HC Deb 03 August 1835 vol 30 cc7-11
Mr. Hume

moved the resumption of the adjourned debate on the subject of Mr. Keith.

The Speaker informed the House that he had received a letter from one of the Members for the Eastern Division of the county of Norfolk, stating that the Grand Jury would conclude their business by Tuesday, and that the evidence of Thomas Moore Keith, then in the custody of that hon. House, was necessary on the bill of indictment preferred against John Pilgrim.

Mr. Rigby Wason

, to meet that contingency, begged to move,—"That Thomas Moore Keith, now in His Majesty's Gaol of Newgate for a breach of the privileges of this House, be sent down to Norwich in the custody of the Serjeant-at-Arms attending this House, for the purpose of being produced as a witness on any charge, adduced against John Pilgrim."

Lord Stormont

had given notice of his intention to move, on Wednesday that Thomas Moore Keith be brought to the Bar of the House, reprimanded by the Speaker, and discharged. Since giving that notice he had received a letter similar in effect to that which had been stated from the Chair. Considering all the circumstances of the case, and the expense which would necessarily be entailed on Mr. Keith, if he were sent down in custody, he should beg to move, "That all the words in the question, after the word 'That,' be left out, for the purpose of inserting the words, 'Thomas Moore Keith be now called to the Bar, reprimanded and discharged.'"

Mr. Hume

begged to submit a question to the Chair on a point of form. He wished to know whether the noble Lord having giving the notice to which he had adverted for Wednesday next, it was competent to him to anticipate that motion by moving the Amendment he had just read?

The Speaker

said, that the usual rule of proceeding was, that an hon. Member having given notice of motion for a future day, was not at liberty to anticipate that motion, by making a new one on the same subject, without any notice. The present question, however, was one of privilege, and a motion having been made on the subject he was not prepared to say that the noble Lord was out of order in proposing an Amendment.

Mr. Wason

contended that it was a perfect mockery to say that five days' imprisonment was a sufficient punishment for the offence of which Keith had been proved to be guilty; more especially when the witness Sparrow had been in jail for no less than six weeks. He was not aware of any case in which an individual in the custody of that House had been released without previous notice being given of a motion to that effect.

Lord John Russell

entreated the House to recollect that this was the seventh prisoner whom they had detained in his Majesty's jail of Newgate, on account of the Report of the Ipswich Election Committee. Therefore, without denying that the offence of Mr. Keith was as great as or greater than that of Sparrow, he submitted that the fact of their having afforded a warning to other offenders, by detaining so many persons, some of whom had been confined in Newgate for six or seven weeks, was sufficient to induce the House to come to some immediate determination on the subject. He could not help complaining—not of the noble Lord opposite, nor of his hon. Colleague behind him, but of those who had instructed them to say, on a former occasion, that it was not probable the evidence of Mr. Keith would be required. If they had not received this information, the House might have come at once to the decision that he should be sent down in custody. He did not say he should have given that vote himself, but the House might have been disposed to come to that decision. The Counsel and Solicitor, who gave the hon. Members for Norwich this information, must, he should have thought, have been as well aware of the fact then as now; and he must say, that they had practised an unfair deception on the House. Under all the circumstances, however, if the question came to a division he should vote in favour of the Amendment, for immediately discharging Mr. Keith.

Mr. Hume

was so surprised at what had just fallen from the noble Member for Stroud, that he must be permitted to appeal from his Lordship's judgment. The noble Lord's argument went to this—that if seven persons were all equally implicated in the commission of a murder, you would do enough for the purposes of justice in punishing five of them, and in letting the remainder escape unpunished. There had been six offenders punished in this case; what was the reason for stopping short and letting the seventh off unscathed? Those who had been confined for some weeks would complain, and with reason, that they had been unfairly dealt with, supposing Keith got off with five days' imprisonment only. He trusted that the sense of the House would be taken on this subject.

Mr. Patrick M. Stewart

looked upon the case of Keith as one of a very aggravated nature. He had originated the absence of Pilgrim, and was afterwards accessory to the continuance of it, not merely by supplying him with money, (as Mr. Clipperton had done to those whom he had advised to abscond) but also by undertaking a journey in person to Calais, and by their offering Pilgrim to relinquish the charge of embezzlement against him, provided he would still continue abroad. What, he would ask, was the report of the last Committee? That Keith had made use of this charge against Pilgrim to induce him to continue that breach of the privileges of that House which was calculated to thwart the ends of justice. What then was the House now asked to do? To deliver Keith out of custody, to prosecute that very charge of embezzlement which he had promised to forego, provided Pilgrim would continue to set the House and its privileges at defiance. He could not understand why, after imprisoning Clipperton for seven weeks, they should discharge Keith, who had been guilty of exactly the same offence, after an imprisonment of only five days? He would also ask on what grounds the noble Lord assumed that Keith would be discharged by the House immediately after his return from Norwich? He, for one, knew of no grounds for such an assumption. The House might sit seven weeks longer, and from reports of what had occurred to day, it was impossible for any man to say that he now foresaw the termination of the Session.

