§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ [Mr. EMMOTT (Oldham) in the Chair.]
§ Clause 1:—
In page 1, line 8, to leave out the word 'seven,' and insert the word 'fifteen."—(Lord Robert Cecil.)
§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'seven' stand part of the Clause."
§ *MR. ASHLEY (Lancashire, Blackpool)
said that the Bill was not a good one. As with another Bill before the House, it was class legislation, in that the rich man was favoured as compared with the working man—he referred to the Street Betting Bill. Here the well-to-do were at a disadvantage. What was the Amendment before the Committee? It was to defer the operation of the Act from 1907 to 1915. There was, he thought, one subject which would lie in order, and that was the constitutional aspects of the question. He did not think it could be denied by hon. Members of the House that the Bill made a great change, both in theory and practice, in our constitution. It abolished territorial representation. It said that a man should not have more than one vote because he owned property in several different districts. If that were so, let them look for a moment at the practice of other countries, where great constitutional change was contemplated by the Legislature. If they looked at the great republic across the Atlantic they saw that no great change could be made unless the central Legislature approved of that change by a two-thirds majority; and even that did not suffice, but all the Legislatures of the various states had to pass the change by a three-fourths majority. Hon. Members might well say, and perhaps truly, that the United States, though in theory, was not a democratic 433 country in practice. No one, however, would deny that it had a great amount of liberty. But let them look at another republic, one which, though perhaps not quite so much before the eyes of the world, had nevertheless an honourable history. He referred to the republic of Switzerland. No one would deny that the constitution there was not only democratic in theory——
What is or is not done in other countries has nothing to do with the Amendment. The hon. Member must confine himself to the Amendment.
§ *MR. ASHLEY
said his argument, was intended to show that no change in the constitution of the country should be allowed to take place before an election; and his noble friend's Amendment, if carried, would enable that election to take place. He wanted to show from the constitution—[Cries of "No, no."]
§ *MR. ASHLEY
said his point was that they ought to defer the operation of the Act until 1915, because if it came into operation in 1907 the people of the country would not have an opportunity of saying whether they approved of the measure or not. The question of plural voting was not before the country at the last general election. The Government received a mandate in reference to Chinese Labour, but they had received no mandate as regarded plural voting. In his election campaign plural voting was never mentioned, and he thought his experience was the experience of the vast majority of the Members of the House. In view of these things he asked the Government to accept the Amendment and so enable the country at the next general election to say whether they approved of the Bill or not.
§ LORD CASTLEREAGH (Maidstone)
desired to associate himself with the noble Lord, for he also was of opinion that the measure should not come into force until 1915. It was not in accordance with the wishes of the country that the Bill should be passed through the House of Commons except in conjunction with a redistribution of seats. During 434 the debates upon the question the Opposition had been treated by the Government—he would not say in a discourteous manner, but the Government had certainly turned a deaf ear to every proposal that his side of the House had made He would venture to quote the words of a present Member of the Government and one whose authority would be respected on the opposite side of the House. These words were used by the Secretary of State for India some time ago—The Government were unable to deal with plural voting in root and branch; to do so would necessitate dealing with the question of redistribution.He hoped the Members of the Government would seek the advice of the right hon. Gentleman, for he felt convinced that the Secretary of State for India would not have uttered those words unless they were really his opinion, an opinion which he had no idea of changing. He begged to support the Amendment.
§ *SIR FRANCIS LOWE (Birmingham, Edgbaston)
said he wished to support the Amendment, not because he desired to delay any just and fair alteration in our existing electoral system which might be shown to be necessary, but in order that the Government might have an opportunity of bringing forward a further measure to complete and perfect what they themselves were forced to admit was an incomplete measure, and so remove most of the objections which they on that side entertained towards the present Bill. He thought it might be taken that, subject to a few exceptions in favour of the Universities and other similar bodies, they on that side had no particular objection to the principle of what was known as "One man, one vote," provided that it was accompanied by such a re-distribution of electoral areas as would secure something like an equal value to each vote which was cast in any election. Plural votes were not the only or the greatest irregularities in our existing system, and they did not see why the Government should pick out and proceed to deal with this one irregularity, just because it told most "against their own side, whilst they left entirely untouched many much more glaring irregularities. As an instance of what he meant, he would like to ask which was the greater injustice: that a small town like Newry in Ireland with its 1,900 435 electors, should have the same representation in that House and the same voice in the settlement of the affairs of the nation as the Romford Division of Essex with its 45,000 electors or that land and property (which no one could say was over-represented in that House at the present time) should continue to have the same inadequate amount of representation which it now possessed until the whole thing could be put right? But to make the alteration which the present Bill proposed alone would only tend to accentuate and increase the present inequalities, for many of the smaller existing constituencies, like the county of Rutland with its 4,000 electors, would be rendered smaller still by having some of their present voters taken away from them, whilst some of the larger constituencies, such as the bordesley Division of Birmingham with its 16,000 electors, would not have any voters taken away from it, so would remain entirely as it was. He called attention to what a false and invidious position many Members of the present House of Commons would be placed in if this alteration were made. The constituencies which returned them would be entirely changed, and they would cease to represent those who elected them in any true sense of the term. He would only say in conclusion, that he wished the present Amendment to be passed in older that the Government might have time to introduce a further measure which would remedy the omissions of the present Bill and confer upon every householder what they themselves professed to desire he should have, namely, an equal voice in the management of the affairs of his country.
§ SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)
said the argument advanced by the hon. Member for Blackpool was a genuine argument. It was thought to be advisable to postpone the date of the operation of this Bill from 1907 to 1915, in order that a general election might take place and the opinion of the country be taken upon this particular Bill. He himself was only concerned in endeavouring to shew the reason why the date of its operation should be changed. He believed the change would commend itself to hon. Gentlemen opposite, because they themselves complained in the late Parliament that the then Government had no right to deal with any questions except those 436 connected with the settlement of the war in South Africa, because they had received no other mandate. In the last election there certainly was no mandate for a plural voting Bill. But there were other strong reasons why the Amendment should be accepted. First there was the reason adduced by his noble friend, that a Bill of this sort should not be brought in unless it was accompanied by redistribution. That was a very powerful reason. Then there were other anomalies, and if the Committee were going to make this very vital alteration in the franchise they should see not only that no other anomalies were created, but that as many anomalies in the present law were removed as possible, lie trusted, as there was to be a Report Stage, the right hon. Gentleman would consent to this Amendment.
§ MR. EVELYN CECIL (Aston Manor)
appealed for more time to consider this Amendment, because to pass through the House legislation in this piecemeal way was not only unwise, but it would not in the long run attain the object the Government desired. He did not see that the argument as to anomalies applied at all. It was said that this Bill was brought in to remove an anomaly. Now an anomaly was a departure from the common rule, and the common rule in this country was that representation and taxation should go together.
reminded the hon. Member that the question was whether this anomaly should come to an end in 1907 or 1915.
§ MR. EVELYN CECIL
explained that this Bill, far from removing an anomaly, was introducing one. It introduced the anomaly of representation without taxation. It was therefore very desirable that this Bill, if passed, should not come into force now, but that its operation should be put off in order to give time for a general Bill correcting anomalies from a broad standpoint. He could not see, if this legislation was proceeded with, that they would do anything else than create further anomalies instead of carrying out the object of the Government, which was said to be to reduce them.
§ MR. WILLIAM RUTHERFORD (Liverpool, WetDerby)
said that one 437 very obvious reason why the operation of this Bill should be postponed was that it ought to be accompanied by a Bill for redistribution, as it would be impossible to say what proportion of electors there would be in the various constituencies. Another important reason why it should not come into operation until a redistribution Bill was passed, was that there were a great number of serious anomalies in the present law which would have to be dealt with. If the Government proceeded in the proper course by means of various Bills to remove those anomalies, then it would be only reasonable that the whole of the alterations should come into operation at one time. Therefore it was desirable to postpone the operation of this Bill. The right hon.
§ Gentleman scarcely appreciated the amount of work that would be required to be done before this Bill could be applied in the constituencies. The registers would require to be made up and dealt with. Two of the smallest constituencies in Liverpool, for instance, would have 25 per cent, and 30 per cent, respectively, of their voters taken from them. He did not see how the Bill could possibly come into operation at the date suggested by the right hon. Gentleman, and he thought a reasonable time should be given before it did come into force.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided. Ayes, 307; Noes, 89. (Division list No. 330.)441
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.)||Coats, SirT.Glen(Renfrew. W.)||Gardner, Cel. Alan(Herford,S|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Gibb, James (Harrow)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Gill, A. H.|
|Agnew, George William||Cooper, Rt. J.||Gladstone,Rt.Hn. Herbert John|
|Ambrose, Robert||Corbett,CH.(Sussex,E.Grinst'd||Goddard, Daniel Ford|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Gooch, George Peabody|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn.HerbertHenry||Cowan, W. H.||Grant, Corrie|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Cox, Harold||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)|
|Barker, John||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth||Guest, Hon. Ivor (Churchill)|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Cremer, William Randal||Gulland, John W.|
|Barnard, E. B.||Crombie, John William||Gordon, Sir W. Brampton|
|Beauchamp, E.||Crooks, William||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.|
|Beaumont.Hn. W.C.B.(Hexham||Crosfield, A. H.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis|
|Bell, Richard||Crossley, William J.||Hardy, George V. (Suffolk)|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Dalziel, James Henry||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)|
|Benn, W. (T'w'rHamlets,S.Geo||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Hart-Davies. T.|
|Billson, Alfred||Davies, Timothy (Fulhnm)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol. S.)||Harwood, George|
|Black, Arthur W.(Bedfordshire||Belany, William||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Boland, John||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Boulton, A. C. F. (Ramsey)||Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.)||Hazel, Dr. A. E.|
|Brace, William||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Branch, James||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Brigg, John||Donelan, Captain A.||Henderson, J.M.(Aberdeen, W|
|Brooke, Stopford||Duckworth, James||Henry, Charles S.|
|Brunner, J.F.L. (Lancs.,Leigh||Duffy, William J.||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)|
|Brunner, Sir JohnT.(Cheshire)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Higham, John Sharp|
|Bryce, Rt. Hn.James(Aberdeen||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Hobart, Sir Robert|
|Bryce, J.A. (Iverness Burghs)||Dunne, MajorE.Martin(Walsall||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Hogan, Michael|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Edwards, Frank (Radnor)||Holland, Sir William Henry|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Chas||Elibank, Master of||Hooper, A. G.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Erskine, David C.||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)|
|Cairns, Thumbs||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Hope, W. Bateman(SomersetN|
|Cameron, Robert||Evans, Samuel T.||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Everett, R. Lacey||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Carr-Gomm. H. W.||Faber, G. H. (Boston)||Hudson, Walter|
|Causton,Rt.Hn.RichardKnight||Fenwick, Charles||Hutton, Alfred Eddison|
|Cawley, Frederick||Ferens, T. R.||Idris, T. H. W.|
|Charter, Frederick William||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Charming. Francis Allston||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Flynn, James Christopher||Jocaby, James Alfred|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. P. R.||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Jardine, Sir J.|
|Clarke, C. Goddard||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Jenkins, J.|
|Clough, W.||Fuller, John Michael F.||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Fullerton, Hugh||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swainsea|
|Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Norman, Henry||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Jones, William(Carnarvonshire||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Snowdon, P.|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Nuttall, Harry||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Kelley, George D.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Kincaid-Smith, Captain||O'Connor, James (Wicklow.W.||Stanley, Hn.A.Lyulph(Chesh.)|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Steadman, W. C.|
|Laidlaw, Robert||O'Doherty, Philip||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||O'Grady, J.||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Lambert, George||O' Kelly, James(Roscommon, N.||Stuart, James (Sunderland)|
|Lamont, Norman||O'Malley, William||Sullivan, Donal|
|Langley, Batty||O'Mara, James||Summerbell, T.|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Tayler, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Leese, Sir JosephF. (Accrington)||Palmer, Sir Charles Mark||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Lehmann, R. C.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe,|
|Lever, A.Levy(Essex, Harwich||Partington, Oswald||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.|
|Lever, W.H. (Cheshire, Wirral)||Paul, Herbert||Thomas, SirA.(Glamorgan, E.|
|Levy, Maurice||Paulton, James Mellor||Thomas, DavidAlfred(Merthyr|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)||Tomkinson, James|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Pearson, W.H.M.(Suffolk, Eye)||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Lough, Thomas||Philipps, J.Wynford(Pembroke||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Lundon, W.||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Verney, F. W.|
|Lyell, Charles Henrv||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Villiers, Ernest Amherst|
|Macdonald, J.M.(FalkirkB'ghs)||Pollard, Dr.||Vivian, Henry|
|Maclean, Donald||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||Waldron, Laurence Ambrose|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Price, RobertJohn(Norfolk, E.)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||Radford, G. H.||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|MacVeigh, Chas. (Donegal, E.)||Raphael, Hebert H.||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|M'Callum, JohnM.||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|M'Crae, George||Redmond, John E. (Waterford||Ward,W.Dudley(Southampton)|
|M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Rees, J. D.||Wardle, George J.|
|M'Killop, W.||Richards, Thomas (W.Monm'th||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Richards, T. F.(Wolverh'mpt'n||Wason, Eugene(Clackmannan)|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Richardson, A.||Wason, John Cathcart(Orkney)|
|Maddison, Frederick||Rickett, J. Compton||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||Robertson, Rt. Hn. E. (Dundee||Whitbread, Howard|
|Marks, G.Croydon(Launceston)||Robertson, SirG.Scott(Bradf'rd||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Marnham, F. J.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||White, Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Massie, J.||Robinson, S.||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Meagher, Michael||Roe, Sir Thomas||Whittaker, Sir ThomasPalmer|
|Menzies, Walter||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Rose, Charles Day||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza||Rowlands, J.||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Montagu, E. S.||Runciman, Walter||Wilson Hon.C.H.W. (Hull.W.)|
|Mooney, J. J.||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Morse, L. L.||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Scott, A.H.(Ashton under Lyne||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Murnaghan, George||Sears, J. E.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Murphy, John||Seely, Major B.|
|Murray, James||Shackleton, David James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Myer, Horatio||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick, B.|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Shipman, Dr. John G.)|
|Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Nicholls, George||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Acland-Hood, Rt.Hn.AlexSirF.||Bowles, G. Stewart||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E-|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Collings Rt.Hn.J.(Birmingh'm|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Bull, Sir William James||Corbett, T. I. (Down, North)|
|Ashley, W. W.||Butcher, Samuel Henry||Courthope, O. Loyd|
|Balcarres, Lord||Carlile, E. Hildred||Craig, Capt. James (Down, E.)|
|Balfour,Rt.Hn.A.J. (CityLond.||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Craik, Sir Henry|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Castlereagh, Viscount||Dalrymple, Viscount|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Cave, George||Doughty, Sir George|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.||Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C.W||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Duncan. Robert(Lanark,Govan|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Chamberlain,Rt,Hn.A.J.(Worc.||Fell, Arthur|
|Finch, Rt. Hon George H.||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Smith, Abel H.(Hertford, East)|
|Forster, Henry William||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Smith, Hon.W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Stanley, Hon. Arthur(Ormskirk|
|Haddock, George R.||Marks, H. H. (Kent)||Starkey, John R.|
|Hardy, Laurence(Kent,Ashford||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Staveley, Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.|
|Harrison-Broadley, Col. H. B.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Morpeth, Viscount||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Hervey, F.W.F.(BuryS.Edmds||Nicholson, Wm.G.(Petersfield)||Thomson, W.Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Parker, SirGilbert (Gravesend)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Hills, J. W.||Pease, HerbertPike(Darlington||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Percy, Earl||Valentia, Viscount|
|Hunt, Rowland||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Rt.Hn.Col.W.||Randies, Sir John Scurrah||Wilson, A. Stanley(York, E.R.)|
|Kimber, Sir Henry||Ratcliff, Major R. F.||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Rawlinson, JohnFrederickPeel||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Roberts, S.(Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Lord Robert Cecil and Sir Francis Lowe.|
|Liddell, Henry||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Lockwood, Rt.Hn.Lt.-Col.A.R.||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
§ *MR. H. H. MARKS (Kent, Thanet) moved as an Amendment to insert after the words "the year nineteen hundred and seven," the words "or such later date as His Majesty in Council may determine." He claimed that this Amendment could not be characterised as one of a destructive nature. He submitted, indeed, that in the event of the measure passing into law it would tend to its smooth working. It had been claimed by the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill, that the measure possessed the quality of simplicity. Perhaps that might be true. One might go so far as to say that it was transparent, but whatever its simplicity, there seemed to be great difficulty in the way of defining exactly what sort of Bill it was. The Committee were assured that it was not an enfranchising Bill, they were also assured that it was not a disfranchising Bill, and the right hon. Gentleman had described it, to use his own words, as a machinery Bill. A machinery Bill it certainly was in one sense. It was a measure to help the political machine of one political party. How the Bill worked would depend, he thought, upon the treatment this Amendment might receive. While he did not call in question at all the earnestness and sincerity of the promoters of this Bill in their desire to establish a reform, he would remind them that there were some "reforms" that were to be achieved at too great cost and at too great mischief. They all knew the story of the wag who undertook to show bootmakers how to make a pair of shoes in less than five minutes. It was by cutting the tops off 442 a pair of boots. But that was a wasteful process, and it was the process which seemed to commend itself to the authors of this measure. Why did he ask that the Government should give the option proposed by the Amendment with respect to the date when the Act was to come into operation? Because in his opinion the Bill was bound to set up most complex machinery. It was bound to involve electoral and registration work in an amount of confusion and complication which he was sure its authors did not contemplate. An Order in Council would have to be prepared under Subsection 2 of Clause 1 of this Bill. Between now and the date when this measure came into operation in 1907 it was open to question whether the electors or political agents would have time to consider the difficult problems which might arise under the Bill. He wished to call attention to the fact that if the Bill passed as it now stood, and came into force on 1st September next, that was just at a time when the registration lists in the various constituencies were compiled. What would that involve in the registration agencies in the various constituencies? They knew already that there were extreme difficulties in the way of doing registration, work and they had heard for many years that it was the intention of the Liberal Government to simplify the work of registration. But would this Bill simplify the work? On the contrary, it would complicate it infinitely. Voters would have to put in a claim to vote in a particular constituency and establish a sort of clearing house as to voting rights. The details for carrying this out would not 443 only be of infinite complexity, but an entirely now branch of political work and organisation would have to be established. He submitted that to expect to start the whole of this new machinery and have it in working order between now and 1st September next was unreasonable. Why should not the Government consent to take an option of extending the date when the Act should come into operation by means of an Order in Council? Surely the Government did not anticipate that they were to be out of office before that date! Why should not the Order in Council extend the operative date beyond 1st September? Why should not the terms of the Order in Council have been laid on the Table of the House, and hon. Members would then have been able to judge what was to be done. If they had had the Order in Council before them it was conceivable that that document might have persuaded hon. Members as to the simplicity of the Bill. But in the absence of the Order, and in the absence of full explanations as to the operation of the Act, he submitted that it would be doing a rash thing to agree to this Bill, which he presumed would be passed, coining into operation on 1st September next. The time was too short and the matters to be considered were too important for that. If this Bill was to pass—as he assumed it would—it was as well that it should pass with the minimum of injustice and inconvenience to all concerned, It was for that reason that he moved the Amendment standing in his name in the hope that it would be adopted.
