§ Lord Morpeth rose and desired the clerk to read the Speech which had been delivered by the Speaker at the bar of the House of Lords on the termination of the last session. The Speech having accordingly been read;
said:—In rising to submit to the House a proposition relative to part of the Speech made by the Speaker at the close of the last session of parliament, the House may be assured that I am not insensible to the imputation of presumption that in the opinion of some persons may attach upon my conduct, or blind to the various difficulties with which the subject is surrounded; among the foremost is the one, that he who has the honor of addressing you is himself an object of accusation. He has been arraigned for not bringing the subject before the consideration of the House at an earlier period of the session—but in then comparatively thin state of the House he did not think it consistent with his sense of the importance of the subject to submit it at that period to the consideration of parliament. Some rumour indeed has reached his ears, that a sort of permission was necessary before he might be allowed to make the present motion; but how it was to be obtained, or by whom extended, did not very satisfactorily appear, considering indeed the respectable quarter from which it is supposed to have proceeded, he must have been incorrectly informed.
But there are difficulties of another nature, and to my mind of a more important description; arising from a consideration of the high station which you, Sir, hold; of the manner in which for a long period you have discharged the duties of that high station; of the zeal, assiduity and ability which in the discharge of those duties you have constantly manifested. I might also add respect for those who have sent you here, for that university which you represent, for that college of which you are a distinguished 466 member, and of which from early recollection I shall always speak with deference and regard. But the combination of all these circumstances, the station which you fill, the manner in which you have filled it, the respectability of your constituents, all tend to give additional weight and importance to all that falls from your lips, and impose a serious duty upon those who cannot accede to the positions you have laid down, and to the course that you have pursued, to state as fearlessly and as distinctly as they are able the grounds of their opinion and the motives of their dissent. These very circumstances therefore plead my apology, and constitute my defence.
But great and important as the situation of the Speaker must always be held in this House, it must also be allowed to be completely under its controul and within its jurisdiction, and in language not now obsolete and antiquated, he is considered to be the servant of the House. As illustrations of this position I need only refer to the cases of 1640 and 1677; the first of which ended in a vote of disapprobation on the conduct of sir John Finch, the second in a question of adjournment on the conduct of sir Edward Seymour.
In describing the part of the speech to which I wish to call the attention of the House, it is almost unnecessary to specify the passages to which I am by no means inclined to offer a contradictory opinion—that part which points out hopes of some boundary being placed to the remorseless spirit of conquest: hopes infinitely more than realized by the exertions of our Allies, the efforts of revived and regenerated Europe, the union of energy and moderation that has terminated in those stupendous events which have stamped the independence of nations, and have assured, I trust for a considerable time, the repose of the civilized world. As little can I differ from that part which paints the splendid career of lord Wellington, whose whole military life in a word is one unvaried theme of panegyric. These passages, speaking as they do the recorded sense of parliament, can excite but one sentiment in the House. But I must quit these cheering and enlivening topics, and it is to remarks of another nature that I must now call the attention of the House. I must request the clerk to read the resolutions upon which the Catholic Bill of last session was founded, and that the preamble of the Bill itself. [The resolutions and preamble were 467 read at the table.] And now I beg leave to apply the commentary to the text that has just been read; "Other momentous changes have been proposed. Adhering however to those laws which have made the throne, the parliament, and government of this country fundamentally Protestant, we have not consented to allow that those who acknowledge a foreign jurisdiction should administer the powers and jurisdictions of this realm; willing nevertheless, and willing as I trust we always shall be, to allow the largest scope to religious toleration." Upon the passage I have just quoted, I shall offer this observation, which I have embodied into a proposition, which I shall have the honour of submitting to the House. "That it is contrary to parliamentary usage, and to the spirit of parliamentary proceeding, for the Speaker, unless by special direction of the House, to inform his Majesty, either at the bar of the House of Lords or elsewhere, of any proposal made to the House by any of its members, either in the way of Bill or Motion, or to acquaint the throne with any proceedings relative to such proposal until they shall be consented to by the House."
And first with regard to parliamentary usage, we must have recourse to precedents: the most authentic are necessarily those which are to be found in the Journals of this House; very few appear to have been preserved. I find the speeches of sir Spencer Compton, Speaker Onslow, sir John Cust, and sir Fletcher Norton. The speech of sir Spencer Compton in the year 1715, referring in terms of pointed attack and, animadversion upon the treaty of Utrecht, is strictly founded upon the proceedings and preceding addresses of the House.
The speech of Mr. Onslow in 1745, though taking an extensive range, and expressing strong opinions with regard to the situation of Europe, and the conduct of the war, arises out of measures that had met with the concurrence of the House. The speech of sir, John Cust is merely complimentary and refers to the King's marriage. Sir Fletcher Norton's speech, although producing a considerable difference of opinion as to the true exposition of the sense of the House of Commons, applied solely and entirely to the Bill that was then presented to the throne.
In the Journals of the House of Lords a much greater quantity will be found to exist, out the principal part consists of the speeches of sir Edward Turner in the be 468 ginning of Charles 2nd's reign. He indeed has contributed not only more than any other Speaker, but almost more than the collective number of the remaining whole. But in the mass, the variety, and luxuriancy of his oratory I cannot discover, although in times of considerable heat and contention, any reference to the conflicts and debates of that period. The same observation applies to the speeches inserted, to the year 1743; at which period they terminate in the Journals of the House of Lords: though occasionally in the reign of William 3d, the Speaker seems to have taken rather a wide view in observing upon the foreign and domestic relations of the country; but I find no reference to measures which had not met with the concurrence of the House.
If we apply to less authentic sources of information, we shall find a copious catalogue of the speeches of former Speakers; in the earlier periods of our parliamentary history we do not discover many remains of the oratory of those days; we hear indeed that sir John Tiptoft was in the habit of addressing Henry the 4th, and that, in the words of Mr. Prynne, the young speaker took much upon him, and that though by this conduct he did not forfeit the good opinion of his sovereign, the licence was afterwards repressed. During the reigns of the Princes of the House of Tudor the materials are more abundant, but upon that period on many accounts I should not be much inclined to dwell; though I should not wish to involve in a general censure the addresses of that time, for in the list of the Speakers of that day is to be found the name of sir Thomas Mere. But in the greater part whatever meanness could conceive, or flattery suggest, may be abundantly discovered. We find Henry 8th compared in wisdom to Solomon, in beauty to Absalom, in strength to Sampson, and then likened to that glorious luminary the Sun.
We find the same spirit exerted in complimenting queen Elizabeth, though more excusable in that instance. We hear her compared to a queen who made laws before the Deluge, then to Ceres, the whole ending in a fulsome panegyric on the reigning queen—but amidst all the affectation, pedantry and flattery that disgraced the compositions of that period, one principle remained inviolate, that of not communicating to the throne the debates of this House, a sanctuary, which even their licentious feet did not venture to penetrate, 469 a line of demarcation which these freebooters into the realms of science, of taste, and of wit, did not dare to transgress. But I should be guilty of injustice if I Ventured to censure all the Speaker of that period. I have before mentioned sir Thomas More. There is a Speaker in the reign of queen Elizabeth who seems to have entertained no inaccurate idea of the language that the Speaker might employ. These are the words that Mr. Onslow in the 9th of queen Elizabeth is reported to have used, "Again, when I consider my office as Speaker, it is no great matter; being but a mouth to utter things appointed to me to speak unto you, and not otherwise, which consisteth only in speaking, and not in any other knowledge; whereby I gather how it is necessary I speak plainly and simply according to the truth reposed in me." And again, "Thus it is necessary they elect a plain speaker, fit for the plain matter, and, therefore, well provided to have such a one as should use plain words, and not either so fine that they cannot be understood, or else so elegant that they miss the cushion."—We find the same doctrine maintained by Mr. Powle. "The Speaker is called the mouth and tongue of the House which speaks the conception of the mind; not that he is to make those conceptions, but pronounce what he has in command from the House. Lenthall, the Speaker, told the King, that he had neither tongue, eyes nor ears, but what the House gave him." Such was the language of Mr. Powle in the debate upon the conduct of sir Edward Seymour in 1677. He was not at that time in the chair; but was afterwards raised to the highest honor ever I believe conferred upon a commoner, that of being Speaker of the Convention Parliament in 1688; and the doctrines that he maintained as an individual member he did not probably belie in the exercise of his new authority.
There are only two instances which appear to be any deviations from the general rule, but they are so slight as to be scarcely deserving of notice. Sir Harbottle Grimstone, soon after the Restoration, in an address to the throne, says, that the Commons agreed to a Bill after some debate, and that is the only instance—I have found in which the word debate is mentioned; and it is to be observed, that in the copy of his speech in the Journals of the House of Lord that expression is not employed. The other case is that of sir John Trevor in the 1st of James 2d, where he says that he 470 brings no Bill, but that the House relies upon the assurance of his Majesty. The speeches of Mr. Onslow in the coarse of the last century take an extensive view of the political situation of the country, but all his observations seem to arise out of acts done and determined upon by the House. But precedents no doubt may exist which have eluded my research; perhaps the ghost of some departed speech may be evoked from its charnel-house of mouldering, dusty, and forgotten papers, to rear its ambiguous form within the walls of this House; but however awed by the supernatural appearance, I shall appeal from the dead to the living, from those that have long slumbered in silence and obscurity to those that have ventured to visit the face of day, and court the light of heaven, those that have not dreaded exposure, and shrunk from publication. It would however be very difficult to find a case precisely analogous. The resolutions passed the House, the principle of the Bill was established in the second reading, the application of the principle in an important point was negatived by a small majority in the committee: in this state of things, the Bill still in existence at the very time that you, Sir, addressed the throne, the principle carried, the application of it negatived, the throne is informed, by what purports to be the collective voice of the House of Commons, that changes of great importance have been proposed, that the House however has not consented to allow persons of a particular class to administer the powers and jurisdictions of this realm.
But even if a precedent were found exactly in point, I should ask if this be a case upon which precedents alone must absolutely decide—is a privilege lost and forfeited by occasional infraction, especially in cases where the attention of the House has not been specifically directed to the object? In what a situation should we now stand, and what a miserable portion of our privileges would now remain, if such doctrines were valid and maintainable.
If I should venture to make any more detailed observations upon this part of the speech, it is not with the design of introducing incidentally and obliquely the great question to the Roman Catholics; that must stand or fall by its own merits; it is sufficiently large and important to vindicate to itself a separate discussion. It is solely with the view of endeavouring to point out the mischiefs that may flow from the adoption of such a precedent— 471 "Momentous changes have been proposed" How? by a message from the throne which required an answer from this House?—No. By whom proposed? By one of your own members; (upon the talents, the services, the virtues of that member, in this view of the subject I am constrained not to dwell) in the reliance at least that if he failed in his great effort, the failure would not be communicated to the throne by any self-constituted authority in this House.—Impelled by what motive, and proposed at whose desire? by the desire, the earnest desire of the Roman Catholics of England and Ireland, in the reliance that if their petitions failed in attaining the object for which they had sprayed for so long a period, the refusal of that prayer would not be accompanied by any gratuitous comments in an unauthorized notification to the throne.—But what are these momentous changes? We must infer them, I conclude, from the laws to which we are said to adhere. These are the laws that have rendered the throne, the parliament, and the government of his country fundamentally Protestant. Whatever relaxation may have been intended as, to admission of Roman Catholics into parliament, and into certain offices of the state, how was the throne to be affected? I must leave the resolutions and the preamble of the Bill which have been lately read, to remove that doubt, and repel that accusation.
"Those who acknowledge a foreign jurisdiction;" and here I think the Roman Catholics at have some reason to complain. We have heard of Papists and of Romanists, we are now more accustomed to the more Courteous term of Roman Catholics, but this is a new and rather a vague description: but is it perfectly harmless? It is not confined to jurisdiction in spirituals, which would be universally allowed. I find no such limitation; in these days of calumny and invective it might have been well to have abstained from any mode of expression which, in the instance of persons smarting under the cruelty of unmerited imputation, might have, the appearance of implying reproach and insinuating suspicion. Then follows a healing sentence respecting toleration and to this I feel no Particular objection, except that I have observed such sentiments as constant ingredients in every speech most decidedly hostile to the claims of the Roman Catholics and without canvassing the particular properties of this species of toleration, I would beg 472 leave to quote the observation of a very learned and very eminent divine of the church of England, in speaking of toleration with respect to the dissenters, but which I should wish to extend more widely. "There were indeed times when liberal sentiments on toleration could not be maintained without danger; but in the age in which we live, whatever parade, or even condescension and good will, may attend their publication, they are not likely to inspire much either of admiration or gratitude; the profession of any opinion will never be received with applause, when its opposite can scarce be avowed without indignation or contempt."
