HC Deb 19 December 1837 vol 39 cc1332-5

Mr. Aglionby moved the Order of the Day for resuming the adjourned debate on the Pontefract election recognizances. Motion agreed to, and Mr. James Florance called in and examined.

The witness stated, that he was a solicitor, and had occasionally acted as a Parliamentary agent. Mr. Moss had called on him at his house, and stated that he wished to use his name as agent for putting in sureties to the Pontefract election petition, assigning as a reason for not using his own that he had been a candidate at Pontefract. Mr. Moss did not state that this fact disqualified him, but that he considered it as a matter of delicacy. The witness complied with the request of Mr. Moss, and accompanied him to the office of the clerk of the recognizances, where he gave in his name as agent for the petition, and signed his name as agent. Mr. Moss did not act in the office as if he were the agent, and the witness was not aware of any case in which he had ostensibly acted as such. The witness had not received any instructions from Mr. Gompertz to act as his agent, but from Mr. Moss. The witness was used to Parliamentary business, and considered, that having given in his name as agent, until by some means that agency was repudiated by the petitioner, he was the agent for the petition. He considered that Mr. Gompertz had employed Mr. Moss to communicate with him. He looked to Moss for payment.

John Benbow, another witness, deposed that he had been a solicitor for several years, but followed no vocation at present. It was through Mr. Moss that he had any knowledge of the Pontefract petition. About a month ago Moss called on witness at witness's residence, and asked him whether he would desire to go into Parliament. Moss proceeded to detail to witness the state of Pontefract, and it appeared to witness that he had very good grounds for hoping to succeed on petition against the sitting Member. Procter's name as a surety was given to him on a slip of paper. Thinks Procter was described in it as of South-bank, Regent's-park, gentleman.

John Phillips Bevan

deposed that he was applied to by Mr. Benbow, a very old friend of his, to become one of the sureties to an election petition. Was not told what petition. Mr. Benbow said he would rather not tell him, but would feel obliged if he would promise to become a surety. Met him a few days after close to the house, and agreed to become a surety Gave his own name and that of Procter for that purpose. Described Procter as "William Procter, of 7, South-bank, Regent's-park, gentleman." This was done in a great hurry.

Procter had not authorized him at the time that witness gave his name. Proposed Procter as surety also for the Canterbury petition. In that case described him as a bootmaker, and also as of South-bank, Regent's-Park.

By Mr. E. J. Stanley

.—Never saw Mr. Gompertz till this evening. Knows nothing of him.

William Procter

deposed, that he was a bootmaker, and the person described as one of the sureties residing at Southbank, Regent's-park; had resided there for the last nine years. The house was his own property. Possessed property also in Worcestershire; it is a freehold. Had a house also in the Strand, but he only rented it.— His name was Procter, not Proctor; was a surety in the Canterbury as well as Pontefract case; had received a letter from Mr. Bevan, requesting him to become surety in the case of an election petition to the amount of 500l.; believed his name had been inserted as one of the sureties before he received that letter; could not say whether that letter referred to the Canterbury or Pontefract case.

Mr. Jervis

said, the question before the House was this—Was Mr. Procter's name inserted as a surety with the intention of committing a fraud?

Mr. Harvey

said, that the party had been challenged upon two grounds—pecuniary incompetency, or fraud. It might be either, or it might be both. There was, certainly, no evidence to prove the former; and, as regarded inadequate description, he did not think it possible to attribute fraud. The witness had a house in the Strand, where it was known (as elicited from the witness by the hon. Member himself) that he had a private house in the Regent's-park; and there it was known that he was a bootmaker, and had a house in the Strand, in which he carried on that trade. He (Mr. Harvey) did not think either ground had been proved.

Sir H. Hardinge

did not think there could be the slightest doubt of Mr. Procter's competency as a surety. At all events, the House were now in a situation to close the evidence and come to a decision on the case.

Mr. Aglionby

said, he was at a loss to decide whether this case partook more of the ridiculous or the indecent. He thought the case of the petitioner was based in; fraud, built in fraud, and finished in fraud. Passing over the original transaction, the circumstances connected with the agency sureties presented a tissue of fraud such as had never been disclosed in any former instance. The competency of the sureties was not at issue. He never said nor believed that Mr. Procter was not a respectable man; he made no question as to his competency—that was a matter for the examiners to inquire into. He maintained there had been a juggle in the agency. Moss himself admitted that he had put forward Florance as agent with the intention to deceive; and even Procter had been juggled into the case, of the merits and parties to which, he was not cognizant. Under these circumstances he did not think the House was called on to interpose its authority to give relief to one in so degraded a condition as this petitioner, to the prejudice of any honourable man who had been guilty of no misconduct, and against whom there was no complaint. He should, therefore, move that the order of Friday, for enlarging the time to enter into recognizances in this case, be discharged.

