HC Deb 26 February 1819 vol 39 cc718-33
Mr. Hutchinson

said, it was with infinite pain that he now presented himself to the notice of the House. He felt he had undertaken a difficult task: he threw himself, however, on the patience of the House, claiming from all parties and all individuals in it, their protection and assistance. He felt himself in a most difficult and painful position—not because he conceived he was advocating-a bad and a wrong cause, but lest, from his want of experience and want of knowledge of the forms of the House, he might either fail to protect an injured individual, or seem deficient in respect for the independence and dignity of the Common' House of Parliament. He should be truly sorry, if any arguments or any expressions used by him, should either injure that cause which he wished to support, or offend the House, which he wished to conciliate. The hon. member for Dover gave him notice yesterday, that he should oppose his motion, on the ground that the petition presented by his gallant friend, contained in it something disrespectful to the House. He could assure the hon. member, had he conceived that there were any words in that petition injurious or offensive to the House, he should not have presumed to appear here to move for the liberation of the petitioner. But he begged leave to remind the House, that the decision, the propriety of which he questioned, was come to on Wednesday night last, in a thin House, consisting of not more than fifty members, and when several members were not, perhaps, aware of the nature of that decision. He did not presume to question the privileges of the Commons' House of Parliament—he respected them, because they were of the most inestimable value to the people, protecting and dignifying as they did, the representatives of that people—they were not, therefore, so much their privileges as the privileges of the people. He was the last man who should be disposed to rise up in his seat, and insinuate any thing tending to bring those privileges into disrespect. But he thought the House had, in this case, misconceived those privileges —that they had acted in error. He should be sorry to be supposed anxious to promote the success of the accusation against the hon. member for the county of Limerick, or to be actuated by a wish to prejudge or prejudice that question. If in the examination on Monday se'nnight it should be proved that there had been a conspiracy against the hon. member for Limerick, no punishment could be too severe against those who had degraded themselves by entering into such a conspiracy. But the subject of the conspiracy had nothing to do with the present question. He trusted the House would favour him with their attention for a short time, while they put the House in the possession of a very few facts. His gallant friend, who had brought the charge against the hon. member before the House in a way which commanded so much its respect, and which gave them the promise that he would be as distinguished a member of it, as he had distinguished himself in the cause of his country by a long career of the most brilliant military services, had stated, that in the petition a member of that House was charged with having attempted to dispose of an office, ministerial to the civil and criminal law of the country, with a view to promote corrupt practices, and that the petitioner brought these corrupt practices before the House, in order that the House might deal with the charges as to them might seem best. To this charge the hon. member in his place made a most triumphant reply. What did the House say? They said, that they would hear the matter of the petition on Monday se'nnight at their bar. So far, as the House would remember, there was a most able charge, and a most impressive defence. The hon. member, in his speech, had recited a letter from Mr. Grady, the father of the petitioner, on which letter Mr. Grady was committed to Newgate. In his judgment, had the letter been proved to have been written by Mr. Grady, perhaps in the then state of the proceedings they might have taken steps for securing the attendance of that gentleman; but he did not see how they could be justified in taking so strong a step as that which they had taken. What had been the conduct of that gentleman? By some contrivance, strangers sometimes heard what passed in the House. Mr. Grady happened to be in a situation, to hear what was going on in the House before they came to vote, that