In page 1, line 8, alter the word 'seven," to insert the words 'or such later date as His Majesty in Council may determine'"—(Mr. H. H. Marks).
§ Question proposed, "That these words be there inserted."
§ MR. HARCOURT
thought the hon. Member, on further consideration, would come to the conclusion that this Amendment was undesirable, not only from his point of view, but undeniably from the view of the Government. It was essential to give notice to the public when a particular Act of Parliament came into operation. That was, of course, for the general convenience. But if the 444 Amendment of the hon. Gentleman were adopted it would not only prove a great inconvenience, but would amount to something almost unconstitutional. The Legislature alone could decide when a law should come into force, and to take the power out of the hands of Parliament as to when a measure should come into force involved rather a serious constitutional question.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
did not think that the account of the Amendment given by the right hon. Gentleman was accurate. It was not as if the Government were, in despite of Parliament, keeping to itself the time when this Act should come into force. What his hon. friend asked was that Parliament should leave to the Government a certain license in determining when the Act should come into operation. After all the Government were responsible to the House of Commons, and any delay on the part of the Government in bringing an Act into operation would be summarily put an end to by a majority of this House expressing its will thereon. An Order in Council was, no doubt, the act of the Executive—of the Ministers, and no abuse of it could possibly occur without its being brought before Parliament. So far as he could recollect there was no precedent for this particular form of delay.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said that, at all events, it was not the common way to leave a latitude or choice to the Government of the day in bringing an Act of Parliament into operation. On the other hand, this Bill was of an exceedingly complicated character, and where they had not before them the Order in Council, which would largely fill up the lacunœ left by the draftsman of the Bill, he thought that the Government should be given some latitude as to when the measure should come into operation Thy Amendment compelled nobody.
§ MR. STAVELEY-HILL (Staffordshire, Kingswinford)
said that this was a measure which sought to disfranchise and not to enfranchise voters in more senses 445 than had occurred to the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill. If time were not given for the consideration of the details of the Bill a large number of His Majesty's subjects would find themselves in prison. He had much pleasure in supporting the Amendment.
§ *CAPTAIN CRAIG (Down, E.)
said that the remarks which had fallen from one of the hon. Members for the City of London in regard to the previous Amendment applied equally to this, because, during the last general election this particular measure was not before the country. At any rate it was not before a single Irish constituency. On that ground alone he supported the proposal that it was necessary that a certain latitude should be given to the Government, as to the time it was to come into force. He had several Amendments on the Paper which would come on for discussion later on, including one to exclude Ireland altogether from the operation of this measure; but it was imperative on him to support the present Amendment as strongly as he possibly could. In the North of Ireland they had been for some time asking for a Redistribution Bill, and the effect of the Amendment would be to give a chance for a Redistribution Bill to be introduced. He believed that this Bill might be taken alongside of a Redistribution Bill removing some very serious anomalies which existed at the present moment in the electoral law in the North of Ireland. He spoke in the interests of all sides and not in reference to either the South or North of the Boyne. It would be of the greatest advantage that this Bill should be placed in such a position, that if some of the truths which were well known as existing in regard to Ireland were brought home to His Majesty's Government, His Majesty in Council might in consequence postpone bringing this measure
§ into force until a later date. He had very much pleasure in supporting the Amendment.
§ MR. HARMOOD-BANNER (Liverpool, Everton)
hoped the Amendment would be accepted, or at any rate, if it was not accepted in the form in which it stood that they would have an intimation from the right hon. Member in charge of the Bill that he would extend the time beyond the date at which it now stood. He thought they must all admit that the discussion upon the Bill showed that there was going to be great difficulty in regard to its application. Under the Bill notice must be served before the 1st September, 1907, so that at the very outset there were only nine months of 1907 in which the various agents, both Liberal and Conservative, would have to give their instructions to electors to enable them to take advantage of the clause, otherwise by September all the plural voters would be disfranchised and would have no right to vote. Therefore he contended that even Liberal agents themselves would tell the right hon. Member in charge of the Bill that the complexity of the measure was so great that nine months was an insufficient time in which to schedule and index the plural voters and enable them to serve those voters with proper notices. If they were to pass this measure let them pass it in a shape cognisant with justice, and whilst the Amendment might be rather too wide, if the right hon. Gentleman would give them till the year 1908, he would be doing that which was right and just to those who were entitled to the plural vote.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 89; Noes, 330. (Division List No. 331.)449
|Acland-Hood,Rt.Hn.SirAlexF.||Bignold, Sir Arthur||Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Bowles, G. Stewart||Chamberlain,RtHn. J. A. (Wore.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.|
|Ashley, W. W.||Bull, Sir William James||Collings, Rt. Hn.J. (Birmingh'm|
|Balcarres, Lord||Butcher, Samuel Henry||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)|
|Balfour,Rt.Hn.A.J. (CityLond.||Carlile, E. Hildred||Courthope, G. Loyd|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Craig, Capt. James (Down, E.)|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Castlereagh, Viscount||Craik, Sir Henry|
|Barrie, H.T. (Londonderry. N.)||Cave, George||Dalrymple, Viscount|
|Beach,Hn.Michael Hugh Hicks||Cavendish, Rt. Hn. VictorC.W.||Dixon-Hartland,Sir FredDixon|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Doughty, Sir George|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Duncan,Robert (Lanark, Govan||Liddell, Henry||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Lockwood, Rt.Hn.Lt.-Col.A.R.||Smith, Abel H.(Hertford, East)|
|Fell, Arthur||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Starkey, John R.|
|Forster, Henry William||Magnus, Sir Philip||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Talbot, Lord E (Chichester)|
|Haddock, George R.||Morpeth, Viscount||Thomson, W Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Hardy,Laurence (Kent.Ashford||Nicholson, Wm.G (Petersfield)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Harrison-Broadley, Col. H. B.||Parker, Sir Gilbert(Gravesend)||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Pease, HerbertPike(Darlington||Valentia, Viscount|
|Hervey,F.W.F.(BuryS.Edm'ds||Percy, Earl||Vincent, Col Sir C. E. Howard|
|Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.|
|Hills, J. W.||Randies, Sir John Scurrah||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Ratcliff, Major R. F.||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-|
|Hunt, Rowland||Rawlinson, JohnFrederickPeel|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Rt.Hn. Col.W.||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr H. H. Marks and Mr. Staveley-Hill.|
|Kimber, Sir Henry||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Abraham, William (Cork.N.E.)||Cheetham, John Frederick||Ferguson, R. C. Munro|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R R.||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Churchill, Winston Spencer||Flynn, James Christopher|
|Agnew, George William||Cleland, J. W.||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman|
|Ambrose, Robert||Clough, W.||Fuller, John Michael F.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Clynes, J. R.||Fullerton, Hugh|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn.HerbertHenry||Coats, Sir T.Glen(Renfrew,W.)||Gardner, Col.Alan (Hereford,S.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Gibb, James (Harrow)|
|Barker, John||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Gill, A. H.|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Collins, Sir W. J.(S.Pancras,W.||Gladstone, Rt.Hn. Herbert Jn.|
|Barnard, E. B.||Cooper, G. J.||Goddard, Daniel Ford|
|Beauchamp, E||Corbett,CH (Sussex, E.Grinst'd||Gooch, George Peabody|
|Beaumont, HnW.C. B.(Hexham||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Grant, Corrie|
|Bell, Richard||Cowan, W. H.||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Cox, Harold||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill|
|Benn, SirJ.Williams(Devonp'rt||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Gulland, John W.|
|Benn,W (Tower H'mlets.S.Geo||Cremer, William Randal||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton|
|Bertram, Julius||Crombie, John William||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B|
|Bethell, J. H. (Essex, Romford||Crooks, William||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Crosfield, A. H.||Hardie, J.Keir(Merthyr Tydvil|
|Billson, Alfred||Crossley, William J.||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Dalmeny, Lord||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)|
|Black, Arthur W. (Bedfordshire||Dalziel, James Henry||Hart-Davies, T.|
|Boland, John||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Boulton, A. C. F. (Ramsey)||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Harwood, George|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Brace, William||Delany, William||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Branch, James||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Hazel, Dr. A. E.|
|Brigg, John||Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.)||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Brooke, Stopford||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Brunner, J.F.L. (Lancs.,Leigh)||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Henderson, J.M. (Aberdeen,W.|
|Brunner, Sir John T.(Cheshire)||Donelan, Captain A.||Henry, Charles S.|
|Bryce, Rt,Hn.James(Aberdeen||Duckworth, James||Herbert, Colonel Ivor (Mon. S)|
|Bryce, J.A. (Inverness Burghs)||Duffy, William J.||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Higham, John Sharp|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Hobart, Sir Robert|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Dunne,Major E.Martin(Walsall||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Edwards Clement (Denbigh)||Hogan, Michael|
|Buxton, Rt.Hn.SydneyCharles||Edwards, Frank (Radnor)||Holland, Sir William Henry|
|Byles, William Pollard||Elibank, Master of||Hooper, A. G.|
|Cairns, Thomas||Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)|
|Cameron, Robert||Erskine, David C.||Hope, W.Bateman (Somerset,N|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Carr-Gomm, H W||Evans, Samuel T.||Horridge, Thomas Gardner|
|Causton,RtHnRichard Knight||Everett, R. Lacey||Howard, Hon Geoffrey|
|Cawley, Frederick||Faber, G. H. (Boston)||Hudson, Walter|
|Chance, Frederick William||Fenwick, Charles||Hutton, Alfred Eddison|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Ferens, T. R.||Idris, T. H. W.|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||Murnaghan, George||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)|
|Jacoby, James Alfred||Murphy, John||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Jardine, Sir J.||Murray, James||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Jenkins, J.||Myer, Horatio||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Jones,Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea||Newnes, Sir George (Swansea)||Snowden, P.|
|Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Nicholls, George||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Nicholson, Chas. N. (Doncast'r||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Joyce, Michael||Norman, Henry||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Stanley, Hn. A.Lyulph(Chesh.)|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Steadman, W. C.|
|Kelley, George D||Nuttall, Harry||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Kincaid-Smith, Captain||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||O'Connor, James (Wicklow,W.)||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Kitson, Sir James||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Stuart, James (Sutherland)|
|Laidlaw, Robert||O'Doherty, Philip||Sullivan, Donal|
|Lamb, EdmundG.(Leominster||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Summerbell, T.|
|Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||O'Grady, J.||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Lambert, George||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon,N||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Lamont, Norman||O'Malley, William||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Langley, Batty||O'Mara, James||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Thomas, David Alfred(Merthyr|
|Leese, Sir JosephF.(Accrington||Palmer, Sir Charles Mark||Tomkinson, James|
|Lehmann, R. C.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Lever, A, Levy (Essex,Harwich||Partington, Oswald||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Lever, W. H.(Cheshire,Wirral||Paul, Herbert||Verney, F. W.|
|Levy, Maurice||Paulton, James Mellor||Villiers, Ernest Amherst|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)||Vivian, Henry|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Pearson, W.H. M. (Suffolk,Eye)||Waldron, Laurence Ambrose|
|Lough, Thomas||Philipps, J.Wynford(Pembroke||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Lundon, W.||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Walters, John Tudor|
|Lupton, Arnold||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Walton, Sir John L.(Leeds, S.)|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Pollard, Dr.||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Cent.)||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Macdonald, J.M. (FalkirkB'ghs||Price,Robert John (Norfolk,E.)||Ward, W.Dudley) Southampton|
|Maclean, Donald||Radford, G. H.||Wardle, George J.|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Raphael, Herbert H.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|MacVeagh.Jeremiah (Down,S.||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|MacVeigh, Chas. (Donegal, E.).||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro.||Wason, Jn. Cathcart (Orkney)|
|M'Callum, John M||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|M'Crae, George||Uses, J. D.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Renton, Major Leslie||Whitbread, Howard|
|M'Killop, W.||Richards, Thomas(W. Monm'th||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Richards, T. F.(Wolverh'mpt'n||White, Luke (York, E.R.)|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Richardson, A.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Rickett, J. Compton||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Manfield, Harry (Northants.)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Markham. Arthur Basil||Robertson, Rt.Hn.E. (Dundee)||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Marks, G. Croydon(Launceston||Robertson, SirG.Scott(Bradf 'rd||Wiles, Thomas|
|Marnham, F. J.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)||Robinson, S.||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Massie, J.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Masterman, C. F. O.||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wilson, Hn. C.H.W. (Hull, W.)|
|Meagher, Michael||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Wilson, Henry J.(York, W.R.)|
|Menzies, Walter||Rose, Charles Day||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Rowlands, J.||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Runciman, Walter||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza.||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Winfrey, R.|
|Montagu, E. S||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Mooney, J. J.||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)|
|Morgan, J Lloyd(Carmarthen||Scott,A.H.(Ashton under Lyne||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Morrell, Philip||Sears, J. E.|
|Morse, L. L.||Seely, Major J. B.|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Shackleton, David James|
§ *MR. CAVE (Surrey, Kinston)
said that what he proposed by the next Amendment on the Paper was that instead of providing that an elector should only vote in a selected constituency, he should not be allowed to vote in more 450 than one constituency during the same year. He proposed to do away with the whole of the complicated machinery of selecting a constituency, and to provide that a man entitled to vote in several places must vote in one place, and one 451 place only, during the same year. If a man made up his mind that he would vote in constituency A, and if a general election or a by-election occurred and he voted in that constituency, that would be his constituency for the year. If there was the least ground for suspecting a voter, the question could be put to him "Have you voted in any other constituency during the present year?" There were precedents for this proposal, a similar proposal having been made in a Bill brought in by Mr. Shaw Lefevre in 1892, and in the Bilk subsequently introduced by the Liberal Government of 1892. The same principle was now in force in county elections, whore a voter might make his own selection, and having done that he could not vote in any other constituency. The plan worked quite smoothly, and he did not see why it could not be carried out in this Bill. It had been said that there was a risk of a man with several votes losing them all under this Bill, and if hon. Members examined the question closely they would at once see that that was so. If a man was an occupier, he was often put upon the list of electors without his knowledge and without any initiative on his part. It was the overseers' duty to put him on the register. The ordinary elector, who was not very particular about his voting powers, did not often go through the list of electors, and a man might well be a plural voter without being conscious that he was guilty of that crime, and under this Bill as it stood such a man would lose his vote. Then again a voter might not know the date upon which he had to send in his notice and in that way he might very easily be disfranchised. Or he might not know where to send his notice to, and in that case too he might lose all his votes. The fact was that it ought not to rest with the voter to take the first step in the matter. Under the Bill as it stood many voters would be disfranchised, but if they accepted his Amendment there would be no need for the precautions which had been discussed in these debates. He ventured to suggest to the Committee that this was a very simple proposal and one which would get rid of many of the difficulties of the Bill. There was also a chance of votes being lost under the Bill in another way. For some reason which he did not understand a voter had to send 452 in his selection notice before the 1st September. The revision of the list of electors took place between the 8th September and the 12th October, so that this notice must be sent before the list of Parliamentary electors commenced to be revised. Surely that was a ridiculous state of things. Supposing a man was under the impression that he had a vote in constituencies A, B, and C, before the revision, and he sent in his selection notice and selected constituency A. The revising barrister might receive an objection from the Party agent and strike the name off altogether. In that case it would be too late for the voter to say that he would choose constituency B or C, and so the unfortunate man who had committed no crime known to the law would lose the whole of his three votes. Anything more unjust than that he could not conceive. If there was to be a selection, it ought not to be made before the revision, but after it, when the man knew upon which lists his name was to be found. He contended that his Amendment embodied an intelligible alternative to the Bill and one which would work smoothly. Some further amendment might be required later on in order to give his proposal full effect, but he trusted that he had made his meaning perfectly clear. He begged to more.
