HC Deb 27 July 1832 vol 14 cc827-49

Lord Althorp moved the Order of the Day for the House to resolve itself into a Committee of Ways and Means.

Sir Edward Sugden

I must beg. Sir, to take this opportunity of claiming the attention of the House for a short time, while I refer to a subject in which I am deeply interested. I find that, in another place, a noble and learned Lord, in the course of some observations made with reference to my conduct, has thought fit to use expressions towards me, which no gentleman, who has a regard for his own personal honour, nor any one whose acts could be influenced by personal fear, would have ventured to direct towards any other gentleman. These expressions are so far removed from anything that one meets with in society—they are so different from what one should expect from a person of his exalted station, and especially from that place in which he ought to set an example of decorum to all others—that, with reference to the person by whom they were uttered, and the place in which they were uttered, they are either so degrading to the person making the attack, or to the person against whom that attack is levelled, that—

Mr. Stanley

I rise to order. I submit that it is quite irregular for the hon. and learned Gentleman thus to allude to what has passed in another place. At the same time, I am willing to admit, that if any attack had been made on that hon. and learned Gentleman—if any charge had been directed against him—he would have been entitled to use that opportunity of replying to it. But I must submit. Sir, that if this or the other House of Parliament is made the place for bandying strong expressions, and if, in the one House, one hon. Gentleman says, I understand that a Gentleman in another place has used such and such expressions regarding me; and if that Gentleman in the other place retorts in the same manner, there will be an end, not only of all the forms of Parliament, but of all mutual respect, and of all dignity in our proceedings. If any charge had been made against the hon. and learned Gentleman, I should say that this was the time at which he was fairly entitled to reply to it; but if he makes a complaint, as he has done, and makes it in such terms as he has done, a complaint of expressions he understands to have been used; and if that mode of complaint be permitted, it will lead to interminable and undignified recrimination, and we shall be going beyond that latitude which this House has allowed, if he goes on commenting, not upon a charge, but upon expressions which he merely understands to have been used in another place.

Mr. Courtenay

rose to order, but his remarks were not heard.

Mr. Stanley

then continued, I should have finished in a moment, so that the right hon. Gentleman's interruption was quite unnecessary. If any charge had been made against the hon. and learned Gentleman, I admit that he would be right in answering that this moment, but none appears to have been made; and as he has announced his intention of entering on the substance of the charge he has himself made, upon a future day, I think it would be more convenient not to enter on the discussion of these expressions apart from the charge itself.

Sir Edward Sugden

I know not, Sir, the meaning of this interruption. I dare say, that no one of those with whom the noble and learned Lord is connected in this House, felt the slightest degree of regret at the charge made against me in another place. I dare say, that they—

The Speaker

I must call the hon. and learned Member to order. The statement made by the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly correct, that in this House no answer can be given, no retorts made, upon expressions uttered in the other House of Parliament, consistently with the due observance of the privileges of both Houses. If the hon. and learned Gentleman instead of commenting upon expressions which he says he believes to have been uttered in the other House of Parliament, had said, that he understood an attack had been made upon him there, in consequence of expressions which had been wrongly attributed to him in this House, and if he had taken this opportunity of denying those expressions, he would have been perfectly entitled to do so. I did believe that that was the view which the hon. and learned Gentleman intended to take of the subject, and that was the reason why I suffered him to proceed so far, and it was clear that that course would have been according to the orderly way of proceeding in this House. The other course of commenting on what had passed in another House of Parliament, is clearly against order, and I should have called the hon. and learned Gentleman to order had I known he was going to comment on expressions used or supposed to be used elsewhere.

