§ Mr. Poulett Thomson
rose to present a Petition from the inhabitants of the borough of Newark. The subject involved a question of great importance, and he therefore hoped for the patient indulgence of the House to the few observations which he should feel it his duty to make on it. He regretted that the subject had not fallen into other hands, and the more so as it would be his duty, before he sat down, to state certain matters inculpating the conduct of a noble Lord, who, though he could not be said to be unrepresented in that House, was not present to defend himself. If the charges which he had to make on behalf of the petitioners should receive a sufficient answer by those who might address the House on the part of the noble Duke, it would give him great satisfaction to acknowledge his error, and to retract any thing in which he might find he had been misinformed. He hoped the House would do its duty by supporting the Motion which he intended to found upon the petition, as that Motion would rest, not so much upon the inculpation of the noble Lord as on general principles. He would now briefly state the substance of the Petition. The borough of Newark consisted of 2,000 houses, and about 10,000 inhabitants. Considerable property in the town was possessed by the Duke of Newcastle, to whom 200 houses belonged. Large portions of property, in some instances amounting to eighty or ninety houses, belonging to other individuals. The property belonging to the Duke in the town was not of itself sufficient to give him a commanding influence in the town, though he held the manor with copyhold right, the market, and the tolls on that and the bridges. His principal influence was derived from being the lessee of a portion of land, amounting to 960 acres, which formed a sort of belt surrounding the town for about three fourths of its circumference. This property included the land in the 1078 neighbourhood of the principal roads near the town, and was of great importance to the occupant. He wished he could, consistently with the forms of the House, lay a map of this property before it, for that would convey a more correct notion of its nature and value than any verbal description that he could give. In the case of Newark we had an example which but too aptly illustrated the truth that the greatest blessings might be so perverted as to become a source of calamity to those for whose benefit and advantage they were intended. That was in the nominal possession of that inestimable constitutional privilege which ought to have been imparted to Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds: but what had the privilege in which it was thus preeminently favoured produced? By the genius of the Constitution it was designed for the happiness of the possessors, but it had been so perverted as to prove fruitful of misery, suffering, and persecution. What was the reason of this? The land which he had described as a belt surrounding the town was held by the Duke of Newcastle as the lessee of the Crown, and he used all the influence it bestowed to convert Newark into a close borough. Was this to be endured by a free people; was it to be permitted by the British Legislature, when the means of redress were at once within their reach? Would they suffer this immense power, which had been obtained from the Crown, but more correctly speaking, from the people themselves, to be turned to the disadvantage of the people? Assuredly they would not. Let them only for a moment reflect how his Grace the Duke of Newcastle lorded it over their fellow-subjects the inhabitants of this town. It was the natural progress of prosperous towns, and such was Newark, to branch out in all directions. That town carried on a flourishing trade in malt, which made large premises indispensable. But at Newark, did a farmer want a barn for his husbandry, did a mechanic require a workshop for his labour, did a cottager apply for shelter for his family, he must have recourse to the underlings of the Crownlessee; he must pay the highest monopoly price for the tenement he sought to obtain, and sell soul and body besides in consideration of his purchase. He must from that hour abjure all his rights as a citizen and a subject, he must thenceforward forswear all political power, all moral volition as a 1079 sentient rational being, and give his entire confidence and co-operation to the proprietor of the borough and arbiter of his fate. In saying this, he did not mean for a moment to impugn the just and natural influence of a landlord over his tenant. That influence originated in condescension on the one hand, and gratitude on the other; the landlord gave protection and encouragement, and the tenant, in return, owed him deference and respect; but he appealed to that House whether the power arrogated in the instance before them did not rather resemble the tyranny of the slave-owner than the proper influence of a British landlord? The facts on which the petition was founded were these:—In the course of September last year it happened that the individual who had been Member for Newark lost his seat for not voting according to the dictation of his patron, and in consequence, a vacancy occurred in the representation of that borough. Indeed, the gentleman he alluded to was particularly unfortunate in honourably asserting his independence, as he was likewise deprived of his office under government, because he exercised the same privilege of judging for himself in a division on which his vote was expected by the Adminstration. (The hon. Member alluded to Sir W. H. Clinton.) The result, however, as he already stated, was a vacancy in Newark, and the individual sent by the Crown-lessee to the electors (the present hon. Member for Newark) was duly returned. To that hon. Gentleman he did not mean to impute any impropriety whatever; but it was needless to disguise the facts, that he came amongst the inhabitants of Newark as the nominee of the Duke of Newcastle; that the parties who supported him had been canvassed by the Duke's rent-receiver, and that he was in all respects rather the representative of the Crown-lessee than the chosen of his ostensible constituents. The inhabitants of the borough, it appears, were of opinion that they had a right in this matter to consult their own inclinations, and selected a gentleman at least equally fitted to take charge of their interests,—an assertion which, he trusted, he might advance without any disparagement to the hon. Member who at present represented them. A contest followed, during which every possible means of intimidation had been employed towards the electors. Intimidation and menace were unfortunately not novelties in the 1080 history of Newark. In 1796 and 1826 efforts were made to obtain for the town its constitutional privileges, and the vengeance then taken by the Crown-lessee might sufficiently serve to show the refractory electors what tender mercies might be expected by those who should in 1829 unsuccessfully assert the privilege imparted by the Constitution. Nevertheless, in the face of these examples, and despite these convictions, 587 electors were found independent and public-spirited enough to vindicate their right of choosing a representative for themselves; but the result had been, as the House was aware, that their attempt was unsuccessful, and the gentleman nominated by the Crown-lessee was ultimately returned. The noble Duke, in his opinion, might have rested satisfied with the result of that election, with having been the means of returning a representative who was opposed to the interests, or at all events to the inclinations, of a large portion of the inhabitants. But the parties who had incurred his displeasure better knew with whom they had to deal. Although his vengeance seemed for a time dormant, it turned out to be an assumed slumber, like that of the cat before she darts upon her prey. As soon as the whole business of the election was over, and the time had gone by when that House could interfere, every person who had presumed to vote for Mr. Serjeant Wilde, and possessed land under the Duke, was served eventually with a notice to quit. But he was not quite correct in this statement as he remembered that one of these voters proved to be an exception, and he particularly requested the attention of the House to the fact, as it showed the avaricious spirit which instigated the actors throughout the whole of these discreditable proceedings. The elector in question went to the office of the agent of the Crown-lessee, and stated in his vindication, that he had voted for the obnoxious candidate by mistake. To which excuse the official dignitary replied, "Then your notice to quit was a mistake also." Did he but possess the eloquent powers of the present hon. Member for Newark, who had often in that House pathetically described the sufferings of his miserable countrymen, he would endeavour (and even then very inadequately) to depict the misfortunes of those poor outcasts whose meet had been banishment for the conscientious and manly declaration of 1081 their honest opinion. They were driven forth with their helpless families, the infirm and the aged, the infant and the female, from the home in which all their affections had been centred, which was endeared to them by their earliest associations, and in which they hoped to spend their last days. Neither merit nor respectable character, nor duration of service, could save them from this ungenerous and vindictive persecution. They were not accused of being in arrear of rent, of being bad tenants, or insolvent,— they were not charged with being guilty of improper conduct, of general immorality, or dissolute life; but they did worse than all this in the eyes of Him whom they had offended,—they were guilty of that most unpardonable sin,— the assertion of the right belonging to every freeman in this free state,—they refused to prostitute their votes at the good pleasure of their landlord. The delinquency and the punishment were not, however, wholly unobserved by the public. A meeting was called for the purpose of considering of a remedy, and offering the combined representations and remonstrances of those who suffered and those who witnessed the proceedings by which they had been aggrieved. To his Grace the Duke of Newcastle a letter, most respectfully worded, had been sent, inviting him to attend: and a similar communication had been sent to the hon. Member for Newark. That hon. Gentleman did not think proper to attend, nor was it for him to question the propriety of the course which he had pursued with reference to his own constituents. But the Duke of Newcastle sent an answer, in which he justified, or pretended to justify his conduct towards the electors of Newark. And what were those grounds of justification? Was he dissatisfied with their moral conduct, or their impunctuality with his rent-collector? No such thing: he never affected any excuse or exculpation of the kind, but boldly and unequivocally declared, that he considered their franchises as his property. There was neither round-about phraseology nor shuffling sophistry employed: it was a plain straightforward assertion, however little in conformity with the declared resolution of that House; viz. that it is a violation of the privileges of Parliament for Peers of the realm to interfere in elections: the noble writer boldly asserted that he "had 1082 a right to do what he pleased with his own." That right, however, he most solemnly denied, and most earnestly protested in the name of the Commons of England against any such assumption. He was prepared to canvass the principle, and would readily undertake to extinguish it by fair argument. The power which the noble Duke possessed, and thus openly exulted in, had been obtained through the instrumentality of Government, who, he trusted, would at length be induced to turn to the benefit of the people that which the noble Peer had so painfully perverted to their disadvantage. It was much to be regretted that, previous to the assumption and exercise of such a power some communication had not taken place between the noble Duke and his respected nominee, the hon. Member for Newark, as that Gentleman would have inculcated a very different doctrine. He would take the liberty to read to the House a single sentence from a celebrated work of the hon. Member, which was peculiarly apposite to the case before them, and expressed an opinion quite in accordance with the feelings which he himself had always entertained upon the same subject. The passage he alluded to ran as follows:— "The usual justification of those proprietors—' May we not do what we will with our own?