Amendment proposed—In page 1, line 8, to leave out the words 'except in that' and insert the words 'in more than.'"—(Mr. Cave.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'except' stand part of the clause."
§ MR. HARCOURT
said he perfectly understood the view taken by the hon. Member, and his main object was to get rid of selection. He thought that if they were going to leave a choice of qualifications to the voter they were bound to have some notification of where he was going to vote, and it was not much to ask him once a year, or, if he preferred it, once only in a life-time, to make a selection, and to write a short note, or fill up a form and send to the clerk. The hon. Member said that the proposal in the Amendment appeared in previous Bills, but it was exactly because that proposal appeared in those Bills and was met by such strong 453 opposition from people who understood the working of the register, that it had not been adopted in this case. They had, he thought, adopted a simpler and a fairer method. The hon. Member had referred to the suggestion that an elector might not know that he was a plural voter. He, however, thought it was impossible that any man should not know that he might be a plural voter. He could hardly believe that a man could have property which would qualify him for a vote without his being conscious of it. He might perhaps not know he had been put on the register. As to the suggestion that under sub-section 2 a plural voter would not be unable to send in his notice, if it would be a satisfaction to hon. Members, he would put in words to make it additionally clear that he could make a selection. An hon. Member had referred to the hardship of the plural voter's having to make this selection, but he had forgotten, he thought, that the ledger was compelled to make a claim, not once in his life but every year, and a lodger was presumably a man who knew much less about electoral law, and had much fewer facilities for making claims, than the man dealt with by this Bill. The hon. Member had again raised a point referred to yesterday, and to meet which his right hon. friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer promised that something should be done. It was the case of a man who, after having sent in his selection, was struck off the register. He must say that he assumed the plural voter would always select in the first instance the vote he was perfectly certain of. In accordance with the promise given, however, he thought he would be able to devise a clause to bring up on Report which would enable a man who had selected a qualification which he was ultimately deprived of to change his selection without any troublesome process. But the principle of selection was essential to the Bill and he must retain it.
§ *SIR. CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
said the right hon. Gentleman had claimed for his plan among other things that it was simpler than a residential plan It might have certain advantages, but simplicity could not be claimed for it by anyone who knew our electoral system. The right hon. Gentleman thought that the plural 454 voter was a person who knew he was a plural voter and was known as such, but the majority—and he had tested the question very carefully by the registers of three adjoining counties—did not, in the agricultural parishes tested by him, answer to that description. Delicate researches would have to be made in order to find them out, and he would come to a proposal on the next Amendment by which he thought the difficulties would be diminished. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the voter would be certain to know in every case whether he was really qualified, and if he were not qualified he would be removed from the register. That was an ideal state.
§ MR. HARCOURT
I said I thought any man would know whether he had any qualifications which might enable him to be put on the register.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
said he had mentioned the case of a gentleman who had sat in this House and who had only one legal qualification, though he was in possession of thirty-six or thirty-eight qualifications, none of which were legal, which he was not aware of. Cases, however, in which a man was on one register legally and on another illegally were common enough. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the plural voter would only have to write a letter to notify the clerk of his choice, and that the lodger voter had to do the same thing now. That, however, was not the case, though he used to do so. In order to save the lodger who had once established his claim from the necessity of re-claiming every year, what was known as the "old" lodger was invented, and only the "new" lodger now had to make his claim. The old lodger made a solemn declaration. In the great majority of revision courts the lodger claims were now allowed on evidence altogether different from that which formerly prevailed. Claims in general were in a vast number of cases made on behalf of the claimants and not by the claimants themselves. He must enter a caveat against the suggestion that the plural voter would do all the things that were required of him. There were many points requiring to be cleared up and on which they would have to press the Government very closely or else the Bill would break down in working. Only in one case had revising 455 barristers recently returned to the Letter practice, namely, the form of allowing the owner to select his polling place. Only two clashes could do that, namely, the owner and the policeman on duty. Unfortunately this power had occasionally been used by Party agents to make people vote at the wrong place, and so disfranchise them. Some revising barristers had insisted upon receiving a letter from the voter clearly stating his wishes.
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
said that two blacks did not make a white, and the arguments put forward in defence of this Bill upon this point had been demolished by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, and it was well known that the lodger had not to make any claim at all. The lodger was generally resident in one place only for a short time, and when the lodger vote was introduced there was some ground for insisting that he should make a claim. With regard to the question of qualification, the right hon. Gentleman had said that although a man who had two qualifications might not know he was on the register in both instances, it was impossible for him to know that he was not-qualified. He had himself two qualifications, or thought he had, and he was on the register for both. A general election came round and he went to vote in both places and he found in one of them that his name was not on the register, it having been removed without his knowledge. A year of two afterwards he went to a parochial election in the same constituency and he found that he was on the register for the local election and also upon the Parliamentary register, and it was quite possible under this Bill that in such a case he would have lost his vote altogether. That showed that there were cases where a man did not know whether he was actually one he register or whether he was qualified. The Amendment they were discussing was one that made for simplicity, and it did away with a very great hardship with regard to the penalty. He instanced the case of a plural voter who having made up his mind to select a certain district forgot to make his selection. If, under the impression that he had done so, he went to the place which he thought he had selected and asked for a voting paper, the clerk might say to him 456 "Have you another vote?" The elector would reply, "Yes, I have." The clerk would then reply, "But you are not starred." That voter would have committed an offence, because he would have asked for a voting paper in a constituency in which he was not starred, and it would be absolutely impossible that he had not acted knowingly. Consequently he would be liable to two years hard labour. If this Amendment were carried, all that would disappear. It would be absolutely unjust to compel a man who had made such a slight error as that to pay such a penalty as was provided under the Bill. There was no doubt that a great many voters would not give the necessary notice of selection, and if it was the desire that a good House of Commons should be chosen, and if it could not be shown that the voters be referred to were not fit to have a vote, the only course open to the Government was to accept this Amendment.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
thought the Committee would feel after the speeches which had been delivered that they had come to a very critical point in the discussion. The Amendment was concerned not with mitigating the principle of the Bill, but with the machinery by which the view of the Government was to be carried out. He did not think that any one who had heard the debate was likely to deny that the plan of his hon. and learned friend was incomparably more simple and was open to far fewer machinery objections than the plan of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman who had replied had not given a single reason why this plan should be considered inadmissible. What the Government had done was simply to defend their own plan, but that defence had been knocked to atoms by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean. It was said, in the first place, that no greater hardship was inflicted on the plural voter than was inflicted on the lodger voter. That, the Member for the Forest of Dean had pointed out, might be so according to the letter of the law, but was not necessarily so according to practice. Speaking broadly, the practice was not that described by the Minister in charge of the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean, who brought these facts before the 457 Committee did not express approval or disapproval of the general practice which now prevailed. He did not think the authority of the right hon. Gentleman could be challenged when he said that the practice did prevail. So much for the first part of the argument. Now they came to the second part of the argument of the Government in favour of their own proposal, which was that every man really knew, and always knew when he had alternative qualifications, and that therefore he was always in a position to make his selection, or to know that he must make a selection if he wanted to vote, and that he had no right to make complaint if the duty of making a selection was cast upon him. That argument had been met by the facts which had been brought forward showing that every man did not know when he was qualified as a voter in certain constituencies. The right hon. Baronet had gone the length of saying that in some cases it was impossible to find out, and that, as it were, no industry on the part of the voter could easily make him acquainted with the fact that he had a qualification to be placed on the register. Was that true or was it not? The Government had not met the contention of high authorities that it was a fact known from the actual practice of the electoral law that a man did not always know whether or not he had qualifications for the franchise in more than one constituency, and therefore, was not always in a position to make his selection of the place in which he wanted to vote. It was quite possible that a man, without the slightest knowledge on his own part, might find himself on the register of a constituency in which he had not the faintest idea he possessed the qualification for a vote. How, thon, could any man on going to the polling booth to vote say, in answer to the question of the presiding officer, that he had no qualification in any other constituency? If he should say so innocently it might turn out not to be true, and he would thereby expose himself to a penalty. But if the man said he did not know whether or not he was qualified elsewhere, what was the presiding officer to do? It was clear that, in such a case, under the Bill the presiding officer could not allow the vote. He asked in all seriousness, was the voter to be disfranchised because he had not this 458 knowledge as to his qualifications elsewhere, which no research on his part could enable him to possess?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. ASQUITH,) Fifeshire, E.
said it was asked, why should not the plural voter be allowed to go to the polling booth without having previously indicated in any way in respect of which of his numerous qualifications he intended to vote? The answer was that it was in the public interest to have it known, when the register came into operation, how many of these people were going to vote in each constituency. The Bill proposed to lay upon the plural voter, as his right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean had pointed out, a much lighter burden than the present law imposed upon the lodger. The lodger had to make a declaration; the plural voter had only to give notice. It was quite true that a lax practice had been allowed to prevail in regard to the lodger in most of the Revision Courts. But no amount of hugger-mugger on the part of the political agents, oven though it were sanctioned by the revising barrister, would get rid of the fact that it was contrary to the law to put a lodger on the register unless he had made a declaration. The Government had guarded, to the best of their ability, against any such laxity springing up in the case of plural voters by providing I that the notice of selection should be signed by the voter himself. The Leader; of the Opposition brought forward the; case of an unfortunate man who, without; any knowledge of his own, by the action of Providence, or the mistake of an overseer, had been endowed with a qualification in more than one constituency. He was very sceptical about the existence of such a class to any large extent in the community. No man was qualified to be put upon the register, which was prepared in September and came into operation on 1st January, unless his qualification had been matured from the 15th of the preceding July. It was impossible to suppose there were a considerable section of the community in possession of this matured qualification and yet ignorant of the fact that they did possess it. In his view, no one could have any difficulty in answering the question of the presiding officer in the polling booth, whether he was on the register of any other 459 constituency than that in which he proposed to vote. [Cries of "Supposing you do not know?"] In that case the answer would be "So far as I know I am not." Was it seriously contended that if such an answer were given the presiding officer would reject the vote? [OPPOSITION cries of "Yes."] The Leader of the Opposition also advanced the argument that such a man would expose himself to the penalties provided. That could not be so.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said they would discuss that when they came to Clause 2, line 15. The hon. and learned Gentleman seemed to think this was a serious point. The other objection stated by the Leader of the Opposition was that such a man would expose himself to the penalties provided. But that could not be so, because the only legal offence created by the section was that of knowingly acting in contravention of it, and the burden of proving active knowledge rested upon the prosecution. Therefore, in the case which the right hon. Gentleman had put, the penalty could not possibly be inflicted upon him.
§ MR. ASQUITH
That was the outside of what might be inflicted upon him. Let them not be told that a man might be sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labour because he had quite innocently voted in one constituency and did not know that he had a qualification in another. It must be admitted that there were practical difficulties connected with any process of selection that could be adopted; but, on the balance, he urged that the plan adopted by the Government, having regard to the interests of the community, was the most practical and the least inconvenient.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
said that in the case of a lodger a declaration was put in every year. But as regards other classes of voters assistant overseers could place names on the register, not only without any claim on the part of voters, but even against their wish.
460 There was another class of persons who were on the register without knowing it. He meant wandering agricultural labourers, thousands of whom, having got on the register, remained there because neither of the political Party agents knew anything about them. Many of them were unconscious pluralists.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said that this clause would seriously affect a much larger number of people than the Government imagined. Instead of applying to rich men who possessed wide information, the Bill would deal hardly with poor men who had no opportunity of knowing how matters stood as regarded registration. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that the worst that could happen to the plural voter was that he would be disfranchised. That might be the object of the Government; he thought it was, and it was because the Bill would attain that object that the hon. Member for Prestwich had supported the measure on the previous day. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that it was not a hardship that people who had more than one qualification might be disqualified. That was a monstrous proposition. How were any of them to know on what register their names appeared? He might have had a qualification once, but he did not know, for example, whether the overseers had done their duty and removed his name from his service qualification in Downing Street. After all, he was not be und to make inquiries, and the fact that he had been on the register for the past five years might have passed from his recollection. There were countless cases in which without making inquiry they could not find out whether they were on the register or not, and so they would very likely lose their vote altogether. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Forest of Dean, who was one of the highest authorities on questions of this kind, had admitted that it would require in scores of instances the utmost care to trace voters on different registers. The whole of this difficulty would be removed by the Amendment. The solitary objection taken by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was that it would be inconvenient in many constituencies not to know how many people were going to vote; but they could not have accuracy of that kind in any case, because there 461 were men on the register who would not come and vote. He appealed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on behalf of the voter himself. Surely some consideration ought to be given to him, and he should be allowed to choose the district in which he could vote for the candidate for whom lie had the most personal respect Let them take the casts of an elector, a member of the Liberal Party, having a qualification in Midlothian and also in London. Supposing he discovered immediately before an election that a man for whose political life work he had the highest respect had consented to stand for Midlothian, why should he be prevented from voting in Midlothian for the man who best represented his views? Accepting the principle of the Bill he maintained that the particular method of carrying it out which the Government had chosen inflicted unnecessary hardship on the plural voter, forced upon him a risk of losing his vote altogether, and restricted him in the choice of the Parliamentary candidates for whom he should vote.
