a few years, in attending at a polling-booth, even if we throw in the time spent in reading newspapers and political treatises, ever causes them to neglect their shops or their counting-houses. I have never understood that those who have votes are worse merchants, or worse lawyers, or worse physicians, or even worse clergymen than other people. One would almost suppose that the British Constitution denied a vote to every one who could not give the greater part of his time to politics; if this were the case we should have a very limited constituency. But allow me to ask, what is the meaning of political freedom? Is it anything but the control of those who do make their business of politics, by those who do not? Is it not the very essence of constitutional liberty, that men come from their looms and their forges to decide, and decide well, whether they are properly governed, and whom they will be governed by? And the nations which prize this privilege the most, and exercise it most fully, are invariably those who excel the most in the common concerns of life. The ordinary occupations of most women are, and are likely to remain, principally domestic; but the notion that these occupations are incompatible with the keenest interest in national affairs, and in all the great interests of humanity, is as utterly futile as the apprehension, once sincerely entertained, that artizans would desert their workshops and their factories if they were taught to read. I know there is an obscure feeling—a feeling which is ashamed to express itself openly—as if women had no right to care about anything, except how they may be the most useful and devoted servants of some man. But as I am convinced that there is not a single Member of this House, whose conscience accuses him of so mean a feeling, I may say without offence, that this claim to confiscate the whole existence of one half of the species for the supposed convenience of the other, appears to me, independently of its injustice, particularly silly. For who that has had ordinary experience of human affairs, and ordinary capacity of profiting by that experience, fancies that those do their own work best who understand nothing else? A man has lived to little purpose who has not learnt that without general mental cultivation, no particular work that requires understanding is ever done in the best manner. It 821 requires brains to use practical experience; and brains, even without practical experience, go further than any amount of practical experience without brains. But perhaps it is thought that the ordinary occupations of women are more antagonistic than those of men are to the comprehension of public affairs. It is thought, perhaps, that those who are principally charged with the moral education of the future generations of men, cannot be fit to form an opinion about the moral and educational interests of a people; and that those whose chief daily business is the judicious laying-out of money, so as to produce the greatest results with the smallest means, cannot possibly give any lessons to right hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House or on this, who contrive to produce such singularly small results with such vast means. I feel a degree of confidence, Sir, on this subject, which I could not feel, if the political change, in itself not great or formidable, which I advocate, were not grounded, as beneficent and salutary political changes almost always are, upon a previous social change. The notion of a hard and fast line of separation between women's occupations and men's—of forbidding women to take interest in the things which interest men—belongs to a gone-by state of society which is receding further and further into the past. We talk of political revolutions, but we do not sufficiently attend to the fact that there has taken place around us a silent domestic revolution; women and men are, for the first time in history, really each other's companions. Our traditions respecting the proper relations between them have descended from a time when their lives were apart—when they were separate in their thoughts, because they were separate equally in their amusements and in their serious occupations. In former days a man passed his life among men; all his friendships, all his real intimacies, were with men; with men alone did he consult on any serious business; the wife was either a plaything, or an upper servant. All this, among the educated classes, is now changed. The man no longer gives his spare hours to violent outdoor exercises and boisterous conviviality with male associates; the two sexes now pass their lives together; the women of a man's family are his habitual society; the wife is his chief associate, his most confidential friend, and often his most trusted adviser. Now, does a man 822 wish to have for his nearest companion so closely linked with him, and whose wishes and preferences have so strong a claim on him, one whose thoughts are alien to those which occupy his own mind—one who can neither be a help, a comfort, nor a support, to his noblest feelings and purposes? Is this close and almost exclusive companionship compatible with women's being warned off all large subjects—being taught that they ought not to care for what it is men's duty to care for, and that to have any serious interests outside the household is stepping beyond their province? Is it good for a man to live in complete communion of thoughts and feelings with one who is studiously kept inferior to himself, whose earthly interests are forcibly confined within four walls, and who cultivates, as a grace of character, ignorance and indifference about the most inspiring subjects, those among which his highest duties are cast? Does any one suppose that this can happen without detriment to the man's own character? Sir, the time is now come when, unless women are raised to the level of men, men will be pulled down to theirs. The women of a man's family are either a stimulus and a support to his highest aspirations, or a drag upon them. You may keep them ignorant of politics, but you cannot prevent them from concerning themselves with the least respectable part of politics — its personalities; if they do not understand and cannot enter into the man's feelings of public duty, they do care about his personal interest, and that is the scale into which their weight will certainly be thrown. They will be an influence always at hand, co-operating with the man's selfish promptings, lying in wait for his moments of moral irresolution, and doubling the strength of every temptation. Even if they maintain a modest forbearance, the mere absence of their sympathy will hang a dead-weight on his moral energies, making him unwilling to make sacrifices which they will feel, and to forego social advantages and successes in which they would share, for objects which they cannot appreciate. Supposing him fortunate enough to escape any actual sacrifice of conscience, the indirect effect on the higher parts of his own character is still deplorable. Under an idle notion that the beauties of character of the two sexes are mutually incompatible, men are afraid of manly women; but those who have considered the nature and power of 823 social influences well know, that unless there are manly women, there will not much longer be manly men. When men and women are really companions, if women are frivolous, men will be frivolous; if women care for nothing but personal interest and idle vanities, men in general will care for little else; the two sexes must now rise or sink together. It may be said that women may take interest in great public questions without having votes; they may, certainly; but how many of them will? Education and society have exhausted their power in inculcating on women that their proper rule of conduct is what society expects from them; and the denial of the vote is a proclamation intelligible to every one, that whatever else society may expect, it does not expect that they should concern themselves with public interests. Why, the whole of a girl's thoughts and feelings are toned down by it from her schooldays; she does not take the interest even in national history which her brothers do, because it is to be no business of hers when she grows up. If there are women—and now happily there are many—who do interest themselves in these subjects, and do study them, it is because the force within is strong enough to bear up against the worst kind of discouragement, that which acts not by interposing obstacles, which may be struggled against, but by deadening the spirit which faces and conquers obstacles. We are told, Sir, that women do not wish for the suffrage. If the fact were so, it would only prove that all women are still under this deadening influence; that the opiate still benumbs their mind and conscience. But great numbers of women do desire the suffrage, and have asked for it by petitions to this House. How do we know how many more thousands there may be who have not asked for what they do not hope to get; or for fear of what may be thought of them by men, or by other women; or from the feeling, so sedulously cultivated in them by their education—aversion to make themselves conspicuous? Men must have a rare power of self-delusion, if they suppose that leading questions put to the ladies of their family or of their acquaintance will elicit their real sentiments, or will be answered with complete sincerity by one woman in 10,000. No one is so well schooled as most women are in making a virtue of necessity; it costs little to disclaim caring for what is not offered; and frankness 824 in the expression of sentiments which may be unpleasing and may be thought uncomplimentary to their nearest connections, is not one of the virtues which a woman's education tends to cultivate, and is, moreover, a virtue attended with sufficient risk, to induce prudent women usually to reserve its exercise for cases in which there is a nearer and a more personal interest at stake. However this may be, those who do not care for the suffrage will not use it; either they will not register, or if they do, they will vote as their male relatives advise—by which, as the advantage will probably be about equally shared among all classes, no harm will be done. Those, be they few or many, who do value the privilege, will exercise it, and will receive that stimulus to their faculties, and that widening and liberalizing influence over their feelings and sympathies, which the suffrage seldom fails to produce on those who are admitted to it. Meanwhile an unworthy stigma would be removed from the whole sex. The law would cease to declare them incapable of serious things; would cease to proclaim that their opinions and wishes are unworthy of regard, on things which concern them equally with men, and on many things which concern them much more than men. They would no longer be classed with children, idiots, and lunatics, as incapable of taking care of either themselves or others, and needing that everything should be done for them, without asking their consent. If only one woman in 20,000 used the suffrage, to be declared capable of it would be a boon to all women. Even that theoretical enfranchisement would remove a weight from the expansion of their faculties, the real mischief of which is much greater than the apparent. Then it is said, that women do not need direct power, having so much