Imatges de pÓgina

strong feelings of self-respect. It was on behalf of these his fellow-countrymen, who were men of sterling integrity and resolution, and who insisted on their rights, that he now pleaded, and he felt assured that he should not plead in vain. In conclusion, he would express his full assent to the appointment of the Select Committee. SIR GEORGE PECHELL said, he rose to discharge a very pleasing duty, that of expressing the thanks of many thousands of his constituents to the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down for the pains he had taken on this subject, and the courteous manner in which he had treated the various deputations that had waited upon him. The country was deeply indebted to the hon. Gentleman, and, for himself, he would, as far as possible, avoid giving him any more trouble on the subject.

sions and dinners, attended with a great deal of dissipation, were paid for out of the societies' funds. He thought the clause in the Bill to prevent the misapplication of the funds was not sufficiently clear, and that a penalty should be attached to such misconduct. He entirely concurred in the observations made by preceding speakers, as to the benefits which his hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Sotheron) had been the means of conferring on the working classes of the country, and he trusted the suggestion he had made would meet with the attention of the Select Committee.

MR. I. BUTT said, he entertained a very strong objection to the 34th clause, which enacted that all penalties imposed by the Act should be recoverable by any person who should institute proceedings for them, and that one-half of the penalty should be paid to the informer, as that would be introducing among the working classes a system of espionnage, and would go far to destroy the character of Englishmen. He also objected to those clauses in the Bill which implied that the working men of this country could not associate together for the purpose of contributing to a fund for the burial of their children, without being liable to yield to the temptation of murdering those children for the sake of the money to be obtained for their burial. Such provisions offered a The gross insult to the working people of this country. Although it was now proposed to omit those clauses, still it was in the power of the Government hereafter to reinsert them; it was therefore very desirable that there should be some understanding come to that the clauses were not to be at a future time reinserted.

MR. W. BROWN said, he cordially concurred in the meed of praise offered to the hon. Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Sotheron). He was induced, however, to address the House because it happened that he was the foreman of the grand jury in Lancashire which had occasion to call the attention of the Judge to a case of what the grand jury considered to be infanticide, although the party was afterwards acquitted. It seemed then to be a prevailing opinion that the subject should be taken into consideration by the Government. About the same time the grand jury of York had a similar case. chaplain of the house of correction addressed a letter to him (Mr. Brown), stating what he believed to be the main cause of infanticide. It certainly was never intended to throw any reflection on these societies in the aggregate, but at the same time it was supposed that advantage might be taken by some parties to make a claim on the societies' funds. He agreed with the hon. Member (Mr. Sotheron) that there was no class of people who deserved more consideration than those who were members of these societies. Still, he felt himself justified in taking the same view of the subject of burial societies as the learned Judges had done; but in saying so, he disclaimed the slightest wish to throw any imputation upon the honour and integrity of the great mass of the members of those societies.

MR. BONHAM CARTER said, he thought it would be very much to be regretted if it got abroad among the working classes that it was the intention of the Legislature to impose stringent regulations concerning matters about which they were very jealous, and which so materially affected their own private concerns. The object of the present Bill was to remove certain disabilities which at present existed. The Committee of 1849, on inquiring into this subject, discovered that these societies, consisting of many thousands of members, were subject to all sorts of penalties, and the object of the present measure was to relieve them from those clogs and to empower them to proceed against dishonest

MR. COWAN said, he wished to make one suggestion. Great injury had been done to certain societies by the misapplication of the funds and by the misconduct of the managers. Expensive annual proces-trustees and others. This Bill was, in

Mr. Sotheron

fact, a great relaxation of former Acts. The last Act did not allow any person under six years of age to become a member at all. The consequence was that a great number of illegal societies were brought into existence. He believed the working classes were well satisfied with the treatment of this question by his hon. Friend (Mr. Sotheron); and he thought such a question might be much better dealt with by a private Member, to whom there was much greater access, than it could be by a Member of the Govern


Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and negatived.

Words added; Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill committed to a Select Committee.


should be ready, at a future stage of the Bill, to adopt any suggestions which would assist in carrying out its object. IIe, therefore, hoped the House would now agree to the second reading of the Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

MR. PACKE said, he would suggest that the hon. Member for Montrose should postpone the second reading of this Bill until the Committee which was now sitting upon the Bribery and Elections Bills should have given their Report, or else that this Bill should be referred to that Committee.