But it is not to the mere wording of the passage that I should wish to call the critical attention of the House; it is to the danger of the precedent, it is the unfeigned apprehension I entertain that if this course of proceeding be established as a precedent, a future Speaker may think himself justified in availing himself of the occasion of a rejected measure to render it the vehicle of censorious remark, perhaps of sarcastic animadversion. He may not consider himself confined within the terms employed in the Bill; he may affix new denominations to the petitioners, and by the new denominations he may convey hostility and impute blame. He may select a time at which the petitioners, after a long series of protracted disappointment, may have at length indulged a hope of final success, and have anticipated the dawn of a brighter day: in the extinction of those hopes he may add mortification to disappointment, and may instil suspicion when he announces defeat; he may possibly, in the event of a measure unpopular with a considerable number of persons in this country, increase, if he does not raise, the clamour of the people; in the instance of a measure that may be unpalatable to the ruling administration of the day, he may indulge in observation not unacceptable in that quarter; or indeed by some dexterous combination of circumstances, he may by the same remark accomplish the double object.
It is therefore to guard against dangers that menace alike the freedom of debate, and the right of petitioning, that I should earnestly recommend an adherence to the principle of not communication to the throne the debates of this House; a principle inherent in the very essence of a free constitution, of which we can traces the first rudiments in times of very remote antiquity, 473 though nearly obliterated under the powerful rule of the princes of the Norman line, when military service and enterprise were the only titles to respect and consideration. But when upon a disputed succession the Commons began to vindicate their share in the legislature of their country, we find that Henry the 4th thought it expedient of conciliate as well as govern his people. Of this a memorable instance is to be found in the Rolls of Parliament in the 2nd of that King, which is thus translated: "Because it might happen that some of the Commons, to please the King or advance themselves, might related some things before they were determined, discussed, or accorded to by the Commons, it might please the king to allow no such person to relate such matters, or give any credence to such a party." To which the king answers, "That the Commons should have deliberation to treat of all matters among themselves, in order to bring them to a good end and conclusion for the advantage and honour of his kingdom, and he would not hear such a person on give any credence to him, before such matters were communicated to the king by the advice and assent of all the Commons according to their petition." And in the 9th of the same king is the following entry in the Rolls, "That in all future parliaments it should be lawful as well to the Lords by themselves, as to the Commons by themselves, to debate of all matters relating to the realm, and of the means to redness them, without disclosing the same to the king before a determination made thereof and that to be done only by the mouth of the Speaker." From these proceedings, and from the articles that were about the same time presented to the king by the Commons, we may infer that the free constitution of this country is not of the modern growth which some writers have supposed. We observe this principle suspended and almost lost during the stormy period of the wars of York and Lancaster, depressed and subdued under the arbitrary domination of the princes of the House of Tudor: reviving however at the opening of the 17th century, opposing itself to the conceited pedantry and self sufficient ideas of James the 1st, who seems to have mistaken the age in which he lived, and the people whom he supposed he was by some divine authority commissioned to govern. We see it enforced in that memorable Protestation of the 19th of that king, in language worthy of the patriots 474 Who presented it, and ennobled by the impotent resentment of the monarch who erased it with his own hand from the Journals, but which survives, a monument of their glory, and of his shame. We see its generous influence pervading the earlier labours of the Long Parliament, till that unfortunate conflict arose which, though it humbled the pride of kings, disgraced the cause of freedom, and closed the eventful scene in tyranny, in outrage, and in blood. We see it again in array against the corrupt, profligate, and mercenary administration of Charles the 2nd, and we hail its final confirmation and establishment in the great work of the Revolution. But I may be told that the entries in the time of Henry the 4th, and the Protestation in that of James 1st, refer only to communications made to the throne by individual members, and not by the Speaker. I would, however, beg leave to ask those who make that distinction, what would have been the opinion of the parliaments of that day if the communication had been made in their names but without their authority, without, as it is expressed in the answer of Henry the 4th, the advice and the assent of all the Commons of England. It is therefore to preserve this principle, not merely valuable from its antiquity, but as infusing life, spirit, vigour, and animation into the whole system of parliamentary proceeding, that I now venture to call upon the House—it is not with the comparatively contracted view of making a personal attack upon an individual, however conspicuous may be his station; it has I trust a noble aim, and is directed to greater objects. It is calculated I hope to preserve the source, whence the principles of a free constitution are derived, pure and untainted; to induce you to watch over (to use the words of Mr. Burke) the sacred fire of an eternal constitutional jealousy, the guardian of law of liberty, and justice. And at what time do I beseech you? at a time when the constitution of this country, long said to be the envy and admiration of the world, the theme of the eloquent, the medication of the philosopher, is assumed, practically assumed, as the model from which the infant liberties of other countries are destined to receive their impression and form. It is to raise, therefore, that spirit of wholesome jealousy, of legitimate suspicion, more necessary perhaps during the prevalence of general satisfaction, in the noon day and sunshine of prosperity, than 475 during the gloomier hours of doubt, uneasiness, and suspense: for without the superintending agency, the salutary exertion of those qualities, events would occur, perhaps not in a very rapid, but in a sure and inevitable progress, which would lead to the dereliction of your privileges, and with the dereliction of your privileges, the degradation of your dignity, and the prostitution of your independence. I shall conclude with moving, "That a special entry be made in the Journal, That it be not drawn into precedent for any Speaker, except by the special direction of the House, to inform his Majesty, either at the bar of the House of Lords, or elsewhere, of any proposal made to the House by any of its members, either in the way of Bill or Motion, or to acquaint his Majesty with any proceedings had thereupon, until the same shall have been consented to by the House."
§ The motion having been read,
§ The Right Honourable the Speaker
addressed the House to the following effect:
After the motion of the noble lord, prefaced with, whatever forms of personal civility, but implying, necessarily implying, a grave and serious charge of misconduct in the Speech delivered by me at the bar of the House of Lords at the close of the last session, the House will naturally expect that I should be desirous of now offering myself to their attention.
I should be very sorry indeed to be thought insensible to the peculiar course of proceeding adopted by the noble lord, injurious also, as I think, to the character and dignity of the House; but nevertheless I shall abstain from all further comment on that head. I shall abstain also from discussing, in any degree whatever, the merits of the great political question to which the charge relates, a question which I am not this day called upon to argue.
Denounced however long since to this House, as "the unauthorized and unauthentic expositor of its opinions,"—whose conduct was "objectionable on solid and constitutional grounds," and whose speech in the name of this House deserved "reprehension,"—I confess I did expect from the justice and plain-dealing of the noble lord, that he would this day have brought forward some charge in express and direct terms, and have demanded a distinct vote censure. But although his motion seeks only to establish some prospective regulation, which in this place it is not for 476 me to debates; and although it proceeds upon principles and facts, Which (however they may appear to me to be quite irrelevant to the existing case) I am not at liberty to discuss; nevertheless, as it is founded wholly Upon an assumption of misconduct on my part, which it desires may not be drawn into precedent hereafter I presume the House will allow me to lay fully before them those considerations upon which I trust it will appear that such an accusation is entirely groundless.
Upon this subject, I conceive that there are substantially two distinct questions to which I am called upon to answer in my own vindication; first, Whether, according to the usage of parliament, the proceedings in this House upon the Roman Catholic Claims were fit matter to be mentioned or adverted to, in such a speech, at such a time? secondly, If fit to be mentioned at all, were they mentioned in a proper manner?
Upon the first question, Whether the proceedings in this House upon the Roman Catholic Claims were fit to be mentioned in such a speech, at such a time?
I very humbly submit to the House, That according to the usage and practice of parliament, all or any of the principal objects which have employed the attention of the Commons during the session, may be fit matters to be mentioned in such a speech.
The rule and practice are so laid down in the Text book which we justly allow to be the best authority upon our forms of proceeding: the Journal entries of the House of Lords, where these speeches are necessarily noticed, are consistent with the rule so laid down: and so are some of the principal instances and authorities of which we have any memorial during the course of the last century.
In Mr. Hatsell's book, which we acknowledge as our best Text book, the rule is laid down thus; "It has been customary for the Speaker in presenting any Bill of Supply at the close of a session, to recapitulate the principal objects which have employed the attention of the Commons during their sitting."
The Journal entries of the Lords are the regular and authentic evidence of the usage upon this head; but in looking through these entries, we must always bear in mind, that the speeches made upon presenting Bills of Supply at the usual period of closing a session, are the only cases strictly applicable to the present question.
477 The earliest of these speeches mentioned in the Lords' Journals, is in 1509, in the reign of Henry 8; and at first the entries state only the general substance of these speeches. In the reign of Elizabeth some are given by D'Ewes in hœc verba. There is a speech by Lenthal in 1641 given at length in the Journal; and several others of the same sort in the reign of Charles 2. In the year 1689, two such speeches are entered; but none during the rest of king William's reign, nor any during the reign of queen Anne. There are only four by Mr. Compton during the reign of George 1, in the Lords' Journal, and one in the Commons' Journal. But from the year 1721 to this time, there is no prorogation speech entered at length in either Journal, except one by Mr. Onslow, in 1745, which was entered in the Journal of this House at the commencement of the following session.
The ordinary form of entry in the Lords' Journal from the Revolution to the present time has been, that "the Speaker after a Speech,"—sometimes stated to be "a long speech,"—sometimes "a short speech;"—or, "after a speech upon the Bills passed and to be passed,"—or "after a speech in relation to the Money Bills and other matters," presented the Bills of Supply. There are not fewer than fourteen speeches of. Mr. Onslow noticed in this last manner upon the Lords' Journal, as embracing "other matters" besides the Bills of Supply; and the same form of entry is also to be found in the early years of the present reign.
Amongst the instances and authorities contained in these entries, abundant, proof will be found of the extent to which this usage has prevailed, in all times. Upon a general view of the subjects to which these speeches have extended, it appears, that some of the earliest relate not only to Bills of Supply; but take notice also of the principal other Bills, which had been previously passed in the same session. In the reign of James 1, they dwell at considerable length upon "other matters" transacted or debated in parliament, which were not of a mature to be formed into Bills, or tendered for the royal assent. Lenthal's speech in 1641, and the many speeches in the reign of Charles 2, are extremely comprehensive in their topics, even stating the points upon which differences of opinion had arises, and their result upon debate. The speech of Mr. Compton in 1715, printed by order of the 478 House of Commons in their own Journals, embraces a large compass of various matters; and Mr. Onslow's speech in 1745, printed with the like approbation, reviews the whole state of public affairs in and out of parliament: the speech of Mr. Compton states the Impeachment which the Commons had commenced against the ministers of the crown for the peace of Utrecht; and that of Mr. Onslow states the result of their enquiries into the recent misconduct of the naval commanders in the Mediterranean. None other of Mr. Onslow's speeches, during the 35 years that he presided in this place, are printed at length in the Journal of either House; but the few which have been published in the historical memorials of the last century, sufficiently prove that the same practice continued to prevail.
Upon a more particular examination of the speeches made during the last century, it will be seen, that they have extended not only to Bills offered for the royal assent, and matters upon which the House had expressed its opinion by address; but, that they have also entered at large, into various other public occurrences at home and abroad, upon which parliament had employed its time and deliberations; and although it does not appear, that this House had directed them to be presented to the sovereign in any manner whatever, by Bill or otherwise.
Thus, the voluntary associations and subscriptions entered into by the people in times of rebellion, and their legality under the circumstances of such a crisis, are enlarged upon by Mr. Onslow at one period: and at another, he enters at length into the general impolicy and ill consequences of all continental wars and alliances.
But, beyond these matters of general concern and notoriety, it has also been deemed within the province of these speeches to advert to proceedings within the walls of parliament, some of which, although of a legislative character, were not in progress or preparation for the royal assent, and others exclusively concerned the privileges of this House.
Thus, after the miscarriage of admirals Matthews and Lestock in the Mediterranean in 1744, Mr. Onslow, in presenting the Bill for regulating courts martial, states not only the effect of that Bill but enlarges also upon the general necessity of a more extensive reformation of those courts; and that speech was sanctioned 479 afterwards by the approbation of this House. And thus again after the rebellion of 1745, Mr. Onslow, in presenting the Bill for more effectually disarming the Highlands of Scotland, proceeds to detail other measures for completing the Union, by reforming the jurisprudence of the Highlands of Scotland; and (without any fear of reprehension) states various opinions upon the unsettled condition of that part of the kingdom, and the expediency of abolishing the heritable jurisdictions, as laying the foundation of future Bills, in some future session.
