HC Deb 06 March 1840 vol 52 cc978-1026

The Order of the Day was read for the House proceeding with the adjourned debate on on the printed papers.

Mr. O' Cornell

thought the plan of pro- ceeding now proposed by the noble Lord not consistent with the honour, the dignity, nor the safety of the House, and therefore he entered his solemn protest against it. Let the House remember, that they were struggling for the privilege of giving information to the public—of giving to the public the grounds of their proceedings. They claimed nothing for themselves, their entire struggle was for the public; it ought, then, to be a popular struggle, and once that it was properly understood, it necessarily would be so. It could not but be regretted, that persons who had stood forward at one time as the champions of the liberty of the press—who would have it secured from prosecutions by ex officio informations, and free from prosecutions by the crown—it was not but to be regretted, that there should be seen men of that stamp now taking part against the House of Commons in the claim that it made, and the right that it was contending for. That which they were contending for was that which, under every variety of circumstances, they had enjoyed for two hundred years. It was a right of publishing, where a party's proceedings rendered it necessary, defamatory matter. That they had published for two hundred years with impunity; and not only with impunity, but unassailed. The public had acquiesced in the propriety of giving that information during the whole of the period he had stated, and yet during that period hundreds and thousands of persons must have been affected by the matters which were published against them. Various persons must have been accused of crimes and misdemeanours in these publications; and yet until Stockdale prosecuted them, nobody had ever thought of assailing this, right. Stockdale was the first man who for two hundred years had ever engaged in a prosecution against them. That they should distinctly understand. The first proposition then was, that for such a length of time they had enjoyed the privilege entirely unimpeached. The second proposition was this, that it was the opinion of this House pronounced almost unanimously—it might indeed be said unanimously—that such a privilege should exist, and that they could not perform their duties fully, efficiently, or satisfactorily, without the enjoyment of such a privilege. An overwhelming majority of the House had affirmed the lat- ter position; indeed, it was scarcely contradicted even by those who were opposed to their manner of enforcing it. One portion of their antagonists disputed the mode of enforcing their privilege; a second was opposed to the privilege itself. They first found the privilege itself maintained by almost all the great leading men of the House, on both sides; they were upheld by a large majority, and by almost all who called themselves Radical Reformers. The privilege was not controverted—it was not opposed by reasoning, or anything in the way of logic; the only contest then was, as to the mode of vindicating it. He must, by way of parenthesis, observe, that a gross mistake was made by Gentlemen who were opposed to the mode adopted for the vindication of the privilege of the House. Those opponents alleged that the House confined the sheriffs, who had been guilty of no moral crime. But then, when it was admitted that the sheriffs had committed no moral crime, Gentlemen fell into the mistake of saying that the House punished those who were innocent, and that was unjust. The House was influenced by no feeling of vindictiveness, and by no desire of vengeance; but the sheriffs lay in the way of the execution of the privilege of the House. The sheriffs were the instruments to prevent its efficiency, and the House removed the sheriffs out of the way, in order that the privilege might have efficiency. Had the Members of the House the right to do this? Why, they had the right, if they were the judges of their own privileges; and of what value would be their privileges, if other tribunals had the right to decide them? In that case they would have it not. They could not have it, if they would not enforce it themselves, but should go as complainants to other tribunals, where, if they failed in prevailing on them to concede their privileges, of what use could such privileges be to them? One argument that had been raised against the exercise of this privilege, was its inconvenience. He admitted that there might be many inconveniences, and that they could in argument suppose many monstrous cases, apparently coming within the principle. But these and such other inconveniences could also be attributable to the exercise of the judicial functions—for instance, a judge might sentence a man to be executed, even though he had been acquitted by a jury—a judge, too, might send a man to gaol for contempt, because his countenance displeased the judge, and the judge, too, might fine him 50,000l.—still nobody apprehended that the judges would go to that extent. And yet the judges were independent for life—they were perfectly independent—while the Members of that House could not be said, even for the longest period, to be independent for more than seven years. There was a constant appeal from the Members of that House, if they misconducted themselves; and they could have no appeal from the judges in the exercise of their privileges. That House and the legislature alone could check the abuses of the judges. The public at large could check the abuses of their privileges. They must have public opinion to control them in the mode that was most efficacious—their total exclusion if they abused the power entrusted to them. The argument, then, that there would be an excess on their part, was much weaker than when applied to the judges or any other body. He took it, then, that they must be the sole judges of their own privileges; then by what mode were they to vindicate them? The bill proposed was founded upon the supposition that they could not vindicate their privileges. They had the mode of imprisonment. It might, he admitted, be made a nullity, if they encouraged the notion that men were, upon slight pretence, not to suffer for violating their privileges. But such excuses were never urged against the execution of the privileges of the courts of law and equity. The House had the same mode that those courts had of vindicating their privileges—that was the mode of imprisonment. Whoever violated these privileges should be subjected to imprisonment, which lasted as long as Parliament sat, and which, by adjourning over the session, might be continued for a longer period than the mere sitting of Parliament. They had, then, this mode of protecting their privileges—by imprisonment. That was the method by which all their privileges could be protected; it was a method which was found efficacious in the courts of law and of equity. The courts of law might impose fines—but the courts of equity could only imprison. It had been efficacious in other courts—and it was in that House until the present moment. Hitherto it had been completely efficacious. That, then, being so, had they a right to go any further—or to ask anything further—or to submit themselves to the other House of Parliament and the Crown, in order to obtain something further? He said, then, that his first objection to the bill was this—that before they tried to obtain a bill, they should have tried the efficacy and the extent of their power in maintaining their privileges. In the first case, one of the sheriff's had been absolutely discharged—not as the right hon. Baronet proposed, by the notice he had given that day—discharged upon bail. They had then committed that fault; while, as to the other sheriff, he was still in custody. They had let one sheriff already go abroad. He thought, then, that they had acted with weakness, and with too great lenity. They should not have allowed the sub-sheriff to go at large, who was still opposing them. In his opinion, they had not gone far enough. In former periods, he need not tell the House that they did not stop with the inferior officers, but had gone a stage higher. He did arraign those who were bringing in and supporting this bill, of a want of political courage. Why, he asked, should counsel be permitted to violate their privileges with impunity? Why should judges be allowed to violate their privileges with impunity? If they were right, let them "be just and fear not." They should not, then, ask assistance from the other House, until they had tried all the powers which they already possessed. It was said that the judicial opinions of the Queen's Bench were to be treated with respect. But what respect could be excited by the course of proceedings adopted by the Court of Queen's Bench in this matter? Their decision—of course he did not refer to the persons who pronounced it—could only be treated with sovereign contempt by that House. There was not a single lawyer on either side of the House, who had ventured to contend that the judges were right. There was not a single lawyer, whatever might be his opinions, whether for or against their privileges—whether for or against the sheriffs—there was not a single lawyer who maintained that the judgment of the Court of Queen's Bench in this case was right. Even considering the strong and decided part which had been taken upon this question by the right hon. and learned Member for Ripon—a first authority in the law—he said so sincerely; the right hon. Gentleman's works proved it; of that right hon. Gentleman he would say, that if ever there was a lawyer who knew the whole of the law, he knew it; and yet he, who thus took so active a part against the privilege, never declared that his judgment went along with that of the Queen's Bench. That right hon. Gentleman, by implication, condemned it, with all the rest of the lawyers in the House. And these persons talked to him of the necessity of respecting the courts, and maintaining their power, as opposed to the privileges of that House. They might find it necessary to attach the judges themselves. They had, even since he was a Member of that House, brought a judge before them. They had in that House, and by their publications, charged Sir Jonah Barrington with peculation—with having laid his hands on the money of the suitors in his court, and of having spent that money for his own private use. If ever there was a publication in which there was a criminatory matter, that was one. It was a possible fact, too, that instead of Lord Denman there might be a Sir Jonah Barrington to put his hands into the pockets of the suitors in his court. Supposing such a case occurred, and they ventured to publish it, what would be the remedy? Why, the moment the publication appeared, stating that fact, the publisher would be considered to have insulted the judge, the publication would be considered a contempt, and the individual they had authorised in its publication would be attached by the court and sent to gaol. He said, then, that Lord Den-man, in that supposed case, would have a right to issue an attachment; and the rest of the court, as they had already concurred with him in principle, would also agree in this, and the individual would be attached, and might lie in gaol as long as the court chose to keep him there. Lord Denman, too, might try their printer on an indictment, when the truth as to the facts would not be permitted to be given, as truth was no defence where a party was indicted for a libel; and thus, then, they perceived that a man would be punished for doing that which he performed at the instance of this House. They might praise the present judges as much as they pleased; but bad times and bad judges might come, and then let them see in what a situation they would be placed. The law left the judges irresponsible for whatever bad act they might do, criminally or civilly, as judges; for such acts they were to be free from action or indictment by any individual; they were responsible to the Commons' House of Parliament, and to nobody else; and yet it was said, forsooth! that they were to be responsible to the judges, and the judges to be responsible to them. Was that, he asked, common sense? They were contending for a privilege that was useful to the public, and not to those individuals who formed that House. That privilege was the common law of the land, and was absolutely necessary to enable them to perform the public business of legislation which was confided to them. They must possess those powers and means, without which they could not properly legislate. He was of opinion that the existence of the privilege being clear, the mode of vindicating it was clear also, and that they ought not to depart from that mode, or place their privileges in that peril in which this bill would place them. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Stanley), in the able speech he made last night, not being a professional lawyer, had been drawn into a mistake in supposing that any recital in the proposed bill, would affect the decisions of the Court of Queen's Bench. The noble Lord should recollect that, unlike France, we had no code of law to refer to. The landmarks of the law were the judgments of the courts. When a judgment was acquiesced in, it became law, and any censure of such judgment, whether given by a private individual or by a body of persons not authorized to reverse it, would be idle. The fact of a judgment not being directly contradicted or overruled, amounted to an acquiescence, and, when a judgment had been thus acquiesced in, future judges would not feel themselves at liberty to depart from a rule so established. But if they were after all determined to proceed by this bill, the House should recollect that that bill would have to be submitted to another tribunal. They all knew the force of the epigrammatic points with which, in that other tribunal, some noble and learned Lord, if he pleased to come forward and dispute the privilege, might inflame the very worst passions of parties out of that House. The privilege claimed by the House was disputed by two classes—by the Chartists on one hand, and by the ultra-Tories on the other; and if they threw in the advantage of all the power and eloquence of a man reckless of everything but carrying his point, they might create an opposition to their privileges such as they had not yet met with, and such as they were not likely to meet with, unless they provoked it in this way. If they doubted about their own privileges, they would afford opportunities of having those privileges ransacked and villified in a quarter from whence they ought not to expect or seek protection. He would not submit the privileges and powers of that House to the keeping of any party—privileges and powers which were always necessary, and at no time more necessary than at present. He begged leave, in conclusion, to enter his protest against this proposed mode of proceeding, and to remind the House that they were battling with that which had been condemned on every side as an erroneous jndgment of the Court of Queen's Bench; and having right on their side, and struggling for the advantage of the public, they ought not to have the appearance, much less the reality, of shrinking from the contest, until they had exhausted all the means at their disposal.

