HC Deb 26 July 1836 vol 35 cc583-5
Mr. Hume

presented a petition from certain subscribers to Mr. Cundy's line of railroad to Brighton, respecting the conduct of Sir Charles Burrell. The hon. Member read the petition, at length, it stated:— That the petitioners had heard, and believed, that some arrangement had been promised, or entered into, conditional upon the passing of Stephenson's Bill, with Sir Charles M. Burrell, a Member of the Committee, for the purchase of the Baybridge Navigation, in which Sir Charles M. Burrell has an interest. The hon. Member (Mr. Hume) having read the petition, remarked, that the hardship would be extreme if a Member of Parliament were not allowed, on that account, to protect his own property; though at the same time he could not be justified in using his influence as a Member to oppose a measure because certain conditions which he required had not been complied with.

On the question that the petition do lie on the table,

Sir Charles Burrell

was glad to have that opportunity of making some explanation with regard to himself. As to the canal in question, which he had been described as the chief owner of, that was a gross misrepresentation. He could only say for himself that in the proceedings he had taken he had never sought any advantage whatever. He was able to offer to the House the evidence of a most respectable individual relative to his conduct and transactions in this matter; and if it was the wish of the Members of the House to hear that evidence the gentleman was ready to give it at the bar of the House. Mr. Cundy had called upon him, and stated it was his intention to project a railway from Shoreham to Brighton; when he asked Mr. Cundy to show him the line, stating that he was one of the trustees of a canal through which he was afraid the line would pass and was bound by his oath as a trustee to preserve the canal. Mr. Cundy showed him the line, when he stated it would be objected to by the trustees. His answer was, "Oh, Sir, we will buy your works of you." He said that, as to money, he did not want money, that he represented the great monied interest in Manchester, who were only anxious to get their capital employed, and that he was willing to buy the whole interest in the navigation of the canal. The allegations that were now made against him were made upon a totally different ground than the allegations of the hon. Member; there he was distinctly charged with having made an offer with regard to his own property for the purpose of protecting his own interest. Now, he would state positively, that although the proposed measure would do him the greatest injury he had made no terms with any one, but had left it to arbitration. He believed he had done only that which it was his duty as a Member of that House to do; and he was convinced, upon the examination before the Committee, that Stephenson's line was the best one. As to Mr. Cundy's line, it was a down right farce. The hon. Baronet then mentioned that a portion of Mr. Cundy's plan was to cut through Boxhill, to stop up the river Mole, and cut a channel for it within a few yards of the country seat of a lady, the widow of a gentleman who had once the honour of a seat in that House. The hon. Baronet concluded by saying, that had he taken the part he was said to have taken he should not be fit to retain his seat as a Member of Parliament; and had he not taken the part he had as trustee he should be unworthy the trust reposed in him, and should have failed to make that exertion which by oath he was compelled to make. In the full conviction of the honour and justice of that House he felt assured he took his seat without any blemish upon his reputation.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

, adverting to the terms of Sir C. Burrell's letter of the 8th March, 1835, said, that the hon. Baronet spoke only of the line of conduct he should pursue as a trustee. He expressed his strong disgust and indignation at this attempt to impugn the character of the hon. Baronet.

Sir G. Strickland

admitted at once that Sir C. Burrell had done nothing derogatory to his character, but urged that an inquiry, by Committee, was due to Mr. Cundy, who had not been able at the bar to enter into some necessary details for his own vindication.

Sir R. Peel

thought, that a dangerous precedent would be established if unfounded allegations were allowed to be made as to the motives of Members of that House.

Mr. Hume

begged to remind the right hon. Baronet that the circumstances referred to in the petition arose out of a former transaction, and were not brought forward for the purpose of inculpating any hon. Member of that House.

Mr. Poulett Thomson

thought the petition a mere attempt to bolster up a case which had failed to be made out before the House, and hoped it would not be received. The House would do best, in his opinion, by putting an end to the matter.

Mr. Warburton

hoped his hon. Friend would withdraw the petition.

Petition withdrawn.