« AnteriorContinua »
always done under the supposition
« Resolved_That the Commons that the application would appear in House of Parliament, informed by his the act of appropriation; and thus, Majesty's message of the intended
before the close of the session, be dissolution of Parliament, have, in ! brought under the consideration of these resolutions, attempteil to appro
both Houses of Parliament. A reso. priate money to be paid for services lution for supply, voted by the House subsequent to the dissolution, which of Commons, if not followed up by can only legally be effected by an Act an act of appropriation, was, in fact, of Parliament appropriating the suponly so much waste paper. But the plies voted; and that they have furpresent was a very peculiar case ; for ther, in a most unprecedented manthis and the other House of Parlia- ner, assumed the power of providing ment had been informed that a disso- for, and authorising the payment of, lution was about to take place. The certain pensions and annuities, subresolution was adopted in one House sequent to the dissolution of Parliaof Commons, and the appropriation ment, which by law are declared to was to stand over to another Parlia. be at an end.
ment. The vote was not for services • Resolved-That under these cir! that might be expected to come under cumstances, we feel it our duty to de
the cognizance of Parliament in the clare, that though we regard these regular course of business, but for proceedings as derogatory to the pripayments which were to cease on the vileges of this House and of Parliademise of the King. Among these ment, yet we are induced, by a sense payments were several pensions and of the state in which public business annuities, one of which was 35,0001. is now placed, to forbear from any a-year to the Princess of Wales ; but immediate proceedings, and to dethe resolutions bore that these sums clare that we will concur in indemshould be paid to the Prince Regent nifying those who may pay money, bimself, although they were granted or otherwise act under these resolu. for other persons. He complained tions, which we must nevertheless that the other House of Parliament, deprecate, as threatening the subverknowing that those annuities were to sion of the best and wisest principles expire on the demise of the Crown, of the constitution of our country.” thought fit to say, on its own autho- Their Lordships would see, that in rity, that they should be continued. proposing these resolutions it was by The message requested them to adopt no means his wish to embarrass in any the necessary measures for expedi- degree the measures of Government, ting the public services. The House but merely to enter a protest against of Commons certainly took the quickthe proceeding which had taken
place est mode of doing this ; but in accom- being hereafter drawn into precedent. plishing their purpose they had broken He concluded by moving the resoluthroughevery rule in proceeding to do tions. that by a resolution which could only The Earl of Liverpool was certainlegally be done by Act of Parliament. ly ready to admit, that the resolutions
The noble lord finally read three moved by the noble earl were conresolutions, arising out of his views sistent with the description he had on this subject. The first merely given of them in the conclusion of enumerated the money votes which his speech. They were well drawn had been passed by the Lower House. up, as to his view of offering no ob
struction to the progress of public that, after the first resolution, words business ; but, at the same time, they should be inserted, stating in effect contained a censureon theother House that this House was induced, in conof Parliament, which, before their sequence of the state of public busiLordships could admit, would induce ness, to acquiesce in the payments them to pause, and consider whether voted by the House of Commons, any thing had been done by thatHouse, though no act of appropriation had which was not fully warranted by been preferred, or had come before precedent and practice. There was an them. important distinction between grant- Some fresh observations were staing money, and appropriating it when ted by the Marquis of Lansdowne, raised; but into this distinction the who considered their present situanoble earl had not entered. No mo- tion as one of the evils arising from ney, either in the shape of a tax oravo- the gross act of inadvertency, to call luntary contribution, could be granted it by no worse name, of which miexcept by an Act of Parliament; but nisters had been guilty, in calling in cases of supply the practice of Par- upon Parliament to deliberate on its liament was to be very liberal. No- own dissolution. The Earl of Dothing was more common than to grant nouglimore, however, declared himfor specific services, sums from money self satisfied with Lord Liverpool's already voted. If the noble earlextend amendments, which were agreed to ed his objection so far as to say, that without a division. no money ought to be granted with- The only other measure which exout an Act of Parliament, that might cited much interest in this conclube a matter of consideration, though ding portion of the session, lay in the the practice was otherwise; but if penal steps proposed against the bomoney were to be applied in the usual roughs