—I shall not pause here to discuss, but will merely observe, that it has been made the apology for more cruelty and oppression than all the other excuses put together." In this passage the hon. Member for Newark had expressed all that he wished to express, and spared him the odious task of speaking in due terms of the conduct he had described to the House. Having then stated the nature of the petition he should proceed to state his own motives for desiring that it might be referred to a select committee. He wished that the allegations which it contained might be thoroughly examined in order that an address to the Crown should be presented, praying that the Duke's lease, which had been so wrongfully employed to interfere with the elective franchise, might not be hereafter renewed. It involved a severe pecuniary loss to the country; but, what was incalculably more important, it affected the constitutional character of the representation, and violated this most sacred institution of a free people, perverting it till it became a source of private profit, public profligacy, 1083 or political persecution. The Commons had made a bargain by which the revenues of the Crown-lands brought in much less than their value to the public purse, but they must be unfaithful stewards indeed, if they did not address the Crown not to allow 960 acres to be disposed of henceforward for the inadequate returns which it had hitherto received. The property consisted, as he understood, besides the land, in quit-rents, copyholds, and influence over public charities. The first lease of this great property was granted in 1760 to the Earl of Lincoln by the Duke of Newcastle, the then prime Minister, and for what rent did the House suppose? He would allow a long time for conjecture, and he was sure nobody would conjecture right. It was neither 1,000l. per annum, nor the half of that sum, nor yet 100l., but literally the extortionate rent of 36l. a year. The lease was renewed in 1806, nine years after it had expired, and the fine exacted was no more than the nine years rent which had not been paid. The rent since 1806 had been 2,060l. a year, which, in itself, fully attested the advantages enjoyed by the noble duke's predecessors, when the aforesaid 36l. was so long the consideration. But the present rent, he believed, was much inferior to what it should be, as the Duke of Newcastle was said to receive 3,500l., or at least 3,000l. a year from the property. Thus the pecuniary loss was a point worthy of their attention, even setting aside the fact that the property was yearly increasing in value and importance; but that was nothing compared to the loss of liberty and independence by the people. The Crown lessee never gave a lease for more than a year, in order to keep the voters completely within his power; were he to act otherwise, they might with impunity vote against him. Not long since, four acres of land, the property of Lord Middleton, were sold in the neighbourhood of Newark, and brought 4,000l., 1,000l. an acre! This fact might give them a just conception of the general value of all the adjoining property. Why was the Crown land not sold to the highest bidder? He might be answered, that the lease had not yet expired; but were not the reversions available for sale? Instead of renewing the Crown lease, how much more eligible would it prove to sell the lands altogether. A greater pecuniary value would be obtained for the public, and the parties now 1084 suffering under such intolerable persecution would be relieved from the degrading political subjection to which they had been reduced. But by following and persisting in the course heretofore so unhappily pursued, the Government would in the first instance prevent the people from obtaining the means of extending their buildings, and of increasing in prosperity; and in the next, it would unavoidably permit the present possession to be converted to the pecuniary injury of those who had property in the neighbourhood. Lastly, if the Commons suffered it, they would violate the genius of the Constitution, by allowing the Crown to become instrumental in empowering the aristocracy to return a Member to Parliament. Should the Government renew the lease, it would necessarily thereby continue injustice; but if it sold the property, it would as necessarily bring money to the people, vindicate the principle of representation, and assert the dearest political privilege of a British subject. He would move that the present Petition should be referred, not to a Committee of Privilege, but to a Select Committee, his object being to have the allegations which it contained minutely and circumstantially inquired into. At the same time he most distinctly disavowed an intention to hold up any individual to public obloquy, as the interests of truth and justice were the only objects which he had in view. He sought no vengeance—he had no personal pique to gratify. He only called on the Legislature to prevent the recurrence of a most grievous evil, to vindicate the Crown from the obloquy with which it had been, to a certain degree, mixed up, and to support the dignity of a Constitutional Representation. It was his intention afterwards to move an humble Address to his Majesty, in order to obtain a promise from Government that the lease of the Crown lands should not be renewed on the same terms as hitherto, if it were to be renewed upon any terms whatever. The hon. Member concluded by presenting the following Petition:—To the Right hon. the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled.—The humble Petition of the undersigned Inhabitants of the Town of Newark-upon-Trent, in the County of Nottingham.Showeth,—That Newark is a Borough Town, containing two thousand houses, or thereabouts, with a population of nearly ten thousand; and 1085 the resident inhabitants paying scot and lot have the right of voting in the election of two Members to serve in Parliament for the said Borough:That the town possesses considerable commercial advantages, and from its being surrounded by the best markets for grain, and from having the facilities which good water carnage affords, it has, during the last few years, very greatly increased in wealth and population, and is become one of the principal towns in the kingdom in the manufacture of malt and of meal, largely supplying Manchester, Sheffield, and other manufacturing towns with those commodities:That there are not appertinent to, or in the neighbourhood of, Newark, any town lands or open pastures for the accommodation of the freemen and other inhabitants of the town.That his Grace the Duke of Newcastle possesses a lease from his late Majesty (granted by the advice of his Privy Council) of the manor of Newark, with all the quit rents and copyhold rents, and of the markets, the bridges, the tolls, and fairs therein, and of the rights of fishing in the river Trent, and the rivers and streams within the manor; and also of several houses situate within the town, together with upwards of nine hundred and sixty acres of land, lying-in and contiguous to the Borough, and almost encircling the same, the whole being within the township of Newark, and the several parishes of Averham, Stoke, Balderton, and Farndon:That the family of his Grace first became possessed of the said property in the first year of his late Majesty (1760), when a lease was granted by the Crown; which, by the recital therein contained, appears to have been granted by the advice of the then Duke of Newcastle (who was at that time First Lord of the Treasury) to the then Earl of Lincoln, he having married a sister of his Grace:That in the year 1815, a lease of the said property was granted to the present Duke of Newcastle, for a term which will expire in the year 1836:That the houses and lands comprised in the said lease are occupied by tenants at will, and the land (with the exception of two of the most distant farms, held by influential families) is let in small allotments to persons residing, and having votes and interest, within the Borough, as yearly tenants; and although the same is let at what would, under other circumstances, be deemed full average rents, yet, from the exclusive possession by the Duke of the whole of such land, and from the peculiar pursuits of the principal trading population, he is enabled, by means of the great accommodation it affords, to exercise, and he does actually exercise, an absolute control over the votes of a great portion of the inhabitants:That the political control of the Borough is of much more value to his Grace than any advantage he could derive from the improvement of the Crown lands; and, therefore, in order to preserve such control, the said Crown 1086 lands have been so managed (by being only let by the year) as necessarily to prevent their improvement:That the evil of such system has not been limited to the injury of the Crown lands, but has extended its pernicious influence to the town, as the lands form a complete girdle round the town, and the system referred to necessarily prevents those local improvements which the increasing wealth and advantageous position of Newark would otherwise give rise to; and your Petitioners humbly show, that, but for the contractive operation of this system, the growing population of Newark would naturally have spread itself over a considerable portion of that part of the Crown land which immediately adjoins the town; whereas, the poorer class of the people have been compelled to reside in confined and unwholesome courts and alleys (a large portion of the tenements in which belong to the Duke's private estate, and are thus enhanced in nominal value), while the more opulent inhabitants are deprived of those essential comforts to which their situation entitles them, and of those conveniences which their increasing commerce imperiously demands; and even the limited accommodation at present afforded to some of the inhabitants, by a temporary and uncertain occupation of the land, they can only obtain by the surrender of their political independence, and by what his Grace terms "entire confidence and a grateful co-operation" with him in his political views, and in the election of those Members for the borough who are nominated by himself:That although your Petitioners admit, that the possession by his Grace the Duke of Newcastle of the property hereinbefore mentioned as forming his own private estate would naturally confer upon him a large portion of that influence which ordinarily results from the relation of landlord and tenant, yet your Petitioners humbly represent, that it would be wholly insufficient to control the election of Members of the said borough, unaided by the enormous unconstitutional power over the voters, which his Grace has acquired by the possession of the Crown lands, and by his system of managing the same:Your Petitioners humbly show to your honourable House, that such Crown lands are of very great value, a large portion thereof abutting on the principal roads adjoining to the densely-populated parts of Newark, and being applicable to building purposes, and, in point of situation, of equal value to contiguous land (also within the borough), which has realized upwards of 800l. per acre; and your Petitioners represent, that even such part thereof as would not, from its situation, be at present in request as building land, would find ready tenants or purchasers at very considerable prices, were it the pleasure of the Crown to let, or otherwise dispose of, the same in allotments suited to the increasing wants of this improving town.Your Petitioners further humbly show, that 1087 his grace the Duke of Newcastle does not occupy, and has not, during the whole period of the lease, occupied, or held in his own hands, any part of the said Crown lands: and that he has not, by building or otherwise, improved their value; and that the trifling improvements which have been made thereon have been wholly made by the tenants and actual occupiers, who have no security whatever for continuing to hold the same, and who are thus further bound to vole according to the dictation of the Duke, for fear of losing as well the land they hold as their outlay for improvements thereon:That, in the month of February last, Sir William Henry Clinton, who had been returned under the influence of the Duke to sit for this borough, accepted the Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds, when Michael Thomas Sadler, esq. who had previously been unknown to the inhabitants, became a candidate for the vacant seat, and was taken round the town by the agent of the Duke and receiver of his rents, and introduced to his Grace's tenants as the successor of the retired Member:That at that particular period there were many momentous questions pending in both Houses of Parliament, deeply affecting the tranquillity and prosperity of a large portion of his Majesty's subjects; and his Grace the Duke of Newcastle, as your Petitioners have been informed, was most anxious for a dissolution of Parliament, in order, as he represented, that the wishes of the people might be ascertained from the return of the Members to your honourable House:That Mr. Serjeant Wilde likewise became a candidate to represent this Borough at the same election:That Mr. Sadler was returned by the Mayor as duly elected:That the return of Mr. Sadler was obtained by means of the prevailing belief, founded upon the experience of former elections, that such of the Duke's tenants as should vote against his Grace's nominee would be expelled from their tenancies; and many of the voters who polled for Mr. Sadler avowed that but for the fear of such result they would have polled for the other candidate:That although many of the Duke's tenants, under the influence before-mentioned, did vote for Mr. Sadler, yet there were many others who, choosing to exercise their elective franchise independently, gave their votes to the opposing candidate:That since the said election, every one of the tenants of his Grace who so voted for Mr. Serjeant Wilde has received notice to quit his holding, whether the same was house or land; and whether it constituted a part of the estate of the Crown or the private property of his Grace:That a large portion of the electors, as well of those who had, as of those who had not, received notice to quit their lands and houses, convened a public meeting of the inhabitants, to 1088 take into consideration the proper measures to be adopted, justly deeming the proceedings of the Duke's agents not only injurious to the character and prosperity of the town, but calculated to destroy every vestige of political independence within the Borough.The persons concerned in convening the said meeting deemed it expedient, as well as respectful, to inform his Grace by letter of their intention to hold the same, to announce its object, and to invite his attendance thereat; to which his Grace replied, neither denying the act of giving such notices, nor disavowing the motive, but justifying the same, upon a claim of a right 'to do what he would with his own.'Your Petitioners do, however, humbly submit to your honourable House, that, whatever right, or rather whatever power his Grace may have 'to do what he will with his own' private estate, he has not the right, and ought to be deprived of the power, of using the property he holds as lessee of the Crown to the injury of the Borough, the oppression of the inhabitants; and that the said lease ought not to be renewed, by reason that for election purposes his Grace has used the same in a manner that has diminished the present and reversionary value of the public property; impeded the progress of local improvement; repressed the growing prosperity of the town, and controlled the reasonable comforts and enjoyments of the inhabitants; and further, that by the possession of such lease, his Grace has been enabled to keep alive, from year to year, the most odious distinctions, and to foment feelings of dissension and party spirit; and finally, he has employed the power it conferred to overawe the inhabitants, control the election, and thus secure the return of his own Members to serve in your honourable House; all which facts your Petitioners are ready, and pray leave, to prove at the Bar of your honourable House, or in such other manner as to its wisdom may seem meet.Your Petitioners do therefore most humbly pray your honourable House to take into consideration the matter of this Petition, and to address his Majesty, that no further lease may be granted to his Grace; but that the Lords Commissioners of his Majesty's Land Revenues may be directed to sell or let the same in suitable lots, whereby the revenue will be increased, the property improved, the town enriched, and the inhabitants restored to the free and independent exercise of the inviolable right of electing Members of their own choice to represent the Borough of Newark in your honourable House.
