HC Deb 06 March 1840 vol 52 cc1026-47
Lord John Russell

having moved the order of the day for the House to resolve itself into a Committee of Supply,

Sir J. Graham

said, after the protracted discussion upon this subject in which the House had been so very recently engaged, it would be inexcusable in him to preface his motion with any lengthened observations. He could not, however, avoid congratulating the House on the circumstances of its having at length made some advance towards a satisfactory conclusion of this question. He had hoped, and indeed expected, that a resolution, similar in substance to that with which he was about to conclude, would have been made by the noble Lord (the Member for Northumberland), who had, on a former occasion, expressed his strong sense of the great inconvenience which must ensue from the protracted imprisonment of Mr. Sheriff Evans. He understood the noble Lord to say, on a former occasion, that though the House had been driven to the necessity of vindicating its privileges in the present instance, still he was afraid that if in doing so the House urged its power to an extremity, public opinion might thereby be outraged, and the privilege itself put into considerable danger. The noble Lord had again said to-night, that if the present bill passed, the sheriff should be considered as a very ill-used man. In this opinion he did not concur; but, if it was entertained by the noble Lord, it was strange that the present motion had not originated with him. He had heard it said yesterday evening, that there were certain points to which if punishment were urged, the public sympathies would be apt to be arrayed on the side of the offender, and the repugnance to the offence lost sight of in the disproportioned magnitude of the punishment. The truth of this assertion he fully admitted, and he hoped the House would bear it in mind in considering the question which he was about to bring before it. The right hon. the Secretary at War said, that the conduct of the sheriffs was far removed from the imputation of moral guilt, and admitted, that even if Stockdale himself suffered loss of health in consequence of imprisonment, his confinement ought not to be protracted. In both these opinions he fully concurred, but especially in that which exempted the sheriffs from moral guilt in the course of the proceedings which led to their imprisonment. This very bill, which so large a majority had just decided upon the propriety of introducing, was an admission that the present struggle on the question of privilege was a conflict between two co-ordinate jurisdictions; and this being the case, it was impossible, when their decisions were at variance, for any human being to obey them both. The sheriffs Were placed in a choice of difficulties, and in deciding conscientiously what was their duty, their judgment led them to the conclusion that they were bound to obey the directions given by the highest legal authorities. It was natural, that in making the selection, they should lean to the side of the Court of Queen's Bench, whose officers they were; but in doing this, they had unhappily incurred the displeasure of the House of Commons. Up to that moment, he had been one of those who were most prominent in asserting the privilege of the House; but having heard the evidence of two medical men as to the imminent danger which was likely to ensue to the sheriff, from a continuance of close confinement, taking into consideration the length of time that that confinement had already lasted, together with the other circumstances of the case, he was of opinion, that some enlargement should take place. He would not make any lengthened reference to the evidence of the medical men, but the testimony given by Mr. Freeman was such as to call for the most serious consideration of the House. It appeared that he had attended Sheriff Evans as his medical adviser for seven years, during the last two years of which the sheriff laboured under a chronic malady. It further appeared that the malady had increased during the sheriff's imprisonment, and that his medical adviser would not be responsible for his safety if he were to be longer detained in close confinement. It might, however, be said, that this witness, in consequence of his long attendance on Mr. Sheriff Evans, might be prejudiced in that gentleman's favour, but such an objection could not be made to the testimony of Dr. Chambers, which was almost to the same effect. Then there was another question as to how far the conduct of the sheriff had been tainted with moral guilt? Could any moral guilt be said to attach to the conduct of one who exercised his judgment in accordance with the dictates of his conscience? Surely if the party were in enjoyment of perfect health, there must be some sympathy with such a man. He was satisfied that every Member of the House would regret any fatal result that might ensue to the sheriff from a continuance of his confinement, and yet they had it in evidence that his health was yesterday not only under corporeal but mental suffering. In the opinion of Dr. Chambers the only security for the health of the sheriff was to be found in perfect freedom. When he gave notice for a motion for the enlargement of the sheriff, he thought it his duty to look for precedents which would authorise the course which he meant to propose. He was unwilling to detain the House with quotations, but there were four distinct cases in the reign of George 2nd. in which bail for appearance had been taken by the House. The first case occurred in February, 1731, in a question arising out of some charitable corporation, which had been referred to a Committee of the House for the purpose of inquiring into some grave allegations of fraudulently detaining the property of the poor. A person named Agar refused to be examined on the 18th of the month. On the 24th he was committed to the custody of the Serjeant-at-Arms, and on the 28th he was set at large, the recognizances having been completed. The next commitment arose out of the same transaction, in the case of Sir Archibald Grant. His explanation was not deemed satisfactory, and he was committed to the custody of the Serjeant-at-Arms, on the 6th of April, but was discharged on bail on the following day. The third instance was in the case of the York Building Company, when another discharge on recognizance took place, the party being bound from time to time to appear before the House. The fourth case occurred in the person of Alexander Murray, and arose out of the petition of Sir J. Bainbridge in an election for Westminster. The high bailiff, having been prevented from making the return, was called to the bar of the House, where he accused Murray of maltreating him, and impeding him in the performance of his duty. Murray was ordered to attend at the bar, and was taken into custody by the Serjeant-at-Arms on the 1st of February, but again discharged on bail, and continued at large until the 6th of the same month, when he was called to the bar of the House. It was not necessary to trace the precedents further. There were four distinct cases, and, if these were considered sufficient, the only question would be as to the validity of the security, which was to be decided upon by Mr. Speaker. Having stated on a former occasion his anxiety to have the custody of Mr. Sheriff Evans enlarged, he had now endeavoured to show that such a proceeding was in conformity with established precedents, though those precedents might not be strictly in point, they were still analogous. As to the mode in which the custody of the Sheriff should be enlarged, he (Sir J. Graham) was comparatively indifferent. If any other course than that of admitting to bail were proposed, he had no objection to accede to an undertaking that the Sheriff, being discharged without bail, should appear when called upon. The right hon. Baronet concluded by moving the following resolution:— That in consideration of the evidence of Mr. Freeman and Dr. Chambers, given at the bar of this House, with respect to the present state of health of Mr. Sheriff Evans, who is in custody, the Serjeant-at-Arms attending this House do take such bail of Mr. Sheriff Evans as shall be approved of by Mr. Speaker, for the attendance of Mr. Sheriff Evans in the House of Commons during the present Session of Parliament, whenever he shall be thereto required by any order of the House, notice in writing of such order being left at the dwelling-house of Mr. Sheriff Evans.