indirect, through their influence over their male relatives and connections. I should like to carry this argument a little further. Rich people have a great deal of indirect influence. Is this a reason for refusing them votes? Does any one propose a rating qualification the wrong way, or bring in a Reform Bill to disfranchise all who live in a £500 house, or pay £100 a year indirect taxes? Unless this rule for distributing the franchise is to be reserved for the exclusive benefit of women, it would follow that persons of more than a certain fortune should be allowed to bribe, but should not be allowed to vote. 825 Sir, it is true that women have great power. It is part of my case that they have great power; but they have it under the worst possible conditions because it is indirect, and therefore irresponsible. I want to make this great power a responsible power. I want to make the woman feel her conscience interested in its honest exercise. I want her to feel that it is not given to her as a mere means of personal ascendency. I want to make her influence work by a manly interchange of opinion, and not by cajolery. I want to awaken in her the political point of honour. Many a woman already influences greatly the political conduct of the men connected with her, and sometimes, by force of will, actually governs it; but she is never supposed to have anything to do with it; the man whom she influences, and perhaps misleads, is alone responsible; her power is like the back-stairs influence of a favourite. Sir, I demand that all who exercise power should have the burden laid on them of knowing something about the things they have power over. With the acknowledged right to a voice, would come a sense of the corresponding duty. Women are not usually inferior in tenderness of conscience to men. Make the woman a moral agent in these matters; show that you expect from her a political conscience; and when she has learnt to understand the transcendent importance of these things, she will know why it is wrong to sacrifice political convictions to personal interest or vanity; she will understand that political integrity is not a foolish personal crotchet, which a man is bound, for the sake of his family, to give up, but a solemn duty; and the men whom she can influence will be better men in all public matters, and not, as they often are now, worse men by the whole amount of her influence. But at least, it will be said, women do not suffer any practical inconvenience, as women, by not having a vote. The interests of all women are safe in the hands of their fathers, husbands, and brothers, who have the same interest with them, and not only know, far better than they do, what is good for them, but care much more for them than they care for themselves. Sir, this is exactly what is said of all unrepresented classes. The operatives, for instance; are they not virtually represented by the representation of their employers? Are not the interest of the employers and that of the employed, when properly understood, the same? To insinuate 826 the contrary, is it not the horrible crime of setting class against class? Is not the farmer equally interested with the labourer in the prosperity of agriculture—the cotton manufacturer equally with his workmen in the high price of calicoes? Are they not both interested alike in taking off taxes? And, generally, have not employers and employed a common interest against all outsiders, just as husband and wife have against all outside the family? And what is more, are not all employers good, kind, benevolent men, who love their workpeople, and always desire to do what is most for their good? All these assertions are as true, and as much to the purpose, as the corresponding assertions respecting men and women. Sir, we do not live in Arcadia, but, as we were lately reminded, in fæce Romuli: and in that region workmen need other protection than that of their employers, and women other protection than that of their men. I should like to have a Return laid before this House of the number of women who are annually beaten to death, kicked to death, or trampled to death by their male protectors; and, in an opposite column, the amount of the sentences passed in those cases in which the dastardly criminals did not get off altogether. I should also like to have, in a third column, the amount of property, the unlawful taking of which was, at the same sessions or assizes, by the same judge, thought worthy of the same amount of punishment. We should then have an arithmetical estimate of the value set by a male legislature and male tribunals on the murder of a woman, often by torture continued through years, which, if there is any shame in us, would make us hang our heads. Sir, before it is affirmed that women do not suffer in their interests, as women, by the denial of a vote, it should be considered whether women have no grievances; whether the laws, and those practices which laws can reach, are in every way as favourable to women as to men. Now, how stands the fact? In the matter of education, for instance. We continually hear that the most important part of national education is that of mothers, because they educate the future men. Is this importance really attached to it? Are there many fathers who care as much, or are willing to expend as much, for the education of their daughters as of their sons? Where are the Universities, where the high schools, or the schools of any high description, for them? If it 827 be said that girls are better educated at home, where are the training-schools for governesses? What has become of the endowments which the bounty of our ancestors destined for the education, not of one sex only, but of both indiscriminately? I am told by one of the highest authorities on the subject, that in the majority of the endowments the provision made is not for boys, but for education generally; in one great endowment, Christ's Hospital, it is expressly for both; that institution now maintains and educates 1,100 boys, and exactly twenty-six girls. And when they attain womanhood, how does it fare with that great and increasing portion of the sex, who, sprung from the educated classes, have not inherited a provision, and not having obtained one by marriage, or disdaining to marry merely for a provision, depend on their exertions for subsistence? Hardly any decent educated occupation, save one, is open to them. They are either governesses or nothing. A fact has recently occurred, well worthy of commemoration in connection with this subject. A young lady, Miss Garrett, from no pressure of necessity, but from an honourable desire to employ her activity in alleviating human suffering, studied the medical profession. Having duly qualified herself, she, with an energy and perseverance which cannot be too highly praised, knocked successively at all the doors through which, by law, access is obtained into the medical profession. Having found all other doors fast shut, she fortunately discovered one which had accidentally been left ajar. The Society of Apothecaries, it seems, had forgotten to shut out those who they never thought would attempt to come in, and through this narrow entrance this young lady found her way into this profession. But so objectionable did it appear to this learned body that women should be the medical attendants even of women, that the narrow wicket through which Miss Garrett entered has been closed after her, and no second Miss Garrett will be allowed to pass through it. And this is instar omnium. No sooner do women show themselves capable of competing with men in any career, than that career, if it be lucrative or honourable, is closed to them. A short time ago women might be associates of the Royal Academy; but they were so distinguishing themselves, they were assuming so honourable a place in their art, that this privilege also has been 828 withdrawn. This is the sort of care taken of women's interests by the men who so faithfully represent them. This is the way we treat unmarried women. And how is it with the married? They, it may be said, are not interested in this Motion; and they are not directly interested; but it interests, even directly, many who have been married, as well as others who will be. Now, by the common law of England, all that a wife has, belongs absolutely to the husband; he may tear it all from her, squander every penny of it in debauchery, leave her to support by her labour herself and her children, and if by heroic exertion and self-sacrifice she is able to put by something for their future wants, unless she is judicially separated from him he can pounce down upon her savings, and leave her penniless. And such cases are of quite common occurrence. Sir, if we were besotted enough to think these things right, there would be more excuse for us; but we know better. The richer classes take care to exempt their own daughters from the consequences of this abominable state of the law. By the contrivance of marriage settlements, they are able in each case to make a private law for themselves, and they invariably do so. Why do we not provide that justice for the daughters of the poor, which we take care to provide for our own daughters? Why is not that which is done in every case that we personally care for, made the law of the land, so that a poor man's child whose parents could not afford the expense of a settlement, may retain a right to any little property that may devolve on her, and may have a voice in the disposal of her own earnings, which, in the case of many husbands, are the best and only reliable part of the incomings of the family? I am sometimes asked what practical grievances I propose to remedy by giving women a vote. I propose, for one thing, to remedy this. I give these instances to prove that women are not the petted children of society which many people seem to think they are — that they have not the overabundance, the superfluity of power that is ascribed to them, and are not sufficiently represented by the representation of the men who have not had the heart to do for them this simple and obvious piece of justice. Sir, grievances of less magnitude than the law of the property of married women, when suffered by parties less inured to passive submission, have 829 provoked revolutions. We ought not to take advantage of the security we feel against any such consequence in the present case, to withhold from a limited number of women that moderate amount of participation in the enactment and improvement of our laws, which this Motion solicits for them, and which would enable the general feelings of women to be heard in this House through a few male representatives. We ought not to deny to them, what we are conceding to everybody else—a right to be consulted; the ordinary chance of placing in the great Council of the nation a few organs of their sentiments—of having, what every petty trade or profession has, a few members who feel specially called on to attend to their interests, and to point out how those interests are affected by the law, or by any proposed changes in it. No more is asked by this Motion; and when the time comes, as it certainly will come, when this will be granted, I feel the firmest conviction that you will never repent of the concession.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 16, to leave out the word "man," in order to insert the word "person,"—(Mr. Mill,)—instead thereof.
