HC Deb 14 September 1831 vol 7 cc26-7

Mr. O'Connell rose to move the Order of the Day for resuming the debate on the Petition of Mr. Gurney, relative to the Tregony election. The Committee on this election had refused to hear allegations as to bribery, inasmuch as the petitioner was neither a candidate nor an elector. He cast no imputation, however, upon the Committee; there was no imputation on the returning officer; and he would not enter upon the law of the case, although he considered it worthy of consideration by a Select Committee. As the Committee upon the election had declared the petition against the sitting Members to be frivolous and vexatious, there was no doubt that the petitioners, one and all, were liable to the costs of the appeal. What he meant to insist upon was, the right of contribution amongst the whole of the petitioners, under the sixty-fourth clause of the Grenville Act. The fifty-seventh section of the Act expressly said, that although any one petitioner might be sued for the costs, yet that such person should have an equal right of recovery against all the other petitioners as was taken against him in the first instance. The award of payment of costs rested with a particular officer, and his certificate was conclusive in a Court of Law. In this case the officer taxed the costs, and fixed them on Mr. Gurney alone, and by so doing had deprived him of contribution under the sixty-fourth section of the Act. Here there were two questions; first, had the officer done wrong? And secondly, if such wrong existed, was Mr. Gurney to have no remedy? He contended that the certificate, as issued by the officer, was erroneous, and therefore, that Mr. Gurney was entitled to a remedy. He wished, therefore, for the appointment of a Select Committee to investigate a subject which he thought to be of considerable importance.

The Speaker

said, the first question here was, whether the petition of Mr. Gurney should now lie on the Table? The petition was a very long one, and could not be received without being printed. That was done, and then came the question whether this petition should be received or not, inasmuch as it complained of the decision of the Committee? That was now abandoned; and then came the question as to whether the taxing officers under the Act had or had not performed their duty in making only one of the petitioners liable to the costs, and thereby precluding him from his remedy against his co-petitioner? The Act alluded to provided for this case, and upon the report of the taxing officers, the certificate must issue as it had done in this case. By 28th George 3rd, the costs having been taxed, any one of the petitioners might be proceeded against, and by the 52nd of the same King, additional security was given for costs, and the 9th George 4th, gave a remedy against the surety who petitioned against an election, such surety being obliged to enter into a bond to the amount of 1,000l. The House should consider whether they had jurisdiction in this case, which, after all, was the first and only material question.

Mr. O'Connell

said, after what had fallen from Mr. Speaker, he would withdraw the petition for the present.

Lord G. Somerset

, as Chairman of this election, said he was glad the petition was withdrawn, for he could say, that the Committee had taken great pains in the investigation of this election.

Mr. Shaw begged

to acknowledge to the hon. and learned member for Kerry, that he had brought this matter forward in the most candid and manly manner.

Petition withdrawn.