convicted of bribery-Barnway, he could see no real practical staple, Grampound, Penryn, and Cadifference, whether the appropriation melford. The lead in this affair was was sanctioned by an Act passed in this taken by Lord John Russel, who obor in the next Parliament. What was served, that as it was intended to take the nature of the resolution complain care that the civil list, and several ed of? It was not raising money, but other matters, should not receive any making it lawful to issue, out of mo- detriment from the dissolution of Para ney already voted, sums for certain liament, he hoped that the House services until Parliament should open. would be equally anxious to protect This was not levying money on the their own privileges, by directing that subject, and in that lay the chief dis- new writs for members to serve for tinction. At the same time he was certain boroughs in the ensuing Par. not unwilling to meet any fair propo- liament should not be issued. For sition on the subject, for removing the this proceeding a precedent was to be scruples of the noble earl, if he gave up found in an Act of the 15th of George parts of the resolution which could not III., cap. 30, which related to the seriously be intended to be pressed. borough of Shaftesbury. That Act set Before their Lordships could agree to forth, “that there was gross and noresolutions censuring theother House, torious corruption practised in the they must be assured that there had election of members for that borough been a departure from the usual
that the House had, from time to tice, but no such thing had been time, ordered the issuing of a new shewn. Ile would therefore propose, writ to be suspended-and, as a pro
rogation was about to take place, it election had taken place, and no corwas enacted that the writ should not ruption, in the course of that election, be issued, until after that prorogation was proved against those boroughs, had expired." He proposed to extend they might continue as corrupt as this principle to the dissolution of ever. But they would take very good Parliament. There evidently was con- care, on such an occasion, to keep siderable analogy between the two their corruption completely out of cases; and it had been held, that, sight. where an impeachment was prose- When, however, on the 21st Febcuting, a dissolution of Parliament ruary, the second reading of the bill did not affect the proceeding more was moved, it was opposed even by than a prorogation.
several whig members. Mr Calcraft Lord Castlereagh, without object- could not give it his support, because ing to the principle of the Bill, sug- he thought it would be something gested some difficulties which would like imposing upon the country, to occur in its passage through the hold out to it any expectation that Houses. He had traced the progress the House of Commons was in earof the Shaftsbury bill through the nest. It was too much to expect that House of Lords, and he found that a the House of Lords would not throw message was sent to the House of out the bill for withholding the writ Commons, requiring that all the in- in four cases, when in regard to one formation which had been laid before only, Barnstaple, it had any informathe House, and which induced the tion or evidence before it. With reHouse to pass the bill, should be sub- gard to Grampound, Penryn, or Ca. mitted to their Lordships. On the melford, it had not a tittle of inforconsideration of the evidence in that mation. An address to the throne, case, the bill was agreed to. Now, praying that writs might not be di. the proceedings of the Committee on rected to the boroughs enumerated, the Grampound election were more was the true parliamentary course of grave and serious than those connecto proceeding. To this Mr Wynn reed with the Shaftsbury case ; and plied: If the House should address the they must be aware, that if they sent Throne for such a purpose, it would be this bill up to the other House, their a recognition of the right of the Crown Lordships would demand all the in- at any time to suspend the sending formation on which it was founded. of writs to any county or borough.
Mr Wynn, however, strongly sup- Mr Marryat argued : As to the danported the bill, observing, The noble ger of allowing the writs to be re-dilord (Castlereagh) said he would con. rected to places like Penryn or Casider this question, if it came before melford, he could not discover any : a new Parliament, whether an elec- half the voters of Grampound were tion of members did or did not take now suffering in gaol, and two memplace in these boroughs, as exactly in bers were also enduring the heavy its present state, and that Parliament, punishment of the law for corrupt under these circumstances, might still practices. Surely, then, they would exercise the same plenitude of power now, if ever, take warning, and not as it now could with respect to them; repeat their offences: and if he were but the noble lord must feel how called upon to point out boroughs in strong the argument would be against the kingdom where the elective fransuch a proceeding : after a general chise would be exercised with the
VOL. XIII. PART 1.
greatest purity, he should point out tution of the country, against the prithe very places enumerated in the bill vileges of that House, but it could before the House.
