— Mr. Ponsonby,
after observing that the present act for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus would expire in July, and that the middle of May being now at hand, a period was approaching at which, according to all experience, a number of members would retire into the country, begged to ask the noble lord opposite if it was the intention of his majesty's ministers to apply to parliament for a farther extension of the power of imprisonment which had already been given them? He hoped the noble 577 lord would give an answer one way or the other.
replied, that after the holydays, about the 1st of June, a communication would be made to the House concerning the internal state of the country; after which the same proceeding would be proposed as had taken place in the early part of the session, and it would be referred to a committee to enter into an inquiry as to the measures proper to be pursued. After the question put by the right hon. gentleman, without any wish to provoke a discussion, or to commit the House to a premature declaration of its sentiments, he felt it his duty, under the circumstances the House had been placed in by the question of the right hon. gentleman, to state, that his majesty's ministers, in the present situation of the country, thought themselves called on to propose to parliament a continuance of the measure now in operation [Cries of hear, hear!].
§ Mr. Philips
said, as the matter was of the utmost importance, and demanded a full attendance, he should move for a call of the House.
said, he was as willing that there should be a call as the hon. gentleman could be.
§ Mr. Brougham
asked, whether it was the noble lord's intention, after the holy-days, to propose a committee, as in the early part of the session, or to proceed without a committee?
repeated, that a communication would be made, to the House, after which a committee would be proposed for the purpose of making an inquiry, as at the beginning of the session; after which, his majesty's ministers would propose to parliament a continuation of the measure now in force.
§ Mr. Brougham.
—Am I then to understand, that a committee is to inquire, and that this is to be the result of the inquiry?
Sir F. Burdett
said, that there could he no doubt what would be the result of the inquiry. But he should first move for a list of the persons confined under the present act.
§ Mr. Brougham
hoped, that some member, of more weight than himself, would give notice of a motion for an address, praying his royal highness the prince regent not to dissolve parliament while the Habeas Corpus Act was under suspension.
§ Mr. J. P. Grant,
after reminding the House that the first law-officer of Scotland had stated, that the conspiracies at Glasgow were not confined to the poorer classes of the community, said, that he knew that only one person above the rank of an operative weaver had been taken up, and that person had declared that he had no communication whatever with any political clubs; 3,000l. had been offered for bail, in order that he might continue his occupation, but this was refused, and properly enough, as the man was charged with high treason: but he was now told, that without any farther information, the law-officers of the Crown, after having confined this man six weeks, had discharged him, without bail: so that a respectable individual had been incarcerated six; weeks without cause, discharged without inquiry, and left to seek redress for the loss of his trade, character, and health, in what manner he could—[Hear, hear!].—He hoped the House would consider in what manner the powers of the act had been applied, and what was to be expected from the law-officers of the Crown. He did not impute motives, but mentioned facts, and he trusted some explanation would be given.
§ The call of the House was then fixed for the second of June.