said, he had listened, as the rest of the House had done, with great attention to the argument of the hon. Member for Westminster, for there was this peculiarity in the subject—that there was not a man in England, whatever his rank in life, who was not interested in it:—for though the observations of the hon. Member pointed only to the admission of spinsters and widows to the suffrage, the hon. Member's argument, as well as the arguments in his published writings, which he (Mr. Karslake) had studied with great care, all pointed to the admission of married women. Now it was somewhat remarkable that during the short period he had been in that House he had not received a single petition or letter in favour of such a proposition. He was obliged, however, to take into consideration that question, because of the spinsters and widows it might be said with all delicacy that they were in a transition state—the spinsters might marry, and the widows might marry again. Now, if the ladies of England were once to obtain this boon—this inestimable boon of the franchise (as the hon. Member for Westminster seemed to consider it), and if they attached that 830 importance to it which the hon. Member supposed them to do, could the House expect that they would part with it again by marrying? He was obliged to consider the question of married women possessing the franchise not only by this consideration, but also by the writings of the hon. Member, for all who were familiar with his writings knew that the suffrage of married women was a favourite hobby of his, though it must be admitted he had ridden his hobby very temperately that evening. But the Committee must consider what the result would be, and that if the hon. Member got in the thin end of the wedge by the admission of unmarried women to the electoral roll he would afterwards claim that married women should also be admitted to the franchise. But take the present proposal of the hon. Member that spinsters and widows alone should have a right to the franchise: then every poor lady who went to the altar would lose the franchise; and was it to be supposed that after having exercised this right for a few years—after having enjoyed the sweets of the franchise—they would be content to forego it by entering into the married state. If so they might repeat the words of the Italian poet, which our own Poet Laureate had almost translated—For 'tis truth the poet sings—That a sorrow's crown of sorrowIs remembering better things.Until the disability of coverture was removed a married lady was to be held a debased and degraded creature, something in the position of the poor compound-householder of whose exclusion they lately heard so much. He must therefore remind the Committee that the question of the unmarried woman and the widow was but a small part of the subject, and that they must face the more important question whether or no married women ought to have the suffrage. Now that was a question they ought to consider—first, with regard to the law of the land; and next, with regard to expediency. As regarded the first branch of the question, Parliament had never adopted the principles of the Civil Law, but had always deliberately upheld the position that a woman on her marriage should give over all she had, including herself, to her husband for better for worse. He thought the hon. Member for Westminster was under some mistake as to the protection which the law gave to married women. The law was now precisely what it had been for the last 500 years. 831 A Scotch text writer had observed how singular it was that when a man took a woman to the altar he said, "With all my worldly goods I thee endow," whereas he took from her everything she had, and did not give her a farthing. If an hon. Gentleman gave his wife a diamond necklace, he might take it from her the next day; but, on the other hand, if an hon. Gentleman married a widow with ten children he had to support every one of them. It was true that, by means of trustees, you could, through the intervention of the Court of Chancery, give some protection to the property of a married woman. With that exception, the law of the land at the present day had deliberately settled that the wife should be absolutely and entirely under the control of the husband, not only in respect of her property, but of her personal movements. For example, a married woman might not "gad about," and if she did her husband was entitled to lock her up; some held that he might beat her. He had his doubts about that, and if his advice were asked, as a lawyer, he would say do not do it:—but undoubtedly the husband had entire dominion over the person and property of his wife. He thought, then, it was clear that votes could not be given to married women consistently with the rules of law as regarded property and the husband's dominion over the wife's movements. Then how would it be in the matter of voting? In the course of his canvass, which was still vividly in his recollection, he often canvassed the wives of voters. And he generally found that the female persons were "blue." It was their usual reply—"Oh, I am blue; but my husband votes yellow." Sometimes, he admitted, it was the other way. How did the hon. Gentleman propose to deal with these differences of opinion between the head of the family and her whom the poet called "the lesser man?" He pointed out this as showing the difficulties that would exist in the way of women exercising their right of voting in opposition to their husbands. He did not wish to pursue this subject farther; but he believed that the farther they did refer to it the more would they be met with the difficulties of the subject. As to the question of expediency, the hon. Gentleman in his works thought that advantage would arise from giving the suffrage to women, because among other things it would promote logical 832 discussion between the man and his wife. In other words, hon. Members would have spent their Sunday evenings during the last six weeks in discussing with their wives the question of the compound-householder. He believed that the "unerring instinct" not only of the House of Commons, but of men themselves, would be utterly opposed to this innovation. It was absurd to suppose that a woman when she obtained the franchise would, as the hon. Gentleman suggested, be better able to protect herself against the brutality of man. Man must be "unbrutalized," if he might use the expression, by some other means than those proposed by the hon. Member. He (Mr. Karslake) trusted that the improvement in the social condition of man which the present Bill intended to effect would go far to prevent much of that brutality which unhappily existed. They no doubt wanted to make man better than he was, but certainly not by altering the condition of women. He thought that the hon. Member for Westminster would do well if he imported into this sort of question not so much political economy, and a little more common sense. He (Mr. Karslake) was sure that he had always heard the hon. Gentleman's words with respect, and perused his writings with delight; but in this sort of every-day question, upon which every one was capable of forming an opinion, he must say he thought that the hon. Gentleman was too much inclined to introduce the strains of political economy into the matter. The hon. Member reminded him of a character, one of the best to be found in Mr. Dickens' works, who button holed every man he met and asked, "What are we to do with our raw material in exchange for our drain of gold?" He (Mr. Karslake) must certainly congratulate the hon. Member upon the temperate terms in which he introduced this question to their notice. He was, however, surprised to hear the hon. Gentlemen the other day tell the Gentlemen who sat upon his (Mr. Karslake's) side of the House that their weapon was their pocket. Now, he believed that there never was a more unfair or groundless observation. Such language as that had been described by one of the closest reasoners on the Opposition side of the House as "stump oratory." He certainly expected from the hon. Member for Westminster reasoning of a much more logical kind than any he had as yet used in respect to this question. He thought 833 that the Committee would come to the opinion that the hon. Gentleman was wrong in his first principles. In one of his very able works the hon. Member had laid it down that there was no greater difference between a woman and a man than there was between two human beings, one with red hair and one with black, or one with a fair skin and the other with a dark one. He (Mr. Karslake) humbly begged to differ from him, for while he believed that a man qualified to possess the franchise would be ennobled by its possession, woman, in his humble opinion, would be almost debased or degraded by it. She would be in danger of losing those admirable attributes of her sex—namely, her gentleness, her affection, and her domesticity. The hon. Member for Westminster, as a scholar, would recollect the words of a great man who, flourished about 500 years before Christ, who, like the noble Earl at the head of the Cabinet, was the great leader, the first orator and statesman of the day. That distinguished individual said, in speaking of women—Let them not struggle to rise above their natural condition which has been assigned to them by Providence; let them desire to fly from the breath of praise almost as much as from the breath of censure.As not a lady in Essex had asked him to support the proposition in favour of a female franchise, and believing that the women in other parts of England were equally indifferent on the subject, he came to the conclusion that the women of this country would prefer to remain as they were, being content with the happy homes and advantages they now possessed, even with the disabilities referred to by Chief Justice Blackstone. ["Oh!"] He inferred from that exclamation that the hon. and learned Member for Tiverton was in favour of giving the franchise to "female" persons; but he wished to observe that he concurred in the observation of Blackstone, who had said that the very disabilities to which women were subject, taken on the whole, showed how great a favourite was the female sex to the laws of England.
