Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

doubling the constituency, had ac- ever for the production of this companied it by a proportionate Bill. Sir G. Grey had said it was measure of disfranchisement, he to enable the Government to secure would have been consistent, or, if the support of the House ; this was he had adhered to his former plan, no reason for introducing a bad and abstained in this Bill from the Bill. Referring to the views which re-distribution of seats he (Mr. he thought had been disclosed by Massey) should have said it was Mr. Bright, that the masses should prudent. Mr. Massey entered have the franchise, he asked wheupon a minute criticism of the ther bis object was to reform the Bill and its alleged defects upon Constitution, or to reconstruct it. this head, with suggestions for its If the latter was the object, then improvement, advising Lord J. what he contemplated was a revoRussell, in conclusion, to submit lution. It was the constitutional his Bill to a revision.

doctrine that the qualification for Mr. T. Crossley regretted to the franchise was political capacity; hear the distrust which had been yet this Bill would confer the expressed of the working classes. franchise upon a body of men of From long habits of intercourse whose political capacity no evi. with them he believed they were dence was offered. On the other actuated by as much uprightness, hand, they had a great aptitude for fair dealing, and honourable senti political organization, as had been ment, as any class.

proved, he said, in the course of the Mr. Baines expressed opinions late strike. He read extracts from to the same effect, and opposed the the proceedings of the workmen notion that it was dangerous to en- engaged in that movement, which trust them with power. He sup- demonstrated, in his opinion, at ported the Bill.

once their combination and their Mr. K. Seymer, after replying want of political capacity; and he at some length to the speech of asked, what could justify, with reMr. Bright, and predicting that ference to these proceedings, the the changes be meditated would transfer to them of so vast an lead to manhood suffrage and amount of political power, which equal electoral districts, made a an organized minority could emfew comments upon the Bill, the ploy as a dangerous instrument. simplicity and brevity of which he He implored those who had deemed no merit, and expressed brought in this Bill to consider his firm belief that in the Com. whether they would not enhance mittee modifications would be in their reputation by raising the protroduced in it, which would make posed franchise. it a real measure of reform.

Mr. James, after replying to Mr. Whiteside said he had the arguments employed by Mr. vainly endeavoured to learn what Whiteside, Mr. Disraeli, and Sir was the paramount necessity for J. Pakington, proceeded to point this measure. Mr. Bright had out what he considered to be the stated that it had been introduced defects of the Bill--namely, its in redemption of a pledge given non-disfranchisement, its non-enby Lord J. Russell when he sat on franchisement, and its not varying the Opposition side of the House; the constituency by giving a lodger but this was no argument what- franchise ; its hampering the franchise by exacting the payment of posed the Bill as tending to give rates, and its containing no sys- undue weight to numbers in comtem of revised registration. He parison with property and intelliargued that the Government had gence. not shown that they had anything Mr. H. Berkeley protested like an accurate view of the extent against this Bill being regarded to which the franchise would be as a measure of finality. He obextended under the Bill, and he jected to it as extending the fram. gave details to prove the fallacy chise to a class less calculated to of the returns upon which they resist intimidation or corruption bad based their calculations upon than the present class of voters, this point, which omitted com- without affording them the protecpound occupiers. He was, he said tion of the Ballot, and that it did an advocate for a large exten- not deal with nomination boroughs. sion of the franchise ; but the There was no feeling in the country House and the country should in favour of the Bill. know the probable amount of the Sir G. Lewis observed that addition to the constituency. With when the Government undertook the question of non-disfranchise- to frame a Reform Bill they emment he regretted that the Govern- ployed the intervention of the ment had not had the courage to Poor Law Board to obtain correct deal as the bolder measure of 1854, data ; and the returns laid upon which adopted the proper principle, the table contained correct and had dealt with this question, and complete information so far as the he adduced examples of the extra- rate-books, the only basis upon ordinary and unintelligible prin- which the returns could be founded, ciple of disfranchisement upon furnished such information. Mr. which the present Bill proceeded. James had stated that the GovernBy shackling the franchise with ment had made important errors ; the payment of rates, half its but he (Sir George) maintained benefit would, he said, be de- confidently that the returns were stroyed.