Mr. P. Howard

said, he had great pleasure in seconding the motion of the right hon. Baronet in introducing which the right hon. Baronet had stated circumstances which he thought ought to weigh with the House in settling the question. They had already set at liberty Mr. Wheelton, and, in his opinion, it would be very unjust not to pursue the same course with regard to Mr. Sheriff Evans.

Viscount Howick

said, that as the right hon. Baronet had referred to a suggestion thrown out by him on a former evening, he felt it necessary to explain what he considered a great distinction between that suggestion and the motion of the right hon. Baronet. He had not proposed that the sheriff should be released from the duress of remaining in custody, but had merely expressed a wish that that duress should be mitigated, as far as could be done consistently with the cause of the imprisonment. He would now say, that he should not have proposed that Mr. Sheriff Evans should be relieved to that extent, if, before he had so proposed, he had heard the evidence of Dr. Chambers, which completely cut away the only ground upon which he could make such a proposition. The right hon. Baronet, however, would relieve the sheriff from all duress whatsoever. He proposed, certainly, that they should take security for his appearance at the Bar of that House whenever he should be called upon, but would that make Mr. Evans's position after release the worse, or theirs any better? There was not the remotest prospect of their not finding Mr. Evans whenever they should require him, even without bail, which was only required for persons who it might be feared would abscond or conceal themselves. To require bail, in the case of Mr. Evans, was no restraint whatever, and seemed to him perfectly idle and nugatory. If they were to release him, he thought it would be better to do so forthwith, and without demanding any bail, but let them not do it upon the ground of ill-health. To discharge him on that ground would be setting a precedent of a very fatal character. What had taken place the other night at the Bar of the House had already produced its effects. His hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. Duncombe) had that evening presented a petition from a friend of Vincent's, who was now suffering imprisonment in Monmouth gaol, for the crime of sedition, praying, that if the principle of discharging persons from confinement on the ground of slight ill health were to be recognized, the said Vincent might forthwith be ordered his discharge upon that ground. If they were to release Mr. Sheriff Evans on account of ill-health after the evidence of Dr. Chambers, he could not help thinking that we should shortly have but very few prisoners in our gaols. After the decision to which the House had that night come, he, for one, would not consider it of great importance which way he decided upon a simple motion for the discharge of the sheriff. [Cries of "Move."] He undoubtedly would not move it. Nay, more, if a motion to that effect were made, he should vote against it. At the same time he should take far less interest in it, and attach far less importance to it, than before the decision which the House had just come to, because he did not augur favourably as to the result when there was such a shrinking from the course which ought, in his opinion, to be pursued in the maintenance of their privileges.

