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cause with the power of the resi- proxies placed in his absolute dent electors had been overrated; discretion, and by withholding the outlying voters would be them until the last moment, he equalized.
would practically become arbiter After some further debate, it of the election, and exercise a was agreed to appoint a Select power approaching to nominaCommittee to consider the Bill. tion, which it had always been It emerged from the Committee the object of that House to put at the latter part of the session, down. Besides, in the nominaconsiderably modified in its de- tion it was not the etiquette to tails, but unaltered in principle. canvass, and many voters were When it again came on for dis- likely to be influenced by argucussion in the whole House, Sir ments, representations, explanaGeorge Lewis expressed much tions as to facts, and the effect of hesitation as to the policy of the this Bill would be to practically change proposed.
call upon voters residing at any He said the proposition was of considerable distance to antedate considerable importance, because their vote by several days, during it introduced a new system of which time a change of opinion voting in universities, which might have been effected. might also, whenever established, Mr. Roebuck said the diffibe regarded as a precedent in culty of a plurality of votinglarge counties, or even boroughs. papers might be got rid of by The objections to the Bill had enacting that the voter should not been satisfactorily answered. only be allowed to sign one It had been shown to depart paper; and if he wished to refrom the established principle voke that, he should come up that a man was master of his and vote in person. The holders own vote, as by forwarding du- of a proxy should also be complicate or triplicate proxies, the pelled to put it in; and even if absent elector might transfer his he collected a number, he would power of voting altogether, as have no greater influence than the person whom he entrusted was exercised now by a man with his proxies might not only who influenced a number of his give the vote to which candidate friends to vote as he desired. he chose, but even withhold it Mr. Locke thought that if altogether. He would be in the voting-papers were used at all, position of a peer, to whom was they should be sent direct to the delegated the absolute right of Vice-Chancellor. If the Bill was decision, without any reference passed as it stood, the resident to the opinion of the absent lord, leaders would return whom they even expressed after the signature pleased. of the instrument.
Mr. Hunt proposed to obviate was limited to a certain number the difficulties which appeared of proxies, while under the Bill a on consideration of the Bill as to university elector might hold an proxies, by providing that every indefinite number. The princi- other voter should declare before pal of a college, or the leader of a magistrate that he had only a religious party, might easily get signed one proxy paper, and that fifty or sixty, or more, his personal vote should super
But a peer
sede his proxy if the latter had was that of the Established not been already tendered at the Church. The residents might poll.
be an important and useful eleSir W. Heathcote suggested ment, but they were not the that it would be better for the whole body. Bill to stand over till next year The Bishop of London opfor further consideration.
posed the Bill, which he thought Mr. Lowe agreed with Sir G. would give an undue preponLewis that the effect of the proxy derance to the country clergy system would be to create a resi- over the resident members of the dent oligarchy, who would decide Universities. the election.
The Bill was finally passed After a reply from Mr. Dodson without a division. and two divisions, which resulted The question of Church-rates, in considerable majorities in fa- the subject of long and vehement vour of the Bill, it passed through contention both in Parliament the House.
and throughout the country, was In the House of Lords the again raised in the present sesGovernment, though understood sion by the member who had on to regard the measure with no former occasions attempted to favour, did not offer any obstacle effect the abolition of the rate, to it.
The Bishop of Oxford, Sir John Trelawny, but without however, stated his objections to even so near an approach to sucthe principle. He said that the cess as in former years. On the University members were in- 27th February the hon. baronet tended to represent that body moved for leave to bring in his generally, and not merely the Bill, which was confined, as be. clergy, to whom this Bill would fore, to a simple extinction of give a pre-eminence in the elec- Church-rates.