substantially correct, and that the Mr. Hardy observed that no Government had not made any party in the House really approved serious error in the inferences they of the Bill. The Conservatives had drawn from them. He pointed regarded it with apprehension, and out sources of error in Mr. James's Mr. Bright and his party supported argument on this point, which he, it, only as a stepping-stone to in turn, accused of fallacy; and he further extensions of the franchise. then proceeded to state the grounds He (Mr. Hardy) objected to in- upon which he supported the Bill. creasing the number of the repre. The object of the Reform Act of sentatives of large towns, and 1832, he remarked, was to remedy thought that the absence of any evils resulting from the represenscheme for improving the registra- tation of decayed and almost untion was a great defect. He con- inhabited towns, and the non-recluded by vindicating the aristo- presentation of populous counties cracy against the severe remarks and large manufacturing towus ; which Ňr. Bright had made upon and the effect of the measure and them.

subsequent experience had made Lord R. Montagu warmly op him think that the time had come

when it was desirable that some that there could be no sound sysfurther progress should be made tem which did not to a great extent in the same direction. The de- recognize the principle of local refects of that Act were admitted, presentation. and the present moment was fa- Lord R. Cecil, in replying to vourable for the introduction of Sir G. Lewis, observed that, in a measure, framed in the same adverting to the Reform Act of spirit, which was a precautionary 1832, he had forgotten that it was one, to guard against evils, slight & measure of balance, taking on at present, but which were in one side and giving on the other. creasing ; and the Government But the present Bill had no qualiwere satisfied that it was a safe fication; it was an advance in one and moderate measure. It was direction. Neither had Sir George objected that the Bill coutained no paid any attention to the swamping revised system of registration ; but argument; the objection as to the the Government had studiously power which the Bill would throw avoided the introduction of subor- into the hands of numbers, who dinate matters into the Bill, and would return a totally different this subject might be more con- House of Commons, more inclined veniently dealt with in a sepa- to push on other changes, and rate Bill. The objection that it who, if not disposed to unite upon omitted the lodger franchise could other questions, upon the ques. be discussed in the Committee; tion of taxation would be united. and with regard to the complaint The overpowering preponderance that the Bill was deficient in dis- which the Bill was about to place franchisement, he argued that cir- in the hands of the working cumstances had altered since the classes, if exerted upon our fiyear 1831, that the nomination nances, would prove dangerous. boroughs before the Reform Act It was possible that the anticipastood upon a different footing from tions of the advocates of the Bill that on which the boroughs with might prove true; but it was possmall constituencies now stand; sible that the result might verify and therefore the Government had his apprehensions of the consedetermined not to propose disfran- quences of placing power in the chisement upon a large scale, but hands of persons too poor and too to follow the principle adopted in iguorant to use it wisely; and in the Bill of the late Government, that case the step would be irrethat of population, which they vocable. thought was, upon the whole, & Mr. Milnes believed that the fair one, and preferable to that of exclusion of large classes of the the number of electors. He ex. community from the franchise plained the reasons which had in. would produce much discontent. fluenced the Government in pro. He should wish to give the sufposing the transfer of seats, ob- frage to members of the scientific serving that it was a fair subject bodies, the Inns of Courts and for consideration, and if the House other classes of educated and indeemed the reasons insufficient, fluential persons. He did not their decision could be altered in thiuk the present Bill would make the Committee. He impressed much change in the character of upon the House, in conclusion, the members returned to that

House, and believing that it would come for greater progress in the develope the political education of same direction as the great Rethe people, he should give it his form Act; but this Bill went back support.

in the very direction from which Mr. Peacock argued strongly that Act departed; it took a long against the extinction of the small stride towards the old scot and constituencies, a measure which lot voters, giving to the working would ultimately lead to electoral classes a preponderating influence districts. He objected, also, to the over property and knowledge. He uniformity of franchise proposed would confer a fair share of the by the Bill.

representation upon the working Mr. Newdegate contended that class, but he would have some the element of numbers being so security for intelligence and proenormously increased in the con- perty. If this Bill were passed, stituency, there should be an in- a settlement of the question would crease in the county representa- be as far off as ever; it would tion, as proposed in 1854, in order settle nothing, and they were to offer a resistance to what he asked to pass it when the House considered a confiscation of real of Lords were making inquiries property by taxation.

