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cause with the power of the resident electors had been overrated; the outlying voters would be equalized. After some further debate, it was agreed to appoint a Select Committee to consider the Bill. It emerged from the Committee at the latter part of the session, considerably modified in its details, but unaltered in principle. When it again came on for discussion in the whole House, Sir George Lewis expressed much hesitation as to the policy of the change proposed. He said the proposition was of considerable importance, because it introduced a new system of voting in universities, which might also, whenever established, be regarded as a precedent in large counties, or even boroughs. The objections to the Bill had not been satisfactorily answered. It had been shown to depart from the established principle that a man was master of his own vote, as by forwarding duplicate or triplicate proxies, the absent elector might transfer his power of voting altogether, as the person whom he entrusted with his proxies might not only give the vote to which candidate he chose, but even withhold it altogether. He would be in the position of a peer, to whom was delegated the absolute right of decision, without any reference to the opinion of the absent lord, even expressed after the signature of the instrument. But a peer was limited to a certain number of proxies, while under the Bill a university elector might hold an indefinite number. The principal of a college, or the leader of a religious party, might easily get ifty or sixty, or even more,
proxies placed in his absolute discretion, and by withholding them until the last moment, he would practically become arbiter of the election, and exercise a power approaching to nomination, which it had always been the object of that House to put down. Besides, in the nomination it was not the etiquette to canvass, and many voters were likely to be influenced by arguments, representations, explanations as to facts, and the effect of this Bill would be to practically call upon voters residing at any considerable distance to antedate their vote by several days, during which time a change of opinion might have been effected. Mr. Roebuck said the difficulty of a plurality of votingpapers might be got rid of by enacting that the voter should only be allowed to sign one paper; and if he wished to revoke that, he should come up and vote in person. The holders of a proxy should also be compelled to put it in; and even if he collected a number, he would have no greater influence than was exercised now by a man who influenced a number of his friends to vote as he desired. Mr. Locke thought that if voting-papers were used at all, they should be sent direct to the Vice-Chancellor. If the Bill was passed as it stood, the resident leaders would return whom they pleased. Mr. Hunt proposed to obviate the difficulties which appeared on consideration of the Bill as to proxies, by providing that every other voter should declare before a magistrate that he had only signed one proxy paper, and that his personal vote should supersede his proxy if the latter had not been already tendered at the poll. Sir W. Heathcote suggested that it would be better for the Bill to stand over till next year for further consideration. Mr. Lowe agreed with Sir G. Lewis that the effect of the proxy system would be to create a resident oligarchy, who would decide the election. After a reply from Mr. Dodson and two divisions, which resulted in considerable majorities in favour of the Bill, it passed through the House. In the House of Lords the Government, though understood to regard the measure with no favour, did not offer any obstacle to it. The Bishop of Oxford, however, stated his objections to the principle. He said that the University members were intended to represent that body generally, and not merely the clergy, to whom this Bill would give a pre-eminence in the elections. He thought, too, that the system of proxies would throw into the hands of a few residents the votes of a number of nonresidents, which they might either withdraw or present at their option. This he considered very objectionable. The Earl of Derby thought that the bishop's arguments were contradictory. He had objected to the Bill because it gave too much predominance to non-residents, and also because it would empower residents to hold the balance in their hands. These arguments were inconsistent. He must remind their lordships that the Universities were themselves representative bodies, and one interest which they represented
was that of the Established Church. The residents might be an important and useful element, but they were not the whole body. The Bishop of London opposed the Bill, which he thought would give an undue preponderance to the country clergy over the resident members of the Universities. The Bill was finally passed without a division. The question of Church-rates, the subject of long and vehement contention both in Parliament and throughout the country, was again raised in the present session by the member who had on former occasions attempted to effect the abolition of the rate, Sir John Trelawny, but without even so near an approach to success as in former years. On the 27th February the hon, baronet moved for leave to bring in his Bill, which was confined, as before, to a simple extinction of Church-rates. After some remarks upon the causes of the diminution of the majority in favour of the Bill of the last session, he referred to the negotiations he had entered into ineffectually to bring about a compromise upon this question, and recommended the opponents of the Bill to accept the proposal he now made, since, if they rejected it, they would strengthen the party acting for ulterior ends, whereas by passing the Bill that party would lose a grievance. He argued against the justice and policy of the rate, throwing doubts upon the validity of its origin, and contended that the concessions made by its defenders had thrown overboard the principle that Churchrate was inseparable from property, and had reduced the question to one of expediency. As it was impossible to stand still, and to make the law more stringent might be inconvenient, and in large towns perhaps dangerous, as the palliatives which had been suggested would not heal but irritate the sore, the only effectual remedy which would settle the question before it went further was the passing of this Bill. The motion was seconded by Lord Fermoy. Sir W. Heathcote denied that concessions made in order to get rid of difficulties and animosities arising from Church-rates could be said to be a surrender of its principle. Sir J. Trelawny had argued that the abolition of these rates would strengthen the Church of England; but many of his supporters regarded this Bill but as a means to an end, and had avowed that it was considered as a step to the severance of Church and State, so that the scheme was understood by them as one of unmitigated hostility to the Church of England. He did not desire that things should remain as they were, and, not deterred by the objection that he was departing from the principle, he was prepared to consent to exemptions from the rate, and two Bills for that object were now before Parliament. He put it to the Government whether a time had not arrived most favourable to a conciliatory arrangement of this question, and he appealed to his own friends whether it was not their duty to consider, as practical men, what was calculated to restore and establish peace. He moved, as an amendment, that the second reading of the Bill be eferred for six months.
Mr. Packe seconded the motion.