said, he must declare in the outset that the allegations in the petition, as he had been able to collect them, if not gross misstatements were at least perversions of fact. He should not think it requisite to go through the speech of the hon. Member in detail, but would rest 1089 satisfied with noticing two or three of his observations. Admitting the number of the population and of the Houses to be correct, in some of the other averments there was obviously a want both of caution and of accuracy. The municipal revenue of the town, including all its tolls and rates, was certainly much smaller than it would appear had been inferred. By a charter in the reign of Charles 2nd the toll on the bridge, averaging 80l. a year, was made over to the Mayor and Corporation; but the Corporation of Nottingham was entitled to one third. The nine hundred and sixty acres of Crown-lands mentioned were not in the immediate neighbourhood of the town as represented, but in reality would be found scattered about through the adjacent villages to a considerable extent. By the last determination of the House, those householders had a right of voting who paid scot and lot. Notwithstanding all that had been said about the tyranny and persecution which the tenants had to undergo, it was rather remarkable that the Crown had but twelve houses and twenty-six cottages at the renewal of the lease. This fact, he apprehended, would seem to warrant a conclusion very different from that which the hon. Member wished the House to draw. He could not help expressing his surprise that the hon. Gentleman's sight should have been so bewildered in the office of Woods and Forests as to lead him to suppose that there was a girdle of Crown-land immediately about the town, for he would have found, had he looked a little closer, that three sides were open. There were three or four proprietors in the neighbourhood of the town who had property to a larger amount there than that of the Crown. What had fallen from the hon. Member would induce the House to suppose that under the last lease, and up to 1815, the tenant to the Crown only paid 36l. a year; the fact was, that the lease was renewed in 1806, and the rent was then fixed at 2,200l. a-year, although the actual receipt was only 2,026l., but in addition a fine of 2,500l. was also paid. In 1815, in consequence of a small property falling into the possession of the Crown, the lease was surrendered with a view to facilitate business, but with an understanding that it was not to be extended to the advantage of the lessee. At the same time he believed that as high a rent was now 1090 obtained from the land as it was worth. It was alleged that his Majesty's Government were interested in supporting one candidate more than another, relying in return upon his support in that House. Now it turned out that the Gentleman supported by the Duke of Newcastle did not generally support the Government. He had only to add, that he wished all the circumstances of the case to come before the House previous to its coming to any decision. Acting upon this view of the question, he would not oppose the petition in its then stage, but should reserve his observations on its merits to a future occasion.
Mr. F. Clinton
begged leave, as one acquainted with all the details of the transactions which had given birth to the present petition, to say a few words in explanation of those transactions. He confidently assured the House, that there was never submitted to its notice a petition more full of misrepresentations, and of most unfounded insinuations, than that just presented by the hon. Member for Dover. The noble Lord who presided over the Woods and Forests, had so fully and satisfactorily explained the circumstances connected with the original granting and subsequent renewal of the Crown-land lease held by the Duke of Newcastle, that he need not say another word on that part of the subject. He would merely ask the hon. Member for what purpose he had entered into a statement of that lease having been granted in the first instance in the time of George 2nd, to the Earl of Lincoln, the nephew of the then First Lord of the Treasury, unless for the purpose of insinuating something by which he perhaps might hope to win a cheer? The hon. Member was in error as to the facts connected with the last renewal of the Duke of Newcastle's lease, which took place in 1806, and not in 1815, as the hon. Member had stated. The noble Duke's rent on that occasion was raised 2,000l. per annum,—a sum which he firmly believed was, all things considered, a fair rental. It was stated in the petition that the Duke of Newcastle's tenants at Newark were all tenants at will; that for the purpose of securing a preponderant political influence at the election for that borough, the noble Duke had let his tenements out by the year, making the renewal of the next year's tenure dependent only on his single pleasure, Would it not be 1091 inferred from this statement that the Duke of Newcastle differed from all other landed proprietors, in the management of his property at Newark? What, however, was the fact? He appealed to every hon. Member at all acquainted with Nottingham and the adjacent counties, whether all the property held there, whether of land or houses, by tenants like the Duke of Newcastle's at Newark, was not, like his, held only from year to year, renewable at pleasure? Was it, therefore, fair to omit this fact, and by that omission to insinuate that the noble Duke had, in the leasing of his lands and houses at Newark, departed from the usual system under which lands and houses were leased in Nottinghamshire, and, he believed he might add, in most of the midland counties? It was next stated in the petition, that the noble Duke's property circled the town of Newark in such a manner as to prevent the erection of any new house beyond the present precincts, but at the Duke's pleasure, so as to compel the inhabitants to dwell in narrow, filthy, unwholesome courts and alleys,—that, in fact, the Duke's Crown property was a kind of wall round the town of Newark, of which he possessed the only gates and keys. The noble Lord who had last addressed the House had shown how unfounded was this mis-statement; he therefore would only say, in addition to what had fallen from the noble Lord, that the Duke's property did not immediately adjoin the town of Newark, nor did any Crown-lands leased by any other landed proprietor, nor any other property or estate of the Duke of Newcastle. Nay, he would go further and state, that so far from the "accommodation land" of that town at all belonging to the Duke, all the accommodation land in the neighbourhood was the property of other families, with one of which the right hon. Gentleman who filled the chair in that House was nearly connected. Then with respect to the assertion that the inhabitants, from want of room, were compelled to dwell in close unwholesome residences, he could assure the House that there was not a town in England of the size of Newark so over-built, though it was stated that no land for building could be procured for less than 1,000l. per acre. It was true that some years ago a small tract immediately contiguous to the town was sold at that high rate, but twelve months had not 1092 elapsed till land possessing equal advantages for building was put up for sale without obtaining a single bidder, so completely was the building market in Newark, so to speak, overstocked. Was it not, then, evident, after these statements, that the petition was a mere election affair? Indeed, this was quite evident from the manner in which the successful candidate at the late election was alluded to in it. The hon. Member was spoken of as a perfect stranger to the people of Newark. Would it not, he asked, be supposed from this statement that the learned Serjeant (Wilde), who had opposed the hon. Member, was one long connected by ties of residence or birth with Newark? that in fact his only object in the contest was to rescue his native borough from the disgrace of being represented by a perfect stranger? But what was the fact? Why, that the learned Serjeant, he believed, was never in Newark or even Nottinghamshire in his life, till he went there on his late electioneering adventure. On that occasion the learned Serjeant posted down to Newark and favoured the electors with divers eloquent speeches-; but his hon. opponent was returned by a large majority. After all his trouble the learned Serjeant was naturally unwilling to abandon his pretension to the representation of the borough, and of course omitted no opportunity of making himself popular. An occasion presented itself, which he was too skilful an advocate not to endeavour at least to take advantage of. It happened that on the Michaelmas after the late election the Duke of Newcastle gave some of his tenants at Newark, notice to quit: but the hon. Member for Dover, not content with stating the fact, added that the noble Duke did not give this notice till the time for an election petition had elapsed. In answer to this imputation, he thought it would be sufficient to remind the House, that the noble Duke could not give notice till the next half-year audit had arrived; so that the charge of his having awaited the termination of the period within which a petition complaining of undue influence should be presented, fell to the ground. Well, the notices, as he had stated, were served; and the occasion of popularity was eagerly snatched at by the learned Serjeant, at whose suggestion a public meeting was called of his partisans and the tenants of the Duke of Newcastle who had received 1093 notice to quit. In the hand bills for the meeting it was stated that not less than 200 families had been turned out of their residences by the Duke, for no other cause than voting according to the dictates of their conscience; while the fact was, that but forty notices were served altogether. To that meeting, which he begged leave to assure the House was chiefly composed of the lowest rabble of Newark, an invitation was sent to the Duke of Newcastle, and the chief topic of the several speeches which were delivered on the occasion were attacks on his Grace's contumacy, for not having accepted the invitation. Was it not evident, that if a heavier charge lay against him it would have absorbed the attention of the speakers? and was it not evident, that if the learned Serjeant had any other ground, (he being grievously disappointed in not attaining his object), to question the validity of his opponent's success, he would have advanced it? in fact, would have presented a petition complaining of the hon. Member's return, instead of merely treating his partisans to long speeches. The learned Serjeant knew too well that speeches would not suffice in themselves, however eloquent: hence the present petition, the prayer of which was perhaps unexampled in its modesty: it simply asked the House to advise the Crown to— what?—merely not to renew the lease of the Duke of Newcastle. Really this was a little too much. He believed it was quite new for Parliament to be culled upon to address his Majesty as to whom the Crown-lands should be let or should not be let. He was inclined to think that he was right, for if he were not, he asked what would be the next step of interference with the exercise of the royal prerogative, unless to fell his Majesty, not only whom he should not let the Crown-lands to, but to whom he should, from the confidence which the House of Commons had in the one, and not in the other? In fact, such a proposition, he was convinced, had no parallel in the Constitution, save in the times of the Commonwealth. The whole matter, he begged to assure the House, sprang from a disappointment at an election, and should therefore be treated altogether as an election petition. The hon. presenter of it disclaimed any wish to interfere between landlord and tenant, so that there existed no ground whatever for the House's en- 1094 tertaining it. The hon. Member, however, said, that though he disclaimed all interference between landlord and tenant, he thought it right to present the petition, with a view to preventing abuses of the great lessees of Crown-lands. Now what was the fact with respect to the number of Crown-land tenants of the Duke of Newcastle that had voted for the learned Serjeant at the late election? Why but seven voted for the learned Serjeant, and but seventy-four altogether for his hon. opponent, out of 1,388, which constituted his gross poll. Had these seventy-four votes been given for the learned Serjeant, would, he confidently asked, a word have been heard of the present petition? The hon. Member concluded by stating, that he would oppose the hon. Member's Motion for a Committee, as he considered it would be both unusual and unconstitutional.