After some tions. He thought, too, that the marks upon the causes of the disystem of proxies would throw minution of the majority in fainto the hands of a few residents vour of the Bill of the last session, the votes of a number of non- he referred to the negotiations he residents, which they might either had entered into ineffectually to withdraw or present at their op- bring about a compromise upon tion. This he considered very this question, and recommended objectionable.
the opponents of the Bill to acThe Earl of Derby thought cept the proposal he now made, that the bishop's arguments were since, if they rejected it, they contradictory. He had objected would strengthen the party actto the Bill because it gave too ing for ulterior ends, whereas by much predoininance to non-resi- passing the Bill that party would dents, and also because it would lose a grievance. He argued empower residents to hold the against the justice and policy of balance in their hands. These the rate, throwing doubts upon arguments were inconsistent. He the validity of its origin, and conmust remind their lordships that tended that the concessions made the Universities were themselves by its defenders had thrown overrepresentative bodies, and one board the principle that Churchinterest which they represented rate was inseparable from pro
perty, and had reduced the ques- Mr. Packe seconded the motion to one of expediency. As it tion. was impossible to stand still, and Mr. Marsh was in favour of to make the law more stringent some compromise upon this might be inconvenient, and in question. He thought that such large towns perhaps dangerous, à settlement might be based as the palliatives which had been upon the report of the Lords' suggested would not heal but ir- Committee. ritate the sore, the only effectual The Chancellor of the Excheremedy which would settle the quer observed that there seemed question before it went further to be on both sides a growing was the passing of this Bill. persuasion that it would be for
The motion was seconded by the credit of the Legislature that Lord Fermoy.
this question should be settled. Sir W. Heathcote denied that He confessed that he remained concessions made in order to get of the opinion he had always rid of difficulties and animosities held, and he should refuse to arising from Church-rates could vote for the second reading of be said to be a surrender of its this Bill. If, on the one hand, principle. Sir J. Trelawny had there was a strong sentiment argued that the abolition of these in favour of the abolition of rates would strengthen the Church Church-rates, on the other hand, of England; but many of his sup- when the advocates of the rate porters regarded this Bill but came forward by thousands and as a means to an end, and had tens of thousands, asking Parayowed that it was considered as liament to be allowed to cona step to the severance of Church tinue to pay them, it showed a and State, so that the scheme was strength of principle and purpose understood by them as one of un- which Sir J. Trelawny would do mitigated hostility to the Church well to take into his consideraof England. He did not desire tion. To get at the merits of the that things should remain as they Church-rate question, it must be were, and, not deterred by the divided into two questions, as objection that he was departing respected two portions of the from the principle, he was pre- country. In populous parishes pared to consent to exemptions it might be in practice bad, and from the rate, and two Bills for he would abandon the principle that object were now before Par- of the rate there; but in rural liament. He put it to the Go- parishes, where the rate was paid vernment whether a time had not with as much satisfaction as any arrived most favourable to & other public charge, why was conciliatory arrangement of this this ancient law to be abolished ? question, and he appealed to his What paid the charge in rural own friends whether it was not parishes? The land; and it was their duty to consider, as prac- proposed to force 250,0001. a-year tical men, what was calculated to upon the proprietors of land. If restore and establish peace. He the law of Church-rates was an moved, as an amendment, that old and a good law-if it prothe second reading of the Bill be vided for Divine ordinances for deferred for six months.
the benefit of the poor, amounting to a large majority of the po- lor of the Exchequer, or any other pulation, it was too much to say proposition based upon ignorance that we were to abolish such a
of the state of feeling among law to meet, not the scruples, but the Nonconformist population of the convenience of individuals. England. Any attempt to settle He suggested that the Legisla- this question that left Churchture should begin by converting rates unrepealed would be a the power of the majority of the failure. parish into a right, firmly main- Mr. Disraeli said this Bill was taining the right of the parish to an assault on the independence tax itself
, giving to those parishes of parishes and on the integrity where the ancient Church-rate of the Church; and on what had lapsed the power of raising ground ? The law of Church& voluntary rate.