§ MR. DENMAN
said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman, not finding anything in his English law books to support his view, had been poring over learned Scotch books in which he found a great deal on the subject of "gadding about." [Mr. KARSLAKE: I quoted an observation of Justice Coleridge.] A great portion of the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech was 834 taken up by the discussion of a matter that was really not before the Committee—namely, whether married women should have votes. His hon. and learned Friend had pointed to him (Mr. Denman) as being a strong advocate for female suffrage. Now, it so happened that when he came down to the House that evening he had not made up his mind upon the question: he had never expressed an opinion one way or the other, but he was prepared candidly to listen to the arguments that might be used on both sides. In his present state of mind he must certainly say that, unless he heard something more in the nature of argument against the proposal of the hon. Member for Westminster, he should be compelled to follow that hon. Gentleman into the lobby. About four or five weeks ago, when he first read the draft of this Bill, it struck him, as a lawyer, that it was more than doubtful whether as it stood it did not confer the suffrage upon women. Under those circumstances he did not think it was unbecoming of him to have asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who he had heard had expressed an opinion that there was no real argument to be used against female suffrage, whether it was the intention of the Government to give the suffrage to women. The right hon. Gentleman replied to him by saying that if he had read the Bill a little more carefully he would find that the Bill had no such effect. He would, however, venture to ask the Attorney and Solicitor General whether, as lawyers, they were confident that the Bill as it stood would not confer the suffrage on women. The first clause of the Bill provided that every "man" under such and such conditions should be entitled to be registered. Now, in an Act passed since the Reform Act it was declared that all words importing the masculine gender should be deemed to include females, unless it was specifically stated to the contrary. In the first Reform Act the word "man" did not occur, but the words "male persons" were used instead. He desired to know why a different term had been used in the present Bill. In the 5th clause of the Bill he found something which strongly corroborated his view, because after saying that every man should be entitled to be registered who was a graduate or associate of arts, it proceeded to say "or a male person who has passed at any senior middle-class examination," &c. He believed if 835 the Court of Queen's Bench had to decide to-morrow on the construction of these clauses they would be constrained to hold that they conferred the suffrage upon female persons as well as males. In one of the colonies of Australia by the use of the word "person" accidentally inserted in an Act of the Legislature, the female suffrage was given. Subsequently it was said to have been found that such an advantage had arisen from its operation that they declined to alter it, not wishing to get rid of it. He protested againt the mode in which his question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon this point had been answered. The right hon. Gentleman in his reply, evading the question which was asked as to the intentions of the Government, merely got up a laugh against a private Member, whose feelings were as much entitled to be consulted as those of any right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench. If he (Mr. Denman) remained in the state of mind in which he was left by the two first speakers upon this question, he should certainly follow the hon. Member for Westminster into the lobby.
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, he was extremely sorry to detain the Committee; but this was a question which he had thought upon for years, and there was no subject connected with the representation of the people with regard to which he had a more decided or more earnest opinion. Possibly he might have come to that opinion because he had always looked up to the hon. Member for Westminster as his teacher, and from him he had learnt all his lessons of political life. Certainly, he thought that of all the arguments the hon. Member had ever brought forward, there was no case to which he had supplied more conclusive reasoning than that to which the Committee had listened that evening. What was the reasoning of the hon. and learned Member for Colchester (Mr. Karslake)? The hon. and learned Gentleman said that the ladies of Essex had not intrusted him with a single petition nor written a single letter to him in favour of women suffrage. Now, if the hon. and learned Gentleman had said in his canvass as much as he had said to-night upon the subject of women, he (Mr. Fawcett) must say he thought that the ladies of Essex had exercised a sound judgment in not intrusting him with their letters. He once heard a remarkable speech made by a Gentleman, in which he said there was too 836 much political economy, and being unable to get a distinct answer from him what he meant by it, he pressed him for a definition. The gentleman hemmed and hummed, and said, "Why, too much political economy;" and that if he could not understand what he meant by political economy, there was no use making any further remark; and if the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Colchester was pressed to point out in what part of the hon. Member for Westminster's speech there was too much political economy, and not enough common sense, he would be re-reduced to the straits of the Friend he (Mr. Fawcett) had mentioned. The hon. and learned Member for Colchester said, that if they conferred the franchise on a single woman they conferred on her a precious privilege. That was conclusive on their side; but ought they to constitute themselves judges, and say they should not enjoy what they so much valued? The hon. and learned Member also went on to state that after women had enjoyed the privilege for two or three years they would value it so highly that they would not relinquish it for marriage. But was he to decide whether it was a good thing or not for women to marry? Surely he might leave that question for women to decide. The whole of the hon. and learned Member's speech was based on the fallacy that man possessed a superior kind of wisdom, which enabled him to decide what was best for the other half of the human race. There had not been an argument advanced in any speech made by Mr. Beales, or had been put forth in the most extreme programme of the Reform League, in favour of a wide extension of the franchise, but what equally applied to conferring it on women. They urged that taxation and representation should go together. Now, women paid taxes as well as men, and the argument that the franchise should be given to working men, in order that their particular interests might be represented, applied with equal force to women. The hon. Member for Westminster had exhausted that part of the subject, and had shown that there were no laws on the statute book which so much demanded immediate attention as those which referred to the condition of women, and surely it was as fair, right, just, and politic that before Parliament undertook legislation for women they should give them representatives in that House, as that they should give them to working men. It had been contended 837 that if women took an interest in political matters it would very much deteriorate from their character; but he challenged hon. Members to prove that those women of their acquaintance who interested themselves in politics lost any of those qualities which entitled them to the admiration of the world any more than those who cared nothing about politics. It did not prevent them from performing all those social and domestic duties which it was their peculiar right and duty to perform. The most illustrious Lady of the land had as many political duties to perform as a Cabinet Minister; and was it not proverbial the admirable manner in which she discharged her social duties herself? Experience justified him in saying that if they gave women the same opportunity as they did men it would by no means tend to destroy their character, but to make them in intellectual power equal to men, and to strengthen all those qualities which were most valuable in them. Three years ago a proposition was made in Cambridge University to extend the middle-class examination to girls; but it met with considerable opposition on the ground that it would ruin the character of girls, and that it would destroy all their softness, and make them hard. After a severe contest the proposition to try it for three years was carried by a majority of 5. Those three years had just expired and the experiment had been perfectly successful. Its most bitter opponents were now so convinced of its success that they had not a word to say against its continuance, and it had been permanently established with the unanimous assent of the University authorities. That showed the growth of opinion upon this subject, and it convinced him that if they were unsuccessful that night they would be successful before ten years had passed away. A Member of the University of Cambridge had written to him, begging of him to entreat the hon. Member for Westminster to proceed with his Motion, being convinced from what he had experienced in the middle-class examination that women were capable of exercising the franchise. The girls who had been examined showed themselves quite equal to the boys in Greek, Latin, mathematics, and all intellectual studies, and while it was admitted that they had evinced equal capacity, they were also declared to have done their part more steadily and in a more business manner. 838 The speech of the hon. Member for Westminster would have a great effect on the country, for it had brought the question out of the region of ridicule. Of course, they must expect to hear the question being pushed to its logical conclusion, and they would be asked if they proposed to extend the franchise to married women. That was not the question now before the Committee; and although he was not bound to express an opinion upon it, yet he had no hesitation in saying that he would undoubtedly confer the suffrage also upon married women. In his opinion it would create less discord than religious differences. Yet they passed no law to say that a man and woman with different religious views should not be married. There had not been a single argument used in favour of the extension of the suffrage that did not apply with equal force to women who were qualified by their position, the amount of taxation they paid, the interest they took in the welfare of the country, and whose intelligence was on an average with men, to exercise the franchise, and, sooner or later, it would be granted to them by that House.