Mr. Cutlar Fergusson

was extremely sorry that it was not in his power to vote for the Amendment to which his noble Friend had acceded. A careful perusal of the evidence convinced him that it was one of the most aggravated cases in his recollection. The noble Lord (Stormont) seemed to take it for granted that on Keith's return on Wednesday the House would at once concur in the propriety of his being forthwith discharged. He (Mr. Fergusson) for one, could arrive at no such conclusion. Neither the country nor that House would be satisfied that justice had been done if they consented to Keith's liberation. This man had committed a gross breach of privilege and the punishment for that ought not to be determined by the day on which the assizes commenced at Norfolk.

Lord Ebrington

said, that it was with regret that he differed on this occasion from his noble Friend, the Member for Stroud. If ever there was a case in which the House was bound to vindicate its privileges, it was in this case of Mr. Keith. Of all the parties implicated by the evidence taken before the Committee, it did appear to him that Mr. Keith was the most guilty.

Mr. Estcourt

could not agree that Mr. Keith was the most guilty of all the parties whom the House had ordered into custody for this offence; nor could he agree that he was the person who originally procured Pilgrim's absence. He did not, however, mean to deny that Mr. Keith had favoured and facilitated Pilgrim's departure from Norwich, and that in so doing he had rendered himself guilty of a breach of privilege. There was not, however, a tittle of evidence to prove that he had used the charge of embezzlement as a menace to deter Pilgrim from returning home. He thought that Mr. Keith had acted wrongly in becoming a party to an illegal transaction, but he had been taken into custody by order of the House, and had suffered some imprisonment. He was therefore of opinion that enough had been done for the purposes of justice, and he should in consequence support the Amendment.

Mr. Aglionby

said, that the hon. Member for Oxford was mistaken in saying that there was not a tittle of evidence to connect Keith with these transactions. On the contrary, he was inclined to contend that Keith, if not the only, was certainly the principal, person engaged in procuring Pilgrim's absence. Pilgrim's evidence on this point was, that Keith said to him, "It will not do for you to be subpœnaed to attend the Committee—you must go away." That evidence was confirmed by all the other parcels of Pilgrim's evidence, and also by that of his wife. Moreover, Keith went over to Calais to induce Pilgrim to stay away from England, and that fact appeared upon the testimony of Mr. Jay, the attorney. If the House would assure him that it was its intention to discharge Keith out of custody as soon as he returned from Norwich, he should have no objection to discharge him forthwith, for he had no desire to keep any man in prison vexatiously. House divided on Mr. Wason's Motion:—The Ayes 110; Noes 102;—Majority 8.

List of the AYES.
Aglionby, H. A. Clive, E. B.
Alston, R. Collier, J.
Bradshaw, J. Conyngham, Lord A.
Baldwin, Dr. Donkin, Sir R.
Baring, F. T. Dillwyn, L. W.
Berkeley, Hon. C. Divett, E.
Barnard, E.G. Duncombe, T. S.
Baines, E. Ebrington, Lord
Barry, S. Etwall, R.
Bellew, R. M. Elphinstone, H.
Bewes, T. Fergusson, C.
Bish, T. Fitzroy, Lord C.
Blake, M. T. Fitzsimon, C.
Blamire, W. Fitzsimon, N.
Bodkin, J. T. Finn, W. T.
Bulwer, H. Finch, F.
Burton, H. P. Gaskell, D.
Bridgman, H. Gordon, R.
Brotherton, J. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Browne, D. Grattan, H.
Byng, Hon. G. Grote, G.
Brady, D C. Handley, H.
Callaghan, D. Hall, B.
Campbell, Sir J. Hay, Colonel
Cave, O. Harvey, D. W.
Hawes, B. Philips, M.
Hume, J. Pryme, G.
Humphery, J. Raphael, A.
Kemp, T. R. Ronayne, D.
Kerry, Earl of Roebuck, J.
Lennox, Lord A. Scholefield, J.
Leader, J. T. Sheldon, E. R.
Lefevre, Shaw Spiers, A.
Lushington, Dr. Stewart, P.
Lushington, C. Talbot, J. H.
Maher, J. M'Taggart, J.
Macleod, R. Tracy, H.
Marjoribanks, S. Tooke, W.
Moreton, Hon. A Tulke, C.
Methuen, P. Thornely, T.
Nagle, Sir R. Tynte, C.
O'Brien, W. Vigors, N.
O'Connell, D. Wason, R.
O'Connell, M. J. Wallace, R.
O'Connell, M. Walker, R.
O'Conor, Don Walker, C.
O'Ferrall, R. Wakley, Thomas
Paget, Captain Warburton, H.
Parker, J. White, L.
Pattison, J. Wilks, J.
Pease, J. Wilde, Sergeant
Perrin, Serjeant Williams, W.
Power, P. Wood, Alderman
Potter, R. Wood, C.
Poulter J. S.