Even the peculiar privilege and concern of the House of Commons, its employment in determining upon contested elections, was included by Mr. Onslow, in rendering an account to the sovereign of the objects which had occupied the time of the Common in the session of 1755. And sir Fletcher Norton, pursuing the same course, informs the King, in 1775, of the satisfactory mode in which the members of the House of Commons had executed the Act of a former parliament for determining contested elections; upon the merits of which Act, he also very justly enlarges.
If, besides these instances, it is required to produce some specific precedent of a speech, noticing any question or Bill negatived in either House of Parliament; it is to be observed in the first place, that of the prorogation speeches actually made during the last century, very few not more than eleven in fourscore years) having been published, nothing can be affirmed with absolute certainty, of the frequency or infrequency of such specific cases; but the general principle and practice already stated, will be found to comprehend every such case; nor has any such doubt been entertained hitherto. Two very striking proofs may be adduced, that such a doubt can have no parliamentary foundation.
From the access allowed me by the present lord Onslow to his father's parliamentary papers (a kind and liberal indulgence by which I have long and often profited), it appears to have been the distinct and deliberate opinion of Mr. Onslow, that it belonged to the province of the Speaker, in presenting Money Bills, to advert not only to Bills which had received the royal assent, or were in readiness to receive it, but to those also, which, after having occupied the attention of the House, nevertheless had failed in their 480 progress; and upon that opinion Mr. Onslow was prepared to have acted.
This case occurred in the year 1758, when several Bills (one of them for a more speedy remedy for the subject upon the writ of Habeas Corpus), which had passed the House of Commons after long debates, were thrown out by the House of Lords; and yet upon the failure of these Bills, and their value and importance to the constitution, Mr. Onslow thought it his right and duty to have animadverted; as appears by a copy of his speech indorsed in his own hand as designed to have been spoken, and which he was prevented from delivering, only by the accident of his Majesty's sudden indisposition, which disabled him from coming in person to prorogue the parliament. I cite this, therefore, only as an evidence of Mr. Onslow's opinion; but more conclusive evidence of it can scarcely be imagined.
The other case to which I would request the particular attention of the House, occurred in later times, upon the very subject to which the present discussion relates, and is intitled to the highest respect from the eminent character of the person whose authority it bears. In the year 1792 in the parliament of Ireland, a Bill was brought into the House of Commons for the relief of the Roman Catholics, by admitting them to the profession of the law, allowing their intermarriage with Protestants, and improving their condition in other respects as to education and apprenticeships. After the second reading the Bill and its first commitment, a question arose upon a petition from the then Roman Catholic committee, signed by Byrne and others, praying the elective franchise, and this petition, upon full debate and a division, was rejected. At the close of the session, the Speaker, Mr. Foster (who though present I may name historically), a name never to be mentioned but with honour, on presenting the Money Bills, although there was not on that day any Bill whatever concerning the Roman Catholics presented to the throne, thought it his duty to advert to a subject of such high importance, and emphatically to state the sentiments of the House of Commons upon the indispensable necessity of a Protestant parliament and Protestant ascendancy. For that speech, not questioned as unconstitutional, he upon the same day received the thanks of the House of Commons.
Upon reviewing the whole of the first 481 question, the main criterion by which the topics of their speeches have been selected, appears, to have been the political importance of the measures which have employed the attention of the House of Commons during the preceding session; unlimited by any consideration of their progress, or their failure.
And without entering into the merits of the particular subject introduced into the speech now in discussion, its paramount importance at least must be acknowledged on all sides; whether it be, as alledged on the one hand, a measure indispensable to the strength of the empire; or whether it be, as alledged on the other hand, subversive of the present fundamental laws of the constitution.
All therefore that I need assert upon this day is, the importance of the subject; and that its importance alone, not only justified the noticing it, but required that it should not be passed over in silence; even if no Bill had been finally presented for granting to Roman Catholics any species of relief whatever; an occurrence which nevertheless actually made part of this transaction, and necessarily brought the subject under the legislative consideration of the sovereign.
The second question is, Whether the proceedings in this House, respecting the Roman Catholic claims, if fit to be mentioned at all in such a speech, were mentioned in a proper manner? And upon this point I submit to the judgment of the House, that the proceedings were stated with truth and correctness.
At the end of the session of 1812, this House laid before his royal highness the Prince Regent their resolution to take into their most serious consideration the laws affecting his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects in Great Britain and Ireland; and at the close of the last session, the Roman Catholic question having been before parliament from the earliest to the latest period of its sittings, the larger relief which was prayed had not been granted, but a Bill of subordinate relief brought down from the Lords, (the duke of Norfolk's Bill) had been passed. Upon this double result, the entire passage in the speech complained of ran thus; after noticing the Sinking Fund Bill, and the East India Bill, it proceeded as follows:
"But these are not the only subjects to which our attention has been called. Other momentous changes have been proposed for our consideration. Adhering 482 however to those laws by which the throne, the parliament, and the government of this country are made fundamentally Protestant, we have not consented to allow, that those who acknowledge a foreign jurisdiction should be authorized to administer the powers and jurisdiction of this realm; willing as we are nevertheless, and willing as I trust we ever shall be, to allow the largest scope to religious toleration."
In the first division of this paragraph, the fact is stated; namely, that the House did not consent that the Roman Catholics should be authorized to administer the powers and jurisdictions of the realm:—Could less be stated? Did not the petitioners pray for this right? Was not the question put and decided against it? For by all sides it was agreed that the seat in parliament constituted the chief object of this claim, and virtually included all the rest.
That a repeal of disqualifications was asked, and not granted, is indisputable. The going into a committee of the whole House was to consider, and not necessarily to grant. The Bill and its second reading implied an agreement to the principle of granting some relief, but did not and could not decide what specific relief; and the main enactment proposed in the committee for, granting political power was there negatived.
In this narrative of the fact, there is nothing asserted of the Bill having been rejected; nor of any determination prospectively not to grant the same or other privileges, if upon re-consideration, or at any other time, and under any change of circumstances, it should be thought expedient.
It states what the House at that time did; it adhered to the laws as they now are,—describing their nature. It states what the House did not; it did not consent to the change: and it describes the Roman Catholics by their own characteristic distinction; namely, of persons "acknowledging a foreign jurisdiction."
So far as the statement of the fact alledges also the grounds and principles upon which the determination of the House rested; namely, by describing the laws as they now are, to be "those by which the throne, the parliament, and the government are made fundamentally Protestant," and also by describing the Roman Catholics to be persons "acknowledging a foreign jurisdiction;—I conceive that it 483 is strictly within the right and duty of the Speaker to alledge the grounds, and principles upon which any measure appears to have been decided, subject of course to the judgment of the House; it is expressly so laid down by that authority which we habitually consider as the best upon such subjects; and the question, so far as regards the Speaker's conduct in that respect, will not be upon the abstract validity or invalidity of the principles themselves; but whether he has fairly collected, and truly stated, those principles which were actually adduced in debate, and apparently relied upon by the majority in support of their determination.
As to the technical objection, thrown out in the preliminary debates upon this proceeding, and again revived by the noble lord,—That the Speaker can know nothing of what passes in a committee, either as to the proceeding, or as to the reasons upon which the proceeding is founded;—in the first place, it is strictly his duty to be there "as Speaker," and to be conusant of all that passes, although by indulgence his absence may be excused; and it is so much his duty to be present, that if necessary he may (as has happened in my own time) upon his own observation of what is passing, and upon his own responsibility, take the chair "as Speaker" Without the leave of the House, to put an end to any disorder that may arise in the committee.
But beyond this, it is fn every parliamentary sense, known to the Speaker, "as such," that any Bill has been committed; that the Bill has not come out of the committee; and in the committee book he will find recorded the exact proceeding upon which the Bill came to its end; for the committee books, made up, and preserved in due series, are of the same authority, in their degree of importance, as the Journal book itself; and the modern usage of printing only the latter, does not annihilate the authority of the former.
Upon such a technical objection, contradicted by theory and fact, I should not have expected that any person, versed in the forms of parliament, would have attempted to raise up the pretence of an argument.
As to the concluding part of the paragraph now under consideration, stating the general disposition of parliament, "to grant, religious toleration; this disposition had been recently exemplified by that other Bill upon the same subject, passed 484 at the close of the same session; by which Roman Catholics to whom the larger relief had not been granted, had nevertheless been placed upon a more perfect footing of toleration than they had before enjoyed.
And the subject of concession to the Roman Catholics having been thus necessarily presented to the consideration of the sovereign by this latter Bill, the line by which parliament had limited the provisions of this particular measure, was made the more clear and distinct, by previously pointing out the larger extent to which is had not thought fit to proceed.
Such a statement of the whole of these proceedings, and their result, appeared also to be more suitably addressed to the sovereign, this House having previously informed him of their resolution to enter upon this subject; and his prerogatives and duties being highly concerned in all measures which regulate the qualifications required by law for executing the political powers and jurisdictions of the realm.
Upon the whole matter now before the House, I humbly submit to its consideration; That the Speaker of the House of Commons is authorized by the usage of parliament, on presenting Money Bills at the close of a session, to address the sovereign upon the result of any of those proceedings which have principally employed the attention of the Commons during the course of the session: that the political importance of those proceedings, and the length of time and attention which they may have occupied, are to be the just criterion of his selection; and that where any Bill is passed, upon any part of a subject important in itself, it becomes, more especially his duty to explain the whole proceedings belonging to it, in their true extent and effect.
Great names and long experience have sanctioned these opinions; with these guides and lights it might have been presumed that the path of duty was plain and safe; and by showing that I have conformed to these authorities, I trust, that enough has been done to establish my justification.
Upon the noble lord's proposition however, as a prospective rule, it is not for me to sway the deliberation of the House, or to dwell at large upon the broad and manifest distinction between the rules which are necessary for protecting the freedom of our debates, during the continuance of 485 a session, and those which are to govern the historical narrative, of its proceedings, when the session is come to its end.
But nevertheless, upon this, as upon all other duties of the Speaker's office, if the House, which has hitherto forborne to give him any special directions, should undertake to lay down new regulations, or give a new interpretation to existing rules, prescribing narrower limits to his delegated authority, and abridging the discretionary power with which he has been hitherto intrusted, it will be for the House to weigh well the necessity or expediency of any such regulations; and if such regulations shall be established, it will be for him to conform to any such commands with the most implicit obedience.
For myself I have only to add, with my humble thanks to the House for their indulgent hearing, that in considering the duty which I had to discharge at the close of the last session of parliament, I saw the proceedings upon the Roman Catholic claims amongst the most important in character, and the longest under discussion; I conceived it therefore to be incumbent on me to state the result; and that statement I made.
If in this transaction my conduct shall incur the displeasure of the House, even by any indirect or implied vote of censure, I shall deeply indeed lament it as a heavy misfortune; but I shall stand for ever wholly acquitted to my own conscience, from any intention to do otherwise than execute with firmness and fidelity what appeared to my Understanding to be a duty which I owed to the House, whose servant I am, and to the nation, whose representatives we all are.
I now deliver up, without fear, though not without concern, the consideration of my conduct, which the noble lord has thought fit to arraign, and upon which this House is substantially called upon to declare its judgment.
