HC Deb 27 June 1828 vol 19 cc1530-45

Mr. N. Calvert moved, that the bill be recommitted.

Lord Howick

said, that when the bill was brought into the House in its original shape, no individual felt more favourably towards its principle than he did; but it had since undergone very important changes, which had been produced by the hon. member for Hertford. That being the case, he felt it necessary either to oppose the measure altogether, or to suggest some third scheme which would meet the wishes of all parties. The line of argument adopted by many hon. members, but especially by the secretary for the Home Department, led them to oppose a transfer of the elective franchise to Birmingham; but the right hon. Secretary agreed in the propriety of disfranchising East Retford. The right hon. gentleman did not mean to give to East Retford the shadow of a right, while the substance was held. The right hon. gentleman's words were these—"We are only to consider, supposing the determination of the House to be that this borough shall be disfranchised, to what place it is fit and expedient to transfer the right." In this broad manner did the right hon. gentleman lay clown the principle by which the House ought to be guided; and he then proceeded to give his reasons why they ought rather to extend the franchise to the adjoining hundred than to bestow it on Birmingham, or on any other great and populous town. The right hon. gentleman's argument on that occasion was, that it would be improper to disturb the relations which at present existed between the agricultural and commercial interests in that House. By acting on this princi- ple, the constitution did not gain any real strength by the disfranchisement of corrupt boroughs. The right hon. gentleman had said, when the question was formerly debated, "On the whole, I am disposed to take a middle course. I cannot acquiesce in the proposition that both the franchises should be transferred to manufacturing towns; but what I propose is, to give one to a manufacturing town, and to extend the other to the hundred; and thus to adjust the claims of the two parties." Now, proceeding on this principle, he thought the right hon. gentleman might very consistently give his support to the plan which he meant to submit to the House. That plan was, to give the franchise forfeited by East Retford to Yorkshire, which great county would thus send six members to parliament. He thought that many gentlemen would approve of this plan, even on the principle of creating a division of interests. For, supposing the West Riding sent two members to parliament connected with the commercial interest, and the East Riding sent two connected with the agricultural interest, there would still be two other members to watch over the general interest, without throwing their weight into either scale, or altering the relations which existed at the present time between the landed and commercial interest.—The noble lord was about to move, that his plan be referred to the committee as an instruction, when the Speaker informed him that the motion, "that this bill be re-committed," was not yet disposed of.

Mr. Tennyson

, who had just entered the House, expressed a hope, that the few observations which he was about to make, would be patiently heard. He must say that he was placed in an extraordinary situation, in consequence of the course taken by the hon. member for Hertford. In the first place, it was not usual to bring on questions of this kind so early in the evening; and in the next, he had conceived that he was in possession of the subject to which the present measure related. On a former occasion he had stated, that he meant to submit a motion on this subject; and that if the House did not approve of it, he would leave the matter to the hon. member for Hertford. All he had since heard was, that the bill was to be recommitted; and before that step was taken, he wished to say a few words with reference to those proceedings. The Penryn bill had been decided in the House of Lords, and decided in such a manner as left him little or no hope that the right hon. Secretary would redeem the pledge he had given, when he agreed that one of the forfeited franchises should be transferred to a great town. He had supposed, that if that event took place which had occurred in the other House, some great town would receive the forfeited franchise. And he had inferred the same thing from the statement made, during one of these discussions, by a right hon. gentleman, then a member of the cabinet (Mr. Huskisson), that if the event to which he had alluded took place, the franchise of East Retford should be transferred to some great town; and he thought, in common, he believed, with the whole House, when the right hon. gentleman made that statement, that it was participated in by all his majesty's ministers. He would leave the right hon. Secretary to settle this matter between himself and his colleagues; but he must say, that he thought the right hon. gentleman was pledged by the words which he had used, and, considering him to be bound by that pledge, he would argue the point no further. But if they were to go on with these discussions, it would be necessary to recall to the mind of the right hon. gentleman another pledge which he had given, which was this:—In the last debate on this subject he stated that it was the intention of government, if the bill for the disfranchisement of Penryn were thrown out in the Lords, that the disfranchiscment of East Retford should be treated as an open question. Now, he would ask the right hon. gentleman to state to the House that it was to be viewed by government as an open and not as a party question. The last time it was discussed, the right hon. gentleman knew that it was treated decidedly as a party question. Despatches were sent to all parts of the kingdom to procure the attendance of members. Arguments were adduced to influence the opinions of members—arguments, not founded on the nature of the measure, but proceeding on the principle, that the fate of the administration depended on the way in which this question should be decided. They were told that the existence of a Tory government depended on the decision in this case; and that a dissolution of parliament was likely to follow a defeat of the government party. A great number of gentlemen had, indeed, stated to him, that their opinion was with him on this question; but that at the particular crisis when it was brought forward, they considered it a paramount duty not to quarrel with government. The tocsin was sounded throughout the country, the feelings of hon. members were appealed to, and the ministers carried their point. The right hon. Secretary ought to be contented with the majority he had obtained, and should now redeem the pledge he had given. He wished now to remind the House of the state in which it was placed with respect to this question. If it were persevered in, a great deal of discussion must arise. At so late a period of the session, it was impossible to legislate on this subject before the prorogation took place. He therefore would postpone the measure till next session, and should move, "that this report be taken into further consideration on this day three months."

