§ The Order of the Day for the House resolving itself into Committee of Supply having been moved,
§ Sir George Sinclair
rose to call the attention of the House to the situation in which it stood with respect to the Pensions' List Committee. Looking at the time which had been occupied, he would not say wasted, in the discussion of that evening, and seeing that the subjects which stood upon the paper were most of them of a description to lead to debate, it appeared to him not only improbable that the question of how the Committee was to be constituted could come forward at the usual hour that evening, but highly improbable, also, that it could be brought forward at a reasonable hour on any evening previous to the recess. But, however that might be, it appeared to him that it would be only fair that the House should be put in possession of the names which her Majesty's Ministers proposed to place 1227 upon the Committee one day, at least, before the discussion took place. Many persons, both in and out of the House, entertained a great jealousy as to the names to be placed upon the Committee, especially when it was remembered that one of her Majesty's Ministers had upon a former occasion declared an inquiry of this kind to be unjust and disgusting. It was anxiously desired, he believed on all sides, that the inquiry should be fair and impartial, and that it should be entered upon with as little delay as possible. Of course until the Committee was named he could not know whether the hon. Member for Southwark was to be placed upon it or not; but if he were not, he must say that the hon. Member would be treated unjustly and unfairly, because if the hon. Member had himself been permitted to bring the question forward, as he had done on many previous occasions, there could be no doubt but that he would have been a Member of the Committee. He thought, therefore, that the Committee should be named without delay, and that one day at least should be given to the House to consider whether the recommendations of the Ministry were such as would entitle the Committee to the respect and confidence of the country. If the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, would consent to an arrangement of that kind, he (Sir George Sinclair) would not say more upon the subject that evening; but if the question were again postponed, and no time fixed for its consideration, and if, when it were brought forward the House was to be called upon to decide at once as to the propriety of the selection made by the Government, he should then certainly feel it to be his duty to take the sense of the House upon the subject.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
did not know to what practical conclusion the hon. Baronet's observations tended. He had told the hon. Baronet on a former occasion, and he had also repeated it again that night, that there was no intention on the part of the Government to bring on the question, which, as they were informed, was to become the matter of a debate at a late or inconvenient hour. If it were brought forward at any period that might be inconvenient to the hon. Baronet, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) should be the first person to say "Let it be postponed to some future time that might be more convenient." At the same time he 1228 must observe that any inconvenience that might arise to individual and particular Members was an inconvenience for which he could not be responsible. The hon. Baronet now called upon him to give the names of the Members whom it was proposed to place upon the Committee. Now he found upon the order paper for to-morrow a notice of motion given by the hon. Member for Kilkenny, that in future the nomination of individuals to be placed upon Committees should always be given for some time precedent to the appointment of the Committee. It was not for him to say whether he considered such a course convenient or not, but at all events it was a question that was to be fairly raised to-morrow, and therefore the hon. Baronet would excuse him if he declined to enter into a discussion of it to-day. If the House should decide the motion of the hon. Member for Kilkenny in the affirmative to-morrow, he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) should be perfectly satisfied to postpone the nomination of the Committee until Wednesday; and, in obedience to the decision of the House, to give in the names of the Gentlemen he should propose as Members of it to-morrow. He had no wish, no idea whatever, in naming the Committee, to make it other than a tribunal which should discharge, honestly and efficiently, the duty with which it was to be intrusted; and if the names ultimately suggested did not justify that declaration of his intention, it would be for the. House to object to any or all of those names, and to substitute others in their place.
§ Mr. Harvey
observed, that the notice of the hon. Member for Kilkenny appeared to be a perfect godsend to the Government. There was, in fact, no straw, however filthy or however small, at which they would not catch to save themselves from this inquiry. What the hon. Baronet wished to know was, whether this important motion was to be submitted to the House at a correct and appropriate time. "As regards myself," continued the hon. Gentleman, "remembering my declaration of the other evening, a declaration which subsequent reflection induces me to repeat, I relieve the right hon. Gentleman from any pressure as to placing me upon the Committee. After the treatment to which I have been exposed, I repeat, that nothing under heaven shall induce me to serve upon a 1229 Committee appointed by the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but at the same time, if the House, upon consideration, should think as I do, that the course proposed by the Government, is most censurable—if the House, echoing the opinions and sentiments of the country, shall think that I ought to be placed upon the Committee, I shall cheerfully bow to its decision. I will not describe my opinion of the conduct that has been pursued in this matter, because it is not the first time that I have been treated in a similar manner. Some years ago I brought forward a subject connected with the Woods and Forests, to which I had devoted weeks and months of my time. No sooner had I brought it to a state of maturity, when it was likely to be useful, than the Government of the day took it out of my hands, and made it a perfect abortion. Whether that is the course which it is proposed now to pursue I will not say, though past experience may suggest the apprehension of it; but this I will say, that I think the conduct of the Government towards me extremely ungenerous and unmanly.
§ Sir George Sinclair
Under these circumstances I shall certainly move as an amendment to the motion now before the House, that the order of the day for the appointment of the Pension List Committee be now read; and upon that amendment I will take the sense of the House.
§ The question having been put,
§ Mr. Warburton
entreated the Government to state at once the names they proposed to place upon the Committee. They must have fully considered the names they intended to propose. Then why not mention them at once, and put an end to all further doubt and anxiety upon the subject? They were bound in common justice to the hon. Member for Southwark not longer to allow the question to remain in suspense, leaving his name to be bandied about by the public, as it would naturally be, as long as it remained a matter of doubt whether he were to sit upon the Committee or not. It really was not dealing fairly with an individual Member of the House to allow him to be treated in this manner.
§ Lord John Russell
I admit that the hon. Member for Southwark is placed in a situation that cannot but be disagreeable in consequence of the questions that have 1230 been raised, but that is no fault of ours. The fault, if any, is owing to others, not to us. But, at the same time, I will say, that owing as it is to other parties, I am still ready, if it be the opinion of the House that the matter has been involved in any obscurity and doubt from which it ought to be cleared—I am ready, I say, as far as the Government is concerned, to call upon my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and to request him (a request with which I know he will not hesitate to comply) to place upon the notice-book this evening the names of the Members whom he proposes to place upon the Committee. Is that what the hon. Baronet wishes.
§ Sir George Sinclair
That will not correspond with my views upon the subject; I shall take the sense of the House upon the amendment I have moved.
§ Lord John Russell
Then I must proceed at once to state the grounds upon which we propose to act with regard to the hon. Member for Southwark. Last year the hon. Member was placed upon the Committee which sat upon the Report of the Poor-laws. The Committee found that all their proceedings were reported in the daily newspapers, generally fully reported; sometimes only in portions, consisting of extracts and selected passages; but in one shape or the other, whether at full length or only in part, the publication of their proceedings was continued from day to day. This, as the House must know, was in direct contravention of the directions placed upon all the papers delivered to Members of Committees— "that it is particularly requested that these papers may not be communicated to any other persons, being intended solely for the use of the Committee." The subject of the publication of their proceedings was brought under the notice of the Committee, and your authority, Sir, was mentioned as conclusive that no Member of the Committee ought to disregard or to commit a breach of the order attached to the papers placed in his hand. The hon. Member for Southwark, as I understand, did not deny that the publication complained of originated with him. I then thought it necessary, in order that the hon. Member might have no room for doubt, to bring forward a question in this House as to the right of Members of Committees to make publications of the proceedings that took place before them; and the 1231 resolution which I then proposed was agreed to after a division upon the question of adjournment, but without any division upon the question itself. I have that resolution now before me; it was agreed to by the House on the 21st of April last, and is in the following terms: "That, according to the undoubted privileges of this House, and for the due protection of the public interest, the evidence taken by any Select Committee of this House, and documents presented to such Committee, and which have not been reported to the House, ought not to be published by any Member of such Committee or by any other person." I had hoped that such a resolution on the part of the House would have taken away any doubt or hesitation that any Member of the Committee could have entertained as to the propriety or the right of publishing what transpired before a Select Committee prior to the Report of that Committee having been made to the House. But such was not the result. The publication continued, and the Members of the Committee were placed in the very great difficulty—a difficulty which all felt to be very great and very painful—of being either obliged to report from day to day, contrary to the opinion of a large majority of them, or to connive at a daily infringement of the orders of the House, or else to bring the proceedings before the House, to ask the House to proceed to the vindication of its own rights and privileges, and thus have produced a feeling in the public mind, that an hon. Member who took a strong part against the Poor-law Amendment Act was to be visited with punishment in consequence of his opposition to that measure. As the least of these evils we took the course of reporting from day to day the proceedings of the Committee. I am afraid, Sir, that that course must have met with your disapprobation. I know that many Members of the Committee, and many Members of the House, I believe amongst others my hon. Friend, the Chairman of the Committee, disapproved of this course—a course which was taken at my suggestion, and supported by the hon. Baronet, the Member for Buckingham (Sir Thomas Fremantle). Such was the course which we ultimately adopted; but previously to our doing so the hon. Member for Southwark opposing himself to the resolution of the House, continued 1232 his publication, and the rest of the Committee, not willing to take any strong course, allowed the resolution to remain during that time in suspense. Though armed with the resolution of the House to protect its proceedings, and though the hon. Member continued his daring defiance of that resolution, the Committee did not proceed to act upon it; but adopted the milder course, attended as it was with several inconveniences, of reporting its own proceedings from day to day. But, although in the instance of the Poor-law Committee we took the course which we thought the most expedient, yet I must say that I am not prepared again to place upon a Select Committee of this House, nominated by any Member of the Government, an hon. Member who defied the resolution of the House—who stated that he would be guided solely by his own opinion, contrary to the decision of this House, and between whom and the House, if he were again placed upon a Select Committee, a question must arise—one of the questions which are the most injurious to the reputation of the House—namely, a question in which the dissentient Member is made apparently a martyr to the resolutions and proceedings of this House in the vindication of its own privileges. We have known in former days how much popular excitement has been caused by sending the Members of Committees to places of confinement; and we all know that some Members of the House have owed much of their popular reputation to that very resistance to the orders and privileges of the House, of which the hon. Member for Southwark gave an instance upon the Poor-law Committee. I think, then, that the safest course—much as it may be disapproved of—much as it may be made the subject of popular misrepresentation—I still think that the safest course for us to pursue will be to name as fair and just a Committee as we can, but not to place upon it the name of the hon. Member for Southwark. If the House chooses to say "Let our privileges be in abeyance, let all our orders be disobeyed —any Member who pleases shall have his own will and pleasure upon Committees, uncontradicted by the House"—if the House choose to say so, let it be so, but let it not come from us, let it not be said that it was the Government who proposed to invade and trample upon the privileges of the House. I should be forgetful of 1233 the privileges of the House, and unmindful of those serious difficulties in which we were involved in the last Session, and which I am sure no Gentleman who sat upon the Poor-law Committee can ever forget, if I were to propose the nomination of the hon. Member for Southwark upon another Select Committee. I will only in conclusion add, that should the Civil List Act be proceeded with to-night, my right hon. Friend will be ready to give notice of the names he proposes to place upon the Committee.