§ MR. WALLACE (Perth)
considered that the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer was no doubt right in saying that many of the electors who would come to the poll would not be able to answer the question of whether or not they had another vote. But whether that was so or not the point was not of importance, because the Party agents, the moment these registers were compiled, would carefully go through them mid find out those who had a double qualification, and serve them with a notice to that effect, with the result that unless they took the necessary steps they would be unable to exercise their votes in any other place whatever. That was the answer to the question which the right hon. Gentleman had put, and they all knew that the practical result would lie that every plural voter who had not made a declaration would find himself absolutely debarred from exercising the franchise. But it was said that this was a very small grievance and that, after all, as it affected a very few people, it was a case of de minimis, and therefore they need say nothing about it. He would like to give his right hon. friend the result of some of his practical experience, because for many years before he entered this 462 House it was his lot to act as a revising barrister. He could therefore tell his right hon. friend that this was not a question of a double qualification, but a question of being doubly registered. It a man was doubly registered he was a plural voter, whether he had a plural or double vote or not. In his own experience he knew of hundreds and thousand of people who, although they were put down as having a double qualification, had no qualification at all. He would tell his right hon. friend how it came about. This was a question which affected a very large number of poor as well as rich people. The working classes, who were constantly moving about in London, were frequently not aware of the fact that they had acquired a new qualification for a vote, and they were left on the register-in regard to their former residences. There were, as he had said, hundreds and thousands of these people, because no man was going to take the trouble to have his name removed from the list, his Party agent was not going to get him removed if he was sure of his vote, and it was only the opposing agent who, if he knew the facts, would do so. But if the latter did not discover the fact of his removal he remained upon the old register while he had acquired a now qualification. What was his position? Why, having got on the register for his now residence, that, according to this Bill, would disqualify him from voting in respect of his old abode. He had had no desire to intervene in the debate, but he felt it his duty to speak of the experience which he had had in these matters. He was not quite sure that the Amendment as it stood would meet the case, but speaking for himself personally and not as a politician he could not see the objection to leaving the elector to vote upon any qualification which existed, with this proviso, that if he voted twice he should be subject to the penalties of the Bill. It appeared to him to be the simplest question in the world. No man was likely to vote twice with the knowledge, which he would receive from the Party agent, that he would thereby subject himself to two years imprisonment. There was no advantage in pressing the present provisions of the Bill, and every object which 463 it was desired to accomplish could be gained by leaving that point open and thus avoiding all these practical difficulties which so many hon. Members had pointed out.
§ MR. LAMBTON (Durham, S.E.)
said that everybody agreed that a plural voter who voted twice ought to be subject to penalties and be disfranchised. But if this Bill became an Act a man would be disfranchised not because he was a plural voter, but because he had a plural qualification, which would not be owing to his own fault, but because of the action of the revising banister, the election agent, or some other person connected with the registration. He therefore thought the Amendment ought to be accepted, unless the Government wished to pass a Bill not to do away with plural voting but to disfranchise certain people who happened to have a plural qualification.
§ *MR. HORRIDGE (Manchester, E.)
said he personally felt very strongly the difficulties which had been pointed out in connection with the Government scheme. He had himself endeavoured to find a better plan, but he admitted that he could not do so, and after balancing the difficulties of the scheme of the Government and those of the plan suggested by the hon. Member for the Kingston Division he had come to the conclusion that that of the Government was the only workable one. He felt the difficulty of the persons who did not know that they had two qualifications, and he was sorry to say that he was very much in their position himself. He was, indeed, one of the persons whom the Chancellor of the Exchequer rather ridiculed as having any difficulty on the subject. He believed that if the Bill were amended in the spirit of the Amendment now before the Committee, it would in many instances be practically useless. It was idle to tell him that people would not commit a breach of the law because there was a penalty, unless that penalty could be enforced; and in nearly even-case it would be impossible to discover the duplicate voter and enforce the penalty. It was easy enough to have a machinery in be roughs, and even in divisions of counties, which would enable one to trace the duplicate voter, but it was impossible to have any such machinery in regard to 464 the whole of the United Kingdom. If the register was "starred" in regard to the places in which the elector was not entitled to vote, it was true it could be taken by the personating agents, and they could compare the lists. The hon. Member for Perth had said the penalty was sufficient to deter a man from voting twice. There was the agent to challenge the man who was going to give a duplicate vote, but how could that apply to the whole country? In many cases ardent politicians would vote in London one day, and the next week they would travel to John o' Greats to record another vote. Under no system applied to the United Kingdom could such plural voters be traced, and unless they had some scheme such as that which the Government proposed, under which a man made a selection beforehand, the Bill would be unworkable. As he understood it, the Bill, provided that a man with a duplicate qualification should indicate the constituency in which he desired to vote, and when a man came up to vote, if there was the necessary star against him in the register, the presiding officer knew that he had elected to vote in that division. If there was no star then he put the question. It might be that it would be better to go even farther, as he had indicated, and as had been mentioned by the right hon. Member in charge of the Bill, and "star" where a man was not entitled to vote, but at all events, the Bill went some length towards meeting the question, and, as he had shown, that was most desirable having regard to the whole of the Kingdom. The Bill enabled personation to be detected to some extent, and it was because he believed that if some precautions of this kind were not taken that a man would vote first in one place, and then in another, that he supported the proposals of the Government. He quite recognised the points made by the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, and saw that in whatever way they attacked this question there were difficulties, but he did not believe that a penalty, no matter how great it was, would prevent ardent politicians from voting in two places. There were difficulties in the way of every solution of the question, but he felt that the one proposed by the Government would be the most effective in achieving the 465 desired end. He felt that under the circumstances the Government proposal was the fairest.
§ MR. J. WARD (Stoke-on-Trent)
said it was not until he heard this discussion that he was aware that working men so easily got upon the voting register of the division in which they lived. The complaint that he had heard was of the great difficulty the working men had to get upon the register at all, and the almost insuperable difficulty of getting upon it unless they were resident a long time in one locality. He would require far more definite evidence than the assertion made this afternoon, before he was convinced that there were many plural voters among the working men. He ventured to point out that this Amendment was a trap, and some of the supporters of the Government seemed likely to fall into it. They did not appear to appreciate that this was an attempt to get behind what the Committee had decided on the previous day. What would happen would be that in the case of a by-election every out voter could choose the particular constituency as the selected place at which he should record his vote. The Amendment was a mere trick to get behind a previous decision of the Committee. They had only to look at it to see that at once. There was an alteration in the words, but in practice it was the same proposition as had been put before the Committee once before and rejected.
§ *MR. NIELD (Middlesex, Ealing)
said he was glad to be able to give a complete confirmation to what had been said by the hon. Member for Perth. The statement the hon. Member made to the Committee was absolutely true, that in large working class constituencies where workmen were moving constantly about as they did in the course of their work they wore frequently to be found to be registered in more than one district. He thought the simple way of dealing with this matter would be for the presiding officer to ask a man when he came up to register whether he had voted in any other constituency during the current year. The interval of time which was now taken up in turning up the register, or even the time taken by the presiding officer to impress the seal would be amply sufficient to ask the voter 466 if he had voted before. He could quite appreciate the fact, as stated by the hon. Member for East Manchester, with regard to the penalties not being sufficient to deter many enthusiastic politicians from voting in more than one place. He had heard of a constituency where the Liberals, early in the day, polled all the Conservative deads and absent and when those had been exhausted, proceeded to poll all their own deads and absent so that if by any chance a doubt was thrown upon the genuineness of the votes by one of the supposed absentee voters turning up later and claiming to vote, it was impossible to check or otherwise examine these votes, except by the expensive method of an election petition and a scrutiny. In practice, therefore, they had all those false votes adopted. In a case of that kind some protection was certainly needed. It was not the man who went, at the risk of a prosecution, from London to John of Groats to poll a second vote against whom protection was needed. There was another point: if a person had two qualifications it implied that he had more or less substantial interests in each district where he was qualified to vote. Why in a case of that kind should not he, perfectly honestly, exorcise an alternative vote provided that he did not claim to exercise the second vote upon the current years' register? To make a man select some months in advance would not only disfranchise him in the case instanced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but also disfranchise him over and over again through the accident of not being able to get to the place where he had elected to vote on a particular day. He hoped for the sake of fairness the Government would consider whether or not, after all, they could not obtain their object by less drastic measures than those proposed in the sub-section now under discussion.
§ MR. RAWLINSON (Cambridge University)
expressed the opinion that no sound argument had been adduced against the proposition of the hon. Member for Kingston. The hon. Member for East Manchester had made a speech to which he evidently saw the answer when halfway through. If his statement was correct, it was the most scathing indictment against the Bill that could possibly be conceived, because his contention was that, however severe the penalities 467 might be, men would risk their liberty for two years in order to record a vote in Manchester and other places as well as London at the time of an election. He did not think it was likely, but if it was true, how did the Bill deal with it? Let them assume that a plural voter had a vote in six constituencies. As the hon. Member for East Manchester had pointed oat, the only place at which he could be detected was the place at which he was entitled to vote; that if he polled at each of the other five places there was nothing to differentiate him from any other voter. That was a most scathing indictment of; the Bill, and the reason of it was obvious. The right hon. Gentleman, as well, in all probability, as those who drafted the Bill, had been misled by a knowledge of the principle of municipal voting where every place in which a man was not allowed to vote was starred, and the only place which was not -starred was that where he was allowed to vote. What was the argument put forward by the Chancellor of the Exchequer why this simple scheme should be chosen? The right hon. Gentleman had said it was necessary in the constituency at the beginning of the year to know the number of people who were likely to vote. That was the fallacy into which the hon. Member for East Manchester had been betrayed, in a different form. The plural voter with six votes would star himself in the constituency in which he elected to vote, but in the other five constituencies there was nothing to differentiate him from any other voter. And who was going to total up the available number of, voters in a particular constituency on the 1st of January? Even if some ardent politician did so, he would find nothing at all to differentiate the plural voter from anybody else. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consider these matters and would bear in mind that the endeavour of the Committee was so to send this measure from this House as to carry out the straight forward principle which was in the mind of the Government, namely, to prevent people voting in more than one place during one election.
§ MR. LYTTELTON (St. George's, Hanover Square)
considered the Committee was entitled to an answer, if not to the arguments adduced on the Opposition side, at any rate to the 468 arguments addressed to the Government by their own supporters. The hon. Member for Perth had stated from experience that hundreds and even thousands of working men might be upon a register without their knowledge, and no contradiction or attempt at contradiction to that statement had been made. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had admitted that if a man was not able to answer the question as to whether he was on any other register he would be disfranchised; therefore the effect of this Bill in its present condition would be to disfranchise in a wholesale manner. The hon. Member for East Manchester had indicted the Bill most severely, and had pointed out that the only way to prevent the mischief at which it was aimed was that there should be a negative declaration, namely, that on the lists in respect of the places where the elector was not entitled to vote he should be marked "not entitled to vote." One would have imagined that the Bill would have contained some such provision. He would ask the First Commissioner of Works whether he agreed with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that disfranchisement would ensue in such a state of things as had been pointed out by the hon. Member for Perth, and whether he contemplated leaving this Bill in such a condition that men of all classes might be disfranchised without any blame whatever attaching to them.
§ MR. HARCOURT
hoped and believed the right hon. Gentleman had rather exaggerated the danger to a very small class. He could not believe there were hundreds and thousands of working men who were plural voters without their knowledge. But assuming a working man did not know he was a plural voter and said "no" in answer to the question that was put, and a ballot paper was issued to him, there was no doubt that the man-had unconsciously committed an offence-under this Bill. If it were subsequently-discovered that he had a duplicate qualification, somebody might wish to proceed against him, but he did not think that he could do so, because the man was absolutely protected by the word "knowingly." The plural voter would be known, because in every case, except where he was on the register for his residence, his address would appear on 469 the register, and the place would be different from that of the majority in that division. Therefore, although he was not starred, when he applied for a voting paper he would be a very proper person to whom to put the question. If, as he believed would happen in a great number of cases throughout the country, men selected to vote for their homes, it would be apparent in every other ease that they were plural voters.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
thought that the right hon. Gentleman had succeeded in proving what was sufficiently obvious before, that anyone who was conspicuous would not vote more than once, but there were great numbers of people who would run no risk of detection in so doing. One of two things would happen. Either they would remain plural voters in spite of this Bill, or somebody would discover the fact, and then, although fully qualified, they would be disfranchised. Was the Government really going to leave the Bill in that position. What would be the result? In every closely-fought election it would become worth while, as it had never been worth while before, to have a scrutiny. The services of every available agent would be utilised in tracing men who had possibly not had their names removed from registers in other constituencies, and although their votes probably turned the election they might be disqualified on a scrutiny, and the real voice of the constituency vitiated, not because they were not entitled to a vote or because the Government wished them not to have a vote, but because the Government had blundered into a mess, to get out of which they had not the courage. That was not the end of the trouble. Hitherto in cases where the register had been sharply fought by political agents those agents had endeavoured to strike off anyone they knew to be an opponent. It would now be to their interest to keep him on. He would take his own case to illustrate his remarks. He had himself changed his residence, but all books of reference still gave his address as 11, Downing - street. The
§ Liberal agents might tell the Home Secretary who now inhabited that house that it was useless for a Liberal to elect to vote in Westminster, and they would leave the register unamended. They would also say, "We will take care, if Mr. Austen Chamberlain goes to vote anywhere else and says he is not a plural voter, to let it be known he has committed an offence." Thus by the oversight of an overseer he would stand liable under this Bill to be sent to prison for two years hard labour, and, if he survived the sentence, he would be deprived of all civil rights for seven years. The right hon. Gentleman told him he need not be afraid because he must "knowingly" commit the offence; but yesterday the right hon. Gentleman told him that ignorance was no excuse in the eyes of the law, and he carried that doctrine to the point of saying that in a particular case he ought to be well informed of the provisions of some law because a relative of his took a part in the making of that law. If Judges and magistrates acted upon the principles of the right hon. Gentleman he did not think the word "knowingly" would give much protection. Why should a man be subjected to the worst penalties contained in the Bill, or even to such a penalty as disfranchisement, in connection with an offence against which he could not protect himself unless he went round to see that his name was removed from the voters' lists in places where he had had a vote? That was the obligation placed upon him.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said that he first needed to know whether he had any cause to make a selection. Was every voter to send in a declaration on the chance of that being the case? The Government were needlessly, for the purpose they had in view, inflicting hardship upon men possessed of more than one qualification.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 343; Noes, 83. (Division List No. 332.)475
|Abraham, William (Cork N.E.)||Agnew, George William||Ashton, Thomas Gair|
|Abraham. William (Rhondda)||Alden. Percy||Asquith, Rt. Hn. HerbertHenry|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Astbury, John Meir|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Duffy, William J.||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Kekewich, Sir George|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Kelley, George D.|
|Barker, John||Dunne, MajorE.Martin(Walsall||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Kitson, Sir James|
|Barnard, E. B.||Edwards, Frank (Radnor)||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Barnes, G. N.||Elibank, Master of||Lambert, George|
|Beauchamp. E.||Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Lamont, Norman|
|Beaumont,Hn W.C.B.(Hexham||Erskine, David C.||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Bell, Richard||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Leese,Sir JosephF.(Accrington|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Evans, Samuel T.||Lehmann. R. C.|
|Benn, SirS.Williams(Devonp'rt||Eve, Harry Trelawney||Lever,A. Lew (Essex,Harwich|
|Berridge. T. H. D||Everett, R. Lacey||Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral)|
|Bertram, Julius||Faber, G. H. (Boston)||Levy, Maurice|
|Bethell, J.H. (Essex Romford)||Fenwick, Charles||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Bethell, T. R, (Essex, Waldon)||Kerens, T. R.||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David|
|Billson, Alfred||Flynn, James Chr'stopher||Lough, Thomas|
|Black,Arthur W.(Bedfordshire)||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lundon, W.|
|Boland, John||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Lupton, Arnold|
|Bolton, T.D.(Derbyshire, N.E.)||Fuller, John Michael F.||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Boulton, A. C. F. (Ramsey)||Fullerton, Hugh||Macdonald,J.M. (Falkirk B'gha|
|Bower man, C. W.||Gardner, Col. Alan (Hereford,S.)||Mackarness, Frederic C.|
|Brace, William||Gibb, James (Harrow)||Maclean, Donald|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Gill, A. H.||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Branch, James||Gladstone, Rt. Hn.Herbert Jn.||Macpherson, J. T.|
|Brigg, John||Goddard, Daniel Ford||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.|
|Brodie, H. C.||Gooch, George Peabody||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal.E.|
|Brunner, J.F.L. (Lancs.,Leigh)||Grant, Corrie||M'Callum, John M.|
|Bryce, Rt.Hn. James(Aberdeen||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||M'Crae, George|
|Bryce, J.A. (Inverness Burghs)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||M'Killop, W.|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||M'Laren, Sir D. H. (Leicester)|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Gulland, John W.||M'Laren, H. D. (.Stafford, W.)|
|Burke, E, Haviland-||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||M'Micking, Major G.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hall, Frederick||Maddison, Frederick|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn.SydneyCharles||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Mallet,Charles E.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Hardie, J.Keir(Merthyr Tydvil||Manfield, Hairy (Northants)|
|Cairns, Thomas||Hardy George A. (Suffo'k)||Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln)|
