§ Commons Amendments to Lords Amendments, and Commons consequential Amendments, and reasons for disagreeing to some of the Amendments made by the Lords, considered (according to Order).
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
My Lords, I must ask your attention for a few moments in order that I may make clear to your Lordships the course which I suggest it would be desirable to pursue in the consideration of these Amendments. I think your Lordships will agree with me that it will be desirable before any Question is put that we should have before us clearly and distinctly the particular Amendments immediately under consideration. The first Amendment which will come under your Lordships' notice is one introduced in your Lordships' House giving a power of scrutiny, and the object of which is to afford a means of following the vote. The second has reference to what is now known by the name of the optional Ballot. Your Lordships appeared to think that when the Bill was in Committee I was not right in dealing with those two points together; I shall therefore keep them distinct on this occasion. My Lords, on the question of scrutiny 754 the House of Commons have adopted the measure your Lordships desired to enforce. Though contrary to the view which that House had adopted by large majorities in two different Sessions, they have consented to adopt it out of deference to the opinion of your Lordships' House; but they have thought right at the same time to introduce some further securities for secrecy, and these involve a change in some of the wording of your Lordships' amendment, to which I do not think your Lordships will object. It will be necessary to re-insert some words which your Lordships struck out of Clause 2. I therefore beg to move an Amendment which will give effect to the proposition I have just stated.
§ Moved that their Lordships do not insist on their Amendment on Clause 2 down to the word "having," and agree to the Commons Amendment as far as that word.
§ THE DUKE OF RICHMOND
My Lords, I quite concur in the course the noble Marquess proposes. It is much more convenient that the two questions of Scrutiny and Optional Ballot should be brought before your Lordships as distinct questions. It would not be at all desirable to have them mixed up. The manner in which the vote given by Ballot will be traced if the Amendment proposed by the noble Marquess is carried is one to which I agree, because it entirely carries out the view of the matter which I endeavoured to submit to your Lordships when this House was in Committee on the Bill. There will be no opposition, I think, to the proposed Amendments in the wording of the clause down to the word "having;" but on the question of striking out the word "secrecy" that of an optional Ballot will arise. But with regard to the question of scrutiny, I wish to make an explanation on a matter which has obtained some publicity. It has been stated in print that I misled your Lordships by saying that the words I asked your Lordships to introduce in the Bill were words taken from Lord Hartington's Bill of 1870. I distinctly repeat that they were. I cut them out of the clauses of Lord Hartington's Bill, pasted them on paper, and handed them to the officer of the House in order that they might be submitted to your Lordships 755 as Amendments. It may have been—and I believe it was the case—that some few words of Lord Hartington's clauses were omitted because they would not have fitted into the clauses of the present Bill; but the statement I made to your Lordships was quite correct. Now, my Lords, it might be convenient that I should at once state to your Lordships which are the Amendments on which we think it important to insist. I will ask your Lordships to insist on your Amendment giving an optional Ballot. I will ask you to retain in the 33rd clause the words introduced on the Motion of my noble Friend (Earl Beauchamp), and which have reference to the duration of the Bill; and also the words which provide that the declaration of an illiterate voter shall be made before the presiding election officer, instead of before a magistrate.
§ On Question? Commons Amendment agreed to, as far as "having."
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
The question your Lordships now have to consider is whether you will or will not insist on the adoption of the system which has been called the optional Ballot. I must say I heard with very great regret the statement just now made by the noble Duke to the effect that he intends to advise your Lordships to insist on the Amendment of this House which introduced that system into this Bill. It appears to me, my Lords, that the system is altogether inconsistent with the principles and objects of the Bill, and that if your Lordships insist on your Amendment you will render the whole measure, so far as its real principle as a Ballot Bill is concerned, a mere sham. I ask your Lordships to consider the position in which this question stands at the present moment. By the Amendment which your Lordships introduced, and which has been accepted by the House of Commons—the Amendment with which your Lordships have just been dealing—you have secured the admission in this measure of a plan which will make it possible that a vote may be followed on a scrutiny. Your Lordships are aware that in the last and present Sessions the House of Commons, by large majorities, refused to adopt that system, because they wished that by voting by Ballot there should be complete secrecy for the voter; but in de- 756 ference to your Lordships' views, the House of Commons have given up their own deliberately formed opinion, and adopted a principle which your Lordships thought more desirable. But while thus showing themselves anxious to come to an agreement with your Lordships in reference to this measure, we know from what has passed in "another place" that the House of Commons has refused no less distinctly to concur with your Lordships' Amendment for the introduction of an optional Ballot, because they believe it would be fatal to the objects for which this measure is designed. And, indeed, my Lords, I find it difficult to imagine how it can be seriously argued that the system involved in your Lordships' Amendment is one which would secure to the elector the advantages contemplated by those who desire to see the Ballot introduced at the Parliamentary and municipal elections of this country. My Lords, I suppose none of the advocates of the Ballot desire it simply for the purpose of making a a change in the established mode of voting and irrespective of positive advantages which the Ballot as a system possesses; but I think it can be shown beyond question that the plan proposed in the Amendment of your Lordships is one which would effect a change, without bringing about any one of the advantages which those who advocate a Ballot Bill believe would follow from the adoption of an honest and straightforward Ballot. It further appears to me, my Lords, that this proposed system of leaving open voting or secret voting optional is one that would tend very much to perpetuate those very evils which the Ballot is intended to put an end to. The case of intimidation is perhaps stronger than that of bribery. I ventured to submit to your Lordships on a former occasion that this plan of an optional Ballot would merely have the effect of shifting the operation of bribery or intimidation from one point to another. My noble Friend the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury) said it would not; that if men were determined on intimidation they could have it under any system, because they could say to the voter—"You shall not vote at all;" but surely the noble Marquess will admit that there is much less risk of intimidation being exercised for the purpose of keeping men away from 757 voting than for that of making them vote for particular candidates? We have heard in the course of these discussions about groups or knots of voters who join together to make a good thing out of an election. If your Lordships insist on this optional principle, the first thing such groups will do is to vote openly. The briber will say—"You must vote openly; you must afford me a security for your vote." So that the result will be a perpetuation of all the evils of bribery. I have always admitted that some of those evils might exist even after the introduction of the Ballot; but I am one of those who hope that they will be much decreased. Again, if the optional principle is introduced, it will be quite worth the while of persons who carry on electoral organizations, and who are desirous of maintaining their power and influence over voters, to confine their operations during one or two elections to saying—"You shall vote openly," and, open voting once re-established, the whole system of intimidation is re-introduced. It is sometimes argued that there is no danger of intimidation in these days; but I think it would be found under this optional plan that people would have less scruple about intimidating voters to vote openly than about intimidating them by saying—"You must vote for 'A' or 'B.'" We know the epithets which for many years past have been applied to voting by Ballot by those who are opposed to the system. It has been described as "unmanly," "un-English," "sneaking," and as "not honest and straightforward." Do your Lordships think that these epithets would not be applied to those who preferred secret voting when they had the option of voting openly? My