§ Mr. Whitbread
said, he felt himself called upon, not only to make some observations on the Address which Mr. Speaker had deliveted at the Bar of the House of Lords, but on certain expressions which were contained in the speech which the House had just heard. He (Mr. Whitbread) remained of the same opinion now, after he had heard the speech of the right hon. gentleman (imbued, as it was, with all the learning he had collected on the subject), as he had formed before it was delivered. With all the respect he felt for 486 the right hon. gentleman's functions, as Speaker—with all the esteem he felt for him, individually, as a man—he still remained of opinion, that he had no authority, indirectly from precedent, nor directly from that House, to make the communication which (being, as he had himself stated, the servant of that House) he had done to the throne, at the close of last session of parliament.—In thus acting, he had transgressed the bounds of his duty;—and therefore, he most contend, that the communication he had thought fit to make was not authentic. It was needless for him, nor was that the time, after the number of years during which the House had witnessed the conduct of the right hon. gentleman in the chair, to pay him those high compliments which were due to his abilities, and which, on other occasions, he (Mr. Whitbread) had not withheld. His duty now impelled him to pursue a different line of conduct: he was obliged to address the right hon. gentleman in other terms;—and, in doing so, he could only wish, that his observations had been directed to any other person. He felt, as the right hon. gentleman seemed to do, that some cause of complaint, if not of direct accusation, should have been advanced against him in the motion, on which the House would have had an opportunity of coming to a clear determination. But, what was matter of more concern, he thought that that House, the representatives of the people of England, should have a charge before them, as direct as words could make it; including every one of those particulars, which, to the right hon. gentleman, appeared of little moment, but which, to him, seemed pregnant with matter of very great aggravation. The right hon. gentleman had alluded, as was anticipated in the eloquent, manly, constitutional speech of his (Mr. Whitbread's) noble friend, to the authority of Mr. Speaker Onslow. From his treasures, it appeared, he had made a selection; but he was not the only person who had had access to them. Mr. Hatsell also had recourse to these papers; and in availing himself of Mr. Speaker Onslow's knowledge, he had, somehow or other, omitted that strange and particular speech which Mr. Onslow intended to have made, but never did make, at the bar of the House of Lords. He should like to peruse that speech, which never had seen the light, which Mr. Hatsell had not used, and which, as it was stated, did not appear 487 to him to bear upon the case. In stating the reason why that speech was not spoken, he thought the right hon. gentleman had gone too far. He observed that it was not delivered; and then he proceeded to tell the House the reason why. But if he had intended to speak it, might not his forbearance have arisen from an after consideration, that such a course was entirely unconstitutional?—As the motives which led to Mr. Speaker Onslow's determination were thus unknown, he conceived that he was justified in dismissing the precedent. He would next notice the precedent from the other side of the water—from the Irish House of Commons.—Now, the speech delivered by Mr. Speaker Foster, whom he was happy to see in his place, was not at all analogous to that delivered by the right hon. gentleman; who had informed the Prince Regent, then supporting the dignity of the crown, that the House of Commons had entertained certain measures, which were defeated—and he stated the reason which occasioned that defeat—Now, in the first place, did Mr. Speaker Onslow, at any time, give such an intimation to the crown? Even in that speech in which the right hon. gentleman observed he had taken so wide a scope, and travalled so far, by land and sea, on the affairs of Europe, in 1745, did he not conclude, by observing that these were the inducements which led to the passing of the Bills then presented by him? In one instance, indeed, his conduct was somewhat different—that was, where he spoke of an investigation into the situation of certain officers, which terminated in an Address. As to the second precedent, it was still less to the point. Mr. Speaker Foster, in the Irish House of Commons, according to the opinions he was well known to entertain on the subject of Catholic emancipation, stated at the bar of the House of Lords, that the wealth, improvement, agriculture, and manufactures of the kingdom, dependent on preserving the Protestant ascendancy in Ireland. But he did not toll the lord lieutenant, exercising the authority of the crown in that country, that certain measures had been proposed in the Irish House of Commons—that they were defeated, and the reasons which occasioned that defeat. He would recommend to any gentleman, with whom that authority, as quoted, was likely to have the smallest weight, to read the short speech of Mr. Speaker Foster; and, if he could point 488 out any single word which conveyed information similar to that given in the speech of the right hon. gentleman, he would willingly acknowledge that he was in error. Some of his hon. friends had suggested to him the propriety of having that speech read from the Journals of the Irish House of Commons, as it would place the subject in a much clearer point of view; and, although he did not intend originally to take up the time of the House by such a proceeding, yet he now conceived it proper to accede to their wishes.
[The Speech was here read; which, after adverting to the spirited endeavours made by parliament to prevent the increase of the national debt, proceeded to notice the degree of prosperity and wealth, never before experienced, which the nation then enjoyed; but which would soon cease, if not cherished and maintained by that admirable constitution, which protected the liberty and property of every class of society. The preservation of that constitution was always the great object of their care; and nothing was so essential to its preservation, as the support of that Protestant ascendancy, by which the crown of these realms was conferred on the House of Brunswick.]
§ Mr. Whitbread
proceeded to say, that the speech of Mr. Foster having been read, for the information of the House, he called upon any gentleman who then heard him, to shew any part of it by which the conduct of the right hon. gentleman could be justified. All that Mr. Foster said, was, that the only means of preserving the blessings which the country enjoyed was to maintain the Protestant ascendancy inviolate. He did not inform the lord lieutenant, as the right hon. gentleman had informed the throne, that the state had been endangered by certain measures, which were intended to give the Roman Catholics the right to sit in parliament; but which had been defeated by the House of Commons, who thought it inexpedient to alter the Protestant constitution of the empire. There was not one point of ground, in the whole of Mr. Speaker Foster's speech, on which the right hon. gentleman's conduct could stand. There was another point, which the right hon. gentleman had treated with much levity in his speech delivered that night, but which appeared to him (Mr. Whitbread) of so much importance, that it formed part of the amendment which he intended to propose on the motion of 489 his noble friend The passage to which he alluded, was that wherein the right hon. gentleman stated, that he was as Speaker, bound in duty to attend the committees of that House, and, if necessary, to restore order, in that capacity. But he should have recollected the description which Mr. Hatsell had given of the situation of Speaker. The individual holding that office was the only member exempt from attendance on committees—he was the only member who could not be compelled to appear; contrary; to the rules by which every other member was bound, the Speaker could not be forced to come forward to give his vote. He would refer the right hon. gentleman to his own text-book—he would refer him to Mr. Hatsell—for this doctrine. He was not obliged to attend committees; and, if he did appear, he could only vote as a private member—he was not recognised in any other capacity. The Speaker, on such occasions, was supposed to be in his private room; and, on a division, he was not expected to come out of it.—The right hon. gentleman, when the Catholic Bill was before the House, did, for the first time, think proper to come out of his private room. He meant to speak, technically. The right hon. gentleman then delivered his opinion. It was strange, that he had not taken part in the debates at a former time, when party feelings were carried to a height never before known, in this country—to a height which those who had witnessed the debates in that House never could forget. If the right hon. gentleman had then stated his sentiments—if; he had then endeavoured to assuage the acrimony of party, and to restore order—it might have been of use. But he never delivered his sentiments on that measure which was now called the duke of Norfolk's Bill; but which, in 1807, when the right hon. gentleman filled the chair, bore the name of a noble relative of his (viscount Howick, now earl Grey), and which occasioned the dissolution of the administration of that day. He contended, that as Speaker, the right hon. gentleman could not, except by way of instruction from the chairman of a committee be put in possession of the circumstances which occurred in that committee. And such were the extraordinary proceedings of that particular committee which sat upon the Catholic Bill, that even from the chairman he could not have received any information. The House of Commons, after long deliberation 490 and mature reflection, sent the Catholic Bill to a committee. By a majority of four, the clause which gave the Roman Catholics a right to sit in parliament was lose; the right hon. gentleman being one of those who voted against it. When he resumed the chair, no report was made to him from that committee: there was not, therefore, any proceeding before the right hon. gentleman on which he had a right to act, when he declared that the Bill was defeated. The Bill, at the time the right hon. gentleman made the statement, was in existence and alive. (Hear, hear!)—Was this, then, an authentic exposition of the sentiments of the House? Did the right hon. gentleman not know—could he pretend not to know, that the Bill had expired?—(Loud cries of Hear! and Order! from the ministerial benches.) Mr. Whitbread observed, that he was called upon to speak out, and he would speak out. Could the right hon. gentleman explain the motives on which every individual acted on that occasion? If in 1807, the right hon. gentleman had stated that the provisions of lord Howick's Bill were rejected, because they would endanger the constitution—those provisions which were since happily introduced in the duke of Norfolk's Bill, those provisions now passed in England, and so long promised to the Catholics of Ireland—would that have been a fair exposition of the sentiments of that House? And, when Mr. Speaker Foster made his exposition on the necessity of the Protestant ascendancy in Ireland, had he in his contemplation, that, in the very next session of the Irish parliament, some of those concessions were granted to the Catholics, and were passed into a law, which had been previously refused? (Hear, hear!) This proved the impropriety of adverting to measures, which were only laid aside for a moment; which might be introduced, successfully introduced, successfully introduced, in a very short time after their defeat was announced. As a private member, the right hon. gentleman certainly had a right hon. gentleman certainly had a right to speak in a committee; but as Speaker he had no right afterwards to mention what had passed. He had no right whatever to make the exposition he had done, and which he (Mr. Whitbread) considered a violation of duty, from beginning to end—(Hear, hear!)—aggravated by the situation in which he was placed. The right hon. gentleman had quoted Mr. Hatsella. He (Mr. Whitbread) would refer him to that part of it where 491 the answer of Mr. Speaker Lenthall was to be found, who, when king Charles demanded the five obnoxious members, answered, "I have neither eyes to see, ears to hear, nor tongue to speak, but as the House directs." The right hon. gentleman's conduct had been very different—it differed essentially from that which should be the conduct of every Speaker. He had used his ears to hear, and his eyes to see, as a private member of parliament; and used his tongue, as Speaker, to give utterance to that which he had no right to state. (Hear, hear, hear!) This was the view he had taken of that part of the right hon. gentleman's speech. If he applied himself to the other topics contained in it, he might join his noble friend in praising the eloquence with which the right hon. gentleman had descanted on the brilliant achievements of our army, which had so frequently demanded the thanks of the House—those recorded congratulations called forth by great events—and now happily terminated by the glory of the allied arms, and by the more transcendant glory of moderation. Here he was willing to give every praise, that nervous eloquence, employed on a subject most grateful to all their hearts, so well deserved—he might even overlook the observations on the new financial arrangements, which, the right hon. gentleman seemed to think, would produce effects even beyond the comprehension of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or of any other of his Majesty's ministers. (A laugh.) But, when he considered that part of the speech which had occasioned the present discussion, he found what he never could conceive to be any thing but a direct violation of duty, and which, therefore, deserved the severest censure. As the right hon. gentleman had expressed some dissatisfaction, because a direct resolution was not moved on the present occasion, he (Mr. Whitbread) would now submit one, as an Amendment, which, he believed, was couched in terms sufficiently direct. He then moved—
"That all the words after the Word 'That' be omitted, for the purpose of introducing, "it appears to this House, that Mr. Speaker did, at the close of the last session of parliament, at the bar of the House of Lords, communicate to his royal highness the Prince Regent, certain proceedings of this House, had in a committee of the whole House, relative to his Majesty's Roman Catholic subjects, which did not terminate in any act done by this 492 House; and did at the same time inform his royal Highness of the motives and reasons which he, Mr. Speaker, assumed to have influenced the members of the House voting in committee, in their determination thereupon; and that Mr. Speaker, in this speech so addressed to his royal highness the Prince Regent, at the bar of the House of Lords, was guilty of a violation of the trust reposed in him, and a breach of the privileges of this House, of which he is chosen guardian and protector."
§ Mr. Bankes
lamented, that the hon. gentleman who had just sat down had not scrupled to charge the Speaker, in distinct language, with a gross violation of his duty and of the privileges of that House in consequence of a line of proceeding which appeared to him (Mr. Bankes) perfectly consistent with the established usages of parliament The ground laid for this charge was, that the proceedings on the Catholic question, to which the Speaker in his address to the throne had alluded, had not produced any positive result. But he conceived, that all those questions on which the House had employed much of their time and attention, whether relating to matters of a foreign or domestic nature—to business begun or concluded, were proper topics for the Speaker to enlarge upon at the termination of the session. This was the opinion of Mr. Hatsell, than whom a higher authority could not be referred to; and in looking over the different facts and cases with that attention he was able to bestow upon them, he had found him strictly borne out in this conclusion. It had indeed been stated, that there was no distinct instance of a rejected proposition having been introduced as a subject of comment in any such address to the But more than this had been proved. Instances of still greater latitude had been brought forward, in which a reference had been made to measures not even begun upon, but merely in future contemplation. An objection on which much stress had been laid was, that Speaker was not bound to appear in a committee;—but he was not excluded, from being present; and if so was he, as soon as it was over, and he resumed the chair, to shut up his understanding to all that had passed, and to become suddenly blind and deaf. Was there any precedent 493 in support of this argument? Or was lord Grenville to blame, because in an important and momentous question before a committee, at the time he has Speaker, he had risen and taken part in the debate? [Hear, hear from Mr. Whitbread.]—Besides, whether the Speaker were supposed to be present or not, the proceedings of a committee were regularly inserted in the Journals of the House, and the Speaker could not possibly remain ignorant of the contents of those official records of which he had the chief jurisdiction. Again, it was insinuated, that the speech of Mr. Onslow, which had been intended to be spoken, and was not spoken, had been omitted, because, on reflection, he had discovered its impropriety. But suppose (which was the fact) that this speech had been found with an indorsement in the same hand on the back, "Not delivered because the king was not present," would not this be as good authority for the opinion of Mr. Onslow on the subject, as if it had been actually delivered?. He (Mr. Bankes) could not think that any thing had been advanced to justify either the censure proposed in Mr. Whitbread's amendment, or the original motion of the noble lord. It was incumbent on those who wished to introduce a novelty of such a nature as was implied in the proposed restriction of the discretionary power of the Speaker on these occasions, to shew some great inconvenience which had arise, or was likely to arise, from the abuse of it. But nothing of this kind appeared. It was pretended, that the toleration of this practice might interfere with the freedom of debate. But there was an important distinction which gentlemen did not attend to, between business pending before the House, and business finished, as it always must be at the end of a session. The address delivered by the Speaker to the sovereign could not therefore interfere with the freedom of discussion, as, by the supposition, all discussion must be at an end. The general question was simply this, Whether gentlemen would argue, that no negatived motion could ever be made a subject of allusion in the speech to the throne. But would any one say, that if the East India Bill, which had occupied so much of their attention last year, had not been completed, it would have been improper to make any communication on that important subject to the throne? The hon. member concluded with saying, that, when both the motion and amendment 494 were disposed of, he thought the House should come to some specific statement on the subject; and he read a Resolution which he had drawn up on the occasion:That it has been customary for the Speaker of this House, on presenting the Bills of Supply at the close of a session (the King being present on the throne), to make a speech at the bar of the House of Lords, recapitulating the principal objects which have employed the attention of the Commons during their sitting, without receiving any instructions from the House as to the particular topics, or in what manner he should express himself; and that nothing has occurred which calls for any interference on the part of this House for the regulation of the conduct of the Speaker, either at the bar of the House of Lords or elsewhere.
