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interest as at present. Some of the Unions in Ireland had incurred incumbrances, which prevented further efforts on their part, through their exertions in providing workhouse accommodation, and debts due to contractors for supplies of food, which were not paid owing to the impoverished condition of these Unions. In no less than ten their effects had been seized under execution in consequence of these debts. It appeared to the Government that these difficulties were mainly owing to the famine of former years, and that if these Unions were relieved from these incumbrances they could begin afresh, and would be able to diminish their expenditure by providing means for applying the workhouse test. They proposed, therefore, to make an additional advance for the discharge of these debts, to be repayable by instalments within forty years, bearing interest. At the end of December last the amount which these distressed Unions had to pay was 270,000l.; and it was proposed to advance 300,0007., which would make the whole amount repayable by Ireland 4,783,000l. The noble Lord then proceded to state what had been done with respect to the rate in aid, out of which (the whole being calculated to produce 320,000/.) 150,000l. of the 250,000l. advanced under sanction of the Legislature, on the security of the rate in aid, had been paid. Recapitulating his propositions, Lord John concluded by observing that he should not be justified in making them if he did not believe that there was now a prospect, if her burdens were light ened, of Ireland being able to recover from her late depression, VOL. XCII.
and to enter upon a new and better state of existence.
Mr. French expressed an unfavourable opinion of the liberality of the propositions, of which Mr. Monsell took a different view, considering that the Government had made an advance towards the improvement of the country.
The Earl of Arundel, Colonel Sibthorpe, Mr. P. Scrope, and other Members, having made a few remarks upon the Government propositions,
Mr. Bright called the attention of the Government to the fact he alleged, that in certain parts of Ireland the rates were exacted from occupiers whilst owners were suffered to be in arrear. He did not object to the advance of money, but he did object to rates being uncollected from owners of land, and he thought the poor-law authorities ought to have power to seize the lands of proprietors refusing to pay the rates.
Mr. Herbert repelled the attack made by Mr. Bright, upon anonymous authority, upon the landlords of Ireland, and called upon him to give up the names of the parties and his authority, otherwise he should stigmatize the statement as a calumny, and the most cowardly of all calumnies, an anonymous calumny.
After a few words in condemnatian of the measure,
Sir W. Somerville reminded Mr. Bright that there was a difference between arrears and uncollected rates, and stated that, although the whole amount of rate was upwards of 7,000,000l., there had been collected and actually lodged in the treasurer's hands (as he afterwards explained) 94 per cent. of that amount, and of the remain[H]
ing 6 per cent. only 2 per cent. would be irrecoverable.
Mr. Grogan and Sir W. Barron denounced the charge brought against the landlords of Ireland, the latter descanting upon the disastrous effects produced in that country by late legislation.
Mr. Bright explained that he had merely asserted that in certain Unions (which he named) the largest portion of the arrears of rate appeared from the books of the Unions to be due from owners of land; but he declined to give their names, for the reasons he assigned.
This subject, thus incidentally introduced, led to a good deal of discussion. Upon the main question,
Mr. Muntz refused to vote for this "grant," as he considered it, for the money would never be repaid. The industrious people of England asked how long the effects of famine were to last? It was his full impression that next year there would be another grant. The money ought to be raised in Ireland.
diency of this measure, which having been for several Sessions entertained and constantly postponed, was at length this year carried into effect without any very strenuous opposition, although in its progress through the two Houses the original proposition of the Government underwent considerable modification. Sir Wm. Somerville, the Secretary for Ireland, in a brief and unpretending speech, moved for leave to bring in the Bill, stating that it did not differ in principle from that which had been introduced last year, and which did not encounter any material objection. The main feature of the Bill was the extension of the franchise to all occupiers of land to the amount of 8. per annum, adopting the rating as the ultimate standard of value.
Mr. Stafford regretted that instead of such a measure as this, of a political character, some means of alleviating the distress in the famine stricken districts of the West of Ireland had not been devised by the Government. The introduction of the Bill, however, was not opposed, and leave was at the same time given for a Bill to shorten the duration of elections in Ireland. Upon the second reading of the Franchise Bill, however, being proposed,
Mr. Napier objected to the measure, as an attempt to introduce a vital change in the elective franchise in Ireland, whilst that of England remained unaltered; and he urged various reasons against the change, as inexpedient, unjust, and liable to abuse.
