HC Deb 26 February 1813 vol 24 cc842-4
Mr. Barham

moved, That the Resolution of the House, of the 30th day of November last, "That in all cases of controverted elections for counties in England and Wales, the petitioners do by themselves or by their agents, within a convenient time to be appointed by the House, deliver to the sitting members or their agents, lists of the persons intended by the petitioners to be objected to, who voted for the sitting members; giving in the said lists, the several heads of objection, and distinguishing the same against the names of the voters excepted to; and that the sitting members do by themselves or by their agents, within the same time, deliver the like lists on their part to the petitioners or their agents," might be read; and the same being read: the hon. gentleman next moved, "That the hon. John Frederick Campbell, and the several freeholders, who have petitioned this House, complaining of the undue election and return of sir John Owen, bart. for the county of Pembroke, do, on or before Monday next, deliver to the said sir John Owen, or his agent or agents, lists of the persons intended by the petitioners to be objected to who voted for the said sir John Owen, giving in the said lists the several heads of objection, and distinguishing the same against the names of the voters excepted to; and that the said sir John Owen do, by himself or his agents, within the same time, deliver the like lists on his part to the said several petitioners, or to their agent or agents."

Sir J. Owen

objected in strong terms, to the hardships that would be imposed upon him, were the House to grant the motion. The standing order required that an application of this sort should be made by the petitioner within a convenient time. Now the motion was six weeks after the petition against his return was presented, and only three days before the time fixed for trying the election. It would be impossible for him to send down 200 miles into Pembrokeshire to procure such lists in time to be presented before the Committee.

Mr. Barham

contended, that it was not the fault of the petitioner, that delay had taken place: and, therefore he should not be precluded of availing himself from those standing regulations of the House, which were necessary to enable him to support his petition. He had no intention whatever of taking the hon. baronet by surprise; and, as a proof of it, his hon. friend the petitioner, would have no objection to postpone the consideration of the petition, that more time might be given for the mutual exchange of the lists in question.

Sir J. Owen

replied, that farther delay must necessarily be injurious to himself. The time for trying the petition had been fixed by the House, and of course, he had made all his arrangements to meet it.

Mr. Wynn

was of opinion that it would be highly improper to depart from the explicit resolution of an act of parliament.

The Speaker

observed, that it might perhaps be proper to put the House in possession of a decision of the last parliament, which seemed to bear strongly on the present question. It was a regulation of the House, that the sitting member and the petitioner should deliver in mutual lists of contested rotes, within a convenient time previous to trying the petition: and of that convenient time the House were to be judges. In the case of the Sussex election petition, decided in the last parliament, he recollected that the sitting member abandoned the defence of his seat, which was taken up by the freeholders in his interest. The trying of the petition was to take place on the 22nd of March, and on the 16th March an application was made by the petitioner, for an exchange of lists: but the House de- cided, that the interval between the 16th and 22d was not that convenient time for preparing the lists which the regulation contemplated. On this ground they refused the application.

Lord Castlereagh

said, the complainant knowing the nature of the complaint which he proposed to bring, had the advantage in the readiness of making out his list over the person to whom he was opposing himself, therefore he conceived that reasonable time should be given to make out the lists of voters, especially those who lived so very remote as Pembrokeshire. Three days notice was a period infinitely too short to procure the necessary information, and the motion was, therefore, improper.

Sir J. Newport

contended that in the case of Irish contested elections, there was often a mutual exchange of lists, even after the Committee was struck.

Mr. Lushington

thought that anomaly easily accounted for, because the disputed votes were investigated by a commission, sent over to Ireland for the express purpose.

Lord Kensington

urged, that justice would not be done, unless this exchange of lists took place. In the course of the election there had been a description of votes exhibited, than which nothing could be worse.

The Speaker

said, he must here beg to interrupt the noble lord, who must of course be aware, that such remarks ought to be abstained from, as tending to prejudice the minds of gentlemen, who might eventually sit in the Committee, on these very votes.

After some further discussion, a division took place, and Mr. Barham's motion was negatived by 117 against 79.