HC Deb 03 March 1836 vol 31 cc1200-2
Mr. Divett

moved the second reading of the Stafford Disfranchisement Bill.

Captain Chetwynd

said, as the representative of that old, and populous, and respectable Corporation, whose liberties it was now sought, without any colour of justice, to take away, he should oppose the motion. There were 1,300 electors in the town, out of a population of 8,000. For 600 years they had returned Members to that House, and amongst them some of the most brilliant lights that ever shone in Parliament. Until the last accusation, the integrity of the electors was never impeached. The alleged crime was of so old a date as four years and a-half, and he contended that if the criminality were then sufficiently established, the punishment would have followed sooner. It was monstrous, and contrary to all equity and law, to visit the present electors of Stafford with the punishment said, but not proved, to be due to the delinquencies of about five years standing. He should be the last to defend corruption, but he had ample means of proving that the allegations in the Report laid before the House were many of them utterly false, and some of them impossible. He moved, therefore, that the Bill, by which 1,300 electors were to be disfranchised, should be read a second time that day six months.

Mr. Divett

said, that the subject had been discussed so often, and the Report of the Committee was so decisive, that he felt it unnecessary to detain the House with any additional proofs of the corruption of the voters affected by this Bill.

Mr. Philip Howard

said, whatever may be the views taken by hon. Members of the Question before the House, there is no one but must admire the feeling and the force with which his hon. and gallant Friend had advocated the cause of his constituents and the old Borough of Stafford. Alone he stands the brunt of the attack. Solus defendit I lion Hector. But, no eloquence could cast a shield over the corruption of Stafford; no prowess defend its battered walls; still seeing that there was much of hardship in keeping this Bill of Penalties hanging over the citizens of Stafford for four long years; considering too that the Reform Bill was held to be an amnesty for the past, he should not stay to swell the majority, which devoted Stafford to political extinction.

Mr. Law

moved the adjournment of the House, as it was now past the hour at which it had been agreed that no new business should be commenced,

Mr. Francis Baring

said, that the Bill had been brought under the notice of the House before twelve o'clock. He thought it really too hard that a measure which the empty benches on the Opposition side of the House proved that all argument against it was given up (and this after having been so frequently discussed), should be met by a motion for the adjournment of the House.

The Lord Mayor

trusted his hon. Friend would persevere in his motion for adjournment. He quite agreed with the hon. Gentleman who had moved the amendment on the second reading, that the Reform Bill should be considered as a measure of amnesty. The hon. Member opposite (Mr. Brotherton) should be impartial in his moving for adjournment.

Mr. Patrick Stewart

said, that if hon. Gentlemen conceived this Bill to be unjust, they should take the proper course for opposing it, and not sanction its defeat by a side-wind, such as the present motion for adjournment.

Mr. Brotherton

did not consider himself liable to the charge of partiality which had been imputed to him. He had made it an invariable practice to move the adjournment of the House when new business was brought forward after twelve o'clock, but in the present case he considered himself relieved from the necessity of so doing by the fact that the Bill had been submitted for second reading before twelve o'clock.

Mr. Law

did not consider the inference a fair one from his motion for adjournment, that those who sat on his side of the House were unwilling to have this Bill passed. The object of his motion was to prevent business of such importance being discussed at so late an hour. He should persist in his motion.

The House divided on the adjournment, Ayes 4; Noes 55: Majority 51.

The House afterwards divided on Captain Chetwynd's amendment: Ayes 6; Noes 53: Majority 47.

Bill read a second time.