MR. PHINN said, he hoped that his hon. Friend would not postpone the second reading, by agreeing to which the House would only affirm the important. principle that those Gentlemen who came into that House for the purpose of dis. Order for Second Reading read. charging a public duty should not be put MR. HUME said, he would now move to any expense in doing so. He could not that this Bill be read a second time. A see what connection there could be beCommittee had sat to inquire into the sub- tween this Bill and those which had been ject of which the Bill treated, and their referred to the Committee referred to by Report contained a detail of the expenses the hon. Member who last addressed which were incurred by candidates in dif- them, except with regard to some of the ferent districts, and affirmed the principle details. One part of this question certhat individuals who wished to be elected tainly raised a considerable difficulty. At representatives of the people ought to be present, persons were constantly coming placed in the House of Commons free of forward as candidates without having the expense. That was the principle upon support of any great portion of a constiwhich this Bill was based. The Com-tuency, who delivered a speech upon the mittee also recommended that in all con- hustings, who were applauded by that tested elections an allowance should be made to the returning officer for the expenses he had incurred, which they thought ought to be borne by the district in which the election took place, and this Bill was intended to carry out the object of the Committee. At present, several notices had to be given by the sheriff for the expense, for which no provision was made; and although it was sometimes paid by candidates, payment could not be enforced. These and other details would be matters for discussion in Committee. All he asked the House at present was to adopt the principle that Members should be returned to Parliament free of expense, and that the constituencies they represented should bear the expense of their election. It was objected that if the check of election expenses were taken away, there would be a great increase in the number of candidates, but there were various modes in which this and other inconveniences might be obviated, and he

portion of the constituency which possessed no votes, but who were checked in going to the poll from the circumstance that they would become liable for a considerable amount of expenses by so doing. The constituencies ought to have the choice of the best candidates, but he thought it would be worth while to introduce some provision into the Bill by which a candidate should be obliged to defray his share of the election expenses, unless he polled a given number of votes. He had obtained a return of the sums which were charged by returning officers to candidates at elections, which disclosed a system of extortion that the House ought to put a stop to. In one borough as much as 251. had been charged as the fee for the return, and in the course of his professional experience a number of cases had come under his notice, in which similar charges, perfectly illegal, had been made; but it was generally to the interest of the candidate to pay them without dispute, as,

otherwise, the person who made them | the expensive process of canvassing would might exercise his influence over the re- have to be gone through upon every such turning officer to induce him to fix the occasion. The hustings' expenses did not polling day, on a future occasion, at an in- now amount to more than 371. or 407., convenient time. The charge that was and he, therefore, considered that the Bill made for the employment of special con- was perfectly uncalled for, and hoped the stables was also illegal, as the sheriff was House would give it a decided negative. bound to maintain the peace at all times. If bribery was to be suppressed, some measure of this kind ought to be passed, because if the constituencies saw that these charges were paid by candidates, they thought something good was to be obtained by getting into the House of Commons, and they considered that a person who canvassed them was soliciting them for some favour. The sooner the public mind was disabused upon the matter, and given to understand that a seat in that House involved great toil, without any pecuniary advantage, the better.

Mr. DEEDES said, he should be unwilling to vote against the adoption of any proposition which had for its object the reduction of election expenses. He was bound, however, to say that he entertained very strong objections to the Bill as it then stood. If his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose would consent to allow the Bill to be read a second time that day, upon the understanding that it was to be referred to the Committee now sitting on the Bribery Bills, who would have the power of retaining such of its provisions as they deemed worthy of being passed into law, then he (Mr. Deedes) should have no hesitation in voting for the second reading; otherwise, he should deem it to be his duty to vote against the adoption of a principle of which he did not entirely approve.

MR. HUME said, he could not consent to refer it to that Committee, but would have no objection to refer it to a separate Committee, after the Report of that Committee had been laid before the House.

MR. MILES said, he was of opinion, from his experience as a county Member, that the Bill would add to, instead of diminishing, the expenses of gentlemen who came forward to represent counties. At present gentlemen frequently appeared as candidates, and made a speech which was much applauded by the non-constituents,


was just observed by the hon. and learned Member for Bath (Mr. Phinn); but, when it came to a question of being responsible for a share of the expenses, they bowed themselves out and no contest took place; whereas, if this Bill passed, Mr. Phinn

SIR GILBERT HEATHCOTE said, he wished to add his testimony to that of the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken. He had had great experience at county elections, and his opinion was that this Bill, so far from diminishing the expenses at elections, would greatly increase them. Its tendency would be to induce parties to present themselves as candidates at elections on very light grounds, and the consequence would be that there would be an infinitely greater number of contests than at present.