Sir F. Burdett
said, he could not subscribe to the doctrine advanced by the hon. Member who had just addressed the House, that referring the petition under consideration to a select, committee would be either unprecedented or unconstitutional. He was not wanting in respect to the hon. Member or to the noble Lord who had preceded him; but still he thought that the House was bound not to make their statements, or the statements of any individual, the ground for not referring a petition like the present to a select committee. He said, the House was bound to determine for itself how far the allegations of the petitioners were or were not borne out by fact, and this it could best do by the proposed inquiry. "But before I enter," said the hon. Baronet, "into a detail of the grounds on which I shall vote for referring the petition before the House to a select committee, I beg leave to say a very few words on a subject, which personally affects myself, and which, though not directly connected with that before the House, is not, perhaps, altogether out of place. The noble Duke who has been so frequently alluded to in the course of the present, discussion, has done me the honour of addressing me a letter, with reference to a statement which he charges me with having made in this House a few evenings since. The letter to which I allude, was addressed to me through the medium of one of the public journals. I by no means complain of this circumstance; indeed, I have no complaint to make of 1095 the letter itself, for it was as agreeable a one as perhaps an idle man could desire; it required no answer. I say that it did not call upon me to write an answer, for any proposition that might appear to require explanation in the beginning, was sure to have another refuting it at the end. In fact, no better answer could be given, so far as the matter of discussion was concerned, than was contained in the Letter itself. There is one point, however, on which I should be extremely sorry that, any misconception should exist in the mind of the noble Duke. I should be extremely sorry that the noble Duke should believe that I had applied to him personally any opprobrious terms. He charges me with having designated him as a "notorious boroughmonger." Now I did not apply this term, or any one similarly harsh to him. In fact I do not, under the present constitution of this House, I beg leave to say, consider boroughmongering as a great evil, but as a palliation of an evil. As this House is at present constituted, I repeat that I consider the purchase of a seat effects some good, by admitting men of talent, who under our present vicious system, could not otherwise obtain that seat, to an opportunity of devoting their services to the benefit of the country. I think it necessary to state my belief of tills one palliating influence which our present corrupt system of election affords as a set-off against its numberless evils. Entertaining these opinions, therefore, I could not consistently apply an opprobrious epithet to the noble Duke for an act which I do not consider, raider the existing state of our Representation, to be one of un-mingled evil. The noble Duke says, that at the time the transaction took place, I on a former evening alluded to, he was quite a boy, in fact, an infant in law and therefore could not have been a party to it. Now, though somewhat older than the noble Duke at the time, I certainly was young in life myself, and, in fact, was as little a party to the affair as he possibly could have been; indeed, I did not desire a seat in Parliament at all,—there was nothing I thought less about at the time, and should, had I followed the bias of my own feelings, have been still innocent of any concern in the matter. But I was induced to acquiesce in the wishes of my friends, and without any interference whatever on my part was told, one day, that I was returned for Boroughbridge in Yorkshire. So that, 1096 of the two parties to the transaction, if the noble infant in law was wholly innocent, I, the other party, in point of fact, was equally uncontaminated. The noble Duke, then, was not the only Simon Pure in the business. The matter was arranged, as such matters usually are under similar circumstances, by other parties; a sum of money was received on the part of the noble Duke, and paid on mine, and I became the independent Member for the borough of Boroughbridge. I am bound to say, that the sum which procured me my seat was not by any means unusually large, all things considered—it amounted to 4,000l.: and for that I was guaranteed for six years, no matter if a dissolution took place in the mean time. This, I repeat, all things considered, was by no means a high price; and I beg leave to state, that when I said I purchased my seat from the Duke of Newcastle, I did not mean this or that member of the house of Pelham, but the Duke of Newcastle, whoever he was, of the time being, the proprietor of the borough of Boroughbridge, for which I first sat in this House as a Representative. I stated that that Duke of Newcastle was a trader in boroughs, and I quoted my own case as one in point. I find that my own case was not the only one; for, if I am not very much mistaken, the father of the present Member for Dorsetshire succeeded me in the very same way, by purchase, as Representative of the Duke of Newcastle's borough of Boroughbridge, thus proving the truth of my general assertion. There was a circumstance connected with Mr. Portman's purchase that appears to me worth mentioning: he did not make the stipulation which was made for me, of being guaranteed a seat for a certain number of years, though a dissolution should take place in the interim, and the Duke of Newcastle, to his honour be it stated, returned a part of the purchase-money, according to a valuation of the time for which he actually sat as Member. I therefore, in my statement of the transaction a few evenings since, could not. have meant to direct my observations personally against the present Duke of Newcastle. My objection was not to the individual, but to the system; and be the; noble Duke a borough-monger, a borough-master, or a borough-forcer, or quocunque nomine gaudet, I stated the fact as I have now repeated it, with a view to exposing the evils of our present corrupt system of 1097 Representation in their undisguised nakedness. The blame, if blame there is, I say, does not he with the Duke of Newcastle, but in the system: the blame lies with this House, which is not what it ought to be, the House of Commons of England." The hon. Baronet proceeded next to argue that the clear and irresistible statement of the hon. Member for Dover made the necessity of a Committee of Inquiry into the allegations of the petition convincing to, he thought, every one who had heard it. It was impossible to adopt the recommendation of the hon. Member for Aldborough (Mr. F. Clinton), and treat the petition as an election one, that had been presented too late for the House to act upon it. He would not, indeed he could not, say whether its statements would be borne out by facts; but he contended that it was due to the electors of Newark, to the noble Duke himself, and to the dignity of that House, that an investigation should be instituted into (he grounds of those statements. The petition he conceived to be a petition of privilege, that could not be overlooked without compromising the dignity of Parliament. It was one, he thought, of the most important nature in a constitutional point of view, that had ever come under the notice of that House: one, therefore, to which too much attention could not be given, and which he maintained could not be blinked in the manner recommended by the hon. Member for Aldborough. The electors of Newark complained that for the conscientious exercise of their duties they had been punished by a powerful individual, whom the law of the land and the law of Parliament forbade from using any influence whatsoever in the choice of Members of that House; and that complaint it was the bounden duty of hon. Members to inquire into, for the purpose of redress if it should appear well founded. The offence charged in the petition was not only a misdemeanor in the eye of the law, but a constitutional outrage in the eye of Parliament. There was no part of our common law more ancient than that which asserted the freedom of elections. Fiant electiones liberœ, procul e causa timoris was a common law maxim, which, if the allegations of the present petitioners were true, had been set at nought by one who came under the denomination of the 'haut homme' spoken of in Sir E. Coke's Comments on the First Westminster Sta- 1098 tute. The hon. Baronet contended, that the interference of the 'haut homme' in elections was a violation of not only our common law, but also of the ecclesiastical. One of the articles, he said, of the Articuli Ecclesiœ, expressly forbad all interference, whether by force or fraud, in the election of a church dignitary. The House, he thought, could not but entertain the petition as one deeply affecting its own privileges. It was bound to inquire how far the common-law maxim, which declared that elections should be free, had been violated by the Duke of Newcastle at Newark. He knew not, he repeated, whether the allegation of the petitioners would be supported by fact, but he thought that the House should determine the truth for themselves, uninfluenced by statements, however plausible, of any individual Member. If those allegations could be proved to be unfounded, so much the better for the noble Duke implicated, and so much the more satisfactory for the House inquiring. Indeed, he thought that no persons ought to be more zealous for referring the petition to a committee than the noble Duke's friends; and that in proportion to their confidence in the goodness of his cause. If, on inquiry, however, it should be found that the noble Duke had interfered unconstitutionally with the freedom of election, he trusted that the House, which was just now so energetic in its expression of indignation at the corrupt practices of the electors of East Retford, would assert its privileges, and with at least equal indignation punish the far higher offence of the Duke of Newcastle,—higher, he said, inasmuch as it was aggravated by the use of violence. If it were deemed expedient to punish the corrupt electors of East Retford for acts unaccompanied by violence, how much more should an aggression, in which force —actual violence —was the means employed to ensure its being successful, call down the arm of justice on the offender. We punished a pickpocket who stole our property with a cautious avoidal of every thing like force; but we punished still more him who robbed us by putting a loaded pistol to our head, and demanding our money: and this we did because we considered the force employed to be a great exaggeration of the crime.— And why not deal in the same way in punishing those who effect, through means of terror, an outrage upon our sacred right 1099 of choosing our Representatives in Parliament? It was impossible, he contended, for the House to persist in disfranchising East Retford, and to shut their eyes on the allegations of the present petition. He therefore should vote for its being referred to a Select Committee. By that means only could the ends of truth and justice be attained.
