HC Deb 10 July 1820 vol 2 cc318-21
Sir Robert Heron

informed the House that he understood sir William Manners had surrendered himself, and was then in the custody of the serjeant-at-arms. The two individuals also, H. Manners, esq. and W. Atter, who had been ordered to attend were then in attendance. Knowing, as he did, that the evidence of the two latter was no longer wanting before the Grantham committee, and remembering the lenity which the House seemed disposed to exercise in their case, as having acted without an independent will of their own, he should conclude with moving, that the order for their attendance be discharged. The House would recollect, that A. Jarvis, another person who had refused to attend the notice of the committee, was on Saturday last committed to Newgate. He believed that he should shortly have to present a petition in his behalf. With regard to sir W. Manners, it was not his intention to submit any motion.

Mr. Wynn

was of opinion that, considering the view which the House originally took of the situation in which the individuals who were the subject of this motion stood, there was equal ground for at present exercising the same lenity.

The order for the attendance of H. Manners, esq., and W. Atter was then discharged. The serjeant-at-arms reported that sir W. Manners was in attendance.

Mr. Wynn

thought there was but one course to pursue, and that the House was clearly bound to act as it had done in the case of Jarvis. He therefore moved, "That sir William Manners, baronet, having absconded, in order to avoid being taken into custody pursuant to the Order of this House, be for his said offence com- mitted to his Majesty's Gaol of Newgate; and that Mr. Speaker do issue his Warrants accordingly."

Sir James Graham

said, that he understood sir W. Manners had left his home before the order was made for taking him into custody. By the evidence of the messenger it appeared, that before the House debated upon that order, sir W. Manners had gone from his usual place of residence at Buckminster, and could not justly therefore be said to have absconded. He trusted, as some misconception seemed to have prevailed, that the House would not deem it necessary to adopt the motion, and should move that the order for his attendance be discharged.

Dr. Phillimore

was persuaded, that if the hon. baronet were apprised of the resolutions to which the House had already come upon this subject, and the course which it had hitherto pursued, he would not have brought forward his amendment. It appeared in evidence, that sir W. Manners had set at defiance the order of the House, and had actually barricadoed his doors for the purpose of preventing its execution. He must remind the House likewise, that they had already punished one person for similar conduct, and that person the servant of sir W. Manners. Could they with any propriety liberate the master, after they had sent to prison an individual dependent upon him, and who, from his station in life, could hardly be so well acquainted with the nature of the offence he had committed. He felt assured they would deal out equal justice, and should only observe in addition, that it was not on a report of the committee that they were proceeding, but that the House had satisfied itself by an examination at the bar.

Mr. Tennyson

said, that on a former occasion he had interfered in favour of sir W. Manners, conceiving that as he had been selected as nominee in the committee for his son, it might fairly be expected of him as an incidental duty. He unfeignedly agreed in what had fallen from the hon. baronet who had moved an amendment, for the absconding certainly did not appear in the evidence on the Journals. The House should also know, that though it had been applied to on behalf of the sitting member to enforce the attendance of sir W. Manners and others as material witnesses, yet they had not been examined, though in attendance the whole of that day, which had brought the pro- ceedings of the committee to a conclusion. —The hon. member was proceeding, when

The Speaker

spoke to order. It was subversive, he said, of the authority of the House that a person called upon as a witness by a warrant of the House, should take upon himself to refuse obedience to that warrant, on the consideration whether or not he was a material witness; and therefore it was disorderly to urge as an excuse the circumstance stated by the hon. member. Also, if observations were permitted on the manner in which an election commitee executed its duty, it could not be foreseen how far interference with committees might be carried.

Mr. Tennyson

said, he should be the last person in the House who would undervalue the warrant of the Speaker, and would ever be found among the first to maintain its due authority and dignity; and if he had been permitted to proceed, he was persuaded he should not have been called to order, and that, as it appeared to him, in a manner which seemed to imply some reproach—he might almost venture to say reproof, which he did not feel he deserved, merely wishing to discharge his duty. As to what he had said respecting the witnesses not being called, he had referred merely to the counsel and parties interested for the sitting member, and not to the conduct of the committee; and he had wished to observe also, not for the purpose of defence, but with a view to the mitigation of punishment, that if he might reason by analogy to the practice of courts of law, where a party could not apply with effect to the court against a witness who refused to attend on a subpoena, unless he accompanied his application by an affidavit that the person who refused to attend was a material witness.

The Speaker

again spoke to order, and said that the hon. member had much misunderstood the observations which he had felt himself called upon to make: nothing was farther from his wish or intention than to convey the slightest reproof to the hon. member, and he regretted that he should have thought so; but he had a strong impression that the subject matter of the hon. gentleman's speech was disorderly, as conveying the idea that a difference should be made by a person to whom a warrant was issued, in the obedience which he might pay to it by the consideration whether it was or was not necessary that he should attend.

The amendment was negatived, and the motion agreed to; and the following order was made: "That the keeper of his majesty's gaol of Newgate do to-morrow, and from time to time, bring the said sir William Manners, when he shall be a prisoner in his custody, to the committee on the Grantham election, in order to his being examined as often as the said committee shall think fit to require the same; and that Mr. Speaker do issue his warrant accordingly."