§ Mr. Hall
regretted that the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Southwark was not to be on the Committee—he having devoted considerable time and labour to the investigation of the pension list, and that in opposition to the different Governments of the day. This subject had now been brought forward for five or six years, and those who were the most deeply interested in it would not consider that full justice was intended to be done if the name of the hon. and learned Member for Southwark were omitted. There were two parties interested in the question—the public and the pensioners. Among the latter was a nobleman, a relative of whom had told him that the wish of that noble Lord was to have the subject fully and fairly investigated, and that he should not consider the subject satisfactorily inquired into unless the hon. and learned Member for Southwark were on the Committee. He was quite sure that 'if that hon. and learned Gentleman were not nominated the object of his right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would at once be defeated. In taking the appointment of the Committee out of the hands of the hon. and learned Member; his right hon. Friend stated that he was anxious to take the whole responsibility of it upon himself. He thought it was desirable that the Government should stand in that responsible situation; but he also was of opinion that at the time his right hon. Friend took upon himself that responsibility, he ought to have stated that it was not the intention of the Government to place the name of the hon. and learned Member on the list. Certain documents having appeared in a public print, he felt justified in adverting to them. They consisted of a letter addressed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the hon. and learned Member for Southwark, and of that hon. and learned 1234 Member's reply. He should say that the statement made by his right hon. Friend had been answered in a manner in which he should conceive every hon. Gentleman would have answered it. If any proposition had been made to him to be on the Committee, but in order to be so it must be a sine qua non that he should forego any right or privilege which he believed that, as a Member of Parliament, he possessed, he would not have consented to be en that Committee. He used the words "right or privilege," because it was a fact that what the hon. and learned Member for Southwark had on a former occasion done had received the approbation and sanction of the House of Commons. He did not mean to say that the course pursued by the hon. and learned Member on the occasion alluded to was that course which he himself should have adopted, still it was a course which was, he repeated, afterwards sanctioned by the House itself. All that the hon. and learned Gentleman did was to publish the evidence taken before the Poor-law Committee, of which he was a Member, from day to day. He would ask, was there anything which could prevent that hon. and learned Gentleman pursuing the same course with respect to the present Committee, whether he was a Member of it or not? Whether a Member or no Member, he would have the same means of information, unless, indeed, it was intended to make it a secret Committee. He would have equal access to the Committee-room; and what power did the House possess by which to prevent him from making public that which he there heard? But this was a point of very minor consideration. The main question was, whether the House would give finality to the inquiry into the pension list. If any question ought to be final—considered with a view of satisfying the public —it was this question, which involved the ascertaining of facts as they really were, but which as they were supposed to be at present, and without inquiry, were odious in the eyes of the public. But no satisfactory inquiry could take place, not only unless the fullest investigation were allowed but unless also the hon. and learned Member, whose name was associated in the minds of the people with the subject of the pension list, and whose determination to enter into every abuse, and capability to direct such an investigation, were included 1235 in the Committee. He believed it was the invariable practice of Parliament, when any person had so devoted his time and talent to the consideration of a subject as to lead to the appointment of a Committee, that such person should be placed on the Committee. This was a practice not merely founded in courtesy, but was also grounded upon wisdom. It was grounded upon wisdom, because it was natural to conclude that any person possessing the information which the devotion of time and attention to any subject must acquire, would be able to afford very essential assistance to the Committee. If ever there was an instance where this rule of the House should be departed from, he thought this was the very last in which it should be so. It would be perfectly useless—he might almost say faithless, if the name of the hon. and learned Gentleman were not placed on this Committee: if, therefore, it was the hon. Baronet's intention to move that this question should take precedence of the other orders of the day, he should give the hon. Baronet his support.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said: I have a choice between two difficulties— one is the interruption of the progress of the Civil List Bill, by the motion introduced by the hon. Member for Caithness to suspend the third reading of the Bill, when undoubtedly at the present period of the year it could not be suspended but at very considerable inconvenience. If, indeed, we were now on the motion for the third reading of that Bill there might be some reason for taking this question of pensions first, but my hon. Friend the Member for the city of London has given a notice on the third reading of the Civil list Bill which will give rise to a debate; therefore, to postpone that third reading beyond to-morrow night may amount to an undefined and inconvenient postponement. I have said that I am perfectly ready to abide the pleasure of the House upon the decision of to-morrow night. Nobody can expect that this Committee should sit before the holidays. If the house should decide that the names to be proposed should be printed before voted upon, I should be perfectly ready to give in the names. Nay, I should be perfectly ready to give in those names tonight I understood from Gentlemen on all sides that what they were desirous of was, the being in the possession of the names twenty-four hours before the Com- 1236 mittee was appointed. That certainly was the suggestion. Gentlemen may change their minds now, but the request I had to encounter originally was, that the House ought to know the names beforehand. But I have no difficulty in saying that I am ready to give the names now, and let us have the discussion. I wish to know in the outset what hon. Gentlemen would have. I understand they wish to have notice of the names on the one hand and to have a discussion on the other. These two propositions are by no means the same; but if it be the pleasure of the House to come to a discussion now, and to throw overboard the question of giving information as to the names, if that be the case, unquestionably I shall lose more time with respect to the Civil List Act by a fruitless discussion now, than by proceeding at once to that which the House desires; therefore I have no objection to the order of the day for appointing the Committee being read but do not let it be said that I have taken hon. Gentlemen by surprise
§ The motion for a Committee of Supply was withdrawn, and the Order of the Day for nominating the Committee on Pensions was agreed to.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
then said: Now that the order of the day has been read I will proceed to the duty of naming the Committee. I hope that the gentlemen who cheer are not among the Gentlemen that are prepared to support the hon. Member for Kilkenny to-morrow; because if that motion, namely that every Member intending to propose the names of Members to serve in a select Committee shall, on the day next before such nomination of Members, place among the notices for the day the names of the Members intended to be proposed as Members of the said Committee— if, I say, that motion be founded in reason, there would be nothing so unjust as for me to be compelled to take the House now by surprise, when I have proposed to give the House full information of the names, that they may be compared to those of a former Committee, in order that hon. Members might ascertain whether they were the names that ought to be put on this Committee or not. The notice given by the hon. Member for Caithness (Sir George Sinclair) embraced two objects— one the inserting the name of the hon. 1237 and learned Gentleman, the Member for Southwark, and the other the insertion of a majority of names on the Committee of Gentlemen who had in former times voted for an inquiry into the pension list. I shall divide my observations in respect to these two propositions. Upon the second proposition I am happy to announce, that the majority of the names on the proposed Committee consists of Gentlemen who voted against the Government on former occasions, and in favour of inquiry. So far the object of the hon. Baronet is answered, and as far as that goes every pledge is given of the sincerity of the Crown in carrying on the inquiry. With respect to the second, or rather the other object, from the statement of my noble Friend, it will be anticipated by the House that the answer must be of a contrary description. It will be for the House to determine whether that answer is or is not founded on just grounds. Sir, I shall appeal upon this subject to the good feeling of all the Members of the House, be their party what they may. I will not attribute to Gentlemen opposite who oppose this inquiry any intention that could be so disingenuous as to endeavour to make this inquiry in its progress odious, distasteful, and hateful to the best feelings of the great mass of the community, by supporting a proposition that could tend to deprive the country of any advantage that otherwise might accrue from this inquiry. I should be very reluctant indeed to have it imagined, that I could consider the insertion of the name of any hon. Gentleman on this Committee could have any such tendency. On the contrary, from the observations I am about, nay, am called upon, to make, from what has fallen from my hon. Friend, the Member for Marylebone (Mr. Hall), it will be shown that I have no such personal objection whatsoever. On the contrary, I say, boldly and unreservedly, it was my desire, my anxious desire, that the hon. and learned Member for Southwark should be a Member of this Committee; and I feel, as my hon. Friend has stated, that unquestionably one who has paid attention to the subject as he has done, and brought the subject under the attention of Parliament is a person whose name must naturally suggest itself as one to be proposed for this inquiry; and any opposition to the name of such a person would be the very circumstance which would deprive the 1238 inquiry and the recommendation of the Committee of their force and weight. But, Sir, what are the regulations of this House, and what are the orders of the House? In the first place, any individual moving' to appoint a Committee is required to communicate with the individuals whose names he wishes to suggest to the House. It was consequently my duty to communicate with the Members whose names I wished to propose. It occurred to me that the best course I could adopt was to select the identical Committee which had already sat upon the civil list. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Harvey) having originally proposed to refer, by way of instruction to that Committee, this very subject of the pension list, it certainly did appear to me, that the most obvious course for me to take would be the re-appointment of that Committee. I accordingly communicated with the Gentlemen who served on that Committee. On the part of several hon. Gentlemen sitting opposite, I found objections to become Members of the proposed Committee. They said they objected to it upon principle. I was then driven to appoint a new Committee. One of the first names which occurred to me was the name of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Harvey), and I took the liberty of addressing to him a letter, which I will now read to the House:—Mr. Spring Rice presents his compliments to Mr. Harvey, and is led to trouble him with the present communication, in consequence of the motion for appointing a Committee on pensions, which Mr. Spring Rice intends to bring on.From the interest which Mr. Haryey has taken in this subject, and the attention which he has paid to it, Mr. Harvey's name would naturally occur to any person selecting the Members of that Committee. But Mr. Spring Rice trusts Mr. Harvey will excuse him if, before he makes such a proposition to the House, he solicits information from Mr. Harvey on a question most essential to the future proceedings of that Committee, if it shall be named by the House.In the Committee on the Poor-laws, appointed last Session, Mr. Harvey communicated to the public, from day to day, the evidence and the proceedings of the Committee, even before they were reported to the House. Mr. Spring Rice does not raise the question, whether such a course was, in that instance, Parliamentary or convenient; but it is evident that where the private affairs, character, and service of individuals maybe made matters of deliberation and inquiry, that pub- 1239 lication of such evidence in any way but in the authentic form of a Report, and of communication to the House itself, would be unjust and inconvenient.Mr. Spring Rice fully anticipates that Mr. Harvey will concur in these opinions, from his observations respecting the duty of such a Committee, and the mode and spirit in which its inquiries should be directed. But, to avoid any difference of opinion or mistake hereafter, Mr. Spring Rice will be much indebted to Mr. Harvey if he will do him the favour of letting him know whether, if appointed a Member of the Committee, he adopts, and will assist the Committee in adhering to the principles laid down in this note.Downing-street, Thursday evening.I put it to the House, whether there is any word in this note that betokens any want of courtesy or