HC Deb 21 June 1825 vol 13 cc1248-50
Mr. Denman

said, that as the papers respecting Mr. Kenrick's case were now before the House, he wished to give notice, that he would submit a motion for bringing to the bar, on Friday next, five witnesses, to give evidence of the allegations against Mr. Kenrick. The letter, not yet printed by the House, was that which was published by Mr. Kenrick in a Lincoln paper, and was inconsistent with the facts as developed in the affidavits before the court of King's-bench, as well as with the statements of all the other parties. When these witnesses were examined, then he should have done all that could be reasonably expected of him; for of it he knew nothing except from these sources. It had been intimated, that he ought to bring forward a written charge. But, how could he do so without imputing a legal offence? All the written evidence which he could adduce was, the letter which reflected so strongly upon John Franks. That letter, together with the statements of the witnesses, was of such a nature as, if uncontradicted, was calculated to make out a strong case of malversation, partiality, and oppression, against Mr. Kenrick. Should that prove to be the case, it would remain for the House to decide what course they ought to take. At present, he should merely move, "That John Franks and Esther his wife, Edward Arnold, Henry Peters, esq., and Martin Money Canfor, do attend this House upon Friday next."

Mr. Secretary Peel

observed, that the object of the hon. and learned gentleman was, to inquire if there was ground for the House to address the Crown to remove an individual from a judicial office. It must first, however, be determined, whether or not the House would enter on the inquiry. If they agreed to summon witnesses, that would be at once to determine that they would inquire. It was due to the individual, and to the importance of the precedent which would be established, to consider what were the grounds for such a proposition. He thought that if the learned gentleman would embody his charges on paper, it would give the individual accused the power of more satisfactorily replying to them. At any rate the motion for summoning witnesses ought to be postponed until the papers were printed.

Mr.S. Bourne

wished only to give Mr. Kenrick the advantage which the meanest offender would have before the lowest magistrate; namely, that of having the charge specifically stated, with a proper opportunity to be heard in his defence.

Mr. Abercromby

said, that there were two propositions which no man would dispute. First, that the House ought not prematurely to go into the inquiry; secondly, that they ought not to proceed in it without furnishing the accused with a knowledge of the charge to be preferred against him. But both of those objects had been already attained. The first was effected by the petition of Canfor, which contained the whole matter of the charge. As to the second, a friend of Mr. Kenrick's had stood up in his place in that House, and stated, that it was his anxious desire that there should be full and prompt inquiry. The only question left for the House was, how soon they ought to go into it? The petition of Canfor was before them: affidavits had been prepared by Mr. Kenrick for another place. If evidence were necessary, the House would hear and dispose of it. But, of all cases he had ever known, this was the clearest; and Mr. Kenrick himself courted prompt inquiry.

Mr. Secretary Peel

said, he did not speak in reference to Mr. Kenrick, but to the forms of the House, and the principles of justice. The House had not determined on inquiry. The learned gentleman might, between this and Friday, reduce his charge to a specific form in writing.

Mr. Wynn

said, it was the duty of the House to take care that the accused should have ample Knowledge of the charge, which ought to be reduced to writing and handed to him. If the charge affected the party in his judicial capacity, it must be reduced to form in writing. In the case of baron Page, the complaint against him was ordered by the House to be reduced to writing by his accuser, and a copy was ordered to be furnished to him. The House could then decide if there was, primâ facie, a sufficient ground of charge to merit further inquiry.

Mr. Tierney

said, if he understood rightly, there was no charge against Mr. Kenrick as judge, but only as magistrate. If the charge affected him as a judge, then undoubtedly it must be reduced to writing; but the petition, which really contained the charge, only affected him as a justice of the peace. His learned friend did not make any charge; he only presented the petition. It was an odd way of going to work to fix the responsibility upon a member of instituting, by a settled form of his own, a charge contained in a petition; when they ought rather to choose to hear the petitioner themselves, that in case of his not making his charge good, he might be, made answerable. What his learned friend proposed was, that the petitioner should be heard. In the event of proving his charge, it would become the duty of the House to address the Crown for removing Mr. Kenrick from the commission of the peace. Then it would afterwards become a question, how far it could be proper to retain a man in the office of a judge, who was found unfit for the magistracy.

The Solicitor General

said, that if the motion was agreed to, the House would be going into evidence, without having before it the matter to which the evidence applied.

Mr. Brougham

was surprised at the doctrine laid down, that a complaint was not to be entertained, unless the House cramped itself by an impeachment or a written charge. He had understood, that the proposition of his learned friend was grounded in parliamentary enactment, and that this mode of proceeding was a statutory provision to enable the House, in particular cases, to do something which was not so light as a mere complaint, nor so weighty as an impeachment. There had been already two instances of this same kind of proceeding in this session, and yet no demand had been made of a charge reduced to writing. The first was against the duke of Manchester; the second against lord Charles Somerset. Inquiry was, in this case, necessary. They might have to impeach. But just now the House was not called on to exert its judicial, but its inquisitorial functions. He had long known Mr. Kenrick professionally, and he did hope that he would be able to clear himself of the charge: but the House must inquire, and it must not be hampered.

Mr. Denman

consented to withdraw his motion. After which, it was ordered, 1. "That the matter contained in the petition of Martin Money Canfor be taken into consideration upon Friday next.—2. That a copy of the said petition, together with the above order, be communicated to Mr. Kenrick.—3. That Martin Money Canfor do attend this House upon Friday next.—4. That Mr. Kenrick have leave to attend this House, by himself or counsel, on Friday next."