|Campbell-Bannennan, Sir H.||Harvey, A. G C. (Rochdale)||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Marks, G.Croydon(Lavinteston)|
|Cawley, Frederick||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Marnham. F. J.|
|Chance, Frederick William||Haworth, Arthur A.||Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)|
|Channing, Arancis Allston||Hedges, A. Paget||Massie, J.|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Helme, Norval Watson||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Meagher, Michael|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Henderson,J.M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Menzies, Walter|
|Clarke, C. Goddard||Henry, Charles S.||Micklem, Natlhaniel|
|Celand. J. W.||Herbert, Col. Ivor (Mon., S.)||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Clough, W.||Herbert, T. Arnold. (Wycombe)||Mond, A.|
|Coats, SirT.Glen (Renfrew, W.)||Higham, John Sharp||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Hobart. Sir Robert||Montagu, E. S.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Montgomery, H. G.|
|Collins,Sir W. J.(S.Pancras, W||Hodge, John||Mooney, J. J.|
|Corbett,CH. (Sussex,E.Grinst'd||Hogan, Michael||Morgan, C. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||Morgan. J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)|
|Cowan, W. H.||Hope, W. Bateman (.Somerset)||Morley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Cox, Harold||Horniman, Emslie John||Morrell, Philip|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Horridge, Thomas Gandner||Morse, L. L.|
|Cremer,William Randal||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Morton, Alphens Cleophas|
|Crombie, John William||Hudson, Walter||Murnaghan, George|
|Crooks, William||Hutton, Alfred Eddison||Murphy, John|
|Crossley, William J.||Hyde, Clarendon||Murray, James|
|Dalmeny, Lord||Idris, T. H. W.||Myer, Horatio|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Ilingworth, Percy H.||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Napier, T. B.|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Jacoby, James Alfred||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)|
|Delany, William||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Newnes, Sir George (Swansea)|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Nicholls, George|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.)||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor(Swansea||Nicholson, Chas. N. (Doncaster|
|Dickinson, W.H. (St.PancrasN.||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Jowett, F. W.||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Duckworth, James||Joyce, Michael||Nuttall, Harry|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.||Rose, Charles Day||Wallace, Robert|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Rowlands, J.||Walsh, Stephen|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Runciman, Walter||Walters, John Tudor|
|O'Kelly, James(Roscommon,N||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds,S)|
|O'Malley, William||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|O'Shaughness, P. J.||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Palmer, Sir Charles Mark||Schwann, Sir C. E.(Manchester)||Ward, W. Dudley(Southamp'n|
|Parker, James;(Halifax)||Scott,A.H.(Ashton under Lyne||Wardle, George J|
|Partington, Oswald||Sears, J. E.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Paul, Herbert||Shackleton, David James||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)||Wason, John Cathcart(Orkney)|
|Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Shipman. Dr. John G.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Pearson, W.H.M. (Suffolk, Eye)||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Philipps, Col. Ivor(S'thampton||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Whitbread, Howard|
|Philipps, J.Wynford(Pembroke||Snowden, P.||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||White, Luke (York. E. R.)|
|Piekersgill, Edward Hare||Spicer, Sir Albert||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Pollard, Dr.||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph(Chesh.||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh.Central)||Steadman, W. C.||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Price, Robert John(Norfolk, E||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Radford, G. H.||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Raphael, Herbert H.||Strachey, Sir Edward||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Stuart, James (Sunderland)||Williams, Llewelyn(Carmarthen|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Sullivan, Donal||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Rees, J. D.||Summerbell, T.||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Renton, Major Leslie||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)||Wilson. Hn. C. H. W.(Hull, W.)|
|Richards,Thomas (W. Monm'th||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Wison, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Richards, T.F. (Wolverhampt'n||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Richardson,A.||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesborough)|
|Rickett, J. Compton||Thomas, Sir A.(Glamorgan, A.)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Tillett, Louis John||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Tomkinson, James||Winfrey, R.|
|Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Torrance, Sir A. M.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Robertson, Rt, Hn. E. (Dundee||Trevelyan, Charles Philipps|
|Robertson, Sir G.Scott(Brad'rd||Verney, F. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Villiers, Ernest Amberst|
|Robinson, S.||Vivian, Henry|
|Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Wadsworth. J.|
|Roes, Sir Thomas||Waldron, Laurence Ambrose|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Corbett. T. L. (Down, North)||Lockwood, Rt, Hn.Lt-Col.A. R.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Cory, Clifford John||Long, Col.Chas. W. (Evesham)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Court hope, G. Loyd||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Balfour, Rt.Hn.A.J.(CityLond.||Craig, Capt. James (Down, E.)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Craik, Sir Henry||MacIver, David (Liverpool)|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Dalrymple, Viscount||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Barrie, H. T.(Londonderry, N.)||Dixon-Hartland, SirFredDixon||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Beach, Hn. Michael HughHicks||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Nicholson, Wm. G.(Petersfield)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan||Nield, Herbert|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Faber, George Denison (York)||Pease, HerbertPike(Darlington|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Fell, Arthur||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Randies, Sir John Scurrah|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Fletcher, J. S.||Rawlinson, John FrederickPeel|
|Bull, Sir William James||Forster, Henry William||Roberts, S. (Sheffield.Ecelesall)|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Haddock, George R.||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Cave, George||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C.W.||Houston, Robert Paterson||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hunt, Rowland||Smith, F.E.(Liverpool,Walton)|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hn.Col.W.||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Kimber, Sir Henry||Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hn. J.A.(Wore.||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Starkey, John R.|
|Coates, E. Feetham(Lewisham)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Collings, Rt.Hn.J.(Birmingh'm||Liddell, Henry||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Thomson, W.Mitchell-(Lanark)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia.|
|Thornton, Percy M.||Wilson,A.Stanley(York, E. R.)|
|Tuke, Sir John Batty||Wortley, Rt.Hon. C. B.Stuart-|
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE moved to insert after the word "except," in line 8, the words, "in a constituency in which he resides, or, in the event of his not residing in any of the constituencies in which he is registered, or of his residing in more than one constituency, then except." This proposal, he said, was entirely different from that which the Committee had just divided upon, though the arguments with regard to it followed the same line. Many of the difficulties had been anticipated in the speeches on the previous Amendment. A great many of the points which were material to the one debate were also material to the other. His proposal was as near to a residential proposal as they could come, in order to give effect to what the Government desired, namely, not to take away the vote from any person who had more than one vote at the present time. The difficulties of all the schemes came from the complexity of our franchise, and from the refusal of this country to consider a single and simple franchise. Almost every country in the world except our own had a simple franchise. Here there were seventeen well-known franchises, and as long as we piled one on the top of the other, these difficulties must continue. With one exception, involving a slight complication which he had guarded against, he proposed, by the Amendment, to make a man vote in the constituency where he resided. The elector would be automatically and effectively on the register there. Some people had several residences, and in these cases the provisions of the Bill would come into force in determining the constituency selected for the purpose of exercising the vote. "Residence," which was the feature of this Amendment, was not a vague word. It was used in a whole series of Acts of Parliament, it was the basis of a large number of the present franchises, and the exact sense of it had been decided by judgments in the Courts explaining the statutes in which it occurred. The exception which he had provided for by putting in words to cover it was the rare case of a man who was a plural voter and who had several qualifications, but no 476 residence in any of the places where he had a qualification. The plan he suggested was simple as compared with the complicated plan of the Bill. The objection to the application of the machinery of the Bill was the want of knowledge on the part of the county clerk. That official would have no machinery by which he would be enabled to know how to discharge the duties which the House seemed to think he ought to discharge. Now he came to a question, which he could state briefly. There had been, not an absolute promise of acceptance of the proposal, but a promise that consideration would be given to the proposal that the Bill should state exactly what the duties of the county clerk were really to be. Under the present registration laws claims which were supposed to be signed by the voter himself were rarely so signed. They wanted to know what the county clerk would have before him. The difficulties in connection with the working of the Bill would be greatly diminished by confining the operation of the measure to the smallest possible number of cases. If they had an automatic moans of selection covering the great majority of the cases, then the danger of the Bill would be much less. What lie suggested was that under the scheme in the Bill it would really be impossible to enforce the law. There had been in the debate a fair amount of admission of the truth of the facts alleged against the complexity of the Bill. His hon. friend the Member for Stoke seemed to have some doubts as to the way in which the working-class would be placed in a difficulty by the Bill. He could understand how these doubts arose. In the building and some other trades, as in the case also of some Nonconformist ministers, people were not long enough in one place to qualify. One point which had not been thoroughly brought out was that the county clerk had no means of obtaining information where the notice was of a character to leave him in doubt. That objection would be diminished to an enormous extent by the adoption of some automatic machinery of the kind he referred to. The notice sent to the county clerk might be such as to raise doubts as to the identification of the 477 voter. There were sometimes differences between a voter's description of himself and the description which appeared on the register. For example, there were many cases in which the addresses did not exactly tally, and many in which the Christian names slightly differed or contained one usually omitted. How in such eases was the county clerk going to be sure as to the person from whom he received a notice? There were often many voters of one name and address on the register. In an agricultural parish in his own division there were some voters who, much to their own offence, had to be distinguished by their nicknames. A man who had several residences was not the man as a rule in regard to whom these difficulties would arise. It had been suggested that those difficulties were unconsciously exaggerated by those who took part in the debates. He did not think the Committee quite realised the complexity of the work which our present franchise system involved, in respect of registration. There were a large number of cases of complexity disclosed by his examination in Worcestershire and Gloucestershire and Herefordshire parishes, and the danger was, that the county clerk, although written to about the choice of a constituency, would not take any action whatever where the matter was not clear. There were a great number of cases where sons had the same names as their fathers, although they might belong to two different political parties. He knew of two adjoining parishes in two counties where there were five duplicates on the register in which difficulties arose. The difficulty of sorting out these cases was exceedingly great. By the machinery of the Bill, as it existed in its present form, one of the greatest difficulties would be the cancelling of notice once given. There were 3,000 colliers freeholders in the division of Rhondda, and 200 out of these 3,000 worked in the Rhondda Valley of whom a few were on the register there, and if this Amendment was not carried these men would have to cancel their notice beforehand before they could give a vote. But if they gave a vote without notice he doubted whether any jury would convict them for personation. He admitted that this Amendment would require further machinery to carry it into effect. He had drawn Amendments to that end, but these would involve so much re-shaping 478 of the Bill that he doubted if it would be possible for the Government to agree to them. He could not take the responsibility of trying to force this Amendment on the Government on the present occasion, but he hoped that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Government as a whole, would give their minds to the endeavour to meet, in some way or another, the many difficulties which surrounded this question. He saw no way of doing that unless some such machinery of residence as he had suggested were adopted. County clerks and others responsible for the register would have to give a somewhat wooden interpretation of the law, but if the liberty proposed were given to them the difficulties to which he had referred might be overcame to a large extent.
In page 1, line 8, after the word 'except' to insert the words 'in a constituency in which lie resides, or, in the event of his not residing in any of the constituencies in which he is registered, or of his residing in more than one constituency, then except' "—(Sir Charles Dilke.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. HARCOURT
said that the right hon. Gentleman know very well that personally and in theory he did not differ from his view, and that he would wish to found the franchise entirely on residence. But the Government had decided, and had given him instructions that he was not to introduce a disfranchising Bill. They would not quibble over words, but the purpose of the Bill was not to abolish the property qualification. He had not done it because any man who opted in that way might exercise his property qualification. The Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman, however, it was impossible to incorporate in this Bill, conceived as it was on a totally different plan.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
said that he would give every man one vote, and that the object of his Amendment was to enable a man at once to exercise his vote.
§ MR. HARCOURT
said he had tried to be as tender as he could to the property owner while adhering to the definite object and principle of the Bill—that a 479 man should only vote in one place during the calendar year. He quite agreed with the right hon. Baronet that their great object should be to have as clean a register as possible. He admitted that this Bill might not secure that object, but he thought it made an approach to it. He did not understand the anxiety of the right hon. Gentleman that a notice should be sent to the man himself. He had already promised to consider whether the notice should be changed to a declaration, although he did not know whether a declaration would confer any great gain. He had promised, however, to consider it.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would consider the question of working this matter through the revising barrister's court, or whether it could be done through the assistant overseers.
§ MR. HARCOURT
said he could not do that, because the whole essence of this Bill was not to change the law in regard to registration. It was purely a question of typography and not of registration.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
said the work of indicating the voting place of a plural voter was at present done by the revising barrister.
§ MR. HARCOURT
said he did not bring in the revising barrister at all. The revising barrister had no right to say where a plural voter should vote, or whether he should have a vote or not. The plural voter had a right to claim where he should vote, and the mark indicating where he should vote was put on by the printer. He understood from the right hon. Baronet that he wished for an expression of opinion on this subject, but it had nothing to do with the proposed Amendment.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE
said that, although he did not wish to bind anybody else, he should not press the Amendment to a division, but if anybody else forced a division he should, of course, vote for his proposal. He pointed out, as to the work falling on the county clerk, that the only work of a similar kind carried out at present was done in the revision court under the eye of the public. The county clerk had neither the machinery nor the 480 knowledge imposed on the court of the revising barristers.
§ *SIR BRAMPTON GURDON (Norfolk, N.)
was glad that this proposal had been brought forward, because the residential vote was what they had been asking for for years and years. He contended that a man should vote where he lived, and nowhere else, a system that would pave the way for the abolition of the period of qualification. It had always been a great grievance, that if a man moved from one constituency to another he lost his vote for the year. If we had this residential qualification the register might be made up like the census, and no man would be disfranchised by his change of residence. He should have more respect for the contention of hon. Members opposite if they were bold enough to claim that a man should have so many votes for so many acres of land, or so many votes for so many hundreds of pounds a year. That would be logical, but the present system under which men obtained plural qualifications in different parts of the country was not logical at all. According to our constitution a man should only have one vote, and he thought the cases in which the dual residence difficulty would come in would be very few indeed, while the cases which had been alluded to of the men who had qualifications all over the country and no residence, might be counted upon the fingers of one hand. He recognised the difficulties which had been referred to, and that it was impossible for his right hon. friend to press his Motion to a division. He did hope, however, that residential suffrage would some day be the law of land.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said that the interesting discussions on the last two Amendments had put the Committee in a considerable difficulty. The speech of the right hon. Baronet had lent great weight to a number of conclusions. No man in the House, and he doubted whether there was a man in the country, had been able to devote the time to acquire the minute knowledge which the light hon. Baronet had displayed in the course of the discussion. No man was a greater authority than the right hon. Baronet on these questions, and he confessed that the wealth of the detailed information he possessed as to minute 481 points of procedure made the right hon. Gentleman, in his judgment, an absolute master of the subject. But the conclusion to be drawn from the discussion of the last two Amendments was that the Bill as at present framed was unworkable. The scheme of the Government might be carried out on lines suggested by his hon. friend behind him (Mr. Cave), because the Bill would be modified to the extent of leaving all the existing franchises, restricting the power of any individual to one vote at one election. He did not agree with the plan of the right hon. Baronet, because in the first place it wholly destroyed the University vote, and it could not be incorporated in the Government Bill without revolutionising its whole structure and practically making it a new measure. But the alternative presented in the last two Amendments had been rejected, and the Government plan was left. By the admission of every competent speaker on the Liberal side of the House it was an unworkable plan. It was a plan which the right hon. Gentleman had riddled from top to bottom, and it was impossible to believe that the system they were about to adopt was a workable system. The hon. Member for North Norfolk had said that he welcomed the suggestion because he was in favour of giving a man a vote for the place in which he resided and for nothing else. By his own admission, however, it would be years before that was carried out. He dissented from the policy of the right hon. Gentleman, and ventured to point out to him that he himself had recognised that it could not be grafted on to the policy of the Government, and admitted that the plan of the Government was not a plan that could be worked at all. Was not that an extraordinary position for the Committee to find itself in after two days discussion upon this Bill, when they had not penetrated very far into its machinery and had no knowledge of that part of the machinery which was to be made public in the hitherto unpublished Order in Council. The present position was that the Government would not take the workable plan which could be drafted on to their Bill and which had been suggested in the Amendment; they could not take the suggestion of the right hon. Baronet, because it would destroy the Bill from top to bottom; 482 and they were left with a plan of their own, which their own best supporters, and those who know most about the registration law, declared to be impossible in practice, as well as capable of working great injustice in the way of disfranchising perfectly competent electors and possibly bringing them within reach of the criminal law. That was an impossible situation. The Government must feel that they could hardly successfully proceed with the measure. The right hon. Gentleman in charge must feel that he had embarked on an impossible task; that he had undertaken to do that which could not be done, and which, at any rate, the Bill did not do. It was a waste of Parliamentary time to proceed with the consideration of a measure which its friends admitted no alteration could make a practicable and workable Bill.