Sir W. Follett

said, that the hon. and learned Member for Dublin opposed the introduction of this bill because, as he said, the House had at present the means of carrying the object sought for by this bill into effect. It had been intimated before, that they ought to summon, and the hon. and learned Gentleman now called upon the House to summon, the judges of the Court of Queen's Bench, and commit them for giving a judgment contrary to the opinion of the majority of that House. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that unless they did this they could not effectually vindicate the privileges of the House. He would call the attention of the hon. and learned Gentleman to what he considered the proposition before the House. He would say, in the first place, that it had not been disputed by any of the leading Members of the House, that the House had power to communicate freely and without question its proceedings to the public. This was the opinion he had always entertained, and which he had expressed on all occasions. He thought the House had the power, and ought to have it, because he considered such a power essential to the due discharge of its functions. With all deference to the judgment of the Court of Queen's Bench, he had no hesitation in repeating the opinion he had before expressed—that in this case the publication having taken place by the order of that House, it ought to have been declared to be unquestionable by that Court. He must express his regret that the House had not adopted the advice which he thought it his duty to give in an early stage of these proceedings. The opinion he expressed when the judgment of the Court of Queen's Bench was given was, that they ought to have questioned that judgment in a court of error. He regretted that that course had not been pursued. He was of opinion that if they had brought a writ of error they would have been spared the proceedings that they felt themselves compelled to take, and they would not have found it necessary to commit parties by the authority of that House, or of the Legislature. He wished to know by what means they could reverse the judgment of the Court of Queen's Bench? That could only be done by a writ of error, or by Act of Parliament. He was distinctly of opinion that the House posssessed the privilege it claimed; he thought that privilege essential; and he also thought the Court of Queen's Bench ought to have given a different judgment; but still he felt great objection to the course of proceedings that had been adopted by the House. He objected to them, because he did not consider them to be a constitutional mode of interfering with the court; and he objected to them also, because he believed them ineffectual. It was said by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin, that the House had not proceeded to the utmost. Let them work the privilege to the utmost, and see what the House could do. Take the case that had already occurred. An action is brought during the recess, and judgment is obtained. When they met, what would they do? Would they commit the sheriff? The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that they had discharged one sheriff, and they were prepared to discharge the other. But suppose they kept him in custody, what then? Keep them, said his right hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-general, till the privilege of the House was vindicated, and the hon. Member for Bridport (Mr. Warburton) said, that the sheriff might obtain his release when he liked, by paying the money. They had not prevented Stockdale from obtaining the fruits of the judgment given in his favour; and did they think, after that, that they would be vindicating the privileges of the House if they made the sheriff pay the money again? What would they do with the money if the sheriff paid it? It was true that they would not have to vote payment to Mr. Hansard; they would save the public purse about 600l.; but they would not have prevented the plaintiff from having successfully instituted an action and walking off with the fruits of it. But if they kept the sheriff in custody, that would not show that their power was effectual to vindicate their privilege. Suppose the present sheriff had done what the under-sheriff stated that he was willing to do—namely, that he "would obey the orders of the House as far as he could;" an application is made to the Court of Queen's Bench, and the sheriff makes a return of an order of that House, directing him not to levy. This would bring directly under the cognizance of the Court of Queen's Bench the resolutions and orders of the House, and what would be the consequence? They knew from the facts that had occurred, that the judges would treat that return as a nullity, and would order it to be taken off the file. He wanted to know what the House was prepared to do in that case? The judges would declare the return a nullity, and would order the sheriff, notwithstanding that return, to execute the writ. The sheriff would come to that House and say, "I have taken your resolutions to the judges, they have had judicial information of them, and notwithstanding that, they have directed me to proceed, and if you do not protect me, the judges will send me to Newgate." If after this the sheriff proceeded to execute the writ, would that House take him into custody for obeying the orders of the Court of Queen's Bench, or would they do what the hon. and learned Member for Dublin stated that they ought to have done—namely, summon the judges to the Bar, and tell them they had been guilty of a breach of the privileges of the House, and ought to be punished. They could not avoid that dilemma, and if they were determined to support their privileges by means of committals, they must summon the judges, and not the sheriffs. Let him ask hon. Members if they were prepared to summon to the Bar the judges of the courts of justice, not for malversation or peculation—as in the case to which the hon. and learned Member for Dublin referred—not for misbehaviour or misconduct, but because they, men of learning, of character and honour, had conscientiously given a judgment according to the best of their knowledge? Would they summon the judges, and compel them to state the grounds on which they had come to their decision? Was the House prepared to take such a step? He could well understand such a course being pursued in other days, in bad times, for such things occurred not in the good times of our history, but in times of trouble. It was true that the House of Commons had summoned one judge to the Bar. There was a wide distinction between the times when that judge was summoned and the present times. If they summoned a judge, or any other person to the Bar of the House, their power would be wholly ineffectual unless they were backed by the people. In the times to which the hon. Member for Dublin alluded, that House was struggling for the liberties of the people against the court and against the power of the Crown. That made the House of Commons popular, and in the steps taken by them they were supported by the people. In what position did the judges stand, then? The judges were wholly and entirely dependent on the Crown, removable at the will and pleasure of the Crown, and dependent for their salaries and places altogether upon the Crown. They were chosen not always for their learning, but sometimes for their subserviency, and the public considered the judges as the mere creatures of the Crown, and therefore it was that they supported the House of Commons when they went the length of taking steps against the judges. Was that the case at present? In what position did the judges stand now? They knew that there had often been exhibited a want of reverence towards the constituted authorities, but he believed that in all times, even of the greatest trouble and discontent, the judges were an exception to this rule. There was an unbounded and well founded confidence in their integrity and learning. They were not dependent on the Crown; but, on the contrary, they were perfectly independent of the Crown, and of the public, and indeed of every other authority in the state. They were appointed to administer justice, and administer it in the most honest, most conscientious, and most upright manner, and he was satisfied that if that House attempted to interfere with the administration of law, or to bring the judges to the bar of the House, it would be the last time that that House would exercise any privilege at all. The hon. and learned Member for Dublin said, the judges were responsible to the House of Commons. In what way? It was true that either House of Parliament might present an address to the Crown to remove a judge, and so far the judges were responsible. It was also true that that House might impeach a judge; but he had yet to learn that the judges were responsible in the way pointed out by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin. If the judges gave a judgment that was displeasing to the majority of that House, were they liable to be questioned and censured for that judgment, and were they to be liable to punishment? If this were contended for, they must keep the judges in custody until they retracted their judgment. He asked the House whether such a proceeding were possible? If the hon. and learned Member for Dub-thought the protection of this privilege—privilege was not a proper name to apply to it—the protection of this right, rather—essential, and if they could not protect it except by the course pointed out by that hon. and learned Gentleman, he thought that the strongest possible argument in favour of the noble Lord's Bill. He thought the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman, that they ought effectually to work out the power they possessed, before they brought in a bill, led to its refutation, for he had shown that they could not effectually work out their present power, and therefore, some bill of this sort was necessary. With respect to the bill itself, he wished not to give any opinion upon it. He could only know what the bill would be from the statements of the noble Lord, and he therefore did not wish to give any opinion upon it, as much would depend on the manner in which it would be drawn up and worded; but addressing himself to the strong advocates of privilege he must say, taking what the noble Lord had stated to be the object of the bill, he could not conceive that the advocates of privi- lege had any right to complain of it. If he understood the noble Lord, the bill would be confined solely and entirely to the power of publication which was questioned, thus leaving entirely untouched every other right and privilege of the House. The noble Lord (Howick) cried "hear," as if he thought that this bill would affect the other privileges of the House. He wanted to know how that could happen? He was standing up for the right of publishing papers, but the Court of Queen's Bench had decided against them, and they found that they could not effectually maintain that right. Was there any inconsistency in getting an act of the Legislature to provide additional power and security? The noble Lord's bill enabled any printer or publisher, under the immediate orders of the House, whether in the recess or not, to stay proceedings in any action; and if they pushed their privilege to the greatest extent, they could not do more. The bill would in no way interfere with any of the privileges of the House, and he could not therefore conceive how the high sticklers for privilege could say that the privileges of the House were affected by this bill, when they found that they could not effectually support the power of publication without additional means, which means must be provided by the Legislature. His right hon. Friend behind him (Sir Edward Sugden) opposed the introduction of the bill on the ground that they had no right to make an enactment for the protection of the publication of their papers, while they left untouched the two resolutions of 1837, and the resolution of 1835. The resolutions of 1837 were in no way confirmed or sanctioned by this bill. It left them to stand exactly upon their own merits. If they were well founded, the privileges stated in them would be supported, but if they were not well founded this bill would give them no additional support whatever. With regard to the other argument respecting the resolution of 1835, for the sale of papers, if it were meant that the bill itself ought to contain some regulation or legislative enactment to alter that resolution, he must say that he entertained the strongest objection to any legislative enactment to regulate the proceedings of that House. As far as the resolution itself went, he felt the strongest possible objection to the continuance of the resolution. He thought that resolution injudicious, and he could not fancy that any saving it might have produced could be any possible counterbalance to the injury it had caused. He should be glad, therefore, if that resolution were altered. It was not, however, necessary as a precedent to this bill to enter into the consideration of that resolution. The House might alter it in another session, but to alter or rescind the resolution by way of bargain for allowing this bill to be introduced, did not appear to him to be the right way of proceeding. He should be quite ready at the proper time to support a motion for the appointment of a committee to inquire whether any effective check could be placed upon the publication by the House of defamatory or libellous matter. He gladly approved of the introduction of a measure which would prevent the necessity of having recourse to the measures they had of late been compelled to take; and which at the same time protected that right which the House ought to have, by an act of the entire legislature. He must say, also, that however anxious hon. Members might be to preserve their privileges unimpaired, he could not help asking, did hon. Members think that the scenes that had lately occurred in that House, the examinations that had taken place, and the sort of contest in which they were engaged with this wretched plaintiff, and with attorneys and attorney's clerks—did hon. Members think that these things could take place night after night, and that the character of the House would not surfer in the estimation of the people? He hoped hon. Members on both sides of the House would agree in thinking that they ought to congratulate themselves and the country that the noble Lord had at least brought this bill in, and, without pledging himself to its details, he would cordially vote for its introduction, at the same time expressing a hope that the bill would be of a description which would enable him to support it in every stage.

