HC Deb 17 November 1830 vol 1 cc566-9
Sir M. W. Ridley

said, it would not be necessary that he should detain the House many minutes with the reasons that had induced him to give notice of the Motion that stood on the paper. Late occurrences had, however, furnished him with a new argument in favour of the Resolution he should submit to the House. In consequence of the resignation of the late Ministry, a considerable time must elaspse before the Members who were to compose the new Administration could take their seats in the House. This would cause delay, and hon. Members generally looked forward to a long recess. It would be impossible for the House to proceed with any effective business in the absence of Ministers, and he did not see why Members should be kept in town for the mere purpose of attending election committees. There were many election petitions which would not be heard at all; but the hearing of some was fixed for an early day, and these he did not mean to include in his Resolution, which was, "That the House will not, before the adjournment of the House for the Christmas recess, take into consideration any election petitions except those which are fixed for the 25th and 30th days of this instant November." He left this Resolution in the hands of the House, observing only, that he had no interest, direct or indirect, in any of the petitions that had been presented on this subject.

Mr. C. W. Wynn

thought, the Gentlemen who expected a very long recess at Christmas would find themselves mistaken. Up to that recess, whatever it might be, the House must sit constantly, and he could not anticipate any long recess when he saw the state in which the money votes stood. If the House did sit, what more important business could be brought before it than these petitions? He thought that, if this Resolution were passed, much inconvenience would result to the House, and he was sure it would be a great hardship upon those concerned in the fate of the petitions. There were, in all, sixty-eight petitions, and it was pretty certain that, although they would not all be heard, there would be at least fifty-five ballots. It appeared to him, that to agree to this Resolution, would be to delay justice in cases which required the most speedy adjudication that the House could make.

Mr. Brougham

was decidedly opposed to this Motion. He thought it a matter of the utmost necessity that they should fill up their numbers; and entertaining such an opinion, he could not but be astonished, both at the proposition itself, and still more at the reasons given in its favour. "What," said the hon. and learned Gentleman, "do we want with the presence of the Ministers on election petitions? What do we want with them? We can do as well (I speak it with all possible respect of any future Ministry); but I say we can do as well without them as with them. I have nothing to do with them except in the respect I bear them, and except as a Member of this House. I state this for the information of those who may feel any interest in the matter." The Motion of his hon. friend involved a matter relating to one of the most important questions that could occupy the attention of that House. It was a question who had and who had not a right to sit there; and to delay determining such a question might possibly be, in fact, allowing men to sit there who had no right to the seats they occupied, and excluding other men who had the best right to them. He could not, therefore, consent to the postponement of such a question. As to the inconvenience it was supposed Members would feel from remaining in town, he begged to observe, that till within these two days Members had every reason to expect that they would be obliged to remain in town till a few days before Christmas; and the event which had happened within these two days was the first that could have led them to expect an adjournment of the House. It was impossible, therefore, that they could feel much inconvenience at not being able to enjoy a temporary leisure, which, till within so short a period, they had no reason to expect. If the Motion were carried, the inconvenience to parties would be very great, for in many instances they had their witnesses in town, and their briefs prepared and delivered. He knew not what motive of interest, either in or out of that House, could be served by such a delay; but of this he was sure, that the delay, without being called for by circumstances, or even justified by necessity, would be found to be very injurious to many parties. The petitioners and their opponents were both entitled to have their interests advocated by the best Counsel whom they could select from the Common Law Bar, the Members of which were most generally selected for arguing these questions: but if the consideration of the petitions was delayed till February that selection could not be had, and the monopoly which now existed would be preserved. On all these grounds he felt so strongly opposed to the Motion, that he should take the sense of the House upon it; and he trusted that he should find they would not so far forget their duty to themselves as to grant the proposed delay.

Sir E. Carrington

concurred in the view taken by the hon. and learned Member, and he meant to oppose the Motion.

Mr. Littleton

was also decidedly opposed to the Resolution. There could be no necessity for the presence of Ministers, since, by virtue of their office, they were allowed, by Act of Parliament, to absent themselves on such occasions.

Mr. Portman

was of opinion that all persons connected with election petitions should precisely understand the time when the committees upon such petitions were to be ballotted for. If that were known he thought it was of no importance how the Motion was decided.

Mr. Cresset Pelham

was opposed to delay.

Sir M. W. Ridley, in reply, disclaimed having any private or personal motives for bringing forward this Motion. He had merely discharged what he considered to be his duty to the House.