§ MR. WILLIAM RUTHERFORD
thought that Members on both sides of the House would regret that the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had not seen his way to lend a more sympathetic ear to the suggestions made to him. Had the right hon. Raronet pressed this Motion to a division, he should have supported him. Experience had shown that in all large towns people were continually moving out and residing in the suburbs at some considerable distance from their places of business. The result was that that class of duplicate voters tended largely to increase. The Amendment which had been moved with such lucidity by the right hon. Baronet at all events provided a remedy for the difficulty which arose with regard to them. It might not be the best remedy, but it was, at least, one remedy. The effect of the Bill as it stood would be that this increasing class of duplicate voters, if they did not send in their notice of selection, would be disfranchised. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite scarcely seemed to realise that fact.
§ VISCOUNT TURNOUR (Sussex, Horsham)
called attention to the fact that there wore not forty Members present.
§ House counted, and forty Members being found present—483
§ MR. WILLIAM RUTHERFORD,
continuing, said his sympathy was not so much with those duplicate voters, who were keen politicians. Those gentlemen would be taken care of, and their claims sent in. His sympathy was with that large class who were not active politicians, who would forget or neglect to fill up these notices. There were upwards of 2,000 of these duplicate voters in a constituency which he had in his mind, and he was confident that at least half of them, not being keen and active politicians, would, through not filling up and sending in these notices, be disfranchised and lose their votes altogether. It was a monstrous proposition that a man should be disfranchised and deprived of his vote altogether in this way, when a man, qualified to vote only in one place, required to send in no notice at all. He contended that so long as the Bill was left in its present shape, and they were met with the position he had described, so long it would not be possible to introduce into it any reasonable Amendment to make it workable. He believed that this Amendment, which was to be withdrawn, would have done something to meet the difficulty, and he very much regretted that the right hon. Baronet had not pressed it to a division.
§ MR. HARMOOD-BANNER
said they must regard the Amendment as the best of a bad thing. He was so convinced that this Bill would be a disfranchising measure that he preferred to accept the Amendment sooner than let the Bill go through in the way evidently intended by the Government, without any Amendment of any sort or kind.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT (Down, N.)
said he desired to call the attention of the Committee to the conduct of Ministers during the very powerful and eloquent speech of the Leader of the Opposition. He thought it was unprecedented that the Treasury Bench should have been practically deserted. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had fled from the attack of the Leader of the Opposition and left a subordinate Minister in his place. The Bill had been absolutely riddled by the criticism directed against it, both on the Opposition and on the Ministerial side, and in view of the 484 extraordinary conduct of the front Government Bench he moved to report progress. It was little short of a scandal that there should not have been a single Cabinet Minister left in charge of the Bill.
§ *THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Mr. JOHN ELLIS,) Nottinghamshire, Rushcliffe
said it would be within the knowledge of the hon. Gentleman, and particularly of that of the Leader of the Opposition, that there was usually a paucity of attendance, oven on the front Ministerial Bench, during the dinner hour. He could assure the hon. Gentleman that his right hon. friend in charge of the Bill, who it was generally acknowledged had met the Committee in a spirit of great assiduity and courtesy, would be back in a few minutes.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said everybody must recognise that a Minister, however zealous, must dine, and the strain of conducting a great Bill, as he himself knew, was very considerable, especially when it was carried on day after day. It was impossible under such circumstances to expect any Minister to sit there the whole time, nor would it be necessary if the Ministers who had been replying to the criticisms had come to some arrangement—as was made for instance that very evening between his hon. friend the Member for East Worcestershire and himself—so that both should not be absent from the House at the same time. He need hardly say that he had no personal feeling in the matter, but it was the fact that he made a speech twenty minutes ago based on the very important debate which had just preceded it, pointing out the impossible position into which the Government had got themselves, and the impracticability of their scheme. He was sure no discourtesy was meant towards him, but it certainly showed want of organisation on the Treasury Bench or the necessity for some improvement in the rules of the House. It was not proper that the Treasury Bench should at any time be left deprived of those in charge of the measure.
§ VISCOUNT TURNOUR
said that Mr. Massingham, writing a short time ago in the Daily News, had described 485 the present House of Commons as the most strenuous that had ever been elected, and that it was determined to work at all cost. Yet on this Bill, which was one of the most important Bills of the session, there was only one Member of the Government on the Treasury Bench, and only three supporters behind. One of their supporters in a recent speech in the country said the Government ought to be congratulated for the number of Bills they succeeded in getting through Parliament during the earlier part of the session, and that they were largely enabled to do so because the Government and the Liberal Party did not hesitate to legislate during the dinner hour. If the Liberal Party, and especially the Government, wished to live up to the representation of being the most strenuous Government of modern times it would be as well if more than one Member of the Government could be present when the Leader of the Opposition was making an important speech on an Amendment to an important Bill. He sincerely hoped the Committee would accept the Motion to report progress.
§ MR. HARCOURT
said he should not have thought it was necessary to deal with a Motion to report progress, on the ground that a Minister was merely mortal.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT
said the Motion was not proposed because of the absence of the right hon. Gentleman, against whom they had no cause of complaint, but because a most elaborate and convincing speech was delivered by the Leader of the Opposition whilst the only occupant of the front Ministerial Bench was an Under-Secretary, and there were only three Members behind to support him.
§ MR. HARCOURT
said he was only mortal, and had found it necessary to leave the House for a short time. If he had known the Leader of the Opposition was going to speak he would have remained at whatever inconvenience. To say that his colleague, who had been rightly described as an Under-Secretary— that was no disgraco—was not associated with him in regard to the Bill merely because he had not taken part in debate was incorrect. The right hon. Gentleman had been associated with him from 486 the first, and had equal knowledge with, in fact he believed superior knowledge to, himself of the details of the Bill. He could not allow for a moment a reflection for which there was no ground to be made against a right hon. Gentleman whose name was on the back of the Bill.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said he was sure nothing could have been further from his hon. friend's intention than to reflect on the competency of the right hon. Gentleman. At the same time the right hon. Gentleman who had had charge of the Bill would have felt a liberty in dealing with Amendments, and a power of accepting suggestions, that did not belong to somebody who was neither a Cabinet Minister nor the Minister directly in charge of the Bill. Had the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill or the Chancellor of the Exchequer been in the House when the Leader of the Opposition spoke, he could not conceive that the speech would have been allowed to pass without reply. He thought this incident illustrated the unsatisfactory character of the change abolishing the regular dinner hour. The House was not more industrious because it had no dinner hour. They worked no more hours. All the change did was to allow hon. Members to go home earlier. It simply meant that the Minister in charge of a Bill, who would be present during the whole of the discussion if he were allowed half an hour for his dinner, was now away for half an hour during the discussion, and was not therefore able to answer the criticisms made in his absence.
§ MR. WILLIAM RUTHERFORD
said that a most destructive, damaging criticism had been made of the Bill, and there had been no attempt to meet it. It must be clear to everybody that it was time the Government recast the Bill or put down some Amendments in order to meet this damaging criticism. Under the circumstances it would be in the best interest of all parties, and in the interests of the Bill itself, that this Motion should be accepted. The Government ought to have time to take the whole situation into consideration.
§ SIR WILLIAM BULL (Hammersmith)
, in supporting the Motion, said that all this trouble would not have 487 arisen if the Committee knew when the Order in Council was likely to be laid on the Table; it was perfectly clear it would be bettor for the Government to state when that would be done.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT,
in asking leave to withdraw the Motion, said that in making it he had been influenced by the feelings natural to one who had heard the powerful speech of the Leader of the Opposition, and had seen that only one person on the Treasury Bench and three or four supporters of the Government appeared to listen to it.
§ MR. J. WARD
said the grievance was not all on one side. Never during the evening had there been more than seven on the Opposition Benches.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said the Motion was made because, when an important speech was delivered, there did not appear to be any Minister present who had authority to deal with the Bill, and what other Members of the House were present was not to the point. All the Opposition asked for was——
§ MR. JOHN O'CONNOR (Kildare, N.),
rising to a point of order, asked whether arguments were not being unduly repeated, and whether the rules of the House did not come into operation to put an end to such repetition.
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
said he had been under the impression that the Motion was to be withdrawn, and that the matter would accordingly terminate. There had been some repetition by the last speaker, but he hoped the matter might terminate reasonably.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said he would not have spoken again but for the interruption of the hon. Gentleman below the Gangway. He had merely intended to express the hope that the Government would be able so to organise the dining arrangements that one of the Ministers in practical charge of a Bill should be in attendance in the House when important speeches were made.
§ MR. BRIDGEMAN (Shropshire, Oswestry)
considered that the Leader of the Opposition had been treated in an insulting manner, and hoped the Motion would not be withdraw). The Chancellor of the Exchequer came in behind the Chair, saw the Leader of the Opposition speaking, saw that there was no Cabinet Minister on the Treasury Bench, and then went out. Under the circumstances he was sorry that the hon. Member proposed to withdraw his Motion.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. HARMOOD-BANNER
supported the Amendment. In his own constituency there were more than 5,000 voters who would be affected by this Bill, and of that number at least one half wore electors who took no particular side in politics, but were influenced on the questions of the day as they arose. Under the Bill as it stood those voter would undoubtedly be disfranchised, for it was absolutely impossible for an agent to take sufficient interest in them to put in their claims before an election came on. This Amendment distinctly protected those people by saying that they were to be on the list of voters where they had their place of abode. It was perfectly true that the University was to be put on one side, but he preferred the interests of a borough constituency even to those of a University. He totally objected to the wholesale disfranchisement which this Bill would effect.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN moved to insert in line 11, after "Act," the words "or in which he is registered as a voter in respect of his place of abode." He hoped that this was an Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill would find himself able to accept. The right hon. Gentleman had refused to accept a large number of Amendments on the ground that they challenged the principle of the Bill. This Amendment did not challenge the principle of the Bill. It followed the established precedent in the case of borough voters who had more than one qualification in the same 489 borough, and, therefore, he looked for a benevolent attitude towards it on the part of the right hon. Gentleman. The object of the Amendment was obvious. It was to prevent wholesale disfranchisement of voters who neglected to select. In the case of voters in boroughs who had more than one qualification they had only to exercise the power of selection if they desired to vote in some place other than that in which they resided. If they were content to vote in the constituency where they had their place of abode they were automatically placed on the register. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to apply that principle to this Bill. Not being a lawyer or a draughtsman he was aware that the words of his Amendment might not be sufficient to cover the purpose he had in view, but if the right hon. Gentleman accepted the proposal the words necessary to meet the case could be found by the right hon. Gentleman, who had the assistance of skilled draughtsmen. His proposal, which was absolutely just, would prevent the disfranchisement of those people who either had no knowledge of a second qualification, or had not taken the trouble to serve the necessary notices.
In page 1, line 11, after the word 'Act,' to insert the words 'or in which he is registered as a voter in respect of his place of abode.'"— (Mr. Austen Chamberlain.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
replied in the negative. He had consulted a legal friend as to whether a voter could possibly vote in both constituencies. His legal friend said that the voter could not. If that raised a difficulty he would gladly add to the Amendment "but not in both."
§ MR. HARCOURT
said he merely wanted to clear away that difficulty. The right hon. Gentleman's Amendment would destroy the necessity for selection —a question which the Committee had already decided on the previous Amendment. By this Amendment the right 490 hon. Gentleman would not compel a voter to make a selection, and if the voter did not make a selection he must then vote in the constituency where he had his place of abode. It was obvious that as long as a man remained in his house he could vote on that residence qualification whether he resided in Worcestershire or whether he were in the unfortunate condition of the right hon. Gentleman of having a residence in London. The Amendment was directed entirely in favour of those who had the advantage of many residences. The Amendment meant that there should be a class distinction drawn between those people who had not influence or money, and those who in the counties or boroughs had a number of residential qualifications. He insisted that the Amendment ran counter to the principle of the Bill. Why should the revising barrister have to decide what was a permanent residence? When they tried to work the matter out, he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would see that his Amendment was one which could not be accepted.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said that he was not trying to secure more than one vote for one man, but only that if that man failed in time to make a selection he should not on that account be disfranchised. In other words, he contended that a man with more than one qualification should not be placed in a worse position than a man with only one qualification, who was not required to do anything. Even in the case of a lodger, although the law said that the lodger must make application every year to be placed on the register, he was retained on the register, as a rule, unless someone objected. The right hon. Gentleman had complained that if they gave a vote to the occupier for every residence he possessed that man might have an unlimited number of votes; but, would the right hon. Gentleman accept the principle that if a man did not specially claim to be put on the register of a particular constituency, he should have the right to vote in the place where his principal residence and homo was? He was quite willing, although he had taken the words of his Amendment from the Registration Act of 1883, to add words which would make it perfectly clear that a man should only 491 vote once. What he wanted was that a special disability should not be imposed on a man who had more than one residence.
§ MR. HARCOURT
said that it was absolutely impossible to accept the Amendment, which would run counter to the principle of the Bill. It would completely destroy the necessity of selection, which he regarded as of great importance.
§ MR. BONAR LAW (Camberwell, Dulwich)
said he could not understand why the right hon. Gentleman would not accept the principle of the Amendment. Did he contend that no one was to be entitled to vote unless he took the trouble to ask to lie placed on the register? If that were so, they must put some compulsion on every man to demand the right to vote. There was no justification whatever for enacting that a man who had two qualifications, if he did not make a selection as to where he would vote, should have no vote at all. The right hon. Gentleman had said that the Amendment would be perfectly unworkable, but he did not see how it would be more unworkable than the procedure to obtain a lodger vote, Really, hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to think that in some way or other they on that side of the House were trying to get an advantage. Nothing of the kind. The Amendment of his right hon. friend amounted to this, that a man had a right to a vote without making a special claim to it. The refusal of the Amendment was absolutely indefensible.
§ VISCOUNT TURNOUR
said he could not see how the acceptance of this Amendment would in any way injure the principle of the Bill, and no good argument had been brought forward against it.
§ MR. DUNN (Cornwall, Camborne)
said that this was an exceedingly dangerous Amendment, for whatever might be the intention of the right hon. Gentleman in moving it, it would prove of considerable advantage to the plural voter. It was quite clear that by the Amendment when an election came on a plural voter would have a choice as to which constituency he should vote. 492 The intention of the mover might have been to get away from it, but the result was to give a double vote to the plural voter, and such a course was dangerous in the eyes of those who desired to see these anomalies done away with.