§ MR. LAING
thanked the hon. Member for Westminster for the pleasant interlude he had interposed to the grave and some what sombre discussions on the subject of Reform, in which the Committee had hitherto been engaged. The hon. Member for Westminster had referred in very feeling terms to the wickets which he had spoken of as having been shut by the male against the fair sex; and he wished to ask him whether among those wickets he included those which closed the entrance to that House? Because the logical inference from the argument of the hon. Member was that if women ought to be allowed to elect representatives they ought to be eligible to seats in the House of Commons. Indeed, he had said as much, for he had pointed to the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer as one which could not be better filled than by a person whose life was spent in obtaining the greatest results from the smallest possible pecuniary means. But there were a great many practical considerations to be taken into account before the hon. Gentleman's views could be carried out to that extent. The Committee would recollect that there had been a discussion a few nights before as to the number of cubic feet which should be required to constitute a dwelling-house in the case of the compound-householder, 839 and space must undoubtedly form a very material element in any scheme which might be devised for giving women a place in the deliberations of the Legislature. The question of rating, too, would have a very important bearing in determining whether the suffrage should be conferred upon them, for, if he was not mistaken, it entered very largely into the intercourse of a certain Mr. and Mrs. Caudle, who were some years ago so humorously described in the pages of a well-known periodical. But, to speak seriously on the subject, it would, he thought, be well in dealing with it to reflect for a moment how small a part mere logic played in political and social life. The instinct, he felt assured, of nine men out of ten—nay, of nine women out of ten—was opposed to the proposal which had been laid before the Committee by the hon. Member for Westminster with so much force and acumen, and although they might not be able to give a single argument for their opinion he would back their instinct against the logic of the hon. Member. The most narrow of all possible views to take of the question was, he contended, to look upon women as being a sort of half-developed men, whose rights were to be made dependent on such things as rating and voting and the like, and who was held to be kept in a position of humiliation if she was not assimilated in every respect to the male half of creation. The real standard of the true career for human beings, whether male or female, to pursue in search of happiness was that ideal pattern of perfection which was in the mind of the Creator when He called both man and woman into existence. Taking that standard of ideal perfection in the case of woman, he would ask whether it had any relation whatsoever to their having a voice in the election of Members of Parliament? Between the two sexes it was abundantly evident that Nature had drawn clear lines of distinction. There were certain things which women could do better than men, and others which they could not do so well. In all that required rough, rude, practical force, stability of character, and intellect, man was superior: whereas in all those relations of life that demanded mildness, softness of character, and amiability, women far excelled. He would appeal in support of the view which he took from the political economists to those who were higher authorities in such matters—the poets. How did that poet 840 who was admitted on all hands to have held most truly the mirror up to nature represent ideal women? Who could fancy the Julias, Ophelias, and Desdemonas, who were surrounded with so great a charm in his pages, as interesting themselves in and voting at municipal or Parliamentary elections? Which was the most likely to figure in the character of a ratepayer and elector—the gentle Cordelia or the hateful and unattractive Goneril or Regan? He did not wish to pursue the question further, but at the bottom of it lay, he firmly believed, the distinction which he had endeavoured to point out. With regard to the law of property as it affected married women he would admit that in those cases in which that law bore hardly on the female sex it was a matter well worthy of consideration how it should be revised and placed upon a footing more in accordance with the civilization of the age. The contests of political life, and the rude and rough work which men had so often to go through, were not, however, he thought, suited to the nature of woman, and, unless he was greatly mistaken, the majority of women themselves were of that opinion. The question, he would add, was not one of a purely speculative character. There was one country in which women took a leading part in the concerns of active life, in which they were regarded as constituting the safety and ornament of the Throne, and monopolized the rewards of the Court—even those which were the most seductive of all—the rewards of military virtue and honour. That Court was the Court of Dahomey. Now, he must confess he had no wish to see the institutions of Dahomey imported into our own happy land; in other words, he hoped the day was far distant when our women should become masculine and our men effeminate. The maxim propria quœ maribus had remained fixed in his mind ever since in early youth it had been installed into it under the influence of the birch, and he could not help thinking that it was more fitting that men should retain what was proper to men, and the women retain all the privileges that could becomingly be conceded to women.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
expressed a hope that the right hon. Member for South Lancashire, who some time ago laid it down as a principle that everybody was entitled, in the absence of some special disqualification, to exercise the franchise [Mr. GLADSTONE: No, no!], would inform 841 the Committee how far he would apply that principle to the case under discussion. He (Sir George Bowyer) also believed that provided a person possessed the requisite qualification laid down by the law, primâ facie that person had a right to the vote, unless it could be shown that some disqualification attached to him. Was there any reason for excluding women from the franchise? He thought that no such reason existed, and that the claim of women to the suffrage could not be answered logically. This country was governed by our Sovereign Lady the Queen; and in other countries there were or had been female Monarchs, among whom, indeed, on the page of history, was to be found a larger proportion of great and distinguished Sovereigns than among male rulers. Women, moreover, were qualified for churchwardens and for other parochial offices. He was no advocate for strong-minded women; but he believed they might exercise the suffrage without abrogating those qualities which specially adorned their sex. He presumed, however, that the hon. Member for Westminster would propose that they should use voting papers, for it would be manifestly indecorous for them to attend the hustings or the polling-booth; but voting papers, duly guarded, would enable the sex to vote in a manner free from objection. He approved the proposal in a constitutional point of view, for it was a principle of our Constitution that taxation should be as nearly as possible co-extensive with representation. Subject to the limitation that no one should have a vote who could not exercise it for the benefit of the community everybody ought to share in the representation. Now, women held a considerable amount of property which was subject to taxation, and of this there was a remarkable instance in a lady distinguished not so much for her wealth as for the noble use she made of it. Yet that property, being held by a woman, was not represented. This he thought unjust, and though, generally speaking, women do not occupy themselves with politics—nor was it desirable that they should do so—he maintained that, being taxed, they ought to be represented.
§ VISCOUNT GALWAY
, believing that the Committee were anxious to proceed to more important business, would appeal to the hon. Member for Westminster to withdraw his Motion, which, if pressed to a division, would place many Gentlemen who were great admirers of the fair 842 sex in an embarrassing point. The hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) had said that the female sex had no representatives in the House. Now he thought they had a very able one in the hon. Gentleman himself, though his experience with regard to the sex was not very prolonged, as the hon. Gentleman, he believed, had not been married above a fortnight. Moreover, every one acquainted with elections was aware of the influence which was exercised by women. In making his appeal to the hon. Member for Westminster he would remind him of the remark which was made last year by the hon. Member for Bristol—that if the hon. Gentleman's father could give him an excellent piece of advice it would be, "John, stick to the Ballot, and leave the women alone."
§ MR. ONSLOW
supported the Amendment, and by doing so he knew he should get 100 votes. In the borough he represented there were many ladies of the very best description; and in their interest he hoped the Amendment would be carried. He had taken a great deal of trouble to ascertain the wishes of the ladies on the subject. He asked two young ladies in the lobby how they would vote, supposing they possessed the franchise; and their reply was that they would give their vote to the man who would give them the best pair of diamond earrings. He thought there had never been so good a chance for this proposal as at the present time, for the Chancellor of the Exchequer had lately given way to pressure from other quarters, and was very likely to give way to a little gentle pressure on the part of the ladies.
§ MR. J. STUART MILL
I will merely say, in answer to the noble Lord who requested me to withdraw the Motion, that I am a great deal too well pleased with the speeches that have been made against it—his own included—to think of withdrawing it. There is nothing that has pleased me more in those speeches than to find that every one who has attempted to argue at all, has argued against something which is not before the House: they have argued against the admission of married women, which is not in the Motion; or they have argued against the admission of women as Members of this House; or again, as the hon. Member for the Wick boroughs (Mr. Laing) has done, they have argued against allowing women to be generals and officers in the army; a question which I need scarcely say is not before the House. 843 I certainly do think that when we come to universal suffrage, as some time or other we probably shall come—if we extend the vote to all men, we should extend it to all women also. So long, however, as you maintain a property qualification, I do not propose to extend the suffrage to any women but those who have the qualification. If, as is surmised by one of the speakers, young ladies should attach so much value to the suffrage that they should be unwilling to divest themselves of it in order to many, I can only say that if they will not marry without it, they will probably be allowed to retain it. As to any question that may arise in reference to the removal of any other disabilities of women, it is not before the House. There are evidently many arguments and many considerations that cannot be overlooked in dealing with these larger questions, but which do not arise on the present Motion, and on which, therefore, it is not necessary that I should comment. I will only say that if we should in the progress of experience—especially after experience of the effect of granting the suffrage — come to the decision that married women ought to have the suffrage, or that women should be admitted to any employment or occupation which they are not now admitted to—if it should become the general opinion that they ought to have it, they will have it.
