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placed on the same basis, and he entered into an elaborate argument to show the fallacy of Mr. Gladstone's notions of deductions and inequalities. He denied that the rateable value was ascertained from the gross estimated rental ; on the contrary, in the London parishes the process was exactly the reverse—the rateable value was the real column, and the other was merely fictitious, made up at hazard: No Act, he contended, had been passed for thirty years relating to borough taxation and borough voting, which did not go upon the principle of rateable value; and after contrasting the tribunal which would be created by the amendment with the Revising Barrister's Court, greatly to the advantage of the former, he concluded by protesting against Mr. Gladstone's habit of resisting every alteration proposed in the details of the Bill, which, he contended, reduced the proceedings of the committee to a mere matter of form.
Mr. Osborne admitted that the rating franchise worked well in Ireland, but maintained that it could not be introduced into England without the interposition of Government valuators, to which no borough would submit. Differing from Sir R. Peel in his estimate of the Opposition tactics, he denounced the amendment as an attempt, under a specious pretext, to get rid of the Bill and the Government.
Mr. Villiers explained the objects with which the Union Assessment Act was passed, and asserted that the “gross estimated rental” column was carefully prepared, and was really the only standard looked to in practice. The confusion and the inequalities in making up the rateable value column were so great that no reliance could be placed on them. Mr. Villiers argued that the real object of the amendment was to get rid of the Bill.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in replying to a remark of Sir H. Cairns, denied that he had refused beforehand to accept any amendment in the clause. He had simply refused, on the part of the Government, to be a party to any curtailment of the enfranchisement proposed by the Bill; and as all the arguments by which the amendment had been supported went to restrict the extension of the suffrage, he declined now to accept it or to regard the carrying of it in any other sense but as incompatible with the progress of the Bill.
At a quarter past one o'clock in the morning the House, amidst great excitement, came to a division which showed the following result:For the amendment
315 Against it
304 Majority against the Government .
11 The result was received with great demonstrations of joy by the Opposition. The important consequences to which it led will appear in the next chapter.
CONSEQUENCE of the defeat of Ministers on Lord Dunkellin's motion - Resignation of
Earl Russell's Cabinet - Statements of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor ot' the Exchequer as to the reasons of their retirement-Formation of a new Government by the Earl of Derby-Overtures made to some members of the Liberal party but without success
s-Composition of the Conservative Cabinet-Speeches of Mr. Dis. raeli at Aylesbury, and of Lord Stanley at King's Lynn on their re-election after taking office—The Earl of Derby in the House of Lords states the principles on which his Government has been formed, and the policy they will pursue-Remarks of Earl Russell on that occasion - Little business, except of a formal kind, done during the remainder of the Session-Viscount Cranborne, the new Secretary of State for India, makes his financial statement-Remarks on various points of Indian policy. The Hyde-park Riots-Discussions in the two Houses upon those disturbances and the measures adopted by the Government to suppress them-Mr. Walpole, the Secretary for the Home Department, justifies the course taken by the authorities—Mr. H. Berkley's motion on the Ballot rejected - Termination of the Session on the 10th of August, Parliament prorogued by Commission - The Royal Speech Character of the Session - Obstruction of useful legislation by the Reform question – Retrospect of the year 1866– Its eventful and unprosperous character- Fenianism in Ireland - The Cattle Plague- The Cholera- The Financial Crisis-Effect of these adverse events, and their alleviating circumstances-Prosperous state of the revenue, and continued increase of our foreign commerce- - Deficiency of the harvest and its result on the price of commodities—Prospects of the ensuing year–Conclusion.
The division upon Lord Dunkellin's motion, recorded in the last chapter, was decisive of the fate of the Reform Bill and of the Government. On the following day it was generally known that the Administration of Earl Russell was at an end. When the two Houses met on the evening of the 19th, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer informed the members of each, that in consequence of what had taken place on the previous night, the Ministers had made a communication to Her Majesty, and motions of adjournment to the following Monday, the 25th of June, were put and agreed to. On that day Earl Russell acquainted the House of Lords that in consequence of the vote on Lord Dunkellin's amendment, which the Ministers considered equivalent to a vote of want of confidence on the part of the House of Commons, the Ministers had tendered their resignation to Her Majesty. He had received in answer a communication to the effect that Her Majesty hesitated to accept the resignation of her Ministers, especially in the present state of affairs on the Continent, and that Her Majesty hoped that they would not persist in tendering their resignation. He had since had a further communication from Her Majesty, but it was necessary that there should be a personal conference between the Ministers and Her Majesty, who had fixed the following morning, at Windsor, to have that conference. He therefore proposed to their Lordships that he should make a statement on the following day as to what had passed between the
Queen and her Cabinet. A similar communication was made to the House of Commons by Mr. Gladstone. · The next day Lord Russell stated to the House of Lords that at an interview with Her Majesty that afternoon the resignations of the Government had been accepted, and therefore he invited the House to suspend any progress with public business for the present. Lord Russell then entered into a history of the various propositions for Parliamentary Reform which had engaged the attention of the Legislature during the last seven years, and remarking that, in his opinion, the Government was pledged to some definite action, justified the measure recently introduced, as a moderate and just compromise which had been met by opposition upon points of detail only with a view to prevent or evade any settlement of the question. In support of this imputation he referred to the declaration of Lord Derby at the commencement of the Session, that he would consider fairly and would not factiously oppose any Reform Bill introduced by the Government; notwithstanding which declaration various meetings of members of the party in opposition in the other House had been held, at which Lord Derby attended and spoke in condemnation of the measure. A majority having been obtained against one portion of the Bill, it was useless for the Government to attempt to proceed in the face of such determined resistance; and therefore, as honourable men, the Ministry had no other course open to them than that which they had adopted.