Mr. Charles Buller

was of opinion that the sale of the Parliamentary papers had nothing whatever to do with the bill then before the House, and the giving a copy by any Member to a constituent, or to a friend, was as much an act of publication as if the sale was made by a printer or publisher. There was one point in which he concurred with the right hon. Gentleman opposite, and that was, that the House was bound to provide some remedy for attacks upon private character, as had been provided by courts of law in proceedings before them. He did not know what would be the report of the committee appointed to examine into that, but there was one subject which would be satisfactory to the public, and it was this, that persons injured by false evidence given before the House, should have an equal remedy as in courts of justice. He had not interfered in the discussions upon the privilege question, although he had given his vote on some occasions. He considered the bill a practical step towards the support of the privilege of publication, which he considered indispensably necessary, and he was convinced that public opinion was in favour of the protection of that privilege; but there was also another matter upon which public opinion was against the House, and that was the mode of enforcing that privilege. They complained of the mode as being repugnant to the notions of the present day. The bill proposed by the noble Lord would enable the House to maintain its privileges; but he would appeal to every Gentleman in that House, and ask him if there was not a repugnance to the mode of vindication which the House had adopted? Was it wise, then—was it seemly—that the House should bear contest and conflicts with the courts of justice upon that subject? Was it right to exercise coercion against the sheriffs and others by imprisoning them for what they could not avoid doing? There were some suggestions which were important to consider. The House was weaker than the judges, and the sheriffs succumbed to the weaker power. The House had the power of imprisoning for six months only—the judges had the power of imprisoning for twelve months. The judges were the more powerful, and for that reason the sheriffs obeyed them. The power of the House was a vindictive power and could not compel them to do what the House wished them to do. The conduct of the House was an old fashioned and cumbrous mode of sustaining the privileges which the present day would not sanction, similar to the old and exploded practice of stopping the supplies. [Mr. Hume: A good practice, too.] No man at the present day would think of an act so extravagant. [Mr. Hume: But I would.] Notwithstanding what the hon. Meberm said, he would support the bill, and thought that a similar remedy should be ap- plied to the other privileges of the House, and if he could not obtain it for all the privileges, he would be anxious to obtain it for that of publication, and would be happy to avoid those scenes which did not raise the House in the eyes of the country.

Mr. Gisborne

must confess his surprise when the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last but one called on the House to consider the exhibition that had lately taken place at the bar of the House, and used it as an argument for assenting to this bill; for it must be remembered that, had it not been for a wrong judgment of the Court of Queen's Bench, they never would have been reduced to that necessity. This bill now called on them to go to the House of Lords for assistance in the assertion of their privileges, but when he recurred to former instances in which a similar course had been adopted, he met with little to encourage him in adopting it again. He fully believed that the House stood now in a better situation than it did at the commencement of the contest, in many particulars; for there was not a lawyer in the House who did not say, that the judgment of the Court of Queen's Bench was wrong; and even at this time the Court of Queen's Bench seemed to be hesitating as to the propriety of the course they had taken, by their not directing the sheriff to assess the damages at once. He doubted much whether there was any public feeling against the House on this subject, notwithstanding what had been stated by the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln. There certainly had been one public meeting in Middlesex, to which persons were admitted only by tickets, and when some strong resolutions against the privileges of the House had been passed; but he was not aware that throughout the kingdom, from one end to the other, there had been any particular exhibition of feeling against them. Ten or twelve elections had also taken place since this subject had come before the House, but he did not know that their privileges had even been mentioned on the hustings. He had understood the right hon. Gentleman opposite to suggest to the noble Lord that he should learn from his colleagues in the other House what course should be taken on this measure. Now, it any measure of the kind had originated in the other House, he should not have considered it so object- ionable; but he would admit that he most cordially dissented from this bill, and would say, that the House ought not to go to any other body for assistance until they had endeavoured to maintain their privileges by all means in their power, and that they should address the Crown at the end of the Session, stating the difficulty in which they were placed, and praying that the House might only be adjourned, and not prorogued. He should oppose this bill in every stage, for if it passed, all their privileges would be compromised.