Mr. Kemble

confessed his surprise at the noble Lord's refusal, not merely to make, but to support a motion for the discharge of Mr. Sheriff Evans; because he had heard the noble Lord declare that evening, that if the House consented to the introduction of the bill of the noble Lord the Member for Stroud, he would consider that they had already done great injustice to that Gentleman. He was, therefore, at a loss to conceive upon what principle was it, if injustice had already been inflicted upon the sheriff by the introduction of that bill, that the noble Lord should now refuse to concur in a motion for his liberation. He begged leave to repudiate the assertion of that noble Lord, that hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House, who had throughout opposed the course which had been adopted, were actuated by a desire to bring the reformed House of Commons into contempt. For himself, he could say that he never had and never would consent to any motion which, in his belief, would implicate or put in question the character of that House. He rejoiced that the question was likely to be settled in an amicable manner, and he cordially supported the motion or the release of Mr. Sheriff Evans. With what justice, he asked, could they bring up this bill to the House of Lords, and call upon them to sanction it, if they themselves did not take the first step towards conciliation, and manifest a desire to do what was right, by immediately releasing the sheriff? They had released Mr. Sheriff Wheelton upon evidence, in his opinion, no stronger than that given respecting Mr. Evans; and seeing no reason why they should visit Mr. Evans with increased severity, he hoped the House would consent to the motion for the liberation of Mr. Sheriff Evans.

Viscount Howick

said, the hon. Member had misrepresented him. What he stated was, that if such a bill as his noble Friend proposed was allowed to be brought in, the sheriff would have reason to complain that he had been, not unjustly treated but ill used, in consequence of that bill not having been brought in sooner, and the period necessary to keep him in confinement thereby abridged. He meant that, inasmuch as when the bill should be introduced there would be no further necessity for keeping the sheriff in confinement, not having introduced that bill at the earliest moment possible, afforded a ground of complaint on the part of the sheriff.

Mr. Hawes

contended, that if the case rested upon the evidence of Dr. Chambers, a weaker ground for discharging a person from custody had never been advanced. In Mr. Wheelton's case, it was stated, that he was in danger of an apoplectic attack, and that the physician would not guarantee his life from hour to hour. Upon such a ground as that any prisoner in the country, even a prisoner for life, would be discharged; but widely different was the case of Mr. Sheriff Evans, which, if put upon the ground of health, must most certainly fail. Presuming that it would, which he believed could not be doubted by any person believing in the testimony of Dr. Chambers, were they now to stu[...]fy the whole of their proceeding [...]leasing the sheriff? If they did so, they might with equal justice liberate the pri- soner Vincent alluded to by the noble Lord, and he hoped the House would not make a difference between a sheriff and a labouring man when their sympathies were called for.

Sir T. Cochrane

was of opinion, that the sheriff should be liberated on the testimony of Mr. Freeman, his own physician. It appeared to him, that even within the last few days the case of Mr. Evans had assumed a different aspect. He thought it would be more for the dignity of the House to release the sheriff at once than to take bail for his appearance.

Mr. Wakley

said, that in his opinion the amendment which had been moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pembroke did not meet the necessities of the case. He regretted the right hon. Gentleman had not gone much further; for after the vote which the House had that evening come to, he must say that the House would exhibit itself to the country as one of the most paltry and contemptible bodies of men that ever existed, if they retained in confinement one single person who was then in custody under the orders of the House. By the vote of that evening they had decided that the courts of law were right; they had affirmed the decision, of the judges, and they had justified the course which Mr. Stockdale and Mr. Howard had pursued. Why, then, he would ask, should the detain the sheriff, and upon what grounds could his further detention be justified? Did the bill which was proposed affect the contempt of which the House had declared him guilty? Did it in the least degree alter his conduct? No; but the decision of that evening would inform the country that they now flinched from the course which they had hitherto pursued; that they could no longer assert their privileges, and that they succumbed to the courts of law. He would say, then, that he hoped the House would act consistently with its decision, and he trusted that every hon. Member would vote for the release of every one of those persons who were now in custody. He could not then move, as an amendment was already before the House, but if no other Member did so, he should on the first opportunity move for the release of all the persons in confinement, for by the vote of that evening the House had acknowledged that those persons were right, and that the House was wrong. He perfectly agreed with the opinions which had last evening been so ably expressed by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Solicitor-general, to whose arguments no satisfactory answer had been given, and he would tell that hon. and learned Gentleman, that the course which he had pursued in reference to this important subject would secure for him a proud pre-eminence in the eyes of the public. That hon. and learned Gentleman had in his place in that House, and notwithstanding the proceedings which had been adopted by the Government, manfully defended the course which the House had at the first pursued, and he did not hesitate to say, that it was through the vacillating weakness of the Government, and through the turbulent and factious conduct of some hon. Gentlemen opposite, that they had been reduced to the necessity of adopting a measure which he could not but condemn. As Conservatives, he had imagined that hon. Gentlemen opposite were prepared to obey the laws of the country. Did not, then, the law of Parliament form a part of the laws of the country; and yet, what had been the conduct of hon. Gentlemen opposite, when called upon to decide whether that law had been violated? The question which had been submitted for their decision, in their judicial capacity, was no party question, and had nothing to do with political differences of opinion. That question had been ably discussed in that House, and was one of the most grave and serious importance; but what, notwithstanding, had been the conduct of the minority of the judges—for hon. Members were then acting as judges? No sooner had they found themselves in a minority, than a portion of hon. Members had invited the people to violate the law. They had proclaimed their opinion, that the decision of the majority was tyrannical and unjust, and they had told the House that its resolutions could have no effect, and that thousands were prepared to follow the course which had been pursued by Mr. Stockdale and Mr. Howard. One hon. Member, when one of the persons whom they had brought to the Bar refused to comply with the resolutions of the House, actually jumped up from his seat with joy at the contumacy of the sheriff when he refused to answer. Was that the conduct of a judge? Suppose, when the case of Frost was argued in the court of law, the minority of the judges had said, that the decision of the majority was tyrannical and cruel, and that they had advised the Chartists to oppose and violate the law: what in such a case would the House have done? Would they not have blamed that conduct? And yet such had been the conduct of the minority of that House on this most important subject, and by that conduct they had prostrated the dignity and authority of the House before the country, and submitted their privileges to the decision of the House of Lords. Seeing, then, the contemptible and paltry position which they now occupied, he would ask, were they prepared to go a step further, and to add cruelty and persecution to the degradation with which they had covered themselves? He trusted that the House would do no such thing. He trusted the sheriff would be discharged, and that he would be discharged unconditionally; and be trusted also that the other persons in custody would also be discharged. He had voted for their confinement with regret, but he had done so from an overpowering sense of duty. As, however, the House had abandoned the position which it had first taken, and departed from the exalted ground which it had at first occupied, and seeing also that they had acknowledged that the course which they had hitherto pursued was wrong, he thought it was the duty of the House to vote for the unconditional discharge of the sheriff. Indeed, he trusted that there would be no division, and that the sheriff and all the other persons in custody would, after the introduction of the bill which had been proposed, be liberated as a matter of course.