Mr. C. W. Wynn
said, it would have been more pleasant to his feelings, could he have reconciled it to his public duty, to have remained silent; but when he witnessed such a question, when he saw a rule about to be laid down for, the guidance of future Speakers, he felt it to be his duty to give his opinion. An attempt had been made by the last speaker to justify the whole of the Speech which gave rise to the proceeding in debate; and that hon. gentleman had slipped in a word as of the greatest importance—"at the close of a session." He should be glad to be informed how the Speaker could know that it would be the close of the session. A speech might be addressed to the throne at any time when the House of Commons should be called to attend it; and therefore it might have happened, that the observations which were made might, have occurred at any other period of the session. It had undoubtedly been the custom from time immemorial to address the crown on presenting any Bills of subsidy, but never on any other Bills. It was true that on some occasions Speakers had entered into a wide field of observation, and launched into a description of foreign and domestic policy; but no opinion had ever been given as to those Acts which had passed the House, far less on those which had remained incomplete. It was, well known, that one House of parliament had never been made the seat of record for the other; and no information of their proceedings was therefore to be given, unless it were such as should be indispensably and absolutely necessary to be given, in demanding the 495 royal assent to a Bill of subsidy. The hon. gentleman contended that the speech of the Speaker was calculated to supersede the necessity of addresses. It had never been the custom to allude to Bills which were incomplete; and such a practice was unauthorized by any precedent. In the speeches of Mr. Speaker Onslow, or indeed of any other Speaker, no similar fact was to be found. Much had been said of Hatsell's Precedents, and the authorities contained in it had been dwelt on with great confidence; but it should be remembered that it was not a book that could be relied on as a great constitutional authority; and, indeed, it was a work that would be found, by those who examined it, to be very incomplete. In former times, several members had been committed to the Tower for informing the king of what had been done by other members in that House, even after the session had closed; and, indeed, Bills might go over from session to session, as was the case when they were left in committees, and taken up in that stage a second time. The Bill to which the Speaker had alluded had not been negatived; but those who were favourable to it had, in committee, moved the chairman out of the chair; and therefore the probability was, that the Bill would be reproduced. He had not anticipated that the distinction between that knowledge acquired by the Speaker in his public quality, and that which he had obtained in a private manner, would have been treated with so much levity. He was sure the distinction was an important one, and such as ought to have been attended to. If the Speaker was at liberty to speak of those measures which were not completed, the crown would be at liberty, to remark on them—if the crown was enabled to answer to the statement of the Speaker, it might dwell on those imperfect measures, and of course censure them as much as it pleased; the House would see the inconvenience to which this would lead. The hon. gentleman then passed an eulogy on the character of Mr. Speaker; and said, although the speech delivered by him was highly reprehensible the error was one of misconception, rather than of corrupt or interested motives; and therefore, though he was prepared to go the length of the original proposition, he could not vote for the amendment which had been proposed.
said, neither the manner nor matter of the original proposition was unfitting 496 to the character of the noble mover, who appeared to have been actuated by a sense of public duty, and, indeed, nothing like unkindness had ever been manifested by him. He could not but think the subject of considerable importance; nor could he refrain, notwithstanding what had fallen from so many able characters, from offering his humble opinion upon it. That the noble mover had also thought the topic to be one of great magnitude, was evident, from the early period of the session at which he had given notice of his motion. It was, indeed, rather unfortunate, that the discussion had not come on at an earlier period; but the House had been so unusually thin ever since the notice had been given, that justice could only be done to the topic by the call which had now taken place. For himself, he had no hesitation no declaring, that what the Speaker had said, appeared strictly conformable to the usages and customs of that House in all periods. If Mr. Hatsell's entries and statements could be supposed to be precedent, as they cannot be denied to be, the House might safely rely on them. The learned Speaker had alluded to measures which had been pending in that House; he would not undertake, to say that he had spoken on measures which had been decided on, nor would he enter on a discussion whether it would not, have been more safe to allude to the latter than to the former. But would any body say that it was not notorious and certain, that, when the Speaker goes up to the House of Lords, the session is at an end? The right hon. gentleman then referred to the occurrences of 1661 and 1662, when the Speaker, spoke on the subject of the claims of the non-conformists, to show, that Bills which could not be got through in the session were spoken of to the throne, although suffered to rest till the next session; and he should wish to ask, whether more danger was not to be apprehended to the crown, from telling of Bills of that sort which were depending, than of those which had gone by? If he were to state to the House the number of speeches made by different Speakers at the time in question, he should tire their patience; but he knew of fifteen or twenty whereon the Speaker could have had no possible authority for speaking. Gentleman might argue, that the Speaker had no right to deliver his sentiments on such occasions; but if the House were to come to a resolution of that 497 so to his duty would be narrowed beyond any principle of right or justice. Among the precedents to which he had alluded, were those of 1720 and 1721, when the House was occupied with the South Sea scheme. When the parliament met in 1721, the Speaker made a variety of observations at the bar of the upper House, on a subject which filled every mind; he had no authority for what he said, and it turned out that he was extremely wrong in his surmises; but his conduct was not called in question. Would any gentleman say, that it was imprudent in a Speaker to inform himself of what is going on in the House? Is not the minute-book in his possession for this very purpose? Certainly this is the use he might be expected to make of it? He (Mr. Rose) could see no analogy whatever between Mr. Pitt, in 1757, taking notice of what was passing at the very time he spoke, and the present Speaker merely adverting to what had gone by. On the whole, it appeared to him, that in what had been done by the right hon. gentleman in the chair was implied no deficiency of deference to the House, nor was it otherwise than strictly conformable to his duties in parliament. He trusted that it had been made clearly to appear, that the usage was established; and if so, nothing could be more unnecessary than a vote of censure.
§ Mr. F. Douglas
rose, but spoke in so low a tone of voice, that it was not possible to hear him, except at intervals. He began by stating, that he differed from the view of the present question as taken by the noble lord, and considered the Speaker to have acted in conformity not only with precedent, but the usages of parliament. The beaten track of precedent he would not pursue; but, in his humble opinion, the strongest precedent that had been quoted, was that of Mr. Speaker Onslow in 1745; for if ever there was an occasion in which the sentiments of the House must be matter of conjecture, that certainly was one. With regard to what the Speaker himself had delivered at the bar of the House of Lords last session, it would surely be allowed; that the claims of the Catholics had been rejected from an adherence to those laws which made the crown, the government and the parliament, fundamentally Protestant; and therefore the sentence was historically correct. The question was one of great solemnity, for it involved the dignity of the House itself. If the vote of censure proposed 498 by an hon. member passed, it could not be expected that the Speaker would retain that high office which he now exercised so beneficially for the House and for the country; they were to consider, therefore, whether they would run the risk of losing a person whose services were so eminently valuable. If he had even committed an error in this single instance, still they were not to forget how often his judgment had been advantageously exercised in behalf of the House; if he had acted from any undue bias, still they should consider how often he had conducted himself with the highest, with the most unimpeachable integrity.—The single instance in which any direct censure of the House had been passed upon its Speaker, was one of notorious profligacy; that of accepting a bribe, he believed; and he hoped they would not now afford an occasion for posterity to blend two such circumstances together, and let it stand recorded, that, the only cases in which they had censured their Speakers, were, in the one instance, upon a man of determined profligacy; and in the other, upon an individual of unblemished honour, and incorruptible integrity.
§ Sir John Newport
said, that in the consideration of the question before the House, the principal object in view was, to guard the future deliberations of the House from the exercise of an influence on the part of the crown greater than it ought to have, consistent with the constitution of the country. It seemed to be admitted on all hands, that the course pursued by the Speaker at the conclusion of the last sessions, was without precedent, either on the Journals of that or the other House of Parliament; although it had been attempted to be urged, that a precedent was to be found in the conduct of the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. He denied that the line adopted by Mr. Foster bore out the inference which members had endeavoured to draw from it that night—for upon coupling the terms of that gentleman's speech delivered to the throne, with the events which followed in the ensuing sessions, it would be seen, that the House did not go along with him in the sentiments which he uttered, but brought in a Bill for giving the elective franchise to those very persons from whom, he congratulated the crown, that it had been with held; so that, in fact, the 499 whole transaction in the Irish parliament went rather to contravene than confirm the right of the Speaker to communicate circumstances which had occurred in the House of Commons, but which had not received the sanction of a Bill. The precedents which had been quoted by the right hon. gentleman (Mr. George Rose), had been principally drawn from sir Edward Turner; but whoever looked to that time, during which the speeches that were delivered were filled with the most fulsome adulation, would not be disposed to take such a period as a precedent for their present proceedings. If the exercise of such a privilege as had been assumed by the Speaker on a late occasion were allowed to pass with impunity, it would require only one step more, and he might inform the crown which side of the House was most active, or what individuals most exerted themselves in opposing some favourite scheme of administration, and who might thus be marked out as objects of disapprobation by the crown. The precedent thus established, the name of the sovereign would next, by an easy transition, be introduced, to overawe their debates, and impede that constitutional freedom of discussion which was among their most valuable privileges. (Cries of Order!)—He thought that those gentlemen who cried 'Order' with such vociferation, would best consult order by preventing the executive government from coming in contact with that House, except when called upon to give its assent or negative to any question which might be submitted to it with the concurrence of the House. To that limit had the constitution confined the executive power, and he hoped it would never be otherwise applied. Upon the whole, he saw no advantage from the exercise of the privilege at present vested in the Speaker; and considered that the course which he had followed, and which had been the subject of very proper animadversion that night, if again adopted, could be productive of no essential good, but might be attended with the worst consequences to the interests of the state.