Sir R. Peel

said, he was surprised to find that the hon. Member who had just sat down, would not be able to fight under his banner now in the effort to relieve the House from its present difficulty by means of a legislative measure, because from the very first he had said, that so imperfect as their powers were to maintain those absolutely essential privileges, he did foresee that they would ultimately be obliged to proceed to legislation. He had said the House ought to support its privileges by all the powers which it possessed; he had at the same time told them that he anticipated failure, but that he considered that no reason why every effort should not be tried to vindicate their privileges. He foresaw that at last they would have to resort to a legislative measure, and he did suggest the bringing in of a bill to settle the question. But an argument was now used, by which it was contended, that if this question was to be settled by legislation, all the other privileges of the House ought to be confirmed in the same manner. Now, he should have no objection to such a course, if he could find a means of defining all the other privileges of the House, but no other privilege was called in question, and he could not anticipate that any other would be called in question. If any other were to be called in question, he should then propose to take such efficient measures as would be adapted to the circumstances. But if he were to attempt to settle the privileges of the House by Act of Parliament, there would be great danger of omitting some essential privilege in such an enactment, and of thereby implying that no such privilege existed. That was his objection to any attempt to legislate upon every privilege of the House. In assenting to take the course now proposed to be taken, he adhered as strongly as ever to his original opinions upon this sub- ject; he still thought an unlimited power of publication necessary to the proper discharge of the functions of the House; he still was of opinion that the judgment of the Court of Queen's Bench was altogether unwarrantable and irreconcilable with reason, and that it did not at all correspond with the grounds upon which it professed to be founded. He had distinct declarations from his right hon. Friend who had filled the office of Lord Chancellor of Ireland, for whose opinions he had the highest respect, and also from another learned Friend of his, for whom he had equal respect, and who was one of the highest and most distinguished ornaments of his profession, not only among those of the present day, but of any time whatever—he had from those hon. and learned Friends of his a distinct declaration, that they thought the House of Commons possessed the right of publishing its proceedings. The difficulties, therefore, that had arisen out of this question were not to be attributed to any extravagant or unfounded pretensions urged by the House of Commons, but to the judgment which had been pronounced by the court of law. The House was bound not to resort to legislation until it had, in the first place, tried how far the powers which it undoubtedly possessed were sufficient for the vindication of its privileges. And already the House had established one privilege by the course which it had taken. The power of imprisonment for breach of privilege was now established beyond question. They had compelled the court of law to recognize this power, and it was one which, having established, he would go on to exercise, if he did not expect still more effectually to protect the right of free publication by other means. If he failed in the attempt, he did not see that the failure would place the House in any worse situation. Indeed, he doubted whether the attempt and the failure would not fortify the House in the exercise of those powers which it now possessed, which he considered insufficient for the due vindication of its privileges. These powers he considered to be incomplete and imperfect, and their imperfection was the sole reason that induced him to resort to legislation. In the first place, they were imperfect as regarded time, the power of the House being limited by the duration of the Session; the law denied the House the power of prolonging the penalty of im- prisonment beyond the end of the Session; during the recess, therefore, the printers of the House would be liable to be continually harassed by actions at law, and in consequence of the improvement that had taken place in the forms of pleading, those actions might now be brought to an issue much sooner than they could formerly have been. Now, the House had resolved not to plead, and it could not rely upon the protection of the court; was it then fit or decent that the printer to the House of Commons should during the recess be harassed by these proceedings for executing the orders of the House? Was it not a great, a monstrous indignity? He was told the House had a remedy—that it might be adjourned and not prorogued; but was it necessary to deprive the Crown of the great constitutional power of proroguing Parliament, in order to protect the printer of the House of Commons against such an individual as had originated these proceedings? Could a greater degradation be imagined to any constitutional authority than that it should be compelled altogether to abandon the power of prorogation, and resort to adjournment, for the purpose of protecting the servant of the House of Commons? What right would the House have to ask the Crown to render permanent the sittings of Parliament? It was surely better to resort to legislation than to such inconvenient expedients as these. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Exeter had asked why the House had not appealed from the judgment of the Court of Queen's Bench by writ of error. It was indeed said, that a different opinion from that given by the Court of Queen's Bench was now held by the judges; but let the House consider whether, if any change had taken place in the inclination of the minds of the judges, the discussions that had taken place in that House had not contributed to bring about such a change; and then let the House recollect that the writ of error must have been brought immediately after the second action had been disposed of. He doubted whether the issue of the proposed appeal would at that period have been in favour of the House. The expediency of the course that had been taken must be judged by the state of things which existed then, and not by any change which might be supposed to have taken place since. If, then, the House had appealed, and the result of the appeal had been un- favourable, what was to be done? Ought the House to have stopped there, or to have appealed again, and to have submitted their privileges to the decision of the House of Lords? He knew there were many who now found fault with the course which the House had adopted, and advised an appeal to the fifteen judges, but who, nevertheless, recommended the House to stop there, and not to permit the House of Lords in its judicial capacity to give the final decision upon their privileges. But it appeared to him that whatever might now be the result of an appeal to the fifteen judges, there was not at the time when such an appeal must have been made sufficient probability of a favourable result to justify the House in taking that course. The power of the House, therefore, according to the existing law, was limited in regard to time. Now, he asked whether this power, while it lasted, was sufficient to prevent the plaintiff in an action from levying damages? They had committed the plaintiff, the plaintiff's attorney, the attorney's clerk, and also his son; they had exercised the powers which they posssesed largely, and without much restriction; but could they practically prevent the plaintiff from getting possession of damages? If they could not, what was to be done? He saw the difficulties that would attend legislation upon the subject, but if, notwithstanding the privileges of the House, every one had it in his power to levy damages of 600l. for a libel contained in the papers published by their orders, would they not give parties encouragement to prosecute actions against the printer of the House? He was told he ought to go on in the course in which he had commenced, and he was ready to do so if any effective security could be obtained against the recurrence of such proceedings; but if Mr. Stockdale got out of prison at the end of the session with the 600l. in his pocket, he would, in all probability, be very well satisfied with the result. Suppose, in the action now pending, damages were given of fivefold the amount of the former, how could the House prevent the plaintiff from receiving those damages. And then at the end of the session what a degradation it would be when the House, after all the proceedings which it had taken, had to vote a sum of 8,000l. or 9,000l. to defray the expenses of those actions! For the House could never be so unjust as to say to their printer, "Wait till we get the money from the sheriff, and then we will repay you the expenses which you have been put to for obeying our orders." The House could not get the money from the sheriff, and therefore it must be raised by a vote of the public money. In the mean time the servant of the House, an innocent man, was treated like a criminal, his goods were seized, and 600l. damages were levied; the loss, indeed, could not be estimated by the mere amount of damages, for the annoyance and anxiety to which Mr. Hansard had been subjected must also be taken into consideration. A vote of public money for such a purpose would surely be a degradation to the House. Well, then, could the House avoid it? Had it any means of escaping from the necessity of such a vote? If it had, well and good; if not, was it not expedient to try whether it was not possible to give efficient protection to their servant by means of legislation? It was said, that by legislating on this particular privilege they would prejudice the rest; he admitted that such an argument was deserving of consideration, but why should not a balance of inconveniences be struck in this case, as in all other human affairs, and why should not the course to be pursued be decided by the result of that balance. It was very well to say the House ought to go on with the conflict, but was not a succession of conflicts with such persons degrading to the House? Was it fit that their time, which belonged to the public, should be wasted night after night in such contests? Consider, too, the constitution of the assembly engaged in them; a single judge could effectually enforce and carry out the resolution to which he had come, but in the House every act, every exercise of power must depend upon the will of the majority. That was one of the inconveniences arising out of the constitution of a popular assembly: there would always be a difference of opinion, there would always be some opinion favourable to the party against whom proceedings were taken, and who would be encouraged by such opinions to resist the authority of the House. Thus a man who could obtain no respect in the circle in which he lived was raised by his conflict with the House to such an elevation, that his private character and his motives were wholly lost sight of. He was only regarded as the asserter of a great public principle, and found ranged upon his side men who entertained the greatest contempt for his private character, while men of the highest honour were co-operating with him, and this night after night. He (Sir R. Peel) doubted whether the power of imprisonment which the House possessed was as effectual as it was considered to be; he doubted whether this exercise of it would not involve the House in a series of contests, perhaps interminable. Let them not rely on the effect of committing the first, counsel who appeared against them; others would come forward, for the spirit of party, and the desire of distinction were equally strong with the fear of punishment, especially when the punishment was inflicted in pursuance of what they would consider to be an unjust sentence. He doubted, therefore, whether imprisonment would produce the effect expected from it; but supposing that it would, still, if it were possible to legislate on the subject consistently with the safe custody of the other privileges of the House, he would much rather make the attempt than continue to be engaged in these nightly contests. Much, no doubt, would depend upon the form of the measure, but he gave his cordial assent to the proposal to bring in a bill, reserving to himself, of course, the right of expressing his opinion upon its details. He could not think their privileges would be endangered by passing such a bill. Reference had been made to the measure which had been passed to regulate the trial of election petitions; the House on the occasion of passing that measure had asked the House of Lords to concur in giving greater powers to the House of Commons; and yet he could not consider that their privileges had suffered any damage by this appeal to the other House, or that their powers were less complete than before. The same course had been previously taken when the Grenville Act was passed to remove the great embarrassment which had previously existed in the trial of election petitions, and yet this act had never been considered prejudicial to the privileges of the House. He did not see why any greater prejudice should arise from inviting the House of Lords to co-operate with the House of Commons in passing such a measure as was now proposed. Suppose the House of Lords attached to the bill any unreasonable condition; suppose, for instance, it insisted on an abandonment of the right of selling papers on the part of the House of Commons; it would be perfectly in the power of the House to reject such an addition to the bill, and if it was insisted upon, to refuse the bill altogether, and to fall back on the powers which the House had already exercised, and which would be in nowise injured by such an attempt. They had proved that they possessed the power of committing the plaintiff and the sheriff; why would they not be equally at liberty to do so again if they failed in their attempt at legislation? If the House could put other powers which it claimed in the more definite form of a legislative enactment, he doubted whether their exercise would not be rendered more acceptable to the public by the adoption of such a course, and he could not help thinking that the attempt to take such a course on the present occasion would, if the House of Lords refused to pass a proper measure, fortify the House of Commons in the forbearing', moderate, and temperate vindication of its privileges by such means as it now possessed. He hoped, however, that the House of Lords, seeing the practical embarrassment that had arisen, and seeing that the difficulty that had arisen was owing to no fault on the part of the House of Commons, but solely to the judgment which the court of law had thought fit to pronounce, would give the House of Commons such a measure as would be acceptable to it, and as would enable them effectually to exercise those privileges which were essential to the due discharge of its duties. He at first thought that it would have been better for this bill to have originated in the other House, but he had now changed that opinion, for he did not think that the House of Lords could have originated such a measure, without a previous communication with the House of Commons, and it appeared a more dignified proceeding for the House of Commons to originate this bill, than to ask for a free conference with the other House for the purpose of stating the in. conveniences to which the House of Commons was now exposed, and asking relief at the hands of the House of Lords. He very much doubted whether the best course was not to present to the House of Lords such a bill as they considered would be the most effectual for the better protection of the right of publication, and at the same time most consistent with the maintenance of their other privileges. On these grounds, which he had always entertained and expressed,—admitting his apprehension that in the result their powers would be found incomplete,—his unwillingness, and he had never disguised it, to proceed to that step which he considered alien to the feelings and spirit of the present age, he meant committing the judges to prison—the unfitting collision between the highest authorities in the state, for after all, the effectual protection of their privileges in this contest must depend on the assistance of the Crown, they must address the Crown, and they must also rely in some measure on another branch of the Legislature; yet, believing that unless something effectual were done, the House would have to enter into contest, not merely with ministerial officers, but into personal conflict with the judges themselves,—believing that public opinion was decidedly in favour of this privilege, that the House of Commons, as the great inquisition of the country, the inquirer into abuses, the detector of corruption, the originator of wise legislation, should not be deprived of powers it had possessed for 150 years, to publish the grounds of its decisions,—believing that sound public opinion, though partially differing as to the best mode of vindicating it, was in favour of the House upon the main question, and he thought it most important, he had never concealed it, that the representatives of public opinion should be backed by that opinion as to the possession of the privilege,—firmly believing that public opinion, the sound part of it, formed on deliberation, would rather be in favour of permanent assured protection to their officers by the intervention of the law, than that they should maintain it by what might otherwise be unavoidable,—personal conflict with the judges, thereby setting an example of lowering the authority of the bench, on the respect and veneration for which depended the best interests of the country;—on these grounds, professing a determination to look narrowly at the provisions and recital of the noble Lord's bill, and foreseeing the immense difficulty of practically maintaining their privilege under present circumstances, the sacrifice of public time that must be unavoidable, the constant conflicts between the House and perhaps the lowest Member of the community with whom they might hereafter hare to deal, he was inclined to think that the wiser course was to submit to the House of Lords that measure which on the one hand was considered most likely to give effect to the right of publication, and on the other not draw into question other privileges which were equally essential to the due discharge of their legislative functions.

Mr. Hume

said, the right hon. Baronet on a former occasion had asserted that the House possessed the power of vindicating their privileges. The House had tried their power, and he wanted to know why they retired from the course they had commenced, unless they intended to define their privileges. Much time had been spent on the question, and if the system now advocated was continued, much more would be lost. Why did the House refuse to take the proper course—to bring in a bill which defined all their privileges? The Serjeant-at-Arms was likely to have an action shortly brought against him. Did the bill go so far as to prevent the action? If the bill did not do so, why did the House attempt to legislate for only a trifling part of the matter? He had heard it asserted by high authorities in that House, that the judges were wrong and the House was right; but would the right hon. Baronet venture to say, that the judges would not repeat their error? If the Lord Chief Justice really saw his error, the House ought to trust to that circumstance, before they violated a resolution on their books; or, if they did proceed, they ought first to expunge that resolution, which was to the effect that the House were the sole judges of their privileges, and any attempt to bring them under discussion was a breach of privilege. If the House departed from the high ground which they had taken at first, at least they ought to begin by doing away with what otherwise would be a contradiction in the proceedings. With respect to the privilege of publication, it ought to be secured in the most effectual manner, for he had seen so much good result from exposure of proceedings and practices, that the country had risen up to put down the obnoxious measures and men. He would ask whether the privileges of the Court of Queen's Bench were protected and defined by law. They were not so protected; their privileges rested on practice and precedent; and was it not degrading that one of the highest courts in the realm should be obliged to seek protection for its privileges under such a piecemeal peace of legislation? What he objected to was, that there was no ground for retreating at the present moment. He did not see what necessity existed for the noble Lord to retrace his steps—or why such a meagre and insufficient measure should only be brought forward; why not protect the Serjeant-at-Arms, who would doubtless want protection in a day or two? Would the noble Lord bring in another bill to effect that object? Would the noble Lord continue to bring in bill after bill when similar cases called for them? Suppose, for instance, a committee of Members summoned a witness before them, and the witness refused to attend. The House might be told they had no power to enforce attendance, because they could not show any statute—and because their power only rested, as the power of the Queen's Bench, on practice and long-continued usage. Many persons thought the House were wrong in not having their privileges defined—and why not have a distinct and definite law on the subject drawn out? He, however, did not think the House were driven to the necessity of resorting to the present bill. He entered his protest against it, and he expressed his sorrow he had entered into the contest. The House retired vanquished, for they by the bill violated the principles on which they were proceeding, and he should give his vote against the bill. The House ought to proceed in the way pointed out by the Solicitor-general. Let them first answer that hon. and learned Member's speech and averments before they went on with the bill; and if they could not fairly answer them, then they were bound to follow out to the utmost extent the course pointed out by the hon. and learned Member.

