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There have been rumours of a scheme of re-distribution throughout the entire of the United Kingdon, of its representation in the lower House of Parliament. So far as these rumours took anything of a consistent form, they involved changes of great and very injurious importance for Ireland. Her scant and insufficient number of Members was to be diminished, instead of being (as it ought to be) increased; and an arbitrary shifting, or shuffling about of her remaining Representatives, was to be practised, tending on the whole to weaken the liberal and popular interest, and throw the prepon. derance into the opposite scale. But this most unjust and
. outrageous scheme appears to have fallen still-born, and we trust will be heard of no more. Nevertheless, the fact that it ever was spoken of at all, should act as a warning to Irish Reformers, and as an incentive to active preparation for the parliamentary campaign of next year; when according to the assurances of Whig and Tory alike, a general plan of Par. liamentary Reform is to be among the first and leading measures of the Session, We will intrude upon them only one short counsel, and that is, not to commit the mistake in political strategy of merely standing on the defensive, but to make a bold forward movement, and demand that members be allotted to several towns of considerable population in Ireland, which are at present unrepresented, and that this be done, not only without taking away from the number of Representatives of the Irish counties and larger cities, but simultaneously with an addition of Members to such of the latter as may appear in comparison with Great Britain, to have a right to such addition.
A glance at the lists of the House of Commons in Thom's Directory, where the names of the Members, the places they sit for, the number of population of each, and the number of voters, are all set out for the three Couutries, will enable the most casual observer to see the extent of the injustice done us in the existing allocation of Representatives. The following are a few cases taken nearly at random from among the Counties in England and Ireland :
English Counties. Members. Population. Irish Counties. Members. Population. Cambridgeshire, 3 185,181 | Antrim Co.,
250,355 Buckinghamshire, 165,554 Cork Co.,
2 Dorsetshire, 184,207 Down Co.,
317,778 Hereford Co. 3 115,489 Tyrone Co.,
251,869 Northumberland Co. 4 300,000 Tipperary Co., 2 323,829 Hertford Co.,
167,298 Kerry Co., 2 238,241
It is to be borne in mind in the case of the Irislı Counties in the foregoing table, that their respective amounts of popula. tion, are set down, as they have been estimated since the great famine and emigration, and that therefore the injustice done them in the comparative apportionment of Representatives in 1832, although yet very flagrant, was still more outrageous, before the population of those counties, as of so much of the rest of Ireland, was thinned and wasted down to what it is at present.
In reference to the towns and boroughs, the following will give an idea of the comparative state of things. England. Population.
Members. Population. Andover, 5,359 Tralee,
13,759 Barnstaple, 2 1,000| Wexford,
12,819 Bridgewater, 2 5,724 Londonderry, 1
16,845 Harwich, 2 4,400 Kilkenny, 1
13,627 Lymington, 5,260 Ennis,
12,165 Thetford, 2 4,074 | Clonmel,
1 14,707 Totness, 3,828 Youghal,
9,211 2 4,736 ' Dundalk, 1
9,841 These are only a few specimens out of, as every one knows, a multitude of cases of the grossest injustice towards Ireland, in the distribution of members between the two countries. They do not illustrate exceptions, but the general rule itself, that prevails and has prevailed in reference to that distribution.
The under-mentioned towns in Ireland, having a population of or exceeding six thousand, are totally unrepresented, and Barnstaple, Honiton, Totness, Thetford, Harwich, &c., miglit well spare them one member each. Towns. Population.
Population. Callan, 6,000 Loughrea,
6,400 Carrickfergus, 8,800 Nenagh,
8,600 Carrick-on-Suir, 10,000 Parsonstown,
6,700 Castlebar, 6,000 Tipperary,
6,980 Queenstown, 7,200 | Thurles,
7,250 7,150 Tullamore,
6,500 7,300 Tuam,
6,000 Although the English Reformers have no such grievances as ours to complain of, it will be seen from the following extract from one of their “Reports on the Franchise,” that they are by no means content with the present state of things.
“The present representation in parliament is neither based on population, property, nor character. The House of Commons is
supposed to represent the entire people, but not more than one in eight have the right of suffrage at all. There are in the House of Commons 330 members, representing an aggregate population of 3,120,000 persons, while a minority of 328 members represent 23,873,000 of the population. The position of the population returning the majority is that of having one member for every 9,400 per. sons, while the minority have but one member for every 73,600 persons. The present representation consisted of 330 members returned by 180,000 electors. Then, as to property, the annual rateable value of that represented by the 330 members is but £6,200,000, while the rateable value of the property represented by the 328 members is £78,800,000. How is Lord Derby to deal with these facts ?"
Of any change, however, in these respects during the present Session, the English Reformers do not seem to entertain an expectation. The extreme Radicals amongst them have been, through their newspapers, endeavouring to coax and coquet, with Lord Derby, since his accession to office; but as might be expected, the noble Lord, though willing enough to avail himself of their little rancune towards Lord Palmerston, does not choose for the sake of such support as in their fretful caprice they can afford him, to give mortal offence to his party, by opening up once more the sluices of reform.