he should be put to the bar for having committed a high breach of the privileges of the House. Now, he would put it to the House—if Mr. Grady had, at the bar, said he had heard the proceedings of the House, but his respect for the House would not allow him to say one word on the subject of the letter; that he would not criminate himself; that they had no right to make him criminate himself; would not the first principles of the constitution have protected him? The hon. member for the county of Limerick had identified the letter: but was he no party? The hon. member had said, that there was a foul conspiracy against him; but was the member for the county of Limerick an interested person or not? Suppose, in the inquiry of Monday se'nnight, instead of a conspiracy, as it was now called, and by some supposed, this case should be fully proved; in what a state would the veracity of the member for the county of Limerick stand? On what did the House believe him?—On his own able and impressive defence. Those who voted on this subject, did not know the vote they were giving. The member for the county of Limerick ought not to have identified himself with this business. He knew that many members regretted exceedingly the vote they came to that night. But he stood on this ground—supposing the letter of Mr. Grady to be one of the most objectionable which was ever written — there was no evidence but that of Mr. Quin that he wrote it, and that evidence was objectionable—there was no address to the letter. The hon. member for the county of Limerick had declared that he threw the cover on the table, and he assured the House that it was Mr. Grady's hand-writing. But he would not question this—he would take it up on high ground, and he would say that they ought not to have committed him on account of the letter. He begged leave to allude also to another circumstance which had occasioned a considerable titter in the House, the declaration of Mr. Grady that he could not see by night. It was the conviction of many, that in all this Mr. Grady was acting a part. But he could produce at the bar the most respectable witnesses in England, Ireland, and France, who would prove that Mr. Grady for years had not been able to see a single letter at night—that he was perfectly blind then. Mr. Grady was so blind, that if he were to walk out without a guide, he exposed himself to be run over by carriages. He was sure that all this was thought at the time to be a mere trick. Now, though he was a reading man, and was indeed a distinguished literary man, it was certain that he could neither write nor read at night and even in the day-time he would run against a carriage without a guide. But to return to the subject: admitting that this letter was most offensive, he was desirous of stating broadly that there was no evidence brought forward to prove that Mr. Grady was the author of that letter, He had now a more difficult and painful task to perform, a subject in which he would have to encounter the prejudices, if not the sound judgment, of many members of the House. Supposing that that letter was written in a state of irritation subsequent to the giving away of the office of clerk of the peace for the county of Limerick, though the hon. member for the county of Limerick had stated, and very impressively stated, after reading it —" Where was then the regret for the purity and privileges of parliament? If I was guilty, why did I not give him the office?—and he was loudly cheered. How so? Supposing even this correspondence to have taken place, and the dates to be correctly given, he did not see how it supported the hon. member. It was true that he had the power of giving the office, but he had already given it away during pleasure. But the charge against him stated, that on the 22nd of September he had given notice to Mr. Grady that the office had been given away by him that day. Now, the letter of the 19th of October was written after the matter had been decided by him. On this supposition the noble lord (Castlereagh) was not correct in supposing that it was in the power of the member for the county of Limerick to give Mr. T. W. Grady the office, excepting in the view that as it was given during pleasure, he might dispossess the other person. He now held the letter of Mr. Grady in his hand, and he insisted that it was not a breach of privilege—that it did not contain a single line, or single expression, which could be construed into a breach of privilege.