Colonel Sibthorp

had always heard there was more joy in heaven over one sinner that repented than over ninety and nine just persons, and, as far as he could understand the hon. Member for Kilkenny, he was the repentant one in this matter. He believed that the noble Lord opposite was repentant too; otherwise he would not have introduced, at the eleventh hour, such a nonsensical and inoperative bill as that under discussion. He differed with regret from the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, in his view of the question; but Aliquando bonus dormit Homerus. The noble Lord had grounded his motion on the lamentable waste of the time of the House which the question caused; but why did the noble Lord not consider that point before? The fact however, was, that the noble Lord was not sorry, but right glad, of this waste of time, because it gave the Chancellor of the Exchequer an opportunity of bringing forward a more plausible budget than he otherwise might have had the means to do. The noble Lord had done all that he could do—he had imprisoned the sheriffs for not having violated their oaths—and now he came forward with this bill to declare himself vanquished. He did not hesitate, however, to say, that he looked with great suspicion on that measure; indeed, on every thing that emanated from the noble Lord. It might be called a Bill for the relief of the sheriffs, but it, in reality, only cast scorn upon their persecutors; and he declared to God, that he would much rather be incarcerated for the remainder of his days, than not act as those gentlemen did in discharge of their duty. He called on the noble Lord to fix a day for the different stages of his Bill, and so forth. In his opinion it was but a loophole to noose his right hon. Friend near him (Sir R. Peel.)

Viscount Howick

confessed that the objections to the measure of the noble Lord urged the preceding night by his hon. and learned Friend, the Solicitor-general, were far from being removed, in his mind, by the debate of the present night. All those who had attended to the speeches of the right hon. Baronet opposite, and the hon. and learned Member for Exeter, must have perceived that those who supported the measure of his noble Friend were called on to do so by the admitted inadequacy, on the part of those hon. Members of the House to support its own privileges. It was consistent in the latter hon. Member to uphold the doctrine of an appeal to the fifteen judges, and from them to the House of Lords, because he had upheld it before in the debates on this question. But it was in his opinion a new doctrine to the law and constitution of the country that the dearest privileges of that House should be held at the discretion of the other branch of the legislature, for such would be its practical result. That doctrine, as he had said, was not inconsistent with the opinions already stated by the hon. and learned Member; but it was far otherwise with that maintained by the right hon. Baronet and the noble Lord, who had always been distinguished as the most strenuous assert-ors of the doctrine that the House was the sole judge of its own privileges. What was the use of the power of judging, however, if the judgment was to be a dead letter, as it would be if the bill of the noble Lord became law? It had been no doubt argued that, under cover of asserting its privileges, the House of Commons might do what it pleased, and establish any thing it desired; but was that difficulty escaped from by conferring unlimited power upon the House of Lords? If the House of Commons could declare any thing privilege by the bill of the noble Lord, the House of Lords would be enabled to deprive them of any privilege they now possessed. When it was believed that there was no authority to overrule the privileges of the House of Commons, there would be, for so long, no attempt made to impugn them; but once admit such an authority, and there was immediately a bonus offered for contesting them in every particular. The Solicitor-general had adduced a variety of instances in which they might and would be impugned in such case, and he would adduce another. Suppose the House sought to impeach a Member of the other branch of the legislature for malpractices in his capacity of Governor-general of India. Suppose in pursuance of their duty they sent to the India Company for the necessary papers, and suppose that body denied them, how was the House to proceed then? Under the noble Lord's bill it should bring the case into the courts of law, and, if a verdict was given against the India Company, the case might be removed by writ of error into the Exchequer Chamber, and then by appeal into the House of Lords? Here, then, was the House of Lords sitting in judgment on a case which involved its own interests, and yet that was what the bill naturally led to. Did the right of calling for papers rest on any higher grounds than the right of publication that it should not be questioned more than that? Not at all. The right of publication rested on two hundred years of exercise and undoubted acquiescence during a period when the strongest inducements existed to control it. It was a right which had been also recognised by the Court of Queen's Bench in the case of Home Tooke. If the bill of the noble Lord were passed, the House would have no security, either in acquiescence or practice or prescription, hereafter, for any one of its privileges. The hon. and learned Member for Exeter had said, that it was proper for the House to submit to the law as laid down by the judges, and affirmed by the House of Lords. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had said it was not proper, but that the House was helpless, powerless, and incapable of proceeding in the question. He however denied both positions. He did not think the privileges of the House should be judged elsewhere. He called upon the right hon. Baronet to produce proof of its powerlessness. The right hon. Baronet had argued that the power of the House was in abeyance during the recess, but to this he would answer that, if its rights were only resolutely asserted during the sitting of Parliament, it would prevent all attempts at impugning them in the recess. If the House showed the ministerial officers of the court that it would inflict signal punishment when it met, on those who lent themselves to such proceedings in its recess, he was quite sure that it would effectually prevent all such attempts against its privileges. The House had the power to do so; and only for the symptoms of yielding exhibited by the noble Lord, the sheriff would have paid over the money in dispute to the Messrs. Hansard. It might be said that it would be a hardship on the sheriffs to place them in a position of contempt to the courts of law; but that objection was easily met by a Bill of Indemnity. And he did not for a moment believe, that the courts would violate their duty and the law as laid down by Chief Justice Lord Ellenborough, that no officer of the court was bound to perform acts which involved contempt of privilege—even the privilege of the Board of Green Cloth. The case of the warden of the Fleet was analogous to what would be the case of the sheriffs under such circumstances: they would be protected by the House, and the courts would not attempt to interfere. He deprecated the course taken by the noble Lord. The House had been now engaged in a long and arduous struggle, and yet the noble Lord came down with a bill to surrender those privileges for which they had been so severely contending. The bill of his noble Friend was a virtual acknowledgment that the House was driven to its last extremity, and could no longer defend itself, but that it was obliged to seek the assistance of the other branch of the legislature. The noble Lord had argued that this course would put an end to the inconveniences complained of as arising out of this question, the waste of public time and temper, ? but he believed that it would have quite a contrary effect, and that there would be from henceforth more doubts and questions on the subject of privilege than heretofore. But if his noble Friend's argument was good for anything, it was good against himself. Why did he not bring in his bill before? Why did he consume the time of the House in idle and valueless discussions? The right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth, had said, that something had been gained by these discussions, if it was nothing more than enlightening the judges and the other branch of the Legislature, on the subject of the privileges of the House; but the right hon. Baronet had paid no extraordinary compliment to them in saying so, or in assuming that common sense and common judgment required such hammering to penetrate into their heads. If, however, these were admitted to be benefits, why not bring in the bill which conferred them earlier? He had stated what appeared to him to be the objections to this bill, even if it were to pass. But he now wished to ask the House—and it was a point worthy their serious consideration—whether they possessed any assurance whatever that the bill would pass? And if it did, in what a situation would it leave them? The right hon. Baronet had said, that public opinion would be more reconciled to proceedings of the House after this bill; that they would be fortified with more support, and that they would have greater power than they at present possessed to maintain the privileges they possessed. He could not adopt that view. It appeared to him that the efficient exercise of their privileges depended mainly upon the confidence with which they could inspire the public of their determination resolutely to maintain them. It was their want of determination alone, that made them weak. If that were the case, he would ask the House whether the difficulty would not be tenfold aggravated by the result of the attempt to carry that bill, if that result should be a failure? What would be likely to take place in another House? There would be a great array of legal authority against them. The proof that the House of Commons would have given, by the simple fact of bringing in this bill, that they distrusted their own powers would tell greatly against them. He believed that they would of necessity be compelled to resume that struggle in which they had already been engaged, and resume it with crippled means and weakened powers. He would ask his noble Friend what reasonable hope he could hold out that that failure would not occur? What reasonable security could he hold out that the bill would not be defeated? He must say that it struck him that his noble Friend in that part of his speech had expressed himself with a great want of confidence. He seemed to doubt whether he could venture to assure the House that he could rely upon the success of the bill before them. And what were the opinions of the opponents of their privileges? The right hon. and learned Member for Ripon had said that the bill in its present shape ought not to pass, and was not likely to pass. It appeared to him that all those who had hitherto opposed the privileges of the House, would be unwilling to consent to this bill, unless it were put in a shape that would cause the humiliation and concession of the House to be greater than his noble Friend would consent to. He did not hesitate to avow the belief which he entertained—entertained, indeed, with great sorrow—but which was forced upon him by all he had observed in the progress of the discussion—namely, that no small part of the Opposition they had had to encounter had arisen from a dislike to the reformed House of Commons, and from the wish to lower and degrade it in the eyes of the country. [This statement was met by loud cheers and cries of "Ok, oh,"] He repeated it—to degrade and humiliate the reformed House of Commons. He did not of course attribute such motives to hon. Gentlemen high in that House, the leaders of parties; but it was the opinion which he sincerely and reluctantly entertained, that the minority had been greatly swelled by the prevalence of the feeling to which he had alluded. The feeling, in fact, had been scarcely disguised, and Gentlemen who had voted in the minority had hardly scrupled in private life to say, that had the privileges in contention been those of the unreformed House of Commons, their votes would have been different. He had heard the assertion with his own ears. He had heard it argued thus—that the unreformed House not representing so great a proportion of the people, there was not so great a danger of its engrossing too great power and authority into their own hands; but since the state of the representation had been altered by the Reform Act—since the representatives had become united more closely with their constituents—since the democratic influence in that House had increased—it became dangerous to invest the House with so much authority. That was the arguments he had heard used. Inde- pendently of that, he would ask any hon. Gentleman who had observed the high excitement and ardour which had prevailed in supporting the views of the minority on this question, whether he could doubt that a feeling of that kind had actuated no small part of them? Then, if such a feeling existed in the House, would any man assure him that it would find no entrance and exercise no influence in another place, where it was notorious that a large majority of the Members were of opinions congenial with those of hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House? If that were the case—if there were that source of danger—he would ask if they, as the representatives of the people of England, were justified in incurring such a risk? He would ask how his noble Friend who proposed this measure to the House could, after the course he had so long and with such high honour to himself pursued, reconcile his mind to the chance of exposing the House of Commons to so much danger, degradation, and humiliation? Nothing was more mortifying to him than the reflection that it should be from his noble Friend who had received such able support from hon. Gentlemen who entertained similar opinions—such constant, firm, and unvarying support—that it should be from the hands of his noble Friend, who had introduced the great measure of parliamentary reform, that the power, the dignity, and the authority of that House should receive this mortal wound. Indeed he did regret it deeply and sincerely. Had the blow proceeded from another hand, he should not have been so much surprised. Why did his noble Friend take that course? Had any new difficulty arisen now, that might not have been distinctly foreseen from the first? He knew of none. If his noble Friend had been firm, his conviction was, that the House would have remained true to him, and have continued its support. He had seen no symptom of any hesitation, any wavering, any cowardice, any disposition to retreat, on the part of those on the Ministerial side of the House who hitherto had generally supported his noble Friend; and, if his noble Friend had continued resolute, he was satisfied that the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth would not have deserted him. But his noble Friend had chosen to give way. It was upon his noble Friend's suggestion—his noble Friend's advice—his noble Friend's recommendation, that the House of Commons, after having threatened and blustered —at the commencement, was now humbly to recede from all its lofty pretensions, and to acknowledge the necessity of appealing for assistance to the other House of Parliament. He knew full well that, as his noble Friend had taken this course, a majority of the House must be expected to support him. He knew full well that no appeal, no remonstrance, which so humble an individual as he could make upon the subject was likely to prevail against the influence which his noble Friend possessed with the majority of the House; but, though he might be unsuccessful in inducing the House to adopt his views, he was determined, so far as in him lay, to do what he conceived to be his duty. He, therefore, emphatically declared that he would not be a party to a course of proceeding which he felt to be humiliating and degrading to the House of Commons. He, at least, when the division took place, would record his name as one of the opponents to this first step in that fatal line of concession, which, when once commenced, he knew not where it might terminate.

