HC Deb 12 August 1831 vol 5 cc1329-32

Mr. James Grattan moved the second reading of this Bill.

Sir George Clerk

begged to call the attention of the House to this Bill, and to the extraordinary manner in which it was introduced. The ostensible object of the Bill was to prevent several persons, holding judicial situations in Ireland from holding seats in that House, but the real object was, to exclude the Recorder of Dublin from sitting in that House, it being well known that that learned Gentleman was about to become a candidate for the Representation of that city, now vacant. The House would recollect, that on Monday the Dublin Election Committee made its report, declaring the two sitting Members unduly elected, and the election void. At two o'clock on the following morning, without any previous notice, and in a very thin state of the House, a motion was made for leave to bring in a bill to extend the provisions of Act 1 and 2 Geo. IV. c. 44, which prevented Masters in Chancery from holding seats in Parliament, to certain judicial situations in Ireland. Now the object of this was, to exclude the Recorder of Dublin, who, it was well known, was the unsuccessful candidate at the last election, from sitting in Parliament; and in order to defeat his future success this Bill was introduced, in the extraordinary manner he had described. Leave was obtained to bring it in on the Tuesday morning; it was brought in at a late hour on Wednesday night or Thursday morning, and now it stood for a second reading. The votes did not state who brought in the Bill, but the hon. member for Wicklow's name was amongst those who were ordered to bring it in; and as he moved the second reading, he supposed that it was on his motion that leave was given. He could have no other object by such haste, but that of excluding the Recorder, and if that was not the object, the hon. Member would not object to the motion with which he should conclude, viz. that the Bill be read a second time that day fortnight. [A Member said "six months"]. He would not name so long a period, as there might be reasons for supporting the principle of such a Bill; but a fortnight would be sufficient to defeat the object of the Bill if it were to exclude the Recorder of Dublin from becoming a candidate on this occasion.

Mr. James Grattan

said, that before the hon. Baronet took upon himself to attribute personal motives, he ought to have made himself acquainted with the facts to which he referred. The hon. Baronet said, that no notice had been given. If he looked at the book he would find, that a notice had been given before the Dublin Election Committee made its report, and that it stood on the Orders for Monday. If the hon. Baronet looked at the reports and returns on the Table, he would find abundant proofs of the necessity of such a measure, which, in fact, if time had served, ought to have been brought in long ago. The Bill would ex- clued all Recorders in Ireland from becoming candidates, but it could not extend at present to the Recorder of Dublin, for before it could be carried through its stages, the election for Dublin would have terminated, and the Recorder, if the successful candidate, would take his seat. If the hon. Baronet looked at the returns, he would find that it was impossible for a man to discharge the duties of Recorder of Dublin, and attend to his duties as a Member of that House. He (Mr. Grattan) could see the cause of the strong muster of the Opposition; the hon. Baronet had no doubt a great respect for the Recorder, but he did not care how the duties of the office were to be discharged, provided he got an addition of a Member whom he knew would sit on the same benches with the hon. Baronet.

Mr. Spring Rice

bore testimony to the fact of the notice having been given, and he expressed his surprise, that the hon. Baronet should have brought a charge without first making himself acquainted with the facts. The hon. Member for Oxford would bear him out in the statement, that a conversation took place on the introduction of the Bill, in which he (Mr. Spring Rice) said, that he would not give his sanction to the Bill, if he thought it would have the effect of injuring the Recorder in his present canvass, though he approved of the future application of the principle of the Bill to persons holding judicial situations in Ireland. The House would see from this, that nothing was farther from his hon. friend's intention, in bringing in this Bill, than to take it by surprise.

Sir George Clerk

would do the hon. member for Wicklow the justice to say, that, on referring to the Order-book a notice was entered there for the Bill for Monday last, but he not having heard any thing of the matter until the printed Bill was delivered to him that morning, he owned it excited his suspicion; and therefore he felt it his duty to call the attention of the House to the circumstance.

Sir Robert Inglis

admitted the fact of the conversation to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. He had no complaint to make on that ground; but on looking at the Bill, he found it would have an ex-post facto effect, for one clause stated, that from and after the passing of the Bill, no person holding a judicial situation in Ireland should be eligible as a Member of Parliament, or be capable of sitting and voting as such. This certainly would exclude the Recorder of Dublin, even though he should be returned before the passing of the Bill. Under this impression he would move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months.

Sir Charles Wetherell

seconded this amendment, and was proceeding to contend that the object of the Bill was the exclusion of Mr. Shaw, when

Mr. James Grattan

said, he had no objection to withdraw the Bill.

Mr. Hume

would object to the Bill being withdrawn. No man who had a wish to see the administration of justice duly honoured, would consent to a seat in that House being held by a person holding at the same time an important judicial situation, which required his constant attendance elsewhere.

Mr. Spring Rice

hoped his hon. friend would allow the Bill to be withdrawn. Certainly, in its present shape, he could not give his vote for it.

Mr. Hume

said, the defects of the Bill could be cured in the Committee.

Mr. Ruthven

took the same view of the subject as the hon. member for Middlesex, and suggested that the discussion of the Bill might be put off to a more convenient time.

Mr. Lefroy

said, that the Bill would be an injustice to Mr. Shaw, the Recorder of Dublin, but would not remedy the evil complained of, for the Recorder might appoint a deputy, and there was nothing to hinder him from sitting for a borough in this country.

Bill withdrawn.