Lord J. Russell

would not follow the course which had been pursued by the hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the House, but he was anxious to say a few words on the real question which had been brought under their consideration. He hoped that the hon. Gentleman, the Member for Finsbury, when sitting in his court to his judicial capacity, put the cases which came before him to the juries with a little more accuracy than he had used on the present occasion. The hon. Gentleman said that the House had admitted by the bill which had been proposed, that the House in its previous proceedings had been wrong, and that Mr. Stockdale was right; but, if that was the way in which the hon. Gentleman put the evidence which he might have heard before uneducated juries, he much feared that those juries would often be misled. The real question, however, on which the House had to decide was, whether the sheriff should be discharged on the medical evidence which had been adduced at the bar. With respect to that evidence he would confess, that had not this motion been brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, he should not have considered it sufficient to induce him to make a motion for the discharge of the sheriff. On a former occasion he had stated the general ground on which the House ought to proceed was, that there was danger to life, and it was upon that ground that Mr. Sheriff Wheelton was discharged. With respect to the present case, the evidence was of a different kind; but he admitted that it was such as to show, that further confinement might seriously affect the health of the sheriff. The medical gentlemen had stated that there was at present no actual disease, but they had also said that confinement might produce disease of the most painful description. He felt the full difficulty in questions of this kind of deciding on the actual degree of illness of the individual, and he should be unwilling to pronounce an opinion upon the subject. He could not, however, agree to the motion of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, that the sheriff should be released on giving bail, because by agreeing to that motion a new question might be raised, as to the power of the House to take bail. It seemed to him to be the better course, if the House was disposed to allow that it would be dangerous to continue the confinement of the sheriff, that he should go out on the ground of the evidence which had been given by Dr. Chambers. He thought it would be better to adopt that course, and to discharge the sheriff for the present, and for a limited time, fixing a day—say three weeks hence—for his return, than to adopt the motion of the right hon. Gentleman opposite.

Mr. Hume

said, he wished to ask a question of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The right hon. Gentleman had said, that the evidence of Mr. Freeman was not sufficient to justify the House in releasing the sheriff, and be wished to ask whether the evidence of Dr. Chambers had done anything to add strength to the statement of Mr. Freeman. As the noble Lord had given everything up by the bill which he had brought forward, he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the course now proposed was likely to do any credit to the House? He thought it disreputable to the House in the highest degree.