Lord Derby, not having desired to speak upon this occasion, regretted that he should be compelled to do so in consequence of the rather personal attack made upon him. He admitted the inconvenience of a change of Government at this moment; but the difficulty had arisen, not from the conduct of the Opposition, but from the conduct of the Ministry. He had pledged himself to offer no unfair opposition to the Government measure, presuming that it would be one that could honourably be accepted by the Conservative party, and that pledge had been scrupulously observed. As to his attendance at meetings of the members of the party which honoured him by its confidence, he admitted and justified the fact as consistent with all precedents, but reminded the Prime Minister that nearly all the important amendments to the Reform Bill moved in the House of Commons had proceeded from the Ministerial side. Criticizing the various steps taken by the Government in the present Session in relation to Reform, Lord Derby condemned their conduct as hasty and inconsiderate, and concluded by reiterating a denial of any factious opposition to the Reform Bill either by himself or his friends in the House of Commons.
Lord Granville disputed the candour and fairness of the opposition that had been offered to the Government measure, pointing out that several vital amendments had emanated from the Opposition side in the House of Commons.
Lord Grey agreed that, after repeated declarations, the Government was bound to bring in a Reform Bill, but he condemned their doing so hastily and without due deliberation. Such a measure should have been prepared with a view to avoid excitee ment of party feeling; and a measure simply altering the franchisdid not possess that character, especially as it was believed to have been drawn up or approved by Mr. Bright. After referring to the denunciations passed upon the opponents of the Bill by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his provincial speeches, Lord Grey expressed his opinion that the measure, as proposed to Parliament, was crude and unfair, and that the Government had acted unwisely in making their retention of office dependent upon its passing
The House then adjourned.
In the House of Commons on the same evening much excitement prevailed, and the House was crowded in every part by members and strangers anxious to hear the disclosures about to be made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The right hon. gentleman rose amidst much cheering, and addressed the House in a calm tone and in the following terms :-"Sir, the suspense which the House yesterday so kindly consented to prolong is at an end, and Her Majesty has been pleased to accept the resignation of their offices which was last week tendered by the Government. The House is aware that Her Majesty thought fit in her wisdom to postpone the acceptance of that tender when the tender itself was first made. It appeared to Her Majesty that upon the first aspect of the vote which led to the tender of our resignation, it might perhaps be considered as a matter of mere machinery and detail, susceptible of adjustment, rather than as one which tended to break up the framework of the Bill; and Her Majesty also feltand I think the House and the country, without distinction of party, will agree in that sentiment—that in the present state of affairs on the Continent of Europe, there is necessarily a disadvantage in a change of Government. Without the slightest approach to any invidious preference or distinction, it may truly be said that at such a moment it is not easy for any incoming Administration to step at once into the exact conditions of relations with Governments and Ministers abroad which was enjoyed by their predecessors; and the amount of that difficulty, whatever it may be, is in itself a public disadvantage. Her Majesty upon these grounds thought fit to postpone the acceptance of our resignation, as the House has been informed, until she had had the opportunity of personal conference with my noble friend at the head of the Government. This day I accompanied my noble friend to Windsor, and the opportunity was given to him of tendering those explanations which appeared to us to warrant the course we have pursued, and of laying before Her Majesty the full circumstances of the case. Upon receiving these explanations, the tender which had been postponed was accepted, and we now, by Her Majesty's
gracious command, only retain the seals of our offices until the time when our successors shall have been appointed. I think it is due from the Government to the House that they should not confine themselves to a dry recital of the results arrived at in the communication with Her Majesty, but that, in endeavouring to avoid contested and controverted grounds, I should make some explanations to the House of a nature to show that in the step we have taken we have not acted upadvisedly or without deliberation. Sir, after the division which took place on the 18th inst., and during the interval which has since occurred, the alternative which the Government had to consider was, whether it was their duty at once to resign their offices, or whether, on the other hand, they ought to accept the vote which had been arrived at on the motion of my noble friend (Lord Dunkellin), and to endeavour if they could to adapt that vote and the operation of it to the framework of their measure and the attainment of its essential object. Now, sir, let me state briefly the views which we took of the nature and effect of that vote. We did carefully examine it, in order to see whether it was in our power to effect such an adaptation as I have described. At the close of the debate, the words which I ventured to use on the part of the Government did not amount to an absolute statement that if the vote was carried against us we should feel it impossible to conduct the Government of the country; but they did express the difficulty in which we found ourselves with respect to the possible consequences of such a vote, and I was obliged to say that we could enter into no engagement in the event of an adverse division, but must be free to take such a course as the public interests should appear to us to require. Now, sir, when we came to examine the effect of the motion, and to consider whether it was possible for us to adopt it, we were struck with these difficulties. In the first place, the inequality of its operation in the different boroughs; in the second place, the inequalities of its operation in the same boroughs; and in the third place, the almost insurmountable difficulty of choosing any formal figure of enfranchisement relative to rating which would express faithfully and exactly, and without material deviation on one side or the other, the scale of enfranchisement which we had contemplated and submitted to the House, and which we thought ourselves, not by any pedantic view of the case, but by considerations for the public interest, bound to adhere to. We found this to be the case as to the operation of a 61. rating franchise, because that was the sum indicated by the noble mover of the amendment. With regard to the inequalities in different boroughs, the figures which I now give can be tested by any gentleman for himself, for he has no more to do than to refer to the Blue-book which has been laid upon the table of the House. We had stated to the House a plan by which a certain number of male occupiers would be enfranchised by an occupation franchise of 71. in boroughs. We asked our