HC Deb 31 January 1837 vol 36 cc19-21

On the House meeting, the Speaker said, I have received two letters, one from the Lord Chancellor, and the other from Mr. Lechmere Charlton, a Member of this House, which I think it my duty to read. The first letter is from the Lord Chancellor:—

"31st January, 1837.

"Mr. Speaker, Sir, I have the honour of making known to you, for the information of the House of Commons, that I issued ray warrant on the 28th of November last for the commitment of E. L. Charlton, Esq., one of the Members of the borough of Ludlow, for a contempt of the high Court of Chancery, in writing and sending a certain letter, dated the 24th of October last, to William Brougham, Esq., one of the masters of the court, which was followed by a certain other letter, dated the 9th of November last, addressed to myself. I have thought it right to make this communication for the purpose of accounting for the absence of the hon. Member and of testifying my profound respect for your honorable House."—I have the honour to be, Sir, you most obedient servant,


"To the Right hon. the Speaker."

"Fendall's Hotel, Palace Yard,

31st January 1837.

"SIR—I have just reason to believe, that Mr. William Pell (who is a messenger in the Court of Chancery), and others employed by him, are determined, under the directions of the Lord Chancellor, to interrupt me in my progress to the House of Commons this day; and I humbly request, therefore, as I am thereby deterred from attending, that you will vouchsafe to extend to me your protection.

"I seek not to withdraw myself from the criminal jurisdiction of the Realm well knowing the privilege of Parliament, which is allowed in cases of public service for the Commonwealth, must not be used to the danger of the Common-wealth.

"To be protected, however, from any violence of the Crown or its Ministers, is, I apprehend, the established and undoubted privilege of a Member of Parliament. To this hour I know not of what I am accused, except from public report; but, nevertheless, I ask for no more than to be allowed, without molestation, to take my seat, that I may state what I do know of the matter to the House, and then bow with all respect to their decision, be it what it may.—I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient humble servant,


"To the right hon. the Speaker."

Mr. Hume

did not know if any Gentleman intended to make any motion on this subject. He wished to have properly ascertained what were the grounds of the impediment of which Mr. Charlton complained, and when this was regularly before the House, the House would be in a condition to state its opinion. What he wished to know was, whether any Member was prepared to bring forward a motion on the subject in such a manner as would bring it fairly under consideration.

Mr. Roebuck

remarked, that the hon. Member stated in his letter that he had been stopped on his way to the House; he wished to know in what manner the hon. Member had been stopped; for if the hon. Member had not been taken into custody on his way to the House, he could not properly be said to have been stopped.

Sir Robert Peel

thought, that the best course the House could pursue was to have the letters printed, for the purpose of giving the House time to consider tomorrow what course they ought to adopt. It might be a question whether the Lord Chancellor's letter should not be referred to a Select Committee, which was the course adopted with respect to the last case of the kind which had occurred, namely, that of Mr. Long Wellesley Pole, who had been committed by Lord Chancellor Brougham. That case, however, was undoubtedly different from the present. He observed that the Lord Chancellor stated in his letter the fact that he had issued a warrant for Mr. Charlton's apprehension, and the probability that the issue of that warrant would prevent the hon. Member from appearing, because he stated, that the letter had been written to account for the possible absence of the hon. Member. The right hon. Baronet concluded by moving that the letters be printed.

Lord John Russell

supposed the letter of the Lord Chancellor and the letter of Mr. Charlton would appear on the votes of the House to-morrow, in order that the subject might be properly taken into consideration. He quite agreed as to the propriety of the course proposed by the right hon. Baronet, and he would beg leave to add to the motion that the letters be printed, that they be taken into consideration to-morrow. In making that motion he begged it to be understood that he did not raise he question put forward by the hon. Member for Bath.

Motion agreed to.