Sir R. Peel

made it a point to answer all the questions of the hon. Member for Kilkenny, but he was sorry to say, that he never got any proof of the hon. Gentleman's confidence until the hon. Gentleman was in difficulty. In his opinion, the House would do credit to itself in doing justice. The hon. Gentleman had said, that he had stated before the Bill was proposed, that he was not prepared to vote for the discharge of the sheriff on the evidence of Mr. Freeman, and he had asked how he could vote for his discharge now. But before the bill was brought in, he had voted for the discharge of Mr. Sheriff Wheelton. Hon. Gentlemen would remember that he was against the absolute discharge of the sheriff, but voted for his discharge upon the ground of ill health. When the noble Lord, who had taken the Strongest position in this question of privilege, said, "I think we would incur a deep responsibility if we kept Mr. Sheriff Wheelton in close confinement under the circumstances which have been deposed to," what was his course? He rose and said, that he had arrived at the same conclusion, and that he thought quite sufficient grounds had been made out for the sheriff's release. The question now before the House was altogether a question of evidence. And the following were the considerations, which had made an impression upon his mind, as to the propriety of keeping the sheriff in close confinement. Mr. Freeman, a highly respectable man in his profession, gave the following evidence:— Is the sheriff growing worse or better tinder your care?—He is growing worse under his confinement. There is no immediate danger of him? I cannot say that there is, but his life would be endangered if he were to remain longer under restraint. This was very strong testimony:— Do you think, then, if Mr. Sheriff Evans were allowed to take air and exercise, and return to the House of Commons, it would have the same effect? I think not, for his mind is suffering greatly, and that is acting on his body. Now, he would not conceal from the House, that if anything fatal should occur to Mr. Sheriff Evans—if the seeds of permanent disorder should be suffered to ripen in his constitution, he did not think that, as a Parliament, they would, by keeping him in close confinement, have adopted the proper means of vindicating their privileges, or, as individuals, a course that would be at all satisfactory to their own minds. He now came to the evidence of Dr. Chambers, who deposed as follows:— Do you consider him in that state that his life would be endangered by further confinement? I think his health would be much deteriorated by confinement, and I conceive that his further confinement might convert those defects which have so disordered the digestive organs into absolute diseases; for instance, if indigestion is continued for any length of time, the liver becomes at last disordered. When defect is continued, that becomes a disease; and we know that from diseases of the liver, for instance, dropsy arises, and all the dangers of dropsy. Immediately after hearing that evidence, he at once, having voted against the absolute discharge, stated that his opinion was the same as that of the noble Lord (Mahon,) and that they would incur great responsibility by keeping this gentleman in custody. He admitted that the second examination of Dr. Chambers rather weakened this impression than strengthened it. But it contained this additional testimony:— Do you think that close imprisonment would be highly injurious, under those circumstances of predisposition to disease, which you have remarked in Mr. Sheriff Evans? I do. That evidence remained upon record, and there was upon the face of it, he thought, a clear case for a relaxation of the close custody. If a question were brought before that House interfering with the prerogative of the Crown, he would assuredly not think of interfering, but here was a person in custody by the order of the House, and the House was, therefore, clearly responsible for the consequences which might ensue from this its order. He certainly thought that they could not keep the sheriff in close confinement after the evidence which had been given by Dr. Chambers and by Mr. Freeman, who was also a respectable man in his profession. The noble Lord had suggested a difficulty with regard to taking bail. Unquestion ably this difficulty might arise, that in case of default, they might be obliged to apply to a court of justice. It was very true that there might be precedents for taking this course, but he should rather avoid it. As to the proposition of letting out the sheriff on his parole, that appertained more to a military than to a civil court. The noble Lord suggested that they might release him from custody, and order him to return to custody at some subsequent period. He was disposed to think favourably of this suggestion. He totally denied the assertion of those hon. Members who held that this course would be a submission, and a degradation—it would be no submission no admission that they had been wrong in one tittle of the course which they had pursued. He would still vote, as before, against the absolute discharge of the sheriff from custody. But there was no reason why they should not do justice, and justice they would not be doing, if they kept the sheriff in continued custody after the evidence which had been given at their bar. He was, therefore, ready to vote for the proposition of the noble Lord, and permit the sheriff's temporary discharge.

Sir J. Graham

rose to ask permission of the House to withdraw his original motion; after what the noble Lord had said as to the difficulty with regard to taking bail for the sheriff's appearance, and to substitute for it the following:— That in consideration of the evidence of Mr. Freeman and Dr. Chambers, with respect to the state of health of Mr. Sheriff Evans, he be discharged for the present from the custody of the Serjeant-at-Arms, and directed to attend at the Bar of this House upon Monday, the 6th of April.

Mr. Hume

would prefer that the right hon. Gentleman should move simply, that the sheriff be discharged, and not put in the pretence of sickness. He moved to omit the words relative to the opinion of the medical men.

Sir J. Graham

said, that he was not in the habit of fixing upon expressions let fall by hon. Members who were not much in the habit of measuring their words; but when the hon. Member for Kilkenny said expressly, that what he had risen in his place to state to the House was "a pretence," he must appeal to the Chair.

Mr. Hume

stated, that his meaning, was, that the plea of illness put forth on behalf of the sheriff was a pretence, and that the public would think it so—that to him it appeared, and to the public he thought it would appear to be a pretence upon the part of the House to enable them to get out of their present situation.