§ *MR. ROBERT PEARCE (Staffordshire, Leek)
said that during the last thirty years he had been engaged in making and using voting lists in almost every capacity, and he thought that further consideration should be given to the selection by the plural voter in an automatic way. In the City of London it would be found that far more than half the persons on the list had only business premises in the City but had a residence outside it. The registration officers, the overseers, and the revising barristers would, in spite of the fact that there were two qualifications, be obliged to put a person carrying on business in the City on the City List. The name of the person would, however, also appear on the lists of voters for the place in which he resided. By reference to the City list one should be able to know whether he had a vote for the City or not. The consequence of the proposed system would be that when an election took place everybody concerned would have to go through the list, and compare it with other lists and would have to strike out perhaps three-quarters of the names as being those of persons not qualified to vote. That would lead to great confusion, and omitting liverymen the list of voters would resolve itself into a mere list of the caretakers who had charge of the premises. At election times when people wore expected to vote for "Balfour" and "Banbury," they would not look out for qualifications which would interfere with their doing so. It seemed to him that the Government could hit upon a plan, though not by the words of the Amendment, by which the lists should still be conclusive. Whenever the address of the residence differed from that of the qualifying premises, a man would not be entitled to vote, and by omitting or marking that name they would get, if not a perfect list, an approximately perfect list which would be useful on the day of election and not a list which would be misleading. It was possible to have such a list in every constituency all over the country. He hoped that the 493 Government, after the suggestions from that side of the House, would endeavour to secure some automatic mode of selection, so that at times of elections it would be known who was entitled to vote.
§ CAPTAIN CRAIG (Down, E.)
said hon. Members opposite had put a meaning into the Amendment which it did not bear. It struck at the root of the difference which existed between the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill and hon. Members on both sides of the House, because it was obvious that a large portion of the Committee were desirous of making it perfectly clear that a man, simply because he had a plural qualification, whether through defect of political organisation or any other cause, was not to be disfranchised altogether. He thought that the Amendment put it as clearly as it possibly could be put, that where a man happened to work in one place and to reside in another, and failed through absence from home or other cause to make a selection as to where he would vote, he should be put on the list in regard to his place of abode and would in any event find himself on the register and able to vote. He maintained that the Bill should be so worded that a man having a qualification in two places should not, because one or the other political organisation was inefficient, or because the clerk of the council was inefficient, lose his vote. They desired that every person, whether rich or poor, should be treated exactly alike, and if a man was entitled to two or three votes he should be assured that when an election came round that, neither through his own fault nor through the fault of other people, he would be debarred from going to the poll to record his vote. He thought it was very clear, from the voices that had been heard from the other side of the House as well as from that side, that some Amendment of this kind was necessary. The Amendment might possibly require some alteration in terms, but he hoped the Government would give an assurance that they would introduce something upon the Report stage to give the voter the protection which had been asked for.
§ *MR. CLAUDE HAY (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
said that so far as he was aware 494 the Londoners' point of view had not been put in regard to this Amendment. The Londoner was not in the position of the man who lived in a large provincial town. He ordinarily worked in one place and lived in another, and was entitled to a vote in one or the other or both of the places with which he was associated. Under the obligation which this Bill would create, the Londoner would be in a still greater fog than at present, and whether he was an employer or a workman who lived in one place and worked in another, he ought not to find that by some oversight on his part, or on the part of the officials of the local authorities concerned, he was deprived of his vote, and not only deprived of his vote, but subjected to penalties and imprisonment if he voted without knowing that he was bound to make a selection. He believed he reflected the views of all Parties when he said it was the wish and desire of the House that every man in the country who was entitled to a vote should be able to record that vote. He therefore hoped his right hon. friend in charge of the Bill would either accept the Amendment or give an undertaking that at a later stage words should be inserted in the Bill, to ensure that a man should be entitled, notwithstanding his neglect to select under this Bill, to vote in the district in which he resided. An hon. Member had said it was a little difficult to realise why if the motives supposed to animate the authors of this Bill did really animate them, the right hon. Gentleman should resist the Amendment before the Committee, or not give some assurance that the Bill would be amended in the spirit of the Amendment. The essential object of the Bill was to prevent a man voting more than once in one election. All that this Amendment would do would be to bring this result about, that if a man failed to make a selection he would not thereby be disfranchised. If the object of this Bill was to disfranchise as many persons as possible, then the opposition to this Amendment could be understood, but if its object was what it purported to be, then the Amendment had every claim to sympathetic consideration even of the most earnest advocate of the Bill. The adoption of such an Amendment would have the effect of enabling a man to be placed 495 automatically on the register of the district in which he resided. The saving thus effected in money and labour, the uncertainty and anxiety to many in this country no one in the House could fail to realise. Everyone knew how difficult it was to persuade people to make their claims. If that was so now, how much more difficult would it be to make them select the district in which they should vote.
§ *MR. COURTHOPE
complained that the hon. Member for the Camborne Division of Cornwall had inaccurately read the section to which this Amendment was moved and also the Amendment. If hon. Members would read the section and the Amendment in conjunction it would be found abundantly clear that the second alternative provided by the Amendment would not have any effect unless the plural voter had failed to make a selection It only applied in that one contingency. If he had made a selection, he had made it for good and had to abide by it for the year. If he had failed to make it, then the Amendment said he still had a right to that qualification which his residence gave him. If the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill was honest in his statement that this was not to be a Bill for disfranchisement, then he could not refuse this Amendment. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consider this matter, and would admit that this Amendment would not damage the principle of the Bill in any degree whatsoever. If the right hon. Gentleman did not make that admission, the only conclusion they could come to was that he was not honest in his statement that the Bill was not intended to be a disfranchisement Bill.
§ SIR GEORGE DOUGHTY (Great Grimsby)
said that if this Bill had been accompanied by a measure of redistribution he would have been an ardent supporter of it. Having admitted that, he could not understand why the Government did not endeavour to make the Bill just to all people alike. Surely the fact that a person happened to be on the register for five or six different places because he had either property or business interests in those places, should not be a disqualification, but rather a qualification for a vote. If he had only one 496 qualification he would be placed upon the register without any difficulty, but if he had six qualifications then he had to select where he would vote, and if he did not make the selection, he was to be disqualified altogether from voting. Surely that was a wrong principle. It must appeal to the common sense of hon. Members opposite that if a man did not select he should at all events have the same qualification as that possessed by the man who only had a vote at the place where he resided. He regretted very much that the Law Officers of the Crown were not assisting the right hon. Gentleman with this Bill. He believed that the Solicitor-General, if he were assisting, such was his love of justice and his knowledge of what was right, would at once admit that the Government ought to accept this Amendment. But they had had no advice from the Law Officers of the Crown. He believed that the description of this Bill as a Liberal Registration Agents' Bill was a correct one. It seemed to him that there was someone behind the Chair pulling the strings with regard to the measure. Why should they not have a simple measure requiring that every voter should be on the register for the place of his abode? Whilst every man should have one vote, and no more, he ought not to have any less. The Bill as it stood would deprive thousands of individuals whose life was given to commerce or other pursuits, and who did not care much about politics on one side or the other, of the protection of the law if they had not selected one place in which to vote. That protection was given to the working man who could vote in the place in which he resided, whereas the merchant could not do so unless he made some arrangement previously.
§ SIR E. CARSON (Dublin University)
said that as Members opposite would not deign to reply, being apparently inebriated with the exuberance of their own taciturnity, he proposed, as the Law Officers had been compelled to take no part in the discussion, to answer the speech of his hon. friend who had just spoken. His hon. friend seemed to think this was a Bill to put an end to plural voting. It was nothing of the kind. This was a Bill to amend the criminal law. The preamble did not say a word about plural voting. It was a Bill to impose a penalty on a Parliamentary 497 voter registered in more than one constituency who voted in any constituency except that selected for the purpose. He might he perfectly bona fide, but the right hon. Gentleman opposite said that there was not criminal law enough, and although a man was only voting in one constituency, the right hon. Gentleman was determined he should be made a felon unless he made a selection. Before branding such a man as a felon, they ought at least to give him the vote that he ordinarily ought to have, namely, a vote for the residence he occupied. Unless he had served a notice, however, he was disfranchised oven as regarded the abode in which he was living. A more monstrous proposition was never put before the House of Commons, and when hon. Members opposite described this as a Bill merely to prevent plural voting, it was merely a dishonest pretence. Lot them face the facts. The Bill had boon truly described as a Liberal Election Agents' Bill. A man who was abroad serving his country at the time when he ought to be serving his notice, might come home to find, when an election took place, that though he had a residence in the constituency he was disqualified. What, also, was to be said of the man who recovered from sickness to find that he had been deprived of his vote? He supposed one could not say in Parliament all that had occurred to one to say in describing this Bill. But he hoped he was not going beyond Parliamentary language when he said that this was a mean and scurrilous attempt to deprive
§ political opponents of the franchise, and the Bill was not the Bill of a statesman but that of a sneak.
§ MR. HARCOURT
said he was sorry the right hon. Gentleman was not able to bring to the consideration of the Bill his own inebriate taciturnity and so save himself from the regrets which he was sure the right hon. Gentleman would feel in the morning. The right hon. Gentleman had charged him with thinking that there was not criminal law enough. He had never felt until that moment that they might have criminal lawyers too much. The right hon. Gentleman had said this was a Liberal Election Agents' Bill. He had chosen a bad day to make that statement when an hon. Member most experienced in registration and electoral law had stated that it was quite unsuited to agents' purposes. He would only say on this Amendment that he did not think they were asking too much of the plural voter that he should once in the course of his life make a selection. Under the Bill as it stood every man had eight months in which he might make his selection, and he had already determined to make a further concession, which would meet the case of persons absent abroad on any duty and those who might be sick at home or elsewhere.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 81; Noes, 326. (Division List No. 333.)501
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.||Hills, J. W.|
|Arkwright. John Stanhope||Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.J.A.(Wore||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Ashley, W. W.||Coates, K. Feetham(Lewisham)||Hunt, Rowland|
|Balcarres, Lord||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. N.||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt.Hn.Col.W.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn.A.J.(CityLond||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Kimber, Sir Henry|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Courthope, G. Loyd||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Craig, Capt. James (Down, E.)||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.||Dalrymple, Viscount||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)|
|Beach, Hn.MichaelHugh Hicks||Dixon-Hartland, SirFredDixon||Lockwood, Rt.Hn.Lt, -Col. A.R.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Doughty, Sir George||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Duncan, Robert(Lanark,Govan||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Fell, Arthur||MacIver, David (Liverpool)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Fletcher, J. S.||Marks, H. H. (Kent)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Forster, Henry William||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Cave, George||Haddock, George R.||Nicholson, Wm. G.(Petersfield)|
|Cavendish, Rt, Hn.Victor C.W.||Harrison-Broadley, Col. H. B.||Nield, Herbert|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Pease, HerbertPike (Darlington|
|Percy, Earl||Smith.F. E. (Liverpool.Walton||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)|
|Randies, Sir John Scurrah||Starkey, John R.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.|
|Rawlinson, JohnFrederickPeel||Staveley-Hill, Henry-(Staff'sh.|
|Roberts, S.(Sheffield,Ecclesall)||Stone, Sir Benjamin||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia.|
|Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark|
|Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Salter, Arthur Clavell||Turnour, Viscount|
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.)||Cooper, G. J.||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Corbett, C.H.(Sussex,E.Grinstd||Hazel, Dr. A. E.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hedges, A. Paget|
|Agnew, George William||Cory, Clifford John||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Alden, Percy||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Cowan, W. H.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Cox, Harold||Henry, Charles S.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Cremer, William Randal||Herbert, Col. Ivor (Mon., S.)|
|Asquith, Rt.Hn.Herbert Henry||Crombie, John William||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)|
|Astbury, John Meir||Crooks, William||Higham, John Sharp|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Crosfield, A. H.||Hobart, Sir Robert|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Crossley, William J.||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Dalmeny, Lord||Hodge, John|
|Barker, John||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Hogan, Michael|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)|
|Barnard, E. B.||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Hope,W.Bateman (Somerset.N|
|Barnes, G. N.||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Beauchamp, E.||Delany, William||Horridge, Thomas Gardiner|
|Beaumont, HnW.C.B.(Hexham||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Bell, Richard||Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.)||Hudson, Walter|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Dickinson, W.H. (St.PancrasN.||Hutton, Alfred Eddison|
|Benn, SirJ. WiIliams(Devonp'rt||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Hyde, Clarendon|
|Benn, W.(T'w'rHamlets,S.Geo.||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Idris, T. H. W.|
|Berridge. T. H. D.||Dobson, Thomas W.||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Bertram, Julius||Donelan, Captain A.||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel|
|Bethell, J. H. (Essex, Romford)||Duckworth, James||Jacoby, James Alfred|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Johnson, John (Gateshead|
|Billson, Alfred||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)|
|Black, Arthur W.(Bedfordshire||Dunne, MajorE.Martin(Walsall||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Boland, John||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Jones, William(Carnarvonshire|
|Bolton, T.D.(Derbyshire, N.E.)||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Jowett, F. W.|
|Boulton, A. C. F. (Ramsey)||Edwards, Frank (Radnor)||Joyce, Michael|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Elibank, Master of||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Brace, William||Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Kekewich, Sir George|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Erskine, David C.||Kelley, George D.|
|Branch, James||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Kincaid-Smith, Captain|
|Brigg, John||Evans, Samuel T.||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)|
|Brunner, J.F.L. (Lancs.,Leigh)||Eve, Harry Trelawney||Kitson, Sir James|
|Bryce, Rt.Hn.James(Aberdeen||Everett, R. Lacey||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Bryce, J.A.(InvernessBurghs)||Fenwick, Charles||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Ferens, T. R.||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Flynn, James Christopher||Lambert, George|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Freeman, Thomas-Freeman||Lamont, Norman|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Chas.||Fuller, John Michael F.||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Byles, William Pollard||Fullerton, Hugh||Leese, SirJosephF.(Accrington)|
|Cairns, Thomas||Gibb, James (Harrow)||Lehmann, R. C.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Gill, A. H.||Lever, A.Levy(Essex,Harwich)|
|Cawley, Frederick||Gladstone, Rt.Hon. Herbert J.||Lover, W. H.(Cheshire, Wirral)|
|Chance, Frederick William||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Levy, Maurice|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Gooch, George Peabody||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Grant, Corrie||Lloyd-George Rt. Hon. David|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Gulland. John W.||Lough, Thomas|
|Clarke, C. Goddard||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Lundon, W.|
|Cleland, J. W.||Hall, Frederick||Lupton, Arnold|
|Clough, W.||Harcourt, Right Hon. Lewis||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Coats,SirT.Glen (Renfrew, W.)||Hardie, J.Keir(MerthvrTydvil||Lynch, H. B.|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Harvey, A. G.C. (Rochdale)||Macdonald, J.M.(FalkirkB'ghs)|
|Collins, SirWm.J.(S.Pancras,W||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Maclean, Donald|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Partington, Oswald||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||Paul, Herbert||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|MacVeigh, Chas. (Donegal, E.)||Paulton, James Mellor||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)||Stuart, James (Sunderland)|
|M'Crae, Goorge||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Sullivan, Donal|
|M'Killop, W.||Pearson, SirW. D. (Colchester)||Summerbell, T.|
|M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Pearson, W.H.M. (Suffolk, Eye)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Philipps, Col. Ivor(S'thampton||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Philipps, J.Wynford(Pembroke||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Maddison, Frederick||Piokersgill, Edward Hare||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Pollard, Dr.||Tillett, Louis John|
|Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Price, C.E.(Edinburgh,Central)||Tomkinson, James|
|Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln)||Radford, G. H.||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||Raphael, Herbert H.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Marks, G.Croydon(Launceston)||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Verney, F. W.|
|Marnham, F. J.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Villiers, Ernest Amherst|
|Mason, A. E. W. (Coventry)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford||Vivian, Henry|
|Massie, J.||Rees, J. D.||Wadsworth, J.|
|Meagher, Michael||Renton, Major Leslie||Waldron, Laurence Ambrose|
|Menzies, Walter||Richards, Thos (W Monm'th)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Richards, T. F.(Wolverh'mpt'n||Walters, John Tudor|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Richardson, A.||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Mond, A.||Rickett, J. Compton||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wardle, George J.|
|Montagu, E. S.||Roberts, G H. (Norwich)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay L.|
|Montgomery, H. G.||Roberts, John H. (Donbighs)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Mooney, J. J.||Robertson, Rt.Hn.E. (Dundee)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|Morgan, G. Hay. (Cornwall)||Robertson, SirG,Scott(Bradfrd||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Morgan, J. Lloyd(Carmarthen)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Whitbread, Howard|
|Morrell, Philip||Robinson, S.||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Murnaghan, George||Roe, Sir Thomas||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Murphy, John||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Murray, James||Rose, Charles Day||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Myer, Horatio||Rowlands. J.||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Runciman, Walter||Wiles, Thomas|
|Napier, T. B.||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Nicholls, George||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Williams, Llewelyn(Carmarth|
|Nicholson, Chas. N. (Doncast'r||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)||Williamson, A.|
|Nolan, Joseph||Schwann, SirC.E.(Manchester)||Wilson, Henry J. (York.W.R.)|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Sears, J. E.||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Nussey, Thomas Willans||Shackleton, David James||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Nuttall, Harry||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|O'Brien, Kendal(TipperaryMid||Simon, John Allsebrook||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Winfrey, R.|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Snowdon, P.||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Yoxall, James Henry|
|O'Kelly,James(Roscommon,N.||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|O'Malley, William||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph(Chesh.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Peace.|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Steadman, W. C.|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
§ On the figures being announced by the Chairman,
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY
said: On a point of order. I was in the "Aye" lobby at the division, and when I came through the door I found that the tellers had gone. I spoke to the clerk and told him that my name had not boon recorded on the list, and he said he would try to find the tellers. I have reported it to the tellers on the other side, and I wish to know whether my vote can be recorded.
