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Mr Baring made a few explanatory Lord J. Russell, during the present observations, previous to the petition session, continued to push his meabeing laid on the table.
sures against the Cornish boroughs Notwithstanding these declarations convicted of bribery. Disappointed in of liberal principles, the only specific his attempt to exclude them from attempt made to obtain freedom of electing members to serve in the pretrade during this session, was unsuc- sent Parliament, his views were now cessful. This was Lord Milton's mo- directed towards total disfranchisetion to repeal the tax upon foreign ment. Grampound, in which corwool, a measure pressing so hard upon ruption appeared to be pre-eminent, this favourite and staple branch of and almost universal, was selected as British manufacture, that it appears an unquestionably fit subject against only wonderful that it should ever which this sentence might be exehave been carried into effect. Lord cuted. M. asked, was it wise to check the On the 10th May, his lordship mointroduction of raw materials, on ved for leave to bring in the bill. We which, by the industry of man, so would merely state the general scope great a profit was made? The value of it. It disabled Grampound from of the wool was doubled, tripled, and sending members to Parliament, and even quadrupled, when manufactured enabled those voters in that borough into cloth. Last year, the manufac- who had not been convicted of cortures of Great Britain enjoyed in the ruption, to vote for members as if they American market an advantage of 7 were freeholders of the county. Anoper cent over the manufactures of ther part of the bill was, that it emevery other nation. But if another powered the election, by the borough sixpence in the pound were added to of Leeds, of two members, at the conthe wool tax, it would reduce our ad- clusion of the present Parliament, or, vantage to the ratio of 100 to 98, in case any vacancy occurred in the when compared to French manufac- borough of Grampound, before that tures. This, to say the least, was run- period. The right of suffrage which ning a severe race, and a risk of lo- he proposed for the borough of Leeds, sing the American market, which he would extend to persons renting thought no wise nation ought to run. houses to the value of 5l. per annum. - The Chancellor of the Exchequer, The borough of Leeds, it must be obhowever, urged, that this tax was both served, comprehended a much larger of considerable importance in a finan- space than the town of Leeds. It was cial view, and at the same time that thirty miles in circumference-comit operated as a protection to the prised eight or ten villages, besides the growers of British wool. It admitted town—and contained about seventy as much foreign wool as was neces- thousand inhabitants. Supposing the sary for the purposes of manufacture; right of suffrage to be granted to those yet it prevented that immense influx who rented houses of the annual vaof foreign wool into the market at a lue of 51., the number of voters would low price, which might finally check be about eight thousand. Some indithe growth of the material in Eng- viduals were of opinion that the right land. The importation had lately in- should not be granted to those who creased five-fold ; while the importa- did not rent houses of the value of tion had increased but two-fifths. The 101. a-year, which would reduce the motion was in consequence negatived voters to the number of 5500; but, by a majority of 202 to 128.
on consideration, he conceived that it
was better to extend the privilege of avoid, and he hoped the House would suffrage to the smaller sum. His great pursue the same course, legislating on object was to have the principle of the general principle. transferring the elective franchise The bill was then brought in withifrom convicted boroughs acknow- out opposition, and on the 19th May, ledged and established by Parliament. when the second reading was moved, If that principle were established, it became the subject of a lengthened would be entirely indifferent to him debate. Lord John now expounded whether the franchise was extended the malversations, on the ground of at all to Leeds; or, if granted to that which Grampound was to be divested borough, whether it was given in the of its rights. It seemed, that one of particular manner which he proposed, the electors had got a list, containing or whether it was extended to the the names of 60 persons who had the West Riding of Yorkshire, or any other right to vote, and of whom 58 had populous place.