Mr. Stewart

seconded the amendment. He had always thought, that the evidence did not make out a sufficient case against the borough, and therefore he had voted against the original proposition. But now that it was proposed to extend the franchise to the hundreds, he should, though the greatest corruption might exist in the borough, certainly vote for the franchise remaining where it was, rather than throw it into the hands of the aristocracy.

Mr. Secretary Peel

said, he was confident he had fully satisfied the House that he had not given the slightest indication of the course which he intended to pursue, in the event of one franchise only being placed at their disposal. He had acted on the case of Penryn, as on a good case, and never contemplated that the bill would have been thrown out in another place. The details into which he had entered on former occasions were sufficient to show, if his declaration were not sufficient, that it was impossible for him to have contemplated that the case now before them would arise. As to the charge that he was influenced by any party or personal considerations, and particularly as to the charge of his wishing to increase the influence of the aristocracy, he could only give a general and flat denial. He had no knowledge of the hundred. He did not give his vote with the view of supporting, either directly or indirectly, any persons or any parties. He had before stated, and he was ready to repeat it—that, supposing there was only one borough to dispose of, it did not appear to him that there was any reason for the consideration of it being made a government measure. He did not think that the franchise ought to be continued to East Retford. The delinquency of the borough was so great, that he was satisfied the franchise ought not to remain there. The question, then, was simply this—what course ought to be pursued? One hon. gentleman says the franchise ought to be transferred to Birmingham; the noble lord asked it for Yorkshire; and his hon. friend wished it to be extended to the hundred of Bassetlaw. Now he admitted that two of the grounds on which he had preferred the hundred to Birmingham would apply to the proposition of the noble lord. If the agricultural interest were to be considered, that would be as well done by transferring the franchise to one of the Ridings of Yorkshire, as to the hundred of Bassetlaw. He also admitted that they were under no obligation to consult the interest of East Retford at all. If the Lords had extended the franchise of Penryn to the hundred, he should have voted that the other franchise should be transferred to a town. East Retford had no claim at all upon them. At the same time, however, it would be an advantage if, while they punished the delinquents, they could also attend to the interests of those who had been guilty of no corruption. He looked upon a franchise as a great public trust, held for the benefit of the people, who had the power of withdrawing it if they found that those to whom it had been committed had violated that trust. He had also said, that there were cases in which it was sometimes necessary that the innocent should be included in the punishment of the guilty. This was the case in corporate bodies, where the minority must abide by the act of the majority. There was, however, one ground to which the noble lord had not adverted—the noble lord had not taken the county of Nottingham into consideration. Now he was unwilling that the proportion of the representatives of the counties—should be disturbed without good cause. He had rested a part of his argument, on a former occasion, on the fact, that the county of Corn wall returned forty-four members, while that of Nottingham returned only eight. That part of his argument had been found great fault with; but he had never heard the case of a Cornish borough brought forward in that House, without the fact of Cornwall returning forty-four members being strongly insisted upon. In the case of Grampound, the noble lord had relied greatly on this fact, and had argued, that there could be no injustice in depriving Cornwall of two of its members. He knew the danger of this argument if carried to an extreme: yet it must be seen that there was more justice in taking two members out of forty-four, than in taking-two members out of eight. Now, seeing that the county of Nottingham returned only eight members, and that the proposal now made would reduce that number to six; seeing that the hundred of Bassetlaw contained thirty-five thousand inhabitants, and included several large market-towns which were unrepresented, and were under the influence of the aristocracy; he could conceive no reason for departing in this case from the rule, which, the case of Grampound alone excepted, had invariably been followed. With the exception of Grampound, the franchise of delinquent boroughs had always been extended to the hundreds. When the franchise of Shoreham was extended to the rape of Bamber, lord Chatham said, he was glad that Shoreham had been taken away from India and restored to Sussex; meaning, that he was glad that East-Indian interest in the borough had been destroyed. Mr. Fox, also, so far from recognizing the principle of transferring the franchise to a large town, was of opinion that the rights of the minority ought to be respected; and upon that ground he condemned the proceedings in the cases of Shoreham, Cricklade and Aylesbury. In the case of Stockbridge, Mr. Fox thought that the delinquents ought not to be mixed up with the innocent. He saw no reason why the bill should not now be made as perfect as it could be; and though it might not pass into a law this session, his hon. friend would have an opportunity of introducing it to the notice of the House early in the next. He should be sorry to see East Retford restored to its original state, and trusted that the House would never agree that a writ should be issued for two new members to serve in parliament for this borough.