respect to the hon. and learned Gentleman? I put it to any Gentleman on either side of the House, whether if he had received this note from me, he would have considered that it indicated either a want of courtesy or of respect on ray part? On the contrary, it will be seen that I endeavoured anxiously to save paining any self-love or affection for bygone opinions which the hon. and learned Gentleman might have entertained. I said, I did not raise the question, whether the course which had been adopted by the hon. and learned Gentleman was Parliamentary or convenient; but I said to the hon. and learned Gentleman that in the peculiarity of this case, and in the particular circumstances under which the Committee is moved for, and under the declarations which the House itself had made in reference to proceedings of Committees, you can have no hesitation in giving me the assurance which I have taken the liberty of asking. And what was that assurance? Let this be distinctly understood, for I know it has been said out of doors, that it was presumption on my part to ask any hon. Member for such an assurance. What, then, did I ask? Why, I asked additional security that the orders of the House of Commons should be strictly adhered to. I did not seek anything from the hon. and learned Gentleman than that which I might enforce either in the House or in Committee. If I undertook the responsibility of suggesting the names of this Committee, I was bound also to take upon me the accompanying responsibility of seeing that the orders of the House should be carried into full and effectual operation. I will now read the 1240 answer of the hon. and learned Gentleman, just premising that when he said that this was an inquiry of a particular character, and one that ought to be carried on with faithfulness, as well to the parties interested as to the public, I really did think that there could not be a doubt as to the answer the hon. and learned Gentleman would give. But now, you who are about to vote upon it, will you do me the favour of listening to the answer I have received, remembering that the request I asked was only that, in the event of his being appointed a Member of the Committee, he would adhere to the resolution unanimously adopted by the House. This was the answer:—Strand, Friday Morning.Sir—Regarding, as I do, the right of publishing the proceedings before Parliamentary Committees to be of the greatest public importance, I cannot consent to place its exercise in abeyance, as the condition of being placed upon a Committee. I readily acknowledge that circumstances may arise which would render such publication not only undesirable, but extremely unjust towards individuals; but I must claim the unfettered exercise of my own judgment in all cases; and which, I may be allowed to remark, is not likely, I trust, to be in a direction less just or considerate than that of persons equally disinterested as myself.D. W. HARVEY.Now, let me bring the House to a consideration of this letter, when compared to their own resolution. The resolution that was entered into on the 26th of April was this:—That according to the undoubted privileges of this House, and from the due protection of the public interest, the evidence taken by any Select Committee of this House, and the documents presented to such Committee, and which have not been reported to the House, ought not to be published by any Member of such Committee, or by any other person.Here is your resolution, which says that a certain thing ought not to be done; and here is an hon. Member of the House who declares, and who claims it as right and privilege to do that thing. I have to ask, that this may be decided between the House and the assumed privilege of a Member. Let the House step in. I have no favour to solicit. I am told, indeed, of the majority on the other side of the House. I care not. I say, here is a Gentleman avowing his intention to violate the rules of the House. The hon. and 1241 learned Gentleman claims as a right and privilege that which the House has decided to be a breach of privilege. If I am guilty in giving a preference to the orders of the House over the laim of the hon. and learned Gentlemen, let the House so decide. If the House prefer his letter to my letter—his opinions to mine —be it so. It is not a question between him and me. Do not let the House think it is. It is a question between their own resolution and a single Member of Parliament, who rising in his place says, I claim that as a privilege which you (the House) say is not a privilege. But I wish, again, to tell the House, that if the hon. Gentleman will, at the present moment, get up and say that he will abide by the orders of the House, I have no kind of objection, on the contrary, I am bound to move myself the insertion of his name. Let every Gentleman, who is about to vote, take that as his guide. If you are resolved to abide by your resolution, then enforce it. If the hon. and learned Gentleman will abide by the resolution, I will myself insert his name. If he refuse, why, although I know of no such question having arisen before, yet I think the House of Commons will not consent to place a Member on a Committee who refuses to declare his determination to abide by the resolutions of the House. Where, I ask, will this end, if the practice once begins? It will not be limited to Committees, but will run through the whole of your proceedings. Does the hon. Member for Bridport mean to make waste paper of all the orders of this House? He may entertain some high and fanciful notions as to introducing new regulations for our proceedings, but that one single Member is to set aside all the most solemn and recorded decisions of the House of Commons can hardly be within even that hon. Gentleman's contemplation. I repeat, that I am ready to name Mr. Harvey, if he will pledge himself to abide by the decision of the House, but if the House, without such a pledge, should place the hon. and learned Gentleman on the Committee, the responsibility will rest with them, and not with me, whatsoever may be the consequences. I have argued this question on general principles. If it were a Committee upon the combination laws, or upon the state of the factories, or of the London Docks, the principles I have laid down are right, and those which it behaves the 1242 House to act upon; because it behaves them to enforce their own regulations. But I beg to say one word with respect to the peculiarity of this inquiry. I will not be induced by any taunts of the hon. Gentlemen opposite with respect to the course I have now taken, as compared with the course I have previously taken, to go one point beyond the single subject-matter now under discussion. But every Gentleman, whether he argue in favour of inquiry, or against inquiry, must be aware, and I cannot appeal to an authority whose words were more strong or more powerful on this point than those of the hon. and learned Gentleman himself—that this inquiry is of a peculiar character; that it may involve private character, private fortune, service rendered, and all manner of disclosures—disclosures, however, that I hold to be necessary under the exigency of the present case. [Hear, hear.] I give the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Oxford (Mr. Maclean) full credit for that cheer. I ask him, are there not circumstances that may be inquired into of the character which I have described? Then what becomes of his cheer? It does not tell against my argument, but, on the contrary, supports it. Then, I put it, if the proceedings of this Committee, before they report, are made known through the daily journals, if a charge is brought against an individual of having received a pension unjustly, and under circumstances which would not justify its continuance, if such evidence as this were made known to the world on Monday, and were to remain without contradiction until Saturday, are you prepared—above all, are you who oppose all inquiry prepared to inflict upon that individual this additional pain of publicity, to the pain which an uncontradicted rumour, an unfounded charge, perhaps, may bring upon him? I say it is not just. If such a publication were right with respect to every other description of inquiry, it would not be right with respect to one of this peculiar character. While I am desirous of giving full and entire effect to the intention of the House of Commons, by obtaining the fullest investigation of all facts connected with the pension list, I am equally desirous, and the House ought to be equally determined, to prevent such an investigation being made the means of harassing and disturbing the private peace and happiness of individuals; and I am 1243 resolved, as far as I can go, that the Committee shall not be used for any such purpose. It is on these grounds—first looking generally to the law and regulations of Parliament, and next looking at the particular case which is before me— that without obtaining the pledge of the hon. and learned Gentleman, I do not feel warranted in putting his name upon the Committee. Let him give that pledge now, and I shall be ready to vote for him. Or let him say he will not give that pledge, and then vote for him if you will; I cannot. This is the alternative. Let him say that he considers he was called upon by my letter in too categorical a manner, and that it required him to condemn himself, but that now he is ready to adhere to the decisions of this House. The hon. and learned Gentleman says himself, in his answer to my letter, that "circumstances may arise which would render such a publication inexpedient and unjust to individuals, but he reserves to himself the full power of exercising his own judgment in all cases." Now, I do not wish to leave to the hon. and learned Gentleman the power to comment upon the orders of the House of Commons. All I ask is, that he will engage to adhere to them. If you are disposed to depart from those rules, then strike them out of your journals. If you approve of them, give me your support and authority to ask for an engagement that they will be observed by those whose names I propose for a Committee. I shall now take the liberty to read the names, which, of course, do not include the name of the hon. end learned Gentleman. They are, Lord John Russell, Mr. Grote (who voted for a previous inquiry), Mr. Bannerman (who voted for a previous inquiry), Mr. Plumptre (who voted for a previous inquiry), Mr. Hume (who voted for a previous inquiry), Mr. Sanford, Mr. Hawes (who voted for a previous inquiry), Mr. Alderman Copeland, Mr. William Evans (who was not then in Parliament), Mr. Pendarves (who voted for a previous inquiry), Sir Eardley Wilmot, Mr. Handley (who voted for a previous inquiry), Lord Ebrington, Mr. Rickford (who voted for a previous inquiry), Mr. Strutt, Mr. Macleod, Mr. Goddard, Mr. Philpotts, Mr. George Evans, Mr. Villiers Steuart (all of whom voted for a previous inquiry), and, if the House choose to nominate me, myself. The majority of the Gentlemen, therefore, whom I have 1244 named, voted on former occasions for inquiry, and against the then Government, and it cannot be said that I have not fairly adopted a material part of one of the suggestions which have been made. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving, that the Committee consist of twenty-one Members.
§ Mr. Hume, before the proposed names were read from the Chair, wished to remark, that as the full number of twenty-one was proposed, the House could not, consistently with its standing order, add the name of the hon. Member for Southwark without proceeding to the invidious task of rejecting one of the names mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
observed, that it was open to any hon. Member to move that the Committee should be increased beyond the usual number.
§ Sir G. Sinclair
said, that the arguments which had been used for the exclusion of the hon. Gentleman appeared to him very like those which would be urged if it were the desire of the Government that there should be no inquiry at all. After listening with the utmost attention to the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman, and the Member for Southwark, he must say, that in his estimation, that hon. Member was perfectly justified in not giving the assurance required. Without taking into consideration the question, as to what was the law of Parliament upon this subject, he would simply say, that the moment the hon. Member for Southwark infringed that law, the House should visit him with its censure. Let it be stated by the Chairman of the Committee that the hon. and learned Gentleman was infringing any resolution of the House or decision of the Committee, and such conduct would meet with condign punishment. It was really a very hard case,, that such a stipulation as that which was demanded by the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, should be required from the hon. Member, and yet asked of no other Member of that House. The hon. and learned Gentleman owed it to himself and to his character as a Member of Parliament not to accept of any appointment by the right hon. Gentleman to any other Committee, if this appointment were refused. There were circumstances with which the hon. Member for Southwark had been previously concerned, which must make it peculiarly 1245 painful to his feelings to be thus excluded in the present instance. He alluded thus slightly to those circumstances, merely for the purpose of showing the House that it was the more incumbent on them to protect the hon. Member under existing circumstances. Without the name and assistance of that hon. Member, the Committee might as well not sit at all. It was worthy of observation that the hon. and learned Gentleman had not been appointed a member of the Civil List Committee either. He had only to say, with regard to the names of the Gentlemen whom the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to form the Committee at present under consideration, that as far as he was able to form an opinion, the Committee was a very fair one; but that if the name of the hon. Member for Southwark did not appear on that Committee, the public at large would never be satisfied. He did not wish to detain the House, but in this matter he thought he had been left without any other alternative, and he would, therefore, conclude by moving that the Committee should consist of twenty-two, the name of Mr. Harvey being added.