Mr. Macaulay

promised not to detain the House for more than a few minutes, but he confessed he had listened with so much pain to the expressions of his noble Friend, and of one or two other Gentlemen with whom, during the former proceedings upon this subject, he had most cordially concurred, that he was exceedingly unwilling to allow the question to go to a division without explaining, very briefly, the ground upon which he should give his vote. He had not as yet taken any part in the discussions upon this question. He would not again go over the ground which others had already trod with an ability and eloquence which he was sensible he could only feebly imitate. He would only say, in general, that he believed the House of Commons to be, by the law of the land, the sole judge of its own privileges—that he believed the privilege of publication to be by the law of the realm one of the privileges of the House—that he believed it to be a privilege essential to the due discharge of the duties of the House—that he believed the decision of the Queen's Bench, which attacked that privilege, to have been a decision founded not on law nor on reason, and that he never could give his support to any proposition that he conceived would tend to render that privilege doubtful. If the proposition now before the House were for a law to provide that henceforth this privilege should belong to the House of Commons, to such a proposition he should give the strongest opposition. But such was not the proposition of his noble Friend. He could perfectly understand, that by proposing to enact that such or such should be the right and privilege of the House, a question might be raised as to whether such a right or privilege had previously existed. The declaration that it should exist hereafter might appear to carry with it the implication that it had not existed previously. But the proposition in the present case was altogether different. All that was now proposed was by a new law to provide a new remedy for enforcing an old and well-established and undoubted privilege. He would take instances from cases perfectly familiar to every one. Suppose any Gentleman should propose to bring in a law to provide that a person holding a bill of exchange for a good consideration, should be entitled to have an action against the acceptor of that bill, to recover payment. The consequence of such a proceeding would be to throw into a state of doubt the whole of the negotiable paper current throughout the kingdom. But if, on the other hand, a bill were proposed to this effect—that the means of holders of bills of exchange not being sufficient to enable them to recover payment, therefore other means should, by a new enactment, be extended to them—.would any person tell him that a measure of such a nature, acknowledging the right to recover in the fullest extent, but giving to the holders of negotiable papers an additional remedy—would any one tell him that such a measure would, in the smallest degree, bring into question the previously existing right of the holders of bills of exchange to proceed against the acceptors to recover payment? In point of fact, the proposition now before the House was not to provide, by a new law, that the House should have the privilege of publication—not to affect any of the existing remedies which the House already possessed for the vindication of its privileges—but simply to super add a new remedy. It was not even proposed to substitute the new remedy for the old ones. The bill proposed by his noble Friend left the old remedies absolutely untouched. If, after the passing of this bill, any other person should think fit to imitate the example of Mr. Stockdale, and to set the privileges of the House at defiance, it would be as much as ever in the power of the House to send that person to prison. As he understood the bill, it did not acknowledge, did not in any way imply, that the House would not retain that power. It was founded merely upon this—that the remedies which the House now possessed, were in some respects imperfect—in some respects inconvenient. Did not every Member of the House acknowledge that fact? The noble Lord had referred to conversations which took place out of that House. Was there a single Member of the House who, when he went into the lobby, would hesitate to admit that there were some imperfections—some inconveniences in the remedies which it at present possessed for the vindication of its privileges? Was that a perfect remedy which applied only to one half of the year—which protected the privilege of the House during the sitting of Parliament, but left it wholly unguarded during the recess? Was that a perfect remedy which could only be applied by means of so large and so divided an assembly as the House of Commons? The noble Lord had stated what he thought to be the cause why so many Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House had ranged themselves against, what he conceived to be, the undoubted privilege of the House. But, whatever the cause, could there be any doubt as to its effect? Was there any doubt that there was within the walls of that House, a large body of Gentlemen who had done everything in their power to prevent the House from enforcing its privileges? What had been the loss of time upon this question? Was it not a matter of regret, that more time than had been occupied in the discussion of the most important measures—measures in which the interests of every part of the empire were deeply concerned—had this year been devoted to the discussion of a subject vexatious and troublesome in itself, important no doubt in many particulars, but singularly likely to be misconstrued and misunderstood by the people? His noble Friend said, he thought it necessary for the vindication of the privileges of the House to imprison the sheriffs; but at the same time he said he acquitted them of all moral blame. Was it not a matter of regret that the House to vindicate itself should be obliged to imprison persons guilty of no moral blame? Was that a convenient course? Let the House consider the case of the sheriff. He was not a person who sought his office—not a person who was fined for his office. He was taken and compelled to serve whether he would or not. He often made great interest to be exempted. "No matter," said the right hon. Gentleman, "you take him and compel him to serve you—you place him between two opposite forces—he receives commands and counter commands from both—he cannot obey both, and the moment he obeys one he is sent to prison for not obeying the other. "Was that a state of the law desirable to be continued? Was it a state of the law in which the great body of the people were likely to acquiesce? He admitted that the House had no choice in the matter; it was compelled to imprison the sheriffs. He admitted, also, that the noble Lord the Member for Lancashire had stated last night, that if the House had not imprisoned the sheriffs, the Court of Queen's Bench would have imprisoned them. But that fact, so far from being an argument against the course now proposed by his noble Friend, appeared to him to furnish a strong ground in support of it. If a nation were forced to go to war, it was oftentimes compelled to make the innocent suffer with the guilty. If, for instance, there were a small neutral Power situated between two hostile and belligerent nations, however anxious that small power might be to preserve its neutrality, and to keep itself distinct from the quarrels of its neighbours, it would almost inevitably happen, that one or other of the two great Powers would find it necessary for the protection of its own immediate interests, or for the better prosecution of its hostilities, to encroach on the independence of the smaller State, and to make it an instrument in the advancement of its own views. This was conspicuous during the last war in the case of Holland. We know how little Holland liked Bonaparte—how it detested his continental system, how it hated his dominion—yet we were at last forced to blockade her ports, and to treat her with severity, because it was essential to the preservation of our own interests and our own independence. In the same way did he (Mr. Macaulay) defend the necessity which compelled the House of Commons to send the sheriffs to prison. But he maintained that this was a state of things which rendered it absolutely necessary for the House to resort to some legislative enactment to prevent a recurrence of similar difficulties for the future. He did not understand what a Legislature existed for, if not to meet such cases as these. If there were two powers in the State, neither of which was in the nature of a Court of Appeal from the other—if these two powers gave counter orders to the same officer, and had the power of imprisoning him if he disobeyed—if the officer, distracted between the two, obeyed one and was immediately imprisoned by the other, surely, if ever there was a case in the world for legislative interference, that was one. Nay, he would go further: the Solicitor-general stated last night that the House had the power of commitment; and then went on to contend that all experience had shown that that power was sufficient to enable it to vindicate its privileges. No doubt it would be sufficient, if it were vested in the hands of a party who were ready to exercise it unsparingly and unmercifully. If the House were in all cases to do that, he certainly believed that it would have no difficulty in carrying its point. They all knew how the ancestor of his noble Friend the Member for Cornwall (Lord Eliot) was treated—how he was kept in prison till his spirits, health, and strength gave way—how his imprisonment was continued even to the hour of his death. But in the present day it was impossible for the House of Commons to pursue so harsh a course. Their own good nature would not allow them to do so. The feelings of the people would not permit them to do so. The very moment that the health or spirits of a prisoner began to suffer, that moment the House began to relent, and either upon the instant, or shortly afterwards, the prisoner was set at liberty. So that when the House possessed itself of a prisoner of a robust and hardy constitution, it might have the power of completely vindicating its privileges, by detaining him in prison till the question at issue was arranged; but if it happened to have a prisoner of a bilious and apoplectic habit, in that case its privileges must be abandoned, or only feebly asserted, because the health of the prisoner suffered from confinement. Even if the health of Mr. Stockdale himself should appear to be seriously affected by his imprisonment, it was certain that he would not long be detained in custody. Under these circumstances, it appeared to him, that the House was absolutely compelled to seek some other mode of protecting and vindicating its privileges. The noble Lord had asked, what would be the effect if this bill should be carried through the House of Commons, and lost in the House of Lords. He hoped that the bill would be carried through both branches of the Legislature. He hoped—most earnestly hoped—that the other House of Parliament would interfere to save the country from the scandals and the horrors that would necessarily follow, if it drove the House of Commons, in absolute self-defence, to use the whole of the extreme power which it possessed for the protection of its privileges. But if the Bill should unhappily miscarry in the House of Lords, then he said this, that the House of Commons would be absolved. They would have gone to the other House, not in a degrading or humiliating manner—they would have said, "We do possess the power of vindicating our privileges—we have the power, if we please, of throwing the whole of the country into confusion—we can stop the supplies—we can stop the Mutiny Act—there is no power which any political body can possess which we do not possess—we have the power of imprisoning every man who invades our privileges—we can commit every judge in the country, not being a peer, if he do not respect our privileges. We have the power of confining every ministerial officer who shall execute the sentence of any court, if that sentence be at variance with our privilege; but it is not our wish, by means like these, to enforce even the most necessary of our privileges. We apply for a new remedy, not because we have not in our own power remedies that are sufficiently stringent and effective, but because those remedies are such, that some of them cannot be applied without the dissolution of society, and a cruel pressure upon individuals; we have remedies sufficiently severe—we look to you, ray Lords, to assist us in adopting one of a milder nature; we have remedies sufficiently powerful to enable us to attain our ends, but which, from their severity, would be disagreeable to the great body of the people—we ask you, my Lords, to give us a remedy which the whole of the people, without exception, will unite in approving." He believed that by going before the House of Lords in that manner, they would have the post of no mean suitors. He believed that there would be nothing degrading on the part of the House of Commons, in bringing forward a measure the object of which was to secure the liberties of the people, and at the same time to enable the House to act with greater lenity in all its dealings with those who, from the misfortune of their situations, or from some other cause over which they had little or no control, had been guilty of violating its privileges. He believed that, if the House of Lords refused to give its assent to such a measure, the House of Commons would then be fairly supported by public opinion in the adoption of measures much stronger than any to which it had yet resorted. He believed that measures stronger even than those suggested by the hon. and learned Member for Dublin, would find a support out of the House greater than was imagined by any who sat within the House, if, having proposed a mild remedy for the protection of its privileges, the House should be told by the Lords, that to that mild remedy they would not give their assent.

