20 APRIL 1867, Page 14


[To TILE EDITOR OF THE " SPECTATOR."] SIR,—I8 it too late to suggest that the Reform Bill now in pro- gress should remove a meaningless anomaly established by the Reform Act of 1852? Under the twentieth section of that Act leaseholders have a right to county votes, provided (1) that the property be of at least 101. annual value to the holder and be held for a term of sixty years, or of 501. value and held for twenty years ; and (2) that the lease be an original one. But if the lease be not from the freeholder, but an under-lease, the holder must occupy the property himself. Is there any ground in reason or convenience for this distinction? Its chief practical use seems to be to exclude from the franchise a few persons possessed of valuable property and to perplex Registration Courts with questions, not always simple, as to the difference between an under-lease and an assignment of an original lease. There is an intelligible principle in enacting that leaseholds shall be held for a considerable term, since otherwise they do not approach in value to freeholds ; and, moreover, leaseholders for short terms are obviously more in the power of their landlords. There was also a principle in allowing votes to none but freeholders, whereby only one person could be qualified by the same piece of land. But there is no principle in distinguishing between lease and under-lease. If the one is property, so is the other ; and the provision requiring actual occupation only tends towards strengthening landlords' influence. The intention doubtless was to prevent the creation of faggot votes by multiplying tenures of the same property ; but the yearly value requisite for a leasehold to give the franchise so much exceeds that for a freehold, that it could never pay to make faggot votes out of leasehold property.—I am, Sir, your obedient

servant, G.