Sir Edward Sugden

I am always most ready, Sir, to yield obedience to you. I always have been most obedient to the Orders of this House, and I am happy to say, that I have always found it very indulgent. In the short period during which I have been a Member of this House, I have never seen a desire on the part of the party to whom an offending Member belonged, to deny to the party offended the right of answering any attack made upon him. That right, however, is now denied me. I have been deeply offended. It is impossible that one Gentleman could have been more deeply offended than I have been offended on this occasion, and yet the right hon. Gentleman has refused; when the defence is to be heard—he has refused to hear me. I was not out of order, Sir. I should not have been out of order, had I been allowed to proceed. The right hon. Gentleman has put me wrong by the observations he has made; if he had not risen to order, to give his representations of what I was saying, I should not have been out of order: that I am so is, therefore, owing to him. By him I have been prevented from making observations, which I had as good a right to make here as the noble Lord had a right to make them in another place. If dignified conduct and silence are to be observed, why are they not recommended to the noble and learned Lord? and if he knows not how to restrain himself from making charges, surely the person against whom he makes them may be allowed to defend himself against those charges. If restraint is to be practised, why does not he put a bridle on his expressions? I have been personally insulted and abused in the grossest manner, by the use of offensive epithets from a vulgar vocabulary in language, which no private gentleman should utter on the one hand, or submit to on the other; and yet I am not to be allowed to answer this abuse; but I am to be told, that, if I attempt to do so, I am breaking through the privileges of this and the other House of Parliament. As regards the language, I shall carefully abstain from following the example that has been set me. I have always spoken of the noble and learned Lord and of his conduct, publicly, openly, and manfully, never using, with respect to him, any expression that any one man could take exception to; and I will now only say, that these observations, let them be made when they will and how they will, shall never prevent me from investigating charges which I think ought to be made against the public conduct of any man. On the occasion in question, however, I made no charge—I only asked for information. I never used towards the noble and learned Lord, of whose public conduct I was then speaking, one disrespectful expression; and if were now to do otherwise, I should but imitate his conduct. That noble and learned Lord has attacked me in a place in which I cannot answer him; the place where the attack was made rendered it improper—it was doubly so, as in no place can I answer him, for he presides as the Judge in the Court in which I chiefly practise, and there I shall not attempt to answer him; for however I may have lost, as I have lost, all respect for his person, I am yet bound to silence by the respect I entertain for his office. I must, however, when addressing him, feel sensible that I am addressing a man who has forgotten how to act towards me, as one gentleman should act towards another. I must say, that, in my absence, he has used words towards me, which no gentleman would have ventured to use towards me in my presence. I am not open to such observations—I have never done anything to deserve them. They are painful to a man's family—they are disagreeable to his children—they give pain to his friends, and the more so, as the situation of the person uttering them exempts him from all responsibility for his conduct. I must say, for once and for ever, that I have lost all personal respect for the person who used these expressions [hear, hear.!].

Mr. Stanley

I must be allowed to say, Sir, that I had no wish whatever to enter-fere with the explanation of the hon. and learned Gentleman; but I must say, that when he denies having made a charge on the former occasion against the noble and learned Lord, I do not understand him. I think that it was a charge, and a personal charge, which he then made; it was a charge most disgraceful, if true, and if not well-founded, it was one which ought not to have been made except upon the fullest and the fairest deliberation, and, after the amplest opportunity afforded to the party accused, to appear by himself or his friends to answer the charge. I say, that the noble and learned Lord's conduct was made the subject of a serious charge, and he took the opportunity of vindicating himself in the other House; and, in doing so, he stated, that the charge made against him was one that imputed motives, for which imputation there was no foundation whatever. The noble and learned Lord, in another place, only exercised that right which the hon. and learned Gentleman claims for himself here—of taking an opportunity of explaining and vindicating his conduct; and he does this in a manner which cannot fail to convince any dispassionate man In the kingdom, that the charge brought against him by the hon. and learned Gentleman was utterly destitute of foundation. The noble and learned Lord did this so, as at once to convince ninety-nine men out of a hundred, that the charge brought against him was utterly groundless. The noble and learned Lord rose, not to attack the hon. and learned Gentleman, but to vindicate his own character from a matter of charge and accusation that had been preferred against him; and it appears, that, in this vindication, he has said something offensive to the hon. and learned Gentleman. If the noble and learned Lord had brought any charge against the hon. and learned Gentleman, as a professional man or a gentleman, then he would be entitled to exculpate himself in this House. But the hon. and learned Gentleman does not accuse the noble Lord of having done so; he merely complains of certain expressions, which he has not stated to the House, as having been used towards him in another place, and has gone on making comments on those expressions; but the nature of them he has not stated. The hon. and learned Gentleman has made the observations we have just heard; but they are in answer to no charge preferred against him; and he himself has not mentioned any such charge, nor has he specified even a single expression, but has gone on making comments on expressions of which he has complained, but of the nature of which he cannot give us the least idea. Recollecting the important business which is about to come before the House, I called the hon. and learned Member to order. If the hon. and learned Gentleman, when complaining of the strong language of an individual in another place, is to get up, and, in his own justification, use stronger expressions, there is an end to the dignity which generally characterizes the proceedings of Parliament. For these reasons, I expressed my regret that he did not confine himself to replying to the charge, whatever it might be; and, in defence against a charge, I would be the last man to offer any interruption. When I saw that the object of the hon. and learned Gentleman was to resort to invective, and to use strong expressions and harsh language, in reply to the expressions and language he complained of, and the only effect of which would be to waste the time of the House, I thought that it was time to interfere, and I feel that I was perfectly justified in the course which I then took. The speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman was not a defence against a charge, but was a recriminatory attack against strong language, which he supposed to have been used in another place. I will leave it to the House to determine how far I was justified in interrupting the hon. and learned Gentleman; but I then thought, as I still think, that I was only acting in conformity with the rules of the House in doing so.

Sir Robert Peel

I have just read the expressions of which my hon. and learned friend complains, and I have read them with the greatest pain.

Mr. Stanley

(interrupting the right hon. Baronet) said, I have seen the noble and learned Lord this morning, and he complains of the manner in which he is reported.