Mr. Wynn rose

to order. He said it was a little too much, after a resolution was entered on the Journals of the House, that this letter was a breach of privilege, for any member to come down on a subsequent day, and say that it was not— particularly having himself been present, and not having offered any arguments against that resolution.

Mr. Hutchinson

said, he had left the House with many respectable members, who viewed the matter in the same light with himself, before the resolution was come to. When Mr. Grady was ordered to be committed to Newgate, he had moved that the proceedings might be printed, in order to call the attention of the House to them. He certainly did not wish to injure himself in the opinion of a gentleman of so much experience respecting the proceedings of the House as the hon. gentleman.

Mr. Wynn

did not object to reading the letter, or to stating any thing in favour of the petitioner. But he objected to the broad statement, that the letter was not a breach of privilege, the House having decided that it was.

Mr. Hutchinson

apprehended, if the House on more deliberation should think their decision was hastily formed, it would not be contrary to the dignity of parliament to re-consider their former decision. He should read the letter to the House [here the hon. gentleman read Mr. Grady's letter of the 19th October]. He had read that letter over and over again, and had consulted with several members, and they all agreed with him that it was not a breach of privilege. He could not presume to quarrel with the decision of the House, but he must say that, not having voted on this question, he must have more light on this letter before he considered it a breach of privilege. He did not know to what extent breach of privilege might be carried, but he conceived it was the wisdom of parliament to be slow to exercise that right, except on solemn occasions. The letter had been called by an hon. member, libellous; but if, on Monday se'nnight, the case against the member for Limerick should be proved, where was the libel? Mr. Grady had only lately recovered from a rheumatic fever, and he was in his sixtieth year; and some relief, if possible, ought to be granted him. He certainly did not mean to say that every kindness had not been shown: he had been much indebted to the kindness of a worthy alderman, member for the city, who had procured for him all the comforts he could expect in his situation. The hon. member for Dover had said, will you release a prisoner on Friday who was only committed on Wednesday? Certainly not, he would say, if this prisoner had committed a grave breach of privilege; but if, on a review of the case, he could find none committed by him, he thought he could not be too soon relieved. He had not seen Mr. Grady himself. He did communicate to him his intention, and to that communication he had received no answer; and therefore he hoped that nothing unfavourable to Mr. Grady might result from what had fallen from him: he had brought the case forward on his own suggestion, in the discharge of what he conceived to be his duty. The hon. member for Dover had stated, that the first part of the petition did not appear to him to fall short of stating, or insinuating, that he was wrongfully confined. Now, he would maintain there was not a line in the petition reflecting on the feeling of the House. When Mr. Grady was called to the bar he would assure the House, that he had no intention whatever of offending the House in what he had written. Was it in the eyes of the House a grave offence, that the petitioner humbly stated that he was an innocent man? God for- bid that that should be deemed an offence in their eyes! He asked from gentlemen of more experience than himself, advice and assistance in this business: it was not a question of party politics—it was an appeal to the feelings of the House. The hon. member concluded with moving, "That Thomas Grady, now a prisoner in his majesty's gaol of Newgate, be brought to the bar of this House forthwith, in order to his being discharged."

Sir Robert Wilson, in rising to second the motion of his hon. friend, wished to say a few words on the subject of it. He was instructed to state on the part of the petitioner, that his liberation was absolutely necessary to superintend the proceedings which were ordered by the House, and which were now fixing the attention of the whole kingdom. He did believe, on his honour, after the statement which had been made to him, that the liberation of Mr. Grady was necessary for the conducting of the proceedings. The House would be the more disposed to give credit to this, when they reflected that his son was only twenty-three years of age, and that he was very inexperienced. He was sure that the House would never subject itself to the suspicion of having impeded the charge of the petitioner. A suspicion like this would neither redound to the honour of the House, nor to the honour of the hon. member (Mr. W. Quin), whose speech on a former night was so much in unison with his duty. All parties in the House were called on to act as judges here.—Let it be recollected that the parties in this particular case were respectable—that their honour, character, their all depended on the issue of this investigation. Let it not then be said, that if they failed to substantiate their charge, they were prevented by the measures of that House. Let it not be said, that they were deterred by this first exercise of power in the person of the individual who was necessary to afford them assistance. If the parties failed, let them fail from their inability to substantiate their cause, and then the punishment which the House might inflict would appear just. It had been stated by the member for Dover, that the petition of the prisoner was worded in a way which wounded the dignity of the House. He was sure it was not his intention to offend the House. He threw himself entirely on the clemency of the House. Since he had come into the House he had reason to know that Mr. Grady had written a most submissive letter, with the view of softening the indignation of the House, but he had sent it by the only channel through which it could not be presented. It was unfortunate that the forms of the House prevented that individual from taking those measures which would have been in unison with his private feelings.

