HC Deb 02 March 1836 vol 31 cc1164-8
Mr. Pouller

moved the Order of the Day for the adjourned debate on the Motion, "That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the circumstances attending the late Election of the Municipal Council of the Borough of Poole."

Mr. Hogg

rose to propose an amendment which he thought would meet the views of all parties, and which, without interfering with the proceedings now pending in the Court of King's Bench, would yet satisfy the views of the hon. and learned Member for Huddersfield, who complained, that though a Court of Law might ultimately punish the parties, yet that in the meantime they had full power to deal with and to alienate the corporation funds. He had hopes that his amendment, which the town-clerk and the members of the town-council generally were most anxious should be agreed to, would be the more especially acceptable, because, whilst it proposed to embrace in the inquiry all that was substantially requisite to meet the difficulty in which the inhabitants of Poole were alleged to be placed by this false election, it would exclude from the inquiry of the Committee all that was of a criminal nature, which was now before, and could only be properly decided by, a Court of Law It would, he believed be agreed on all sides that a Committee of that House was a very bad tribunal of criminal justice. In a Committee, party feeling was sure to be excited; its Members might possibly not be cognizant of the law, and the witnesses examined before it were unsworn. It did not, he believed, appear that the parties had proceeded as fast as they could in the Court of King's Bench, for though they had got up affidavits, the Attorney-General did not move for the rule until the last day of Term. Nor was there any doubt that a Court of Law was perfectly competent to give redress in this case. If the election were bad, as stated, the parties could be removed under a quo warranto, and those who bad been guilty of malversation duly punished. He therefore begged leave to move as an amendment, to leave out from the word "into" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, "an alleged intention of the town-council of Poole to dispose of the property of the Corporation pending the trial of legal proceedings, questioning the right of the persons composing the town-council to act as town-councillors; and into the best and speediest means of preventing such, disposal of the said property."

Mr. Poulter

Sir, I shall certainly resist this Amendment, because it offers in this most scandalous case, just no relief at all. I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Hogg) that I can quite understand that he has been but a short time acquainted with the nature of the case which he has just opened; from the total misconception of its whole character. He tells us we could get relief in a Court of Law. I tell him that a Court of Law cannot give adequate relief to the grievance of which we complain; but that for every redress and reparation which the Courts of Law in this country can administer, we have prayed;—we have prosecuted that remedy, we are pursuing it with every possible effort, and with all the speed that is consistent with the rules of the Court. But the hon. Gentleman is in a great mistake as to the character of those proceedings which we have instituted in a Court of Law; he does not seem to be aware that so early as the third day of last term an application was made for a new warrant against the councillors, so fraudulently elected; and that, when the Rule was made absolute, by the course of practice in the Court, it became impossible to give the notices, under which we could proceed to trial at the assizes now ensuing; it therefore was impossible to obtain any trial till Midsummer Assizes;—no judg- ment could be obtained till Michaelmas-term;—and by that time the councillors would have been out of office. But even if we could get rid of them this moment, I can prove to the hon. and learned Gentleman, it would be just no remedy at all! Those most fraudulently and wickedly elected councillor would be perfectly indifferent to any thing that Courts of Law in this country can do against them, provided the Legislature would allow the parties to retain the ulterior consequences of the original fraud, which they have gained. Knowing that if we could get rid of their original appointment, we cannot by the rules of law get rid of its ulterior consequences; they would say "we will abandon to you the foundation, provided you will allow us to keep the superstructure;—if you will allow us to keep the fruits of our original fraud, — we care not what becomes of the quo warrant os"—That is the argument they are acting upon, that is why we have no prospect of relief, and call upon the House for it. As this is a case in which no remedy can be applied, but that of the Legislature, so no constitutional principle can be an answer to my application:—the constitutional principle of not applying to the Legislature for that relief which you can gain from a Court of Law. You may, in some cases, be supposed therefore to doubt the justice of your case, inasmuch as you are claiming here what you could obtain, if your case were good, under Courts of Law. That is not the state of this case, Sir. Here, the only remedy which can be applied must commence in this House:—if therefore you wish to destroy and discourage such fraud, you are bound to give us this Committee. Nothing unconstitutional can arise from it. The whole of these proceedings were carried on in the grossest fraud: in both of the wards of this borough, the elections were carried on in a small room, under such circumstances as that it was impossible the election should be fair; the voters were not allowed to remain, but were removed by the constables after they had voted, and it was impossible to put the question expressly prescribed by the Act. In. many instances the Mayor received papers closed up, put them into the box, and on them founded his scandalous fraudulent return; and so conscious was he of the fraud, that he had not the face to affix the number of voters to the names of the candidates, being, I will venture to say, the only instance in the whole country of such a circumstance occurring. And in such a case as this, are we not justified in saying, if you don't mean to refuse all redress, you must grant us this Committee?—What was the first proceeding of this council?— Why, in one day to confer twelve appointments on persons of the name of Slade, (that being the Mayor's name) and fraudulently and collusively to eject the town-clerk, a bosom friend of the Mayor, that he might put in his claim for compensation, to the amount of 7,000l., for an office worth 201. a year! I do say, Sir, that in order to institute an inquiry, and to prevent the alienation of the property of the town, the House is bound to grant the Committee.