§ Mr. Maclean
seconded the motion. The arguments used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer were such that, if they were acceded to, they would stamp upon that House a character unpleasant to possess, and most difficult to efface. The same might also be said of those of the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department. The argument of the noble Lord was, that on former occasions the hon. Member for Southwark had transgressed the rules of the House; and the confession of the noble Lord which followed that argument gave him considerable pain, because in it the noble Lord admitted that, sooner than bring the hon. Member for Southwark to the bar of the House for a violation of its privilege, the Committee alluded to permitted him to carry his point—that is, give publicity to its proceedings from day to day. The noble Lord had excused that course by saying, that a reference to history would show that many men had made the reputation of martyrs by prosecution for resistance to the privileges of that House; but what need was there to fear such a result in the case of the hon. Member for Southwark? If such a consummation were undesirable, why did not the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer come down, and ask the 1246 House to rescind the resolution which stood in the way of the hon. Member's appointment to the Committee? Why, in short, did he exclude him from the Committee at all? The House had no need of a guardian: it was able to protect its own privileges. But what was to be said of the noble Lord who had first obtained a resolution of the House and then shrunk from enforcing it, while it was apparent to every one that the arguments of the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer were far more favourable to the hon. Member for Southwark's cause than they were to that he sought to defend? The right hon. Gentleman wished to strike a bargain with the hon. Member; but the hon. Member was perfectly right in refusing to make it with him. It was perfectly consistent with the course he had always taken on the subject. If the hon. Member violated the privileges of the House, the House had the remedy in its own hands. So much for the general ground of opposition to the hon. Member. But the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer had put it on a particular ground also; for he had urged the pain that would be inflicted and the injustice done an individual by the publication of an ex parte uncontradicted report for a week. But would it not have a much better effect if the right hon. Gentleman, instead of appealing in that manner to the feelings of the House, had called on it to enforce its own resolution, and to take care that neither the hon. Member for Southwark, nor any other hon. Member, should commit any such injury? But independent of that plea—and a strong one it was, he would admit—whatever might be the issue of the inquiry about to be entered on, he (Mr. Maclean) was fully convinced that it would not give the public satisfaction so long as the hon. Member for Southwark was excluded from the Committee, inasmuch as it was he who had virtually and really originated it. As one of those who opposed the motion for an inquiry on the subject—as one of those (and they were many) who believed the speeches of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Stamford, and the noble Lord, the Member for North Lancashire, on that occasion, unanswerable—he felt called on to say, that if the name of the hon. Member were not amongst those who formed the Committee, the whole matter would be but a mockery of Parliament. It would, moreover, be an admission of its impotence to 1247 punish a transgressor of its rules or an infractor of its privileges; and make itself a subject of laughter for every one.
§ Viscount Ebrington
agreed in the opinion that for the sake of information the name of the hon. Member for Southwark ought to be added, but whilst he agreed in this opinion, he must, at the same time, say, that he thought that the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had afforded to the House the fullest justification for not putting the hon. and learned Member on the Committee. The hon. and learned Member for Oxford, and other hon. Gentlemen had said, put the learned Gentleman upon the Committee, and then if he violate any privilege, give to him the most condign punishment; but what would have been said if his right hon. Friend had pursued such a course? Would it not have been urged, "You put me upon the Committee knowing my opinions, knowing that I retained those opinions, and with an experience of how I should act, and you have not acted fairly by now taking exception to the consequences of my opinions?" Would it not have been said that the Government had acted with treachery by putting the hon. and learned Gentleman on the Committee, and thus inducing him to commit the offence which it knew well he would commit, and by then bringing him to the bar. Would not such a course have been considered most mean, and would there not have been the strongest grounds for complaint. They had been told, that the House had a high duty to discharge to itself; but it had also a duty to perform to individuals. He had voted for an inquiry, which he intended to be most full and searching; but at the same time he was anxious that no unnecessary aggravation should be given to the pain inflicted on individuals, and that no unnecessary disclosures should take place; and he thought that the publication of ex parte statements day by day, before the parties had an opportunity of explaining the circumstances, would have the effect of conveying to the public the falsest impressions. He had no wish to speak disrespectfully of the hon. Member for Southwark; he had no right to impeach his discretion in that or any other case; but, after the course which that hon. Gentleman had taken in the Committee on the Poor-law, he, for one, could not consent to 1248 his being appointed a Member of this Committee, to publish day by day ex parte proceedings. On these grounds he should vote for the proposition of his right hon. Friend, that the number of the Committee should be limited to twenty-one.
§ Lord Castlereagh
would never give a factious vote in that House, and he was least of all disposed to do so on the present occasion. The House had consented to the inquiry into the pension list, and to that inquiry the hon. and learned Member for Southwark could bring more information than almost any other Member, and he (Lord Castlereagh) could not understand on what grounds it was that the noble Lord refused to admit his name. He saw no objection to the fullest inquiry into all the pensions. He feared no ill consequences from the most ample investigation, and he had opposed the original motion only from a principle of justice, that the House ought not to rip up old stories. Was it the searching eye of the hon. and learned Member that the Government feared—did they dread his influence? He (Lord Castlereagh) would ask them to let the public have the benefit of the powerful, and searching, and acute mind of the hon. and learned Member, and he for one thought that the hon. Gentleman would do as much credit to the Committee, and bring as large a supply of facts before them, as any hon. Gentleman whom he saw on the benches opposite.
§ Mr. Warburton
said, that if hon. Members acted on the principle laid down by the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it would amount to a general proscription of the hon. and learned Member, not from that Committee alone, but from every Select Committee. Any hon. Member might ask the same question as to any other inquiry which any hon. Gentleman might institute, or the House might approve. It might be asked, "Do you intend, if you are placed on the Committee, to use the means which this may afford you, of publishing the proceedings in a newspaper." And the same answer being given as in this case, the hon. and learned Gentleman would, as a matter of course, be excluded. Without meaning to cast any reflection on the Government, he certainly thought that the course which had been pursued was precisely the course which he should have himself taken if he had wished entirely to exclude the hon. Gentleman from the Committee. Its inevitable effect 1249 was to exclude the hon. Gentleman from the Committee, saving at the same time the appearance of doing so, by giving him an opportunity of rejecting the opinions which he was known to entertain. He thought that the hon. and learned Member was, as a man of honour, bound to give the answer which he had done. He had been asked by the right hon. Gentleman, whether he would not obey the order of the House, and whether he would appoint on a Committee, as in this case, an hon. Member who declared that he would not regard them. Now he had never known the House run a race with the newspapers relative to the publication of its proceedings, in which it had not been beaten." [Hear, hear.] He should like the hon. Member who cried "Hear," to point out any period where the House was a gainer in such a contest. Why, the publication of their debates, and of any portion of their proceedings, was an infringement of the orders of the House, committed every day; and he justified the publication and the infringement, because' they admitted more light on their proceedings. He had never known any good arise from any secret proceeding of that House. He had never known anything pass even in what was called a secret Committee which might not have been proclaimed without injury at Charing-cross. He recollected perfectly well, that on one occasion, when a debate took place in that House with closed doors, his hon. Friend, the Member for Kilkenny and himself, made the best report which they could; it appeared in the newspapers on the following morning; his hon. Friend and himself had been called to account; they had confessed themselves the reporters; and, on the same principle, that they now asked the hon. and learned Member, "Will you agree not to publish the evidence before a Committee?" The House ought to have punished him (Mr. Warburton) for publishing the debate, and they might have excluded his hon. Friend and himself from the House, unless they would promise not again to infringe the standing order against publishing a debate which took place with closed doors, and furnishing it to the newspapers. The hon. and learned Member was willing to abide by the consequences of any infringement which he might make, just as the gentlemen, then in the gallery, were will-ins: to abide by the consequences of their 1250 transgression, and just as the hon. Member for Kilkenny and himself were willing to abide by their acts. He could look upon the present proceeding only in the light of an side and foolish attempt to shut out the day light. It was well known that the debates were published every day; and he had never seen any ill effects resulting from it. He looked upon the proposal to exclude his hon. and learned Friend from the Committee as unjust to the public. His appointment was what the public had a right to expect. He could not see any mischief which could arise from his nomination, and his exclusion would give great dissatisfaction to the public, who would think that they were not fairly dealt with.
