HC Deb 19 September 1831 vol 7 cc136-40
Mr. O'Connell

presented Petitions from Wolver-hampton, from Wingham in Kent, and from Morpeth, praying for an investigation into the case of the Deacles.

Sir George Rose

said, it was important, that this question should be set at rest, both to vindicate the character of the persons accused, and the honour of the Magistracy at large.

Colonel Evans

said, that he should have to present a petition from Manchester on the same subject in a few days. He would take that opportunity to say, in reply to the taunts which had been thrown out against him for not bringing this case sooner under the consideration of the House, that the delay was solely attributable to his having understood that legal proceedings in this matter were at present pending. He trusted, that when he should present the petition in question, some Gentleman would be then in the House who would be able to state whether legal proceedings were likely to be taken in this case, as in the event of no such proceedings being about to be taken, he should be prepared to bring the matter at once under the consideration of the House.

The Petitions to lie on the Table.

Mr. Wilks

presented a similar Petition from Boston.

Mr. Baring

said, that he had but just entered the House, and he begged to take the opportunity to occupy the time of the House for a few moments in reference to this matter. He understood that, in his absence, petitions had been presented on this subject this evening, of the presentation of which petitions no notice had been given to him, nor, he believed, to those connected with him, whose characters were implicated in this transaction. He was happy, therefore, that the accident of this petition being now presented afforded him an opportunity to say a few words on the matter to which that petition referred. He was not surprised, after the pains which had been taken by the daily Press of this metropolis to circulate the most, abominable lies and calumnies on this subject, which not only he could prove to be falsehoods, but which had been proved to be so by the petition subsequently presented to that House by the Deacles themselves—he was not surprised, he repeated, after such pains had been taken by the Press to misrepresent this matter, and after such abominable falsehoods had been circulated by it through the kingdom—that the indignation of persons living at a distance, and who did not know the character of the daily press of the metropolis, should have been excited with regard to this case, and that they should have taken for granted all that had been asserted by that Press. In justice to the persons accused, and who had been made the objects of so much slander, he begged to say, that they were most desirous that the fullest and most rigorous investigation should be instituted into their conduct. If the statements which had been circulated with regard to the conduct of those gentlemen were founded in fact, instead of being, as they were, notoriously false, the individuals whom they affected, would not only not be fit to fill the situation of Magistrates in this country, but would not be fit to shew their faces in the society of gentlemen or honest men. He understood that, in the course of the discussion which took place on this subject on Friday, several Gentlemen said, that legal proceedings were in progress, and that it would be unfair towards both parties for the House,pendents lite, to take any steps in the matter. When the question was first brought forward, the parties with whom he was connected put the case before their legal advisers, to see whether legal proceedings could be taken, and it had been up to the latest moment under their consideration. Under such circumstances, he had been unable to state, that a positive determination had been come to to take legal proceedings in this matter, but he could now state, that undoubtedly they had arrived at an opposite conclusion that morning, and that no legal proceedings would be instituted. He had no hesitation in making that statement now, in order that if any Gentleman should wish to bring forward any motion on the subject, the idea that legal proceedings were pending should no longer stand in the way of his doing so. The public papers, especially The Times, had published the most scandalous falsehoods in reference to this case—falsehoods which had been exposed even in the petition of the Deacles themselves, in which many of the facts published in the newspapers had been completely disproved, and his friends were therefore most anxious that the whole matter should be subjected to a thorough investigation. Legal proceedings would have been adopted, but that there were technical objections against any mode of legal proceeding which could be adopted in reference to the Deacles; and with regard to the writers in the daily papers, it so happened, that either from their having a lawyer always at their elbows, or from their possessing themselves of some knowledge of the law, they generally kept clear of libel, so that no proceedings could be taken against, them. All he would say was, that the parties with whom he was connected, and who were implicated in this transaction would be most ready to consent to any inquiry which the hon. member for Kerry, or the hon. member for Rye, might propose, now that the institution of legal proceedings did not stand in the way of their doing so. He hoped that the House would do justice to both parties, by appointing a Committee to inquire into this case. If a motion for the appointment of such a Committee should be brought forward, he begged to say, on the part of those with whom he was connected, that they would be most ready to second such a motion.

Mr. O'Connell

said, that he had given notice to the parties concerned of the petitions which he had that evening presented. These petitions had been spontaneously sent to him, and they were not of his seeking. If, however, now that legal proceedings were abandoned, any further petitions of this description should be forwarded to him, he would certainly then move, if no one else did, for that inquiry, for the institution of which the hon member for Thetford had expressed such a creditable anxiety.

Mr. Hume

said, that he had also given notice to the hon. member for Portsmouth of the petition which he had presented that evening on this subject. It was absolutely necessary that an inquiry should now take place, and the hon. member for Thetford was quite right in urging that such an inquiry be at once instituted.

Mr. Hunt

hoped, that the case would not be taken out of the hands of the hon. member for Rye (Colonel Evans) to whom the petitioners had, in the first instance, intrusted their petition. The public would not be satisfied without a full inquiry into the matter.

Mr. Vernon Smith

hoped, that no further discussions would take place on this subject until it had been fully investigated by the House, particularly after the call which the hon. member for Thetford had so promptly answered.

Sir Thomas Baring

said, that the parties with whom he was connected were most anxious for inquiry; and he had no doubt the result would turn out to their honour and advantage. He begged to join, in urging that the hon. member for Rye would lose no time in calling for inquiry.

Mr. Wilks

hoped that a Committee would be appointed to investigate the subject. He should have been ashamed of his countrymen, if, on hearing of such an outrage, they had not endeavoured to correct it. He felt great satisfaction, therefore, that the hon. member for Thetford, being conscious of the rectitude of his relations, should urge forward a full and complete inquiry into all the circumstances of the case.

Colonel Evans

gave notice, that on Thursday next, provided that the Reform Bill should be passed by that time, he would move for the appointment of a Select Committee to investigate this matter.

Sir Henry Hardinge

felt convinced, that the Messrs. Baring would have every reason to be rejoiced at the result of the labours of such a Committee; but he must protest against the House of Commons constituting itself into a Court of Appeal, and must protest especially against the motion of which his gallant friend had just given notice.

Mr. Baring

hoped, that on Thursday next, the House would at once agree to the appointment of the Committee in question.

The Petition to lie on the Table.