Mr. Courtenay

was not conscious of entertaining the least hostility towards the petitioner. He was ready to admit, that if, on a more deliberate review of their proceedings, they appeared of doubtful propriety, it would not be inconsistent with their dignity to retrace their steps. If he were conscious of having acted improperly in his vote on Wednesday, he should not be ashamed to confess his error; but, on deliberate consideration, he thought the course adopted by the House was correct, and that the petitioner's case was not one which impugned the justice of the House. The House had decided, that the writing and sending the letter was a high breach of privilege. The manner in which the privileges of the House had been infringed had been stated by an hon. and learned friend of his (Mr. Brougham) in a manner which had brought conviction home to the mind of every one who had heard him; and it was only under the idea that some members were present who had not heard that statement, that he should venture to repeat the grounds of the resolution of the House. The breach of privilege did not arise from the circumstance that the hon. W. Quin was a member of parliament—it did not arise from a personal injury done to him—it did not arise from the circumstances of the petition, since Thomas Grady, the lather, was not a petitioner against the hon. member, nor a witness on the petition. The breach of privilege consisted in this—that the letter contained a direct threat of using the authority of parliament to extort the grant of a lucrative office from the custos rotulorum of the county of Limerick. He spoke under correction; but he imagined that, even in the case of an ordinary court of justice, if its process had been used for the purpose of extorting money, that court would consider such a proceeding as a contempt—that is one of that species of offences which every court had the power of correcting by summary process. The House of Commons necessarily had the power of punishing every offence which tended to bring its proceedings into discredit. The next point was, whether there was sufficient testimony of the sending of that letter. He confessed he could not put the testimony of the hon. member for Limerick so entirely out of the question as the hon. mover had done. If the letter was not written by Thomas Grady, the father, it was a most atrocious forgery. Was the House prepared to believe this? But as a point which would throw light upon the question, who was the author of that letter, he would ask the hon. member who presented the petition, by whom was the list of witnesses which had been given into the table written?

Sir R. Wilson

said, that he had received that list from the petitioner, Mr. Grady the elder.

Mr. Courtenay

said, that he had corn-pared that document with the letter in question, and it was manifestly in the same hand-writing. He would indeed appeal to the hon. mover, whether he could have the slightest doubt that the letter was written by Mr. Grady. On the justice of the House the petitioner had therefore no claim. He had now to remark on the appeal which had been made to their mercy. It was, however, to be remarked, that the petitioner did not put his case on that ground. The allegation of the petitioner was, that the House had not decided on sufficient evidence. Now, though he had no wish to make petitioners, whether innocent or no, abjectly prostrate themselves before the House, yet it was rather too much that his liberation should be claimed as an act of mercy, when the justice of the decision was ques- tioned. It was said, that the case of the petitioner against the hon. W. Quin, could not be tried without the assistance of the present petitioner. How did this appear? The case against the hon. W. Quin stood as an alleged interview between him and Mr. Carew Smith, while Mr. Grady the father was at Boulogne, and on a minute of what passed during that interview. The case, indeed, mainly turned on the question, whether that minute received the sanction of Mr. W. Quin; and on this, Mr. Grady the father could throw no light. But when the House was told that the petitioner against the member for Limerick, was a young, inexperienced man of 23 years of age, and that therefore the assistance of his father, Mr. Grady, senior, was necessary to enable him to make out a case, they would recollect the manner in which the petitioner had dwelt upon the importance of the office of clerk of the peace, to the administration of justice, which this petitioner, who was described as incompetent to conduct his cause, had filled for fifteen years! If the fair investigation of the charge against the member for Limerick could be shown to depend on the liberation of the petitioner, he would consent to his liberation; but till that was shown, the House would not do justice to itself if it agreed to the motion.

Mr. Bootle Wilbraham

said, that nothing which he had heard that evening had had the smallest effect in altering his sentiments on this case. All Mr. Grady sat forth in his petition was, that he had been committed on insufficient testimony, that of the member for Limerick; and that there was no proof of the letter having been intended for him, inasmuch as the superscription was lost, and his name was not mentioned in it. These declarations impugned the decision of the House, and were not calculated to excite their mercy. That the letter was meant for Mr. Quin was clear, since in one part of it, the petitioner said—" I otter you advice; I advise you to restore my son to his office, of which you have deprived him." This could only refer to the hon. member for Limerick, who had displaced the petitioner's son. Convinced that the petitioner had both written and sent the letter in question, he would oppose the motion.

Mr. N. Culvert

had read the printed papers containing the evidence of Mr. Grady, and he felt called upon to say, that the answers of that person were most unbecoming the station he had filled of a barrister and a gentleman. He should therefore vote against the motion.