Sir R. Inglis

contended, if the House desired to maintain its character for dignity, consistency, and justice, they could not rescind their decision of Friday, no facts having since appeared in evidence to vary the original character of the case. He did not see how it was possible to impute fraud in consequence of the variations in the addition or address of the surety. Much had been said of late with regard to the unsatisfactory character of the proceedings in election committees. For his own part, he could not help thinking the proceedings of the House within the last three days had strongly impressed his mind with the conviction that that assembly was a very imperfect tribunal in such matters as the present, where all were advocates, parties, jurymen, judges, acting under constant stimulus, and without any controlling authority to lay down the law. He did not think their proceedings at all calculated to elevate the character of the House in the estimation of the country.

The House divided on Mr. Aglionby's motion.—Ayes 86; Noes 56: Majority 30,

List of the AYES.
Anson, hon. Col. Beamish, F. B.
Ball, N. Belfast, Earl of
Barnard E.G. Briscoe, J. I,
Bryan, G. Muskett, G. A.
Callaghan, D. Paget, F.
Campbell, Sir. J. Palmer, C. F.
Cayley, E. S. Palmerston, Viscount
Chalmers, P. Parker, J.
Codrington, Sir E. Pattison, J.
Craig, W. G. Pechell, Captain
Denison. W. J. Philips, M.
Dennistoun, J. Phillpotts, John
D'Eyncourt, C. T. Price, Sir R.
Divett, E. Pryme, George
Duff, J. Ramsbottom, J.
Duke, Sir J. Salwey, Colonel
Dundas, F. Sheil, R. L.
Easthope, J. Smith, R. V.
Elliott, hon. J. E. Somers, J. P.
Erle, W. Standish, C.
Etwall, R. Stanley, E. J.
Finch, F. Steuart, R.
Fitzalan, Lord Stewart, J.
Fitzroy, Lord G. Stuart, Lord J.
Gibson, J. Style, Sir Charles
Gordon, R. Surrey, Earl of
Grattan, J. Talfourd, Sergeant
Hallyburton, Lord Tancred, H. W.
Hastie, A. Thomson, C. P.
Hawes, B. Tracy, H. H.
Hindley, C Vigors, N. A.
Hobhouse, T. B. Villiers, Charles P.
Howard, P. H. Wakley, Thomas
Hume, J. Whalley, Sir S.
Jervis, J. White, Andrew
Leader, J. T. Wilshere, W.
Lennox, Lord G. Wood, Charles
Lushington, Dr. Wood, Sir Matthew
Lushington, C. Woulfe, Sergeant
Macleod, R. Wyse, Thomas
Macnamara, Major Yates, J. A.
Maher J.
Maule, W. H. TELLERS.
Morris, D. Aglionby, H. A.
Murray, J. A. O'Connell, M. J.
List of the NOES.
A'Court, Captain Godson, R.
Arbuthnott, H. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Attwood, W. Gore, O. W.
Baring, F. T. Grimsditch, T.
Bentinck, Lord G. Hardinge, Sir H.
Blair, J. Hayter, W. G.
Broadwood, H. Henniker, Lord
Cantelupe, Visct. Holmes, W.
Copeland, Mr. Ald. Hope, G. W.
Courtenay, P. Hughes, W. B.
Darby, G. Kirk, P.
De Horsey, S. H. Lefroy, rt. hon. T.
Dick, Q. Lockhart, A. M.
D'Israeli, B. Lucas, Edward
Douglas, Sir C. E. Mackenzie, T.
Eaton, R. J. Morpeth, Viscount
Ellis, J. Ossulston, Lord
Fitzroy, hon. H. Parker, Robert
Forester, hon. G. Perceval, Colonel
Fremantle, Sir T. Rice, rt. hon. T. S.
Freshfield, J. W. Rolfe, Sir R. M.
Gladstone, W. E. Rose, rt. hn. Sir G.
Round, J. Vere, Sir C. B.
Seymour, Lord Wood, T.
Sibthorp, Colonel Young, G. F.
Sinclair, Sir G. Young, John
Spry, Sir S. T.
Stewart, J. TELLERS.
Thompson, Alderman Inglis, Sir R. H.
Tollemache, F. J. Maclean, D.

Order discharged.