HC Deb 31 March 1819 vol 39 cc1265-6

Lord Althorp moved, that the Minutes of the Court Martial on Stinton, the man tried for attending a committee of the House, be printed.

Mr. Beckett

justified the proceedings of the court-martial, and contended, that no breach of privilege had been intended or committed in point of fact; the order produced by Stinton was dated on Thursday morning, and the arrest by Serjeant Hardy did not take place until Saturday afternoon.

Mr. Tierney

thought that the court ought to have inquired, whether the presence of Stinton had been required on the morning of Saturday, before they found him guilty, although they had followed up their sentence by no punishment. He did not impute to the court-martial any intention to infringe the privileges of the House; but the subject ought to be investigated, for the sake of the precedent.

Lord F. Bentinck

said, that if the soldier was wanted by that House, it was merely necessary for him to mention it to the Serjeant, and then to go. With respect to any expressions in the sentence, he could not see how they could be construed to involve any breach of the privileges of the House. That sentence was worded as the sentences of courts-martial generally were, and went expressly to show that it was not meant to incur any such breach of privilege.

Colonel Barry

conceived, that had the sentence of the soldier been for absenting himself without leave, it would have been fully justified. Undoubtedly the man had been guilty of a military crime in so doing, and the sentence was quite regular.

Mr. Tierney

thought the man was perfectly justified. If he was wanted by that House, it was enough for him to say, "I am wanted, and will go."

Mr. Brougham

rose to protest against the doctrine which had been advanced by an hon. member on the other side. The hon. member admitted, that if the soldier was refused leave, he might come notwithstanding; he did not now contend that point, but said that he was bound to ask leave. Now he (Mr. B.) meant to dispute that doctrine altogether. On the warrant of that House being issued to any person whatever to attend them, whether it was to a servant under a master, a sol- dier under his officer, an officer under his superior, it signified not which, except that the soldier under his officer was the most important case, when the control of the officer over the soldier was in question, it was that soldier's duty to come before the House immediately, without regarding any other order.

Mr. Wynn

agreed with his learned friend, that any person receiving ass order to that effect was bound to attend the House. He considered that the soldier was also bound, not to ask leave, but to state that he had received such an order, and must attend. He had in such a case, no leave to ask.

Mr. Brougham

expressed his concurrence in what had fallen from his hon. friend, as to there being no necessity for a person so summoned to ask leave.

Sir James Mackintosh

was perfectly satisfied, that there was no wish to make out the infringement which had occurred a breach of privilege. With respect to what had been said about asking leave, whatever degree of confusion that expression might have produced among hon. members, it originated on the other side of the House. It seemed in the highest degree necessary to protect the individual from the consequences of the step he had taken. As to the observations of a right hon. gentleman, that such protection would open a door to every soldier who chose to do so, to leave his quarters, nothing could be more futile. Soldiers were bound to do their duty.

The motion was agreed to.