Mr. Bennet

observed, that he should not have offered himself to the notice of the House, if he had not been anxious to do his utmost to bring it back to the line of duty and discretion. He was persuaded that there were not two lawyers to be found in the kingdom who would give it as their opinion that Mr. Grady had been guilty of any offence. It was of no consequence to this question whether the allegations in the second letter were true or untrue; that on which the commitment had been grounded, spoke of the supposed misconduct of a member of parliament; it was put merely hypothetically, and no man with the right use of his understanding could construe that into a breach of privilege. Supposing the facts stated to be well founded, all honest men would join heartily in the opinions which the writer had expressed. A member who had so misconducted himself, would merit the severest censure the House could inflict; but on the contrary, if it were proved that a foul conspiracy subsisted, the chastisement of parliament was equally due to the authors of it. The real and only question was, whether the letter produced by Mr. Wyndham Quin was or was not a threat. He begged to state most distinctly, that in his judgment the letter of the 19th of October was not meant as a threat. The fair construction of it was no more than this— "I have known you for fifteen years, and our intimacy has gradually increased; you have removed my son from an office he has long held, for political reasons;— retrace the steps you have so unadvisedly taken—recollect that you are about to commit a high political offence—replace my son, and I, in consideration of our friendship and your incautiousness, will do—what for no other human being in similar circumstances I would do—I will drop this matter:—nay object is not revenge, but justice, and I will not expose that profligacy which I am confident you yourself will repent." Such was the natural interpretation candid minds would put upon the letter, and even the hon. member had so considered it in his reply: this was upon the supposition that no offer had, in the first instance, come from Mr. A. Quin. A great deal had been said about the sacred privileges of the House: perhaps he did not look upon them as quite so sacred or important as many gentlemen; they were, however, no doubt, of considerable value, though now and then employed for bad purposes, and sometimes put into odious exercise: they were, however, intrusted to the House, not as a scourge, but as a protection to the people. In order to be better prepared on this subject, he had visited Mr. Grady in Newgate, and was happy to state, that his situation was as comfortable as circumstances would admit; at first his condition had been much worse. With regard to his nearsighted-ness, he could bear testimony, that the fact was as Mr. Grady had represented it, and that there was no foundation for the severe remarks that had originated in the actual defect of his vision. When Mr. Grady read, he was obliged to put the paper so near to his eye, that there appeared no space between the eye-lash and the paper. Since he had risen, the letter to which the gallant general had alluded, had been put into his hand; it was addressed to the highest authority in the House, but unfortunately, as had been observed, to the only individual who could not communicate its contents. He begged leave to read it, as it showed that Mr. Grady had been actuated by no improper or unbecoming feelings at the time he wrote the petition, which had been objected to as disrespectful. The hon. gentleman then read a letter addressed to the Speaker, in which Mr. Grady stated, that he had observed by one of the public journals, that an hon. member had given notice of an intention to oppose his discharge, on the ground that the language of his petition was disrespectful he begged to observe, that any defects or inaccuracies were quite unintentional, without the remotest design of questioning the right of the House, or the justice of its order: the petition had been drawn up at a time when his mind, from fatigue, was not in a state to perform its ordinary functions; he had at that time undergone fourteen hours dreary confinement without repose. He assured the Speaker, that it had never been his intention to infringe the privileges of the House-privileges which he was well aware, were the bulwarks and safeguards of the British constitution. The letter then represented that the writer's son, a young man totally inexperienced, was called upon within the course of nine days, under heavy penal consequences, to bring forward and establish his cause, and that he had nobody about him capable of giving him advice or assistance in a situation of no ordinary difficulty. The letter was received with many cheers, and Mr. Bennet sat down, after observing that he was strongly persuaded, that had the decision of the House been delayed for only twenty-four hours, it would not have thought it proper to send Mr. Grady to confinement.