§ Sir Robert Peel
would shortly state the grounds on which he should give his vote upon the present question. He need not repeat what he had before stated, that he entirely dissented from the course taken by her Majesty's Government in consenting to the nomination of this Committee; he still thought that the inquiry was most unjust, and that if it had been entered upon at all—if the responsible advisers of the Crown at the termination of the arrangements theretofore existing, caused by the demise of his late Majesty, had advised an inquiry—it ought to have been undertaken by the Crown itself, for he was convinced that the Government ought to take all the responsibility devolving upon them. It would have been infinitely better that the Government should have performed this duty, if duty they conceived it to be; but if, as the noble Lord had stated at the beginning of the Session, the responsible advisers of the Crown were not disposed to originate an inquiry, he did think that it was their duty to have resisted it. Either of these courses would have been infinitely better for the dignity and prerogative of the Crown; and even if they had not been able to have offered an effectual resistance to inquiry by a Committee, he thought that they ought to have allowed it to have been the act of the House of Commons itself; and that it ought not to have been adopted by that House on the advice of her Majesty's Ministers. He entertained such strong objections upon principle to the course which had been adopted, that he had himself declined to act upon the Committee; and though on other occasions, even after he had entertained doubts upon the propriety 1251 of the appointment of any Committee, if the sense of the House appeared to be in favour of it, and if a mere matter of policy were involved in the inquiry, he had never declined to serve; but where, as in this case, a point of justice intervened, he had felt it imperative upon him to decline taking any part in the labours of the Committee. He had declined in his own case to take upon himself any responsibility in this matter, and the question now was, whether he should transfer this responsibility by suggesting the nomination of any other Members of the Committee—whether he should vote for the insertion of any other hon. Member's name. This was a question on which he should be very much inclined, if he thought it consistent with his character of a Representative to adopt such a course, not to give a vote; but he held that such was a most shabby proceeding; and there were but few cases which justified a retirement from the House without voting. He could not reconcile it with his duty to evade the responsibility of saying aye or no to the present question; and he declared, without hesitation, that he should vote against the amendment moved by his hon. Friend, the Member for Caithness (Sir George Sinclair). He would place on no other Member the responsibility which he had himself declined—he would suggest the name of no hon. Member to be a party to any act of that Committee. He found, that of the twenty-one suggested Members, fifteen were from that (the Ministerial) side of the House, and only six from amongst his friends. Of this, he made no complaint—he cared not for the proportion of Members from one side or the other; but he adopted the broad principle of avoiding the suggestion of any name. He did not attach so much weight as some hon. Members seemed to do to the reason assigned by the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for his refusal to insert the hon. Gentleman's name, because he misunderstood the privileges of the House; but there was another reason, which would induce him to oppose the insertion of the hon. Gentleman's name. When he (Sir Robert Peel) considered the nature of the inquiries which must take place before the present Committee, when he recollected the course which the hon. Gentleman had taken in the Poor-law Committee—when he understood that he intended to pursue the same course 1252 —when he refused to be bound by the usual regulations of that House—when he declared his intention of altering the object of a Select Committee—when he asserted his right to select any cases which he might deem proper, to choose a particular newspaper, and to place day by day before the public the state of the inquiry, before an explanation could be given, he (Sir Robert Peel) did think that there were other grounds besides those which had been stated by the right hon. Gentleman why the name of the hon. and learned Member ought not to be added to the Committee. The hon. Member for Marylebone had, indeed, stated, that the House could not prevent the evasion by the hon. and learned Member for Southwark of his non-appointment on the Committee, for that every Member of the House had a right to attend, though not to vote, on every Committee which the House might appoint. But it was said, that the hon. Member might be present, and could publish the proceedings. The hon. Member might do so possibly, and there would be a difficulty in preventing it; but, then, there was a difference between tolerating what they could not prevent, and being a party to the sanction of that act which the House disapproved of. Hence, what he was to look for was the best manner of administering impartial justice, and enforcing the regulations of that House; and if he failed in accomplishing these objects, he should at least have the satisfaction of knowing, that he had endeavoured to do his best. Hence the proposition was, that he should be the party to the nomination of a Gentleman who claimed to himself the privilege of violating: the rules of the House, and if, after such a declaration from that Gentleman, he was a party to that nomination, then his position would be very different from what it would when he took away from the same Gentleman the chance of doing that which he believed to be unjust and contrary to the regulations of the House. The hon. Gentleman, the Member for Southwark, he was sure, would acquit him of any intention of saying anything disrespectful towards him: it was really very painful for him to have to express his opinion upon this point; but, as the proposition was forced on him, he told the hon. Gentleman fairly, that he must refuse to concur in his appointment upon such a Committee; 1253 and simply for this reason, that he had heard him express opinions with respect to the principles upon which such an inquiry ought to be conducted; he had heard that hon. Gentleman throw such suspicions upon the motives which influenced the grants in these cases, he had heard him indulge in such sarcasms upon the persons to whom these pensions were paid, that it was actually impossible for him in any manner to incur the responsibility of his appointment upon any such Committee. He said, too, most distinctly, that he should feel bound to oppose the proposition of the hon. Gentleman being placed upon the Committee. He said so particularly after the two speeches which, in the course of the present Session, he had heard that hon. Gentleman deliver with respect to the pension list. And when he considered, that females of high birth and great amiability were liable to be brought before that Committee, he could not, after the speeches that had been made, and the suspicions cast out, take upon himself the responsibility of concurring in that hon. Gentleman's appointment. For these reasons he must vote against any such proposition.
§ Mr. Hume
remarked, that the right hon. Gentleman objected to the appointment of the hon. Member for Southwark on account of the speeches he had made with regard to the pension list. Now he might be objected to also; for that hon. Gentleman had not stated a single opinion upon this subject in which he did not most fully concur; and that hon. Gentleman had even made concessions with regard to the subject which he would not be inclined to make.
§ Sir R. Peel
said, that if the name of the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Kilkenny were proposed to be placed on the same Committee he should have resisted it. At present, however, the objection was merely to the nomination of the hon. Member for Southwark. He objected, however, to undertake any responsibility in the nomination of the Committee. He had said his objection to the nomination of the hon. Member for Southwark rested upon the principle upon which he sought to have the inquiry conducted. That hon. Gentleman had expressed a strong opinion as to applying the same rules which were adopted under the Poor-law to the persons whose names were on the pension list, and while doing 1254 this they had heard sarcasms and personal allusions from the hon. Gentleman, which every one of them must recollect; there was, too, something in the tone and manner of the hon. Gentleman which was quite as significant as his expressions. When, then, he recollected that tone and manner, and considered the speeches he had made, and the parties that were to be before the Committee, he could not vote for the hon. Gentleman.
Mr. Matthias Attwood
did not consider that the right hon. Gentleman had made out a sufficient case to justify him in opposing the appointment of the hon. Member for Southwark on the Committee. The tone and manner of an hon. Member in addressing that House could never, in his opinion, be a sufficiently strong reason for excluding him from a Committee. He thought that the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in excluding the hon. Member for Southwark from the Committee was guilty of an usurpation of power, and an infringement of the privileges of the people; for he deprived a Member of one of the most important duties that his constituents sent him to discharge.
§ Viscount Howick
observed, that it had been remarked by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, that the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in excluding the hon. Member for Southwark, had been guilty of an usurpation of power and an infringement of the privileges of the people, by excluding that Member from one of the most important duties which his constituents sent him to discharge. His answer to such a charge was, that her Majesty's Ministers did not wish to deprive the hon. Member of the power of discharging any one of those duties. It rested with the hon. Member for Southwark, and it rested only with the hon. Member himself, to say whether he was or was not a proper person to be placed upon a Committee, and especially in such a case as this. What were the circumstances under which they were called upon to make a decision? The House had determined, and in his opinion they had determined most properly, that evidence until reported to that House by the Select Committee appointed to receive it should not be published by any Member of that Committee, or by any other person. It was not, as the hon. and learned Mem- 1255 ber for Oxford supposed, a mere question as to the time at which the publication was to take place, but it was a question whether evidence not reported to the House should be published by any Member of a Committee. He appealed to every Gentleman who was in the habit of sitting on Committees whether one of the questions most frequently discussed by them was not this, whether particular evidence was or was not fit for publication? He saw then an hon. Baronet (Sir W. Molesworth) sitting next to the hon. Member for Southward. That hon. Baronet, he was sure, could not have forgotten that last year, when he was Chairman of the Select Committee on transportation, a great deal of evidence had been given which it was the unanimous opinion of that Committee was not fit for publication; and before they agreed upon the reported evidence to the House they struck out of it the portions he referred to from the minutes of the Committee. What then was the pretension set up by the hon. Gentleman? It was this. The question rested with the discretion of the Committee to decide as to publication. That was a very nice and a very delicate question to determine. Evidence might then come before the Committee, and if a majority of that Committee pronounced against publication, and the hon. Member for Southwark was on the Committee, he by his sole will and determination had the power of over-ruling the decision of the Committee. And whereas the twenty-one Members proposed by his right hon. Friend might say, "This or that evidence is not on the whole desirable to publish," yet the hon. Member for Southwark could say, "You may decide as you please— You twenty-one Members may so determine, and your judgment may be very good; but in spite of the resolution you have unanimously come to, and in defiance of the rules of the House that evidence is not to be published which you do not sanction, in spite of all that, I think the evidence ought to be published, and it shall appear in the newspapers to-morrow, in despite of your opposition." The hon. Member might not use that which he seemed to consider was his privilege to that extent; but neither to that bon. Member nor any other Member could he think of giving a discretion and a power of overruling the decision of the majority of every Committee of which he 1256 chanced to be a Member. The decision of the majority, in his opinion, ought to be binding. He must say with the right hon. Baronet opposite this much with respect to the speeches of the hon. Member for Southwark, that, without wishing to say anything disrespectful of him, they proved that he at least was not a fit person with whom to leave such a discretionary power. He said that the hon. Member in the exercise of that which he believed to be his conscientious judgment might come to a different conclusion from the Committee as to what evidence ought to be published and what not. There was, too, a farther consideration to be borne in mind beyond the decision of what evidence ought and ought not to be published. There was the further question of the evidence being published in a complete and authentic form. That evidence was taken down by short-hand writers employed under the revision of the Chairman, and they were responsible to the House for their accuracy. He said, then, that he did not admit the right of volunteer reporters bringing forward that evidence in such a form, and published in such a manner, as might suit their own opinions or their wishes. The House, too, must not forget that there were many circumstances which made this question, at the present moment, of peculiar importance. Hon. Gentlemen could hardly have forgotten the question of their right to protect publications printed under their authority. In all the discussions upon that point it was declared to be of the utmost importance that their Committees should exercise a sound discretion as to what questions were proposed and what evidence was received by them, in order that they might avoid as much as possible doing an injury to private individuals. If, then, they put that responsibility on the Committee, were they to allow individuals in opposition to the Committee, and in spite of their rules, to publish that evidence, the publication of which they might desire to avoid? He agreed as to the importance of maintaining a rule which had been unanimously affirmed by the House last year. He concurred, too, with the right hon. Baronet, that there was a great distinction in placing an hon. Member on a Committee, and in avowing his determination to violate the rules of the House (which he thought the means could be found of preventing), and not con- 1257 trolling him in taking advantage of what he considered to be his privilege in publishing the evidence given before the Committee. But the hon. Gentleman affirmed, that he would not consent to obey the rules of the House—he even told the House he would violate them. The hon. Member for Bridport had indeed said, that they had always got the worst in all their attempts to control publication. With respect to the debates in that House, he agreed that all attempts to prevent their publication had been, and ought to have been defeated. But with respect to the proceedings before their Select Committee the case was very different. Having, in the course of his duties, served upon several of those Committees, he could say that it was, from his experience, a matter of considerable importance that a sound discretion should be exercised in not publishing evidence that was given before Committees. He referred to the Slavery Committee, the Transportation Committee, and many others: in them that discretion had been exercised, and they effectually prevented that which they excluded from being subsequently published. He would, before sitting down, remark upon the unfortunate proofs which a noble Lord opposite (Lord Castlereagh) had afforded them of his indisposition to give a factious vote; for he had, unfortunately, come, down with a prepared speech —a speech prepared for his case, which he was aware of—of their unwillingness to place the hon. Member for Southwark on the Committee, but which was not at all suited to meet the reason that they assigned for it—namely, that the hon. Member would not be bound by the resolutions of the House. Let the hon. Member now say distinctly in his place, that he would be bound by them. It was, he considered, no impeachment upon the honour of any Gentleman, to declare that he would be bound by rules of the House unanimously agreed to. If he would do so, the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer would move that he be placed upon the Committee.