Mr. Bernal

thought that a reference to the old topics of debate was on this occasion quite unnecessary; but the noble Lord compelled him to repeat what had been again and again stated to the House—that the judges had held that the question of sale had nothing to do with the matter, and that it was altogether a question of privilege. The noble Lord the Member for Northumberland had said that the introduction of this bill was fraught with evil. To him it appeared that the whole question before the House was a choice of evils; but he could not agree with the noble Lord that, in introducing the present measure, his noble Friend the Member for Stroud had evinced the least desire to call upon the House of Commons to do any act of humiliation or degradation. Much stress had been laid on the action which had been brought by Mr. Howard against the Sergeant-at-Arms; and it had been asked what course would the House take in that case? He, for his own part, did not look upon that question as one of any magnitude, or in any degree calculated to sway the House in the decision to which they should come on the present occasion. The Court of Queen's Bench had acknowledged that the House of Commons possessed the right of committal. If, then, Mr. Howard should proceed with his action against the Sergeant-at-Arms, on the ground of his commitment by order of the House, the Court of Queen's Bench would, he had no doubt, scout any such action. It had been argued by the noble Lord (Lord Howick) that there was great reason to apprehend that the House of Lords would be adverse to the proposed measure. He saw no just ground for any such apprehension. The House of Lords were equally interested with that House in maintaining the privilege of publication, and he did not think it was reasonable to look prospectively to any supposed factious spirit or mischievous feeling on the part of the House of Lords, that might induce them to oppose this bill. He begged to ask those hon. Members who objected to the introduction of the bill, but who at the same time arraigned the judgment of the Court of Queen's Bench, in what way it was that they proposed to reverse that judgment? He did not hear his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-general, in his argumentative speech of last night, state what it was he proposed to do with that judgment. If the bill should be introduced in accordance with the spirit announced by his noble Friend, it would not add one iota to strengthen the decision of the Court of Queen's Bench. The bill would leave that judgment where it was, nor would the House in any degree compromise itself. AH that the House did by its introduction, was to declare that they were led, by a consciousness of what was due to themselves and to the country at large, to propose a moderate measure, which might tend to mitigate the severity of those proceedings which the House had, in vindication of their privileges, been hitherto compelled to adopt.

Captain J. Hope

declared that he had never been actuated in the course he had taken on this question by any feeling of hostility against the reformed House of Commons.

Sir S. Lushington

intended to vote for the introduction of the bill, and in doing so he did not believe he should be guilty of any vacillation of conduct, or be abandoning any principle he had formerly avowed, or prove himself destitute of any courage which every man ought to possess when the most valuable privileges of that House were questioned. He denied that in adopting this course he was a party to any act of degradation, or was in any degree departing from the line he had hitherto pursued. What was the question they had now to determine? The question was this, whether it were expedient or not, under all the existing circumstances, to allow the introduction, for further discussion, of the measure of his noble Friend? He admitted this to be a question of momentous importance. According to the best of his knowledge and recollection, it was the very first instance in which the House of Commons, for the protection of its privileges, had been compelled to resort to any legislative measure. And in this view of the case, he had given it his most mature consideration, feeling fully aware that he was about to establish a precedent, and well weighing what the consequences of that precedent might be. When the question came to be considered in the way in which it ought to be, it would be necessary for them to divide it into two parts. They must consider what might be the probable consequences and effect of the measure if it should pas?, and what might be the possible effects in case it should be defeated. It became their duty to address their attention to those two points like senators and legislators, shutting not their eyes against the dangers that might arise if the bill should become a law, nor against the dangers which were almost certain to arise if it should be rejected. But he must confess that he could not consent to put the question upon the principle for which his hon. and learned Friend (Sir William Follett) had contended. Without, however, entering into the legal argument with his hon. and learned Friend, he would content himself by simply stating that the difference between his hon. and learned Friend and himself was this:—He contended that the House of Commons was the judge of its own rights; his hon. and learned Friend told them that they had better go to the courts of law to ascertain what their privileges were. He believed that the House of Commons already possessed the power to maintain its privileges; but he agreed that to exercise that power to its full extent, so as to render it efficient, would be to produce inconveniences, and force on consequences which he, for one, shuddered to pronounce. He denied it not. But before he acceded to the argument of his hon. and learned Friend, it must first be proved to him that it was utterly impossible to maintain the privileges of the House of Commons without the direct authority of the Court of Queen's Bench. Let this be proved to him, and then he would say, melancholy as the condition might be, still it would be his duty to go to that court. But it was equally his duty, and the duty of the House, if it were possible, to find some means by which they might at one and the same time maintain their privileges, and avoid consequences which every sober-minded man must deprecate. Suppose the bill should fail, he would put this question to the judgment of every man, whether the House would not go back to the country with every possible advantage? Would not the public say to them:—"You have endeavoured to avoid the deep necessity of the measure which you have been adopting. You have yielded to the opinion of those who thought you had gone too far; you have sought by a legislative measure as far as possible to maintain the privileges that are essential to the efficient discharge of your functions; but you have been defeated; and the question you have now put to us, the country, is this:—'Shall we, the House of Commons, consent to shut out all information from the people, or shall we maintain our right of publication by a measure universally to be deprecated if not one of absolute necessity, but if of absolute necessity, for the maintenance of a countervailing good, shall we maintain our right, and our privilege, by such a measure?'" It was his decided opinion that if the House of Commons went to the people upon that question, the people would go with them.