§ Question put, "That the word 'man' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 196; Noes 73: Majority 123.845
|Acland, T. D.||Campbell, A. H.|
|Adam, W. P.||Candlish, J.|
|Adderley, rt. hon. C. B.||Capper, C.|
|Annesley, hon. Col. H.||Cardwell, rt. hon. E.|
|Ayrton, A. S.||Cartwright, Colonel|
|Bagge, Sir W.||Cave, rt. hon. S.|
|Baillie, rt. hon. H. J.||Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.|
|Barnett, H.||Chambers, T.|
|Beach, Sir M. H.||Clay, J.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Cole, hon. J. L.|
|Bernard, hon. Col. H. B.||Colebrooke, Sir T. E.|
|Blennerhasset, Sir R.||Collier, Sir R. P.|
|Bourne, Colonel||Colvile, C. R.|
|Brett, W. B.||Conolly, T.|
|Briscoe, J. I.||Corry, rt. hon. H. L.|
|Brooks, R.||Cox, W. T.|
|Brown, J.||Crawford, R. W.|
|Browne, Lord J. T.||Cubitt, G.|
|Bruce, Lord C.||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Bruen, H.||Dering, Sir E. C.|
|Buckley, E.||Dick, F.|
|Bulkeley, Sir R.||Dickson, Major A. G.|
|Buller, Sir E. M.||Dillwyn, L. L.|
|Burrell, Sir P.||Dimsdale, R.|
|Buxton, Sir T. F.||Dunkellin, Lord|
|Dunne, General||Monk, C. J.|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Montagu, rt. hn. Lord R.|
|Dyott, Colonel R.||Montgomery, Sir G.|
|Eckersley, N.||Morgan, O.|
|Edwards, Sir H.||Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.|
|Egerton, Sir P. G.||Naas, Lord|
|Egerton, hon. A. F.||Neate, C.|
|Egerton, E. C.||Newdegate, C. N.|
|Egerton, hon. W.||Newport, Viscount|
|Enfield, Viscount||Nicholson, W.|
|Esmonde, J.||Nicol, J.D.|
|Evans, T. W.||Noel, hon. G. J.|
|Ewing, H. E. Crum-||O'Reilly, M. W.|
|Fellowes, E.||Packe, C. W.|
|Fergusson, Sir J.||Packe, Colonel|
|Floyer, J.||Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Foljambe, F. J. S.||Parker, Major W.|
|Freshfield, C. K.||Pease, J. W.|
|Gallwey, Sir W. P.||Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.|
|Gaselee, Serjeant S.||Potter, E.|
|Getty, S. G.||Powell, F. S.|
|Gilpin, C.||Price, R. G.|
|Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.||Price, W. P.|
|Glyn, G. G.||Pugh, D.|
|Goddard, A. L.||Read, C. S.|
|Gore, J. R. O.||Rebow, J. G.|
|Gore, W. R. O.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Graves, S. R.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Gray, Lieut.-Colonel||Robertson, P. F.|
|Greenall, G.||Roebuck, J. A.|
|Greene, E.||Rolt, Sir J.|
|Grove, T. F.||Royston, Viscount|
|Guinness, Sir B. L.||Russell, Sir C.|
|Gwyn, H.||St. Aubyn, J.|
|Hamilton, rt. hon. Lord C.||Samuda, J. D'A.|
|Hamilton, E. W. T.||Scholefield, W.|
|Hanmer, Sir J.||Schreiber, C.|
|Hardy, rt. hon. G.||Sclater-Booth, G.|
|Hartley, J.||Scott, Sir W.|
|Hartopp, E. B.||Seely, C.|
|Hayter, Captain A. D.||Selwyn, C. J.|
|Headlam, rt. hon. T. E.||Severne, J. E.|
|Heathcote, Sir W.||Seymour, G. H.|
|Heneage, E.||Simonds, W. B.|
|Henley, rt. hon. J. W.||Smith, A.|
|Henley, Lord||Smollett, P. B|
|Herbert, hn. Colonel P.||Stanley, Lord|
|Hildyard, T. B. T.||Stanley, hon. F.|
|Hope, A. J. B. B.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Howard, hon. C. W. G.||Stronge, Sir J. M.|
|Howes, E.||Stucley, Sir G. S.|
|Huddleston, J. W.||Taylor, Colonel|
|Hunt, G. W.||Tollemache, J.|
|Ingham, R.||Trevor, Lord A. E. Hill-|
|Jervis, Major||Turner, C.|
|Jones, D.||Vandeleur, Colonel|
|Karslake, Sir J. B.||Vanderbyl, P.|
|Kekewich, S. T.||Vernon, H. F.|
|Kelk, J.||Vivian, H. H.|
|Kendall, N.||Walker, Major G. G.|
|King, J. K.||Walrond, J. W.|
|King, J. G.||Walsh, A.|
|Knatchbull-Hugessen, E||Waterhouse, S.|
|Leader, N. P.||Whalley, G. H.|
|Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.||Whitmore, H.|
|Leeman, G.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Lewis, H.||Wilmington, Sir T. E.|
|Lindsay, hon. Col. C.||Wise, H. C.|
|Locke, J.||Woods, H.|
|Lopes, Sir M.||Wyndham, hon. H.|
|Miller, W.||Laing, S.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Karslake, E. K.|
|Allen, W. S.||Lusk, A.|
|Amberley, Viscount||M'Kenna, J. N.|
|Baines, E.||M'Laren, D.|
|Barnes, T.||Maguire, J. F.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Moore, C.|
|Bass, M. T.||Morgan, hon. Major|
|Bazley, T.||Morrison, W.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||O'Beirne, J. L.|
|Biddulph, M.||O'Donoghue, The|
|Blake, J. A.||Oliphant, L.|
|Bowyer, Sir G.||Onslow, G.|
|Bright, J.||Padmore, R.|
|Cowen, J.||Parry, T.|
|Dalglish, R.||Peel, J.|
|Denman, hon. G.||Peto, Sir S. M.|
|Eykyn, R.||Platt, J.|
|Fawcett, H.||Pollard-Urquhart, W.|
|Goldsmid, Sir F. H.||Power, Sir J.|
|Gorst, J. E.||Pritchard, J.|
|Grant, A.||Rearden, D. J.|
|Gridley, Captain H. G.||Robartes, T. J. A.|
|Hadfield, G.||Robertson, D.|
|Harvey, R. B.||Stansfeld, J.|
|Hay, Lord J.||Stock, O.|
|Hay, Lord W. M.||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Henderson, J.||Taylor, P. A.|
|Hibbert, J. T.||Watkin, E. W.|
|Hodgkinson, G.||Whatman, J.|
|Holden, I.||White, J.|
|Hughes, T.||Whitworth, B.|
|Hurst, R. H.||Wyld, J.|
|Jackson, W.||Wyndham, hon. P.|
|Jervoise, Sir J. C.||Yorke, J. R.|
|King, hon. P. J. L.||Young, R.|
|Langton, W. G.||TELLERS.|
|Leatham, W. H.||Mill, J. S.|
|Lefevre, G. J. S.||Gurney, rt. hon. R.|
|Liddell, hon. H. G.|
§ MR. COLVILE
said, that the proposition he had to make was a very simple one, and he would not occupy the time of the Committee more than a few minutes in explaining the reasons that had induced him to ask for a reduction in the amount which gave copyholders the right to vote. This concession appeared to him so just and proper that he could hardly call it an Amendment, but simply a reminder to the Government to supply an omission which he felt sure they had unintentionally made. The copyhold franchise was one of those given by the Reform Bill of 1832, and the sum which then gave the franchise was £10. The borough and counties occupation franchises which were also then given, had been reduced more than one-half, and he thought it no unreasonable request to ask that the copyhold franchise should be treated in the same manner—besides modern legislation had greatly improved the position of the copyholder. The Copyhold Enfranchisement Acts and other enactments had materially enhanced the value of that 846 species of property, and it was a fact that those copyholds which were known by the term copyholds of inheritance, where the fine was certain and nominal, actually sold at more years purchase than that of freeholds, which was caused by the cheapness and facility of transfer and the security which is given by a complete registration of title. The only doubt on his (Mr. Colvile's) mind was whether his proposal went low enough, and whether he should not have put the sum, as in the case of freeholds, at 40s.; but as there were other copyholds where the custom of the Court was not so favourable to the tenant, he thought it a fair compromise, and he had determined to ask the Committee to agree to reduce the copyhold franchise from £10 to £5. He trusted that this proposition would meet with the approval of Her Majesty's Government, and that the Committee would give him their support.
