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this measure. By all you hold most dear,—by all the ties that bind every one of us to our common order and our common country, I solemnly adjure you,-I warn you,-I implore you,yea, on my bended knees, I supplicate youReject not this Bill!
EXTRACTS FROM A SPEECH
HOUSE OF LORDS,
IN SUPPORT OF
THE SECOND READING
THE REFORM BILL,
APRIL 13th, 1832.
It is said, that if you examine the returns of any place, you will find the householders of £10. greatly more numerous than those of £20. -meaning by £10. householders those who hold houses of from £10. to £20. annual value, and by £20. householders, those of £20. and upwards. I think that, generally speaking, you will find more houses of £ 20. and upwards, than below that amount. It must not be supposed, that that large class of houses between £10. and £ 20. are merely £10. houses. You must not take a minimum, and erect it into a maximum ; therefore, to say that the inhabitants of the small tenements of £10. will overwhelm
the richer classes who occupy those of £20., £30., £ 40., £ 50., and £100. value, is an assertion unsupported by any arguments or facts. Take, as an instance, the town of Warwick ;it has 300 voters who inhabit houses of £ 10. and upwards, but under £20.; and about 215 who hold houses of £20. and upwards; the smaller are, therefore, in the proportion to the larger tenements as three to two. But of these £ 10. houses, perhaps 100 or 150 are houses of the value of £ 14., £15., and from that up to £ 20., therefore, the highest of the smaller houses approach very near to the lowest of the larger houses. I cannot, therefore, see how the £10. householders will overwhelm those of the higher classes, or how the representation will, by such means, be thrown into the hands of men of little or no property. The £ 10. householders do not form a distinct class of voters, for nothing can be more obvious, than that they blend into those of a larger description, almost by imperceptible gradations.
Noble Lords are accustomed to take their ideas of £ 10. houses, from what they see of that class in a great town. I would recommend them to go into one of those towns on which this franchise is to be conferred. They will find, that it is not the common day-labourer
that can afford to give £ 10. a year for his house: is it possible for the man who is earning 108., 12s., 13., or 14s., a week, to afford to pay 3s. 10d. of it for his weekly house-rent? Such a man will occupy a much inferior tenement. The persons paying that rent will be men in the situation of respectable shopkeepers and tradesmen, overseers in some manufactory, or foremen, at least; persons respectable in every point of view, with reference to their station, and do you think that there is such a difference in point of communication, connexion, and influence, between the tenants of these different houses, that the man who occupies a house of from £20. to £30. a year, struts by his poorer neighbour, who is the holder of only a £13., £14., or even a £10. house? Has he no communication at all with him? Has he no connexion, no habits of society with him? In a word, has he no means of making his opinions known, or of using his influence to urge those opinions which superior wealth gives a man? He will have that intercourse; the richer man will have the opportunity of making his sentiments known to his poorer neighbour; while the practical effect will be, in many cases, to give him that influence which superiority,—not only in point of circumstances, but of character and education, will always enable a man to exert over his less weal
thy neighbours. For, my Lords, is it not in this that the influence of the richer over the inferior classes, consists in the influence which is exercised by a person of learning and information ? But, my Lords, I confess that I feel no alarm in contemplating the possibility of a case in which no influence whatever can be exerted, and which would leave all and every one of those persons to exercise their own judgment in the choice of their representatives.
It is the interest of the poorer, as well as of the higher classes, that there should be a good Government in the country,—that efficient representatives should be chosen, -that men should be sent to Parliament to watch over the institutions of the country; and it is no less the interest of the lowest of those classes that there should be peace and prosperity in the country, and that the stability of its institutions should be carefully and vigilantly watched.
My Lords, I will not now enter into the question whether the rich man or the poor man has the greatest interest in the preservation of tranquillity ; but it is sufficient for me that they poor man loses his all, and that he is the first who will suffer in a convulsion long before acts of spoliation take place, sufficient to ruin the