§ Mr. D. W. Harvey
said, that as he had already given notice of a motion for the 30th of March, to bring the state and value of the Crown-lands before the House, he would not trespass then long upon its attention. With the constitutional branch of the subject, which had been so ably dwelt upon by the hon. Baronet, he should have nothing to do; for indeed he saw no difference between the conduct of the Duke of Newcastle in turning his property where he could into borough-representation profit, and that, of any other noble Lord, or hon. Member, who indulged in similar speculations. Indeed, be should avoid studiously the hypocrisy of taking partial views with reference to such transactions. But it had been asked, did they mean to interfere with the rights of the Crown, or to dictate what ought to be the condition or disposition of the rents of the Crown? To this he would at once reply, Yes. This was not the property of the Crown—on the contrary, it had been bought at a high and perilous price for the people. Ever since the time of Queen Anne the people had been paying 600,000l. or 700,000l. a-year for property which had not returned them so many pence. The noble Lord had said that all discussion about the Crown-lands had better be reserved for the 30th of March, and the hon. Member said that there was no precedent since the time of the Commonwealth for this interference. Perhaps even at that period the hon. Member might be able to find that some precedents had occurred, which even (he most rampant loyalty could adopt. However, he would now give them a precedent quite in point, though not drawn from times so dangerous to monarchy. After King William had given nearly five-sixths of the county of Denbigh to the Earl of Portland, the House of Commons addressed his Majesty against the disposal of the public property in that sweeping way, and King William replied, that although he was under great obligations to the Earl of Portland, yet in obedience to the ex- 1100 pressed opinion of the House, he would endeavour to give him compensation in another manner, of which, perhaps, by the way, the descendants of that Peer might hear some further particulars on the 30th of March. The very circumstance of this petition coming as it did, ought to make the House happy to have an opportunity of dealing with such abuses as it described. And indeed he could show, by the letter of an inhabitant of Newark, who was totally unconcerned with noble or ignoble persons in these borough matters, that if this property were fairly put up to sale, it would produce at least 200,000l.: he said that this was the valuation affixed by Mr. Fordyce. He had read the twenty reports of Mr. Fordyce, and in one of them he found a strong recommendation not to let on lease this kind of property in the immediate vicinity of great towns, for he foresaw the solid importance which would attach to such property. With reference to this particular branch of Crown property, it appeared to produce only 2,200l. a-year, and yet it would, if fairly put up for sale, produce 200,000l. The petitioners, therefore, complained with justice of these oppressive transactions, and were desirous of getting rid of the undue influence from which they sprung. He knew it was said, that suppose this sale took place, what would become of the persons holding unexpired leases for four or five years? Why, he would suggest to buy out the unexpired interest of the principal party. The noble person who could sell a seat for 4,000l. would not, of course, object to sell a share of his freehold. Let them only pay him the value of his 2,200l. a-year,—let them buy up this Duke, and the noble Lord opposite could have no difficulty in calculating what he was worth from his tables, after his great recent experience in the valuation of local interests under the St. Martin's Improvement Act. In fact, only let the Government once say that this property was to be put up for sale, and it would soon find 200 or 300 persons, at present enchained under the Duke's bonds, ready to buy up their shares to serve themselves, and also benefit the public. At all events, on the 30th of March he should be prepared to show the Members of that House such a train of abuses in this Crown property, as they were never before acquainted with; which, once named, must be remedied.
§ Mr. Sadler
said, although this subject, in the event of a select committee being granted, would again come under discussion, yet he did not think that he should be discharging his duty if he suffered the present occasion to pass without endeavouring to explain the circumstances which had been so misrepresented. And in the first place he begged to ask the hon. Member for Dover whether the petition he had presented was carried at. a town's meeting, and whether the full notice of that meeting had been given.
§ Mr. P. Thompson
said, the petition was carried at a public meeting, convened after full notice, not only to all persons residing in the town, but one of the notices was even sent to the hon. Gentleman himself. The letter, however, which contained it, travelled in the most extraordinary way about the country, and it was not till long after, that the hon. Gentleman wrote a letter to the Chairman of the meeting, stating that he should have written before on this subject had the letter come to him sooner.
§ Mr. Sadler
said, the hon. Gentleman, in his opinion, had not given a specific answer as to whether the petition emanated from a public meeting. It was of importance to ascertain this point, be-cause the principal part of the voters of Newark had already expressed their opinion of the petition, as he looked upon it to be, to all intents and purposes, an election petition. As the hon. Gentleman, in his answer to the question just put, had alluded, and somewhat facetiously, to the circumstances by which the notice was prevented reaching him (Mr. Sadler), he would say a word or two on that subject. All the travel that that letter had had was entirely owing to accidents; and had it reached him in time he should have had no hesitation in answering it in the negative; and he should have done this because he had already waited upon his constituents since his election, and when circumstances called him to a distant part of the country he did not see that he was bound to return to Newark, after having so recently visited it. Besides which, he said, that he should have had to appear before a committee, every one of whom had been his opponents at the election. The letter, however, as he had already stated, was delayed by some mistake; not that he made any accusation against the Post-master, But first it had gone to 1102 Leeds, and then to Manchester; then it was sent on to Gainsborough, by mistake; and after a delay at all these places he got the letter. He was afraid that he was wearying the attention of the House, by entering into all these details. He had now to make a few observations on the conduct of the hon. Gentleman himself, who, though he, no doubt, intended to be courteous, had not been very much so in this instance. It was not till the Wednesday that, he received notice from him that he intended to present the petition; and he certainly had expected that a copy of it would be sent to him; he, however, had had no opportunity of perusing it till that evening. That petition represented that he was not known in Newark: that, however, was not true, for he had been known to several influential persons there for many years. It was erroneous, it was false. He thought, as the petition had been concocted in London, sent to Newark to canvass for subscribers, and then back to town, he might have been furnished with a copy sooner, so as to have been able to make some inquiries on the subject, in which case he should have been able to approach the House with something beyond mere impressions. What had fallen from the noble Lord at the head of the Woods and Forests coincided with the impressions on his mind, and must, he thought, have destroyed the erroneous impressions sought to be conveyed by the petition. It certainly was not for the House to deal with leases that were already in existence; they could never admit an ex post facto law, such as the hon. Member for Colchester had proposed. There had been a great deal of gross exaggeration about the conduct of the noble individual to whom so much allusion had been made. If that were the proper place for explanation, he could state many circumstances infinitely to that nobleman's honour, he would only say that many of the attacks made on him were direct falsehoods. It had been asserted that he had discharged 200 of his tenants, which was known to be untrue, and though it had been immediately contradicted, it was afterwards reasserted and circulated through the whole kingdom. The few ejectments that had been made might be accounted for without looking to political motives, and might be easily defended, but he did not think that it was in Parliament, one of 1103 the first duties of which was to preserve inviolate the right of property, that he ought to justify that noble person, for exercising a right as he pleased, which was unquestioned in the meanest subject of the land. The cruelty of those ejectments was descanted on, but it was never said, that the noble Duke was a kind and liberal landlord, which he was known to be. At the same time he was at a loss to reconcile the cruelty of those ejectments, with the fact that Newark was over-built, that there were many tenements vacant, and many landlords who would be glad of tenants. Harsh, however, and injurious as were the accusations made in that House in reference to the ejectments, vituperation as gross was indulged in before any one of them had taken place. His learned opponent seemed at the time of the election and before, to have been ignorant, that there was another landlord in the place, and he levelled all his vituperative eloquence against the one noble individual. From the beginning to the close of the election, vituperation to the entire exclusion of every topic connected with public principles or national policy, was the sole business of his opponent. The object evidently aimed at was, to influence the tenantry of the noble person alluded to against him, simply because he was their landlord. Nothwithstanding this unfair proceeding, which was not more prosperous than it ought to be, he had been returned by a majority respectable both by its number and its property, so as to entitle him to say that he appeared there as the Representative of one of the most independent boroughs of the British Empire. The hon. Member for Dover had done him the honour to make a quotation from a book of his—a practice which he observed had of late been frequent in the House, though he should not repel it, did it make any impression favourable to humanity. What he felt himself called on to complain of was, that the hon. Member had quoted the passage without the context, and had he read the whole of it, the House would have seen that it was directed against those general clearances of the land, in obedience to certain doctrines about population, enforced by mercenary motives, which too often deprived many wretches at once of home and bread, and banished them from their country. He did not mean to disguise the fact, that he had the good wishes of the noble person already alluded to, 1104 but he also had the good wishes of many other noble and hon. Gentlemen connected with Newark. He had endeavoured to obtain the good will of the landed proprietors, and he had been successful. He had been honoured by the support of several ancient and honourable families seated in that neighbourhood, and among others, of that family, one of whose most distinguished members then filled the chair. To him it was most abhorrent to array landlords and tenants in mutual hostility, and he had sought to recommend himself to both, but he had used no means of corruption. Nor had he been betrayed into any servility; be had been returned for a most respectable and populous place, and had used no bribery, and knew nothing of any coercion. Newark was no decayed borough, and even if the motion for Parliamentary Reform, made by the noble Member the other evening, had been carried into effect that would not have disfranchised Newark. It contained upwards of 10,000 inhabitants, all, except paupers, having votes, and many of them being opulent and highly respectable. Those who represented Newark as a rotten borough, under the control of any individual, were guilty of a manifest falsehood. He apologized to the House for having so long trespassed on its attention, and perhaps wandered from the subject before it, which was rather an attack on a noble individual, for his mode of managing his property, than an attack on himself. Some allusions, however, had been made to him, which, would, he hoped, appear sufficient to the House to justify him for what he had said of himself. As to that noble individual, he would repeat that the accusation brought against him of pursuing unprincipled courses, with a view to obtain parliamentary influence, was false. His property was not managed with a view to obtain such influence. Those who were as willing to listen to a just eulogium on a fellow creature as to an idle calumny, would be glad to learn that among his Grace's tenants at Newark, there were some who gave him no votes, who had indeed nothing to give him, but their gratitude and their prayers. Had his Grace been so eager to acquire political influence as he had been represented to be, he would have dispossessed the poor widows who then occupied his tenements at Newark, to make room for voters. But he had taken a kinder and an honester course—a course consistent 1105 with the long-established character of his family, which had seated him firmly in the hearts of those who had known him the longest,—he had never dispossessed one such tenant to make room for a voter. The virtue of that noble individual was unsullied, and his patriotism exemplary As to any influence exerted on himself, he declared to God that he had been exposed to none. He felt proud in possessing the confidence of the noble person mentioned, but that noble person had best respected his own conscientious feelings in respecting those of the humble individual who was then addressing the House. That noble person, contrary to what had been said concerning dictation, had left him as a Representative of the people, to promote and secure their intersts, according to his own judgment. The influence of that noble person was not that alone of property, it was that of a kind master, and of a man estimable for all the domestic virtues, which, even more than his elevated rank, had secured him universal respect. He thought himself called on to say thus much, as it seemed to be the chief business of some individuals to assail that noble person with the most rancorous hostility.