In line 19, after the word "and," to insert the words "who shall be seised at law or in equity of any lands or tenements of copyhold or any other tenure whatever, except freehold, for his own life, or for the life of another, or for any lives whatsoever, or for any larger estate of the clear yearly value of not less than five pounds over and above all rents and charges payable out of or in respect of the same."—(Mr. Colvile.)
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, that the proposition of the hon. Gentleman entirely rested upon this argument, that as the 40s. freeholder was entitled to a vote, therefore a correspondingly low limit of value should be taken for the franchise based on copyhold tenure. But it was quite clear that nobody would now think of proposing, for the first time, that a freehold of 40s. annual value should confer the franchise in counties. The limit of 40s. was fixed upon at a time when the value of property was very different from what it was now; but that being the origin of the Parliamentary franchise, and having existed for centuries as the foundation of our representation, it would be undesirable to change it. In creating a franchise, however, for tenures which until recently were not represented, as was the case with copyholds until 1832, it was only reasonable that a limit more in accordance with the present value of property should be adopted, and therefore £10 had been fixed upon. Nothing had occurred since 1832 to make them reduce the £10 to £5, which was quite an inadequate amount if they were to take value 847 at all as their guide. He hoped therefore the Committee would adhere to the amount.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, they were now enlarging the suffrage, and what was done in 1832 could not bind them on the present occasion. He wanted an answer to this question — Would they, by reducing the copyhold franchise to £5, bring in a class of voters whom they wished to keep out? That was the whole question. Those who possessed copyholds of a clear yearly value of £5 were certainly persons who ought to have a voice in the election of Members of Parliament; and he could not understand how the Government, who had in so many instances yielded to the wise wishes of the country at large, should refuse on that small point to make so reasonable a concession.
MR. M. T. BASS
said, the hon. and learned Attorney General seemed to have forgotten that they were reducing all the franchises. He thought that copyholders of £5 clear yearly value could not be denied the franchise without manifest injustice.
§ SIR EDWARD BULLER
supported the Amendment. He could not understand how the Attorney General could object to it, or how he was a party to the proposals for conferring the franchise on the possessors of £50 in the funds or in a savings bank, neither of which qualifications were equal in value to a £5 copyhold.
§ MR. BARROW
said, he could not understand why the Government should oppose the Amendment. It was based upon the admitted desirability of giving property some influence in the Parliamentary elections, and it could not be desirable that the £5 copyholder should be excluded from the franchise to which the £15 occupier was to be admitted.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
observed, that a proposition similar to the present Amendment was contained in the Reform Bill introduced by Lord Derby's 848 Government in 1859, and it was certainly unjust to preserve a "hard and fast" line in this respect in the counties at the moment when they had abolished it in the boroughs.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 201; Noes 157: Majority 44.850
|Acland, T. D.||Ewing, H. E. Crum-|
|Adam, W. P.||Eykyn, R.|
|Allen, W. S.||Fawcett, H.|
|Amberley Viscount||Foljambe, F. J. S.|
|Ayrton, A. S.||Forster, C.|
|Aytoun, R. S,||Forster, W. E.|
|Baines, E.||Foster, W. O.|
|Barnes, T.||Fortescue, hon. D. F.|
|Barnett, H.||Gaselee, Serjeant S.|
|Barrow, W. H.||Gilpin, C.|
|Bass, A.||Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.|
|Bass, M. T.||Glyn, G. G.|
|Bazley, T.||Goldsmid, Sir F. H.|
|Beaumont, W. B.||Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Gower, hon. F. L.|
|Biddulph, M.||Graham, W.|
|Blake, J. A.||Greenall, G.|
|Blennerhasset, Sir R.||Gridley, Captain H. G.|
|Bonham-Carter, J.||Grove, T. F.|
|Bowyer, Sir G.||Hadfield, G.|
|Brand, rt. hon. H.||Hamilton, E. W. T.|
|Bright, J.||Hankey, T.|
|Brown, J.||Hanmer, Sir J.|
|Browne, Lord J. T.||Harris, J. D.|
|Bruce, Lord C.||Hay, Lord J.|
|Bruce, Lord E.||Hay, Lord W. M.|
|Buller, Sir A. W.||Hayter, Captain A. D.|
|Buller, Sir E. M.||Headlam, rt. hn. T. E.|
|Buxton, Sir T. F.||Henderson, J.|
|Candlish, J.||Heneage, E.|
|Cardwell, rt. hon. E.||Henley, rt. hon. J. W.|
|Cave, T.||Henley, Lord|
|Cavendish, Lord F. C.||Hibbert, J. T.|
|Cavendish, Lord G.||Hodgkinson, G.|
|Chambers, T.||Hodgson, K. D.|
|Clay, J.||Holden, I.|
|Clement, W. J.||Hornby, W. H.|
|Cogan, rt. hn. W. H. F.||Howard, hon. C. W. G.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Hughes, T.|
|Collier, Sir R. P.||Hurst, R. H.|
|Corrance, F. S.||Hutt, rt. hon. Sir W.|
|Cowen, J.||Ingham, R.|
|Cowper, hon. H. F.||Jackson, W.|
|Cox, W. T.||Jervoise, Sir J. C.|
|Craufurd, E. H. J.||King, hon. P. J. L.|
|Crawford, R. W.||Kinglake, A. W.|
|Crossley, Sir F.||Kinglake, J. A.|
|Dalglish, R.||Kingscote, Colonel|
|Denman, hon. G.||Knatchbull-Hugessen E.|
|Dering, Sir E. C.||Labouchere, H.|
|Dick, F.||Laing, S.|
|Dillwyn, L. L.||Layard, A. H.|
|Dunkellin, Lord||Lamont, J.|
|Du Pre, C. G.||Lawrence, W.|
|Egerton, hon. W.||Leatham, W. H.|
|Eliot, Lord||Leeman, G.|
|Enfield, Viscount||Lefevre, G. J. S.|
|Esmonde, J.||Lewis, H.|
|Evans, T. W.||Locke, J.|
|Lusk, A.||Russell, A.|
|Mackie, J.||Russell, H.|
|M'Laren, D.||St. Aubyn, J.|
|Maguire, J. F.||Samuda, J. D'A.|
|Martin, P. W.||Samuelson, B.|
|Merry, J.||Scholefield, W.|
|Milbank, F. A.||Scott, Sir W.|
|Mill, J. S.||Seely, C.|
|Miller, W.||Seymour, A.|
|Mitchell, A.||Smith, J. B.|
|Mitchell, T. A.||Speirs, A. A.|
|Monk, C. J.||Stacpoole, W.|
|More, R. J.||Stanley, hon. W. O.|
|Morrison, W.||Stansfeld, J.|
|Newdegate, C. N.||Stock, O.|
|Nicholson, W.||Stuart, Col. Crichton-|
|Nicol, J. D.||Stucley, Sir G. S.|
|O'Beirne, J. L.||Synan, E. J.|
|O'Donoghue, The||Talbot, C. R. M.|
|Ogilvy, Sir J.||Taylor, P. A.|
|Oliphant, L.||Torrens, W. T. M'C.|
|Onslow, G.||Vernon, H. F.|
|O'Reilly, M. W.||Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.|
|Packe, Colonel||Vivian, H. H.|
|Padmore, R.||Warner, E.|
|Palmer, Sir R.||Watkin, E. W.|
|Parry, T.||Western, Sir T. B.|
|Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.||Whalley, G. H.|