MR. HENLEY said, he thought that the effect of this Bill would be to impose an additional expense of 200l., or 300l., or 500l., upon every county Member. Some person always came forward upon the hustings, when every one in the place knew that he had no more intention of standing bona fide as a candidate than he had of flying, but that he merely wished to make a speech to the electors upon some popular subject. At the nomination some elector or some non-elector-for, in the crowded assemblages usually held on those occasions, it would be impossible to prevent such an occurrence-would propose this person.

What would be the result? Why, the sheriff would at once proceed to hire rooms or to erect booths in which to take the poll; and, in the smallest counties there were eight or ten such places. He would also hire poll-clerks, checkclerks, and other necessary assistants. But in addition to the expense thus thrown upon the public, the candidate would also be obliged to hire proper persons to check the return; and thus he would be put to an expense which he now avoided, and which would be caused by an opposition which every human being knew was a sham fight from the beginning to the end. Then he would ask how they would levy the funds necessary to defray these expenses? Surely they could not throw it upon the poor rate? He thought the present system was an excellent check upon mere vexatious contests, and he should oppose the Bill.

MR. COBDEN said, he thought that the objection which the right hon. Gentleman had made to the Bill could be met in the

manner pointed out by the hon. and learn- | him by asking his noble Friend and Limed Member for Bath (Mr. Phinn); namely, self for a check for their proportion of the by providing that in case a candidate did expenses; and, as the other candidate not poll 1-10th or 1-20th, or some certain could neither give a check nor security for proportion of the constituency, he should the amount, he was obliged to retire. He pay his quota of the expenses now paid by would only add to the suggestion of the all the candidates. The principle of the hon. and learned Member for Bath (Mr. Bill was, that where a nation set up a re- Phinn) that security ought to be given in presentative system of government, the the first instance before the nomination machinery for working that government took place. He hoped his hon. Friend, should be paid for by the nation. This therefore, would withdraw this Bill, in principle was recognised in the case of order that another one might be intromunicipal government, the machinery of duced. which was paid for out of public funds, as were also the expenses of the election of boards of guardians. It was a great injustice to call upon candidates to pay their election expenses, as a person might wish to represent a county who was weak in purse, although strong in argument and in principle, and could not afford to bear the burden of one-third of the expenses of his election. He hoped the House would agree to the second reading.

VISCOUNT PALMERSTON said, he thought the proposal of the hon. Baronet who had spoken last for the withdrawal of this Bill was a sound and valid proposal; because undoubtedly the changes which had been proposed went so much to the substance of the Bill that they appeared to be of a character which ought to be contained in a Bill upon its introduction, rather than introduced in Committee. He must confess that he was not much disposed to support the present Bill. As a general principle, no doubt it was desirable to limit the expenses of candidates as much as possible; but that they should be entirely relieved from all expense was, he was afraid, however desirable it might be thought by some persons, impossible. Even if it were possible however, or desirable, to relieve candidates from all expense, it would be found that the Bill of his hon. Friend applied only to the smallest portion of the expenses which were incurred by a candidate at an election, and that it would go but a very little way towards establishing the principle which he had in view. The expense which his hon. Friend proposed to relieve candidates of was either a small one, or it might be a considerable one. If small, it was obvious that the relief which it would afford was trifling; if large, he asked, was it fair to saddle such an expense upon the counties and boroughs where elections took place? His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Phinn) had suggested, in order to prevent frivolous and vexatious contests, that the candidate might be required to pay his portion of the expenses, unless he polled