§ Viscount Castlereagh
considered, that at the end of the noble Lord's observations, an unwarrantable allusion had been made to him. He assured the noble Lord, that he did not come down to that House with a prepared speech. He hoped the noble Lord could say the same thing. The noble Lord was incorrect in another 1258 instance, for it so happened that he was quite aware of the subject of debate, and was apprised of the intention of the hon. Member for Southwark to publish whatever might be debated in Committee. Now, he, in his simplicity of mind, thought, the House of Commons could correct that error in the hon. Member for Southwark, while, at the same time, his (Lord Castlereagh's) wish was to expose to the public the plan adopted by her Majesty's Government, and who, while pretending; to court inquiry into the pension list, adopted the very best means they could think of of covering it over and sheltering it from observation. He had risen to explain, and he could not now sit down without congratulating the noble Lord on having entirely misinterpreted his sentiments.
§ Viscount Howick
remarked, that the noble Lord's explanation left the matter considerably more obscure than it had been before.
§ An Hon. Member considered the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had very properly refused to have any share in the responsibility of the nomination of the Committee. Now, though he approved of the course the right hon. Gentleman was disposed to adopt, yet for himself he must say, that he would take what the right hon. Gentleman had designated the "shabby" course, by not voting at all upon this question.
§ Mr. Wakley
had listened with very great attention to the debate, and he confessed was not a little puzzled to discover the proper conclusion which he ought to draw from the observations that had been made. The right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer had informed the House, that at the very outset the name of the hon. Member for Southwark suggested itself as the first that should be placed on the Committee; then the right hon. Gentleman observed, that the hon. Gentleman had made a speech which would induce him to be adverse to his nomination; and then the noble Lord, the Secretary at War, had informed the House, that her Majesty's Government considered that from the expressions used by the hon. Gentleman, it would be in the highest degree inexpedient to have such a person on the Committee. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, acknowledged very frankly that the line of examination likely to be adopted by the hon. Member for Southwark, would render it impossible 1259 for him to give his consent to place that hon. Gentleman on the Committee. Now he said, that if he could believe that such a mode of examination would be adopted by the hon. Member for Southwark, as that which they had a precedent for under the grinding principles of the new Poor-law, he never would vote for the introduction of the hon. Member for Southwark amongst the Members of the Committee. He never could be guilty of the double injustice of seeing what was practised under the Poor-law Act, and sanctioning the same cold-blooded and cruel system towards the parties who received pensions. It was not the fault of the most of them who were on the pension list that they were there—the fault lay with those who placed them on it. He, for one, never would subject such persons to the searching and cruel examinations which some Members of that House appeared to think would be instituted. Reference had been made to the conduct of the hon. Member for Southwark on the Poor-law Committee. He must say of that conduct, that he had never seen anything more fair, more honourable, nor more intrepid. The hon. Member had, with respect to the publications complained of, declared himself to be their author. The hon. Member had said, "If you believe that I am violating the privileges of the House, take the sense of the House upon it. Carry the question before the House, and I shall not tell you at present what I mean to do after you have a resolution of the House." In giving these publications, the hon. Member had made the poor of the kingdom, and the friends of the poor, acquainted with what was passing in the Committee, and he said to them, "If you have complaints to make, let them be made now, for here is a Committee sitting." Was it not, he asked, a farce to be so nice about a breach of their privileges, when within a few yards of them they beheld their privileges violated daily? Was it not a violation of their privileges to publish their debates, and yet were they not published daily, and would the people of England submit to it, if they were not published daily? He was glad that the people would be able to see how a man was treated in that House who stood up for popular rights, a man whose talents were an honour and a dignity to that assembly, and who shed a lustre upon every subject that he discussed. It was 1260 a disgrace to that. House, to have permitted him to be so long and so violently persecuted. As to the inquiry respecting the Woods and Forests, the hon. Member had been excluded from it; neither was he permitted to be on the inquiry into charities, when twenty unknown persons were placed on the commission. The people of England, he could assure them, were not unmindful of these things; and, instead of inflicting an injury upon the hon. Member, the attempt to stamp degradation upon him, by presenting him to the world as an individual with whom the Members of her Majesty's Government would not associate in a Committee, would reflect honour upon him throughout the nation. He had seen enough of that House to know, that if a man there stood up for popular rights, he must always calculate upon violent persecution.
§ Mr. E. L. Bulwer
said, that having served on Committees of that House with the hon. and learned Member for Southwark, he could state that he had always known the hon. and learned Gentleman to have sincerely and conscientiously discharged his duty. He had always said, Unit the hon. and learned Member for Southwark was an ill-used and injured man. Before, however, he approached the subject under the consideration of the House he must state that the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Wakley), began his speech with the most extraordinary misstatement possible. That hon. Member had put into the mouth of the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the sentiments which had fallen from the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tarn-worth. His right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had not uttered a single sentence respecting the opinions of the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Southwark, upon the analogy he had drawn between the Poor-laws and pensions. The hon. Member for Finsbury had also misstated the sentiments of the noble Lord, the Member for Northumberland. That noble Lord (Lord Howick), did not say that there was anything in the sentiments of the hon. and learned Member for Southwark, which should preclude him from serving on this Committee; but he did say, that there was something in his (Mr. Harvey's) sentiments which ought to make them feel doubly the responsibility of entrusting the hon. and learned Member with discretionary power. He 1261 approached this question with great reluctance. He certainly did think, that the Committee would not be satisfactory, if the name of the hon. and learned Member for Southwark were omitted. But he had to consider this, whether it was not the greater evil of the two, that they should suffer one man, however able and influential, openly to disregard and disdain an express resolution of that House. The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Maclean), and other hon. Members who had spoken on this question, appear to think that punishment was better than prevention. Instead of endeavouring to prevent the consequences that would occur to the hon. and learned Gentleman if he persisted in committing a breach of privilege, those hon. Members seemed to exult in the prospect of the hon. and learned Member being brought, to the bar of that House. What would the House do in that case, supposing the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Southwark, persisted in his publication? Would they send for the publisher or printer of The True San, and send him to Newgate, or would they vote for the expulsion of the hon. and learned Member? There might be resolutions of the House of which it was very desirable that the infringement should be punished, but some of those resolutions might be strained too hardly. He had seen enough of discussions on breaches of privilege, and he thought the House would do perfectly right to prevent their being dragged into one if possible. The real question before the House was this— that they had to do justice to the public, to satisfy the public mind, and to remove misrepresentation. If the hon. and learned Member for Southwark were to have the power of ex parte publication, instead of satisfying the public mind, he would only inflame and irritate it the more. Besides, they had a duty to do towards the pensioners. They would not look for justice from the Committee if they saw one Member intrusted with power, which none of the other Members had, and that man, too, the most eloquent, the most inveterate, and the most consistent of their enemies. Under all the circumstances, what had Government to do? They never said —and let it go forth to the people, and be rightly understood—they never said, or proposed to say, that the hon. and learned Member for Southwark ought not to be placed on the Committee. He clearly 1262 understood them not so to have said. On the contrary, they came forward and did justice to his talents and services, and invited him to become a Member of the Committee. They stated, that they fully appreciated the services which the hon. and learned Gentleman had rendered, but that, if compelled to form a choice, they would prefer even to his assistance, valuable though it might be, the certainty of fair play towards all parties. They preferred also, as men standing up for the dignity of the House, the declared resolution of the House to the opinion of an individual Member, and they preferred rather to prevent a breach of privilege than to punish it after it was committed. He would only say further, that, having invariably voted with the hon. and learned Member for Southwark on all his motions for inquiry, he thought it but fair and manly in the present instance to state that it was with a feeling of regret he was compelled to vote against him on the present occasion; but he trusted that the hon. and learned Member would save further discussion by saying that which no man need be ashamed of saying, and that without in any way submitting or succumbing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the hon. and learned Gentleman would make that statement which, in his opinion, the House had a right to expect.
§ Mr. Borthwick
said, that if the hon. and learned Member for Southwark had been asked to give a pledge, and had refused it, he thought that his exclusion from the Committee would be proper. But he would like to know, whether the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had gone to the other twenty-one Members of the Committee and put to them questions such as he had put to the hon. and learned Member for Southwark? He would support the motion of the hon. Baronet, the Member for Caithness, because in doing so he was vindicating the right of the House to maintain their own resolutions, and to punish those who dared to violate them.
regretted to be compelled on this occasion to differ from the course taken by the Government. He thought that the course Government was taking would be unpopular, and deservedly unpopular, in the country. There were two grounds, of a personal and general nature, on which the hon. and learned Member for Southwark was excluded from the 1263 Committee. The personal ground of objection was confined to a publication, in a former Parliament, of evidence taken before a Committee. Now, if the hon. and learned Member had acted wrongfully, it was a matter which ought to have been brought substantively before the House. The hon. and learned Member for Southwark had challenged inquiry and trial; why were they refused? On general grounds, he thought that the Committee should not be of one side; he was anxious that there should be an appearance of fairness and of a fair investigation. He did not believe that there was anything in the conduct of the hon. and learned Member for Southwark which would preclude fair inquiry. If they rejected the hon. and learned Member, the country, which had for many years known that the hon. and learned Member had called for an investigation into the pension list— which had seen that call at length attended to, and the question taken out of the hon. and learned Member's hands— the country, he would repeat, would not place much confidence in the report of a Committee on the pension list if the hon. and learned Member for Southwark were excluded from the Committee.
§ Sir A. Dalrymple
rose amidst loud cries for Mr. Harvey. The hon. Baronet was understood to say, that he would follow the course chalked out by the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth.
