HC Deb 13 July 1836 vol 35 cc167-9
Sir Charles Burrell

was sorry to be under the necessity of intruding on the House for a short time, but he was induced to do so as a matter of self-defence, from the circumstance of Mr. Cundy, who had been engaged in projecting a railway between London and Brighton, having taken the liberty of making use of his (Sir C. Burrell's) name in a most reprehensible manner. This individual had stated, that the reason which induced him (Sir C. Burrell) to give his vote in favour of Stephenson's line was, that a sum of 15,000l. was award -ed to him for land through which it was to run. Now, this was totally untrue. The imputation was made to the hon. Member for Wiltshire (Mr. Benett,) who had proceeded on urgent business to the Assizes, but who left two letters for him, accounting for the necessity of his absence, which he would take the liberty of reading to the House. One was dated House of Commons, July 8, to the effect "I have no hesitation in stating in the House of Commons, that Mr. Cundy, in the course of a communication, said that Stephenson's line was carried in Committee by unfair means. He repeated that you were not at first in favour of Stephenson's line (not true), and that your support was obtained for 15,000l.; and he charged two other members of the Committee with having received, one 12,000l, and another, 8,000l. which made them also in favour of it." He would avail himself of the opportunity to declare most distinctly that the assertion made was most untrue. It was not for him to say what the House might think it necessary to do under the circumstances, as he was perfectly satisfied in having made the statement, and given the charge a most decided negative. He would only remark that if he were capable of such improper conduct, he would not be deserving a seat in that House or a place in any society whatever.

Captain Pechell

hoped he might be permitted to express himself quite surprised at the nature of the charge brought under the consideration of the House. He did not think it was such a one as called for interposition on their part. He was a member of the Committee on the Brighton railway, and heard it reported—he could not take upon himself to state the fact— but it had been stated, that some of the members on that Committee had been tampered with. He never should have thought that such a trumpery matter would have been brought before the House. Certainly, reports had gone abroad that some of the members of the Committee had been tampered with, and that others had sold their land for more than it was worth. Whether the charge were true or false, he did not think it worth investigation.

Mr. Williams Wynn

was sorry that a single Member would be found capable of saying that a charge which imputed foul corruption to a Member was a trumpery matter. Reports of the kind, it was asserted, had prevailed; but the hon. Member did not know whether they were true or false. If true, they ought to be brought forward; if false, the parties circulating them ought to be punished; and nothing could be more important than the duty of vindicating the purity of the House. If it were to continue to hold any station in public opinion, it could not devote time to a more valuable purpose than sifting such accusations to the bottom, and for that purpose he should move that Mr. Nicholas Wilcox Cundy attend at the bar on Monday next when the hon. Member for Wilts could be present.

Lord A. Lennox

seconded the motion. He did not believe that a single Member of the Committee had been influenced by any but the purest motives, and it was impossible that the hon. Baronet should have done anything so derogatory to the character of a gentleman.

Mr. Hawes

wished to give his hon. and gallant Friend an opportunity of repeating or retracting an assertion he had understood him to make: in reference to the general imputations against the Committee, he believed that the hon. and gallant Member (Captain Pechell) had stated that in his opinion some Members of the Committee had been tampered with.

Captain Pechell

denied, that he had stated or intended to state any such opinion. He merely meant to say that the report ought to be treated with contempt, and that it was not worth while to investigate it. Personally he was interested in Stephenson's line, as it would benefit his property, but he had opposed it on behalf of his constituents.

Motion agreed to.