After a few further observations from Lord John Russell and from Mr. M. O'Connell, the resolutions were agreed to, and a Bill founded upon them was subsequently brought in and passed without any material opposition.
A measure for the extension of the elective franchise in the counties and boroughs of Ireland was the next subject connected with the sister country which occupied the consideration of Parliament. The great reduction in numbers which had taken place in these constituencies by reason of the impoverished state of the tenantry and other causes, had suggested the expe
Mr. Hume objected to the Bill upon a different ground: although ostensibly enlarging the franchise in Ireland, it placed it upon a nar
rower basis than that of the Cape of Good Hope, and Irishmen should be treated as liberally as Hottentots.
Mr. Reynolds likewise condemned the measure as niggardly; the Bill had greatly disappointed him, and would disappoint the people of Ireland. If the constituency had dwindled (which was the pretext for the measure), so had property, and it was a dangerous remedy so to extend the suffrage as to strengthen the democratic element.
Mr. M. J. O'Connell was prepared to accept gratefully that part of the Bill which related to the county franchise; but he thought it would grievously diminish the leasehold suffrage.
Captain Taylor admitted that some points of the Bill were good, but many were objectionable.
Colonel Rawdon accepted the Bill as a very great improvement of the present defective state of the representation of Ireland, without affording any ground for apprehension.
Sir J. Young spoke in favour of the Bill generally, and obviated some of the objections of Mr. Napier.
Mr. F. O'Connor was thankful for the measure, small as the instalment was, and though a measure of policy rather than of principle on the part of the Govern
Lord C. Hamilton suggested some objections to the Bill in matters of detail; and
Mr. Bright pointed out faults in it as respected both the county and the borough franchise. It was, however, he confessed, a great improvement; but a measure would soon be indispensable for altering the franchise and improving the
University 199 MICHIGAN representation of England, and it would be better now to make such a change in Ireland as would harmonize with the new general sys
The further discussion, which embraced points of detail and questions connected with the machinery of the Bill, diversified by an unsuccessful attempt by Sir John Tyrell to read a statement made before the Poor Law Committee, but not received as evidence, was shared amongst Mr. Grogan, Mr. W. Fagan, Lord Castlereagh, Mr. Monsell, Mr. Sadleir, Mr. O'Flaherty, and Mr. Keogh.
Sir W. Somerville replied to the objections offered to the principle and policy of the measure, which, he was satisfied, the more it was considered, would appear more just and fair. Any proposal for amending its details would be attended to by the Government.
The Bill was read a second time.
The Bill having been committed, several attempts were made to alter the clause which fixed the amount of qualification. Mr. G. A. Hamilton proposed an amendment, reserving the existing kinds of franchise, to which the Government assented. Another was moved by Mr. Henley, with the object of making the franchise dependent on the validity of the occupant's tenure, instead of making occupancy de facto confer the right to vote. This proposition after some debate was rejected. Mr. G. A. Hamilton then proposed to substitute a rating of 15. instead of 81. as the qualifi cation. This amendment, which was opposed by Lord Castlereagh, was negatived by 213 to 144, and several other propositions for altering the first clause shared the same fate. Clause 2, giving a vote to each joint occupant where the total
rating yields an 81. value to each, was opposed by Sir R. Ferguson, on the ground that it would open the door to extensive frauds. Sir R. Peel, however, supported the ministerial proposition, which was adopted on a division by 144 to 104. The next clause, creating a county franchise for freeholds of the rated value of 5., was opposed by Mr. Reynolds, and his objections were seconded by Sir F. Thesiger. The amendment, however, was lost by 106 to 30. The rate of 8l. occupancy for the borough franchise was criticised by many hon. Members as being too high a value. Lord Castlereagh, Mr. Monsell, and Mr. M'Cullagh urged a reconsideration of the subject in favour of a 51. franchise. These suggestions, however, were firmly resisted by Lord John Russell, who urged the improbability of the Bill being carried at all if altered in conformity to these views. The proposition of a 51. value was defeated by 142 to 90. The system of a strict registration of voters, on which the Bill was framed, was likewise much canvassed, and several attempts were made to set it aside, but without success.