Lord John Russell

said, that if the House would consider the subject for a moment, they would see that the borough of East Retford had never been of the slightest advantage to the county of Nottingham, but merely a source of emolument to those inhabitants of East Retford who sold their votes to any body who would pay for them. Gentlemen went there, paid for the votes, were returned to that House, and thought themselves, as in truth they were, no more the representatives of Nottingham than of any other county. In his opinion, the best way was, whether they had one or whether they had two franchises to dispose of, to transfer it or them to a large town. He said this, not because he was jealous of the landed interest, but simply because the counties were more fully represented than the large towns. When the right hon. gentleman quoted the opinions of lord Chatham, Mr. Pitt, and Mr. Fox, he ought to recollect, that since the year 1793 large towns had sprung up; that the population had increased; that new interests had been called into existence, all of which ought to be represented, but none of which could find their way into that House. Now, as to the proposal for transferring the franchise of East Retford to the hundred, Bassetlaw was certainly a large and populous hundred; but then it was full of members of the other House of parliament, whose seats were situated there, and who therefore must have an extensive interest in the hundred. In the case of Grampound the franchise was transferred to the county of York. The last decision of the House, therefore, was in favour of the freeholders of a large county; and on what possible ground could it now be refused to transfer the next franchise which had come into their hands to a manufacturing town? Although he was ready to vote for any proposition to extend the franchise to a large town, yet, in the absence of any such proposition, and having to choose between East Retford, the hundred of Bassetlaw, and the county of York, he should certainly vote, that the franchise be given to the county of York.

Lord Normanby

said, that as he was convinced that by extending the franchise to the hundred, no public benefit would be effected, he should not support that proposition. He rested his opposition to this bill on the ground that the House ought to deal with such cases as these, not so much with reference to precedents, as with a regard to the changes which time had effected. The hon. member for Hertfordshire acknowledged the corruption of the borough, but he said "stick to the neighbourhood of East Retford." Yet he thought it would puzzle that hon. member to make out how the county of Nottingham had ever been benefitted by the 20l. a vote, which was paid by Mr. Osbaldiston, or by the 20l. which was not paid Mr. Marsh. It was quite clear that this was not a proper mode of disposing of the franchise. As to the proposal of the noble lord, he was prepared to oppose it; because, though he could not procure a proper disposal of the franchise, yet he would not give his sanction to an improper disposal of it. The bill was no reform at all, and he should therefore vote against the recommittal of it.

Mr. Hobhouse

said, that he should also vote against the re-commitment, as he could not consent to trust any bill connected with parliamentary reform in the hands of the hon. member for Hertfordshire. This proceeding had been altogether a most extraordinary one. Since the days in which a pair of gloves brought about the peace of Utrecht, and a crooked window caused the devastation of the Palatinate, such important effects had never proceeded from such slight causes. The first thing that the hon. member had done was to knock up the bill of his hon. friend. The next thing was to knock up the administration; and finally, very nearly to knock up the parliament. He really did not think that the very respectable member for Hertfordshire was by any means a good tactitian; and lest further mishaps should occur, the best thing would be, to dismiss the bill altogether.