Sir Robert Peel

I only know them from the reports in the public journals, and, until I hear them contradicted, I must believe them correct. I must say. Sir, I think this a matter of deep importance, not only as it affects my hon. and learned friend, who, in my opinion, has shown a very proper sense of what is due to himself in the notice he has taken of these expressions, but it is a matter of importance as it affects the privileges of Parliament. Of the noble Lord who has made use of these expressions, no expression ever fell from me calculated to convey a feeling of disrespect towards him. On the occasion to which the present discussion refers, it will be recollected that I recommended the House to abstain from further discussion, for that I was convinced the noble Lord would be able to explain satisfactorily what he had done. I stated, that having heard the noble Lord's evidence given with respect to those offices, I was satisfied that the appointment which he had made was only provisional, and that he meant to abolish the offices in question; but still I heard nothing in the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman which was at all inconsistent with the performance of his public duties as a Member of this House, or, which called for those observations of which he now complains. Two offices, notorious sinecures, fell vacant, and, notwithstanding the declaration of the Lord Chancellor, that he intended to abolish them on the first vacancy, they were filled up. When the appointments were made, what was more natural than that an hon. Member of this House should ask for some information respecting those appointments, and comment upon the proceeding? In former times, and when the noble and learned Lord was a Member of this House, not a moment would have been lost in putting such a question. That question was no attack on an individual Peer, but an inquiry into the public conduct of the Government. Answers were given to that question, and, in another place, that noble and learned Lord himself, presiding in the place in which he gave the answer, the Chief Judge of that Bench in whose Court these appointments had taken taken place, described the Member of Parliament who put the question in a manner which would effectually deter many individuals, shrinking from abuse, and from the power of that sarcasm, which, we all know, he can so irresistibly wield, from the performance of that duty, which, as Members of Parliament, they are bound to discharge. When the Member, too, against whom these attacks are directed, is a Gentleman practising in the Court in which the noble Lord presides, it becomes highly probable, that if they do not influence him to abandon his duty, they will operate to his serious prejudice, and might occasion the ruin of any professional man who did not happen to be of the first-rate eminence. My respect for that noble Lord, and my admiration for his abilities, prevent me from quoting those opprobrious epithets which he is said to have used. "Crawling reptile," and "insect" of a certain sort, are the terms which I may mention, and from the use of which I may leave the House to judge what are the rest. I agree, however, fully with the right hon. Secretary, that nothing can be more inconvenient than to refer to the proceedings of the other House of Parliament; but, if the use of such expressions is to be allowed, what situation are we in? How are we to perform our duties in this House, if we are liable to be abused for so doing by the noble and learned Peer who presides over the other branch of the Legislature Either the right hon. Gentleman must not interfere when a Member is defending himself from attacks of this sort, or the Member must submit to suffer from the use of these opprobrious epithets. I say again, that I deeply regret the noble and learned Lord should so far have forgotten himself, as he must have done, when he trenched in this manner on the privileges of this House, and interfered with the performance of the duties of a Member of Parliament, by holding him up to public reproof and reprobation, in terms so offensive, that no man can submit to them without uttering his decided protest against them. The right hon. Gentleman calls in question the accuracy of the report. I hope he will be found to be justified in doing so. It is a report in The Times newspaper, and, in one respect, it has the appearance of accuracy—it is very elaborately given. Still, however, I should rather hope that it is incorrect and spurious, than believe that the noble Lord would have used the privilege of his station to make the attack on my hon. and learned friend in the terms which he is represented to have used.

Lord Althorp

The noble and learned Lord called on me to say, that the report in that paper, and in another paper, was very incorrect. I do not know in what respect the report was incorrect. I shall take this opportunity of saying, that however justifiable may have been the use of any expressions, or of any explanations, under particular circumstances, it is utterly impossible, consistently with order in our proceedings, that, from day to day, strong expressions should be bandied about from one place to another. I have not read the expressions that are now the subject of discussion, and I can only say, that my noble friend complains of the incorrectness with which his observations were given.

