HC Deb 29 August 1833 vol 20 cc907-10
Colonel Evans

said, that even at this late period, he felt it his duty to submit a Resolution to the House on the subject of the alleged conduct of the Earl of Warwick at the last election. The noble Earl was now returned, and had made a statement upon the subject in another place. It was, certainly, matter of astonishment to a great portion of the country, that the noble Lord opposite (Lord Althorp) should not yesterday have stated what course the Government intended to pursue on the subject. In consequence of the answer given by the noble Lord yesterday, he thought it was due to the dignity of the House, and to the rights and privileges of the Commons at large, that it should be stated what was to be done in the matter. Without impeaching the conduct of the noble Peer alluded to in the Report of the Select Committee, but with an earnest hope that that noble personage might be able to make good the statement he had put forth in another place, he (Colonel Evans) should move the following Resolution:—" That it appearing by the report of the Select Committee appointed to make inquiry into the circumstances of the late election for the borough of Warwick, that the right hon. the Earl of Warwick, Lord-lieutenant of the county, and a Peer of the realm, in violation of the resolutions and standing orders of this House, and of the law of the land, is deeply implicated by his agents, and the application of large sums of money in various corrupt and illegal practices during the last election for the borough of Warwick, and that Alexander Brown, the steward, and various aldermen and burgesses of the borough, are implicated in various illegal practices, the Attorney-General be directed to prosecute the Earl of Warwick, and all others named or described in the Report of the said Select Committee, as concerned in the unlawful proceedings aforesaid."

Mr. Cobbett seconded the resolution.

Lord Althorp

had, certainly, not expected that any Motion such as the present, would be brought forward on the last day of the Session and more particularly that it should be done without notice, and in the face of a notice now on the votes for the next Session, when the charge which had been made against the noble Earl could be fully investigated. The hon. Member by his Motion called upon the House to direct a prosecution without affording the House an opportunity of investigating the merits of the case. It was observed by the hon. and gallant Member, that his (Lord Al thorp's) answer had caused great astonishment amongst a great portion of the country. Now, as that answer was but given yesterday, though it might be known in the metropolis and in the city of Westminster, yet it scarcely could be known, if read at all, by the great portion of the country. It was not the wish of the Government to protect any person guilty of a violation of the rights and privileges of the House; on the contrary, the Ministers were determined, whenever a case was brought before them, to examine it carefully, and they would be perfectly ready to deal with it next Session. The hon. Gentleman now asked the House to give judgment upon a case not heard, and to direct a prosecution in a manner totally unprecedented, without any means of discussing the case. He objected to the Motion for want of notice, and for want of information on which to act; in point of form, too, it was irregular, for the proper mode would be to move an address to the Crown, to direct such a prosecution; but, at the present moment, he (Lord Al thorp) conceived the best course he could pursue was to move the previous question.

Mr. Cobbett

observed, that though there was information contained in the report quite sufficient now to proceed upon, yet he felt great satisfaction in hearing what had just fallen from the noble Lord opposite, whom he believed to be sincere in his declaration to do justice to the dignity of the House.

Sir Samuel Whalley

hoped the hon. and gallant member for Westminster, would rest content with the declaration of the Government, and not persevere in his Motion at this period of the Session.

Mr. Cutlar Fergusson

said, that if the facts disclosed before the Committee should be made out, it would be the duty of the Government to take the subject into its consideration. The high rank of the noble Earl was an additional reason why, if guilty, an example should be made.

Sir Robert Inglis

observed, that he thought it would be difficult for the hon. and learned member for Kircudbrightshire, to prove that there was any ground for indictment. He took the liberty of denying that the statute law or the common law, made it an offence for a Peer of the realm to give his vote or interfere at an election; the offence, if any, was only against a resolution of that House. In confirmation of that opinion, he referred to the conduct of the late Duke of Norfolk, who invariably and openly went and gave his vote at elections for Members for the House of Commons, He was proceeding testate, that the late Earl of Winchilsea used to proceed in state, drawn by six horses, to the places of election, and then give his vote; but the hon. Baronet suddenly concluded, understanding that the Black Rod was approaching.

The appearance of the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, who approached the table, and in the usual terms summoned the attendance of the House to the House of Peers, to hear his Majesty's speech on the prorogation of Parliament, put an end to the debate.

The Speaker

, attended by the Members present, proceeded to the House of Lords, and, after some time, returned. Standing at the table, he read to the House the speech which had been delivered from the throne; for which see Lords' Debates, ante, 903, and then the Members separated.