§ Mr. J. P. Grant
expressed his regret, that, having seldom the honour to address the House, it should now be his painful task to do so, by stating to the Speaker, that, in his opinion, he had failed in a very essential part of his duty. If he was surprised at the speech delivered at the bar of the House of Lords on the prorogation of parliament last session, he freely confessed 500 he was much more surprised at the manner in which the Speaker and those who had espoused his cause, had attempted to justify and explain it. The question was, in itself, perfectly simple. There existed no direct precedent analogous to it, because, indeed, the present Speaker was the first who had ever thought it his duty to lay at the foot of the throne what he had not been instructed to do by the deliberate and solemn sanction of the House. There were two privileges of that House which he held to be of paramount importance to its vital interests; one, that the crown should not interfere directly or indirectly, with any measures that were in progress through it; the other, that it should express no censure of disapprobation of such measures as had been concluded. For himself, he had no hesitation in saying, that he considered the latter privilege as the more valuable of the two; because the crown, by taking notice of, or animadverting upon what any member, or any number of members, said, might intimidate others from pursuing the strict line of their duty. A single reflection would illustrate this point. When a measure had passed the House, it became the act of the House; but when it failed, it continued to be the member's; and, unbacked by the House, he ought not to be left, unconstitutionally left, in the notice and animadversion of the crown. This doctrine was not theoretical; it was founded upon the best practice of the best times of our history. It was not unfrequent with some of our monarchs, and he would particularly mention Elizabeth, who constantly practised it, to reply to the speech made by the Speaker: and suppose his royal highness the Prince Regent had answered the Speaker at the close of last session, by expressing his displeasure at "the momentous changes proposed for our consideration," it would have been a high breach of their privileges; and he held it as incontrovertible, that what it was not lawful for the King to notice, it was not lawful for the Speaker to express. The task which he had to perform was a painful one. The Speaker (unwarily no doubt) did that which had a tendency to betray the sovereign into a breach of then privileges. Great as his knowledge of forms was, he had yet been misled by his zeal; and though not wishing to pass a vote of censure, as inconsistent with his former services, and with that strict integrity 501 which had uniformly marked his conduct in the high office that he filled; yet, equally anxious to prevent his example from being drawn into precedent, he should certainly support the motion of the noble lord. Before he sat down, be wished to advert to the subject of precedent. In this particular case, the Speaker had exceeded all the bounds of a just discretion; was it, therefore, incumbent on those who condemned his conduct to prove that there had never been a Speaker who had so completely transgressed those limits? But what precedents had been produced on the other side? With all the learning possessed and all the attention bestowed on the subject, had a single instance been adduced of a Speaker so incautious, so subservient to the crown, or so regardless of the privileges of parliament, as to venture to communicate to the throne, that a dangerous proposition had been made in that House, but which had not been assented to? He would not trespass longer on the House. In what he had said, he had endeavoured to avoid all personality; and he had cautiously abstained from touching on the Catholic question, which in fact had nothing to do with that before them. For his own part, he could declare most solemnly, that, although, after great deliberation, he had certainly made up his mind on the question of Catholic emancipation, and that although his opinion on that question was as certainly in direct hostility to that avowed by the right hon. gentleman (the Speaker); yet, if, instead of the Bill which had actually been introduced and lost, a Bill for re-enacting and re-imposing those disabilities and those disqualifications which it had been the wise policy of the present reign gradually to remove, had been indignantly thrown over the bar of the House; and if, under those circumstances, the Speaker, at the foot of the throne, had stated, after his prefatory address, that other momentous changes had been proposed for the consideration of the House, but that, faithful to the principles of toleration, and to that wise policy which had hitherto been pursued, they had refused to consent to those changes, he would have given the same vote, as he meant to give tonight; firmly convinced that any such statement, on the part of the Speaker was not only, useless, but, if established as a precedent, would, involve in it the sacrifice of the privileges of that House, and the principles of the constitution. On these 502 grounds (said Mr. G.) not wishing to pass a vote of censure, but still desirous of seeing some motion pass, which shall express disapprobation unmingled with severity, I shall vote for the motion.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, he should have no hesitation in giving his negative to the motion of the noble lord, because he conceived that it was one which was by no means called for by what had taken place. The right hon. gentleman then took a brief view of what had been said by the noble mover, and observed, that no man was more disposed, to enforce the privileges of parliament than himself. But he saw no breach of privilege committed in the subject now brought before the House; and as to the precedents which had been quoted, they appeared to go far in justification; particularly that of Mr. Speaker Onslow, which went into long dissertations upon alliances and subsidies, and these shewed to what a length of discussion that gentleman thought himself entitled to go. Yet was Mr. Speaker Onslow censured? Never. The right hon. gentleman thought the speech of the Speaker in Ireland a very fair precedent and observed, that he had received the thanks of the House for it. As to Mr. Hatsell's book, which had been, treated lightly, he was disposed to pay very great deference to it. It was almost needless to say, that he thought it his duty to vote against the motion and the amendment.
spoke to the following effect: — Sir; After the long and able arguments which we have heard on this subject, and more particularly after the ample, justice which has been done to it in the eloquent and admirable speech of the hon. gentleman below me (Mr. Grant), it may appear unnecessary or presumptuous further to occupy the attention of the House. Feeling, however, as I do upon this important occasion, I own I cannot reconcile myself to remaining wholly silent on it. I completely concur with you, Sir, that the present question is one wholly unconnected with the question of Catholic emancipation. We are not new to consider what it may or may not be right to do with respect to this latter—we are not to ascertain the present opinion of the House upon it. The question is, whether, the House having come to a resolution with respect to the Catholics, you Sir, were authorized to convey to the throne an intimation of that proceeding, accompanied 503 by a censure on those who had endeavoured to follow it up by a legislative measure.—Sir, I declare most solemnly, that if the sentiments which you expressed to the throne had been as friendly to the Catholic cause as they were certainly hostile to it, I should equally have concurred in the present motion. It is true, has been justly said, this is not a party or a personal question. Nothing, Sir, but the most imperious sense of duty could justify a censure of your conduct. But if any man feels that a vital and important part of the constitution has been assailed, and that you have done that which, if it were established as a precedent, would overturn and destroy the constitution itself, and if that man should refuse to accede to the motion of the noble lord, either out of deference to you, Sir, or from any unworthy exultation at the attack made by you on so large a portion of the community—no words are sufficiently strong to describe the meanness of such a dereliction of duty on the one hand, or of such an unworthy betraying of the trust reposed in a representative of the people on the other. Sir, I am free to say, that the speech made by you to the throne, at the close of the last session, was one of the most formidable attacks on the constitution of parliament, that has occurred since the Revolution. It was an attack, materially aggravated by its having proceeded from a person, the natural guardian of that constitution; and, Sir, it is peculiarly unfortunate, that we cannot assert our own rights without impairing your dignity; however anxious we may be to abstain from every thing like asperity, and to treat you, Sir, with all that respect to which you are so amply entitled. Subject to this last consideration, I shall make my observations upon the question with as much freedom and latitude, and discharge my duty as unrestrainedly, as you, Sir, have done in what I have no doubt you conscientiously conceived to have been yours. Sir, there is no subject upon which this House has always evinced so much anxious jealousy, as that its proceedings should be exempt from all control and interference on the part of the crown. Some communication between the throne and parliament must undoubtedly exist. But the mode of his communication is perfectly defined and ascertained. If the throne wishes to communicate with parliament, that communication is made either by a formal speech from the throne, or by a message. But 504 the object of such communication always is, to invite parliament to deliberate on some proposed measure; and never to control, or interfere with, any deliberations already entered into. So on the other-hand, if, either House wish to communicate with the throne, that communication is made either by address or by resolution; and the object of such communication is, not to ask the advice of throne on any subject upon which parliament may be deliberating, but to give the throne any advice that parliament may think it expedient to offer: for this plain reason, that we are the constitutional advisers of the throne, but that the throne is not the constitutional adviser of parliament. Advice from the throne would have too much the air of command, to be consistent with the freedom of discussion in this House. Beyond the limits which I have mentioned, there is no constitutional channel of communication between the throne and parliament, save when we present our Bills for the royal assent or dissent. This is so clear, that it is generally acknowledged that if, Sir, you had no Bill to present, you would have no right to address which the throne at all. Accordingly, when you uttered the address which is the subject of our present deliberation, you held in your hand the Vote of Credit Bill, and you concluded that address with praying the royal assent to the Bill. Had you not held such a Bill, your speech would have been an absolute intrusion, wholly unwarranted by parliamentary usage, or by the constitution. Sir, I do not mean to say, that you were under the necessity of strictly confining yourself in your address to the subject of the Bill which you presented. It was perfectly allowable, that your speech should be graced and ornamented by allusions to other matter. If, Sir you had described generally the measures adopted by parliament, or had descanted on topics of general policy, however we might have considered your opinion as a mistaken one, the promulgation of it could never have been deemed a violation of our privileges. Unless you had alluded to matters pending in parliament, the observations which you had thought proper to make might have been though light or unnecessary, but could not have been characterized as unconstitutional. This remark applies to what has been said of my right hon. friend, the late Speaker of the parliament of Ireland (Mr. Foster). My right hon. friend did certainly make the question of Catholic 505 emancipation, and Protestant ascendancy the subject of a speech to the throne; and in doing so, he had certainly no reason to congratulate himself on his prudence; for, in the very next session his principles and his predictions were overturned together. But this was an imprudence only—not a violation of parliamentary privilege. It had not been so considered. A solitary petition was presented to the House on the subject; but no member of the Irish parliament made it a question of parliamentary discussion. It is on these grounds, Sir, that I perfectly concur in the propriety of the general observations contained in your speech at the close of the last session. In that style of dignified congratulation which so well becomes you, you spoke of the success of our brave fleets and armies, and conferred the just meed of your eloquent praise on their gallant leaders. I am sure, Sir, that every one of us must be proud and gratified when he hears you deliver yourself on such subjects with so much elevation and propriety of manner. But when, because you are the organ of communication between this House and the throne, you proceed to notice subjects controverted in this House, you will find it difficult to discover precedents in justification of your conduct; and still further, when you mention propositions made here, and not acceded to but rejected, you place yourself in a situation still less capable of defence. On this part of the subject, the remarks made by the hon. gentleman below me (Mr. Grant) are unanswerable. As that hon. gentleman justly observed, if a measure passes in parliament, no single person is responsible for that which is an act of the whole House. But it is impossible for you, Sir, to state that a proposed measure has been rejected without implying a censure on the individual or individuals by whom that proposition was made. Accordingly, our rule of proceeding with respect to Bills is founded on this consideration. When a Bill is sent to the other House, or is presented to the throne for the royal assent or dissent, it does not bear on the face of it, whether or not its passed unanimously, or what was the amount of the majority by which it was carried. And why? Because this House will never suffer the state of its divisions and parties to be subject to the direction, or to be under the influence of control, of any other tribunal. The authority of Mr. Hatsell has been dwelt upon with much emphasis. As members of the legislature, I deny that, in our decision on 506 great constitutional questions, we are to take Mr. Hatsell's publication for a textbook. We are not to be told, that we must learn the principles of the British constitution from Mr. Hatsell's work. But, after all, what is there in that work which bears on the present question? Mr. Hatsell states, and states truly, that when the Speaker presents a money Bill at the foot of the throne, he may advert, not to the subject of that Bill alone, but to other business which parliament may have transacted. But does he say, that the Speaker may advert to pending or to rejected measures? Nay, up to this very moment, after all the inquiries made by yourself, Sir, so capable of deep research, and after all the inquiries made by your numerous friends, has a single precedent been found of a Speaker's having referred in his speech to the throne to any measure which had been rejected by the House? And let it be recollected, that the measure to which you thought proper to refer was in fact still pending. For, what was the state of the proceedings on the Catholic question? A resolution had been agreed to, to take into consideration, in a committee of the whole House, the laws affecting the Roman Catholics, with a view to their amicable adjustment. The committee met, and resolutions were passed, declaring it expedient to admit the Catholics to seats in parliament, and to other powers and jurisdictions, under certain provisions for the security of the Protestant establishment. A Bill was introduced to that effect, and the second reading agreed to by a considerable majority of the House. Every thing, therefore, Sir, of which you could properly take cognizance was favourable to the Catholic cause. But in the speech which you made to the throne, you passed over what alone you had a right to know, and what, if communicated, would have made an impression favourable to the cause of the Catholics; and you resorted to that which you had no right to know, and by an unjustifiable perversion sought to make an impression inimical to that cause. For, Sir, you were no more competent to report to the throne the proceedings of the committee of this House, than any other member of the committee. It was not even necessary that you should be present in that committee. Mr. Hatsell so says. It happened, however, that you were there, and that you gave your opinion on the Bill in progress. Was it as Speaker that you gave that opinion? Certainly 507 not. You gave it as member for the University of Oxford. But it may be said, that this is a question of mere form. Sir, the forms of parliament are essential to the preservation of the privileges of a parliament. But, Sir, in taking the liberty to report the opinions of that committee, did you truly report them? On the contrary, you totally, though I am sure not wilfully, misrepresented them. The opposition to the proposition rejected in the committee was grounded on a variety of considerations. Some opposed it in consequence of the intemperate conduct of certain public bodies in Ireland; others