The subjoined passages from a Report of the “Birmingham Reform Deputation,” deputed to consult with the Liberal members of Parliament in London, upon the practicability of bringing in a measure of Parliamentary Reform, during the present Session, will shew that we do not speak without book, in stating that there is no longer an expectation of such a step.
" Istly.—The Liberal section of the Ilouse is disjointed; it has no constructive unity of action. Occasionally powerful to overthrow, it is powerless to construct. The short time that many of its members have been in Parliament, the want of a rallying cry, as in 1831 and 1848, the absence of any gluring abuse, the apathy of the public, the absorbing nature of the war-question, the natural aversion there is to a dissolution, all have their influence in deterring the Radicals from active co-operation. Isolated motions for shreds of Reform are occasionally brought before the House; but no one dreams of united action for organic change.
“ 2ndly.--The advanced party have no leader. At present the majority of them cluster round the standard of either Palmerston or Russell. But a large number believe in neither. One other man they would follow, but this session at least he will not take active measures to organize a party. We refer to John Bright, our own Representative. His day will come, we have confidence, but not yet.
3rdly.- Perhaps the most conclusive argument against the hope of the Bill this year, is that it must be the work of a government.
No private member could command the time and information neces. sary to a re-construction of our electoral system. It must be done by those having the reins of power ; who have the official re. sources and highest legal knowledge of the country at their disposal."
This is very uncheery, and yet it is all very true. The Liberals of the House are but too surely a disjointed body, if indeed they are to be called a body at all, in the sense of mutual coherence and association. The old comparison of a rope of sand is far more applicable and more correct. Lord Palmerston has his party, and Lord John Russell can boast of his, and then there are two other parties to be taken into account-one very sınall indeed, but occasionally making itself felt in the squabbles of the larger sections—the party under the leadership of Mr. Maguire,—and the other most formidable from its including such men as Cobden, Bright, Milner Gibson, and Roebuck. Ve are, perhaps, scarcely warranted in classing the little knot of Grahamites and Gladstonites—the remnant of the once mighty following of Peel-among the sections of Liberals, and yet their influence over the proceedings of the latter is very great, and although an additional difficulty in the way of effective concert in Liberal councils, is created by the uncertainty as to how they will vote on particular emergencies, they have occasionally given very valuable aid against the Conservative enemy. With these five independent commands, it is impossible to have a well-ordered army; and the energies that ought to be combined against the small, but compact and disciplined cohort of Toryism in front, are too often wasted in internal divisions, or baffled by mutual jealousies and distrust. Lords Palmerston and John Russell, are contending for the Premiership, and each alike refuses 10 tolerate a rival near the throne. The Whig party are eager to regain and re-establish their monopoly of office, while the Perlite party on the one hand, and the advanced Radical on the other, is each on its own account, struggling to put an end for ever to that monopoly. Then upon the nature, the extent, the principles, and all the leading details of Reforin, these several parties are further divided and indeed sub-divisleb. And finally, upon the question of England's foreign policy, there is an equal amount and weight of difference and dissension. With all these elements of discord, who shall say when what is called “ the great Liberal Party,” will again be in a condition for battle, or how unexpectedly long a lease Lord Derby may not have of power!
The time when the Liberals will rally again, and rally for Reform, is a question not very easily to be answered or predicated of. But another, a greater and far more difficult question, is, what is to be the extent and probable operation of the Reform-measure to be proposed ? The nature of the franchise itself, the manner of exercising it, and the allocation of Representatives, are all highly important points for consideration and discussion; but paramount to them and to every thing else is the consideration of the end, the object, the ultimate tendency and effect of the measure. It is quite evident from what we have quoted of Wbig and Tory opinions on the subject, that their only and common aim is, to depart as little as possible from the existing state of things, and to maintain as far as possible (and if possible to increase) the power and influence of the aristocratic element in the British Constitution. We have also quoted from certain organs of the Radical party enough to show that they are equally intent on making the balance of power incline towards democracy. Our former quotations, however, from their manifesto having been mainly directed to exhibit their views of the means (viz., the increase of the popular franchise and the taking of votes, by secret Ballot) we shall quote from it again in further and more special illustration of the great end for which they proclaim themselves to be laboring.
" To those who would pourtray the multiform mischiefs flowing from Oligarchical Legislation, the only difficulty is selection. The giant mischief, however, is sufficiently prominent-Excessive Taxation. Tyranny in its grosser forms has shrunk before the slow progress of public opinion. Open Rapine can no longer be hazarded, she inust now take the shape of taxation.
Of British Taxation it may safely be said, that nothing approaching to it is recorded in history. When the Romans were masters of the world, the highest taxation under their emperors never exceeded two thirds of the sums now annually wrung from the toil of a few mil. lions of Englishmen. So appalling has been its growth, that the sums paid to Tax-Collectors are now more than the whole revenue of Queen Anne; and more than twice that of the much vituperated Stuarts. When a minister is invested with the patronage of such an enormous expenditure, to talk of public liberty is a farce. The more distinctive forms may be cunningly maintained-municipal government may exist-justice be in certain cases adininistered. These, however, are only employed to cover the corruption and deprarity within.
When the means of comfort and independence are taken from an industrious people to this astonishing extent, the consequences are the same whether the end be obtained by force or fraud. These