24 APRIL 1880, Page 14



SIR, —Among the questions which will come before the new Parliament, one of the most important is the redistribution of seats. The irregularities of the present system are so great,. that few Liberals will doubt that the time has come to give it a thorough overhaul. Nobody advocates the equalisation of all constituencies according to the American plan, but it cannot be- denied that the present system, which gives equal representa- tion to some towns of 80,000 and some villages of 5,000, is most unfair. A Parliamentary paper was issued last year, from whiclb I have made the following calculations :— English Counties 11 Boroughs

Welsh Counties

9> Boroughs

Scotch Counties ,1 Boroughs Irish Counties Boroughs

•• • ••• ••• ••• ••• •••

Population to Each Member.

••• 65,526

••• 36,261 ••• 52,628 ••. 28,445 ••• 58,534 • .• 56,899 ••. 71,032 ... 23,415 ... .••

• • •


Assessments to Each Member.


••• 869,260 637,643 370,220, 8

21:2837- 1,132,837 363,688

• • •

... 290,331

The Universities have been left out of this computation. It is curi- ous, by the way, to observe how faithfully the seats of learning. cling to the stupid party ; out of nine University seats, seven- return Conservatives, and only one out of the seven was thought worth contesting by a Liberal.

The first point which strikes one in looking over the table is the preponderance of county population to Members in each division of the Kingdom ; the second, the great difference- between Scotch and Irish borough representation. Whether the Act of Union with Ireland would be a bar to any withdrawal. of Members, is a question for statesmen to consider ; but it must be obvious that all such arrangements must be subject to modi- fications to suit the changes which time may bring about.. But

at is among the separate constituencies that the discrepancies are greatest. The county representation is fair enough, except in Ireland, where all counties, large and small, are put upon the same level. But the town representation can only be char- acterised by that favourite word of Euclid, "absurd." There are forty-three towns, of under 7,000 inhabitants each, returning forty-three Members. Their joint population is 256,111, rather less than Chelsea or Dublin, which return two Members each. Farther illustration would be thrown away.

Perhaps a rough-and-ready rule would be as follows :—All towns under 7,000 to he disfranchised. All towns under 25,000 to return one Member only ; those from 25,000 to 100,000 to have two Members ; from 100,000 to 200,000, three Members ; and towns of over• 200,000, of which there will probably be ten after the next Census, to be divided, like populous counties, into districts returning two Members each. There seems to be no sufficient reason why eleven English counties, with populations averaging under 400,000, should return six Members each, while Liverpool, Glasgow, and Birmingham, with an equal or greater average population, should return only three each.

I have no doubt that many persons will struggle for the small towns, and bring forth excellent reasons why they should retain their Members. But many of them are well known to. be nests of corruption, others are swayed by family and local interests of no value to the nation at large, and it is obviously inconsistent with fair-play that they should be allowed to retain such exceptional privileges.—I On, Sir, &c., H.