§ Lord Howick
said, he only rose for one moment, lest his silence should be misconstrued, as he conceived there was no appearance of the Ministers opposing the present Motion. He should only, therefore, notice the observation of the hon. Member who spoke last, that it would be in vain to deprive the Duke of Newcastle of his influence in the town of Newark. He honestly and candidly confessed, that during the continuance of the present system, were he a borough proprietor, he should avail himself unscrupulously of that interest for himself or his friends: therefore he did not complain of the Duke of Newcastle doing the same; but they did not want to deprive the Duke of his fair influence in the existing state of things at Newark. All they asked was, that he should not be privileged to exercise a right which he derived from the country, against the true interests of that country, and that he should not have the means of preventing the improvement of the national revenue, and of violating the Constitution. Let the House inquire into the facts stated by the petitioners, and see whether there did not exist abuses which were capable of due correction. 1106 The hon. Member for Colchester had given them some heads of the value of this property,—he did not mean to say that the computations were correct, still to ascertain the exact amount, inquiry was the only course. As far as the House knew at this moment, there was a prima facie case, that a considerable amount of national property could be more advantageously managed than it appeared to be at present. It was no sufficient answer to say they were to have another motion for a similar inquiry on a future day, which ought to obviate this application; for they were bound to inquire at the time when an alleged grievance was brought before them, and such was, he thought, the case at present. [Cries of 'Question.'] He saw by the clock that five minutes had not elapsed since he commenced, and as it was not his custom to trespass at any length upon the House, he claimed a fair hearing, and would not be prevented from continuing his address. He repeated that there was aprima facie case for an inquiry, which might possibly in its results show that a certain branch of national property could be more profitably managed for the country, as well as with more convenience for the inhabitants of Newark. The House could not in justice refuse the prayer of this petition, and therefore he should vote for the Motion.
observed, that it appeared to him that the hon. Gentleman who had spoken last but one, and the noble Lord (Lord Lowther), had left the question exactly where they found it. He was induced to think, from the early part of the speech of the hon. Member for Newark, that that hon. Gentleman was about to proclaim that he was setting up for himself; but at the latter end of the speech he had fairly confessed that he came in on the interest of the Duke of Newcastle, confessing at the same time that he was sitting there in defiance of all the rules and regulations of Parliament. The hon. Gentleman had been sent there by a Peer, and had avowed it. Did not the hon. Gentleman tell the House that he had received his seat from a Peer of Parliament?
. —I will make bold to ask the hon. Member, Is it so? Did not the hon. Member say, on a former occasion, that his Grace the Duke of Newcastle had allowed him to vote as he pleased. What was the inference (Mr. Hobhouse con- 1107 tinued) to be drawn from this? What inference could be drawn from this disclaimer other than that which the petioners draw—that the hon. Member is returned by the Duke of Newcastle?" He would not say whether it was by seventy-four votes or any other number derived from the Crown-lands, of which the Duke was the lessee; but he would say that by the admission of the hon. Member the allegation of the petitioners was proved, and that a case was made out that a Peer of Parliament had dared, in violation of the privileges of the Commons of England, to, use his influence in sending a member to that House. That was the question; and his noble friend, at the head of the Woods and Forests, had not properly considered it. It might be very proper for the noble Lord to make a joke of the subject, and talk of all the details, map and all, which were to be found in the Office of the Woods and Forests, but that had nothing to do with the constitutional question. The noble Lord might give that information ex officio, to the magistrates of the town of Newark for their guidance, and he must say, from the communication he had had with the Office of Woods and Forests, he had no doubt that every species of information was there given with great civility, but the question did not relate to the Office of Woods and Forests, it affected the constitutional privileges of Parliament. His noble friend was not disposed, as he-ought to be, to acknowledge the fact of a member having been sent into that House by the influence of the Duke of Newcastle. That was the fact, and he would not say that other individuals had not also been sent there by the influence of other Peers. That assertion, however, was no defence of the single instance, but rather an increase of the offence. He was sorry that the right hon. Gentleman (the Member for Liverpool) was not then present, for he had stated that when the House found a blot, it should take care to hit it hard, and take care that the people had no reason to reproach the House. Here was a blot, and if it were not hit—if the great Duke of Newcastle, though he were the best of all possible Dukes, and the best, too, of all possible patrons—if he were allowed to escape, the House would tell the people that its resolutions were mere waste paper. The evils of the system, though known, were not avowed, they were practised, but concealed: de- 1108 prĉudi miserum est; and having caught the Duke of Newcastle, it might as well at once tear up the Resolution which was then lying on the Table, and put the Mace under the Table, and not allow the Resolution to be repeated Session after Session, that no Peer of Parliament ought to have any influence in returning Members to that House, nor ought to dare to meddle with the elections of the people, if it did not go into the inquiry and take measures to vindicate its unsullied privileges. He was sorry to hear the noble Lord (whom he had long known, and the kindness of whose nature he was well acquainted with) he was sorry to hear that noble Lord make a taunt of his hon. friend's pathetic account of the sufferings of the men banished from their homes, and represent the picture he had drawn as not connected with the question. He was not astonished at what had fallen from the learned Gentleman, it was his calling, he was bound to advocate a particular cause; but the noble Lord was not sent to Parliament for such a purpose. It was well to talk; but he would put a case which would illustrate the question. He would suppose that the King's Government should send a message to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle, that he should no longer be the beneficial Lessee under the Crown, and that he should be stripped of all the valuable possessions he held under the Crown, amounting to 960 acres, he would suppose that this individual should be ejected because he had given an adverse vote on the losing side of a defeated question; and if this were done to the Duke of Newcastle, how would they hear of violated rights, of an infringement of the best birth-right of Englishmen—the right to do with his own as he liked. He would compare this case with the conduct charged against the Duke of Newcastle. The people of Newark were turned out of their houses because they did not vote as his Grace wished. The hon. Member said, let them go to the other untenanted houses in Newark that had been thrown up on the occasion. They were to leave all that was dear to them, their own houses, their own homes and happy firesides, which were, perhaps, all their comforts, because they did not vote as his Grace bade them. Was this a picture that the noble Duke would like? Could it be compared to the case of his Grace, whom he had supposed 1109 ejected from the Crown Lands? He could not compare the persons, but the cases were similar; it was the same thing —they had given their votes according to their own wills, and not according to the wishes of another. His Grace might find other houses if he were ejected, and other lands; but when these poor persons were ejected, where were they to find other homes? Banishment was a severe punishment to a rich man, but to a poor man it might be death; it might deprive him of all the means of subsistence, and be so severe that no person could wish to inflict it. The hon. Gentleman said, that the case was exaggerated; that it had been represented that two hundred persons had been ejected, and that in fact only forty had been made miserable. Suppose there was only one, that would be sufficient to make out the case, and would prove the interference of his Grace. But the allegations in the petition had not been, and could not be denied, they were admitted even in that famous letter which might make his Grace exclaim, with a famous man of antiquity, Quam vellem nescire literas—it would have been better that he had never put pen to paper, and if such conduct were permitted in his Grace, if he were allowed to commit acts that were contrary to the Resolutions of that House, then it would be better to tear up those Resolutions, and not leave them on their Journals. It had been said inquiry was without precedent, but he would show that there were other parallel cases. A Peer of Parliament, a Bishop, in 1701, had chosen to interfere in sending a member to that House. He had said to his ecclesiastical tenants, that he would not renew their leases, unless they voted for the person he nominated. The case was brought before the House of Commons by Sir John Packington, and the Bishop charged with the offence was Lloyd, a very good man, and one of the Seven Bishops. The case was heard at the Bar of that House, and an account of it was to be found in Howell's State Trials, vol. 14. After an examination at the Bar, it was referred to a committee, and the committee reported to the House that there had been an interference with the privileges of the House, by a Peer of Parliament, and the House resolved that an Address should be presented to the Crown, praying that the Bishop might be deprived of his Almoner's place, which was the only way he could 1110 be punished. And what was the answer of Queen Anne? In her answer the Queen said, "I am sorry that there is occasion for this Address against the Bishop of Worcester; I shall order and direct, that he shall no longer continue to supply the place of Almoner, but I will put another in his room to perform that office." The Bishop therefore was dismissed. At that time the decency was observed of defending the privileges of the House, and he did not think it possible that a case of that kind could ever be brought before the House of Commons without the House coming to some such determination. There were other similar instances which he would quote. In 1747 Mr. Pitt, who was afterwards called the celebrated Mr. Pitt, and was then Paymaster of the Forces, was petitioned against by the people of Seaford, in Sussex, as having been