Mr. Slaney

said, that every prepossession in his mind was in favour of the landed interest; but, with the best view that he was able to take of the course that would be beneficial to that interest, he was persuaded that it was highly desirable to transfer the elective franchise, in the present instance, to a great town. The prosperity of the landed interest was intimately connected with the prosperity of the commercial interest. The latter it was well known, was suffering great depression; and what better chance could be afforded to it of recovering from that depression, than by giving to the great commercial towns the means of being represented in that House?

Lord Palmerston

expressed his wish, that the franchise should be extended to a great town, not because he was a friend to reform in principle, but because he was its decided enemy. To extend the franchise to large towns, on such occasions as the one in question, was the only mode by which the House could avoid the adoption, at some time or other, of a general plan of reform. It appeared to him very inconsistent in the enemies of reform to oppose the transfer of the franchise to a large town. When people saw such populous places as Leeds and Manchester unrepresented, whilst a green mound of earth returned two members, it naturally gave rise to complaint. The House ought, therefore, to take advantage of every case of delinquency, to apply a gradual remedy to the defective state of the representation.

Mr. Marshall

said, that if the franchise was not transferred to a great town, the measure would be valueless; but, as long as the right hon. Secretary was opposed to transferring the elective franchise, in such cases, to a great town, the attainment of such an object was scarcely to be hoped for.

Mr. Peel

observed, that his vote respecting Penryn was a proof that he was not opposed to the principle of transferring the elective franchise to a great town.

Mr. Lumley

observed, that by the constant delays which had occurred, the borough in question had been practically disfranchised. If no decisive step were taken that evening, he would on Monday move, that a new writ be issued.

Mr. Wynn

said, that although he was not disposed to get rid of this bill altogether, yet, as it was impossible to get through it in the present session, he thought a great advantage would result from suspending the proceedings upon it, and resuming them next session. Whenever any case of prominent corruption appeared, he should always recommend, that the opportunity should be taken of reforming the representation. Whenever the soil was bad, and there was no probability that the tree would bear good fruit, he would argue in favour of its being transplanted.

The House divided: For the recommitment 97; Against it 42. On the motion, that the Speaker do now leave the chair,

Lord Howick moved, as an amendment, "that it be an instruction to the committed that they have power to exclude the borough of East Retford from sending burgesses to serve in parliament, and to transfer the franchise to the county of York."

Mr. C. Wood

objected to the amendment. If they were to transfer the franchise to any place, he should prefer its being transferred to some place which already had the machinery of an election, instead of a place which had none.

Mr. Duncombe

felt it would be highly improper in him to consider himself returned to parliament in order to bind himself up with, or represent any particular interest there. He trusted the noble lord would also well consider his motion before he pressed the House to a division.

The House divided: For going into the committee 95; For the amendment 17. The House then went into a committee on the bill.

Lord J. Russell moved, that after the word "Nottingham" should be inserted the words "that hereafter the said borough be excluded from voting for burgesses to serve in parliament." To facilitate the adoption of the bill, he should have no objection to propose, that the place to which the transfer of the franchise should be made might be left to the Crown.

Mr. Baring

objected to a proposition which must tend to increase the influence of the Crown.

Mr. F. Lewis

considered the House bound to take this duty on itself.

Mr. Alderman Wood

said, there were so many obstacles thrown in the way of fixing on Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, or any other place, to which the franchise should be transferred, that he would move, as an amendment, that the Chairman do leave the chair. This he hoped would get rid of the bill altogether.

The committee divided: For the motion 18; Against it 89: Majority 71.

Lord John Russell

then moved an amendment for the purpose of absolutely disfranchising the Borough of East Retford.

Mr. Wynn

said, that if, in the case of East Retford, the elective franchise, instead of being transferred from the delinquent borough to some large unrepresented town, were transferred to the adjacent hundreds, it would have a strong tendency to alter the existing constitution of the House of Commons. It would be the fifth instance in which the elective franchise, having been corruptly exercised by the inhabitants of towns, had been transferred to the freeholders of hundreds; thereby creating, as far as parliament was concerned, small counties within the respective counties to which the delinquent boroughs belonged. There would thus be ten members in the House, in the next session of parliament, elected by freeholders, who, sixty years ago, were elected by the inhabitants of towns. Now, that appeared to him to be a sufficient reason for not proceeding in the course which they had hitherto followed; for he wished to retain the balance which had hitherto existed between the freeholders and the inhabitants of towns. He thought, that if this borough were disfranchised, and an address were presented to his majesty from both Houses, praying him to transfer the right of election to some large unrepresented town, such as Manchester or Birmingham, the House would extricate itself from the difficulties in which it was involved.