§ Mr. Harvey
said, that before he proceeded to make a few remarks on the subject matter of discussion, he could not forego the pleasure of offering the thanks of a grateful and generous heart to his hon. Friend, the Member for Lincoln, and also to the hon. Baronet, the Member for Caithness, for his noble, and manly, and kind-hearted expressions of opinion arising from a long and disinterested attention to the investigation in which he had been so deeply interested; he could not help also stating his hope and belief, as he was not one of those who disconnected the destinies of man with higher justice, that the time was not remote when men, forgetting the low and grovelling conflicts of party, would not be the less inclined to believe him because it had been his misfortune to have suffered one of the most severe, the most relentless courses of persecution that had ever been inflicted by an irresponsible despotism. Having said thus much, he would come to the question. He could 1264 not concede to the Chancellor of the Exchequer the truth of his anxiety to place him on this Committee. The pretension was falsified on three palpable grounds. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that he originally proposed that the Civil List Committee upon which his (Mr. Harvey's) name did not appear, should be the only Committee to which the inquiry into pensions should be committed. What, then, did the Chancellor of the Exchequer mean by telling the House, and through the House telling the country, that from the beginning he thought him (Mr. Harvey) one of the first who ought to be appointed? The Chancellor of the Exchequer had himself stated that the same Committee should inquire into the pension list that had carried through the civil list reform. He would then come to the letter which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had written. He would say nothing which should challenge the right of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, from his official position, to send letters to Members of that House which any other Member of that House would not have ventured to have written. But he should like to know by what right the Chancellor of the Exchequer called a Member of that House into Downing-street, to ask him what he would do, or what he would not do. But when the Chancellor of the Exchequer had so done, though his (Mr. Harvey's) letter was written in a hurry, he would venture to say, that if the correspondence were placed on the votes of the House, and subjected to the deliberate and calm consideration of its Members, it would be at once ascertained that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had come to a conclusion that was untenable. What was his reply? Whilst on the one hand he spurned the indignity that was attempted to be put upon him by leading him into an unworthy contract, he said he would indeed be disqualified from holding a seat in that House, or to associate in any way with Gentlemen, if he had consented to any agreement of the kind, and that he would not for a moment consent that a great public right should in his humble person be prejudiced by making contemptible conditions in order to get placed on a hardworking Committee. He did also say, and he unfeignedly repeated it, that there might be circumstances in which it would be not only undesirable but highly unjust to 1265 publish evidence in the way alluded to. At the same time he was not now a new Member—he was of twenty years' standing in that House, and he appealed to those who had known him during that period, to witness in justification of his statement, that his course had implied, not only an upright judgment, but a generous and kindly feeling. Although the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his letter disclaimed giving an opinion upon his conduct on the Poor-law Committee, the noble Lord (Lord Howick) the colleague of the right hon. Gentleman had not done so, as what the Chancellor of the Exchequer had disclaimed that noble Lord had taken up as a most prominent ground of objection. The noble Lord in referring to his conduct on the poor-law Committee had made a great mistake as to the facts. First of all he might be allowed to call the attention of the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Home Department to what had passed in the Committee, and his hon. Friend the Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Hume), an indefatigable Member of that Committee, would bear testimony to the truth of his statements. The paper with which he (Mr. Harvey) was connected was not the first to publish the proceedings of that Committee, another newspaper had been produced before the Committee to which their attention was called, and he was one of the first to say that he sanctioned the condemnation passed by the chairman publicly in the Committee that whoever ventured to publish garbled statements ought to be exposed to the opprobrium not only of the Committee but of the House In the progress of the inquiry peculiar circumstances arose which rendered the course he took indispensable. Out of the twenty-four Gentlemen composing the Committee, twenty were avowedly opposed to the course which the minority deemed it their duty to pursue. But what was it which led to the course which he had taken, and which he was proud of having taken? He saw seated at the bar of the Committee two or three of the commissioners connected with the poor-law inquiry; he saw their intelligent secretary—he saw their short-hand writer —he saw all the appliances of the powers of office—he saw them not only taking down what was passing in the Committee but writing directly into the country to make inquiries into the truth of the statements given in evidence—crowding the 1266 Committee with witnesses to control and counteract and reject the testimony which was previously adduced; and he (Mr. Harvey) immediately pointed it out to the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), and said that it was not a candid or honourable inquiry, if on the one hand they saw the influential body the poor-law commissioners with all their agents and appliances and the succour of the Committee, making inquiries throughout the whole country against a class of people who, poor themselves, had no means whatever of summoning witnesses at their own expense, or obtaining the necessary communications: he pointed out also that there was scarcely any sympathy between them and the Committee, and that unless the evidence were published from day to day, and the truth were known, he said distinctly that the inquiry would become a matter not only of hypocrisy, but of the grossest insult and injustice towards those whom it was intended to protect. That course he had taken, and when the subject was brought forward whether the conduct of his paper should be brought under the consideration of the House did he not say that he would scorn to shelter himself behind the printer, or any other species of servant who was earning a few shillings a week? did he not take upon himself the whole responsibility, and say that if they went to Somerset-house they would find him registered as sole proprietor of the paper? Did he not state that he was prepared to encounter whatever penalty the law directed? and did he not add that it was absurd to have a law without the power of causing its infringement to be prevented? And what did the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) do to assert the integrity of the orders and regulations of the House? The noble Lord came down to the Committee, and after communications with the Committee and himself as to the course which ought to be pursued, proposed an express motion that the evidence which was received from day to day should be published. But, said the noble Lord the Member for Northumberland, "Was anybody at liberty to publish the evidence in whatever shape he pleased — would the House sanction garbled statements and evidence given in such a way?" He defied the noble Lord to produce any portion of the evidence he had published that was not verbatim the evidence that was given before the Com- 1267 mittee, and which with the consent of the Committee and the support of the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Home Department was allowed from day to day to be published. He would then come to the third point, as his object was to show to the House the hollowness of the pretexts on which the Government had objected to him. In the former part of the evening he had alluded to the eagerness with which they seized Godsends, their everlasting floundering in mischief, and the readings with which they caught at straws which the current bore past them. With what eagerness did they seize on the ungenerous suggestion of the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth. That right hon. Baronet said, that certainly he had his sentiments with respect to the publication of evidence, but he said that it was not his intention to oppose the motion upon that ground; oh no, the right hon. Baronet said, that his reason for supporting the Chancellor of the Exchequer was, "that he (Mr. Harvey) was a gentleman much given to indulge in sarcasms, that he was in the habit of coming forward and making contrasts between the poor and the rich, that he had ventured to say that all persons who received the public money ought to be open to inquiry, and that he would subject them to the same sort of test as the poor old widow he was said to be so fond of alluding to; that he remembered very well that allusion and the allusions of the hon. Member for Southwark to the bastardy clauses of the Poor-law Bill, that he drew distinctions between the unfortunate poor and the offspring of the illegimate connections of some high persons, that such sarcastic remarks were indecent, and rendered the author of them unfit to be a Member of the Committee." If dulness was to be the qualification that fitted hon. Gentlemen for Committees, he congratulated the Treasury bench that they would have their hands full. He would say, then, on those three grounds, that he discredited the assertion which had been made by the right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that he really was solicitous to place him on the Committee. He begged to ask the right hon. Gentleman whence it was, that, after receiving his reply, with respect to which he wished the House to come to the same conclusion as himself, that it was impossible to read it without perceiving that the 1268 writer intended to set the rules of the House at defiance—if that were so, whence was it—and did it not appear most extraordinary—that he did not make some communication to him informing him that such was his impression? Surely he might have expected to have heard from the right hon. Gentleman somewhat in this form: — "The Chancellor of the Exchequer presents his compliments to Mr. Harvey, and begs to acknowledge the receipt of his letter, which, however, he regrets to say is so far unsatisfactory that until he hears further from him he cannot consent to place him on the Committee." Did the right hon. Gentleman pursue that course? No, He reserved his reply, and he heard nothing from him on the subject till to-night, except, indeed, a communication made to him by an hon. Friend of his, the nature of which he would state to the House; but he would not give his hon. Friend's name, because he was not now present. That hon. Gentleman came to him and said, "I am authorised to inform you that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is satisfied with your letter, and your name will be on the Committee; but do not be surprised if somebody, not connected with the Government, asks you whether you mean to publish the evidence or not; so far as the Chancellor of the Exchequer is concerned he will raise no objection." If he was challenged as to the truth of that statement, when the hon. Member appeared in that House he would bring him face to face with the right hon. Gentleman. His hon. Friend inquired of him whether he would give that assurance, and his answer was, "No;" for no earthly consideration would he consent to be placed in such a degraded position. Having thus answered the personal part of the matter, there was one other remark that he wished to make to show how irrelevant was this attack on him, as it applied to him personally. It would be in the recollection of this House that, in the spirit which he believed engendered this opposition, some four or five years back a resolution was passed which was aimed directly at him as a Member of this House concerned in private business. Had they found him—could any man get up in his place and say—could any professional man, in or out of this House, say that they had found him, by any means, directly or indirectly, endeavouring to controvert or evade that resolution, which was 1269 a harsh and cruel resolution as regarded its effect on his private fortune? He bowed obedience to that resolution, as he would to any other, deliberately passed by the House. Did he allow his interests as a private individual to govern him? No; he was superior to all those considerations. What he esteemed as the rightful rules of Parliament while he was a Member of that Assembly he would observe; and he would take care well to weigh the solidity of his opinions before he presumed in any case to disregard its rules. If he had been on this Committee —and he would not swerve a syllable, he would not breathe a word, to induce any Gentleman to suppose that he was in the least relenting with a view to conciliating one vote, or to calm a single apprehension —but he would say that, if he had been on this Committee, and his conduct would be the same on any Committee, he never would violate a rule of this House if, in so doing, he found himself in a situation of individual opposition. But many of his hon. Friends on the former Committee, to which so much reference had been made, thought that the evidence ought to be published, and finding his views so supported, he stepped forward and did that which he considered it his duty to do, hazarding all the consequences. He shrunk not from encountering the difficulties which then presented themselves, his express purpose being that of vindicating what he considered the rights of the community. As to the appeal that was made to him, he would ask the hon. Gentlemen whom he had the honour of addressing not to regard this as a personal question. What appertained to himself could be of no moment, and as a fleeting shadow the House should pass it over. But he did ask them to look at this question as it regarded themselves. He did ask them to consider well if the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whoever he might be for the time being, were allowed to call on any Gentleman he pleased to forego his judgment as to the course he would pursue on a Committee, which, in all probability, would be the next step, would it not be that their Committees, instead of being composed of independent men, would be made up of the mere slaves of the Government? He had heard it asserted, and could fancy and believe it to be true, that some Gentlemen on the Civil List Committee received an intimation 1270 before they were put there, before they had the honour of being placed on that Committee, which had no power to send for "papers, persons, or records," and with respect to which it was said the intention was, that it should be a powerless Committee, one that could do no mischief —he repeated, he could fancy and believe it to be true that some hon. Gentlemen, before they were placed on that Committee, were asked, though they might conscientiously differ from the Ministerial proposition, to say nothing about the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster. He could fancy the Government addressing Gentlemen thus before they were placed on the Committee: "Your intentions may be honest; but they may be at variance with our views, and we wish to know what you intend to do?" A more slavish principle it would be impossible to act upon. Surely no one who valued his reputation as a man of judgment, or as a man of integrity, and who wished to stand well with the people of this country, would, for any consideration, allow himself to be employed in such a degrading service. He was not aware that there was anything left for him to say. The right hon. Gentleman in the Chair claimed for them at the foot of the Throne at the commencement of every Parliament that they should have liberty of speech. It appeared now that they were not to have liberty of speech. It was said, that the liberties of this country could not be overthrown but by the corruption of Parliament; so he would say, that the liberty of speaking could not be narrowed but by their own narrow views. If, according to the right hon. Baronet, because an hon. Member ventured on the utterance of a sarcasm, or indulged in any little playfulness of fancy, and thus enlivened the dulness which had of late so remarkably characterized their debates, he was to be marked clown as a person unfit to serve on their Committees, they would soon be fit for nothing else but Committees of which dulness was to be the principal qualification. He wished to say further, that of all things he should like not to be on a Committee such as the present, as it would necessarily occupy a great deal of his time, which would put him to much inconvenience by its interference with his profitable engagements; but if the House thought that he could be of any service there, if it were believed that he possessed 1271 any peculiar knowledge or information that could be advantageously brought to bear on this question, he should place his time and his exertions at the disposal of the House. He would ask the independent portion of the House—and when he said so he considered he was addressing himself to the whole House—he would ask them by their vote this night to show that they were not participators in this slavish requisition of the Government. He would call on them to vindicate their independence, and not allow it to be supposed that in acting on Committees they consented to act entirely under the direction of the authority which composed them, or that the condition of their being placed on them was, that they were to sit in fetters, not being at liberty to exercise their judgment as to the course they ought to pursue. In conclusion, he would say, that he would not accede to the requisition of the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for any advantage which it might be in the power of his official station to afford him. He begged to remind the right hon. Gentleman that a man might be poor in circumstances, and yet rich in the feelings of personal independence.