Mr. Goulburn

had read the report in question with the same feelings as his right hon. friend. He hoped that inaccuracy in the report would account far those expressions, of which his hon. and learned friend complained. However, he could not but think that it would not have ill become the character of the noble and learned Lord to have taken the earliest opportunity of assuring the victim of those expressions, that they had been misrepresented; and the question of their accuracy would depend a great deal, in his mind, on the fact, that the noble Lord made the first explanation to those who heard them, and satisfied them that the expressions were not those which he used. If the noble Lord omitted that—if he did not take the first opportunity in the place where the calumnious expressions were said to have been used, to satisfy the victim that they never had been used, there could be but one inference drawn from the omission. The question was of the very highest importance, and it involved the point, whether the Members of that House were to be checked in making inquiries into public matters, by the dread of drawing down upon themselves language which no gentleman would suffer to be applied to him. If this were to be the case, there was an end to the discharge of one of the most important duties of a Member of Parliament—the duty of questioning a Minister upon any proceedings supposed to be under contemplation. He begged the hon. Gentlemen who heard him to recollect, that when the present Lord Chancellor was a Member of that House, he took precisely the same course of inquiry, with reference to appointments which were supposed to be making, or to have been made, as that which had been taken by the learned member for St. Mawes. Did that noble Lord, on any such occasion, ever suppose, that, because he asked a question, it was competent for any person in the other House to cast upon him imputations which no man would dare to cast upon him from any other situation? He would not pursue the question any further, and he was willing to trust that the report in the newspapers was incorrect, and misrepresented the words of the noble and learned Lord. He trusted, that the noble and learned Lord would feel himself bound to give his hon. and learned friend (the member for St. Mawes) that full satisfaction which he had a right to demand. The noble Lord ought to explain these expressions in the place in which they were first used.

The Attorney-General

I was not in the House, Sir, when this matter was for the third time brought before it. I was about to apologise. Sir, for having been absent during a part of this discussion, so that to only a part of it could I reply. I must say, that, in the first place, it appears to me singular that this complaint should be made in this House of Parliament, where we cannot properly know what has passed in another place—where, whatever occurred, must have occurred in the presence of many friends of the hon. and learned member for St. Mawes. Those friends did not complain of the expressions used by the Lord Chancellor; and not only they did not complain, but they expressed their approbation of what the Lord Chancellor then uttered. That fact seems to me sufficient to show, that what was then uttered by no means deserves the attacks that have been made on it this evening. What was the conduct of the hon. and learned Gentleman in this House on the occasion that gave rise to the remarks of which he now complains? He put a question respecting the appointment to certain offices in the Court of Chancery. That question was put without notice, and a remark was made that the offices were then filled—that he had been prevented, by the course taken by the Lord Chancellor, from putting the question before; but that if he had put it before, the vacancies never could have been allowed to be filled up. This matter was brought on in the absence of may hon. and learned friend, the Solicitor General, to whom, it seems, some kind of notice of the intended question had been given—it was brought on in my absence, and in the absence of my hon. and learned friend, the member for Ripon, and of any one who could at the moment have given an answer for the Lord Chancellor. If the question had been put in the presence of either of my hon. and learned friends or myself, there would have been given that answer, the want of which made it a subject of one of the most invidious attacks that can well be conceived on the conduct of any one. This was followed by getting a book from the library, and reading extracts from former speeches of the Lord Chancellor, and contrasting them with what was described as totally different, namely, his present conduct. Except in the way of attack, how came it to be said, that the public would hear with regret of these appointments? I repeat, that if that question had been put while any man able to answer it had been been present,—any one possessed of knowledge of the fact—there could have been none of these subsequent differences. I think that we have a right to express our regret, with reference to the courtesy used among gentlemen, that the question was not put in a manner that would have prevented these unpleasant discussions. I repeat, that had any one acquainted with the facts been present, these things might have been avoided. The Lord Chancellor, when a Member of this House, was, I know, in the habit of putting such questions on all occasions on which he felt it his duty to do so; but he always put them openly and manfully, and gave the parties concerned the full means of knowing when they would be put, and of being prepared with their answers. In the present case, the Lord Chancellor meant to abolish the offices before they fell vacant. The bill of my hon. and learned friend, the member for Ripon, had been prepared, and the first line of that bill declared that they were to be abolished. When they fell vacant, the Lord Chancellor had a communication with my hon. and learned friend, and distinctly declared that the change which put the appointments into his hands made no change as to his arrangements. His words were—"Let the offices of Patent Registrar be at once abolished." Under these circumstances, the attack on him was, in my mind, most unjustifiable; and it was the more to be regretted, when it is considered that if the question had been put in a proper manner, the explanation might have been instant and complete.

Sir Robert Peel

repeated, that what he had said on the former evening was, that he thought it very possible that there might be duties attached to those offices, which rendered it necessary that the appointments should be made; but he did not believe, that it was the intention of the Lord Chancellor to make the appointments permanent. He could not say, what the hon. member for Worcester might have intended to say; but he knew, that an hon. and gallant friend of his got up, and said that he differed from him, and that he thought that the appointment was intended to be permanent. When the hon. Baronet opposite (the member for Westminster) said, the appointment would only be provisional, he expressed his concurrence in that opinion, and declared, that, from what the Lord Chancellor had frequently said, it was impossible that the appointment could be permanent. He, at all events, could not be accused of having made an attack upon the Lord Chancellor. On the contrary, he had asserted, that if those offices were abolished, the Lord Chancellor ought to be compensated for the loss of patronage.