Mr. Scarlett

approved of the amendment much more than of the original motion. The subject did not properly belong to Parliament, it was one that a Court of Law alone should take cognizance of. It was true the Courts of Law could not remedy the offence really complained of, that this was a Conservative Corporation; but they could remedy the offences, if any, really committed. If the election was bad, the King's Bench could pronounce it void, so could it the nomination of aldermen; and the Court of Chancery could interfere with any alienation of property by the Corporation. The present line of proceeding was a novel and unconstitutional one, as it was tyranny on the part of Parliament to interfere with the rights of the Courts of Law.

The House divided on the original motion: Ayes 188; Noes 70:—Majority 118. On the question that the Committee be named—

Mr. Williams Wynn

expressed his suprise that the House of Commons should attempt to usurp the functions of the ordinary tribunals. Such an attempt—such a monstrous invasion on the privileges of the Bench, he in his whole Parliamentary experience never witnessed. He did endeavour in the present case to resist this most dangerous precedent. This was a case that was strictly one fit only for judicial investigation, and he (Mr. Wynn) entered his strongest protest against this decision, by which it seemed that political feelings, more than the justice of the case, determined the matter, He would not divide the House on the question, but he entered his solemn protest, as decidedly as he could., against the last decision, as being in itself an evil, and likely to lead, from the precedent it would form, to greater evils. He would recommend his friends to express their dissent from the last decision, but not to divide the House.

Committee appointed.