Sir James Graham supported the measure as a whole, though he disapproved of the second clause, as mischievously tending to create "split and faggot votes." Mr. Disraeli said, that Ministers were about to throw on "another place" the responsibility of rejecting legislation confessed by the "highest authority" in the House of Commons to be "most crude." On a division, the third reading was carried by 254 to 186-amidst cheers from the Opposition at the largeness of the minority.
It was in the Upper House, however, that the Irish Franchise Bill had to encounter the most formidable opposition. The Lords having gone into Committee on the Bill on the 2nd of July, the first amendment, moved by Lord St. Germans, and proposing that the franchise should only be extended to the occupiers of land rated to the poor-rate at a net annual value of 127., instead of 81., as provided by the Bill, was postponed, after an explanation by Lord Lansdowne of his willingness to adopt the principle of an 81. household rating, instead of a rating to the same amount on the land.
Lord Desart then proposed an amendment to substitute 151. for Sl., as the lowest amount of occupation which should confer a vote.
The Bishop of Down supported the lower qualification, and bore testimony to the respectability of the class of persons in his own diocese whom it would enfranchise. Much anxiety was felt on the subject in Ireland, and great disappointment would be experienced if a higher qualification were required.
Lord Stanley denied that the 8. ratepayers, even in the diocese of Down, were persons of such intelligence, or in such a position, as
The last stage of the measure met with a vivacious opposition from the Irish Conservative party, reinforced by the English Protectionists; and gave rise to defensive speeches of fresher complexion than might have been expected on the exhausted topic. Mr. Sheil declaimed with animation against the folly of leaving room for the revival of the two great causes of defunct Irish agitation-the concurrence of a great question and a great man like Daniel O'Connell : "Nature may once more contribute the same faculties, but surely you will not again furnish the same opportunities."
would enable them to form a sound judgment or exercise independent action in public affairs. He had no desire to narrow the franchise, but with a 15l. qualification they would have, exclusive of freehold ers, 180,000 county electors in Ireland, which would give a much larger average than the English counties possessed. With the 81. qualification, which the Bill proposed, an overpowering influence would be thrown into the hands of lay and clerical agitators, and he urged their Lordships to remember that this was a case in which they could not undo their work.
Lord Shrewsbury would extend the franchise to the small shopkeeper and the small farmer, for he had no doubt that they would exercise it in favour of protection.
Lord Wharncliffe proved by statistics, which he quoted at length, that even if the 81. qualification were adopted, there would be in Ireland but one elector to 22 of the population, while in England there was one in 24, and in Wales one in 23. The present state of things was most dangerous, and he hoped that the change would be made now, when all was quiet, instead of waiting until Parliament might be compelled to make larger concessions.
Lord Carlisle could not forget that he had once the honour of representing a constituency of 55,000, while the whole county electors of Ireland were only 30,000. He quoted statistics to prove that the 157. qualification proposed by the amendment would very inadequately recruit the Irish constituency, but entreated their Lordships to act in the spirit of enlightened foresight, which they had so often displayed, and take advantage of the present lull of political excitement to place the franchise on a respectable footing, and give Ireland a constituency of which she need not be ashamed.
Lord Brougham thought that the adoption of the 8. qualification would seriously and signally deteriorate the House of Commons. They were not legislating for Eng-. land, or even for the north of Ireland only, but also for the south, and he desired their Lordships to observe not only the proportion of voters, but of paupers to population. Why, one-third of the whole people were paupers! He had always been in favour of extending the franchise to the great body of our intelligent, hard-headed artisans, who were much more independent than most of those who were already electors; but he protested against the Reform Act being altered without better reasons than had been shown in this case.
Lord Mountcashell supported the amendment, and Lord Dufferin the lower qualification. He was convinced that the class which it would admit to the franchise was at least equal in respectability and intelligence to the ordinary English elector. Lord Londonderry, however, feared the influence which the 81. franchise would give to the Roman Catholic priests and the Presbyterian clergy, and contended strenuously for the higher qualifi