Lords, if not at the first General Election, certainly at the second, this optional plan would re-introduce all the evils which the Ballot is intended to do away with. I have ventured to point out more than once that an extended suffrage must necessarily lead to attempts at intimidation of a different kind from the intimidation practised under a limited franchise. Some noble Lords on the opposite side seem to think that is a delusion on my part; but I was exceedingly struck the other day, on reading a remarkable paper by Professor Beesly in The Fortnightly Review, by a passage which I beg to quote— 758At the last General Election they, for the first time, found great power lodged in their hands. They were inexperienced, and they did not use it skilfully. They were played with and sold by candidates of both parties, who led them to believe they would care for the objects they had at heart. Beyond a doubt, they will try to take care of themselves better next time. Public opinion among workmen is very strongly organized, and it will be brought to bear. A strong and perfectly legitimate moral pressure will be exercised on individual voters who might be inclined, from selfish or corrupt motives, to desert the cause of their class.My Lords, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. You are there told very distinctly what organized bodies intend to do. No doubt, moral pressure may be a perfectly legitimate power; but there are different views as to what in electioneering may be regarded as within the bounds of moral pressure. From what is stated by Professor Beesly, it seems exceedingly likely that very strong pressure will be brought to bear on individual voters by the trades unions, and other such organizations; and I ask your Lordships opposite, who were in strumental in so largely extending the franchise a few years ago, whether you are not bound to secure those who had votes given to them by that measure, and to defend them against a principle which will enable these organized bodies to lead them to the hustings like a flock of sheep? The noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) said the other night that we must not assume that those constituencies who had returned supporters of the Ballot would not be in favour of an optional Ballot. My Lords, I can refer to strong evidence on this point. My hon. Friend (Mr. F. S. Powell) the Member for the Southern Division of the West Riding of Yorkshire, who represents a constituency of 17,000, voted against this optional Ballot. He was returned at an election where both the candidates were Ballot-men. He ought to know the feelings of that large constituency, and he voted against this system. Mr. Hanbury, the Conservative Member for Tamworth did the same——
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
I admit that; but I attach more importance to the votes of the electors and the representative of such a district as the Southern Division of the West Riding. I think, then, my Lords, I am entitled to say 759 that while there are clear and distinct indications both in the country and in the House of Commons in favour of the secret Ballot, your Lordships' Amendment, instituting an optional Ballot, destroys the whole value of the Bill—it eats out its heart. If your Lordships intended to take this step and to adhere to it, far better would it have been to say—"We will not have this Bill at all. We think the principle of secret voting so objectionable that we join issue on the question." What you would do by this Amendment would be equivalent to that; but it would be done in a manner which, I think, would be far less to the advantage of your Lordships' House. I hope you will not persevere with such an Amendment. I do not say that because this Bill relates to the other House of Parliament and not to this, your Lordships should not give to its principles and its details your full consideration, and exercise on both an impartial judgment; but I do say that this is a matter on which your Lordships will do well to give the deliberate opinion of the House of Commons your most courteous attention. No one can doubt that out of consideration for your Lordships' House the House of Commons has on important points abandoned its own views. I would ask your Lordships, therefore, to resolve, out of consideration for the House of Commons, to abandon this illusory Ballot—which I submit has been introduced without meaning, reason, or probable advantage. I believe that if you do not insist on this unfortunate Amendment you will be consulting the real interests of the country, and at the same time doing an act of political wisdom.
§ THE DUKE OF RICHMOND
My Lords, I will in a very few words explain why I ask you to insist on this Amendment; but, before bringing forward any arguments that I may be able to adduce in favour of the course I ask your Lordships to adopt, I desire to deal with that part of the speech of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Ripon), in which he referred to the feeling of the people of this country. The noble Marquess stated the feelings of the people of that part of the country with which he is particularly connected. Being a Yorkshireman, the noble Marquess attaches more importances to public opinion among the large constituencies of Yorkshire than to that 760 of smaller constituencies such as Old-ham. But that being so, let me tell the noble Marquess that there was an election for another Division of Yorkshire to-day, and that if there was one topic on which more than another the successful candidate dilated, it was his dislike of and opposition to the Ballot. The noble Marquess mentioned Mr. Powell as a supporter of the Ballot and a Representative of one Division of Yorkshire, but an equally important Division of Yorkshire has this day elected a Representative who is not a supporter of the Ballot. The noble Marqness spoke as if the whole country was in favour of the Ballot. Well—we know that some constituencies have returned Members who are in favour of the Ballot; but among the constituencies who have recently returned Members who are not for the Ballot are—Plymouth, Truro, East Surrey, North Nottinghamshire, Wallingford, Cumberland, Gloucestershire, and to-day the Western Division of Yorkshire. I do not, however, think this is a point with which we have very much to say on this occasion, and I should not have alluded to it only for the amount of capital which the noble Marquess seemed to me to be attempting to make out of it. I am glad the noble Marquess admits that your Lordships have an undoubted right to deal with this question; because I have seen it stated that your Lordships had nothing to do with this Bill, as it was one merely for regulating the election of Members to serve in the other House of Parliament. Those who make this suggestion do not seem to remember that the Bill deals, not only with Parliamentary, but also with municipal elections. I think that having regard to its scope it may be in every sense regarded as having an Imperial interest. I regret that in the other House of Parliament the Prime Minister should have thought it not inconsistent with his dignity and with the importance of the Bill itself to make sneering allusions to the course taken by this House with reference to its provisions. I have not those remarks of the right hon. Gentleman before me, but they will be found in the reports of his speech, and I must say I do not think they advanced his arguments, which would have been much better without them. In my opinion, these sneering allusions were not in good taste. Now, 761 my Lords, as to the arguments which the noble Marquess has just addressed to your Lordships' House, I do not think he argued that bribery and corruption would be much affected by this question. His case rested on intimidation. The noble Marquess has given up altogether the subject of intimidation by landlords. He says the Ballot Bill must be a secret Ballot Bill in order to prevent the oppression which would occur by the trades' unions of this country. Now, I object to have the majority of the country coerced in any manner for the satisfaction or for the benefit of the minority of the country. My own impression is that the majority of this country are not in favour of the Ballot; that the great bulk of the country, if they want the Ballot, do not want a secret, but an optional Ballot, more particularly when they see the pains and penalties connected with what is called, strictly speaking, a secret Ballot. I think this measure ought not to be made compulsory as regards the secrecy, because I think the majority of the people are not in favour of it. But I want to know whether it is not possible that the Ballot should be made secret and yet be optional. The noble Marquess says that an optional secret Ballot is inconsistent with the Bill; that it makes the Bill a mere sham. I think on more than one occasion when Amendments were introduced into the Bill, the answer we got on a former evening was that those Amendments made the whole thing a delusion and a sham, and I believe those words have been made use of in "another place." I want to know whether it is really the fact that an optional Ballot must be a sham, and that with an optional Ballot you cannot have secrecy just as much as you please? The noble Marquess will recollect that when the Education Bill was passing through the other House of Parliament, in 1870, some hon. Members were very desirous that the members of the School Board in the Metropolis should be elected by Ballot, and that that Ballot should be one of a secret character. I think the hon. Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles Dilke) proposed to insert an Amendment to the effect that the Ballot should be a secret Ballot. Now, the course thus proposed to be taken by the hon. Baronet with reference to the election of school boards was objected to by Her Majesty's Government, and Mr. Forster, the Vice- 762 President of the Council of Education, gave his reason why he thought the word "secret" should be omitted. He said—The reason why he proposed to omit the words 'a secret' was not because they did not intend to secure secrecy—for they intended to secure such a Ballot as would give the fullest protection of the voters from intimidation—but because the hon. Baronet opposite had, by a strange construction of the words, discovered that they meant a Ballot which must be secret, rather than a Ballot which might be secret. They did not look forward to a sham Ballot, but one that would protect all who needed it in recording their votes."—[3 Hansard, cciii. 304.]Now, this is optional voting, and Mr. Forster says you can by an optional Ballot secure secrecy. I shall be very curious to hear what construction the noble Marquess puts on these words. A week or two afterwards, when the word "secret" had been struck out and another Amendment to the same effect was proposed, Mr. Forster said—There appeared to be two kinds of Ballot. In one the voter might have secrecy if he pleased; but in the other secret voting was compulsory; and it was because he understood his hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles Dilke), and those who thought like him, to mean that secrecy in the election of Boards ought to be of the compulsory kind that he felt it would not be desirable for the Government to be hampered with that condition. He, however, maintained that the plan on which the election of vestrymen in the metropolis was conducted was one by which the voter might secure secrecy if he pleased; and, therefore, the hon. Member for Oldham (Mr. Hibbert) was right in saying that there was no sham or deception about that system."—[3 Hansard, cciii. 657.]I do not know that I have very much to add to the arguments I have endeavoured to bring forward. I believe optional voting secures all that is required. The noble Marquess says, considering the course we have taken, it would have been better if we had thrown out the Bill altogether on the Motion for the second reading. I think it would have been very unwise to do so. It would have been very discourteous to the House of Commons. What we did on that occasion was to state that, generally, we were not in favour of the Ballot, but that, under all the circumstances, we thought it right that the Bill should be read a second time; and we stated in the clearest language that in Committee we should bring forward Amendments which would enable the Ballot to be an optional Ballot. The noble Marquess 763 seems to find fault with us that, having brought forward Amendments, we do not at once give them up. He says that we brought forward Amendments without due deliberation. It is because we fully deliberated upon them, and because we believe it to be absolutely necessary that the word "secret" should be struck out of the Bill, and that it is for the advantage of the people of this country that those who wish to vote openly should have the liberty of doing so, that I ask your Lordships to strike out this word.
§ Moved, to insert on the omission of the word ("secretly") in page 3, line 9.—(The Duke of Richmond).
§ THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND
My Lords, as I had not an opportunity of voting on the introduction of this Bill, nor on the Amendments as originally proposed, I trust your Lordships will allow me to state in a few words the view I take of the Amendment of my noble Friend, and the course it is my intention to follow on this occasion. It will, I fear, be considered unsatisfactory by him, and if not explained might possibly lead to a misinterpretation of my motives by him, and by the party with whom my political sympathies have allied me. A noble Friend of mine opposite, speaking of the Bill itself the other night, stated his conviction that very undue importance had been attached to it, and I so far agree with him that under present circumstances no political party will probably find its position materially altered by its operation. But its moral results will be most objectionable. Hackneyed as the phrase may he, I must repeat that it is thoroughly un-English. As has been the case in every country in which it is enforced, it will destroy all sense of responsibility, all patriotic spirit; it will alienate entirely the educated and independent classes from any desire to participate in the government of the country, and throw the whole management of elections into the hands of men to whom secret voting will afford the means of employing safely all the methods of corruption which are now kept in check by the difficulty of avoiding detection and punishment, especially since the creation of the new tribunals to which offences of this kind are now amenable. Being unavoidably absent 764 during the debate, I therefore paired against the second reading of this Bill. Now, my Lords, respecting these Amendments, if they are improvements, I am the last person to recommend that this House should be frightened out of its adherence to them. Neither the postprandial menaces of the Prime Minister on the one hand, nor, on the other, his assurance that he will not without due deliberation destroy this House, or at best, I suppose, allow it to exist under conditions which shall make it the tame and subservient registrar of his decrees—none of these menaces or promises would weigh with me one iota in the consideration of the course which this House ought to adopt; and, by the way, I cannot but recollect that the zealous conversion of the Premier to the Ballot dates immediately from the time of his rejection by the constituency of Lancashire. But regarding the Amendment proposed by the noble Duke, I must own that I cannot conceive one more calculated to produce all the evils of both the open and secret methods of voting in their fullest extent. Detesting the Ballot as I do, my noble Friends behind me must remember that by their own act—an act which shook for ever my faith in public men, and has weakened the intimacy of the connection which bound me to the party with which I had acted through the whole of my political life—they have bestowed the franchise on an immense class of voters peculiarly exposed to intimidation and personal violence on the part of members of their own body. The unfortunate elector who, if this Amendment be carried, votes secretly, will be an object of suspicion to his fellows, he will be subject to examination, inquiry, every sort of moral torture until the purport of his vote is extracted from him; and I leave it to your Lordships to judge what sort of treatment he is likely to receive at the hands of the unions in Sheffield, or any other of the great manufacturing towns, if he is proved to have voted against the will of the majority. My Friends must therefore not blame me if—the principle of the Bill having been affirmed without decided opposition from them—I disagree with them on an Amendment which seems to me neither calculated to secure to the electors the protection of secret, nor ensure the retention of the moral advantages of open, voting; and as to 765 the loss of dignity consequent on a retreat from a position—which I cannot but think unskilfully chosen—I trust this House will have the courage to acknowledge a mistake, as well as the stern determination to maintain a decision when it is right and just.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
My Lords, I have not hitherto addressed your Lordships on the subject of this Bill, and I will now confine myself to this particular Motion. The noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Ripon) who desires that your Lordships shall not insist on the Amendment which you made on this clause, depicted in eloquent terms the evils which would be incurred if secrecy were not maintained, and he even declared that if your Lordships' Amendment were insisted on you would reduce the whole measure to a sham. Now, I should like to ask the noble Marquess when that discovery was first made, and what securities were contained in the Bill as it came up to us for the secrecy of which he is so enamoured. The discovery must have been very recently made. When the Bill was introduced in the House of Commons last year it contained only a very mild provision for the enforcement of secrecy—namely, a penalty of £10 for its infringement. The measure, as your Lordships are aware, encountered considerable opposition in its passage through the other House, and gave rise to many protracted debates. As the Session was drawing to a close, the Government thought it necessary to see how the Bill could be lightened, in order to shorten the discussions and send it up to us in anything like reasonable time. After due consideration the Vice President of the Council made this statement—We have been very careful in going through the clauses and considering what, with due regard to the object we wish to accomplish in the Bill, can safely be omitted. I feel sure that the House would not desire, notwithstanding the length of our discussions, that we should strike out of the Bill any clauses which in our opinion are necessary in order that the Bill, when it actually becomes law, should be properly carried out. We have carefully gone through those clauses to see whether any of them could be safely omitted, and we have come to the conclusion that we can only recommend the omission of one, though that is an important clause. That is the 30th clause which is one of the 'penalty' clauses and provides penalties against voters who do not follow the directions given in regard to voting secretly. We have come to this conclusion that as the Committee assented to the 19th sub-section, as it then 766 stood—the 18th as it now stands—of the 3rd clause which declares a vote void and not to be counted unless that provision be complied with, we hope that will be a sufficient penalty and that the Ballot may be enacted without any other penalty."