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at a critical hour like this throw themselves athwart the objects of a great party, and mar, it may be, a great measure that ought to affect the interests of the country beneficially for all time." The-Tea-Room Party ventured, no doubt, upon a serious parliamentary responsibility when they thus struck out a little policy for themselves independently of their leaders. Yet it can hardly be questioned now that they were in the right as regards their principle. It was a great advantage to get rid of all complications, and all vari. ous graduations of franchise, and come at once to the intelligible point of household suffrage. As Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Bright had themselves admitted and argued at various stages of the debates, it was decidedly objectionable to have the question of franchise mixed up with varying parochial arrangements of any kind, and left to depend on the views of a vestry here and a vestry there. Nor were the TeaRoom Party mutineers who by their conduct had enabled the enemy to triumph. On the contrary, they were, at the worst, only adventurous volunteers who at some risk had won a more decided victory over the
than their regu. lar chiefs once ventured to think possible. Certain of them were, perhaps, a little inclined to give themselves airs, be. cause of the risk they had run and the success they had won. But it is only justice to some of them at least to say, that they had acted from deliberate calculation as well as from a sense of duty. They were convinced that the government, if pressed, would give in to anything rather than allow the bill to be defeated; and they thought they saw a sudden and secure opportunity for establishing the borough franchise at once on the sound and simple basis of household suffrage.
The struggle now was practically over. The bill had become from a sham a reality; trom unmeaning complication it had grown into straightforward clearness. It accomplished a great purpose by establishing a sound principle. It had gone much farther in the way of pure democracy than
Mr. Bright had ever proposed, or probably ever desired, to go. During the discussions Mr. Mill introduced an amendment to admit women who were registered occupiers as well as men to the franchise; in other words, to make the qualification one of occupation only, without reference to sex. The majority of the House were at first disposed to regard this proposition as something merely droll, and to deal with it only in the spirit of pleasantry, and with facetious commertary; but the debate proved a very interesting, grave, and able discussion, and it was the opening of a momentous chapter of political controversy. Mr. Mill got seventy-three members to follow him into the lobby; and although 196 voted the other way, he was probably well content with the result of the debate. He also raised the question of the representation of minorities, but he did not press it to any positive test. It had, however, a certain distinct triumph before the completion of the measure. When the bill went up to the House of Lords, Lord Cairns moved an amendment to the effect that in places returning three members no elector should vote for more than two. This amendment was carried, although Mr. Disraeli had announced beforehand that the government thought such an arrangement would be “erroneous in principle and pernicious in practice;" and although it had been strongly opposed by Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Bright. The new principle, it will be seen, acknowledges the propriety of securing a certain proportion of representation to minorities. In a constituency with three representatives each elector votes for only two. Obviously then, the third is the representative of a minority. It does not by any means follow, however, that he is always the representative of a minority differing in political opinions from the majority. In some of the constituencies to which the bill gave three members, it so happens that there is a majority of one way of thinking large enough to secure the return of all three members. There are electors enough of one
party to secure a majority to the two candidates who are especially popular, aud yet to spare as many votes as will enable them to carry a third candidate also. Thus the new principle does not in practice always accomplish the object for which it was intended. Indeed, it is plain that in the very instances in which the advocates of the representation of minorities would most desire to secure it—those of places where the minority had before no chance of obtaining any expression of their views-they would still have little chance under the new arrangement, and would be most easily overborne by combination, discipline, and skill on the part of the majority. The new arrangement was of moment, however, as the first recognition of principle which may possibly yet have a fuller development, and which if it does can hardly fail to have a serious effect on the present system of government by party. One or two clauses of some importance, not bear. ing on the general question of reform, were introduced. It was established that Parliament need not dissolve on the death of the sovereign, and that members holding places of profit from the crown need not vacate their seats on the acceptance of another office; on their merely passing from one department to another. This was a reasonable and judicious alteration. It is of great importance that when a member of Parliament joins an administration, he should give his constituents an opportunity of saying whether they are content to be represented by a member of the government. But when they have answered that question in the affirmative, it can hardly be necessary to undergo the cost and trouble of a new election if their representative happens to be transferred from one office to another. A constituency may have good reason for refusing to elect a member of the administration ; but they can hardly have any good reason for rejecting a secretary for the colonies whom they were willing to retain as their representative while he was Secretary for India. We are glad, however, that the change in
the law was not made a little sooner. History could ill have spared Sir John Pakington's speech at his re-election for Droit wich.
The Reform Bill passed its final stage on August 15th, 1867. We may summarize its results thus concisely. It enfranchised in boroughs all male householders rated for the relief of the poor, and all lodgers resident for one year, and paying not less than rol. a year rent; and in counties, persons of property of the clear annual value of 51., and occupiers of lands or tenements paying 12l. a year., It disfranchised certain small boroughs, and reduced the representa. tation of other constituencies; it created several new constituencies; among others the borough of Chelsea and the borough of Hackney. It gave a third member to Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Leeds; it gave a representative to the University of London. It enacted that where there were to be three representatives, each elector should vote for only two candidates; and that in the city of London, which has four members, each elector should only vote for three. The Irish and Scotch Reform Bills were put off for another year. We may, however, an. ticipate a little, and dispose of the Scotch and Irish Bills at once, the more especially as both, but especially the Irish Bill, proved to be very trivial and unsatisfactory. The Scotch Bill gave Scotland a borough franchise the same as that of England; and a county franchise based either on 5l. clear annual value of property, or an occupation of 141. a year. The government proposed at first to make the county occupation franchise the same as that in England. All qualification as to rating for the poor was, however, struck out of the bill by amendments, the rating system of Scotland being unlike those of England. The Government then put in 141. as the equivalent of the English occupier's 121. rating franchise. Some new seats were given to Scotland, which the government at first proposed to get by increasing
the number of members of the House of Commons, but which they were forced by amendments to obtain by the disfranchisement of some small English boroughs. The Irish Bill is hardly worth mentioning. It left the county franchise as it was, 121. reduced the borough franchise from 81. to 41., and did nothing in the way of redistribution.
While the English Reform Bill was passing through its several stages, the government went deliberately cut of their way to make themselves again ridiculous with regard to the public meetings in Hyde Park. The Reform League convened a public meeting to be held in that park on May 6th. Mr. Walpole, on May ist, issued a proclamation intended to prevent the meeting, and warning all persons not to attend it. The League took legal advice, found that their meeting would not be contrary to law, and accordingly issued a counter-proclamation asserting their right, and declaring that the meeting would be held in order to maintain it. The government found out a little too late that the League had strict law on their side. The law gave to the crown control over the parks, and the right of prosecuting trespassers of any kind; but it gave the administration no power to anticipate trespass from the holding of a public meeting, and to prohibit it in advance. The meeting was held; it was watched by a large body of police and soldiers; but it passed over very quietly, and indeed to curious spectators looking for excitement seemed a very humdrum sort of affair. Mr. Walpole, the Home Secretary, who had long been growing weary of the thankless troubles of his office at a time of such excitement, and who was not strong enough to face the difficulties of the hour, resigned his post. Mr. Walpole retained, however, his seat in the Cabinet. “He will sit on these benches," said Mr. Disraeli, in announcing to the House of Commons his colleague's resignation of the Home Office; “ and al. though not a minister of the crown, he will be one of her