HC Deb 16 July 1807 vol 9 cc830-1
Mr. Jeffery ,

pursuant to notice, rose to call the attention of the house to a circumstance, which was not only a violation of law, but a high breach of the privileges of that house. On the 29th of April, the writs were issued, as he understood, for the general election, and amogst the other writs, one for the election of Burgesses to serve in parliament for the town and county of the town of Poole. He had been informed by the messenger of the great seal, that this writ had been delivered immediately by him to Mr. Jonathan Brundrett, chief clerk to Mr. Lowten, in the Temple, to be sent to the sheriff of Poole. When he called upon Mr. Lowten, to enquire whether the writ had been sent, he was informed, that it had been sent three hours before; and on asking to whom the writ had been sent, he received a rude answer declining to state to whom, and accompanied with an observation, that it had been sent down in opposition to himself. It was not till the 20th of May that the sheriff gaveno tice, that the election would be held on the 25th of May, and in consequence, sir Richard Bickerton, one of the lords of the admiralty, and himself, who had gone down to Poole when the writs were issued, expecting that the election would come on immediately, with several of the electors of that city, were detained there three weeks to their great inconvenience. He should not detain the house by dwelling upon the motives of the conduct of which he complained, but should only state, that as parties ran high in the town, and the numbers were nearly balanced, the delay had been resorted to, in order to give an opportunity to one person, who would not have been of age to vote till the 22d of May, time to attain the proper age to vote. The consequence was a special return with respect to the two other candidates; he having been the only person actually returned. He should not trouble the house farther at present, on the subject, than by moving, that Mr. Stainforth, messenger of the great seal, who was attending in the lobby, should be called to the bar, to be examined relative to the business.

Mr. Creevey

wished to know what breach of privilege the hon. member complained of.

The Speaker

said, it was his duty to answer that question. Undoubtedly, any person who detained a writ issued for the election of a member of that house, was guilty of a high crime and misdemeanour, the highest which that house knew, because such conduct had the effect of keeping the representatives of the people,who ought to be in the house, for the time, out of it.

Mr. Stainforth

was then brought to the bar, and stated, that he had received the writ for Poole a little after twelve o'clock, on the 30th of April, and delivered it within less than two hours after to Mr. Brundrett, chief clerk of Mr. Lowten, for the purpose of being forwarded with all possible expedition to the sheriff of Poole. Mr. Stainforth then withdrew, and Mr. T. Lowten and Mr. Jonathan Brundrett were ordered to attend the house to-morrow.

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