HC Deb 04 March 1836 vol 31 cc1219-21
Mr. Roebuck

rose to call the attention of the House to what he conceived to be a Breach of Privilege. He seldom addressed the House on personal matters, and on this occasion he should not have done so were it not under very peculiar circumstances. The House must be aware that during the present Session a Bill was brought in for compensation to Mr. Buckingham, and that, on that occasion, he thought it his duty to address the House, stating the grounds upon which he should give his vote, and his motive for opposing the Bill. The Bill was lost. He held in his hand a paper, which he would read to the House, in which certain accusations were brought against him, as a Member of that House, which he conceived was a breach of privilege. He begged to observe, that when the public press abused him in vague and general terms it gave him no pain; but when a definite charge of a criminal act was made against him, he thought it due to his own character, and his bounden duty to his constituents, to take notice of so gross a charge, and defend himself against it. The line he drew was a distinct and great one. So long as the public press gave utterance to feelings of dislike, hatred, or contempt of him in general terms, he regarded it not; but when it imputed base motives, and charged him with criminal conduct, he was bound in duty to himself and to the House, to take immediate notice of it. He would read what the Sheffield Iris had chosen to allege against him, feeling at the same time no pain at it, because the charge was really too absurd to be seriously believed by anybody. It was headed "Mr. Buckingham's Claims," and ran thus:—"We never felt more strongly in our lives, on a political question, than we did on hearing of the rejection of Mr. Tulk's Bill for compensation to Mr. Buckingham from the East-India Company. We felt that a great wrong had been committed towards a man who has too long suffered for his unceasing services in the cause of the public. We saw that injustice had again triumphed for a time, and that oppression and treachery had done their worst. We saw at once how that injustice had been perpetrated. We could not fail to see a foul and disgusting combination of Whigs and Tories, backed up by a perverse and wrong-hearted, if not bribed. Radical! Mr. Roebuck's name will henceforth remain as hateful to us as the word hypocrisy. His speech, playing into the Tory hands, was seized by them as a God-send, and, in utter ignorance of the facts of the case, he strengthened their corrupt and polluted hands by his delusion. We had not proceeded half way through the speech ere we heard the chink of the retaining fee at the close of every sentence; at every pause we saw, or fancied that we saw, his eager hand groping in the coffers of Leadenhall-street. In our mind's eye we saw him doubly enriched—rich in Tory estimation—rich in the gold of the East-India Company. To use an ironical expression, in use in these parts,' much good may it do him.'" There was another part of the case he had to notice. He held in his hand two copies of the same paper, both dated the 1st of March. One was sent to him by the post, and did not contain the article which he had just read; the other was put into his hands by a person who wished to put him on his guard, and which did contain this article. The reason he had stated these facts was, to give the hon. Member for Sheffield the opportunity of wholly disclaiming any knowledge of this disgraceful conduct. He always admired straightforward conduct; he had, therefore, written to the editor of the Sheffield Iris, to demand an immediate, ample, and definite apology, stating, at the same time, that the letter demanding it should be printed and affixed at the head of the apology, for he was determined to make the apology as humiliating to the editor as the charge against himself was false and scandalous. He thought he had discharged his duty to the House in bringing the matter forward, and he trusted they would give him credit for the motive which had influenced him.

Mr. Buckingham

felt himself called upon to answer the question put to him by the hon. and learned Member, and he begged to state distinctly that he had no knowledge whatever of the existence of the paragraph until he first saw it yesterday; that he had no communication with the editor on the subject; that he was as ignorant, in short, as the hon. and learned Member himself of the whole matter. He had been so many years a public character, that it was not very likely, at his late time of day, for him to write in the manner and in the terms adopted by the writer of that paragraph. He had written much, but no imputation of that kind had ever fallen from him. He, therefore, hoped the House would give him full credit for an entire non-participation in this matter. Of coarse, in a country, like this, where strong political feelings existed, and widely different opinions were Sincerely entertained, it was natural that they should be expressed strongly. But he again begged to deny any knowledge whatever of or participation in the matter.

Subject dropped.