returned by the interference of a Peer, who at a certain dinner had used his influence with some persons, and had appeared on the hustings when Mr. Pitt was elected. The Parliamentary History* in which this was contained went on to say that Mr. Pitt made a joke of the whole matter, and treated it with contempt, and laughed at the petitioners, just as the complaints of the present petitioners had been laughed at. The nobleman concerned happened, oddly enough, to be another Duke of Newcastle. He did not know if all Dukes of Newcastle were the same, but there was at least one of the Pelhams who had tried to influence the return of a member to that House. Unluckily Mr. Pitt was not then so great a patriot as he afterwards became, and as he represented the Prime Minister, a very small minority only voted for the examination. He could find another strong case. The Duke of Chandos had interfered with the election of Southampton, when he was Lord Lieutenant of the county, in consequence of which a strong Re-solution was placed on the Journals of the House. The noble Lord was deeply implicated, and the House resolved that it should be examined in a committee; but when the committee made a report, which was, that the Duke of Chandos had interfered, the House, in consequence of a facetious speech made by Lord Nugent, who was a relation of the family, passed to the order of the day. But the case was proved against the Duke of Chandos, and the*; See Hansard's Parl. Hist. vol. xiv. p. 106,1111 House had then declared its opinion that no Lord Lieutenant should in future presume to interfere with its privileges. The case was therefore so far in point, and went to establish that for which he was contending. For what object was the hon. Member for Newark sent to that House? Was it not plain that he had been sent there to vote as the Duke of Newcastle, pleased in return for the votes which his Grace had procured for him? To what did that hon. Member owe his seat in that House, but to the interference—the undue and unlawful inter-fei'ence—of the Duke of Newcastle? Was that a mode of election to which that House should give its sanction? The present case was of more importance than either of the others; and if such things were not examined with a serious assurance of remedying them, the country would look with aversion on their proceedings. What objection could there be, to sending for the individual who is the Duke's agent, and who was said by the petitioners to have accompanied the hon. Member for Newark in his canvass. The House of Commons was bound to send for Mr. Tallents, and call on him to explain how it was that the hon. Member's Letter was sent to him under the cover of his Grace the Duke of Newcastle. The allegation had been made that this agent had desired certain freemen to vote for a particular person, and what prevented the House from ascertaining if that allegation was true? If they did not do this, they would reduce the people of England to regard that which they ought to consider as their greatest blessing, as a curse; and that which should be a badge of freedom, would become a chain of dependence, and a sign of servility. It would be far better not to allow them to have votes, than, having votes, to compel them to vote against their will. They ought not, like cattle, to be sold to the highest bidder; they were sold, however, when they were made to vote against their wishes and their conscience. The hon. Member for Newark had said, on one occasion, that he hoped nobody would be harmed on his account. Did he not say that? He believed he did; and if he did, was that freedom of election? The House had been told by the hon. Member for Aldborough, that the petition had emanated only from the lower rabble: was that the mode in which they were to turn round upon the people when they preferred their just complaints to that House? When 1112 the dearest privileges of Englishmen were trampled upon,—when (their most sacred rights were invaded, and when they came forward to prefer their complaints to Parliament, were they to be called a "rabble," and to have their complaints ridiculed and laughed at? Was the expression denied? Did not the hon. Member say, that the meeting in question was only composed of the "rabble?" (Cries of "No, no," from Mr. Sadler]. The hon. Member might not have called them a rabble, but the learned Gentleman (Mr. Clinton) had certainly called the meeting a "rabble." Was it to be tolerated, that any portion of the people of England should be first robbed of their rights, and then stigmatized as a "rabble," when they justly complained of the spoliation? Was it to be endured that the people of England should be despoiled of that liberty which was the proudest portion of their inheritance of freedom, and the most beneficial constituent of the Government under which they lived, and then be stigmatized as a "rabble" for presuming to complain of such a proceeding? If only the lowest rabble had the sense to petition and take care of their rights, for his part he thought such rabble as much deserving attention as the proudest and best amongst themselves. It was a little too much that that House was to be composed of representatives of Peers. He for one should always speak strongly on this point. The question was, whether they were to be considered as the independent Representatives of the People, or whether they were to allow themselves to be the creatures of certain Peers. The very question was a disgrace. There might yet be some doubt of it in the House —out of the House, however, it was only a matter of history. He held in his hand a petition from the Friends of the People, which would show hon. Gentlemen that he was quite impartial, and that he was justified in being vehement. The petition represented the opinions of the country, and showed that the people had sufficient grounds for their assertions. Honourable Members laughed, but he was sent there to be vehement on such occasions. He mentioned that, to show that he was in perfect good-humour, and that he had no feeling against the hon. Member for Newark. The petitioners he had referred to stated that they were ready to prove their assertions at the Bar of the House. The petition was presented to the 1113 House by the father of the noble Lord behind him (Lord Howick), and it stated what he would then read—They affirm that seventy of your honourable Members are returned by thirty-five places, where the right of voting is vested in Burgage and other tenures of a similar description; and in which it would be to trifle with the patience of your honourable House to mention any number of voters whatever, the elections at the places alluded to being notoriously a mere matter of form. And this your petitioners are ready to prove.They affirm that, in addition to the seventy honourable Members so chosen, ninety more of your honourable Members are elected by forty-six places, in none of which the number of voters exceeds fifty. And this your petitioners are ready to prove.They affirm that, in addition to the one hundred and sixty so elected, thirty-seven more of your honourable Members are elected by nineteen places, in none of which the number of voters exceeds one hundred. And this your petitioners are ready to prove.He would ask the hon. Member for Newark, could he approve of such a system?—did he think that the Commons' House of Parliament should contain a certain number of nominees of Peers? The people were perfectly sensible that all this was a farce and a cheat; that the House did not represent the people, but a certain number of persons, who had appropriated the franchise of the country. As to the influence of the Crown, that was a point he had not forgotten. By Act of Parliament, the persons holding the smallest offices under the Crown were not allowed to interfere at elections. An Excise Officer, or a Custom House Officer, who should do so, was liable to be fined 100l., and to be punished with infamy and imprisonment. If the officers of the Crown were not allowed to interfere, was it to be suffered that a person holding property under the Crown, like the noble Duke, was to employ it for that purpose? The noble Duke must, not do that with his own which would deprive all the freemen of Newark of what ought to be their own; he must not think so to deal with his property, as to overthrow and destroy the Constitution, which secured to him the possession of his property, and even the enjoyment of his life. The allegations in the petition could be proved he believed; and if the House did not allow them to be proved, if it refused the prayer of the petition, if it did not take the petition into consideration, he did not see how it could ever again punish any 1114 corrupt boroughs. If it were a crime to sell a vote, it was a greater crime to drive people out of their houses because they did not vote in a particular manner. If one was an act that could not be justified, the other was the greatest crime a citizen could be guilty of towards his country.
§ Mr. Sadler
said, in explanation, that he had never denied that Peers might exert influence over some of the Members of that House; but the allegation that the noble Duke in question had exerted influence over him, he positively denied.
§ Sir R. Wilson
supported the prayer of the petition. He said that, upon a former night, he had alluded to this transaction, and if his feelings of disgust had been strongly excited by it then, they had been still more increased by the facts that had come out during this discussion. He saw persons avowedly sent to that House as representatives of the Peers who sent them there, and who were compelled to give their votes as the persons by whose influence they had been elected chose to order them. If the present system were continued, it would make the people all slaves instead of freemen. The hon. Member for Newark had denied the influence of the Duke of Newcastle over him; but was it not true that forty persons had been turned out of their homes because they had given their votes for the other candidate? It was said, that one of the electors explained that he had given his vote for the wrong candidate by mistake, and that then the Duke's agent told him that the notice to quit was also a mistake. The hon. Member said no coercion had been used; but if that were the case, how came he to be Member for Newark? The hon. Member had written a book from which a quotation had already been made, but one was to be found equally applicable to the hon. Member and his patron in a great dramatic writer:—You have among you many a purchased slave,Which, like your asses and your dogs and mules,You use in abject and in slavish parts,Because you bought them. Shall I say to youLet them be free?This was what he said, if the Duke had really bought his slaves, he must set them free—Why sweat they under burthens? Let their bedsBe made as soft as yours, and let their palatesBe seasoned with such viands.You will answer, the slaves are ours; but he would tell the great Duke that he must 1115 not make slaves of the people of England, nor convert their Representatives into instruments for his own profit. He would have all parties treated alike; and as punishment had already been inflicted for corruption, he hoped, with a view to further inquiry, that this petition would be referred to a committee.