The Attorney General

had judged simply from what he saw in the newspapers. He knew it was not possible to catch the exact words of a speaker; but he considered the report to be substantially correct. He looked upon what had fallen from the right hon. Baronet as an additional proof of the inconvenience of such questions being put in such a manner.

Sir Robert Peel

repeated, that he had always insisted that compensation ought to be given to the Lord Chancellor, if offices in his patronage were abolished.

Sir Robert Inglis

thought that the attack which had been made upon his hon. and learned friend was more injurious to the reputation of the person from whom the attack came, than to the person attacked. But if such attacks upon Member of the House of Commons were permitted to pass unnoticed by the House, then the independence of the Members was at an end. Another noble and learned Lord, from another part of the kingdom, had made a similar attack upon another Member of the House of Commons in language which no gentleman in England would apply to another. On the same principle on which he now complained of the attack made upon his noble and learned friend, he had on a former occasion taken the liberty to reprehend an attack made upon the late Lord Chancellor, by the noble and learned Lord, who was then Mr. Brougham, and a Member of that House. He said then, as he said now, that it was improper and unjust to make an attack upon an absent person who had no means of defending himself or vindicating his character. If the noble and learned Lord denied that he had used the language attributed to him, he ought to contradict the report, in the presence of those who heard him, at the time. But, until he should have done so, his noble and learned friend had a right to stand up in that House and complain of the attempt which had been made to interfere with the independent discharge of his duties as a Member of Parliament. No station, however exalted, could justify such an attack.

Mr. Macaulay

said, that every Gentleman in that House must be aware that, however accurate the reports in the newspapers generally might be, it was impossible to expect that they should give the exact words of a speaker. Now, the whole of the present discussion respected words—he might say syllables. If the words complained of had been used by the Lord Chancellor, he was sure that some of the Members of the other House, present at the time, would have remarked upon them; and he thought it was evident that no such language was used, from the fact, that the only remark which the observations of the Lord Chancellor elicited from any of the noble friends of the hon. and learned member for St. Mawes, was the statement of Lord Eldon, that he had read the speech of his hon. and learned friend (Sir Edward Sugden) with the greatest concern. Now, the facts of the case were these: an attack had been made upon the Lord Chancellor in the most ungracious manner—an imputation was thrown out that he had been guilty of a most indecent, and (as it would be in him) a most dishonest proceeding; and this attack was made upon him at the very moment when the noble and learned Lord was making a great sacrifice to the public interest. Was it to be wondered at, then, that he felt hurt, and expressed his indignation warmly, and, perhaps, in the contemptuous language which he might naturally think was called for by such an attack? Hon. Gentlemen on the other side seemed to forget altogether, that the provocation came first from the hon. and learned member for St. Mawes.