—[3 Hansard, ccviii. 315,]The clause which the Vice President of the Council thus agreed to omit imposed a penalty of £10 for the infringement of secrecy—that being the only penalty of the kind which the Bill contained. Now, if the right hon. Gentleman thought last year that it might be omitted, how comes it that such a remarkable change has come about in his opinions as to this particular provision?—and whence arises the opinion which we have just heard from the noble Marquess—that the Bill without the secrecy clause will be a delusion and a sham? Even, too, if that statement were correct, where, I ask, are the provisions which will render the Bill operative in the sense indicated by the noble Marquess? When introduced this Session it contained no provision for enforcing secrecy; it simply provided that votes should be given secretly. It was only on the proposition of Mr. Leatham that the question arose whether a penalty should be imposed on a voter who exhibited his vote; and after discussions in which the point was three times debated, the House of Commons resolved in the negative. During those discussions Mr. Gladstone, referring to the pressure that might be exercised by trades' unions to make their members vote in a particular way, said the voter would have but a very feeble argument if the voter could only tell the would-be intimidator that the exhibition of his voting paper was contrary to the intention of Parliament; but that if he could say Parliament had made the act penal he would have substantial ground on which to resist intimidation. The House of Commons, however, refused to make the act penal in the sense proposed by Mr. Leatham and supported by Mr. Gladstone. It may be argued that there is a constructive penalty, the infringement of an Act of Parliament being a misdemeanour. Consider, however, an indictment laid against a voter for having by mistake or otherwise exhibited his voting paper! We may conceive it likely to be the case hereafter—perhaps at no very distant date—that the franchise will be still further extended, and possibly county householders may obtain it. Now, considering their habits and 767 state of education, is it not likely that many of them, through error, inadvertence, or other causes, may disclose the way in which they have voted? If such a voter is indicted, who will be the witness against him? Obviously persons in the polling-booth, the agents of the candidates against whom he voted. There will be an animus in their testimony, and it is not at all unlikely that they may institute proceedings against him on account of personal or political hostility towards him. I trust, therefore, your Lordships will consider seriously before you waive this Amendment. I must remind your Lordships that this part of the Bill has never been submitted to the country. Noble Lords opposite may tell us that your Lordships' decision may involve an appeal to the country; but I think no stronger reason could be urged for insisting upon the Amendment than that before a measure is passed which, according to the noble Marquess opposite, must be of a penal character if it is to be worth anything, the opinion of the country should be taken upon it. Your Lordships' House will be able to take that constitutional view of the question. No doubt your Lordships have no power to resist the opinion of the country when plainly expressed. Whether in the case of the Irish Church Act or of the Irish Land Act we have seen your Lordships yield to the expressed opinion of the country even against your strong convictions, and I feel satisfied that you would yield in the present instance were you convinced that by doing so you would be acting in accordance with the views of the majority of the people of this country. Your Lordships are here to watch over and to maintain the liberties of Englishmen, and in the discharge of that duty you are bound to refuse to sanction a provision which has not yet received the approval of the people. We have no desire to delay the passing of this measure; all that we desire is to delay the passing of this particular provision until the opinion of the people of this country has been taken with regard to it:—and in doing so we shall be occupying an unassailable and a constitutional position.
My Lords, having had an opportunity when we were considering the Bill in Committee of stating my reasons for objecting to what has been called voluntary secrecy, I will not abuse 768 your Lordships' indulgence by repeating the arguments I then used; but I wish to refer to one point which seems to me to deserve the consideration of your Lordships before we come to a vote on the Question before us. The next important Amendment which the House will have to decide upon is that which proposes that the Bill shall only continue in operation until 1880. I hope and trust that your Lordships will insist on that Amendment; but I would point out that if we agree to the Motion of the noble Duke and retain the optional Ballot we shall be cutting away the strongest argument we have for adhering to the Amendment for rendering the operation of the Bill temporary. We introduced this clause, as I understood, on the ground that there is so much doubt as to how secret voting might work that it would be imprudent to establish this system permanently till its effects had been fairly ascertained by experiment. But if this is our object in making the operation of the Bill temporary, we must take care that the experiment is fairly tried in such a form as will satisfy the supporters and advocates of the system, which will not be the case unless secrecy be made compulsory. Therefore, upon that ground, if upon no other, I should feel bound to vote against the Motion of the noble Duke. I must add that I heard with some astonishment from the noble Duke who has just sat down (the Duke of Marlborough) that it is not the wish of himself or his noble Friends to delay the settlement of this question. If that is not their desire, I am utterly at a loss to comprehend how they can propose the insertion of this Amendment, because it is notorious to every one of your Lordships, as it is to me, that to insist upon this Amendment will necessarily be fatal to the Bill.
§ EARL RUSSELL
said, he thought he might venture to address their Lordships on the present occasion, his attention having been directed to the subject of the Ballot for more than 40 years. When in 1831 the Ministry of the late Earl Grey was formed on the principle of introducing the question of Parliamentary Reform as a Ministerial question, he was one of a Committee of the Ministers to whom was committed the charge of drawing up the scheme of the first Reform Bill. The proposals of that Committee contained a recommendation 769 of the Ballot. When Earl Grey spoke to him of the scheme, he said that while the Cabinet cordially approved of the measure as a whole, there was one part of it to which they could by no means assent—namely, the Ballot. He (Earl Grey) asked him (Earl Russell) whether he attached much importance to the point, and whether he was willing to give it up? His answer was that in fact he had used every argument to induce the Committee not to insert the Ballot in their proposals. The suggestion of the Ballot was consequently omitted from the Reform Bill which he (Earl Russell) introduced in the House of Commons, and it never appeared in any of the subsequent Bills. Since that time he had watched all the discussions that had been raised upon the Ballot question, and had taken part in some, and had seen no ground for changing the opinions he entertained 40 years ago. The late Sir Robert Peel was as much opposed to the Ballot as Earl Grey. Many noble Lords would remember the speech of wonderful argumentative force and eloquence which he (Sir Robert Peel) delivered against Mr. Grote's Motion in 1838. The reuslt of the debate on that occasion was that the Motion of Mr. Grote was rejected by a majority of 117. The present Prime Minister had eight or nine times voted against the Ballot in the House of Commons. It was therefore with no little surprise that he (Earl Russell) heard the year before last that Mr. Gladstone had suddenly announced that he had become a convert to it. The reason given for this sudden conversion was two-fold—first, that secret voting had been adopted all over the world; and, secondly, that now every adult person in England had the right of voting. These two reasons were, no doubt, plausible; but the allegations on which they rested were totally inaccurate. With regard to the first it was far from being true that the Ballot had been introduced all over the world. It had not been adopted