Mr. Hawes

was of opinion, that the medical evidence afforded no justification at all. He thought, that the course of the right hon. Baronet was very inconsistent with the manner in which he had spoken of the medical evidence on a former evening. He agreed with the hon. Member for Kilkenny, that the public would think the assertion of ill-health a mere pretence to get rid of the difficulty. They were now about to discharge the sheriff, not because he had purged himself of the contempt for which he had been imprisoned, but because he was in a station of life that commanded the sympathy of the House, which sympathy did not appear to be extended to the other persons in custody, who were of a more bumble rank. Those other parties were just in the same position, and he would venture to say, that evidence might be procured quite as strong as that they had heard, with reference not to what was, but to what might be, the effect of confinement on them. The confinement in which the sheriff was kept was not close, but as mild a species of confinement as could be inflicted on any person who was imprisoned for a breach of the law. He considered Stockdale and the other persons incarcerated, to be quite as much entitled to their liberty as the sheriff; and if the right hon. Baronet opposite did not make a motion to release them, he (Mr. Hawes) would himself do so.

Sir J. Graham

said, that he attached great weight to the evidence of Dr. Chambers, and did not think they would be justified in keeping the sheriff in custody after that. Both the medical men had declared, that the sheriff's restoration to freedom was indispensable for the preservation of his health.

Viscount Howick

thought the proposal which the right hon. Baronet opposite had adopted at the suggestion of his noble Friend very objectionable. At the end of three weeks Mr. Sheriff Evans would be brought back, and the House would be placed in the same difficulty as ever. The medical witnesses, the House would recollect, spoke to the existence, not of any particular or acute disease, but of a general unhealthy state of body, which was certain to recur the moment the sheriff was again consigned to custody. The same ground for releasing him must necessarily exist then as existed now. Dr. Chambers had told the House, that the sheriff was of a constitution which made confinement peculiarly unwholesome, and it could not be expected, that if he were now to be discharged, his constitution would undergo a complete change, or that his health, which had been affected, it appeared, for seven years past, would be restored in a fortnight. He was not prepared to release the sheriff merely because the medical attendant had told them that confinement pained his mind, and was irksome to him. If he had found any disposition on the part of the House to assent to the proposal he had made, he would have persisted in it, but he had never contemplated more than that the sheriff should be allowed to leave town in the custody of a messenger. It appeared to him that the motion was in fact, although not in intention, a disguised proposal for the free discharge of the sheriff. It was one in which he could so little concur, that he should probably give no vote whatever on the question.

The House divided on the question, that the question as amended by Sir James Graham be put. Ayes 129; Noes 47:—Majority 82.

List of the AYES.
Ashley, Lord Ellis, J.
Bagot, hon. W. Fielden, W.
Baillie, Colonel Fielden, J.
Baines, E. Filmer, Sir E.
Baker, E. Filzalan, Lord
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Baring, H. B. Follett, Sir W.
Blackstone, W. S. Forrester, hon. G.
Bolling, W. Gaskell, J. M.
Bramston, T. W. Gladstone, W. E.
Brownrigg, S. Gordon, R.
Burrell, Sir C. Gordon, hon. Captain
Clay, W. Goring, H. D.
Clerk, Sir. G. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Clive, hon. R. H. Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.
Cochrane, Sir T. J. Grimsditch, T.
Copeland, Alderman Grimston, Viscount
Dalrymple, Sir A. Grimston, hon. E. H.
Darby, G. Hall, Sir B.
Darlington, Earl of Hamilton, Lord C.
Douglas, Sir C E. Hayter, W. G.
Dowdeswsll, W. Henniker, Lord
Duke, Sir J. Hepburn, Sir T. B.
Duncombe, hon. W. Herries, rt. Hon. J. C.
Eaton, R. J. Hodgson, F.
Eliot, Lord Hodgson, R.
Elliott, hon. J. E. Holmes, hon. W. A.
Holmes, W. Pryme, G.
Hope, G. W. Pusey, P.
Howard, hn. E. G. G. Rae, rt. hon. Sir W.
Howard, P. H. Reid, Sir J. R.
Humphery, J. Rice, E. R.
Hurt, F. Richards, R.
Hutt, W. Rolleston, L.
Iugestrie, Viscount Round, J.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Rushbrooke, Colonel
Jones, Captain Russell, Lord J.
Kelly, F. Rutherfurd, rt. hn. A.
Knight, G. Sandon, Viscount
Labouchere, rt. hn. H. Scarlett, hon. J. Y.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Seymour, Lord
Liddell, hon. H. T. Shirley, E. J.
Lincoln, Earl of Sibthorp, Colonel
Lockhart, A. Spry, Sir S. T.
Macaulay, right hon. T. B. Stanley, hon. E. J.
Stanley, E.
Mahon, Viscount Stanley, Lord
Morpeth, Viscount Style, Sir C.
Norreys, Lord Sugden, rt. hn. Sir E.
Ossulston, Lord Sutton, hn. J.H.T.M.
Packe, C. W. Teignmouth, Lord
Pakington, J. S. Thompson, Alderman
Palmer, R. Tufnell, H.
Palmerston, Viscount Turner, W.
Parnell, rt. hon. Sir H. Vere, Sir C. B.
Patten, J. W. Vernon, G. H.
Pattison, J. Vivian, J. E.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Wakley, T.
Peel, J. Wilshere, W.
Pemberton, T. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Perceval, Colonel Wood, Sir M.
Pigot, D. R. Wood, Colonel
Plumptre, J. P. Worsley, Lord
Polhill, F.
Praed, W. T. TELLERS.
Price, Sir R. Fremantle, Sir T.
Pringle, A. Parker, J.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Jones, J.
Aglionby, Major Kemble, H.
Bentinck, Lord G. Lushington, rt. hn. S.
Blake, W. J. Marshall, W.
Boldero, H. G. Melgund, Viscount
Bridgeman, H. Neeld, J.
Broadley, H. O'Connell, M.
Brotherton, J. Round, C. G.
Bruges, W. H. L. Rundle, J.
Busfeild, W. Scholefield, J.
Courtenay, P. Sharpe, General
Curry, Serjeant Sheppard, T.
D'Israeli, B. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Duncombe, T. Stuart, Lord J.
East, J. B. Strutt, E.
Egerton, W. T. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Evans, W. Vigors, N. A.
Hawes, B. Wallace, R.
Heathcote, Sir W. Wilde, Sergeant
Heneage, G. W. Wood, G. W.
Hindley, C. Wood, Colonel T.
Hobhouse, T. B. Wood, B.
Hodges, T. L. TELLERS.
Horsman, E. Hume, J.
James, W. Warburton, H.

