HC Deb 22 June 1825 vol 13 cc1274-5
Mr. Brougham

postponed his motion for taking into consideration the petition of Mr. Bishop Burnett against the governor of the Cape of Good Hope until the beginning of the next session. Upon consideration, he found it would be improper to open charges which could not be answered that session.

Mr. Secretary Canning

said, that the circumstances had been referred to the commissioners of inquiry sent out to the Cape of Good Hope. Leave of absence had also been forwarded to lord C. Somerset, that he might, if he thought fit, return to meet the charges made against him. But, whether his lordship came home or not, the commissioners would prosecute their inquiry at the Cape. Certain it was, that the office had not sufficient means of information to warrant the House to undertake the investigation at present. Neither would it be consistent with fairness and justice, since the government had sent out a leave of absence, to proceed, until it was seen whether or not lord C. Somerset would avail himself of it

Mr. Wilmot Horton

took that opportunity, in reply to a question put to him the other day, to state, that Edwards was an escaped felon from New South Wales, and was at the Cape, but had had no concern in these transactions.

Lord E. Somerset

said, that feeling interested in the character and reputation of his noble relative, against whom such serious charges had been brought, he was naturally anxious to take the earliest opportunity to assure the House, that the noble lord, so far from shrinking from an inquiry into his conduct, was desirous of submitting his whole proceedings to the fullest and most complete investigation. A commission was now engaged in inquiries into all the measures of his noble relation, and it was the object of that noble lord to give every facility to the proceedings of that commission. The more the conduct of his noble relative was inquired into, the more satisfactory would that conduct appear to the world, and the more completely would he be rescued from those abuses and attacks to which he had been lately exposed. Anonymous publications had been circulated against his noble relation, and the utmost pains had been taken to diffuse such slander throughout the Cape. Some of these charges were of the most atrocious nature; but at the same time, their inconsistencies with each other destroyed the credibility of the whole of them. He conjured the House to suspend its judgment until the report of the commissioners had arrived, and until his noble relative should return to England, if he thought it necessary, to avail himself of the leave of absence which had been offered to him.

Mr. Brougham

said, he had never read one line against lord C. Somerset, except the petition of Mr. Burnett, and a case relating to his professional duties at the bar. He was totally unprejudiced against lord Charles, but nevertheless he thought that the charges against him ought to be investigated. Of all men on earth lord Charles, if he were innocent, ought to be the most desirous for that investigation. One charge was, that the noble lord had fixed the criminality of a publication upon Mr. Burnett, whereas the real culprit was the notorious Oliver, the spy.