Sir J. Mackintosh

was not disposed to go quite so far as to say, that an Address to the Crown was a more constitutional proceeding than that by bill; for this simple reason, that they were very similar to each other, if indeed they were not fundamentally the same; as a bill originally was only a petition, which the consent of the king converted into a law. He did not think that to address the Crown, requesting the nomination of a town or borough to send members, in lieu of that which had been disfranchised, would at all embarrass ministers. There was no minister, who felt the moral responsibility of his situation, the value of his character, and the worth of the estimation of the people, who would not think it necessary to maintain all these, by giving the representation to one of the great populous towns. For this reason among others, that popular opinion, and the dictates of their own honour and reputation, would induce ministers to make a proper choice, he was in favour of the proposition to carry an Address to the Crown. Such a course would, besides, exhibit the Crown in a gracious and popular light, and was on that account to be preferred.

Mr. Alderman Waithman

said, it was clear that this measure would not pass during the present session; and he was therefore surprised that ministers should place themselves in the odious position of attempting to force it down the throats of the House. It was quite plain that if the leader of the ministerial phalanx in that House had ordered his retainers to vote in support of the bill originally proposed, it would have been carried. When the population of the country was tripled, was it right to maintain the same narrow system of representation? New towns had sprung up of late years, and even within his own memory. He recollected the time when Birmingham and Manchester were mere villages; and yet, if they had a petition to present, they must present it through the agency of some individual who had no connection with them; whilst rotten boroughs, with only twenty voters, could command the services in parliament of two representatives. He could not see why this remnant of corruption was to be preserved, for the mere sanctity that belonged to the representation of the county of Nottingham; nor why they should give a fresh right of voting to the freeholders of the hundred of Bassetlaw, who had the right already, when there were so many persons in the opulent county of Warwick who were altogether without it. He certainly should vote for the proposition of the noble lord.

Mr. Sugden

said, he should vote for the transfer of the franchise to the hundred; and chiefly because of the great benefit which had arisen from the adoption of that course. He alluded to the case of Shoreham, where the franchise was extended to the rape of Bramber, and where there was now as much independence and public spirit, as in any other town in the kingdom. He felt that he was not stepping out of the pale of the constitution by giving that vote notwithstanding what had fallen from the hon. member for Knaresborough.

After a short conversation, the committee divided on Lord John Russell's motion: Ayes 43; Noes 108.

Mr. Tennyson

said, that, after the disposition which the (House had manifested, and especially after the division which had just taken place, it would be a waste of time to persist in pressing the measure. The conduct of his majesty's ministers on the occasion had been unfair, unjust, un-candid, base, and grossly unconstitutional. He would repeat, that ministers, in the whole of their proceedings in reference to this bill, and in the regard which they had throughout evinced towards a certain particular interest, had been guilty of the most base and abominable conduct.

Mr. Secretary Peel

.—Sir, it is not true, that, in giving my vote upon this bill, I have done so with a view to serve any particular interest. I say, it is not a fact, that his majesty's ministers have been influenced by any particular interest, or that they have adopted their present course with a view to 'any base purpose. The hon. gentleman's proposal was fully debated, and the sense of the House was fairly taken upon it: and he now attempts to compensate himself for his disappointment, by the use of language that is utterly unjustified by any conduct of mine, or of my colleagues, in reference to this bill.

Mr. Tennyson

said:—I made no personal allusion to the right hon. gentleman. I spoke of his majesty's ministers in the bulk. I said of their conduct that which it was impossible for me not to feel. With respect to the conduct of the right hon. gentleman, personally speaking, I was the only member, taking the view which I took of the subject, that relieved him from the charge of having given any special pledge on the question, beyond that which the right hon. gentleman has himself repeated this night. I have not imputed to the right hon. gentleman any immoral intention, nor have I described his conduct in the abusive language which has been applied to it by others. Although I do not think that the right hon. gentleman was specifically pledged to take any other course than that which he has adopted, the sentiments which I have expressed have been uttered deliberately, and to them I adhere.