Sir Charles Wetherell

might have supposed, from what had been said by his learned and hon. friend on the Treasury Bench, that, instead of his being the Attorney General, he had been some Major General. His learned friend had done nothing but attempt what a military gentleman often attempted. He had endeavoured to get an advantage over his adversaries by making a diversion. He had said, that his hon. and learned friend, the member for St. Mawes, had given a great provocation to the Lord Chancellor; but he (Sir Charles Wetherell) would contend that the question relative to the appointment was not, in a parliamentary sense, or in any sense of one gentleman speaking of another, to be considered in the light of a provocation. Since he had been a Member of that House, when public offices were about to be filled up, he had repeatedly heard questions put, upon the propriety or fact of filling them, and such questions were always put without the ceremony of any previous notice, although the hon. Member who put the question might mean clearly to insinuate that, if the places had been filled, they had been given unnecessarily and improperly. Surely, in a parliamentary sense, he was not to be told by a Lord Chancellor, or by any man, that if a Member of that House put a question, which, if answered affirmatively, would involve, in the opinion of him who put the question, a censure against one of the Ministers, he had done wrong if he had not previously given notice of his intention to put that question. But, however, in the present instance, the question had not been put without notice having been previously given. His Majesty's Solicitor General had been present when the question had been put, and his learned friend (the member for St. Mawes) had previously communicated to the Solicitor General that it was his intention to put that question. In his opinion, therefore, his hon. and learned friend, had done every thing which he ought to have done, in communicating to the Solicitor General that he intended to put the question to the Treasury Benches relative to the filling up of the places. Not only had the Solicitor General told the House that such had been the communication made to him, but he had even avowed that he had forgotten to speak to the Lord Chancellor on the subject. Really a person might be led to suppose, that the case was of such high importance, that, like the question of the Russian-Dutch Loan, it required a secret consultation upon it be-' fore it could be mentioned in the House of Commons. He would say, at once, that his learned friend had never faltered—had never been backward in any thing which became a gentleman and a man of the highest honour. No man had ever known his hon. friend to be peccant or defective in any thing that became a gentleman, and if there had been any faltering in not making this communication to the Lord Chancellor, it was quite palpable that the whole error had rested with the Solicitor General. The next point that had been adverted to was, whether the report in question were, or were not, accurate. His hon. and learned friend had said, that the report was not accurate. He had read over The Times of that morning, and he remarked, that, in addition to a report, it contained a commentary on the report. And as to the accuracy of this paper, he could not bring himself to think, that a journal to which eminent men, who were now eminent lawyers—ay, and eminent Lords—had formerly been in the habit of contributing—he could not, animated as it had been by the flashes of their wit and the flow of their genius, think of looking to The Times newspaper as a peculiar magazine of errors and inaccuracies. If a man said any thing peculiarly sarcastic.—peculiarly stringent—keenly cauterizing, it was not to The Times newspaper he should look for any inaccuracy in relating it. This, at all events, was the first occasion on which The Times had failed to do justice to the manner and scope of the noble and learned Lord. It had been said, that there might be mistakes in the words of the report. True, so there might; and, perhaps, the paper in question never caught the of Lord Brougham, There was, however, in nature a class of animals denominated reptiles. He did not know how many were the subdivisions of the class, but he supposed that three or four kinds of the reptile tribe had been showered on the head of his hon. and learned friend. And how had this taken place? How had it happened that the Lord Chancellor should pour down upon the head of one of the leading members of the Court of Chancery, his vocabulary—he would not say of abuse, he would employ a stronger phrase—his vocabulary of calumny reported in the public papers? His hon. and learned friend, the Attorney General must permit him to say, that if such things were tolerated, there would not only be an end of the independence of any member of the bar, but of the independence of any Member of that House. He would beg hon. Members to consider how the error, if it were an error, could have taken place. The Lord Chancellor, be it remembered, did not speak from the Woolsack. He stepped forward and poured out, at considerable length, upon his learned friend, formerly the Solicitor General for his Majesty, that vocabulary of abuse, or of calumny, which was now supposed to be incorrectly reported in the public Press. The hon. Gentleman opposite had said, that when the member for St. Mawes was attacked, his friends and the Duke of Wellington were present. Now he (Sir Charles Wetherell) did not suppose, that his Grace the Duke of Wellington was particularly well acquainted with the interior of the Affidavit Office of the Court of Chancery. But, then, there was the Earl of Eldon in the House of Peers, and the Lord Chancellor must have forgotten that when he was a Member of the House of Commons he was always in the habit of attacking Lord Eldon. Such arguments might do very well as the peroration of a speech before a Jury, but that House was not to be told that, because Lord Eldon and the friends of the hon. member for St. Mawes were present in the House of Peers, the Lord Chancellor might, therefore, pour out his torrents of abuse as he pleased. The right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for Ireland, had indeed said, that ninety-nine persons out of every hundred were satisfied with Lord Brougham; but he would tell that right hon. Gentleman what every body but himself well knew, that the proportion between the satisfied and dissatisfied was in the inverse ratio. Ninety-nine out of every hundred were not satisfied. The right hon. Baronet, (the member for Tamworth) had been fallen foul of by the Attorney General for taking this report as the correct report of the speech. When the Lord Chancellor was examined before the Committee of that House, these offices of the Court of Chancery were recommended by him to be abolished, and yet when they became vacant, he filled them up; and all the question asked by the hon. member for St. Mawes was, were they filled up provisionally or not? Was the person filling them bound to consider himself a trustee for the public, and liable to be turned out even the next day. Lord Brougham had not answered that question. Lord Brougham ought to have taken an obligation from the person he appointed, that when the place was abolished he should give it up without any claim upon the public for vested interests. The only material question which Lord Brougham ought to have answered he had not answered. All he had condescended to say was merely, that he had put his brother into the office because he was under his control. Let any man now get up and say, whether Lord Brougham had or had not given this office to his brother under a condition, that if Parliament abolished the places, he should yield them up, and have no right or claim whatever to any compensation.

The Attorney General

It is so.

Sir Charles Wetherell

continued. It was said so now; but what a posthumous saying.

Mr. William Brougham

The learned Member was really arguing hypothetically, and occupying the time of the House in vain. The Lord Chancellor had clearly stated, that it was necessary to fill up the vacant offices, for, otherwise, certain deeds could not be entered, and he had put his brother into the situation because he was a person in whom he could place the most perfect reliance as to his throwing up the places at the instant, if Parliament thought fit to abolish them; and, in that case, not one single word would be heard about vested interests.

Sir Charles Wetherell

resumed. The hon. and learned Member was only attempting to put right a person who was already right. All that the Lord Chancellor had said, was, that he had appointed his brother, because he had over him a control. Nothing whatever was said of vested rights.

Mr. W. Brougham

Certainly there was.

Sir Charles Wetherell

The most certain person might be uncertain, as well as that the most certain reporter might be incorrect. The noble Lord had said at the same time, that he had a right to fill up the office, which was not consistent with his having said, what he was reported to have said, respecting vested rights. The consequence or the inference from the proposition, was, that he had a right to fill up the office, with all the emoluments and vested interests belonging to it.

