Front Page Titles (by Subject) 65.: The Reform Bill  27 JUNE, 1867 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868
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65.: The Reform Bill  27 JUNE, 1867 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXVIII - Public and Parliamentary Speeches Part I November 1850 - November 1868, ed. John M. Robson and Bruce L. Kinzer (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1988).
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The Reform Bill 
PD, 3rd ser., Vol. 188, cols. 635–8. Reported in The Times, 28 June, p. 7, from which the variant and responses are taken. In a further Committee on the Reform Bill (see No. 50), Disraeli moved a new Clause A to provide for increased polling places (cols. 616–17). To an amendment putting the expenses of elections on the local rates, a sub-amendment was attached, requiring the payment of £50 (boroughs) and £100 (counties) by anyone demanding a poll (col. 627). Joseph Warner Henley (1793–1884), M.P. for Oxfordshire, spoke before Mill, pointing out that in county towns a factious candidate might gain nomination by a show of hands; then the other candidate would have to demand and so be put to the expense of a poll; at present, each candidate put down a deposit.
the right honourable gentleman who has just addressed the House appears to me to have raised a difficulty which is, in fact, no difficulty at all, and which he himself pointed out the means of removing. The obvious remedy against relieving the sham candidate, who might have the show of hands, at the cost of the bonâ fide candidate, with a chance of election, was to require deposits from all. But I cannot help thinking that a great deal too much is said of the danger of sham candidates. The expense of the hustings, or the returning officer’s expenses, are not only a very small part of the expense of elections as they now are; but I am afraid bear a very small proportion to the expense which it is impossible to prevent. Though a great amount of expense, which, though not corrupt, is very noxious, ought to be, and can be, prevented, it is impossible to prevent, or defray out of a public fund, such expenses as those of advertisements, printing, public meetings to address the electors. The candidates of whom all seem so much afraid, and who have no chance of being elected, cannot present themselves to the electors without incurring a certain amount of these expenses, and if they cannot pay these it is obvious nobody need care for their candidature. The honourable and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) has said that if this sham candidature is kept up, the counties or the other candidates may be put to expense.1 But I have no doubt the general opinion would so strongly condemn this, that it would be hardly possible for anyone who cares for the opinion of the constituency, and wishes to make himself favourably known to them, to present himself in this capacity. It may happen, perhaps, or the public may be led to think, that under this horror of sham candidates there is concealed a greater fear of real candidates. This is, as was well observed by the honourable Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Beresford Hope),2 part of a much greater question, that of election expenses generally, with which, in all its parts, this House must necessarily have to deal; and I hope it will see the necessity of dealing with it soon. (Hear, hear.) But this particular expense, though a small part of the total cost of elections, is a part which it is really in the power of the House to control. It is a necessary part of the expenditure of the country, like any other portion of the public charges. If a foreigner asked how this country provided for that part of its expenditure which attends the election of its representatives, would he not be astonished to hear that it was done by a tax on candidates? (Hear, hear.) Of all sorts of taxation, was there ever such a partial and unjust specimen as that would be? But it is really a great deal worse. I can compare it to nothing short of requiring a Judge to pay large sums towards the cost of the administration of justice. It is true that you make men pay for commissions in the army, but you do not apply the price of these commissions towards defraying the expense of the army. Does this House, in any other case, arrange to defray any part of the necessary expenses of the country by a special tax on the individuals who carry on its service? The honourable Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. Beresford Hope), though he has fears of the consequences of the constitutional change we are making, which I by no means share, has expressed an anxiety in which, I think, we must all participate—a sense of the duty under which this House and the country now lie, to provide for educating, in the morality of politics, that large class who are now for the first time to be admitted to the electoral suffrage. What sort of a lesson are we giving them—what sort of instructions do we offer—when we lead them to believe that the great trust of legislating for this country is a thing to be paid for, that it is worth while paying for it, and that men can be made to pay for it? What more natural than that they should think it might as well be paid for directly to those who confer it? The noble Lord who spoke earlier in the debate (Lord Hotham)3 seems to consider that the law of demand and supply should be left to regulate these matters, so that, in fact, those who are willing to pay money should have a clear field, and that the representation should be knocked down to the highest bidder. That is, perhaps, to a certain extent, done already (a laugh); but the House ought not to extend and perpetuate the practice. There is in this country a large and growing class of persons who have suddenly and rapidly acquired wealth, and to whom it is worth any sacrifice of money to obtain social position. The less they have to recommend them in any other respect—the less chance they have of obtaining a place in what is called good society—esteem, either by qualities useful or ornamental—the more sure they are to resort, if they can, to the only infallible and ready means of gaining their end, the obtaining a seat in this House. This is a growing evil which ought to be guarded against. (Hear.) I hope the Government will deal with this subject in all its parts, as it is certainly highly needful to do; but we have now an opportunity of dealing with one part which is entirely in our control, and which forms an element of the question we are now discussing. We can deal with that small part of election expenses which is an unavoidable part of the expense of governing the country, and which, though the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) said it would be extremely shabby to throw on the constituencies,4 I think it would be a monstrous deal more shabby to throw on the candidates. (Hear, hear, and a laugh.) When a man has no personal object of his own to gain by obtaining a seat in this House, it is not for the House to require that he should pay the expense which the country and the electors incur by his election: if he has any such object, we ought to do everything in our power, and to throw every obstacle in his way, to prevent him from obtaining it by money. Above all, it is our duty to show to the new electors, and that large portion of the old who, I am sorry to say, still need the lesson, that the business of election is a thing far removed from aught of buying and selling; that the business of a Member of this House is a laborious and onerous task, and when not sought from personal motives, one which it requires a high sense of public duty to undertake, and that the burthen, therefore, ought not to be increased by throwing any part of the expense on the candidate. aIf members, indeed, are not to be paid for undertaking the business of legislation, they certainly ought not to be made to pay for leave to govern the country.a (Cheers and laughter.) We ought, above all things, to show the electors that they are doing what we and the world consider disgraceful, if they put the candidate to any expense, and thus tempt him to use his seat for his personal advantage. (Hear.)
[Both the sub-amendment and the amendment were defeated.].
[1 ]Cols. 633–4.
[2 ]Cols. 630–1.
[3 ]Beaumont Hotham (1794–1870), an Irish peer, M.P. for the East Riding of Yorkshire, col. 632.
[4 ]Col. 635.
[a-a]+TT [in past tense]