HC Deb 17 August 1835 vol 30 cc621-3
Dr. Bowring

rose to submit to the House a motion, the object of which was the payment of the witnesses examined before the Yarmouth Bribery Committee. Men who came forward with a view of exposing bribery and corruption, and putting a stop to it, should not be exposed to loss in their exertions. The Committee up stairs had declared that all the allegations contained in the petition formerly presented had been fully borne out by the evidence. The grossest bribery and corruption had been proved, and it was shown that hundreds of electors had taken bribes. He should not then move that payment be made to the witnesses of the expenses they had incurred, but should content himself with moving that there be laid before the House copies of all memorials for the payment of the expenses incurred before the great Yarmouth Bribery Committee, and not discharged by order of the Chairman of the Committee.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

observed that the Treasury was always ready to pay any expenses incurred before Committees, when the charges were certified by the Speaker or the Chairman of the Committee. The Treasury could not make any payments without this form, unless by the direct authority of the House. He should, on all occasions, be ready to support a motion for the payment of what was fitting. In general, parties should be led to believe that if they instituted proceedings of this kind, they did so at their own expense; but when there was such a clear result as there was in the present case, and the public had gained such advantages by the exposure of these corrupt practices, it was right that the public should share the expense.

Dr. Nicholl

thought it better, before they took any steps, to wait till the evidence was before them.

Mr. Hume

was of opinion that it would be desirable that there should be some fixed rule as to whether witnesses should be paid or not, instead of leaving the matter to the Chairman of a Committee. Any sum proposed to be applied in the elucidation of such matters as had been disclosed before the Committee would be well expended. He was satisfied that it would be extremely unfair to throw the charge of these proceedings on individuals who had the public spirit to take up such subjects.

Sir John Y. Buller

observed that the Committee had no direct precedent which would justify their ordering the payment of the witnesses; they therefore thought it better to leave the matter to the House.

Mr. Cressett Pelham

cautioned the House against opening the door to applications of this nature.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

felt it right to observe, if the House adopted the suggestion of his hon. Friend, that a resolution ought to be put on the journals, declaring that it should not be drawn into a precedent.

Dr. Bowring

should be sorry to open the door widely to applications of this kind; but the present case was peculiar. Returns ordered.