On the question that resolution be agreed to,

Mr. Elliott

protested against the decision at which the House had arrived, and stated that it appeared to him, that the public, from the proceedings of the House, must think them the most inconsistent body that the world ever contained. He concluded, that to-morrow somebody would come from Newgate and inform the House, that Mr. Howard was suffering from a severe running of the nose, and they would further be told, that the mucous membrane might be dangerously affected, and the inflammation be extended to the chest, and that it would be impossible to say but that consumption might ensue. If the present course about to be taken by the House was acted upon, they never could commit a man again without inquiring whether he had a sore throat, a cold, or a pain in his great toe, which might be aggravated by confinement into disease, and tend to shorten his life.

Mr. T. Duncombe

said, that having been one of those who originally objected to the incarceration of the sheriffs, he could not give his assent to the latter part of the motion, and he would therefore move, as an amendment, that the words directing the attendance of the sheriff on the 6th of April next, be omitted.

Mr. Kemble

said he was ready to act upon the principle adopted by an hon. and learned Member opposite: fearing he should not succeed in obtaining the entire liberation of the sheriff, he would willingly accept of a month's leave of absence.

Sir E. Sugden

was as anxious as the hon. Member for Finsbury could be for the entire discharge of the sheriff, but under the present circumstances he wished him not to press his amendment.

Mr. T. Duncombe

said he would consent to no compromise. He had voted against the sheriff being summoned to the bar of the House in the first instance; he had opposed his detention throughout; and he should still continue to demand his permanent release from the custody of the House.

Sir R. Inglis

expressed a hope that the House would close its proceedings on this subject with the unconditional liberation of the sheriff.

Mr. Horsman

was sorry that he had been misled by the opinions of others, to whom he thought it his duty to listen, and that he was anxious to retrace his steps, and make all the amends he possibly could to the sheriff. When he heard the medical evidence on the health of the sheriff, he was of opinion that there was nothing in it which could induce him to consent to his release, because there was no proof that his illness had originated with his confinement, or that it was worse than it had been. Having been induced by the persuasion of hon. Gentlemen whose opinions were much respected in the House, he had refused to vote for the discharge of the sheriff on the score of ill-health. But now he was anxious to take a different course, and would therefore vote for the amendment.

Sir R. Peel

said he had voted against the absolute discharge of the sheriff on the evidence of Mr. Freeman, and he was ready to repeat that course. But the question arose whether or no Dr. Chambers should be called in, when he differed from the noble Lord, and advised the House to call him in. Dr. Chambers was then examined, and the noble Lord, the chairman of the Committee of privileges, in his official capacity, after having taken a strong and prominent part in favour of privilege, warned the House against retaining the sheriff in close custody, and made the proposition that the sheriff should be permitted, under the advice of his medical attendant, to select any place out of town where he should reside in custody of a messenger of the House. Was not that a proof that there was something in the health of the sheriff which seemed like real danger? Was that a relaxation which would be made in any ordinary case? Was it not the impression of the noble Lord that the health of the sheriff would be endangered by continued confinement? He had intended to vote for that proposition of the noble Lord; and he considered that he was acting in conformity with the course he had taken in now refusing to keep this gentleman in close confinement. He was resolved still to give the House the best advice he could on the maintenance of its privileges; but it was not the part of a wise friend to pursue, under different circumstances, the same course which had been pursued under others. After having pushed to the furthest extent the privileges of the House, though they were not exhausted, he was afraid of their breaking under him. He was still willing, however, to push them to the furthest point without exhausting them, and desirous still to give that advice which he believed was best calculated to maintain inviolate that right of publication which he thought an essential privilege of the House.