SIR BENJAMIN HALL said, he concurred in the suggestion which had been made by the hon. Member for the West Riding of Yorkshire, but he thought that it ought not to be made the subject-matter of a clause in this Bill, but of a new Bill. The suggestion that hustings' and other expenses should be charged upon counties and boroughs was good in theory, if it could be connected in practice with the suggestion of the hon. Member for the West Riding, and he therefore hoped that this Bill would be withdrawn and another one substituted to carry that suggestion into effect. The borough which he represented was one of the largest in the cmpire; it contained nine polling places, and the election expenses were therefore proportionally great. In 1841, when there were 15,000 or 16,000 voters on the register, a gentleman had come forward as a candidate, and was duly proposed and seconded, but obtained only one vote, after having put him and his colleague to all the annoyance and expense of a contested election, as they did not think proper to call upon the unsuccessful candidate to pay his share. At the last election in 1852, when there were about 20,000 a certain proportion of the votes recorded. electors on the register, the constituency agreed that his noble Friend and himself should be returned without expense. Before the nomination a gentleman came forward and expressed his intention to stand for the borough, but the returning officer took the sensible course of getting rid of

He thought, however, that there might be considerable difficulty in carrying that suggestion into practice. They must fix, for example, upon some proportion of votes. It might happen, if they made it large, that a bona fide candidate might by some accident fall short of the proportion esta

blished. If, on the other hand, the proportion were small, it might not prevent frivolous and vexatious contests. For the reasons, then, which had been stated, he thought that his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose would do best to accede to what appeared to be the feelings of the majority of the House, and withdraw his Bill. If his hon. Friend should find, upon reconsidering the matter, that he could propose a Bill free from the objections which had been stated, and which he thought were fatal to the accomplishment of the very principles proposed, he was quite sure that the House would give it their most attentive and favourable consideration. If his hon. Friend persisted, therefore, in pressing his Bill, he should feel obliged to vote against its second reading.

against the introduction of another Bill founded upon similar principles.

MR. BARROW said, he objected to the Bill, because it called upon persons who were ratepayers, but might have no votes, to contribute a share towards the expense of elections in which they took no part.

LORD ROBERT GROSVENOR said, he should support the Bill, for in the county which he represented the hustings' expenses formed no inconsiderable part of the whole cost of an election; but, beyond this, these hustings' charges were very frequently made the instrument of corruption. His belief was, that all the Bribery Bills would be perfectly useless unless a Bill were brought in to exempt candidates from paying the expenses of hustings, of treating, and of out-voters. As for the objection about compelling persons who had no votes to pay their share, he thought that it was perfectly frivolous, because he looked upon a Member of Parliament as the representative, not of the electors only, but of the non-electors also of the district which he represented.

the returning officer, who was usually the sub-sheriff of the county, and he knew that that official carefully abstained from taking part in the elections. The hustings' expenses were very trifling, and he believed that the Bill would only have the effect of increasing the number of contested elections. For this reason he should vote against it.

SIR GEORGE GREY said, he entirely agreed in the advice which had been given by his hon. Friend (Sir B. Hall) not to press this Motion; but he could not concur in advising him to bring in a second Bill embodying the suggestions which had been made. He objected in toto to the prin- LORD HARRY VANE said, he could ciple of the Bill, and could not agree with not admit that the hustings' expenses the preamble, that it was expedient that could have any corrupt influence upon the all Members of Parliament should be re-election. They were always ordered by lieved from the expenses consequent upon their election. It was, he thought, an ungracious thing for them, sitting there, to pass a Bill transferring a charge from themselves to their constituents. The expenses of hustings formed a very inconsiderable part of the expenses of a contested election, and the Bill, therefore, only went a very short way in assertion of its principle. But beyond that, was there really any practical evil to be remedied which demanded this measure? He thought that there was not, and he was therefore not prepared to accede to the principle of the Bill. Ile certainly could not agree to the suggestion of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bath for obviating the effect of this Bill in encouraging contested elections, if it passed in its present shape. He thought if a man could find a proposer and seconder among a constituency, that he had a right, if he liked, to demand a poll, and they were not justified in saying that he should be fined if he did not find a certain proportion of supporters. The Bill would also have the effect of preventing candidates from withdrawing, and was altogether so objectionable, both in its principle and details, that he must oppose its second reading, and protest at the same time Viscount Palmerston

MR. W. WILLIAMS said, he approved of the principle of the Bill, but thought it essential that some means should be taken to provide against fictitious candidates.

MR. SPOONER said, he would beg to move, as an Amendment, that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words “ upon this day six months."

MR. HUME, in reply, said he had no personal interest in the question; but the indisposition which had been manifested to accept his Bill only proved to him the truth of what he had so often said, namely, that that House had never shown itself really anxious to put a stop to corrupt practices in the election of its own Members.

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