Page images
PDF
EPUB

prejudicing any then existing right. But such lastmentioned right (where it exists in any one concurrently with his right under the Act) is to merge in the right under the Act (u).

By the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885, the representation of numbers has been, as nearly as may be, rendered uniform in counties, as well as in boroughs throughout the kingdom. Each of the counties at large named in the Seventh Schedule to the Act returns the number of members named in the schedule, and is divided into the same number of parliamentary divisions as the number of members, and each division returns one member (.). Prior to that Act certain counties and boroughs returned more than one member, e.g., Yorkshire returned ten members, Lancashire eight, London four, and Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Leeds respectively three ; and while that state of the representation of the counties and boroughs continued, at a contested election for any county or borough, returning three or more than three members, no person could vote for more than two candidates, or, in the city of London, for more than three (y). In Wales, the right of election for some of the principal towns or boroughs represented was shared by other boroughs, which were then called “contributory boroughs” (a). All these distinctions are, however, now superseded by reason of the one member one constituency principle; but the city of London, although it returns two members, is nevertheless not two constituencies.

Secondly, of the qualifications which belong to the electors for BOROUGHS.—[The electors of citizens and burgesses, and the representatives of the cities and towns, were supposed in law to be, or to represent, the trading

(u) Representation of the People Act, 1884, s. 7, sub-ss. (6), 7) ; and s. 10.

(2) Redistribucion of Seats Act, 1885, s. 9.

(y) Representation of the People Act, 1867, ss. 9, 10.

(a) Parliamentary Electors Registration Act, 1868, s. 16.

[interest of the kingdom ; and, inasmuch as trade was seldom long fixed in one place, it used to be left to the Crown to summon, pro re natâ, the most flourishing towns to send representatives to parliament, so that as towns increased in trade, and grew in population, they became, one by one, raised to the rank of parliamentary boroughs.] But many towns, which from an obscure original had risen to high importance, remained unrepresented, except as forming part of the county in which they lay (6); also, many towns which had lost their importance still continued to return members to the house of commons (c).

Accordingly, by the Representation of the People Act, 1832, a new arrangement was made, under which the representation of the trading and manufacturing interest was, in both these particulars, placed upon a different basis, no towns of conspicuous importance being then left unrepresented, while those which had fallen into comparative insignificance were deprived of their rank as parliamentary boroughs (d). Afterwards, by the Representation of the People Act, 1867, some further efforts were made

(b) See Chitty, Preroy. of the Crown, 67, 68 ; 1 Doug. Elect. 69.

(c) A few, however, had from time to time been eased of their parliamentary franchise, upon their own petition, having been desirous of avoiding the burthen then incumbent upon boroughs of paying wages to their representatives ; which burthen also then lay upon counties,—the wages for a knight of the shire being 4x. a day, and for a citizen or burgess, 28., according to the rate established in the reign of Edward the Third (Prynne, Fourth Register of Parlia. mentary Writs; Henry, Hist. of Great Britain, vol. iii. p. 107).

(d) The boroughs thus disfranchised are mentioned in the Representation of the People Act, 1832,

Sched. A. In Sched. 0. of the Parliamentary Boundaries Act, 1832, the different places then sending inembers to parliament are enumerated, and their boundaries defined. (See Parliamentary Boundaries Act, 1832, s. 35.) By the Representation of the People Act, 1867, s. 48, boundary commissioners were appointed to revise these boundaries; and subsequent Act (the Boundary Act, 1868) settled and described (in accordance with their Report) the limits of certain boroughs, and the divisions of certain counties, for the purpose of parliamentary elections. As to detached parts of counties, see the Counties (De. tached Parts) Act, 1844.

a

[blocks in formation]

in the same direction, by reducing the number of members returnable for places of comparatively small population, and increasing those returnable for the more important towns, while, at the same time, certain new boroughs were created in districts hitherto insufficiently represented (e). And by the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885, the representation of numbers has been, as nearly as may be, rendered uniform in boroughs, as in counties, all over the kingdom. For, first, the seventy-nine English boroughs, the two Scotch boroughs, and the twenty-two Irish boroughs mentioned in the first part of the first schedule to the Act are deprived of their representation as borough, and are thrown into their respective counties (f ); and the five counties of cities or of towns (including Berwickupon-Tweed) mentioned in the second part of the same schedule are in like manner thrown into the counties in which they are locally situate. Secondly, the city of London is reduced to returning two members only, and the thirty-six English boroughs, and three Irish borough, mentioned in the second schedule are each to return one member only (9). Thirdly, the fourteen English boroughs, three Scotch boroughs, and two Irish boroughs mentioned in the third schedule are to have an increased number of members (h). Fourthly, a large number of new parliamentary boroughs has been created, those, namely, which are specified in the fourth schedule to the Act(i). And, fifthly, the parliamentary boroughs mentioned in the sixth schedule to the Act are divided into the parliamentary divisions specified in the same schedule, and each division is to return the number of members (usually one only) specified in the schedule (k).