because of the writings which had been diffused in that country; some wished the change to be deferred until a time of peace; others were desirous that the see of Rome should first be consulted. With all this variety of sentiment, how, Sir, were you competent to say what was the opinion by which the majority of this House on that occasion were swayed? I will venture to assert, that not ten of that majority were perfectly agreed on the subject; and yet you took upon yourself, in the name of that majority, to declare your own opinion as theirs; nay, even in that respect you were incorrect. The member for the university of Oxford has a right to complain that the Speaker misrepresented him. That right hon. member declared, that in his opinion, many powers and jurisdictions might be safely conferred on the Catholics. He declared, that they might be eligible to the magistracy — there was jurisdiction; he declared that they might be raised to any rank in the army, except that of commander in chief—there was power: a jurisdiction and a power by no means harmless, if improperly used. Again, a great number of those who composed the majority, voted on the ground that the question was a religious one. Have those individuals no right to complain of the Speaker, for declaring that the House considered the question not as a religious, but as a political one; and that if the see of Rome were released from foreign influence, the danger of allowing Catholics to sit in parliament would cease? Will the member for Armagh, and those who think with him, consent thus to have their opposition disrobed of all those important considerations which arise out of religious views of the subject? Will they allow the Catholics, if they disavow the supremacy of the Pope, to come here and legislate for Protestant 508 England? In my judgment, therefore, Sir, you misrepresented the opinions of the majority of this House, as well as your own. One striking fact you, wholly abstained from mentioning. You never told the throne, that, notwithstanding all the means used on the occasion, notwithstanding the temporary difficulties arising out of various causes, notwithstanding the powerful influence exercised in various quarters, there were still 247 members of this House, who declared their readiness to admit the Catholics into parliament on the principles of the Bill which was then under discussion. Will any man lay his hand on his breast, and declare upon his honour, that he thinks you were authorised, on a decision by a majority of four, to represent to the crown that the question was put finally at rest? Was it not evident, that the subject must return to be considered by parliament? And if so brought back, with what impartiality could parliament proceed with respect to it, if, by any indirect means, the artillery of royal influence was brought to bear on their march? Suppose, Sir, that, in reply to you, his royal highness the Prince Regent had been pleased to say to you, "I feel great surprise and indignation that 247 members of the House of Commons are so lost to their sense of duty, as to wish to change those laws by which the throne, the parliament, and, the government of this country are made fundamentally Protestant;" would any member of that minority have endured such an expression? On the other hand, suppose his Royal Highness had said, "I. lament that the laborious exertions of so large a number of members of the House of Commons as 247 have been disappointed; and I trust, that when temporary obstacles are removed, and when the suggestions of reason and wisdom become prevalent, their efforts will prove successful;" would such a declaration have been endured by any member of the majority? Would it not have been asked, what right the throne possessed to interfere with the proceedings of parliament—to school their past conduct, and to lecture their future? And here, Sir, I must observe, that an, hon. gentleman on the floor (Mr. Bankes) has contended, that there is no difficulty in this question, because your speech was not made until the end of the session. It is then of no importance if, we subject, ourselves to be schooled and lectured by the throne; it is of no importance that we 509 should be liable to this annual audit and account, provided it take place at the close of our sittings! Such an occurrence would have no effect on the deliberations of the next session! And besides, if this annual audit were once established, the hon. member for Corfe-castle is too fond of accuracy not to think it necessary, Sir, to add to your report a specification of the numbers of those who might vote on any particular measure, the names of the voters, and so on, until the whole of our mystery is exposed to the eye of royalty? With respect to your speech, Sir, I have another observation to make: it regards its ambiguity. The words of it are capable of two opposite constructions—of a construction unwarrantably intolerant towards the Catholics, and of a construction as tolerant as their warmest friends could desire. You say, Sir, that we have determined to exclude them from the privileges which they require "as long as they shall acknowledge a foreign jurisdiction." Now, what does this expression mean? If by "foreign jurisdiction" is meant the spiritual jurisdiction of the Pope, then the Catholics will be excluded as long as they remain Catholics. But if it merely means temporal, or indeed ecclesiastical jurisdiction within these realms, then no friend of the Catholic cause in this House would, I am sure, wish it to proper on any other terms. Again, Sir, you say in your speech, that parliament have not consented to do so and so. I am persuaded that no special pleading will be resorted to in defence of this passage; and I appeal to the common sense of all who hear me, whether the statement, that "momentous Changes had been proposed for our consideration, but that, adhering to those laws by which the throne, the parliament, and the government of this country are made fundamentally Protestant, we would not consent to those changes," is not a distinct implication of an intention in some persons, by proposing such changes, to destroy "the laws by which the throne, the parliament, and the government of this country are made fundamentally Protestant?" Sir, recollecting that one of the essential features of the resolutions on which the Catholic Bill was founded was, the distinct declaration, that the Protestant establishment should be effectually secured, I ask you, how you can reconcile to any feelings of justice the implied statement, that 247 members' of this House were anxious to 510 introduce changes subversive of that establishment? For one, I loudly disclaim my share of such an imputation. If there be here one man of that number who deserves it, let him take the only opportunity of proving his demerit by voting for your exculpation. Sir, it is a proposition which every hon. gentleman present would not merely not consent to; but which, he would reject with scorn and indignation. One word more. This speech, which in my opinion was a violation of the privileges of parliament, and which misrepresented the conduct and sentiments of all parties, appears to me to have been wholly uncalled for. There was nothing, Sir, in the Bill which you held in your hand at the time you uttered it, or in any other Bill which passed during the last session, that required such an exposition. When you adverted to the splendid victories of our illustrious commander who has gained such transcendant fame—when you spoke of the passage of the Douro, of the battles of Roleia, of Vimiera, of Talavera, of Salamanca, of Vittoria, the feelings of all who heard you vibrated in unison with your own. Every heart exulted; and every Irish heart peculiarly exulted that Ireland had given birth to such a hero. Was that a well chosen moment, Sir, to pronounce the irrevocable doom of those who, under their immortal commander, had opened the sluices of their hearts' blood in the service of the empire? It was a custom in Rome, to introduce a slave into their triumphal processions, not for the purpose of insulting the captive, but to remind the conqueror of the instability of human glory. But you, Sir, while you were binding the wreath round the brow of the conqueror, assured him that his victorious followers must never expect to participate in the fruits of his valour; but that they who had shed their blood in achieving conquests were to be the only persons who were not to share by the profits of success in the rights of citizens. (Hear, hear!)
said, as one of the minority of 247 who were friendly to the measure of concession to the Catholics, as one who had taken an anxious part, to the best of his abilities, in promoting it, and as one who hoped, at no distant time, to take a part by the side of his right hon. friend (Mr. Plunkett) in an endeavour to promote that measure, which he conceived 511 was only temporarily suspended, he felt called on upon the present occasion to assign the reasons why, having differed from that majority whose decision had been considered, in the speech delivered at the bar of the House of Lords, as conclusive, he could not concur with either of the motions, for directly censuring, or censuring by implication, the distinguished individual by whom that speech had been delivered. In delivering the speech alluded to, the Speaker was exercising a discretion which he believed to be vested in him. When he said that he possessed this discretion, he was precluded from answering the most of the arguments by which the crimination of the Speaker was endeavoured to be enforced.—When he said that the Speaker was vested with a discretion, the word implied that that discretion might be exercised either judiciously or not, but still that the exercise should not draw down censure upon him. With respect to the motion of his noble friend, if it was intended to prove an effectual preventive, it went far short of what was necessary. Ought he to be contented, if he thought there existed a dangerous discretion in the Speaker to dilate on the motives which induced the House to adopt or reject the measures brought before it, with saying, if the measure pass into an enactment he may, but in case of rejection he must not? If the motion of his noble friend should be carried, one would think it would preclude future Speakers from mentioning measures not passed into a law. But this did not apply to the present Speaker. One of the reasons which had been urged in favour of the motion was, that it would lead the crown to interfere in measures pending before the House. But had the House itself been so cautious? What had been the course adopted by it in the preceding session? Why in the preceding session, a resolution was passed by a great majority, stating that the House would in the next session take into consideration the state of the laws affecting the Roman Catholics, with reference to an adjustment of them. Did the House then feel that jealousy which was now to fall on the Speaker, and in consequence of which he was to be dragged to the altar as a victim? What was the course adopted by the House? This incomplete and inchoate measure of the House of Commons was carried to the foot of the throne. This was not to be laid to the charge of the Speaker—he did not give the first 512 information to the crown—he was not the first to call the attention of the executive to that which otherwise was not known; but he found the crown in possession of the information, that the subject would be taken into consideration in the next session of parliament; and finding the crown so informed, he stated to it the result of the proceedings instituted in consequence of that resolution. In such a state of things, he communicated his opinion of the result of the proceedings. The colouring, no doubt, differed from that which he himself should have given of it. Grounds had been stated for the failure of the measure, which were far from being the only motives that actuated the majority. Some were actuated by motives of temporary expediency, some by religious motives, and others again by a variety of different reasons, to join in the majority by which the measure was defeated But when the Speaker possessed a discretion of giving an account of the origin, progress, and result of Bills, he might think this an error of judgment; but he never could think it a criminal abuse of authority, when he stated what appeared to him the motives of the House of Commons in this particular instance. It had been said, that in a committee he could have no cognizance of what passed; but this was a mere technical argument. Could they suppose to be out of the reach of the knowledge of the Speaker, what passed in a committee of the House on such an important subject? At the end of a preceding session, the intention of parliament with respect to the measure was declared; and in the next, was no mention to be made of the progress in the question, or what had prevented any progress from being made in it. Some gentlemen had supposed a sort of dramatis persona on the occasion of the communication. Did the Speaker know nothing of what passed when the measure was defeated? No; because the Speaker was supposed to be absent in the committee. Here was a great measure mentioned in one Session, and not to be mentioned in another, because the Speaker of the House of Commons was supposed to be ignorant of it. Why, every person who read a news-paper knew that, such a question was agitated, and what was the result. But it seemed the crown was to be kept ignorant of what passed, and the Speaker was to be the instrument to whom that ignorance was to be attributed (Hear, hear!) All this was as opposite to straight forward practice as could well be imagined. The 513 whole question between the Speaker and his accusers was, not as to the discretion, but as to the exercise of it in the particular case now before the House. It might be a question, whether it was expedient to grant such a discretion to the chair; but it was peculiarly hard on him who at present filled it, to visit on him not only the consequences of an accidental extension, but also the vice of its origin. (Hear, hear!) The greater part of the arguments he had heard that night went against the discretion itself. It might be deemed advisable, that no Speaker should have power to address the throne without previously, receiving the sanction of the House. This would be fairer than to leave him his privileges unclipped, with no other guide than the motion of his noble friend. Better have the words to be made use of, in any representation to the crown, established, than to leave him in this way to an annual audit, subject to annual reprehension. (Hear!) Let the Speaker be deprived of his privileges and speech to the crown here and out of the House, as if he had neither eyes to see, ears to hear, nor tongue to speak, but as the House prescribed to him. He, for one, could have wished the speech delivered had not been such as it was; but he did not therefore mean to deny to the Speaker the right of exercising the same discretion which he would have claimed for himself. If he had delivered, his own opinion at the bar of the House of Lords, he would have stated, that the failure of the measure was owing to the defeat of a main part of it, which induced its supporters to withdraw it. This was, in his opinion, the true construction of the measure. But those who were in the triumphant majority probably took another view of it; and was he to visit them with censure for stating any opinion which they might conceive most, favourable to their side. Of the decision of this majority, he thought as highly as his right hon. and learned friend; and he looked forward to the accomplishment of the measure with confident expectation. Many disadvantages operate against it last session, which would hereafter cease to exist. The present state of public opinion would fade away, and a change of affairs would also induce a change, in the views which would be taken of the Catholics. This question would not long be allowed to survive as a refuge to discord—as a contrast to the harmony of nations, and an obstacle to the happiness of mankind. 514 (Hear, hear!) He professed himself unable to comprehend any danger from the general custom of the Speaker announcing the motives which, led to certain results. There was one expression in the mitigated motion of his noble friend, which, he thought exceedingly severe, where it is stated, that the speech should not be drawn into precedent, that the Speaker of the House of Commons, at the bar of the House of Lords, or 'elsewhere,' &c. Now, he would desire the noble lord to reflect what construction would be put on this, if it were entered on the Journals and read in a distant age. Would it not be inferred from this, that the Speaker of that day was some courtier-like sycophant who, not content with the access which, as Speaker of the House, he had to the throne, sought for other opportunities to poison the royal ear? The conscious integrity of the present Speaker prevented him from noticing such a construction. But if this was not intended, what was meant by 'elsewhere'? The speech at the bar of the House of Lords, however imprudent it might be considered by some, had at least nothing clandestine in it. Why, then, should there be an insinuation that some other channel was had recourse to? If this was intended, it ought to have been, fairly stated; if not, it was mischievous surplusage. In the constant usage of parliament there would be found such expositions as those which the present Speaker had used; and he thought it peculiarly hard to visit on him all the inconveniences of such a practice. It was impossible to separate his individual honour and character from the consideration of this question. The speech contained nothing which, looking to the established practice and privileges of the House, called for its interference.