voted: of these 58 no less than 47 had This motion was received on the the sum of 35l. affixed to their names ministerial side by Mr Canning, with as the price of their suffrages. On a cautious consent to the simple exhibiting this list to Sir Manasseh
position of bringing in the bill. Lopes, he allowed to Mr Teed, into He was perfectly disposed, on his own whose hands it had fallen, that it was part, and on the part of those with pretty correct. On this, Mr Teed whom he acted, to see the noble lord's indicted 34 of the corrupt parties, out bill brought before the House for dis- of whom 24 were convicted. Some cussion. And so far as the acknow. of the others he did not prosecute, on ledgment of the principle, that a bo- account of the insufficiency of evirough convicted of gross bribery and dence, and a still greater number on corruption, such as in former times account of their poverty. It also would produce an order for disfran- clearly appeared in evidence, that at chisement, went, he was ready to say, various times sums of money had that to such disfranchisement, in such been expended in this borough to ina proved case, he had no objection. Auence the return of members to ParSo far would he go. But he was sure liament. It was proved that one perit was not necessary to appeal to the son had attended at a meeting of denoble lord's candour for the preser- legates from Grampound, at which it vation of any ulterior opinion as to was agreed that 50001. should be the mode in which the franchise, so given for the return. Another indivitaken away, should be disposed of. dual, an attorney at Grampound, staHe made this reservation at the pre- ted, that the sum of 84001. was set sent moment, lest his sentiments might down in a bill, as the regular sum rebe misunderstood ; for, if there were quired for the two seats for that boany point which the noble lord had rough. These transactions took place stated, on which he had decided dif. at different periods ; and it was adferently from the noble lord, and to mitted by all the witnesses, that it which no circumstances could make had been customary to pay for the him agree, it was this that the votes of the electors. So far the evimeasure itself was comparatively in- dence went; but the common fame different, but that the establishment and notoriety of these transactions of the principle was every thing.” He made the case still stronger. It apwould look only to this specific mea- peared that it was a common saying sure ; and, as far as possible, he would with the electors, that “ they wished
VOL. XII. PART I.
to be feeding again ;" the meaning of the bribery-oath !" The neighbouring which was, that they desired to be hundred had no right whatever to the paid beforehand. One of the alder- elective franchise; and considering men stated, “ that he believed almost that the number of boroughs in Cornevery freeman in the place received a wall was out of all proportion to the bribe ;" and being asked, “how many population of the country, there aphe thought did not receive a bribe- peared no expediency in this plan. whether there were even three or four But there had grown up, within the uncorrupt persons in the borough ?" last thirty or forty years, a number of he answered, “ perhaps there may be towns, whose large population and three or four.” Upon these grounds extensive wealth placed them amongst the honourable member conceived the foremost of the great towns of this the House were most fully justified in country and they were at present disfranchising Grampound; and the debarred from the right of returning only question was, how the blank was
members to serve in Parliament. Of to be supplied. He quoted three cases these towns, five alone contained nearof boroughs which had lost their pri- ly 500,000 inhabitants. When they vileges on the ground of bribery. One saw towns of such extent, so rich, and was New-Shoreham, where it was first so abundantly peopled, without reproposed, that the offending members presentatives in that house, could it should merely be incapacitated; but be supposed that their ancestors, who it was afterwards determined, that the allowed members for Wales, for Chesfranchise should be extended to the ter, for Durham, and other places neighbouring rape of Bramber. Ano- comparatively insignificant, would, if ther was that of Cricklade, in which those great towns had grown up in the borough was thrown into the their times, have refused them the neighbouring hundred. The third was right of sending members to Parliathat of Aylesbury, where the greater ment? If they looked to Bristol, Linumber of the electors, being proved verpool, and other great towns which guilty of bribery, were disfranchised. sent members to that House, they The question, whether Grampound would see none of those disorders was to be thrown into the neighbour, which at present prevailed in the uning hundred, or the franchise trans- represented districts throughout the ferred to some other place, was of country. He was prepared to convery little consequence to that place, tend, that the more generally the right the voters of which, even in the for- of voting was diffused, the less likemer case, would form only a very lihood would there be of the growth small minority. “ Alas! the glory of of bribery and corruption in the larGrampound is gone for ever! The ger towns. The principles even of electors will no more have the plea- the members of that House had chansure of seeing a baronet, out of pure ged. There had been times when motives of charity, sending confiden- many of the members would not have tial agents to relieve their distresses scrupled to receive large sums of moand minister to their wants. They ney for their votes. That practice will no more be delighted with the was now abolished such a thing was gratifying spectacle of the merchants no longer known-because the people of London contending to represent were less open to bribery. He stated them. Never again will they have the this, because it ought to be understood satisfaction of almost murdering those that all the defects of the system were who had the hardihood to propound not to be traced to that House, but
were rather to be found in that abuse point of view; he only viewed it as of the elective franchise which had a measure to correct corruption in prevailed in the country. In support Grampound. On a former occasion, of that view of the subject, he was
when the noble lord had proposed a happy to state that there appeared, measure of this nature, he had admitin the late general election, several ted distinctly that the local circuminstances which shewed that the feel- stances of Cornwall might afford reaings of the people, with respect to the son for dealing with boroughs in that exercise of the elective franchise, were county convicted of corruption, not very much improved. Some time
