5 NOVEMBER 1853, Page 12


Sin—The Reform Bill promised for next year will probably be followed by various ancillary measures, designing to effectuate the operation of the franchise so extended. The uncertainty attending the law, and anomalies as to the practice of Election Committees, will claim a remedy. The partiality of these tribunals has been and still is more than a bare assertion, though more strict legislation, concurring with an improved moral sense, have made these obliquities less apparent. The evil is regarded as ineradicable, except by transferring the trial of elections to some judicial body : such a breach upon the independence of Parliament would be too costly a cure for an ab- stract disorder. The evil is more than theoretical; but its results have been minimized by the very operation of party : Whig Committees could unseat six duly-elected Tories, while the Tories could avoid half-a-dozen pure Whig elections. The House did not suffer by this ill-discerning as to its consti- tuents; the burden fell upon the electors outside. Committees have been re. duced in their component number from fifteen to five, but have always counted odd numbers. This has facilitated their coming to a decision, and the decisions are often at variance with our sense of right and wrong. Now, when parties are sundering, and opinions are stripped of the names they used to wear, this abstract evil is become an actual injustice. A Com- mittee of five may contain scarcely two that think alike, yet their agree- merit may reflect each of their five prejudices rather than the evidence re- ceived. Take a step beyond the old rut, and the vehicle may move more evenly. A Committee of six would often report that they could come to no decision, and they would report truly. Not only would the warp of parti- sanship be exposed, but honest incompetency be confessed. Doubtful points would be reserved for such further examination as the Legislature should provide. The sufficiency of an Election Committee will never be actually tested until its members strike work, like the Preston operatives ; and this they will not willingly do, since their work is easy and pleasant. The ma- chinery must stop and be disjointed, before it can be serviceably repaired.