The Chancellor of the Excheqaer
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman had intimated that there was no great danger of his entering into any competition with him on the score of sarcasm. Unfortunately there was none. Nor was there any danger either of his entering into competition with him on the score of misrepresentation, because misrepresentation was never more complete than was that which he had endeavoured to palm on the House in reference to what had fallen from him. Many hon. Gentlemen who had heard the hon. and learned Member's speech would imagine that he had presumed, by reason of his official situation, to put him in fetters, or to curtail the free exercise of his Parliamentary privileges. He denied that such was the fact. As he had already stated to the hon. Member, the very reverse was the fact. His application to him was not to be considered an official application at all; but in moving the Committee he had addressed him in precisely the same way as he should have addressed him had he been a private Member of Parliament. Did he ask him to comply with any fancy of his, or to give up any fancy of his own? What he had 1272 asked him simply to give up was, that, which had been declared by a resolution of the House to be the right of the House. If the House took a just view of the matter, that which was claimed by the hon. and learned Gentleman was not his, but a violation of the privileges of Parliament. He begged to take the earliest opportunity of contradicting, in the most distinct manner in which it could be contradicted, that he ever gave authority to any Member of the House to make a proposition to the hon. and learned Member. He gave no such authority to any Member of this House, nor to anybody out of the House. Many hon. Gentlemen had appealed to him—it was a matter of common notoriety that many hon. Gentlemen had appealed to him—on the subject of the hon. and learned Member's name being put on the Committee, and in reply he stated frankly and unreservedly to them that which he stated now, viz., that his objection was not to the hon. Member personally. He contended that he had offered the best test he could of his sincerity, the test he offered to-night, when he told him that if he would state that he would conform to the orders of the House he would be the first person to move that his name be added to the Committee. Was there, then, the shadow of a pretence for charging him with insincerity? He begged hon. Gentlemen also to bear in mind that he had asked him to give the pledge he required, not to him, but to the House itself. He said that he felt great difficulty in having a special Committee for a special purpose of inquiry, and, therefore, he named another Committee already in existence to inquire into the subject; but when he found that that Committee did not attend, he was obliged to name a new one, and the very first name that suggested itself to him, was that of the hon. Member for Southwark. The hon. Member for Southwark said, that he would not be a party to the publication of garbled reports. Now he found in a copy of The True Sun, which he held in his hand, the following observations, introductory to one of that paper's reports of the Poor-law Committee's inquiry:— "The great length to which the evidence extends precludes us from giving it entire, but we give such portions of it as appear to us to bear on the practical question of the operation of the Poor-laws." If the House was in fa- 1273 vour of placing the hon. Member on the Committee, he would not be responsible for any inconvenience which might result; if any charge was made on Saturday which might be satisfactorily answered on Monday, but which, by being published on Saturday evening, might lead to i calculable inconveniences and misunderstanding, and if in the end all the House should be involved in a contest of privilege—the responsibility would rest on others, not on him. Above all, one word to hon. Gentlemen opposite. It might suit well with their views, being opposed to the present Committee from the outset, to render it as distasteful to the public as possible, and thereby inoperative for the purpose of justice, but let them beware lest in gratifying their private feelings in this instance, they might destroy public confidence in Committees of the House. He had now no more to say. He had discharged a painful duty, in the course of which it had been his lot to engage in a contest with a Gentleman for whom he had always entertained the kindest feelings of respect and regard, but whatever might be the sacrifice which he would have to submit to, whether the sarcasm of the hon. Gentleman himself, or that of hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side, of the House, the responsibility of whatever might follow would rest with others, not with him.
§ The House divided on the original question:—Ayes 122; Noes 71: Majority 51.
|List of the AYES.|
|Adam, Sir C.||Dalrymple, Sir A.|
|Anson, hon. Colonel||Denison, W. J.|
|Baker, E.||Divett, E.|
|Ball, N.||Duncan, Viscount|
|Baring, F. T.||Dundas, F.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Ebrington, Viscount|
|Barrington, Viscount||Eliot, hon. J. C.|
|Beamish, F. B.||Ellice, Captain A.|
|Belfast, Earl of||Ellis, J.|
|Bernal, R.||Erle, W.|
|Blackett, C.||Fazakerley, J. N.|
|Bridgeman, H.||Fergusson, rt. hn. R. C.|
|Brocklehurst, J.||Fitzalan, Lord|
|Bryan, G.||Fitzroy, Lord C.|
|Bulwer, E. L.||Fleetwood, P. H.|
|Byng, G.||Fremantle, Sir T.|
|Callaghan, D.||Freshfield, J. W.|
|Campbell, Sir J.||Gladstone, W. E.|
|Clements, Viscount||Goddard, A.|
|Clive, E. B.||Gordon, R.|
|Courtenay, P.||Greene, T.|
|Cowper, hon. W. F.||Grey, Sir G.|
|Crawford, W.||Hallyburton, Lord|
|Hastie, A.||Peel, right hon. Sir R.|
|Hay, Sir A. L.||Philpotts, J.|
|Hayter, W. G.||Ponsonby, hon. J.|
|Henniker, Lord||Price, Sir R.|
|Hobhouse, r. h. Sir J.||Redington, T. N.|
|Hobhouse, T. B.||Reid, Sir J. R.|
|Hodgson, R.||Rice, right hon. T. S.|
|Hollond, R.||Rich, H.|
|Holmes, W.||Richards, R.|
|Hope, G. W.||Rolfe, Sir R. M.|
|Hoskins, K.||Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.|
|Howick, Viscount||Rumbold, C. E.|
|Hutton, R.||Russell, Lord J.|
|Inglis, Sir R. H.||Russell, Lord|
|Irving, J.||Sheppard, T.|
|Kirk, P.||Smith, J. A.|
|Knight, H. G.||Somers, J. P.|
|Labouchere, rt. hn. H.||Stanley, E. J.|
|Lambton, H.||Steuart, R.|
|Lefevre, C. S.||Stewart, J.|
|Lemon, Sir C||Strangways, hon. J.|
|Loch, J.||Style, Sir C.|
|Lockhart, A. M.||Surrey, Earl of|
|Mackenzie, T.||Tancred, H. W.|
|Macleod, R.||Thomson, rt. hn. C. P.|
|Macnamara, Major||Tracy, H. H.|
|Maher, J.||Tufnell, H.|
|Maule, W. H.||Verney, Sir H.|
|Melgund, Viscount||Wall, C. B.|
|Mildmay, P. St. J.||White, A.|
|Morpeth, Viscount||Wilshere, W.|
|Morris, D.||Wood, C.|
|Murray, rt. hon. J. A.||Worsley, Lord|
|Muskett, G. A.||Woulfe, Sergeant|
|O'Connell, M. J.||Yates, J. A.|
|Ossulston, Lord||Young, J.|
|Palmer, C. F.||TELLERS.|
|Palmerston, Viscount||Seymour, Lord|
|Parker, J.||Smith, R. V.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Aglionby, H. A.||Etwall, R.|
|Alsager, Captain||Fielden, W.|
|Attwood, W.||Finch, F.|
|Attwood, M.||Gaskell, Jas. Milnes|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Gibson, J.|
|Borthwick, P.||Gibson, T.|
|Broadwood, H.||Godson, R.|
|Brotherton, J.||Gore, O. W.|
|Browne, R. D.||Grimsditch, T.|
|Brownrigg, S.||Grote, G.|
|Buller, C.||Hall, B.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hawkins, J. H.|
|Chalmers, P.||Hinde, J. H.|
|Clay, W.||Hindley, C.|
|Codrington, Admiral||Howard, P. H.|
|Copeland, Alderman||Hughes, W. B.|
|Craig, W. G.||Hume, J,|
|Dennistoun, J.||Humphery, J.|
|Dick, Q.||Jervis, J.|
|D'Israeli, B.||Jervis, S.|
|Douglas, Sir C. E.||Leader, J. T.|
|Duckworth, S.||Lennox, Lord G.|
|Duke, Sir J.||Lushington, C.|
|Duncombe, T.||Maclean, D.|
|Easthope, J.||Marshall, W.|
|Molesworth, Sir W.||Stuart, Lord J.|
|Parker, R. T.||Talfourd, Sergeant|
|Pattison, J.||Thompson, Alderman|
|Pechell, Captain||Tollemache, F. J.|
|Philips, M.||Vigors, N. A.|
|Polhill, F.||Warburton, H.|
|Protheroe, E.||Whalley, Sir S.|
|Pryme, G.||Williams, W.|
|Round, J.||Young, G. F.|
|Sibthorp, Colonel||Sinclair, Sir G.|
|Stewart, J.||Wakley, T.|