§ MR. PIKE PEASE (Darlington)
I told the tellers that I had seen everybody go through. I did not see the hon. Baronet.
§ MR. RAWLINSON moved an Amendment to provide that the penalties attaching to any one knowingly acting in contravention of the clause should only be incurred if he acted corruptly 503 This Amendment would merely carry out what he understood was the intention of the Government. There could not be the slightest harm in adding the words "corruptly and." If the words were added there would then be no doubt that it would not be an offence for a person innocently and unintentionally to demand a vote in contravention of the words of the section. There was the ambiguity which had been referred to by hon. Members on both sides of the House as to the meaning of the words in the clause which ran "and if a person knowingly acts in contravention of this section, he shall be guilty of personation." Therefore, as the clause stood, a person who innocently demanded a vote in one constituency while holding a qualification in another might be held to be guilty of personation if by inadvertence he had not sent notice to the county clerk in order to be properly entered on the register. But a voter in such a case would not be acting corruptly. He could not believe that the Government intended that a person who was not acting corruptly should be punished under this Act.
In page 1, line 11, after the word 'person,' to insert the words 'corruptly and.'"—(Mr, Rawlinson.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. ASQUITH
said he did not think there would be any advantage in inserting these words. In fact the hon. and learned Gentleman might take it from him that there was no word more difficult of definition in law than the word "corruptly." The word "knowingly" was quite sufficient, and he could not see what possible purpose would be served by the addition of the words of the Amendment.
§ LORD R. CECIL (Marylebone, E.)
said the Government had put this somewhat drastic provision in the Bill merely 504 because it was following existing legislation. It was quite true that the existing statutes were not very differently worded from what was proposed to be enacted by this clause, but the Courts had held that in order that the offence should be complete the action must be corrupt. That was held in the Stepney Case—the only case decided on this point at all. He quite agreed that there was a certain ambiguity about the word "corruptly." It had received a great deal of consideration by the Judges, and although the sense of the word was indefinite it had a fairly well-known sense in the legislation on this subject. It meant that a man who claimed a vote not only knew that he was not entitled to vote, but that he had the corrupt intention to cheat the legislature and to cheat the opponent of the candidate whom he supported. He wished to point out that by the clause as it stood if a man merely knew that he had a vote elsewhere.—[Dissent from the GOVERNMENT Benches.] Well, they were agreed that it was presumed that a man know the law, and that if lie had property in another constituency which would give him a vote, he could not exercise that vote except in that constituency in which he was "starred." If the Government did not want to make the Act more drastic than the existing law they should insert the word "corruptly" or some word to indicate a dishonest intention on the part of a man to steal a vote. Personally, he did not feel very much moved by the action of the Government in proposing this legislation; but he strongly urged them to reconsider this matter of drafting, and if they did that they would agree with him that the word "corruptly" should be inserted in this clause.
§ SIR FREDERIC BANBURY
said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that the language in the Amendment had very little meaning. No one knew better than the right hon. Gentleman what certain words meant, and there were no words in the English language which 505 could raise a clearer meaning than the word "corruptly." Unless some such word were inserted in the clause very considerable hardship would be imposed on many people in this country. Why should not the two eminent lawyers on the Government Bench be able to devise a word instead of "corruptly" which would be understood by the Law Lords on a final appeal to the House of Lords? This was not a Party question. Nobody wished to convict a man unjustly, and what he wanted was that when this Bill passed into law it should not operate detrimentally to an innocent man. They had seen within the last few years what might occur through careless legislation in this House. As instances of the evils of legislating in a hurry he would quote the Taff Vale decision and the West Riding judgment. There was not a single Member who sat in the last Parliament who would not admit that what the lawyers said they had said was not what they meant to say. They should not put themselves in the position of being subjected to any such experience again.
§ THE SOLICITOR-CENERAL (Sir W. ROBSON)
said it had been suggested that they should insert the word "corruptly," but the gist of the matter was that according to the Judges an act was done "corruptly" if it was done knowingly in contravention to the law. That was to say that the person who did the act knowingly intended to break the law. That was the best definition of the word "corruptly" that he could find, and the question of whether a man acted corruptly was one for the jury. Therefore a man who gave an improper vote would not be liable to the penalties of the Act unless he did so knowingly in contravention of that section. It must be found that he knew the law and determined to break it. That was electoral corruption, and it was, therefore, unnecessary to insert the word "corruptly" in the clause.
§ SIR E. CARSON
said that if he agreed to the hon. and learned Member's 506 construction of the word "knowingly" he should say that an Amendment of the clause was not necessary. But he did not think that the hon. and learned Gentleman would on consideration think that his definition of what would be held to be "knowingly" was accurate. Everybody must be assumed to know the law, and up till then he had never heard that it could be a defence for a man to say that he did not know the law. Supposing a man knew that he had two qualifications and that he did not serve the notice. Supposing that he did not know that it was necessary under the law to serve that notice, would he not be liable to conviction? They assumed that everybody knew those franchise laws, whereas he did not suppose there was one in a hundred who knew anything about them, and if a man did not serve the notice he was bound to be, and must be, convicted if prosecuted. It was no use for him to say he did not know the law. If he could avoid conviction by saying so the clause would be quite illusory, because then in every case a man might say he did not know the law and would escape conviction. If the word "corruptly" were put in it would make no difference, and he should advise his hon. friend to withdraw his Amendment because no such argument in regard to the word "knowingly" would hold water in a law Court. He himself had an Amendment down which was intended to deal with the real offence, viz., that of a man trying to vote twice, and it was important to define what this offence was. A man came forward and the officer at the polling booth under this Bill had a right to ask him "Are you registered in any other constituency?" If so he did not get a vote. He must answer the question put to him before he voted, and the very answer which he gave under the provisions of an Act of Parliament might prove the case against him if he were proceeded against criminally. Such a provision was excessively unfair, because not only did they obtain an 507 admission from the man that he had two votes, but that he knew that he had two votes when he came into the booth. They could not be too careful in inserting words of this character which defined the offence which they wished to punish, so that a man should only be punished if he voted or wished to vote twice when he knew that the law only allowed him to vote once. A man ought not to be made a felon unless it was shown that he had an intention to defeat the Act.
§ MR. PAUL (Northampton)
said he was a layman and therefore, according to the noble Lord, he was not entitled to take any part in the discussion.
§ LORD R. CECIL
remarked that he did not say that laymen were incompetent to take part in the discussion. He should not like to say that the hon. Member for Northampton was incompetent to take part in any discussion. What he said was that laymen when they discussed points of law were more technical than lawyers.
§ in debate the name of one of His Majesty's Judges in the way of attack.
§ SIR E. CARSON
said that if the hon. Gentleman took his umbrella, which he hoped he would not, merely to shelter himself home on a rainy night, and intended to return it next day, no jury would convict; but if he took it to annex it permanently, there would be a question for the jury, and that was the question the Committee were now discussing.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 80; Noes, 330. (Division List No. 334.)511
|Acland-Hood, Rt.Hn.SirAlexF||Bull, Sir William James||Craig, Capt. James (Down, E.)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major||Burdett-Coutts, W.||Dalrymple, Viscount|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Butcher, Samuel Henry||Dixon-Hartland, SirFredDixon|
|Ashley, W. W.||Carlile, E. Hildred||Doughty, Sir George|
|Balcarres, Lord||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Balfour, Rt.Hn.A.J.(CityLond.||Castlereagh, Viscount||Dnncan, Robert(Lanark,Govan|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Cave, George||Fell, Arthur|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Cavendish, Rt. Hn. VictorC. W.||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Fletcher, J. S.|
|Beach, Hn. MichaelHughHicks||Chamberlain, Rt.HnJ. A. (Worc||Forster, Henry William|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Coates, E. Feetham (Lewisham||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H.A.E.||Harrison-Broadley, Col. H. B.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Hay, Hon. Claude George|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Courthope, G. Loyd||Hills, J. W.|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staff'sh.|
|Hunt, Rowland||Nield, Herbert||Talbot, Lord E (Chiehester)|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hn. Col.W||Percy, Earl||Thomson, W. Mitchell.(Lanark|
|Kimber, Sir Henry||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Lambton, Hon. FrederickWm.||Randies, Sir John Scurrah||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecelesall||Turnour, Viscount|
|Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Valentia, Viscount|
|Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)||Rothschild,Hon. Lionel Walter||Walker, Col.W. H.(Lancashire)|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Salter, Arthur Clavell||Wilson,A. Stanley (York, E.R.|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Marks, H. H. (Kent)||Smith, F. E.(Liverpool,Walton||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Rawlinson and Lord Robert Cecil.|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Morpeth, Viscount||Starkey, John R.|
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N.E.)||Cleland. J. W.||Gooch, George Peabody|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Clough, W.||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Coats, SirT. Glen(Renfrew, W.||Gulland, John W.|
|Agnew, George William||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton|
|Alden, Percy||Collins. SirWm.J.(S.Pancras,W||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Cooper, G. J.||Hall, Frederick|
|Ambrose, Robert||Corbett,CH.(Sussex,E.Grints'd||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A,||Hardie, J.Keir(MerthyrTydvil)|
|Asquith, Rt.Hn. HerbertHenry||Cory, Clifford John||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)|
|Astbury, John Meir||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Hart-Davies, T.|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Cowan, W. H.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Cox, Harold||Harwood, George|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemonth)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Barker, John||Cremer, William Randal||Haworth, Arthiir A.|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Crombie, John William||Hazel, Dr. A. E.|
|Barnard, E. B.||Crosfield, A. H.||Hedges, A. Paget|
|Barnes, G. N.||Crossley, William J.||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Beauchamp, E.||Dalmeny, Lord||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Beaumont, Hn. W. C. B(Hexham||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Bell, Richard||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Henry, Charles S.|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Herbert, Col. Ivor (Mon. S.)|
|Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Peter R.||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)|
|Benn, SirJ. Williams (Devonp'rt||Delany, William||Higham, John Sharp|
|Bonn, W. (T'w'rHamlets, S.Geo||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Hobart, Sir Robert|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.)||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.|
|Bertram, Julius||Dickinson, W.H.(St.Pancras.N||Hogan, Michael|
|Bethell, J. H. (Essex, Romford)||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)|
|Billson, Alfred||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Hope, W. Bateman(Somerset, N.|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Dobson, Thomas W.||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Black, Arthur W. (Bedfordshire||Duckworth, James||Horridge, Thomas Gardiner|
|Boland, John||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Bolton, T. D.(Derbyshire, N.E.||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Hudson, Walter|
|Boulton, A. C. F. (Ramsey)||Dunne, MajorE.Martin(Walsall||Hutton, Alfred Eddison|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Hyde, Clarendon|
|Brace, William||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Idris, T. H. W.|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Edwards, Frank (Radnor)||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Branch, James||Elibank, Master of||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel|
|Brigg, John||Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Jacoby, James Alfred|
|Brunner, J.F.L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Erskine, David C.||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Bryce, Rt.Hn.James (Aberdeen||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)|
|Bryce, J. A. (Inverness Burghs)||Evans, Samuel T.||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Eve, Harry Trelawney||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Buckmastcr, Stanley O.||Everett, R. Lacey||Jowett, F. W.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Fenwick, Charles||Joyce, Michael|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney Chas.||Ferens, T. R.||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Byles, William Poliard||Flynn, James Christopher||Kekewich, Sir George|
|Cairns, Thomas||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Kelley, George D.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Fuller, John Michael F.||Kincaid-Smith, Captain|
|Cawley, Frederick||Fullerton, Hugh||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Chance, Frederick William||Gibb, James (Harrow)||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Gill, A. H.||Lambert, George|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Gladstone, Rt. Hn.HerbertJohn||Lamont, Norman|
|Clarke, C. Goddard||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Leese, SirJosephF.(Accrington)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Lehmann, R. C.||O'Doherty, Philip.||Stanley, Hn.A.Lyulph(Chesh.)|
|Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Har'ch||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon,N||Steadman, W. C.|
|Lever, W.H.(Cheshire, Wirral)||O'Malley, William.||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Levy, Maurice||O'Mara, James||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Parker, James (Halifax)||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Lough, Thomas||Partington, Oswald||Stuart, James (Sunderland)|
|Lundon, W.||Paul, Herbert||Sullivan, Donal|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Paulton, James Mellor||Summerbell, T.|
|Lynch, H. B.||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Macdonald,J. M. (FalkirkB'ghs||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Maclean, Donald||Pearson, Sir W. D. (Colchester)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Pearson, W.H.M.(Suffolk, Eye)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Macpherson, J. T.||Philipps, Col.Ivor (S'thampton||Tomkinson, James|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah(Down,S.)||Philipps,J.Wynford(Pembroke||Torrance, Sir. A. M.|
|MacVoigh, Chas. (Donegal, E.)||Philipps, Owen C (Pembroke)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|M'Callum, John M.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare-||Verney, K. W.|
|M'Crae, George||Pollard, Dr.||Villiers, Ernest Amherst|
|M'Killop, W.||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||Vivian, Henry|
|M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Radford, G. H.||Wadsworth, J.|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Raphael, Herbert H.||Waldron, Laurence Ambrose|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Maddison, Frederick||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Walters, John Tudor|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Rees, J. D.||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln||Renton, Major Leslie||Ward, W.Dudley(Southampton|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||Richards, Thos. (W. Monm'th)||Wardle, George J.|
|Marks, G.Croydon(Launceston)||Richards,T.F. (Wolverhampt'n||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Marnham, F. J.||Richardson,A.||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Mason, A, K. W. (Coventry)||Rickett, J. Compton||Wason, JohnCathcart (Orkney)|
|Massie, J.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Waterlow. D. S.|
|Meagher, Michael||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Menzies, Walter||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs)||Whitbread, Howard|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Robertson, Rt, Hn. E.(Dundee)||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Robertson, SirG.Scott(Bradf'rd||White, Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Mond, A.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza||Robinson, S.||Whitehead, Rowland|
|Montagu, E. S.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Montgomery, H. G.||Roe, Sir Thomas||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Mooney, J. J.||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Wiles, Thomas|
|Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen||Rose, Charles Day||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Morrell, Philip||Rowlands, J.||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Morton, Alphens Cleophas||Runciman, Walter||Williams, Llewelyn(Carmarth'n|
|Murnaghan, George||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Murphy, John||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Williamson, A.|
|Murray, James||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Wilson, Hon.C.H.W.(Hull, W.)|
|Myer, Horatio||Sehwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)||Wilson, Henry J. (York.W. R.)|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Schwann, Sir C. E.(Manchester||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Napier, T. B.||Scott, A.H.(Ashton under Lyne||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Nownes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Sears, J. E.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Nicholls, George||Shacklcton, David James||Winfrey, R.|
|Nicholson, Chas. N. (Doncast'r)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick, B.||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Nolan, Joseph||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Simon, John Allsebrook||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Nussey, Thomas Willans||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Nuttall, Harry||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|O'Brien, Kendal (TipperaryMid||Snowden, P.|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow.
§ Adjourned at one minute before Eleven o'clock.