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Mr. Roebuck was to proceed: how breach of the privileges of this was he to summon his witnesses ? House?” was he to make them criminate If an Act of Parliament were themselves, and how was he to Mr. Roebuck's object, he might at compel Members to answer? The once take public notoriety as a House had not scrupled to send ground for it, without waiting for witnesses into custody, but would an investigation, and Lord Palit send its own Members ?
merston would vote for such a bill Mr. R. Yorke quoted the lan as that of Lord John Russell in guage of Sir Robert Peel; who 1841, or for rendering the inquiry had said, that bribery prevailed in into bribery imperative on Election large towns, and in the Metropoli. Committees. But to pick out half tan Boroughs, as an argument for a dozen cases from the herd of the investigation.
guilty, and hold them up for obViscount Palmerston taunted loquy, would be unjust. If any. Ministers for their silence; but, thing, however, could make Lord said that he could not support the Palmerston support the Ballot, motion, for he did not perceive the which he opposed on principle as illegality of the alleged compro- tending to aggravate every existing mises ; they could not be a breach abuse-it would be the refusal of of statute law, because the Act con Government to support a remedy stituting Election Committees ex for the evil. pressly contemplated the with Sir Robert Peel was not aware drawal of petitions. And were that the question was of that party they á breach of privilege? “A kind which required at an early and B are returned for a particular stage the declaration of the Miplace ; C and D petition, and nister as to the course which he charge bribery. A and B are told should pursue. He would vote when their case is examined by for it upon its merits, without retheir legal advisers, that though ference to the course which Lord they are guiltless, yet that their Palmerston might take ; and if the agents have abused their confi- latter contemplated a retreat from dence, and that matters can be his opinions on the subject of the brought forward which, if sub- Ballot, he must rely on some better stantiated, will affect their seats. justification than the attempt to The parties so advised naturally make the present Ministers responavoid the annoyance and expense sible for his inconsistency. He of a trial which must end in their certainly did regret that Lord John defeat. The other party are perhaps Russell's Bill for the prevention of equally uncertain as to the result, bribery, which he supported, was though they hope for success, and not rendered more effective, espethey may be willing to come to cially on the eve of a general electhat sort of compromise which is tion. With respect to Mr. Roecommon in all our courts where civil buck's motion, he objected to its rights are tried. The compromise terms, that they afforded no record takes place, another election is of the ground of inquiry. The perhaps the consequence, and the fitness of a compromise must den voters have again to make their pend on the circumstances of each choice. What is there in this case; some might be made without statement which can be called a involving any just ground of cri
minality; but, on the other hand, Mr. Plumptre, all supported inall knew that very different com quiry, on the ground that the chapromises might be made. In the racter of the House was involved. case of a charge against Mr. O'Con Lord Stanley explained at some nell, of a corrupt transaction with length, that the inquiry was to be Mr. Raphael respecting the Carlow directed to certain compromises, election, he had supported the mo- and that it must be supported in tion for inquiry; and if Mr. Roe- each case by the merits of the buek would put his charge in such charge ; but that some of those a shape, as to make out a primâ compromises did not appear to be facie case for inquiry, he would otherwise than perfectly legitituke a course similar to that he mate ; and that in order to make took in the Carlow case.
out a case it would be necessary to Lord John Russell observed, present the allegations in a distinct that undoubtedly it was a conse form. He thought that the petiquence of the Grenville Act, that tions which Mr. Roebuck had prethe question of a seat in the House sented from Nottingham and was treated like a question of pro Reading would have formed a bet. perty: persons who had spent ter Parliamentary ground upon large sums in endeavouring to se which to proceed, and it would cure a seat, were called upon fur have been better, if Mr. Roebuck ther to spend large sums either to had asked the House specifically to prosecute a petition or defend the inquire into the allegations of those seat; and naturally they looked petitions. exclusively to the possession of the Mr. Shiel argued, that Mr. Roe. seat, without regard to public in- buck had not proposed the inquiry terest. They could not expect to merely to hold up to obloquy cercompel a person to establish a case tain individuals, but to point out for disfranchisement at a cost to the system of which all disaphis
. private means of 3,0001. or proved : if proofs were demanded 4,0001. He agreed that Mr. Roe to support allegations, let evidence buck's motion was too vague, but be taken. that inquiry ought to be had; but In his reply, Mr. Roebuck reit. the great benefit would be the erated the charges, and reminded enactment of a measure to prevent the House that he had declared these compromises; and if Sir himself ready to support them by Robert Peel would introduce such facts. a measure, he should have the “ First, there was the case of support of himself and his party. Nottingham, where a sum of
Sir Robert Peel pleaded the money had been actually paid pressure of public business, but he down; there was then the case of would support a bill if Lord John Reading, where a bond had been Russell, who had more leisure, given for the same purpose ; there would frame one.
was the case of Penryn, where the Mr. Hume insisted that Mr. only object was to get rid of the Roebuck had made out a case for investigation ; there was the case inquiry as to how certain indivi- of Harwich, where the same charge duals had found their way into the was made ; and there was the case House.
of Lewes, where he had put it to Mr. Lindsey, Mr. Munts, and his honourable and learned Friend
distinctly, not whether he was such compromise has been entered going to accept the Chiltern Hun- into, and whether such practices dreds, but whether the investiga- have been carried on in the said tion in respect to that borough was towns." not withdrawn from the Com Mr. J. Neeld proposed to omit mittee."
