HC Deb 05 August 1833 vol 20 cc325-6
Mr. Lennard

presented a petition, signed by 8,000 respectable inhabitants of Norwich, complaining of gross abuses in the Corporation of that city. The hon. Member referred to the petition that had been presented to that House, complaining of the return of the sitting Members, and alleging the existence of bribery on their parts, and of general corruption in the city of Norwich. The charge of bribery was undoubtedly disproved; but the allegations of corruption were completely borne out. There could be no doubt that a system of extensive corruption existed among the inhabitants of both parties; and he regretted that the evidence taken before the Committee had not been printed that the House might have determined whether or not it might not have been fit to take further steps to insure the purity of elections at Norwich. He repeated the election petition contained two allegations—the one of bribery against the sitting Members, which was disproved; the other of a general charge of corruption, into which the Committee would not inquire. He would not impugn their conduct, for which he knew there were precedents; but it was certainly natural that the petitioners should complain that half their charges were left untouched.

Sir James Scarlett

thanked his hon. friend for giving him an opportunity of rebutting in person the many atrocious calumnies which had been advanced against his noble friend and himself. Nothing could be more false and unfounded than the imputations which had been thrown out on the subject. As far as he had any knowledge of the case, there never had been an election for Norwich to which such imputations were so little applicable. It was certainly impossible to expect that, in a constituency of above 4,000, there would not be partizans on both sides whose zeal would induce them to overstep the line of duty. He believed, however, that, at the late election, there were very few such cases; and he also believed, that the majority of them were in the ranks of his opponents. To show the candour of those by whom his noble friend and himself had been attacked, he would merely state, that an attempt had been made to persuade the Committee that the conduct of a member of the Corporation, which had relation to the election of Sheriff, had relation to the election of his noble friend. His hon. friend had said, that the members of the Corporation, having certain patronage, exercised it in behalf of their friends. Was there anything peculiar in that? It was the practice of the Ministers of the Crown to use their patronage in favour of those by whom they were supported, either in or out of that House; and he had never heard it imputed to them as a crime that they did so. He hoped, however, that if it were to be made criminal in a Corporation to give places to their friends, they would go higher, and make it criminal in a Ministry. To him this appeared to be an excess of purity. If, indeed, unworthy subjects of patronage were chosen, that would be a just cause of complaint; but otherwise he did not SCO how they could ground a charge against any Corporation or Administration, for using their patronage in behalf of those who were in their interest. As to the Corporation of Norwich, it was at present in that most desirable state to which it was wished to bring all Corporations—namely, that the elections were all popular. The constituency was numerous. Contested elections naturally generated heat and animosities; and there might have been improper cases at some of them. He knew of none; except that in the Court of King's Bench he had seen informations laid against Members of the Corporation: some of whom were punished, and all of whom were put to great expense. That was the proper tribunal for such cases. As to the Committee it could best defend itself. The Members of it were as little connected with him, as were any thirteen Members in that House. In politics, the greater part of them were opposed to him. As a proof, however, of the mistaken views of a disappointed partisan, a Norwich paper declared that the Committee had been bribed by his noble friend and himself.

Back to
Forward to