|Peel, A. W.||Whatman, J.|
|Peel, J.||Whitbread, S.|
|Pelham, Lord||White, J.|
|Peto, Sir S. M.||Whitworth, B.|
|Philips, R. N.||Williamson, Sir H.|
|Pim, J.||Winnington, Sir T. E.|
|Platt, J.||Woods, H.|
|Potter, E.||Wyld, J.|
|Power, Sir J.||Wyndham, hon. P.|
|Price, W. P.||Wyvil, M.|
|Pritchard, J.||Young, G.|
|Rearden, D. J.||Young, R.|
|Rebow, J. G.|
|Robartes, T. J. A.||TELLERS.|
|Robertson, D.||Colvile, C. R.|
|Roebuck, J. A.||Pease, J. W.|
|Adderley, rt. hon. C. B.||Cole, hon. J. L.|
|Annesley, hon. Col. H.||Conolly, T.|
|Anson, hon. Major||Corry, rt. hon. H. L.|
|Bagge, Sir W.||Cranbourne, Viscount|
|Bailey, Sir J. R.||Cubitt, G.|
|Baillie, rt. hon. H. J.||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Baring, T.||Dickson, Major A. G.|
|Bathurst, A. A.||Dimsdale, R.|
|Beach, Sir M. H.||Disraeli, rt. hon. B.|
|Beach, W. W. B.||Duncombe, hon. Colonel|
|Beresford, Capt. D. W. Packe-||Dunne, General|
|Dyott, Colonel R.|
|Bernard, hn. Col. H. B.||Eckersley, N.|
|Bourne, Colonel||Edwards, Sir H.|
|Brett, W. B.||Egerton Sir P. G.|
|Bridges, Sir B. W.||Egerton, E. C.|
|Brooks, R.||Fellowes, E.|
|Bruen, H.||Fergusson, Sir J.|
|Buckley, E.||Floyer, J.|
|Burrell, Sir P.||Freshfield, C. K.|
|Butler-Johnstone, H. A.||Garth, R.|
|Campbell, A. H.||Getty, S. G.|
|Capper, C.||Goodson, J.|
|Cartwright, Colonel||Gore, J. R. O.|
|Cave, rt. hon. S.||Gore, W. R. O.|
|Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.||Grant, A.|
|Clive, Capt. hon. G. W.||Graves, S. R.|
|Gray, Lieut.-Colonel||Neeld, Sir J.|
|Greene, E.||Neville-Grenville, R.|
|Grey, hon. T. de||Newport, Viscount|
|Guinness, Sir B. L.||North, Colonel|
|Gurney, rt. hon. R.||Northcote, rt. hn. Sir S. H.|
|Gwyn, H.||Packe, C. W.|
|Hamilton, rt. hn. Lord C.||Paget, R. H.|
|Hardy, rt. hon. G.||Pakington, rt. hn. Sir J.|
|Hartopp, E. B.||Parker, Major W.|
|Harvey, R. B.||Percy, Mjr.-Gen. Ld. H.|
|Heathcote, hon. G. H.||Powell, F. S.|
|Heathcote, Sir W.||Pugh, D.|
|Herbert, hon. Col. P.||Read, C. S.|
|Hesketh, Sir T. G.||Repton, G. W. J.|
|Hildyard, T. B. T.||Ridley, Sir M. W.|
|Hogg, Lt.-Col. J. M.||Robertson, P. F.|
|Holford, R. S.||Rolt, Sir J.|
|Hope, A. J. B. B.||Royston, Viscount|
|Horsfall, T. B.||Russell, Sir C.|
|Howes, E.||Schreiber, C.|
|Huddleston, J. W.||Sclater-Booth, G.|
|Hunt, G. W.||Scott, Lord H.|
|Jervis, Major||Scourfield, J. H.|
|Jones, D.||Selwyn, C. J.|
|Karslake, Sir J. B.||Severne, J. E.|
|Karslake, E. K.||Seymour, G. H.|
|Kekewich, S. T.||Simonds, W. B.|
|Kelk, J.||Smith, A.|
|Kendall, N.||Smollett, P. B.|
|King, J. K.||Stanhope, J. B.|
|King, J. G.||Stanley, Lord|
|Knight, F. W.||Stanley, hon. F.|
|Knightley, Sir R.||Stronge, Sir J. M.|
|Knox, Colonel||Surtees, C. F.|
|Knox, hon. Colonel S.||Surtees, H. E.|
|Lacon, Sir E.||Thynne, Lord H. F.|
|Laird, J.||Tollemache, J.|
|Langton, W. G.||Treeby, J. W.|
|Leader, N. P.||Trevor, Lord A. E. Hill-|
|Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.||Turner, C.|
|Lennox, Lord H. G.||Vance, J.|
|Liddell, hon. H. G.||Vandeleur, Colonel|
|Lindsay, hon. Col. C.||Walcott, Admiral|
|Lopes, Sir M.||Walker, Major G. G.|
|Lowther, J.||Walrond, J. W.|
|M'Kenna, J. N.||Walsh, A.|
|Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.||Waterhouse, S.|
|Mitford, W. T.||Whitmore, H.|
|Montagu, rt. hn. Lord R.||Wise, H. C.|
|Montgomery, Sir G.||Woodd, B. T.|
|Morgan, hon. Major||TELLERS.|
|Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.||Taylor, Colonel T. E.|
|Naas, Lord||Noel, hon. G. J.|
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I mentioned to the Committee that it was absolutely necessary we should ask them for some money to-night. And perhaps it would be well that we should here pause with that object in view. ["No, no!"] I have no objection to proceed if the House will be pleased to assist us by-and-by with Estimates 1 and 2 in Committee, and will not remind us that it is then one o'clock. It is absolutely necessary that some money should be voted.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, the Motion just carried had reduced the franchise in certain 851 cases to £5. The Reform Act of 1832 contained other cases of a similar kind, and it would be necessary to take them into consideration. He did not see any Amendment relating to these upon the Paper, and it was desirable that there should be clear propositions before the House when any change was to be made. Unless some Member was ready to propose that they should reduce the value in all these cases to £5, it would be better that they should not proceed further that night.
I hope that hon. Members will be disposed to accede to the wish which has been expressed by the right hon. Gentleman on the part of the Government. He has very kindly said he is willing to go on in Committee provided he is not obstructed in taking two classes of the Estimates on which it is absolutely necessary for him to have the money. I think the right hon. Gentleman is not at all to blame for offering that suggestion. On the other hand, there may be many Members here disposed to discuss various Votes in these Estimates, and as that is one of the primary functions of Members of Parliament, I do not think hon. Members who may wish to deal with those Estimates, however kind the offer of the right hon. Gentleman, should be placed at the disadvantage of having to deal with them at one o'clock in the morning.
§ MR. HUSSEY VIVIAN
said, the 20th section of the Reform Act of 1832 was on all fours with the 19th section, on which the Committee had just expressed its opinion. Unless he understood from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that on a future occasion the principle affirmed in one case would be extended to the others, he should propose to take the sense of the Committee on the 20th section as well.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
If the hon. Member desires to challenge any decision upon the 20th section of the Reform Act of 1832 he had better give notice of his Motion. The Committee will feel that to be the regular course of proceeding. It is from no wish to delay the decision that I say so; personally, I very much wish we could dispose of the matter to-night. But the Committee will remember that what I stated just now with regard to Supply I mentioned the other night. I have redeemed the engagement into which I entered, and I think it will be for the general convenience that you, Sir, should now report Progress.
MR. LOCKE KING
suggested, that as there were few Motions of importance on the Paper for to-morrow, it might be desirable to proceed with the Reform Bill.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.