as was usual with the House in such a meeting had been held in a very cases, but for transferring the abused populous part of the country, at which franchise to some other part of the resolutions, binding the electors to kingdom. Now, however, it did not return members from none but pure appear to him that any sufficient case motives, were entered into. At Read- had been made out against transferring ing, resolutions were passed to pre- the franchise to the neighbouring vent corrupt and illegal influence in hundred. This was the measure supthat borough. He understood that ported by former precedents, and it an honourable member, his honour- appeared to him very doubtful wheable friend, he would say, the member ther the other House would be prefor Northumberland, intended, if the vailed upon to go into any other. He bill came to be committed, to move himself 'preferred local and district that the East and West Ridings of York- reform, if any abuse or corruption shire should be substituted for Leeds. were proved, when there appeared no He thought that to transfer the fran- necessity for adopting a different mode chise to Leeds was preferable, but that of remedying the evil. The noble was a question of inferior importance. lord had not merely presented this
Lord Castlereagh did not mean to proposition to the House ; he had not oppose the second reading of the bill, only proposed to disfranchise Gramand would endeavour to state his sen- pound, and to enfranchise Leeds, but timents in the same fair and candid supported the proposition by reasons manner as had been done by the no- on the face of the bill which were inale lord. He concurred with him in admissible. The preamble set forth the fundamental principle of the bill. -“ Whereas the borough of Leeds, He agreed that the borough of Gram- in the county of York, having of late pound had misconducted itself, and years become a place of great trade, that an adequate remedy ought to be population, and wealth, it is expeapplied. Therefore the question was, dient that it should have two bure not whether a remedy should be ap- gesses to serve in Parliament,” &c. plied, but what the nature of that re- It was impossible that the House or medy should be. The difference he that he should concur with the propofelt, arose from the fundamental dif- sition of transfer upon such grounds. ference of their opinion upon parlia- If this principle were once recognized mentary reform, which he considered by Parliament, it would afford ground fair to state to the noble lord and to for application from every place of the House. The noble lord wished trade, population, and wealth, to have to establish by this bill, pro tanto, the additional representatives. But if he principle of parliamentary reform could agree to the principle of transwhich he espoused. He himself did fer in this case, he should be very far not look upon the measure in that from agreeing to or recognizing it as it appeared on the face of that bill. other House. The House of ComHe would never agree to transfer the mons were bound to do their duty franchise to a large populous town, in strictly and conscientiously to the the form and mode of scot and lot country, without any reference to payers having votes, so that an assess- what might be thought elsewhere ; ment of 51. as he understood, would and the other House, he supposed, entitle to a vote. This would give in would do what they considered to be the town of Leeds 8,000 or 10,000 theirs. Mr Tierney insisted, that in constituents. He therefore pressed disposing of the two votes, the only upon the consideration of the noble question ought to be, where they were lord, that it was running great risk, most neeiled; and that the admitting and unnecessary risk, to hazard the of the principle of reform to this lireform of Grampound, by travelling mited extent, would be agreeable to out of the cases already recognized, moderate men on both sides of the and introducing a principle that would House. There were men, and they not only be denied, but most strenu- were by no means few in numberously opposed.
men of rank, of property—men who Mr Tierney expressed his extreme had the interests of the country sindisappointment at the change which cerely at heart--who thought in their appeared to have taken place in Lord consciences that some reform ought Castlereagh's views of the subject. He to take place—who conceived that understood the noble lord to have for- the country would be materially bemerly given his assent to the trans- nefitted by reform; and knowing how ference of the elective franchise from prevalent was this feeling, most parGrampound to another place. Now ticularly without, to the present case, he proposed only its extension to the he was not prepared to hear the quesneighbouring hundreds. He felt sa- tion met as it had been. He could tisfied that if the noble lord had con- see no one objection to giving the sulted his own good judgment, and preference to Leeds except this not attended to the conversations of and, whatever might be avowed, he others, he would not have adopted believed it to be the main objection this new plan, and the House would that the House should sanction no have heard nothing of this consider- proposition which might, in any shape ation for the neighbouring hundreds. or way, tend to a reform in Parlia“ But,” said the noble lord, “ there ment. are precedents, and, for God's sake, do Mr Wynn and Mr Holme Sumner let us keep to precedents on this ques- supported the principle of transfertion.” He remembered the prece- ence, but preferred that it should be dents to which the noble lord alluded, to the county of York. Looking, Mr and he looked upon them as much Wynn said, at the vast extent of that innovations in their day as the propo- county-its immense populationsition of his noble friend (Lord John the great number of freeholders, and Russell) could be considered in the the difficulty of bringing them all to present. He denied that there was any one place to vote within the time any strict analogy between the cases allowed for the duration of a poll : which could justify the House in act- looking at those circumstances, he ing upon them ; neither would he thought that a great evil would be admit that the House of Commons remedied by transferring the franchise should be governed, in debate at least, from Grampound to that county. by what might be the feeling in the Mr Beaumont explained the plan