Mr. Bankes

thought it was impossible for the House not to have acted as it had done. How the two hon. members, who had moved and seconded the motion, could doubt that the letter constituted a breach of privilege, was to him astonishing. He believed one of them had been in the House when the first resolution had passed nem. con. That was before it had been attempted to fix the writing and sending on Mr. Grady. The hon. member might surely have that night formed a a correct opinion on the nature of a letter which had been read no less than three times. But, besides the writing and sending of the letter, it was his opinion that any court of justice would have committed an individual to prison for giving testimony in the manner Mr. Grady had done. Much was said on the hardship of compelling an individual to criminate himself; but he appealed to every gentleman present, whether on any charge against the editor of a newspaper, or any other person, It was not the uniform course to summon the individual accused to the bar, and ask him, was he or was he not the person who did so and so? With regard to the opinion expressed by the last speaker, that the first letter to the member for Limerick contained no thread, all he should say was, that, knowing the excellent understanding possessed by that hon. gentleman, had any one told him beforehand that, he would arrive at such a conclusion, he could not have credited it, and he should leave that part of the case to common sense and common reason. As to another part of the same gentleman's observations that no two lawyers in England would have considered the letter enclosed to the member for Limerick to constitute a libel, it was to be recollected a hat a member of the House, a lawyer of no common authority (Mr. Brougham), had already pronounced it to be libellous, and had with great particularity described the manner in which it was so. It was not the practice of the House, to discharge any individual whom they had committed for breach of privilege, without an humble apology, and an expression of contrition; even their own members had been compelled to follow the same course. He knew many instances of inconsiderate applications of that nature, which had always failed; and the doctrine he was enforcing, he had heard laid down by the late Speaker from the chair. That Mr. Grady was the writer of the letters, was as plain as any fact ever made out to the satisfaction of his understanding, and he should put it to the candour of the members who made and seconded the motion, whether either of them could have any doubt of it. But Mr. Grady himself, by quoting a letter from the member for Limerick, in his petition of the day before, clearly acknowledged a correspondence had been carrying on for some time between them, and thus contradicted his own evidence at the bar, because he had there denied having written any letters to that member. The letter referred to, of the 2nd of November, was indeed a very proper one, to show the temper in which the member for Limerick wrote at that period; but containing the expressions— "you say I have given you mortal offence;" and again—" some long and rather angry letters have passed between us;" and it also incontestably established the fact of the petitioner writing and sending letters. Besides, the hand-writing of the petition corresponded with that of the letters, so that there could be no doubt but the writing was brought home to Mr. Grady. Much stress had been laid on the alleged disadvantage under which the son would labour in not having the assistance of his father in conducting what was called "his cause;" but was the present a cause like that between two private individuals, to be managed by advocates? No; it would be carried on by the House, availing itself of the persons summoned as witnesses; of whom it ought to be recollected Mr. Grady, the father, was not one. It had been well observed, that the present case had nothing to do with the charge against the member for Limerick. It was curious that a young man of the age of 23, so long in the discharge of the duties of an office of acknowledged importance and responsibility, should now be found so incompetent. The House were therefore to put all that ground of liberation out of consideration. At the same time, he had no objection to the House paying every reasonable attention to another petition of a proper description, nor to their deciding on the case with mercy as well as justice.

Sir R. Wilson

observed, that though Mr. Grady, jun. had nominally held the office of clerk of the peace for fifteen years, he had discharged the duties of it by deputy.

Mr. Alderman Wood

thought that there were great shades of distinction in breaches of privilege; some were of a very offensive kind, and some comparatively venial. All the members present knew that breaches of privilege were committed every day; if they doubted it, they had only to turn their eyes to the gallery, and they would see individuals in the act of committing breaches of privilege; many of those in the habit of speaking would be very sorry, too, if such breaches of privileges were put an end to. As to the conduct of Mr. Grady at the bar, he was not aware that Mr. Grady had then committed any offence, though he had told him in Newgate that the fair manly way would have been to have admitted the letter at once. The worthy alderman then appealed to the member for Limerick, whether, if the prisoner were not released, a wrong impression might not be made on the public mind? It would do no injury to his cause to consent to his release, and would prevent all idle clamour. That the accommodation in Newgate had been much improved could not be denied; but then it was still Newgate; and if any hon. member were sent thither, whatever might be his accommodation, he would certainly wish for a speedy release. The prisoner was a barrister, aged, and the adviser of his son, who could not proceed without him. Under all these circumstances, the worthy alderman implored the House to consent to his release, as the prisoner had already been sufficiently punished.

