HC Deb 21 February 1826 vol 14 cc642-4
Mr. Bennett

said, he wished to obtain information from the Speaker to guide him in the situation in which he stood. He had, in pursuance of the orders of the House, to attend a committee to-morrow morning, and he was also summoned as a juror in Westminster-hall. Now, how was it possible for him to obey their orders, and at the same time discharge his duty to his country in the situation of juror? He was at a loss how to proceed under these circumstances, and he threw himself on the Speaker for the benefit of his advice.

The Speaker

said, the House was aware that this very question had been referred to the consideration of a committee of privileges, which bad not yet made their report. The only answer he could give at present to the question which the hon. member had put to him, was, that he had himself no doubt of the course which he should pursue, were he placed under the circumstances alluded to. His answer would be, that, conceiving his duty in that House was his first obligation, he should perform it—he would not say neglecting every other duty, for that would imply a fault, but—omitting all others which could clash therewith. He understood that the report of the committee of privileges would be presented in the course of the evening.

Mr. Wynn

, shortly after, reported, from the committee of privileges, to whom the matter of complaint made by a member of the House of his being summoned as a jury-man in the Court of Exchequer, in the case of the King against Steel, was referred, that they had examined the matter of the said complaint, and had come to the following resolutions:

1. "That it appears to your committee to be amongst the most ancient and undoubted privileges of parliament, that no member shall be withdrawn from his attendance on his duty in parliament to attend on any other court.

2. "That this privilege, with respect to service upon juries, has been repeatedly asserted, as will be seen from the three following cases:

"On the 22nd November, 1597, sir Edward Hobby moved the House for privilege for sir John Tracie, being a member of this House, and now presently at the Common Pleas, to be put on a jury. Whereupon the Serjeant of this House was presently sent with the mace to call the said sir John Tracie to his attendance in this House; which was thereupon so done accordingly, and the said sir John then returned to this House.

"On the 6th of May, 1607, it was informed that sir Thomas Biggs and sir Thomas Lowe, two members of the House, were by the sheriff returned in the court of King's-bench, jurors upon an attaint between John Macham, tenant to the lord Barkley, and Edward Beard, tenant to the lord viscount Lisle, and it was conceived that in this case, by the privilege of the House, they ought to be spared from their attendance:—Which was ordered accordingly, and Mr. Serjeant commanded to go with his mace and deliver the pleasure of the House to the secondary of the King's-bench, the court then sitting.

"On the l5th of May, 1628, sir William Alford returned of a jury this day in the common place, to have privilege of parliament not to serve; and a letter to be written by Mr. Speaker to the judges, that, he be not amerced for his non appearance.

3. "That this privilege, among others, appears to be expressly reserved by the words of the last clause of the Act 6 Geo. 4, c. 50, for consolidating and amending the laws relative to jurors and juries."

Mr. Wynn

observed, that as, no doubt, the fines had been imposed in consequence of a misconstruction of the act, he thought the House would sufficiently assert its privileges by agreeing to this report, and proceeding no further in the affair.

Mr. Hume

wished to know in what manner the decision of the House, on this subject was to be communicated to the learned baron of the Exchequer; for it was well known that printing the proceedings of that House was held to be illegal.

The Speaker

said, that the hon. member ought to know, that one of the first orders of the session was for the printing the votes of the House, by which its proceedings could be known. There were besides the Journals of the House in which the proceedings were recorded, and which were accessible by the public, in consequence of the permission given to parties to sell them.

Mr. Holford

thought, that the privileges of members were sufficiently asserted in the report. He would not therefore take any further proceeding.

The report was agreed to, and ordered to be printed.