The Irish Secretary, Sir Michael Hicks-Beach,—who is certainly one of
the strongest members of the Government, made an ex- cellent speech on Major O'Gorman's Irish Municipal Franchise Bill, the intention of which was to assimilate municipal fran- chises in England and Ireland, on Wednesday. He did not deny that a more popular franchise was required in the Irish municipalities, but he denied that the effect of this Bill would be practically to give the municipal franchise to the same class as that which possesses it in England. For instance, in Limerick the occu- piers of houses of £4 rental and under were in 1872, 5,094, while the number over £4 was only 1,732. But in Gateshead, to which Limerick had been compared, the number of houses of a rental of £4 and under was 1,654 ; and above, 5,556. In Swansea, in 1866, the number of occupiers under £4 was 2,601, and above, 8,100; while in Cork the number of occupiers of houses under £4 was 6,732, and above it, 6,013. Hence the effect of giving the same municipal franchise in England and Ireland:would be very different. If the Bill were defeated,—as it was, by a majority of 28 (176 to 148),—he would promise a general inquiry into the system of local government in Ireland, with a view to its im- provement. But for the most part, Irish Members seemed to think that to claim the right to be worse than England, if they pleased, on like conditions, was much more important than to secure improvement of any sort.