even in all our own colonies. The good sense of the people of the Dominion had refused to accept its introduction in Canada, and, if he did not mistake, the usage of secret voting had not been practically adopted in our great colony of Victoria. Secret Ballot did not really exist in half of the States of the American Union. In the New England State of Massachusetts a 770 law was passed by which a voter might go to a public office and ask for an envelope in which he might enclose his vote, and thus if he chose keep the way in which he voted a secret. That was, if anything, an "optional Ballot"—the secrecy was in the absolute power of the voter himself. At the end of three or four years some curious people wished to know how many of those envelopes had been taken, and whether any great number of the electors had chosen to vote secretly. It was found that very few, if any, of the electors had taken those envelopes or chosen to vote secretly. The law was therefore repealed, and everyone voted openly. No doubt, open voting gave opportunity for intimidation, but in his opinion the system embodied in the present measure would increase personation, would increase bribery, would increase fraud and falsehood of every kind—indeed, in whatever light secret voting was viewed it seemed a bad system—it was nothing but an increased power of corruption in every direction. It would encourage falsehood, for it was quite possible under the Ballot that a voter might be intimidated by his landlord into promising his vote, but having the power to vote would secretly vote against his promise. He would then go to his landlord and say—"I voted as you asked me—I quite agree in your opinions, and have voted with you." It was some such argument as this that Mr. Grote put forward in proof of the value of the Ballot in checking the influence of the landlord and employer, and he maintained that the tenant would be perfectly justified in acting in this way. It seemed, however, to him (Earl Russell) that though the intimidation might fail as to the actual vote, the Ballot would introduce a new form of fraud and distrust, which would not be much preferable to the old-fashioned intimidation. The Englishman's privilege of public voting should be as sacredly respected—he should have the same right of voting openly as he had by the existing law:—and at least there was no reason why the elector of Old England should be deprived of a privilege of open voting which was enjoyed by the voter of New England. It seemed to him a great argument in support of open voting that a man who was desirous of promoting some great public 771 question—of something that would improve the condition of his fellow-creatures—was more likely than any other man to wish to give his vote openly, and would be proud of proclaiming his support of a candidate who held large and philanthropic views. When Sir Samuel Romilly was engaged in his endeavours to mitigate the severity of our criminal code and was a candidate for Westminster, an elector, sympathizing with his efforts, was proud to say—"I vote for Samuel Romilly." Why should a voter not be allowed to proclaim his sympathy with a man whose life was devoted to mitigate the sufferings of his fellow-men? Or again—when Wilber-force stood before the great constituency of Yorkshire, the champion of the abolition of slavery throughout the world—a great and noble aspiration!—surely the electors should not be prohibited from proclaiming openly, in the face of all men—"I vote for Mr. Wilberforce and the emancipation of the human race!" This Bill would make the revelation of his vote an offence and a crime on the part of the official persons who were in the polling-booth at the time. It was provided by this Bill that the voter, having secretly marked his vote on the ballot-paper and folded it up so as to conceal his vote, should place it in a closed box. There was, indeed, no penalty on the voter for telling his vote, but every officer, clerk, and agent in attendance at a polling-station, who should communicate at any time, to any person, any information obtained in a polling-station as to the candidate for whom any voter in such station was about to vote, or had voted, would be liable, on summary conviction before two justices of the peace, to imprisonment for any term not exceeding six months, with or without hard labour. He felt ashamed that such a proposition should have come up from the other House. Surely it was a degradation to which the country would never submit. As to the allegation that every adult man in England had the right of voting, it was allowed by Mr. Gladstone himself not to be an accurate statement, and he rebuked Mr. Disraeli for supposing that every man who married had the right of voting. He must, in addition, point out that our whole progress for the last century and a-half had been in favour of publicity. There was a time when the proceedings of Parliament were published under the 772 disguise of "Debates in the Senate of Lilliput," and the notes of the speeches were prefixed by fictitious names. He remembered, in his own time, seeing the Serjeant-at-Arms bring before the House a man whom he found taking notes in the Gallery. Since that time, we had gone on introducing more and more publicity in the transaction of public affairs. The debates in Parliament were reported day by day, under the real names of the speakers, and were openly discussed the next morning in the journals throughout the kingdom. The proceedings of the Courts of Law were public, and the man who was called upon to give evidence in a Court of Law was not allowed the shelter of secrecy even where—as was too often the case in Ireland—his giving evidence might be attended with risk to his life. No exemptions were made—all questions affecting life and property were decided in public. Yet it was now proposed that if a man came to the polling-booth and said—"I wish to vote for Lord Enfield," so essential was secrecy in the performance of public duty, that the open declaration of a man's wish and opinion by an officer in the polling-booth was declared to be a disgrace and a crime. We declared that publicity must be the rule of our Law Courts whatever the consequences. In one of our Courts, presided over by a Member of that House, cases arose of which the publicity was injurious to morality, and offensive to decency:—nevertheless, no exception was made. Proposals had been made that in the Divorce Court the proceedings might be taken in secrecy, if the Judge should think fit; but no—the noble and learned Lord who presided over that Court approved publicity; and by means of that publicity all persons might read the details of these trials in the public journals. At whatever cost, the law must be administered in public:—but when you came to the election of the lawgivers—secrecy was so essential in the performance of this form of public duty—the vote must be so entirely in the bosom of the voter—that it was impossible that publicity could be allowed—the vote must be given in secret. The man who was in office in the booth, and heard a person say—"I vote for Lord Enfield," or "I vote for Lord George Hamilton," was liable to six months' imprisonment. This was 773 simply monstrous. The people of England had for hundreds of years been free to go to the poll and say—"I vote for such and such a man because I look upon him as the most fit." But this was no longer to be allowed—secrecy, not freedom of voting, was henceforth to be the rule. He would not go into the question of the ulterior results of secret voting, but he did not believe it would long stand alone. Probably it would lead in no very long time to universal suffrage. He could not forbear from quoting the language of the Administration of Earl Grey in reference to the great plans for Parliamentary Reform they had laid before Parliament. In 1831 there appeared the following passage in the Speech from the Throne:—I have availed myself of the earliest opportunity of resorting to your advice and assistance after the dissolution of the late Parliament. Having had recourse to that measure for the purpose of ascertaining the sense of my people on the expediency of a reform in the representation, I have now to recommend that important question to your earliest and most attentive consideration, confident that in any measures which you may prepare for its adjustment, you will carefully adhere to the acknowledged principles of the Constitution, by which the prerogative of the Crown, the authority of both Houses of Parliament, and the rights and liberties of the people are equally secured.That was firm and clear language. No such language was heard in these days—on the contrary, when a question arose affecting the hereditary rights of their Lordships, the Prime Minister said—"He would think once, twice, or thrice before touching such a question." That, however, was not the course adopted by the people of England upon a recent occasion. When the people of England found that the life of the Heir to the Throne was in peril, they did not think thrice, or twice, or even once; but by one unanimous voice, as if impelled by instinct, in supplication for the Heir to the Throne, they put up prayers to Heaven for his recovery. It was not by measures of this kind, but feelings such as those which animated the whole people during that crisis—and which he trusted would ever be the sentiment of the people of England—that the Constitution could be preserved, and the rights and liberties of the people secured.