Mr. William Brougham

No, no, no.

Sir Charles Wetherell

The hon. and learned Member might shake his head, but he would not shake him from his argument. His report of the conversation was by far more incorrect than the report of the speech in The Times. He (Sir Charles Wetherell) would repeat, that Lord Brougham had said nothing of the sort attributed to him by the hon. and learned member for Southwark, and the supposition was altogether inconsistent. Now, his hon. and didactic friend, the Attorney General, complained that he was not present when the question was put; but he must say that every thing which could be done, every thing that was due from one gentleman to another, had been done by his hon. and learned friend the member for St. Mawes. The language and sarcasm which had been thrown out by the noble and learned Lord in another place, were of a nature utterly to extinguish many men who might be less competent to maintain themselves, either as men of honour or of professional standing, than the hon. and learned Gentleman was. He would say, that such language used elsewhere would go to demolish a man, not only as a Member of Parliament, but as a private gentleman. He differed materially from the hon. member for Calne, who had said that provocation had been given sufficient to bring out a strong blow. It had been argued that the question was not to be put without notice, but he well remembered when the right hon. Baronet opposite, (his friend, he believed, he might call him) now First Lord of the Admiralty, sat on his (Sir Charles Wetherell's) side of the House, he was very prone to put questions upon all occasions, in common with his hon. friend. If there was an appointment to which a salary of 100l. or 300l. a-year attached, or if my Lord Bathurst had a son, or any relation put into any public situation, then there was such catechising, aye, such cheerings, and queerings too—aye, he would say, such queerings as never were known, and which were certainly much out of place. Questions were put, and upon a mere verbal promise made in Committee, regular discussions were entered into. But, in the present instance, there was a case of a particular nature, about which it was proper to ask questions: and would the House of Commons allow a man, an hon. and learned Member of the House, to be put down by the anvil in the smithy of the noble and learned Lord? Absurd! Would they permit him to be crushed by this Vulcan-like force played upon him elsewhere? If the House did allow this, he would say, they would demolish the independent spirit of the House.

Mr. Robinson

had said, on a former evening, that he took no part in the discussion, until he heard a noble Member of the Government say that he knew nothing about the appointment, and that he was not able to give any answer. He thought that no one had a right to complain of his putting his veto upon the filling up of an office which all parties allowed to be unnecessary. He would ask, was it ever known in that House, that it was not proper for any Member of that House to ask such questions? Whatever inconvenience might have arisen from the discussion of that evening, it was altogether to be attributed to the line of conduct adopted by the Lord Chancellor in the other House; who, not satisfied with making the explanation, which he was called upon to make in his own defence, had stepped out of his way to cast imputations upon a Member of the House of Commons, in a manner peculiarly offensive. If the House was not prepared to surrender the independence of its Members to the Lord Chancellor, it would not suffer such conduct to pass unnoticed. If such proceedings were allowed to go on, it would be necessary at last to adopt serious Measures to check them.

Mr. Ridley Colborne

confirmed what bad been said, respecting the explanation of the Lord Chancellor, and added that the noble and learned Lord further said, that he did not believe that his brother would hold the office a sufficient time to reimburse himself by the fees, for the expenses to which he had been put in accepting it. He trusted that the discussion would be carried on no longer.

Lord John Russell

said, I should not have entered into the discussion, had not hon. Gentlemen opposite thought proper to do that which is not generally done, by attacking the noble and learned Lord Chancellor, for language attributed to him in a newspaper, and in some measure disclaimed for him; at the same time that they say nothing of the substance of his explanation, respecting the offices which he has given to his brother, but speak as if he had not given any reply to the charges brought against him. I beg to remind them, that the substance of his defence was this—that he still maintained the opinion that those offices ought to be abolished; that he had prepared a bill for the abolition of them, which he had not yet had an opportunity of bringing forward; and that, as there were certain duties which some one must perform so long as the offices existed, he had given them to his brother, as a person in whom he could place the most perfect confidence, and who would not claim compensation on the ground of vested rights, whenever the Legislature should make the necessary regulations for the abolition of the office. If that be not an answer to the charges brought against my noble and learned friend, I know not what answer could satisfy the constitutional and parliamentary jealousy of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Some Gentlemen have laid much stress upon the words of the Lord Chancellor, that he had a right to make these appointments. Surely, I say, when his filling up the offices was made the subject of a grave accusation against him, by a Member of the House of Commons, he could not very well do otherwise than assert, in his vindication, that he had a right to make the appointment. It is not fair dealing on the part of the hon. member for Worcester, and other hon. Gentlemen, to say that we find fault with them for asking a question respecting the filling up of any office which may have become vacant. We do no such thing. It is the right of every Member of this House to ask such questions, even if, in doing so, he should exceed a little, in constitutional and parliamentary jealousy. We have not complained, Sir, that questions were put, such as we ourselves were accustomed to put, when we sat upon the other side of the House. Every Gentleman in this House has a right to put such questions; but, perhaps, some Gentlemen opposite, from not having had so much experience in opposition as we had, from not having served so long an apprenticeship as we served, have not yet learned to put their questions in a proper manner. Thus it was, perhaps, that the hon. and learned member for St. Mawes put his question in such a way, that as my noble friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, remarked in his reply, it was impossible to pick the question out of the invective which surrounded it. When the hon. and learned Gentleman was accused of having made a violent philippic, he denied the charge, intimating, that if he did not deliver a violent philippic last night, he would take an early opportunity of doing so. I can not help thinking that the whole of this debate would have been avoided, if the hon. and learned Gentleman had contented himself with asking a simple question about the continuation of the office in question, or the compensation connected therewith. If he had done this, he would not this evening have had to complain of the language he supposes to have been used by the Lord Chancellor; and, in my opinion, so far from what has taken place, acting in future as an impediment to questions being put, I think it will only prove a useful precedent for inducing Gentlemen to ask real bonâ fide questions, and not to take the advantage of no one being present to answer them, for spreading latent accusations against those who are absent.