List of the AYES.
Adam, Sir C. Ewart, W.
Aglionby, H. Fergusson, C.
Ainsworth, P. Finn, W. F.
Alston, R. Fitzroy, Lord C.
Anson, G. Fitzsimon, C.
Astley Sir J. Folkes, Sir W.
Attwood, T. Forster, C. S.
Bagshaw, J. Gaskell, D.
Baines, E. Gillon, W. D.
Baldwin, H. Gisborne, T.
Ball, N. Gordon, R.
Bannerman, A. Goring, H. D.
Baring, F. Grattan, H.
Barry, G. S. Grey, Sir G.
Bellew, F. Grote, G.
Bellew, Sir P. Hall, B.
Bentinck, Lord G. Harland, W. C.
Berkeley, F. Hawes, B.
Berkeley, C. Hawkins, J. H.
Bernal, R. Hay, Sir A. L.
Bewes, T. Heathcoat, J.
Biddulph, R. Hector, C. J.
Bish, T. Hindley, C.
Blake, M. J. Hodges, T. S.
Blunt, Sir C. Hodges, T.
Bodkin, J. J. Horsman, E.
Bowring, Dr. Howard, E.
Brady, D. C. Howard, P.
Bridgman, H. Hume, J.
Brocklehurst, J. Jephson, C. D. O.
Brodie, W. B. Jervis, J.
Brotherton, J. Kemp, T. R.
Browne, Rt. Hon. D. King, E. B.
Butler, P. Labouchere, Right Hon. H.
Buxton, F.
Byng, G. S. Lambton, H.
Campbell, Sir J. Leader, J. T.
Cave, O. Lefevre, S.
Cavendish, C. Lennard, B.
Chalmers, P. Lennox, Lord G.
Chichester, J. Lennox, Lord A.
Clayton, Sir W. Lewis, D.
Clive, E. B. Lister, E. C.
Cockerell, Sir C. Loch, J.
Collier, J. Lushington, C.
Crawford, W. S. Macleod, R.
Crawley, S. Mangles, J.
Crompton, S. Marjoribanks, S.
Curteis, H. Marshall, W.
Dalmeny, Lord Marsland, H.
D'Eyncourt, Right Hon. C. T. Martin, T.
Maule, Fox.
Dillwyn, W. Molesworth, Sir W.
Donkin, Sir R. Morpeth, Lord
Duncombe, T. Morrison, J.
Dundas, T. Mostyn, E. M. S.
Dundas, J. Mullins, F. W.
Dunlop, C. Murray, Right Hon. J. A.
Elphinstone, H.
Etwall, R. O'Brien, W.
Evans, G. O'Connell, M. J.
O'Connell, M. Steuart, R.
O'Connor, Don. Strutt, E.
O'Ferrall, R. M. Stuart, Lord, J.
Oliphant, L. Stuart, V.
O'Loghlen, M. Surrey, Lord.
Ord, W. Talbot, J.
Oswald, J. Tancred, W.
Parrott, J. Thompson, B.
Pattison, J. Thomson, T. P.
Pechell, G. R. Thornley, T.
Pendarves, E. W. W. Townley, R. G.
Phillips, C. Trelawny, Sir W.
Potter, R. Troubridge, Sir T.
Power, J. Tulk, C. A.
Poyntz, W. S. Turner, W.
Pryse, P. Tynte, C.
Ramsbottom, J. Verney, Sir H.
Rickford, W. Villiers, C. P.
Roche, W. Vivian, J. H.
Roche, D. Wakley, T.
Roebuck, J. A. Warburton, H.
Rolfe, Sir R. Ward, H. G.
Rundle, J. Westenra, J.
Russell, Lord C. White, S.
Ruthven, E. Wigney, J. N.
Sandford, A, Wilde, Mr. Sergeant,
Scott, Sir E. Williams, W.
Sharpe, M. Williamson, Sir H.
Sheil, R. E. Winnington, H.
Sheldon, E. R. C. Wood, M.
Sheppard, T. Woulfe, S.
Sinclair, Sir G. Young, G.
Smith, R. TELLERS.
Smith, V. Poulter, J.
Spry, Sir S. Ord, W.
Stanley, E.
List of the NOES.
Bailey, J. Gladstone, T.
Balfour, T. Glynne, Sir S.
Bateson, Sir R. Greisley, Sir R.
Blackstone, W, S. Grimstone, E.
Bolling, W. Hale, R. B.
Bonham, F. R. Halse, J.
Borthwick, B. Hardinge, Sir H.
Bramston, J. W. Hardy, J.
Brownrigg, J. S. Henniker, Lord
Bruen, H. Hoy, B.
Burrell, Sir C. Jackson, D.
Chisholm, A. W. Jones, W.
Clerk, Sir G. Jones, T.
Cole, A. Knatchbull, Sir E.
Cripps, J. Lefroy, A.
Dalbiac, Sir C. Lefroy, T.
Dunbar, G. Lincoln, Lord.
Eastnor, Lord Longfield, J.
Egerton, W. Lowther, J. H.
Elley, Sir J. Mordaunt, Sir J.
Elwes, J. P. O'Neil, J. B. R.
Estcourt, T. Parker, M.
Fancourt, C. Pemberton, T.
Fector, J. M. Perceval, A.
Finch, G. Plumptree, J. P.
Fleming, J. W. Polhill, F.
Forbes, W. Praed, J.
Fresh field, J. W. Rae, Sir W.
Gaskell, J. M. Rushbrooke, R.
Gladstone, W, Sibthorpe, C. D. W.
Somerset, Lord G. Rice, Rt. Hon. T. S.
Stanley, E. Wilbraham, G.
Tennent, E. Ebrington, Lord
Thomas, H. Callaghan, D.
Trevor, A. Price, Sir R.
Twiss, H. Ponsonby, W.
Vere, Sir C. Scholefield, J.
Wyndham, W. AGAINST.
Wynn, W. Duffield, T.
TELLERS. Alsager, Captain
Hogg, J. W. Walter, John
Scarlett, R. C. Wall, Baring
PAIRED OFF. Chaplin, Colonel
FOR. Entwistle, J.
Wilson, H. Pringle, A.
Crawford, W. Price, R.
Handley, H. Maxwell, Henry
Musgrave, Sir R. Castlereagh, Lord
Fitzgibbon, Hon. R. H. Baring, Henry
Packe, C. W.
Westenra, Hon. H. Codrington, C. B.
Phillps, G. Trevor, Hon. Rice
Mackenzie, Stewart Baring, Thomas
O'Connell, Maurice Dottin, A.
Pelham, Hon. A. Smyth, Sir Henry
Campbell, W. T. Marsland, Thomas
Vivian, Major, Pigott, R.
Codrington, Sir E. Stormont, Lord
Lemon, Sir C. Praed, William M.
Denison, William Forester, Hon. C.
Williams, Sir J. Bruce, C.
Robarts, A. W. Calcraft, John
Philips, Mark Williams, Robt., jun.