§ LORD PENZANCE
said, he was extremely glad that he had sat down at the instance of the noble Earl (Earl Russell), because all which fell from 774 him was listened to with the respect and attention which his great political experience deserved; but he would not attempt to follow him—they were not discussing the general principle of the Bill, to which question the noble Earl's remarks formed a valuable contribution; but he would trouble their Lordships for a very few minutes upon a question to which the Amendment under discussion gave rise. The Amendment was to omit the word "secretly," and the noble Duke said the effect of that Amendment would be to substitute optional open voting for compulsory secret voting. Now, no doubt, great benefits resulted from open voting. Many thought that each voter should declare openly who he voted for, and have his vote recorded by the election officer in such a manner that the whole community knew how the vote was given; and others thought great benefits would result from secret voting. But to be beneficial the voting must be entirely open or completely secret. The great advantages followed from open voting in such a manner that all the voter's great merit of open voting was that it brought to bear upon each individual the opinion of the community. But if the clause were allowed to stand as was proposed by the noble Duke, the voter would go to the poll and would mark the voting paper, and having folded it up would put it into the ballot-box. No human being would from that time know for certain how he had voted except the person to whom he had shown it before putting it into the box. That could not be called open voting. It might be said that if it were shown to one person all the world would know; and he recollected a legal joke, that if "tell one woman" were substituted for "know all men," all the world would soon be made acquainted with the matter. But publicity was not certain with optional secrecy—especially in the case of bribery. Suppose a man who had always voted "yellow" thought he would try "blue" for a consideration, he would fill up his paper blue, and having shown it to the man who was to bribe him would put it in the box, thereby covering his treason from all his friends and acquaintances. Surely a system which allowed that combined the evils of both secret and open voting? It was open when it ought to be secret, and it was secret when it ought to be 775 open. It was open when it ought to be secret, because it enabled a man to show his vote; and it was secret when it should be open, because it prevented the community from knowing what the voter had done. It seemed to him that such a system should not be placed in the hands of the country, because it allowed bribery to be committed with the greatest ease and secrecy. Although he had never been a staunch voter for the Ballot, and although the noble Earl (Earl Russell) had fired a shot at him by way of anticipation of a personal nature, yet he would not delay the House by going into the main question, and would be contented with the expression of a hope that the voting should be either secret or open, and not such a system as would combine the evils of both systems.
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
said, that he thought justice had not been done to the proposal for optional voting which had been adopted by the House. He had no favour toward the Ballot system, compulsory or optional. In any form it was a shabby system, unworthy of a free people, an attempt to lower down the institutions to the habits, instead of raising the habits of the people to their institutions. But the proposal for an optional Ballot was not a mockery. There were, perhaps, three classes most exposed to the influence of undue pressure or intimidation, and they might all, if they wished it, adopt an optional Ballot for their protection. Take the workmen employed in numbers in great manufacturing shops—and of whom it was said that, under a system of open voting, they were much exposed to pressure from their employers. With an optional Ballot, why should not they agree among themselves, in a mass to adopt the protection offered by Parliament, and tell their employers that they had agreed among themselves to do so; and what fear of their employers would they entertain? The same as to tradesmen. Why should not the tradesmen of Oxford Street, or Bond Street, who were often said to be tormented by their lady customers, proclaim that they, as a body, intended to ask the same protection? Who could quarrel with them? Even by the tenants or extensive landed estates, why should not the same principle of associated action be adopted? They would be quite safe, no landlord would quarrel with a tenantry if they came to the same conclusion. In that 776 way classes might protect themselves, if they thought fit, without altering the whole character of our elections, and imposing secrecy upon all, where it was not desired, for the benefit of the few.
§ At this point of the debate there were loud cries for a division.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, I can hardly help thinking that this clamour for an early division shows that your Lordships can scarcely be aware of the gravity of the decision you are about to arrive at. I have listened attentively to the speeches of the noble Lords who have taken part in this debate, and, with the exception of a noble Relative of my own who has just sat down, I have not heard one single word in favour of the Amendment to which your Lordships are now asked to adhere. The noble Duke opposite—adopting a habit which I think is not a very good one—referring to some remarks of Mr. Gladstone without having any authoritative version of the words, quoted a sentence which divorced from its context might seem to imply that Mr. Gladstone had spoken sneeringly of your Lordships' House. The only passage in Mr. Gladstone's speech that I remember as affording the slightest foundation for such a statement was a remark which he made as to the shortness of the time in which your Lordships had destroyed and disfigured a Bill which had been so carefully considered by the House of Commons. I remember perfectly well how we were told last year that we could not consider the principle of the Ballot, because it was impossible to find time to discuss a subject which, although it had been for 40 years before the public and the House of Commons was a novelty to the House of Lords; and I remember that one noble Lord, speaking with an earnestness and sincerity which we all appreciate, said that, on the best calculation, it would take three weeks or a month to pass it through Committee. Well, what was the result? Your Lordships found yourselves prepared to deal very summarily with the measure, and finished in one short evening what had occupied so much attention in the other House, I do not think that such an observation as that made by Mr. Gladstone upon this circumstance can fairly be described as a sneer upon your Lordships' House. Now, my Lords, I repeat that I have 777 not heard a single argument in favour of the course you are now asked to take, except from the noble Earl who has just sat down (the Earl of Harrowby). I have not heard the slightest answer attempted to the speech of the noble Earl on the cross-benches (Earl Grey), who urged reasons of the greatest importance why your Lordships should consider—and deeply consider—the course to be taken to-night; nor have I heard the slightest answer attempted to the speech of the noble Duke, who gave what I believe to be sound advice, and who is not a friend of the Ballot any more than the noble Earl to whom I have alluded. I cannot conceive that your Lordships are going to put yourselves in deliberate opposition to the decision of the House of Commons in this matter, and on a great question which, important as it is to us as well as to the general public, in a particular degree affects the procedure adopted at elections for the other House of Parliament. The noble Earl (Earl Russell) made an excellent speech on the subject of the Ballot, but a speech which would have been an excellent one against the second reading of the Ballot, for it did not contain a word in favour of the Amendment for which we are now asked to vote. The statements made by the noble Earl were not in every respect accurate, for the colony of Victoria, where he says there is no Ballot, has not only a Ballot but the very form of Ballot provided in this Bill. Adopting the laudator temporis acti tone, he appealed to the example of the late Lord Grey in that great historical question upon which a majority of your Lordships were opposed to his views, but the inference to be drawn from what passed at that time appeared to me to be in great opposition to the views which he recommended at present to your Lordships. It is far from my wish, however, to enter into any argument either for or against the Ballot, for upon the second reading your Lordships have already decided in favour of the Bill. I have not heard one reason assigned to-night for this curious admixture of secret and open voting, which would engraft the most aggravated disadvantages of the one system upon the other. I will only add one word about the feeling of the country on this subject. I doubt whether it is in consonance with real Conservative feeling that this House should sanction the 778 doctrine that large majorities in the House of Commons are not the exponents of the public feeling of this country. I cannot help thinking that in adopting such a doctrine your Lordships will be setting an example to others who feel disposed to deny the authority of the House of Commons. Moreover, I entirely repudiate the notion that the House of Commons does not represent the popular feeling on any given question, because that question does not happen to be the one important cry at the General Election. I entirely differ from the opinion that there is any degeneracy in the House of Commons of the present day; but it is certainly, if anything, a little too much inclined to act and vote according to the present feeling of the constituents it represents; but taking that criterion it affords unmistakable proof that the large majorities in favour of the Ballot were not arrived at without communication with its constituents, and without a full knowledge of their feelings on this subject. I do not presume to dictate to your Lordships, or to offer advice as to the wisest course your Lordships should adopt; but I must say that I can hardly conceive that, on the plea that your Lordships' House ought not to be a mere copying machine of the House of Commons, your Lordships can be prepared to take your stand on a great question of this kind, unless your ground is much firmer than I believe it to be in this instance.