§ Mr. Tierney
would not enter at any length upon the question now before the House, after the admirable and able support which the motion had received from his two learned friends; though he could not prevail on himself to give a silent vote upon an occasion like the present; particularly after the extraordinary speech of the right hon. gentleman who had just sat down. Many things had surprised him in the course of his life; but nothing had ever more surprised him than that all the eloquence of the most eloquent of the 247 members whose motives had been misrepresented in the speech addressed to the throne at the close of the last session, 515 should be employed in the vindication of him who made that speech. The right hon. gentleman has very recently (said Mr. T.) been the advocate of the Catholic claims, and means, it would appear, to be so again; and how he should now be the most eloquent of your champions, Sir, I am utterly at a loss to account for, except from a general disposition in that right hon. gentleman to defend whatever savours of power, whether in the chair or 'elsewhere.' The whole substance of the defence of the right hon. gentleman amounted to this, that there was a discretion vested in the Speaker; and that the present Speaker had done no more in representing the motives which prevented a measure from being adopted, than many other Speakers had done heretofore when a question had been carried. He could not see why the discretion should be exercised in a matter respecting which there could exist no doubt, and not in another case for which there was no precedent; that is, he could see no difference in the question, whether the measure, the subject of the speech to the throne, was adopted or rejected by the House. And yet one would think the difference was pretty plain; for in the one case the Speaker was instructed what he had to state, and in the other he was not. (Hear, hear!) The right hon. gentleman had said a good deal about the inconsistency there would be in the House informing the crown in one session of parliament that a measure was to be taken into consideration by them in the next, and then afterwards taking no notice of what had been done with that measure, whether it had passed or not. It appeared to him, that the reason for the House communicating in the one case, and not communicating in the other, was pretty obvious. In the one session, they wished to speak of the measure; and in the next, by not passing it into a Bill, they wished to say nothing about it. In the one case, the sentiments of the House were embodied in substantive acts; and in the other case, they were not so embodied. The right hon. gentleman had not thought proper to advert to any of the arguments and reasonings of his hon. and learned friends, which he would have found some difficulty in answering; but he had laid it down imperatively, that the Speaker was vested with a discretionary power, in all cases, of representing to the crown what he conceived to be the motives 516 which guided the House. Other Speakers, in the exercise of that discretion, had received the sanction of the House; and was it equitable to make the present the subject of animadversion, while the others were suffered to pass sub silentio? Many Speakers, said the right hon. gentleman, had even gone the length of expatiating on a great variety of topics, and high eulogiums had been passed on the elegant language of the Speakers of former times, as well as the present. I, for my part, (said Mr. T.,) have no objection, Sir, to your being an orator; but I have a strong objection to your being an historian. I have an objection to your taking upon you to give a narrative of the opinions of the House, and betraying that which the House did not want to communicate. Where could there be any harm in making fine speeches? Suppose such a fine speech as had been let off to-night had been delivered at the bar of the House of Lords, it would have been said, to be sure this is an extraordinary Speaker; he seems a great orator, but he is not very well acquainted with the privileges of parliament. But the House would have been scot free. Sir Edward Turner made fine speeches too, and dealt in more flowers than even the right hon. gentleman—he made use of fine bombastic expressions, like those of ancient Pistol. These might, to some, seem no great proof of his taste: but still they were harmless, in so far as the House was concerned. The question was not, whether in the exercise of his discretion the Speaker had acted improperly; but whether he had exercised a discretion which was not vested in him. There could be no objection, to his availing himself of those cases where he could advantageously display his eloquence; but he (Mr. T.) and all of the 247 gentlemen who voted along with him, must necessarily feel that they were held up to public notice by Mr. Speaker: first, in a way which was not correct; and next, on an occasion when he had no right to do so. The right hon. gentleman, however eager to defend the Speaker, did not seem to sit very easy under his speech; and several of those who defended him that night, had lamented that it contained certain expressions, and particularly those by which the Bill was held up as calculated to overturn the fundamental laws of the constitution. According to the right hon. gentleman, it would be better at once to take from the Speaker the discretionary power vested in 517 him. He (Mr. T.) wanted him to be just as other Speakers—and was there any thing unreasonable in this? The objection taken by the right hon. gentleman to the words 'or elsewhere' in the motion of his noble friend, he would shortly advert to.—The right hon. gentleman, notwithstanding his professions, had not dealt very candidly with his noble friend, when he stated that these words pretty broadly insinuated, that the Speaker was a timeserving sycophant. For his part, he certainly meant no such thing; and if the expressions alluded to conveyed any such meaning, for God's sake let them be expunged. When he had said this, in answer to the right hon. gentleman, he had taken notice, not in point of length, but in point of substance, of all that he had argued.—He had said, there was a discretion vested in the Speaker, of taking notice of all measures which passed: and therefore there was the same discretion with respect to all measures which did not pass. When a Bill was passed, it spoke for itself. But if this discretion was to be considered as vested in the Speaker, of adverting to the proceedings of the House, the Speaker of the House of Commons must be a party man. There would be an end to everything like a Speaker, for a length of years, by whose experience in the manner of conducting the business of the House they could derive advice and instruction; for no administration could go on without a Speaker favourably disposed to them. A measure had lately passed into a law, for the acceleration, as it was said, of the payment of the national debt. Suppose a Speaker unfavourably disposed to this measure, why, in opposition to it, he might avail himself of this discretion to say to the throne, this measure will not accelerate, as it purposes, the payment of the national debt; for it supposes a loan of 28 millions, whereas this year 40 millions have been borrowed.—He (Mr. T.) had proposed a committee to enquire, whether faith had been kept with the national creditors—but this proposal was rejected. What a flourish would have been made on that circumstance? It would have been said, that they refused even to enquire whether the measure was consistent with the public faith or not. There was not a single measure on which a gloss could not be thrown, which would not go to destroy all the credit that ministers naturally looked to. The Speaker must therefore be either a creature of the 518 crown, or the tool of a party, if he were vested with a discretion to say all to him that seems good, on all measures in time to come. The right hon. gentleman (Mr. Canning) had said, that the Speaker knew, as Speaker, what had been done in the committee on the subject of the Catholic Bill, as well as any other member of that House could know. This he (Mr. Tierney) denied. Mr. Speaker must communicate with the member for the university of Oxford before he could have any such knowledge. If he (Mr. Tierney) at any time towards the end of the last session, in speaking upon the Catholic Bill, had represented it as a Bill which had been thrown out of that House, and had been called to order for so saying, must not Mr. Speaker have decided that he had been justly called to order? Then it would appear, that what it would have been objectionable, and deserving of censure, in him (Mr. Tierney) to have attempted to state in that House, during any part of the latter period of the session, the Speaker might, at the end of the session, without the smallest impropriety, communicate to the King, and to the other House of Parliament, at the bar of that other House. It was on the motion of the member for the university of Oxford, in the committee upon the Catholic Bill, that the clause, in consequence of the loss of which the friends of the measure thought it unnecessary to press it farther, was expunged. That right hon. gentleman, undoubtedly, could not then have known, that the majority of four, which, if it had been carried in the House, must have been reduced to three, by the right hon. gentleman being in the chair, had been procured by most extraordinary influence on the part of the crown. If that extraordinary influence had not been used, he (Mr. Tierney) and his friends should have been in the majority instead of the minority. But it was said, that the Speaker must have made some communication to the throne on the subject of this Bill; an address having been in the former session presented to the sovereign, by which the House of Commons declared that they would, in the course of the then next session of parliament, proceed to take the situation of our Roman Catholic brethren into consideration. Suppose, however, that nothing had been done by the Commons on that subject during the whole of that session of parliament, would Mr. Speaker have felt it to be his duty, 519 at the conclusion of the session, to inform the King that they had abstained from interfering in the matter, because, in so doing, they must have been guilty of something subversive of the constitution? This was a communication which, he apprehended, Mr. Speaker would not have felt himself called on to make: yet, in this he would have done less harm, than that which the speech he had actually made was calculated to produce; as by it, no fewer than 247 members of the House of Commons had been denounced as subverters of the constitution. The mischief did not end here. The Speech of the Speaker had gone forth to the public; and in consequence of his noble friend's notice of the present motion, the committee appointed by a body of 60,800 persons who had petitioned against the Catholic claims, finding their advocate to be in jeopardy, met, and passed resolutions thanking the Speaker for his speech in the committee of the House of Commons; more particularly for having, in his address to the Prince Regent, given due effect to the vote of that committee, by proclaiming it at the bar of the House of Lords. This meeting also resolved, that these resolutions should be fairly copied out on vellum, and be presented to the Speaker. He (Mr. Tierney), however, could not believe that the Speaker would consent to keep in his possession a sheet of vellum which had for its object to vilify 247 of the members, by whose votes he had been elected into the office of Speaker of that House. If the Bill which had come from the Lords, known by the name of the duke of Norfolk's Bill, had been thrown out in this House, would the Speaker have assigned the same reason for the rejection of that Bill? He would not, because that would have been to insult the other House of Parliament. And why be more afraid of them than of this House? The Speaker, at the commencement of every session of parliament, put in a claim on the part of the House to liberty of speech, and that all their proceedings might, receive a favourable construction. How hard, then, was it upon them, that he who acted as their mouth, and prayed for a favourable construction on their proceedings should himself put on the actions of so large a body, of them the most unfavourable construction. Because two lines had been struck out of a Bill which had been introduced into that House, the supporters of the measure were 520 represented as intending something subversive of the constitution. Such a charge would not have been suffered, coming from the crown, or from the other House; and should the House suffer it from its own Speaker? He (Mr. Tierney) wished for nothing severe; he only wished for security against the future, that the Speaker might not again denounce the members of that House as subverters of the constitution; and then he would have no occasion for sheets of vellum, such as that to which he (Mr. Tierney) had just alluded,-with which to adorn the walls of his house.
§ General Mathew
said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had observed, that not one person had supported the amendment of the member for Bedford; but he assured the House, that he entirely approved and meant to vote for it.
§ Mr. Bathurst
defended the Speaker. He did not feel that any of the observations, applied to the Speaker's conduct, had any weight. It was said by a right hon. gentleman, that a Speaker may be eloquent, but he must not be an historian. In what respect had he been giving any history that was not well, known to the people of England? A great question had been discussed; and it was known that part of the members of that House took one side, and part the other. That it was said, that the way in which, it had been mentioned at the bar of the House of Lords, was disgraceful to part of the Commons, and that it cast obloquy on the supporters of the Catholic claims. Every man in the country knew that question had been negatived; and what the Speaker said did not divulge any secret, neither could it prevent the question from being again brought forward. It had been urged, that the proceeding, if allowed, would prevent the right of petitioning. Mr. Bathurst, however, could, not see that it would be the least impediment to that right. The authorities quoted did not apply. The speech was no more a censure on the Catholics, than a Bill framed to correct abuses would be a censure on the persons committing those abuses. It was merely stating, that the body of the House of Commons feeling what they conceived due to Protestants, had not consented to this measure. Then it was said, the Speaker made his speech as a private member, and not under the direction of the House. The statement that he made had appeared on the Journals of the House. 521 Did it not appear on the Votes? The Bill was not thrown out, it is true (said Mr. Bathurst), nor does the right hon. gentleman state that it was: he merely says, we have not thought proper to pass it. When he was called to the bar of the House of Lords, he had a right to say the Bill was not passed. A Speaker placed before the throne had stated facts which he had a discretionary power to communicate. He had truly stated, that a measure of this nature did not pass. The colour which he gave to the proceeding would have been given by the majority of the House, had they delivered their sentiments on the subject. It was usual to give notice of the nature of any motion for a vote of censure to the party principally affected. This he understood had been done by the noble lord; but of the amendment and outrageous censure bestowed upon him by the hon. gentleman who moved the amendment, and of the amendment, he apprehended that he had had no notice. This he could not consider to be fair to the right hon. gentleman. Disapproving both of the motion and amendment, he should, in the first instance, vote that the words of the motion should stand, in order to throw out the amendment. He should afterwards put a negative on the original motion.
§ Mr. Whitbread
, in explanation, said he had not intentionally thrown any imputation. He had moved the amendment for the purpose of recording his opinion on the Journals; but it was not his intention to press the House to a division on it.
said, that after the very able and powerful support which had been given to the proposition that he had the honour of submitting to the House, it would not be necessary for him to say one word in reply. His right hon. friend (Mr. Canning) in his zeal to rescue the right hon. gentleman (the Speaker) from a possible, had fixed a real imputation upon him. The word 'elsewhere,' which is to be found in his motion, had been supposed to imply, that the right hon. gentleman as a sycophant and courtier might gain access to the throne. The truth is, that the expression 'elsewhere' had been taken from a precedent, which did not perhaps apply to the present case, and therefore might be wholly omitted; but if such were his opinion of the right hon. gentleman, he should have avowed his opinion without reserve; and this he conceived to 522 be a sufficient answer to an observation of an hon. gentleman (Mr. Bankes), who said that a motion of direct censure would have been more manly and dignified. His great object had been to endeavour, to assert the privilege of the House, and he wished to assert it in a manner the least personally offensive to the right hon. gentleman.
§ The House divided on the original motion—Ayes 106; Noes 274; Majority against lord Morpeth's motion 168.
§ The Resolution of Mr. Bankes was afterwards carried.