Mr. Secretary Peel
said, that the first question the House had to decide was, should the petition be brought up? the next question was, should it be referred to a committee? The discussion had better be confined to the first question; and he should so confine it, as conforming to what he thought was the general sense of the House. His principal object in rising was, to prevent its being supposed that he supported the petition. He meant to decide the question without making it a political question. He had read the letters of the noble Duke, and he saw no reason why, from the profession of the noble Duke's political tenets, he should be favourably disposed towards him; but he saw no reason, at the same time, why the petition should be considered in a different light from other similar petitions, and he should go to a vote on it on the principles of common sense and reason. There were two questions involved in the petition in relation to the Crown-lands— one, whether a case had been made out to call for the interference of Parliament; and the other, if the House, after establishing the interference of the Duke, should take any other step: and with respect to the Crown-lands, the case was, he thought, a complete failure. The hon. Member who had said he was vehement because he represented a populous place, had admitted that he had found all the Commissioners of Woods and Forests courteous and attentive. [Mr. Hobhouse: undoubtedly he had always found them very civil.] Well, civil and attentive to the interests of the hon. Member's constituents when he had occasion to call on them. The hon. Member who spoke last, and represented the borough of Southwark, must know that the Crown had a considerable property in that borough, and yet it had not interfered with his election. He would say the same of Dover. If the hon. Member who presented the petition, and represented that place, had found any such interference, he would, no doubt, in a parenthesis, have managed to inform the House of it. 1116 He had found no disposition to exert the influence of the Crown in his election. So much for the influence of the Crown over elections. With respect to the property which the Duke of Newcastle held under the Crown, he had received the lease in 1806, and it was to run for thirty years. At the period of granting the lease, it was not said that any larger tender than that offered by the noble Duke had been made. It was not said that the Crown required less of the Duke than it could obtain from other persons. When the lease was renewed, the sum was raised to 2,000l. Lord Grenville was then First Lord of the Treasury, and as he was opposed to the noble Duke in politics, the House might be certain that no favour was shown him, and that the lease was not renewed but at its full value. The lease was granted in 1806, and it was granted in the interest of the Government. It was the duty of the commissioners to attend to that. In fact, the Crown was quite unfettered, except as to the duration of the lease, and it had been granted on the same principle as governed the granting of all similar leases. He could say also, that there were no negotiations pending for the renewal of the lease; no engagement had been entered into, and there was no implied engagement between the Crown and the Duke. His noble friend had also stated, that it was the duty of the department over which he presided to consult the interest of the Crown, and let the Crown-lands to the greatest advantage. If, for example, the ground could be built on so as to yield a larger sum than that given by the noble Duke, it would be the duty of the Board to let the ground on a building lease. There would be no difficulty in such a case, he believed: but that the House of Commons should address the Crown to affix a brand and stigma on the Duke of Newcastle, to say that he is not to have the lease of these lands, was what he could not consent to. The Duke was in this respect entitled to the same privileges as others, and must be left capable of taking lands from the Crown like any other person. He apprehended that the property of which the Duke had a lease for thirty years could not be distinguished from his other property, and it was no breach of the privilege of that House for him to use the influence which that property gave him. It was impossible to pre- 1117 serve any distinction between the property leased from the Crown and other property. The Duke might let it to tenants at will, or for a term of years, and might deal with that as with any other property belonging to him. There was on this ground no reason for the House of Commons to interfere. Then it was said, that seven individuals had received notice to leave their houses [Forty!—several voices called out]. No; he begged leave to say only seven. What had been proved to show that the Duke made any improper use of the property held under the Crown? The petition went to pray that, having made an improper use of this land, his lease might not be renewed. He believed that the House would not think it necessary that he should make any excuses for the privileges which were derived from property over which the Crown had no control, and which were exercised in the same way. The Duke of Newcastle had a right to use his property, whether hired from the Crown, or derived from any other source, as he liked.—The hon. Member (Mr. P. Thompson) founded his argument for the interference of the House on the ground that these persons were dispossessed because they had refused to vote for their landlord; but he did not see that there was any proof of that—nor was there any proof that menace had been employed in order to make them vote for the Duke of Newcastle. The hon. Gentleman, had, however, assumed that there was some menace, and that they were required to vote; for if it were not so, why, he asked, were they dispossessed? Now, supposing that such was the state of the case, and that the Duke of Newcastle had used improper and unconstitutional means to procure the return of the member he fancied, was it not the duty of those who felt, aggrieved by such conduct to proceed in that course which had been provided by the House for such grievances? Was it not their duty to present a petition and complain of an undue return at the election? If they had adopted that course, then the whole expense of the petition would have justly and properly devolved on the parties who had an interest in the question which the committee would be called on to decide. But what would be the consequence of the adoption of that Motion brought forward by the hon. Gentleman? Why. by applying to Parliament at this late period for the appointment of a select committee to in- 1118 quire into the merits of the petition, the whole of the expense would be thrown on the public. If the House were prepared to maintain the inviolability of that jurisdiction on the subject of election petitions which he thought admirably qualified for the accomplishment of all the purposes it had in view, he was of opinion it should scrupulously abstain from any interference, or, at all events, that it should be well satisfied of the imperative necessity of putting these disappointed parties in possession of such a power, after so long a time had elapsed, and after they had abstained from having recourse to the measure which Parliament had provided as a remedy for such complaints [hear]. He would beg the House to observe the peculiar distinction between the two courses to which he had alluded. If the parties had appealed by the ordinary method of petition, Parliament had provided a tribunal before which the merits of that petition are tried, and the parties examined to the truth of all allegations on their oath. But then, on the other hand, he would beg them to look at the consequences of adopting the Motion for a Select Committee to inquire into the merits of the Petition. The consequence would be, that they would send the facts to be inquired into before a tribunal where the evidence could not be taken on oath, and where the whole of the proceedings were likely, therefore, to be subject to great objections. If they consented to adopt such a course at the present moment, and in such a case, they at the same time would go far to supersede that peculiar jurisdiction which, in his opinion, the House ought, by every means in its power, to fortify and defend. He was not prepared, with the limited information he possessed, to say, whether the Duke of Newcastle had, or had not, dispossessed any of his tenants in the manner which the hon. Member had been induced to state. That the Duke had treated his tenants in that manner, he repeated, he was not prepared to admit or deny, although, perhaps, from the fact of there being several untenanted houses, it might be presumed that those who had occupied them were ejected by their landlord. He confessed, however, that there was a question connected with that subject which appeared to him even more important than anything connected with the privileges of the House. The right of property in every man, whether a Peer or a Commoner, was to be held 1119 sacred. There was, he repeated, no proof of any menace being used—none that those persons were dispossessed because they refused to vote for their landlord. Seven tenants were, he believed, the whole number who had been deprived of their houses out of seventy. But passing over that, if the House was prepared to say that those who exercised on such occasions their just right of property were to be subjected to the interference of Parliament, whenever it pleased the parties to come before it, it would place itself in a situation equally embarrassing and inconvenient, and lay the foundation of a very dangerous precedent. He would say, they could not do anything more dangerous or prejudicial than to leave it to be inferred, that, a tenant who refused to vote for his landlord had a right to remain in possession of that landlord's property in defiance of his wishes. Henceforward every tenant who chose to vote against his landlord would answer when he was called on to leave that landlord's property, "Oh, you wish to make me a martyr to your party prejudices in this case. I recollect what was done in the case of the Duke of Newcastle and the people of Newark, and I shall bring you before the House of Commons." So far, therefore, from protecting a good tenant, and maintaining the purity of election, they would be giving a premium to a bad tenant to retain possession of his landlord's property, and yet control and thwart his wishes whenever it might suit his prejudice or caprice to do so. While he alluded to this matter with reference to its effects on the right of property, he begged it to be understood that he did not see any material difference in its application, between a Peer of the realm and any great landed proprietor. The hon. Gentleman had referred them to a Resolution of the House; but if a tenant owed an obligation to a landlord he was bound to repay it; and if the hon. Gentleman hoped, by any means he could devise, to exclude the duty owed by the tenant to the landlord from operating in the disposal of his vote, he was confident he would be disappointed; and standing in his place in that House, he was not ashamed to avow that he hoped he would be disappointed. [hear] He thought that property, whatever might be the nature or extent of the constitutional part of the question, ought to have a due influence in the State, whether the possessor was a Peer or a Commoner; and he could 1120 not bring himself to believe that the Resolution the hon. Gentleman had alluded to was intended to exclude that species of influence. In conclusion, the right hon. Gentleman observed, that he was not prepared to give his vote for a committee which never could properly determine the question at issue, independent of all the objections which might be taken to its appointment. That committee never could determine either the motives of the Duke of Newcastle in ordering the ejectments, or the facts which preceded it, and there fore, upon principles of common sense and reason, and divesting the question of all private or political prejudice, he should feel himself bound to give his vote against the Motion for referring the Petition to a Select Committee.
§ The Petition was brought up and read.
§ Mr. P. Thompson
, in moving that it be referred to a Select Committee, said, he should not, after the discussion the subject had already undergone, trespass for any time on the attention of the House. He had heard but one word which could induce him to think the Motion might be spared; but on consideration he did not think even that word would prove sufficient. The noble Lord (Lowther) and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Peel) had assured the House that the Government had no intention at present to renew the Crown-leases granted to the Duke of Newcastle. He thanked them for the announcement, and rejoiced at it; but it did not give any security to the people of Newark. The present Government might, be determined not to renew the leases, but the Duke of Newcastle was at the head of a considerable party in the State—he might come into power, and, by means of that power, procure to himself a grant of the leases which the present Government might be inclined to withhold. The right hon. Gentleman said the committee would be a committee appointed to inquire into motives. He would say, it was a committee to inquire into facts. If, as he thought it would prove, that these facts were correct, then the House was bound to interfere, not to punish the Duke of Newcastle, however oppressive might have been his conduct; not to shake the last election; but to prevent the renewal of leases which have proved injurious to the properties of those who live under them, and which are calculated to support a violation of the spirit of the 1121 Constitution. The question to be tried was, he repeated, one simply of facts; and one of two results must follow from the inquiry into these facts: either the charges must be proved to be true, and a remedy applied to the evil; or they must be declared false, and the character of the Duke of Newcastle would then be relieved from imputations which must continue to attach to it until that inquiry took place. The right hon. Gentleman said, the leases were granted in 1806; but the fact was, that although the old lease expired in 1806, it was renewed as early as 1801. He had one word more to add on the measure. The right hon. Gentleman said, the people of Newark had received little injury, because only seven were ejected; he should think one too many; but the only reason for the number not being greater was, that a great many persons, through the fear of consequences, refrained from voting. The right hon. Gentleman had asked why the parties did not present an election petition? He could tell the House why they had not: it was possible that menace and a number of indirect, means might be brought into operation, to influence the disposal of votes, although nothing direct could be effectually proved to the House: that was the reason why they did not petition. In many cases, however, there was no need of menace, because the tenants had the example of the elections of the years 1796 and 1826 in their recollection, when numbers were dispossessed of their holdings, because they presumed to give a vote contrary to the wishes of the then Duke of Newcastle. The hon. Member having concluded, by expressing a determination to press the Motion, the House divided. For the Committee 61; Against it 194;—Majority 133.
|List of the Minority.|
|Althorp, Lord||Davenport, W.|
|Baring, F.||Easthope, J.|
|Baring, Sir T.||Ewart, W.|
|Brownlow, C.||Guise, Sir B., Bart.|
|Burdett, Sir F.||Graham, Sir. J.|
|Brougham, H.||Grant, hon. C.|
|Bright, H.||Grant, R.|
|Beaumont, T. W.||Howick, Lord|
|Calvert, C.||Honywood, W. P.|
|Clive, E. B.||Harvey, D. W.|
|Cavendish, W.||Heneage, G. F.|
|Cave, O.||Hume, J.|
|Denison, W. J.||Kemp, T. R.|
|Dawson, A.||Littleton, E. J.|
|Lumley, J. S.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Lambert, J. S.||Robinson, Sir G.|
|Marjoribanks, S.||Sefton, Lord|
|Maberly, J.||Stanley, E. G. S.|
|Marshall, J.||Slaney, R. A.|
|Marshall, W.||Smith, W.|
|Monck, J. B.||Smith, V.|
|Morpeth, Viscount||Taylor, M. A.|
|Martin, J.||Wilson, Sir R.|
|O'Connell, D.||Warrender, hon. G.|
|Osborne, Lord F.||Wood, Alderman|
|Palmerston, Viscount||Warburton, H.|
|Poyntz, W. S.||Wilbraham, G.|
|Palmer, C. F.||Webb, Colonel E.|
|Pendarvis, E.||Ward, C.|
|Price, R.||Mr. Poulett Thomson|
|Protheroe, E.||Mr. Hobhouse.|
|Robarts, A. W.|