HC Deb 25 May 1820 vol 1 cc544-5
Mr. Courtenay

begged to call the attention of the House to a singular case, and one which he considered to be much stronger than that which had just come before them. At the last election for the borough of Boston a gentleman of the name of Ellis had been returned by a considerable majority. The validity of this election was petitioned against by the other candidate, who represented that Mr. Ellis was ineligible under the Grenville act. The consideration of this petition stood for the 6th of June, but it was physically impossible for Mr. Ellis, and that without any imputation of negligence upon his part, to appear by that day. What he should wish would be, that the House should postpone the consideration to a day, the earliest at which it might be possible for Mr. Ellis to be heard. There was this difference between this case and that which had been just submitted to the House; namely, that Mr. Ellis had no agent in this country at all—no one to appear for him. By the 6th of June, there could be no person present to say who should be nominee for Mr. Ellis. It was on these grounds that he should move to postpone the hearing of this petition to some more distant day. The House were in possession of the grounds on which this gentleman's return was opposed: it was, that Mr. Ellis was supposed to have held an office under the Crown coming under the description of offices created since the statute of queen Anne, in consequence of which he was disqualified. It was not his intention to dispute this position, for he believed that that office would be held a disqualification; but at the same time he was far from believing that it was a disqualification against which there might not be good grounds of defence, and it was known that many cases where such defence had been pleaded had arisen under that act. All that he entreated, however, was, that the House would not now enter into the merits of the case. He should move, that the House should appoint the committee for the last day which had been fixed for such matters in the present session, namely, the 18th of July. It was just possible that Mr. Ellis might return by that time.

Mr. Tierney

said, that as it had been thought proper that the other motion should be adjourned, he saw no reason why this should not take the same course.

Mr. W. Williams

said, he had always considered a question of this sort one of the greatest constitutional questions ever entertained in that House. It resolved itself into this—whether because Mr. Ellis had chosen to be absent from England for two or three years together, the representation of England was not, therefore, in the mean time to be filled up. He should beg to propose that this debate fee adjourned till to-morrow.

This motion was agreed to.