Mr. Peel

.—The hon. gentleman has replied, that it was to the conduct of ministers generally that his language was applied, and he has described them as consulting upon this occasion the purposes of some particular interest. I meet at once such a general charge with a general denial; and I state to the House, upon my honour as a gentleman, that neither directly nor indirectly, have I had any communication with any person who could possibly have had any interest in this measure. I therefore deny that in my conduct in reference to this bill, I have been influenced by any particular interest, and I claim the exercise of my right as a member of parliament to give my vote upon a public question, unfettered by any pledge. Influenced by such motives I gave my vote; and it was tinder such circumstances that I conceived it my duty to bring this question under the consideration of his majesty's government, and to make it, as it has been called, a government question. I was desirous to act with perfect fairness; and being the organ of the government in this House, I felt it my duty, before I adopted a particular course in reference to the bills which were before the House, to have them considered by the government, in order that my colleagues in the other House should be bound to take the same line with me in reference to these bills; except so far as the judicial matter of them was concerned. When, therefore, I hear the epithet "base" applied to the conduct of ministers, I feel bound to state, that the expression conveying such imputation, although it may have latterly become half parliamentary, is one not warranted by the usages of this House, and much less so by the real motives which influenced the conduct of his majesty's government.

Mr. Stanley

said, it was much to be lamented that this question should have been made, from the very beginning, a vehicle for the expression of party feeling. He regretted that his hon. friend near him should have been betrayed into any warm language, but he thought it was very much twisted from its original meaning, when it was said to be personally offensive to any of his majesty's ministers. Upon the general question, as to the expectations of the present ministry, he could only say that, looking to those who had seceded from the ministry, and to those who remained in it, his hopes of advantage to the country from the administration were very scanty; and if it were possible for any thing to diminish those hopes, it would be the language which he had heard within these walls. When he heard a Vice-president of the Board of Trade say, that upon the question of free trade his mind was a piece of blank paper—when he heard the landed interest declare that they at last looked with confidence to a ministry from which they expected a preference to their interests over those of the manufacturing and commercial classes—when he heard language like this, he owned it appeared to him very suspicious, and it led him to suppose, that a change of men did actually produce a change of measures. He would merely say that, after the vote o that night, he saw no use in giving any further opposition to this bill, although his view of it remained unaltered; but now that the franchise was given up to the agricultural interest, it was of importance to have a declaration from the right hon. gentleman, that the next forfeited franchise should be transferred to some great town such as Manchester or Birmingham. Mr. Peel said, he would be the last man to set an example of intemperate language in that House; but, when terms of an equivocal nature were applied personally to him, he would not relinquish his right to meet them. With respect to the question which the hon. member had put to him, he felt difficulty in answering it. He could have no difficulty, however, in saying that, had the franchise of Penryn been given to the neighbouring hundreds, he would have supported the transfer of that of East Retford to some great town. But, acting under the impression that they had two boroughs to deal with, he had sanctioned the transfer of the franchise of the latter borough to the neighbouring hundred. All that he could say was, that, in the disposal of any newly-forfeited franchise, he should be altogether guided by the circumstances of the case.

Mr. Tennyson

said, he should leave the House with regret if he thought the right hon. gentleman was under the impression, that he had made any personal allusion to the right hon. gentleman. He spoke of the government as a collective body, and in that capacity he thought it was often swayed by motives on which the individuals who composed it would refuse to act. The right hon. gentleman was one of the last men whom he would think of selecting for any improper accusation.

Mr. Peel

.—I have utterly forgotten every thing that has been said on the matter [Cheers].

Lord John Russell

said, it would be very satisfactory if they had the right hon. gentleman's pledge that the next forfeited franchise should be transferred to a great town.

Mr. Peel

said, that if such a case as that of Grampound were to occur again, he should have no objection to transfer the franchise to a great town; but it was no part of his duty to bind himself, in any event, to a particular line of conduct.

Mr. Littleton

did not think the answer of the right hon. gentleman by any means satisfactory. Suppose the next case which should arise were as strong as that of Penryn, how would the right hon. gentleman act under such circumstances?

Mr. Peel

said, he did not conceive his hon. friend had a right to put questions to him in this manner. It was not consistent with his duty as a minister of the Crown to answer a question, put in that manner, and of that nature. He would not bind himself by any pledge; but when the time arrived for the discussion of any case of this nature, he should dispose of it in a manner perfectly consistent with any pledges that he had made.

Mr. Hudson Gurney

said, that the right hon. gentleman had explained himself in the fairest and most explicit way; but the manner in which question after question had been pressed upon him went beyond common decency and parliamentary custom [cheers].

The clauses were agreed to, and the House resumed.