Sir Henry Hardinge

It appears to me that the lecture we have just heard from the noble Lord, has been delivered for the purpose of preventing any similar questions being ever again asked in this House. The greater part of the noble Lord's speech referred to the vindication of the noble and learned Lord; but no one has found fault with the noble and learned Lord for entering into that vindication. The complaint of my hon. and learned friend referred to the terms of which the Lord Chancellor thought proper to make use in the course of that vindication; and, for myself I beg to say, that I think that those terms were excessively indecent, and that the language was of a most opprobrious kind. When we look at what certain members of the present Cabinet have done, are we, indeed, bound to suppose that they are so very immaculate on the subject of sinecures? I remember, that, according to the Report on the Civil List, the Lord Privy Seal said, that he found so little to do in his office, that he really could not think of touching any of the fees, or of taking any of the salary; the Postmaster General also stated that he could, on no account, take his salary, when he saw his neighbours round Good wood suffering so much from the distressed state of the country; and yet now both these noble Lords were in the receipt of their salaries, and had, therefore, shown that they were not altogether free from human infirmity. In my opinion, the question of my hon. and learned friend was quite fair; all that he did was, to ask whether this sinecure office was to be given up, or not, and to that question no Cabinet Minister had been able to give an answer. Under these circumstances, I think that my hon. and learned friend has a most decided right to complain of the Lord Chancellor having used terms so indecent and improper. The noble Lord (Althorp) has rightly said, that he thinks it wrong for the Members of the two Houses of Parliament to be bandying phrases, and to irritate each other by accusation on one side, and recrimination on the other. In that opinion I quite agree with him. But is this an isolated case? Quite the contrary. The Lord Chancellor of Ireland, following the example of the Lord Chancellor of Great Britain, took an opportunity last night of attacking the hon. member for Dundalk, and of stating that that hon. Gentleman had rendered himself odious as a Member of Parliament to his 'constituents. How dare the Lord Chancellor of Ireland make that accusation, in the absence of the hon. Gentleman? And yet, with such violations of decorum as these staring us in the face, we are to be told, forsooth, that it is indecent to ask what I assert to have been a strictly parliamentary question. To what do these examples amount? Here we have the Lord Chancellor of England, high on account of his station, and still higher on account of his abilities, in conjunction with another noble and learned Lord, pursuing a course directly opposite to their duties as Peers of Parliament; a course, too, which, if not resisted, must put an end to the freedom of debate in this House. Reference has been made in the course of the debate to the Duke of Wellington not having taken any notice of the expressions made use of last night, by the Lord Chancellor. Now, I beg to say, that I am satisfied that if my noble friend had been aware of the manner in which my hon. and learned friend put the question in this House, and if he distinctly heard the epithets applied to my hon. and learned friend by the Lord Chancellor, I know the gallant nature of my noble friend, and his steady friendship to my hon. and learned friend, too well to believe that he would, for a moment, have allowed such expressions to pass unnoticed.

Mr. Robert Palmer

thought that too much time had already been occupied by this debate. If the Lord Chancellor had used the expressions imputed to him, no one could help regretting it; but he (Mr. Palmer) must confess that he could not bring himself to believe that those terms had been made use of.

Mr. Robert Gordon

defended the Duke of Richmond and Lord Durham; and said, that in taking their salaries, they had only acted in conformity with the express desire of the Civil List Committee.

Mr. Poulett Thomson

confirmed this statement, and observed, that the request of the Committee had been backed by the whole of the colleagues of his two noble friends.

Mr. Cressett Pelham

was not satisfied, and on Monday next, he would bring the whole question fully under the consideration of the House.

Order of the Day read.