§ On Question, Whether to insist? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 138; Not-Contents 157: Majority 19.
§ Resolved in the Negative.781
|Beaufort, D.||Bandon, E.|
|Marlborough, D.||Bantry, E.|
|Norfolk, D.||Beauchamp, E.|
|Richmond, D.||Brownlow, E.|
|Rutland, D.||Cadogan, E.|
|Wellington, D.||Dartmouth, E.|
|Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn.)||Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuch and Queensberry.)|
|Bristol, M.||Ferrers, E.|
|Bute, M.||Feversham, E.|
|Hertford, M.||Gainsborough, E.|
|Salisbury, M.||Graham, E. (D. Montrose.)|
|Abergavenny, E.||Harrowby, E.|
|Amherst, E.||Hillsborough, E. (M. Downshire.)|
|Lanesborough, E.||De Saumarez, L.|
|Lauderdale, E.||Digby, L.|
|Leven and Melville, E.||Dunsany, L.|
|Lonsdale, E.||Egerton, L.|
|Macclesfield, E.||Ellenborough, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Fisherwick, L. (M. Donegal.)|
|Mount Edgcumbe, E.||Fitzwalter, L.|
|Orford, E.||Gage, L. (V. Gage.)|
|Poulett, E.||Gormanston, L. (V. Gormanston.)|
|Sandwich, E.||Grantley, L.|
|Selkirk, E.||Hartismere, L. (L. Henniker.)|
|Stanhope, E.||Headley, L.|
|Stradbroke, E.||Hopetoun, L. (E. Hopetoun.)|
|Strange, E. (D. Athol.)|
|Tankerville, E.||Howard de Walden, L.|
|Verulam, E.||Hylton, L.|
|Westmorland, E.||Kenlis, L. (M. Headfort.)|
|Wilton, E.||Kesteven, L.|
|Bangor, V.||Lilford, L.|
|Combermere, V.||Lovel and Holland, L. (E. Egmont.)|
|De Vesci, V.|
|Exmouth, V.||Moore, L. (M. Drogheda.)|
|Gough, V.||Northwick, L.|
|Hardinge, V.||O'Neill, L.|
|Hawarden, V. [Teller.]||Oranmore and Browne, L.|
|Melville, V.||Oriel, L. (V. Massereene.)|
|Strathallan, V.||Ormathwaite, L.|
|Templetown, V.||Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)|
|Gloucester and Bristol, Bp.||Raglan, L.|
|Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)|
|Abinger, L.||Ravensworth, L.|
|Arundell of Wardour, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Aveland, L.||Rivers, L.|
|Bagot, L.||Ross, L. (E. Glasgow.)|
|Bateman, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Blantyre, L.||Sheffield, L. (E. Sheffield.)|
|Boston, L.||Sherborne, L.|
|Braybrooke, L.||Sinclair, L.|
|Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton.)||Skelmersdale, L. [Teller.]|
|Buckhurst, L.||Sondes, L.|
|Cairns, L.||St. John of Bletso, L.|
|Chaworth, L. (E. Meath.)||Strathnairn, L.|
|Chelmsford, L.||Talbot de Malahide, L.|
|Clanbrassid, L. (E. Roden.)||Templemore, L.|
|Clinton, L.||Tyrone, L. (M. Waterford.)|
|Colonsay, L.||Wemyss, L. (E. Wemyss.)|
|Colville of Culross, L.||Wigan, L. (E. Crawford and Balcarres.)|
|De L'Isle and Dudley, L.||Wynford, L.|
|Denman, L.||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
|De Ros, L.|
|Hatherley, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Saint Albans, D. [Teller.]|
|York, Archp.||Sutherland, D.|
|Devonshire, D.||Ailesbury, M.|
|Manchester, D.||Anglesey, M.|
|Northumberland, D.||Lansdowne, M.|
|Ripon, M.||Charlemont, L. (E. Charlemont.)|
|Westminster, M.||Chesham, L.|
|Abingdon, E.||Clermont, L.|
|Airlie, E.||Clifford of Chudleigh, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Clifton, L. (E. Darnley.)|
|Camperdown, E.||Congleton, L.|
|Cawdor, E.||Crewe, L.|
|Chichester, E.||Dacre, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||De Mauley, L.|
|Cottenham, E.||Dinevor, L.|
|Cowper, E.||Dormer, L.|
|Craven, E.||Dunning, L. (L. Rollo.)|
|De La Warr, E.||Ebury, L.|
|Devon, E.||Eliot, L.|
|Durham, E.||Fitzhardinge, L.|
|Effingham, E.||Foley, L.|
|Ellesmere, E.||Gardner, L.|
|Essex, E.||Granard, L. (E. Granard.)|
|Fortescue, E.||Greville, L.|
|Granville, E.||Gwydir, L.|
|Grey, E.||Hare, L. (E. Listowel.)|
|Ilchester, E.||Hastings, L.|
|Jersey, E.||Hatherton, L.|
|Kimberley, E.||Heytesbury, L.|
|Leicester, E.||Houghton, L.|
|Lovelace, E.||Howard of Glossop, L.|
|Minto, E.||Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)|
|Nelson, E.||Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.)|
|Powis, E.||Ker, L. (M. Lothian.)|
|Saint Germans, E.||Kildare, L. (M. Kildare.)|
|Sommers, E.||Lawrence, L.|
|Spencer, E.||Leigh, L.|
|Suffolk and Berkshire, E.||Lisgar, L.|
|Lismore, L. (V. Lismore.)|
|Eversley, V.||Londesborough, L.|
|Falmouth, V.||Lurgan, L.|
|Halifax, V.||Lyttelton, L.|
|Hood, V.||Lytton, L.|
|Leinster, V. (D. Leinster.)||Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)|
|Meredyth, L. (L. Athlumney.)|
|Ossington, V.||Methuen, L.|
|Powerscourt, V.||Minster, L. (M. Conyngham.)|
|Torrington, V.||Monck, L. (V. Monck.)|
|Chichester, Bp.||MontEagle, L. (M. Sligo.)|
|London, Bp.||Monteagle of Brandon, L.|
|Oxford, Bp.||Mostyn, L.|
|Abercromby, L.||Panmure, L. (E. Dalhousie.)|
|Annaly, L.||Penzance, L.|
|Balinhard, L. (E. Southesk.)||Petre, L.|
|Beaumont, L.||Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)|
|Blachfbrd, L.||Portman, L.|
|Boyle, L. (E. Cork and Orrery.) [Teller.]||Ribblesdale, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Romilly, L.|
|Calthorpe, L.||Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)|
|Carew, L.||Rossie, L. (L. Kinnaird.)|
|Carrington, L.||Saltersford, L. (E. Courtown.)|
|Sandhurst, L.||Truro, L.|
|Saye and Sele, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Seaton, L.||Vernon, L.|
|Sefton, L. (E. Sefton.)||Vivian, L.|
|Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)||Wenlock, L.|
|Stanley of Alderley, L.||Wharncliffe, L.|
|Stratheden, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Sudeley, L.||Worlingham, L. (E. Gosford.)|
|Sundridge, L. (D. Argyll.)||Wrottesley, L.|
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
said, he supposed the noble Duke (the Duke of Richmond) would not, after that expression of their Lordships' opinion, object to the other Amendments to the clause being inserted.