rate was no real grievance to Mr. Bright observed that, as Dissenters, who, if a majority in Mr. Gladstone proposed virtually the parish, could resist its impoto abolish Church-rates, he should sition, and, if in the minority, begin by voting for the Bill. He would yield to the opinion of the denied that the evils which Mr. majority-a principle upon which Gladstone supposed likely to hap- our whole social system was pen, if this Bill passed,would hap- based. It was impossible to say pen; but, if so, what a deadness that any class was aggrieved by a would it argue in the population law ancient in its character and towards the Established Church? founded upon a popular principle. What did the Dissenters object The speech of Mr. Bright, he reto ? They felt that this was a marked, consisted of two partsstruggle for supremacy, a supre- one of irrelevant observations dis. macy asserted on the part of a crediting the Church of England; great establishment which was as the other part accepting and remuch political as religious. Mr. cognizing the views of the LibeBright denounced the practice of ration Society, well aware of the the sale of livings in the Church, purposes of those who were at the enlivening the debate by some bottom of this movement. The details upon the subject, which Church of England was a part of he acknowledged would be very our national institutions, and a amusing if they were not very barrier against that centralizing shocking, and he asked whether supremacy which had been in all such things could be pointed out other countries so fatal to liberty. in the Nonconformist churches It was because this Bill was reof England and Wales. He pugnant to these principles that glanced at other matters, in he should offer to it an uncomparticular the recently published promising opposition. “Essays and Reviews, -as in,
Lord J. Russell observed that disposing the Dissenters to ac
this was a question not of mere knowledge the Church of Eng. abstract right, but what was most land to be supreme over them. beneficial to the Church. He That Church was, he said, a did not think the exemption of divided Church, and he asked Dissenters would effect å settlewhether it was worth while to take ment of this question. It seemed the proposition of the Chancel. to him that in assenting to such a plan the value of a national taking the sense of the House on Church would be overlooked. He a scheme for substituting for the did not see why those who dif- present Church-rates a charge fered from some of the opinions upon all landed property, for the of the Church of England should occupancy of which Church-rates not still regard it as a great na- had been paid for the preceding tional benefit. Great difficulties seven years. Such charge to be would likewise be met with in levied with the county rate and carrying a law of exemption into with a power to the occupier to effect. He did not believe that deduct the amount from his rent. the taking away 250,0001. a-year He further proposed that the sum from the Church of England thus raised, which should exceed would cause our ancient parish 2d. in the pound, should be paid churches to fall into decay; he over by the Clerks of the Peace believed that voluntary contribu- to the Governors of Queen tions would be forthcoming to Anne's Bounty as trustees of the maintain them. If so, it was, in fund. To this many objections his opinion, a great advantage to were made. Sir G. Lewis obthe friends of the Church to get jected that it would impose a tax rid of a cause of difference between even more stringent than the prethem and the Dissenters. By sent Church-rate, by making the rejecting this Bill agitation would payment a compulsory charge not be allayed, and he did not on the land. Mr. Steuart, Lord think that the prosperity of the Enfield, Sir John Trelawny, and Church of England depended Mr. Selwyn also took exceptions upon the maintenance of Church- to Mr. Newdegate's plan, and rates.
many members urged that it Mr. Walpole said this question should be withdrawn, to which was not one of a particular griev- the honorable mover eventually ance, for which a remedy was to acceded. Another amendment, be obtained, but simply whether moved by Mr. Cross, to extinParliament should take away guish the rate in all parishes in what Lord J. Russell had for which it had not been levied for merly maintained to be an obliga- a period of seven years, shared tion cast upon owners of property the same fate, and the Bill passed in England, without providing a through Committee. substitute or an equivalent; Lord The principal struggle took John bad suggested only volun- place upon the third reading. tary contributions, which never The opponents of the measure, could be and never would be a encouraged by the decreasing substitute.
majorities in its favour, were Sir John Trelawny having re- known to be collecting their plied, the amendment was nega- strength, and a close contest was tived on a division by 281 to 266, anticipated. The motion was and the Bill was read a second made by Sir John Trelawny on time.
the 19th of June. The honorOn the order of the day for able baronet dwelt upon the evils going into Committee being which resulted from leaving this moved, Mr. Newdegate moved an question unsettled, and warned amendment, for the purpose of those who opposed the Bill of the