HC Deb 18 July 1833 vol 19 cc897-8
Colonel Evans

said, that he had seen a long paragraph in a newspaper, asserting that Sir Francis Burdett and Sir J. C. Hobhouse had been kept in their places by an undercurrent of bribery and corruption. He should be the last person to countenance the insertion of such a paragraph. His hon. friend, the member for Middlesex, had been supposed to have sanctioned the opinion of Westminster bribery. His hon. friend had referred to transactions forty years ago. With regard to himself, he was sure, that no more remarkable instance had ever been given of disinterested support than he had met with in Westminster. He concluded by moving for a return relative to the municipal government of the city of Westminster, and the duchy of Lancaster, with the nature of the powers of the vestries in controlling the expenditure of parishes, and the number of civil officers in the nomination of the Deans and Chapters, with an account of any pecuniary advantages arising from such offices.

Mr. Hume

said, that he had supported a petition from an elector of Westminster which asserted, that the principal method of bribery in Westminster, had been the paying the rates for electors; and he had founded upon that petition an argument against making the payment of rates a necessary qualification for becoming an elector.

Sir Francis Burdett

said, he would not enter into the facts. He was quite sure, when he read that paragraph, that it was founded on mis-statements. He never knew an instance of bribery in Westminster.

Mr. O'Connell

said, they had all recently had reason to complain of the manner ill which reports had been given in that House. With regard to the proceedings of the last ten days, it was anything but reporting, it was misrepresenting. Evident proofs of ignorance and incompetency had been given. This had been the ease with respect to the reports of his own speeches. He understood, that the proprietors of newspapers had recently reduced the salaries of the reporters from six guineas a week to two guineas, which sufficiently accounted for the inaccuracy of the reporting, as persons of respectability could not be obtained. It was necessary, therefore, that the public should be cautioned against taking the statements of persons who were under no responsibility for the genuine sentiments of Members of that House. He had himself been most egregiously misrepresented. He wished it to be understood, that Members of that House were not bound by the reports which appeared in the public papers. He had found many who had complained of this, but they seemed afraid to notice it. He was not afraid; and he felt it his duty to notice these misrepresentations.

Mr. Baring

said, he agreed that an inquiry on this subject was absolutely necessary, and he hoped that the Commission on the subject of the Royal Burghs would extend their inquiries to Westminster.

Mr. Abercromby

said, that the Commission, appointed at the suggestion of the House, was a Commission for inquiring into the slate of the Corporations of England, Ireland, and Wales, and could take no notice of Westminster, as there was no Corporation there.

Mr. Mark Philips

rose to contradict the statements of the hon. and learned member for Dublin, relative to the reporters' salaries.

The Speaker

observed, that the remuneration of reporters was a private consideration, and related to a question which involved a breach of privilege.

In the evening sitting, the House again resolved itself into a Committee.