§ THE DUKE OF RICHMOND
agreed that, after the division which had been just taken, the proper course would be for their Lordships not to insist on their Amendments, but to agree with the Commons' Amendments in the rest of Clause 2.
§ Then several Amendments not insisted on; and Commons Amendment agreed to.
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON moved that their Lordships do not insist on their Amendment to Clause 3, relating to the property in the voting papers being vested in the Returning Officers.
§ LORD CAIRNS
said, the House of Commons had made the appropriation of documents a much more serious offence when committed by the Returning Officer than it was when committed by an inferior officer at the election. As, however, the property was vested in the Returning Officer, it would be impossible to convict him.
§ On Question? Resolved not to insist.
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON moved that their Lordships do not insist on the Amendment they had made in Clause 6, with reference to the use of schools as polling-places.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
strongly objected to their Lordships abandoning this Amendment. He thought it was unjust that schools should be seized for the purposes of elections.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
said, it was a great public convenience that additional polling-places should be provided at very little expense; but he wished to point out to the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Ripon) that while the clause provided compensation for any 782 damage done to the school rooms, no compensation was provided for the loss the managers might suffer through an interruption of the attendance of the scholars. He hoped the noble Marquess would take care that the Bill should be amended in that respect.
said, the use of schoolrooms one day in three day or four years would cause very little damage to the managers of schools.
§ THE DUKE OF RICHMOND
differed entirely from the noble Earl (Earl Grey) when he stated that schoolrooms would be occupied only one day for these purposes. As he understood, a schoolroom was to be converted into a polling booth, and, if there was to be secret voting, compartments for that purpose must be built. They could not be built on the day on which the polling was to be taken; and another day would be required for pulling them down. As to the attendance at school, if it was known that there was to be a broken week not a single child would go to school that week. Compensation, therefore, ought to be made to the managers of these schools for the damage they might sustain in respect of fees and grants.
said, the clause as it now stood would apply to every part of a school-house, even to the bed-rooms.
§ On Question? Resolved not to insist.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY moved, in Clause 6, page 5, line 30, after ("expense") to insert ("and make good any loss of fees or Parliamentary grant").
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
urged the difficulty there would be in ascertaining any loss from the use of the schools. There were other holidays, and the grant might be lost through other causes.
§ THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH
said, the clause as it stood would induce the owners of schools now receiving the Parliamentary grant to forego that grant in order to prevent the use of them for this purpose. The parishioners would thus be put to the expense of building schools.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
offered to withdraw his Amendment if 783 the Government would undertake to take care in the Parliamentary grant that schools were not damnified by the proposed use of them. That would be a fair compromise.
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
said, he could only undertake to submit the question to his Colleagues on the Committee of Council. He would remind their Lordships that the privileges of the other House would be infringed by any Amendment which would impose a charge on the public Revenue.
§ On Question? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 117; Not-Contents 67: Majority 50.
§ Resolved in the Affirmative.
§ Clause 24 (Commons Amendments to Lords Amendments) considered and agreed to.
§ Clause 25.
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON moved that their Lordships do agree to the Amendment made by the Commons omitting Clause 25. In consequence of the acceptance of the system under which scrutinies were to be had, the clause had become unnecessary.
§ LORD CAIRNS
pointed out that when a clause had been agreed to by both Houses, it could not afterwards be struck out of a Bill.
§ THE DUKE OF RICHMOND
said, he was afraid that if their Lordships were to assent to this clause being struck out they would be setting a very dangerous precedent.
also thought that neither of the two Houses of Parliament had the power now to strike out the clause.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
thought it was so; but regretted that the measure could not be put into proper form before it was placed upon the statute book.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR
thought that as the clause had been rendered unnecessary by other Amendments which had been introduced in the Bill, their Lordships could strike it out.
§ Clause 33.
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
said, they had now come to the last Amendment of any consequence made by their Lordships to this Bill and to which the Commons had disagreed—the Amendment moved by the noble Earl opposite (Earl 784 Beauchamp), the effect of which was to render the Bill a temporary measure, terminating in 1880. That was a most unusual course of proceeding. The other House disagreed with it, and he concurred in their decision, inasmuch as it would be better to leave Parliament free to consider the question of the Ballot whenever, in their judgment, the period arrived for doing so; whereas if this Amendment were put in the Bill, they might be compelled to deal with the question at a time least convenient to them and the country.
§ Moved, not to insist on the Amendment made by the Lords at the end of Clause 33 to which the Commons disagree.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
said, that what had occurred within the very last few minutes supplied a strong argument in favour of the revision of this Bill by Parliament at no distant date. The remarks of the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary in commenting upon the speech of the noble Earl on the cross-bench (Earl Grey) had strengthened the case in favour of that Amendment. The noble Earl on the cross-bench rested his whole argument against the optional Ballot, on the ground that he was in favour of the Amendment now under discussion; and that Amendment ought to receive the support of the noble Earl the Foreign Secretary, since he had so much commended the speech of the noble Earl on the cross-bench. In their Reasons for disagreeing with that Amendment the Commons urged that it affected the constitution and the privileges of their House, and that it was neither expedient nor according to precedent that a measure to which they had given such attention should be made temporary. He had every respect for precedent; but thought it the height of superstition to invoke the chimera of precedent when, as in this case, it did not really apply. Moreover, it did not lie in the mouths of those who were imposing on the people of this country a measure so novel in its character as a secret Ballot that that particular provision was without precedent. Again, there was not a single word in the Bill which affected the constitution or the privileges of the House of Commons. What it really affected was the manners and habits of the people of this country; 785 and their Lordships ought to take efficient security that the Bill should receive adequate consideration when it had been tested by the light of experience. He must therefore ask their Lordships to insist on that Amendment.
§ On Question, Whether to insist? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 117, Not-Oontents58: Majority 59.
§ Resolved in the Affirmative.
§ Page 24, lines 25 and 26, moved to insist on the Amendment made by the Lords to which the Commons disagree.
§ LORD CAIRNS
said, he could not understand what object would be served by any man making a false declaration before the presiding officer, and certainly no reason could be assigned in support of the presumption that the voter would make a true declaration before a magistrate, and a false one before a Returning Officer. Unless the voter were permitted to make the declaration before the Returning Officer a working man would be compelled to lose half-a-day in making his declaration, besides another half-day in voting. He trusted their Lordships would not allow the Commons to make that a disfranchising Bill.
§ On Question, Whether to insist? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 88; Not-Contents 57: Majority 31.
§ Resolved, in the Affirmative.
§ Several amendments insisted on; several not insisted on; and Commons' amendments agreed to; and a Committee appointed to prepare reasons to be offered to the Commons for the Lords insisting on the said amendments: The Committee to meet forthwith: Report from the Committee of the reasons; read, and agreed to; and a message sent to the Commons to return the said Bill, with amendments and reasons.