Lewes, where there was no proof He called to Mr. Wynn's recol. of a compromise ; and Mr. Charles lection a precedent :—He found Buller proposed to include Bridthat on the 13th of February 1700, port. But neither suggestion was “The House having been informed acceded to, Sir Robert Peel obthat Samuel Shepperd, Esq., a serving in the latter case, that Member of this House, has been such inquiries ought not to be inguilty of bribery in several corpo- stituted without notice. Evenrations, in order to procure Mem- tually Mr. Roebuck's amended bers to be elected into this Parlia. motion was put and agreed to, ment; and the said Samuel Shep- without opposition. perd, Esq., having been heard in He afterwards gave notice of his place, and having assured the his intention to introduce a Bill of House of his innocence ; resolved indemnity for witnesses, who might that the charge be heard at the be implicated by the proceedings bar.” The right honourable Gen- of the Committee of Inquiry. tleman was aware of the distinc Lord John Russell, at the same tion between oral and written time, gave notice of his intention charges, in that House—that an to bring in a Bill to prevent Brihonourable Member in his place bery at Elections. might make an oral charge: he Some conversation ensuing on had done so ; it was not his busi- the composition of the Committee, ness to have it taken down; he had which Sir Robert Peel observed made the charge, and had simply ought to be free from all suspicion moved for a Committee of inquiry; of partizanship in its members, and he contended that that was Mr. T. Duncombe gave notice of a precisely within the regular pro- motion to secure that object by a test ceedings of the House.
-he should move : -" That each However, he consented to re Member appointed to serve on the model his motion, and after some Select Committee on Compromises discussion it finally stood thus : of Election Petitions, shall subscribe “ The House, having been informed the following declaration in the by an honourable Member that he presence of Mr. Speaker: 'I do has heard and believes, that in the solemnly declare, that I never, cases of the election-petitions pre- directly or indirectly, have been sented from Reading, Nottingham, guilty by myself or my agents, Harwich, Lewes, and Falmouth, a 'of any act of bribery or corrupcertain corrupt compromise hastion in procuring a seat in Parliabeen entered into for the purpose ment; that I have never paid, or of avoiding an investigation into promised to pay, or sanctioned the the gross bribery alleged to have payment of, any sum or sums of been practised at the elections in money beyond the legal expenses the said towns, resolve, that a Se of my last or any previous eleclect Committee be appointed for tion; nor have I at any time conthe purpose of inquiring whether nived at, been privy to, or assisted
in, any corrupt practice for the rather with a view to expose the purpose of procuring the return of evils of a system, than by any any Member or Members to serve direct expression of their own in Parliament."
opinion to inculpate individuals, or Mr. Duncombe's motion, after directly to lay the foundation for a debate of considerable length, any legislative enactment with rewas rejected. The Committee spect to the particular boroughs in afterwards nominated on the mo- question ; and they consider that tion of Mr. Roebuck, consisted of they are borne out in this opinion Mr. Bramston, Mr. W. Miles, Sir by the nature of the Debates in W. Heathcote, Honourable W. S. the House upon the motion for the Lascelles, Sir W. Somerville, Mr. appointment of the Committee, Hawes, Mr. Strutt, Lord Worsley, and upon several subsequent occaand Mr. Roebuck.
A Bill was
sions. passed to give indemnity to the “ In this view of their duty, the witnesses who might criminate Committee called before them the themselves by their evidence, and parties immediately concerned in the investigation proceeded with these transactions ; and the Comclosed doors, the Committee having mittee feel bound, in justice to resolved that the ends of the in- those parties, to state, that their quiry would be best promoted by willingness to appear, with few the exclusion of all persons except exceptions, and the full and frank those who were under examination disclosures made by them, have as witnesses. At length, at the tended greatly to facilitate the latter part of July, the Report of proceedings of your Committee ; the Committee was presented to and they have consequently been the House. This document, which enabled to obtain, from the most was briefly drawn up, and couched authentic sources, evidence relative in dispassionate and temperate to practices, which, although suplanguage, commenced by stating posed to have existed, have never the objects which the Committee been before so clearly and unqueshad in view in prosecuting the in- tionably brought to light." vestigation for which they had After little more preface, the been appointed.
Report proceeded to give a detailed “They conceive that the inquiry account of the arrangements which was not one of a judicial character; had been entered into with respect that they were not called upon to to those boroughs to which their decide upon the legality or illega- inquiries had been directed. Be. lity of the proceedings of any ginning with Harwich, they found party, or upon the guilt or inno- that a compromise had been efcence of the transactions in which fected, by the terms of which, the any of the parties implicated were petition presented against the reinvolved, in connection with the turn of both the sitting Members alleged compromises and bribery was to be withdrawn-one of the practised in the boroughs compre- sitting Members engaging to retire hended in the order of reference. by accepting the Chiltern Hun
“They understand their duty to dreds within a limited time, and have been, to elicit and lay before one of the parties to the petition, the House, faithfully and clearly, a defeated candidate at the last all the facts of the several cases, election, being allowed to stand for
the borough, and guaranteed by a both sides Le withdrawn. In the