Mr. Martin, of Galway, declared, that from his knowledge of the petitioner, he was fully disposed to render him any service in his power; and with that view he thought, that the best thing he could do would be to recommend the hon. gentleman to withdraw the present petition, and, availing himself of the temper of the House, to suggest to the petitioner the propriety of drawing up another petition, more agreeable to that temper, as well as more appropriate to his unfortunate situation. Such a petition would, he had no doubt, have the effect of procuring the release of Mr. Grady.

Mr. Peter Moore

said, he was one of those who had voted for the commitment of Mr. Grady, but he done so without being fully aware of all the circumstances of the case. He now appealed from his vote when ill-informed, to his vote when well informed upon the matter; for if he had understood as much from hearing the letters read, as he had from seeing them in print, he should not have come to the conclusion which he had upon a former evening. He did not conceive that the case against Mr. Grady, on the question of intentional breach of privilege, was at all made out; and he believed that the hon. member for Limerick himself had not thought that any breach of privilege existed, until it was mentioned in the House. Mr. Moore then contended, that the case of Mr. Grady was in no one sense of so aggravated a nature as that of Mr. Fuller, the member for Sussex, who, after having been guilty of very outrageous conduct, in the course of which he had been with difficulty prevented from committing a violent assault upon the Speaker was, nevertheless, only put into custody of the serjeant-at-arms, up-stairs, and was discharged the next day, on a note of apology from him being read.

Mr. Masterton Ure

said:—I think the dignity and consistency of the House materially interested in the decision of this question. On a former night the petitioner was, after an examination at your bar, declared guilty of a high breach of privilege, and in consequence sent to his majesty's gaol of Newgate. The House adopted this measure unanimously, on such evidence as to them appeared proper. The petitioner now arraigns the judgment of the House, and the evidence on which it was founded. We cannot therefore comply with the prayer of this petition, without implying a censure on our own decision. And after the satisfactory manner in which the letters alluded to have been proved, I think the House is bound to refuse the petitioner's liberation. When he comes before the House and states his contrition for the offence, it will then be the proper time to extend the clemency of the House to him.

Mr. Lambton

said, that considering all the circumstances of the case, he would take the liberty of suggesting to the hon. mover the propriety of withdrawing the present petition, in order that he might communicate with the unfortunate gentleman from whom it proceeded, upon the expediency of drawing up another petition, in the style and spirit of an apology, for what was considered a breach of the privileges of the House. He had not opposed the vote of a former evening, because he did not wish to put his opinion in competition, with those which had been given on that occasion: at the same time, he did not think that a breach of privilege was not proved; but the question now before the House was, whether the individual was already sufficiently punished.

Mr. Alderman Waithman

expressed his disinclination to accede to the suggestion of the hon. member on the floor. He would ask, how the House would feel in this case, if the charge advanced by the petitioner's son should turn out to be well founded? It appeared, from what had been stated, that an improper contract had actually been proposed by the hon. member for Limerick, and all the petitioner's letter conveyed was, in his mind, the mere expression of a determination to lay that proposition before the House. This being the case, he could not consider the petitioner's letter to amount to a breach of the privileges of the House, and therefore he should certainly vote for the motion.

Mr. Hutchinson

thought that he should not act consistently, if he were to withstand the wish expressed for withdrawing the motion. What he had in view on this occasion was, to assert a great constitutional principle, and also to vindicate the liberty of the subject. According to the principle to which he alluded, no one was called upon to criminate himself; and it was to be recollected, that without the answers of the petitioner himself at the bar, there was actually no evidence against him, but that of the hon. member for Limerick, who was himself a party accused. He had, in the course of the evening, received a letter from the prisoner, in which he disavowed any intention to violate the privileges of the House. Still, in proposing to withdraw the motion, he wished it to be understood, that he could make no pledge as to the nature of the petition which the unfortunate prisoner would deem it proper to draw up in lieu of the one already presented.

The motion was then withdrawn.