HC Deb 16 April 1833 vol 17 cc194-5

Lord John Russell moved for leave to bring in a Bill to provide for the Trial of Petitions complaining of general Bribery and Corruption in Cities and Boroughs sending Members to Parliament. The noble Lord explained the objects of his Bill shortly, but the noise in the House prevented him from being heard in the Gallery.

Mr. O'Connell

wished to know whether the parties were to be exposed to all the expense of the Grenville Act, as that would be a bar to justice in many places in England, and particularly in Ireland? Did the noble Lord mean to impose any oaths respecting bribery on the Members of that House?

Lord John Russell

was understood to reply, that when petitions were frivolous and vexatious, the parties presenting them would be saddled with the costs; when they were otherwise, the expense would be defrayed in the same manner as the expense of other Parliamentary Committees. With respect to the question of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, he never contemplated imposing upon the Members of that House such an oath as had been mentioned; it might be very well to require an elector to declare upon oath whether he had or had not been bribed, because that was a matter of fact to which he could at once speak; but not so with a Member of Parliament, for at an election many acts might be done, of which he, probably, would be more or less cognizant, but they might not appear to his mind to amount to bribery; and, therefore, in calling upon a Member to take such an oath, it was requiring him to swear to a matter of opinion, and not of fact.

Leave given.