into an important point which the Sir E. B. Lytton delivered an House of Commons was expected eloquent oration against the Bill, to take for granted. dwelling upon the effects which a Mr. Marsh said at once that he low franchise would exert on the would not support the Bill in its quality of the constituency, and present shape; his only doubt was upon the power it would give to whether something might not be manual labour to control capital; made of it in the Committee, if and he proceeded to show that the the borough franchise were altered numbers which the Bill would ad- to 81. instead of 61. He urged the mit to the franchise would be much danger of lowering the franchise larger than its framers anticipated; too much. He did not under-rate but, be the numbers large or small, the good qualities of the working they would be sufficient, he said, classes; but he had had some exto overbear the interests of the perience of a democracy in Austraexisting constituency, and it would lia, where every lover of freedom not be a fair representation of the must lament the apathy of men of community upon the theory of any standing, which left the reprenumbers. No security was taken sentation to political adventurers. for the fitness of the class to be He referred to particular instances admitted ; it was not required that in the colony of the control exerthose who were to have the lion's cised by the working classes and share in political power should trades' unions. have a proportionate stake in the Sir J. Fergusson believed that country and a regard for order, the the Bill, in extending the franfoundation of property. This Bill chise more widely, would open a was designed io amend the repre- new door to corruption. It would sentation ; but would it improve it not satisfy political reformers nor in respect to property, station, and remove existing anomalies. The knowledge? It had been argued by measure would exclude officers of Sir G. Lewis that the time had the army and navy, schoolmasters, articled clerks, and lodgers paying The re-distribution of seats, the higher rents than 61., while it in- ballot, the abolition of the ratecluded a class peculiarly liable to paying clauses, and

clauses, and measures pressure and influence.

which, coupled with the extenMr. Denman cordially support- sion of the franchise, would ened the Bill. Although he admired tirely change the character of the the eloquence of Sir B. Lytton, he representation, and convert that did not find in his speech anything House into a purely democratic to be called an argument. Advert- assembly. It was a singular ciring to certain criteria which show- cumstance, he remarked, that a ed the moral and mental progress Bill so universally reprobated was of the people, Mr. Denman argued going to pass the second reading that the time had come when it unopposed, and he suggested what was fitting to make a further ex- he deemed the causes which had tension of political rights. He created this strange position. It combated the arguments which was however, he said, his convichad been urged against lowering tion that this Bill was not destined the borough franchise, acknowledg- to become law. ing, however, that he desired to Lord J. Russell, in reply to Sir see a lodger franchise added to J. Walsh, adverted to the unparalthe Bill. He could not say that leled prosperity which the country the measure was a complete one, had enjoyed since 1832. He had but he thought it was an honest heard, he said, in this debate many one, and he should therefore give apprehensions expressed of the efit his support.

fects of this Bill, but it was singuSir J. Walsh noticed the gene- lar that no speaker had showed that ral repugnance which the Bill had his alarms fowed naturally from created, and the severe blows in its contents. The objection of Mr. flicted upon it by both sides of the James to the returns, tending to House. The stroke aimed by Mr. exaggerate the numbers of the new James at the accuracy of the re- constituency, he showed was the turns laid upon the table went to result of error on the part of that the very vitals of the Bill, which gentleman. Objections had been was based upon those returns. made on the other side to a reducLord J. Russell had claimed fortion of the franchise that would the Bill the merit of its being a reach the working classes. It was quiet, safe, and moderate mea- said that those classes deserved the sure ; but if the representations care and attention of the House, of Mr. James were well-founded but the representation generally it was anything but such a mea- was that they were very poor, very sure. Prima facie, the House had ignorant, and rery corrupt. There been led into a very grave error; was a spirit of distrust of the work. and, if it should so turn out, they ing classes holding any political would be placed in a false position power. This remark was met if this Bill went to the other with a loud cry of "No.") What House. It was avowed that the then, he asked, was the objection Bill would not settle the question to the admission of those classes? --that it was but an instalment, a His impression was that the speakprelude to something else. Then ers were of opinion that the workwhat were the ulterior objects? ing classes were not to be trusted;

« EdellinenJatka »