HC Deb 09 May 1827 vol 17 cc704-5
Mr. Curteis

moved the second reading of the Sussex Election bill, and strongly recommended the taking of the poll at Lewes.

Mr. Huskisson

opposed the second reading of the bill, and rested his opposition to the measure on two grounds:—The first, on the ground of general principle, and the second, because he was a freeholder of the western part of Sussex. It was certainly extraordinary, that the hon. member should bring forward this bill, while the committee, appointed for the purpose of introducing some measure to diminish the expenses at county elections, was sitting. In the course of the session, the House might expect to receive a valuable report, suggesting various modes for taking the poll at county elections with the least possible expense. A noble lord (J. Russell) had suggested the taking of the poll in several places in a county for the accommodation of freeholders; but the hon. member who brought in this bill would remove the election from one part of the county to another. Now, it was not the ordinary way of proceeding, for this House to remove, without some misconduct, some breach, or injury committed, those rights which had been enjoyed for time immemorial. It had not been stated, that Chichester had forfeited this franchise by any misconduct. No proceeding had taken place in that city which could call for the deprivation of that distinction which it had enjoyed ever since it returned members to parliament. On the same principle it might be said, that Cornwall returned too many members to parliameet, and similar measures might be proposed to remove them. If the House were to sanction this measure, they would have to introduce it into all the counties of England. If the hon. member would propose that the poll should be taken seven days at Chichester, and seven at Lewes, as an accommodation to the freeholders, he would make no objection; but his great objection was, to make the taking of the poll permanent at Lewes, and to hold the election in the eastern part of the county only. He would move, that the bill be read a second time this day six months.

Lord G. Lennox

seconded the amendment. The noble lord complained of the hon. member who brought in the bill for having written letters during the late election, to the mayor of Chichester, in which that hon. member complains to the mayor, that his person was in danger from the mob, and threatened to bring him to the bar of the House in consequence. The hon. member had also written to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, complaining that, "he could not take the polls in safety, and that his freeholders were kept back" Now, he (lord G. Lenox) had been on the hustings during the whole of the election, and he could safely say that no riot or disorder occurred. He hoped the House would not gratify the freeholders of the east, at the expense of those of the west.

Sir J. Shelly

supported the bill. He was the advocate for a gradual and limited reform in parliament; and he thought that the best chance of obtaining that reform was to let all, the voters have the benefit of the elective franchise; which, when the election was held at Chichester, they had not.

Mr. W. Burrell

thought the election ought to be held at Lewes for the western part of the county, and at Chichester for the eastern division.

Mr. Davies Gilbert

said, that a committee was sitting up stairs, which would render unnecessary this bill of his hon. friend. He therefore advised him to withdraw it.

Sir C. Burrell

protested against the hon. gentleman legislating for Sussex, on a principle different from that acted on, with regard to any other county.

Mr. C. Pelham

said, that local interests were better attended to under the present system than they would be under the proposed change.

Mr. Curteis

said, he should take the advice of hon. gentlemen and withdraw his bill.

The bill was then, with the leave of the House, withdrawn.