Mr. Marsh was in favour of some compromise upon this question. He thought that such a settlement might be based upon the report of the Lords' Committee.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer observed that there seemed to be on both sides a growing persuasion that it would be for the credit of the Legislature that this question should be settled. He confessed that he remained of the opinion he had always held, and he should refuse to vote for the second reading of this Bill. If, on the one hand, there was a strong sentiment in favour of the abolition of Church-rates, on the other hand, when the advocates of the rate came forward by thousands and tens of thousands, asking Parliament to be allowed to continue to pay them, it showed a strength of principle and purpose which Sir J. Trelawny would do well to take into his consideration. To get at the merits of the Church-rate question, it must be divided into two questions, as respected two portions of the country. In populous parishes it might be in practice bad, and he would abandon the principle of the rate there; but in rural parishes, where the rate was paid with as much satisfaction as any other public charge, why was this ancient law to be abolished? What paid the charge in rural parishes? The land; and it was proposed to force 250,000l. a year upon the proprietors of land. If the law of Church-rates was an old and a good law—if it provided for Divine ordinances for the benefit of the poor, amount. ing to a large majority of the population, it was too much to say that we were to abolish such a law to meet, not the scruples, but the convenience of individuals. He suggested that the Legislature should begin by converting the power of the majority of the parish into a right, firmly maintaining the right of the parish to tax itself, giving to those parishes where the ancient Church-rate had lapsed the power of raising a voluntary rate. Mr. Bright observed that, as Mr. Gladstone proposed virtually to abolish Church-rates, he should begin by voting for the Bill. He denied that the evils which Mr. Gladstone supposed likely to happen, if this Bill passed, would happen; but, if so, what a deadness would it argue in the population towards the Established Church? What did the Dissenters object to? They felt that this was a struggle for supremacy, a supremacy asserted on the part of a great establishment which was as much political as religious. Mr. Bright denounced the practice of the sale of livings in the Church, enlivening the debate by some details upon the subject, which he acknowledged would be very amusing if they were not very shocking, and he asked whether such things could be pointed out in the Nonconformist churches of England and Wales. He glanced at other matters, -in particular the recently published "Essays and Reviews,"—as indisposing the Dissenters to acknowledge the Church of England to be supreme over them. That Church was, he said, a divided Church, and he asked whetherit was worth while to take the proposition of the Chancel
lor of the Exchequer, or any other proposition based upon ignorance of the state of feeling among the Nonconformist population of England. Any attempt to settle this question that left Churchrates unrepealed would be a failure. Mr. Disraeli said this Bill was an assault on the independence of parishes and on the integrity of the Church; and on what ground? The law of Churchrate was no real grievance to Dissenters, who, if a majority in the parish, could resist its imposition, and, if in the minority, would yield to the opinion of the majority—a principle upon which our whole social system was based. It was impossible to say that any class was aggrieved by a law ancient in its character and founded upon a popular principle. The speech of Mr. Bright, he remarked, consisted of two parts— one of irrelevant observations discrediting the Church of England; the other part accepting and recognizing the views of the Liberation Society, well aware of the purposes of those who were at the bottom of this movement. The Church of England was a part of our national institutions, and a barrier against that centralizing supremacy which had been in all other countries so fatal to liberty. It was because this Bill was repugnant to these principles that he should offer to it an uncompromising opposition. Lord J. Russell observed that this was a question not of mere abstract right, but what was most beneficial to the Church. He did not think the exemption of Dissenters would effect a settlement of this question. It seemed to him that in assenting to such a plan the value of a national Church would be overlooked. He did not see why those who differed from some of the opinions of the Church of England should not still regard it as a great mational benefit. Great difficulties would likewise be met with in carrying a law of exemption into effect. He did not believe that the taking away 250,000l. a year from the Church of England would cause our ancient parish churches to fall into decay; he believed that voluntary contributions would be forthcoming to maintain them. If so, it was, in his opinion, a great advantage to the friends of the Church to get rid of a cause of difference between them and the Dissenters. By rejecting this Bill agitation would not be allayed, and he did not think that the prosperity of the Church of England depended upon the maintenance of Churchrates. Mr. Walpole said this question was not one of a particular grievance, for which a remedy was to be obtained, but simply whether Parliament should take away what Lord J. Russell had formerly maintained to be an obligation cast upon owners of property in England, without providing a substitute or an equivalent; Lord John had suggested only voluntary contributions, which never could be and never would be a substitute. Sir John Trelawny having replied, the amendment was negatived on a division by 281 to 266, and the Bill was read a second time. On the order of the day for going into Committee being moved, Mr. Newdegate moved an amendment, for the purpose of
taking the sense of the House on a scheme for substituting for the present Church-rates a charge upon all landed property, for the occupancy of which Church-rates had been paid for the preceding seven years. Such charge to be levied with the county rate and with a power to the occupier to deduct the amount from his rent. He further proposed that the sum thus raised, which should exceed 2d. in the pound, should be paid over by the Clerks of the Peace to the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty as trustees of the fund. To this many objections were made. Sir G. Lewis objected that it would impose a tax even more stringent than the present Church-rate, by making the payment a compulsory charge on the land. Mr. Steuart, Lord Enfield, Sir John Trelawny, and Mr. Selwyn also took exceptions to Mr. Newdegate's plan, and many members urged that it should be withdrawn, to which the honorable mover eventually acceded. Another amendment, moved by Mr. Cross, to extinguish the rate in all parishes in which it had not been levied for a period of seven years, shared the same fate, and the Bill passed through Committee. The principal struggle took place upon the third reading. The opponents of the measure, encouraged by the decreasing majorities in its favour, were known to be collecting their strength, and a close contest was anticipated. The motion was made by Sir John Trelawny on the 19th of June. The honor. able baronet dwelt upon the evils which resulted from leaving this question unsettled, and warned those who opposed the Bill of the