not be said to be extremely rare. Mr Brougham, considering the ex- Mr Scarlett, entertaining, as he treme importance of such a measure was well known to entertain, the as the disfranchisement of four bo- highest respect for his learned friend's roughs, thought thatitought to be de- opinion, could not agree with him in liberated upon more calmly, and upon his view of this question. The offuller evidence. It might be right, fence was one, not only against moor it might be wrong, to disfranchise, rality and law, but it was a corrupwhen they should be more prepared, tion of the very source of all that was and when evidence respecting the dear to us as our rights and privileges. four boroughs should be before them; Sir James Mackintosh also argued but when they were not prepared for for the bill, remarking, If they callthe disfranchisement, he asked, was ed upon the Lords to unite with them it right to deprive those boroughs at in disfranchising those boroughs, the dissolution, pro hac vice, of their without hearing and examining evielective franchise? He had no such dence for themselves, they would be sanguine expectations as Mr Marryat guilty of an invasion of their constias to the amendment of the offending tutional liberties. But they did not boroughs. At the same time, in jus- so by this bill ; they only called upon tice to his own feelings, and to his the other branches of the legislature observation of feelings out of doors, to give faith and credit to them, that as well as in that House, he would the investigation, in the state it was say, that some exertion of the ele- now before them, would afford suffimency of the House ought to be ex- ciently strong evidence, in their opitended to a person whose punishment nion, to justify the suspension of writs, might be just, but was not very len till final measures could be deliberately nient. Two years' imprisonment at adopted. their instance was not a lenient pu- The measure not being opposed by nishment upon one of their mem- Lord Castlereagh, who admitted that bers. Oh, he was not a member—he there was a prima facie case against meant then Sir Manasseh Lopez. these boroughs, passed through the With this person he had had no ac- House of Commons without a vote. quaintance, he knew not his face, and When, however, it appeared in the he was not disposed to say he had Lords, a petition was presented from not been guilty of corruption; but, one of the boroughs to be heard by however culpable he might have been, counsel against it. As the delay atand however correct his conviction, tending such an arrangement would their separating without doing some- be fatal to a bill which must pass im. thing to shew that there was on their mediately or never, Lord Carnarvon part no impediment to the extension strongly opposed it: If their Lordof royal clemency, he thought would ships did not pass the bill, their debe too hard and too severe. He was cision would be a condemnation of 68 years of age. Two years' impri- the practice of suspending writs, sonment was a most severe punish- which had been followed by the ment upon such a person for an of- House of Commons for half a cenfence, which he would not palliate- tury. No injustice would be done to it was an offence, grave and serious, the electors of these boroughs by passagainst morality, against the consti- ing the bill. They would only continue until the meeting of Parliament fore the House was very different. in the same situation in which the It was whether the House should House of Commons had placed them, disfranchise a borough not proved to and in which, had it not been for the be corrupt, or suspend its rights withdissolution, they must have remained out inquiry and without evidence. until the decision of the great ques. The case of Shaftsbury was not at all tion at issue took place. It was im- analogous to what was now proposed possible to look back upon the pro- to be done. The House of Commons ceedings of the House of Commons in that case suspended the writ duwithout feeling the warmest appro- ring a prorogation. The House of bation of the measures taken by that Commons might be right or wrong, House to extirpate a system of cor- and their Lordships should not surruption which disgraced the repre- render their right of inquiry. sentation of the country. A young
The Lord Chancellor argued with nobleman, actuated by those princi- equal foree against a bill, which reples which distinguished his family, quired their Lordships' consent to a and did honour to the name of Rus- measure that would suspend the rights sell, had been active in his endeavours of the boroughs in question, without to remove this stain from the consti- inquiry or evidence. Counsel ought tution. He brought in a bill to trans- to be heard, and the House ought not fer the franchise of one of these to agree to the bill without investi. convicted boroughs to Leeds. When gation. Their Lordships had been this was proposed, one minister of called upon to consult the feelings the Crown hailed the measure with and interests of the public by passing his approbation, and the other minis- this measure ; but they would best ters in the House of Commons gave consult their interests by attending the bill their silent assent. What then to the claims of justice. If they did must be the feelings of the country justice to their country, their country when it should appear that the mi- would ultimately do justice to them. nisters of the Crown in the House of The House of Commons did not deLords put their chilling negative oncide on the question of depriving a the measure? Were it to happen that single member of his seat without exall the ministers of the Crown in the amining evidence upon oath; but here Commons supported the present bill, boroughs were to be disfranchised (or and that all the ministers in the at least were to have their rights susHouse of Lords opposed it, the con- pended) without any evidence at all. trast would be singular. It was only Evidence could not now be heard at proposed to hold these boroughs to their Lordships' bar; but he would bail for a period not exceeding 53 not consent to suspend the rights of days.
the subject on any thing short of eviLord Liverpool expressed an opi- dence upon oath. nion equally decided on the opposite
The determination to hear counsel side. If a case of corrupt practices rendered it, as the Chancellor admitwas made out against a particular bo- ted, impossible to go through with rough, he thought it would constitute the bill during this session ; so that, a fair subject of inquiry in Parlia- on the motion of Lord Lauderdale, it ment how it ought to be dealt with, was disposed of by an adjournment and whether it ought not to be de- of a fortnight. prived of privileges which it had On the 28th February, Parliament abused. But the question now be. was dissolved by commission, in con