Mr. Pemberton

urged the hon. Member for Finsbury to withdraw his amendment, lest it should end in defeating the object of the original motion.

Viscount Mahon

hoped the hon. Member would withdraw his amendment.

Mr. Wallace

would not admit that he had been misled, or now allow himself to be misled by the parts which different sections of the House were acting, and he was willing to vote for the motion of the Member for Finsbury.

Mr. Warburton

said, that if the sheriff were to be liberated till the 6th of April, it would be in effect granting him a complete liberation. On the day appointed for his reappearance he would come down to the House at the head of a triumphal procession, accompanied by the Lord Mayor and Corporation, and present himself at the bar. If they discharged him knowing that such consequences must ensue, they would do wisely to discharge him at once. For his own part, he had resolved to vote against the main question.

Mr. T. Duncombe

expressed his willingness to withdraw his amendment.

The House again divided on the main question. The amendment of the hon. Member for Finsbury was negatived, the numbers being—Ayes 118; Noes 31: Majority 87.

List of the AYES.
Bagot, hon. W. Dowdeswell, W.
Baines, E. Duke, Sir J.
Baring, rt. hon. F. T. Duncombe, T.
Bentinck, Lord G. Duncombe, hon. W.
Blackstone, W. S. East, J. B.
Boldero, H. G. Eaton, R. J.
Bolling, W. Egerton, W. T.
Bramston, T. W. Ellis, J.
Broadley, H. Feilden, W.
Brownrigg, S. Fielden, J.
Bruges, W. H. L. Filmer, Sir E.
Burrell, Sir C. Fitzalan, Lord
Clay, W. Fitzroy, hon. H.
Clerk, Sir G. Forester, hon. G.
Clive, hon. R. H. Gaskell, J. M.
Cochrane, Sir T. J. Gladstone, W. E.
Copeland, Alderman Gordon, R.
Darby, G. Goring, H. D.
Darlington, Earl of Goulburn, rt. hon. H
D'Israeli, B. Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Grimsditch, T.
Grimston, Viscount Pemberton, T.
Grimston, hon. E. H. Perceval, Col.
Hall, Sir B. Plumptre, J. P.
Hamilton, Lord C. Polhill, F.
Heathcote, Sir W. Praed, W. T.
Heneage, G. W. Price, Sir R.
Henniker, Lord Pringle, A.
Hepburn, Sir T. B. Pryme, G.
Merries, rt. hon. J. C. Pusey, P.
Hodgson, F. Rae, rt. hon. Sir W.
Hodgson, R. Rice, E. R.
Holmes, hon. W. A. Richards, R.
Hope, G. W. Rolleston, L.
Howard, hn. E. G. G. Round, C. G.
Howard, P. H. Round, J.
Humphery, J. Rushbrooke, Col.
Hurt, F. Russell, Lord J.
Ingestrie, Viscount Sandon, Lord
Inglis, Sir R. H. Scarlett, hon. J. Y.
Jones, J. Sheppard, T.
Jones, Captain Sibthorp, Colonel
Kelly, F. Stanley, Lord
Kerable, H. Sugden, rt. hon. Sir E.
Knight, H. G. Teignmouth, Lord
Labouchere, rt. hn. H. Thomson, Alderman
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Tufnell, H.
Liddell, hon. H. T. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Lincoln, Earl of Vere, Sir C. B.
Lockhart, A. M: Vernon, G. H.
Macaulay, rt. hn. T. B. Wakley, T.
Mahon, Lord Wilshere, W.
Morpeth, Viscount Winnington, Sir T. E.
Neeld, J. Wood, Sir M.
Norreys, Lord Wood, Colonel
Ossulston, Lord Wood, Colonel T.
Packe, C. W. Worsley, Lord
Palmer, R.
Palmerston, Viscount TELLERS.
Pattison, J. Fremantle, Sir T.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Parker, J.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Melgund, Viscount
Aglionby, Major Pigot, D. R.
Blake, W. J. Ruudle, J.
Bridgeman, H. Rutherfurd, rt. hn. A.
Brotherton, J. Scholefield, J.
Busfeild, W. Sharpe, General
Courtenay, P. Stansfield, W. R.
Curry, Sergeant Stuart, Lord J.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Strutt, E.
Evans, W. Vigors, N. A.
Hawes, B. Wallace, R.
Hindley, C. Wilde, Sergeant
Hobhouse, T. B. Wood, G. W.
Horsman, E. Wood, B.
James, W. TELLERS.
Lushington, rt. hn. S. Hume, J.
Marshall, W. Warburton, H.

Sheriff to be discharged, and to attend at the bar of the House on April 6th.