(e) By the Representation of the People Act, 1867, s. 17, any borough which, at the census of 1861, had a population of less than 10,000 was thenceforth to return not more than a single member-a provision which deprived thirty-eight boroughs of one of their members. But on the other hand, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Leeds each thereafter returned three members instead of two (sect. 18).

(f) Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885, s. 2.

(9) Sect. 4.
(h) Sect. 5. That is to say,

the total number of members of the specified boroughs is to be as follows :-Liverpool, nine; Birmingham, Tower Hamlets, and Glasgow, seven each ; Manchester, six ; Leeds and Sheffield, five each ; Bristol, Edinburgh, Belfast, and Dublin, four each ; Bradford, Hull, Nottingham, Salford, Southwark, and Wolverhampton, three each ; and Swansea and Aberdeen, two each.

With respect to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, their franchise rests upon a different principle. Formerly they were not as a rule specially represented in parliament, [though once, in the twenty-eighth year of Edward the First, when a parliament was summoned to consider of the king's right to Scotland, there were issued writs which required the University of Oxford to send up four or five, and that of Cambridge two or three, of their most discreet and learned lawyers for that purpose (1). It was James the First who indulged these universities with the permanent privilege of sending members of their own body to protect in the legislature the rights of the republic of letters.] A similar privilege has since been conferred on the universities of London, Dublin, Edinburgh, St. Andrews, Glasgow, and Aberdeen (m).

And here it may be useful, or at all events interesting, to state, as regards the right of voting in boroughs, that until the Reform Act, 1832, the right of voting for citizens and burgesses depended entirely upon the several charters, customs, and constitutions of the respective

new

(i) Sect. 6. Of these

(?) 1 Prynne, Parl. Writs, 345. boroughs, the most important are (m) The universities of EdinBethnal Green (two members), burgh and St. Andrews send one Camberwell (three members), Fins. representative, and those of bury (three members), Hackney Glasgow and Aberdeen another (three members), Islington (four (see Representation of the People members), Lambeth (four mem- (Scotland) Act, 1868). As to bers), St. Pancras (four members), London, see Representation of Shoreditch (two members), and the People Act, 1867; and as to West Ham (two members).

Dublin, see Representation of the (k) Sect. 8.

People (Ireland) Acts, 1832 and

1868.

boroughs(n). This variety of qualifications, which formerly occasioned infinite disputes, was in some measure remedied by the 2 Geo. II. (1728), c. 24. 28 Geo. III. (1787), c. 52, and 34 Geo. III. (1794), c. 83, which provided, that the determination of a committee of the House of Commons, as to the right of voting for any particular place, should be thereafter conclusive on the subject for ever.

Under the system established by the Representation of the People Act, 1832, the rights of voting in boroughs consisted, first, of certain antient rights reserved during the lives of those individuals who enjoyed them at the date of that Act (o); secondly, of certain antient rights reserved in perpetuity (p); and, thirdly, of certain new rights conferred by the Act. And, first, the antient rights reserved during the lives of the parties, were chiefly those which the customs of some boroughs permitted to be claimed by the scot and lot inhabitants (i.e., such as paid the poor rate as inhabitants), or by the inhabitant householders, or by the pot wallers (i.e., such as cooked their own diet in a fireplace of their own); but the number of individuals who can claim these franchises has now become so diminished by death, as to be of little practical importance. Secondly, the antient qualifications reserved in perpetuity were those which might be claimed by reason of being a “burgess or freeman ” of a parliamentary borough (1), and, in towns

(n) 1 Bl. Com. 174; Oldfield, Representative History, vol. jii. pp. 1, 2, 9.

(0) See Russell, Reform Art,

p. 30.

(p) By the Honorary Freedom of Boroughs Act, 1885, persons of eminence may be admitted as honorary freemen of the borough, but not so as to acquire thereby any right of voting, parliamentary or muuicipal.

(9) It may be remarked that in the City of London, the qualification

was being a freeman and liveryman ; and the freedom of that city can be obtained in three different methods : 1. By patrimony, i.e., as the son of a freeman born after the father has acquired his freedom ; 2. By servitude, i.e., by serving an apprenticeship of seven years to a freeman ; and 3. By redempliou, i.e., by purchase. But besides being free of the city, it was requisite, in order to have a vote as a “free. man and liveryman,” to be entitled to wear the livery of some one of

« EelmineJätka »