Lord John Russell

was sorry to have again to address the House upon this question, but there were two or three arguments which had been used against the principle he had adopted—and arguments which some persons might consider of great apparent force—which he did not like to pass without at least attempting to give some answer to them. The first was the argument which was put by his hon. and learned Friend, the Solicitor-general, and which seemed to have made a great impression on the House. It was this—that by introducing this bill, and even by its passing in the shape in which it was introduced through both Houses of Parlia- ment, we should be, in fact, confirming that judgment which had been so often called in question, and which all the more eminent members of the legal profession in that House, as well as other Members, the best acquainted with the privileges and proceedings of the House, had been almost unanimous in their opposition to. Now, he did not think that was by any means a well-founded objection. It had not been, and could not be stated, by those opposed to the bill, that if it were to pass the judgment of the court would be thereby annulled, or, in fact, reversed; though some other plan for affecting that object might have been adopted. His hon. and learned Friend had himself admitted, that if the bill went so far as to attempt to reverse the judgment of a court of law, it was not a measure likely to pass through Parliament; and it would be a most imprudent thing to introduce it all. If, then, no such bill could be introduced that contained any clause for the reversal of that judgment, he thought it was rather too much to urge as an objection to this particular bill that it would not have the effect of reversing such judgment, when that objection would apply, not to the course taken on the present occasion alone, but to almost any other course that could have been taken upon this question. But the argument rested merely upon an inference. There was nothing in the bill itself that went to confirm the judgment. The preamble of the bill stated that it was necessary that the House of Commons should have the power of directing the publication of their own papers and proceedings, and it then provided that those publications should not be questioned in the courts of law. Therefore, neither in its partial effect, nor in its general assertion, did it decide in favour of the judgment given by the Court of Queen's Bench. The argument of his hon. and learned Friend was, therefore, merely an inference, that because the judgment had been left on record, and because in legislating upon this question Parliament did not immediately interfere with it, therefore it was confirmed and made stronger than it otherwise would be. He did not find that such an inferential opinion was in any way sanctioned by what had occurred in other cases of privilege. It might be supposed from the argument of his hon. and learned Friend, and also by the statement of his noble Friend the Member for Nor- thumberland, that these privileges had been made solely by the House of Commons, without requiring or obtaining assistance from the other House of Parliament; and that the power of commitment which was vested in the House of Commons was so vested by the unanimous consent of the courts of law. But was that the case? Was it the case with respect to that which was, perhaps, the highest privilege the House possessed, namely, the privilege of liberty of speech within the walls of Parliament? Sir John Elliot made a speech relating to the state of the country, and the arbitrary power exercised by the Crown. He was prosecuted and condemned to pay a fine of 2,000l. This occurred at the time of the long Parliament. Of course he could not allude to those times as finally deciding the question. But after the Restoration it was thought necessary that some proceedings should be taken with regard to that privilege; and the proceedings which were taken were not proceedings of commitment—not any vindictive course; but a writ of error was brought into the House of Lords, by which the judgment against Sir John Elliot was reversed. Now, could it be said by any man that freedom of speech in the House of Commons was in the least degree injured, weakened, or in any way impaired by there having been a decision of the House of Lords against the judgment which called in question that privilege of speech? And yet they enjoyed that privilege by virtue of many acts of Parliament, as well as by the judgment of the House of Lords. It was now considered fixed by a general act; it was recognized likewise by the bill of rights; and yet no hon. Member could contend that they did not enjoy the liberty of speech as fully, as entirely, and as completely in the shape of a privilege as if there never had existed any decision of the House of Lords, or any act of Parliament upon the subject. There was another privilege he might mention in illustration of his argument, he meant that which declared that any act done by the Speaker, on the part of the House of Commons, should not be called in question by any court, or any Member of that House. If that privilege could be weakened, one should think it would be weakened by a proceeding such as this—that there should be a judgment in a court of law, and that that judgment should take effect; that afterwards a bill should be introduced into the House of Commons, and passed, to reverse that judgment, and that that bill should fail. And yet that was actually the history of the case of the King against Williams. There was a judgment in that case; a bill was introduced to reverse it; that bill never was passed. But was that judgment good? On the contrary, it was admitted that it was an illegal judgment. They had it on the authority of the very judges who had pronounced the judgment in the case of "Stockdale v. Hansard." Lord Denman said, "that if the case of 'The King v. Williams' was not bad law, it would be worthy of the severest censure." Mr. Justice Pattison said, "I agree that the case of the King v. Williams is not to be relied on. It partook of a political character, and occurred in violent times; and I hold it of very little authority as a solemn judgment of the court." Therefore they had instances in which Parliament had interposed; a case also in which an attempt had been made by Parliament to interfere; but in which that attempt had not been successful, and yet the privileges thus attempted to be dealt with had been maintained unimpaired. Was he not, therefore, justified in saying, that if an act of Parliament were passed upon this subject, although it would give greater facility to their using this particular privilege; and that, although if it should fail, they would not have that increased facility; yet, whether it should pass or fail, the privilege would remain on the same foundation on which it now stood. He thought the whole argument of his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-general, and of his noble Friend the Member for Northumberland, was entirely founded upon this, that by introducing a bill, and consenting to legislate at all upon the subject of any privilege, that privilege would be thereby impaired and destroyed. If that argument were true—then both the privilege and the liberty of speech, and the power of the Speaker to act as the officer of the House, without being questioned, would be impaired, if not destroyed; because, with respect to those privileges, the House had consented that there should be decisions of the House of Lords: they had asked the House of Lords to assist them when any particular case seemed to require the intervention of the Legislature. He confessed, therefore, he did not see, in any way that they might view the question, that their privileges would be at all impaired by the proposal he had now made for legislating on this question. He must, however, state, after what had fallen from his noble Friend (Lord Howick), what was his paramount reason for legislating upon the subject. His noble Friend had represented him as saying, "we have totally failed in asserting our privilege; our privilege is weak, we cannot maintain it, and, therefore, we must surrender it, and seek other assistance, in order to maintain this necessary power." He had said no such thing. He made no such assertion. What he did say was, that we were engaged in a conflict of considerable difficulty; that he did not doubt that if pushed to an extreme, the power of the House would make the House superior in that conflict; that that was his belief, but that the mode which they had for exercising that power was very imperfect, and brought them into a state of conflict which he thought it desirable to avoid. That was what he had really said; and he believed it was an opinion which had been generally admitted; for his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-general had himself said, that they were travelling to a point which would very soon be the crisis of this question, and the hon. and learned Member for Dublin had tonight stated, that they must very soon come in direct collision with the judges. Now, he did not consider (much as they might be taunted upon the subject) that this was a question upon which the only quality that was to be shown was the quality of courage. When great public evils were to be apprehended, if, without losing any essential powers of the House, those evils might be avoided, a little prudence might be as necessary as the feeling of courage. I trust (said the noble Lord) I do not want, on occasion, when it shall be absolutely necessary—though it would be always one which I should most deeply lament—yet I trust, when it shall be absolutely necessary to enter into direct collision with the judges, that I shall not be wanting in firmness, or courage, to enter upon that course. But I must say that, as to a courage for entering, wantonly, and needlessly, and without an absolute and overwhelming necessity into a conflict, which must tend to lower the character and authority of our tribunals, and divide the people of this country into hostile parties upon a very difficult question, and which in the end may not only prevent us from obtaining those measures of legislation which may render us powerful upon that particular question, but which may sink us in the public estimation, and impair our other necessary legislative powers, perhaps for a whole session, or for a whole year; as to a courage to act thus needlessly, thus wantonly, I should say, thus rashly, I own I have it not." His belief was, that if the House were prepared to enter upon this question with temper and forbearance, there was now a great prospect of arriving at a settlement. His noble Friend had said that if he had been prepared to propose the present course he ought to have entered upon it long ago, but his noble Friend must allow him to form his own judgment of the time when the opportunity could be taken, and when the attempt could be made with success. He was of opinion at the commencement of the session, and he did not disguise his opinion, that if they then sent up a bill of any sort to the other House it would be likely to be received with the remark, that the House of Commons might maintain its own privileges, that no great difficulty had arisen, that the House of Lords were always ready to maintain their own privileges, and that there was no necessity for any legislation. What had happened since, had shown that the exercise of the power of the House to maintain its privileges by commitment and by the confinement of the parties making a breach, had led to considerable public inconvenience, of which the House of Lords could not be ignorant. And what had taken place besides? There had been many discussions in that House which, to the whole country and to the House of Lords, must have conveyed a great deal of information as to the law of the case. He must say for himself that he believed, from what he saw in the committee of last year, the opinions of many men of no inconsiderable legal character, and of great general attainments, upon the judgment of the Court of Queen's Bench, were very different at the commencement of the question from their opinions since they had heard the discussions and had given to the subject more reflection. If, then, discussion had proved of this advantage—if the opinions of different Members on both sides of the House, and of each side in politics—of men who were Members of the cabinet of the Duke of Wellington—of those who were Members of the cabinet of the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Peel)—of those who were of the cabinet of Earl Grey, and of the cabinet of Lord Melbourne, were the same; if they all agreed that this was a necessary power, and if the opinions of those law officers of the Crown, who had served under all those governments, and of others of the highest legal reputation were also the same, that this was a necessary power—he said, that after those opinions had been ascertained, and after they were found to be supported by argument the most convincing, and by research the most elaborate, there had, in his judgment, come a time when there being a pause in the proceedings of the courts of law, it might be fit to attempt some legislation; and when the minds of men would be more likely to take a just view, than if at the commencement of the Session he had proposed to proceed not by way of commitment but by the introduction of a bill. The noble Lord the Member for Hertford had referred to the resolution for the sale of the papers. He (Lord J. Russell) did not wish to allude to that part of the subject now, because it was totally beside the question whether they could legally publish their proceedings. That was a separate question which was entirely within the discretion of the House. He did not deny that it might be convenient to review all the orders which had been made by the House for the regulation of its publications. In 1817, the forms of the House were entirely changed; many alterations had since been made as matters of expediency for the moment, and ultimately the sale was authorized, also as a matter of expediency. So also with regard to the various checks which had been placed by the House to provide that no publication should be wantonly injurious to individuals; they had been altered from time to time. He did not say that, with all the facts now before the House, the Committee which was now sitting might not, or if that Committee should decline to enter upon that point, he did not say that it would be improper for the House to investigate and collect all the orders, with the view of seeing whether any re-construction of the mode of publication was desirable or necessary. That might be done, but he held that such an investigation was beside the question as to what the Court of Queen's Bench had decided. He was not, indeed, prepared himself to make any proposition upon the subject, but he would not oppose the entire review and re-consideration of the state of all the orders and resolutions. He knew not that he need say anything more, except upon one part of his bill. The hon. Member for Kilkenny had asked whether this bill would remedy the action which was now proceeding as it was supposed, against the officers of that House in respect to the proceedings connected with the cause of Stockdale and Hansard. He should have stated that, before he came into the House to ask for leave to bring in the bill, he had inserted a clause to put a stop to those actions, as well as to all proceedings which had gone on with respect to those actions. [Sir E. Sugden—Does the clause apply to Mr. Howard's case?] It did. Such a clause did not form part of the principle of the bill, but he would not act fairly towards the House if he did not state that he intended to introduce such a provision. He had only to add in conclusion, that he trusted the House would permit him to bring in the bill; and that they would not decide at once that there should not be any legislation, for if they did so decide, without seeing the bill which he proposed, they would but increase the present difficulties.

The House divided—Ayes 203; Noes 54: Majority 149.

List of the AYES.
Adam, Admiral Brownrigg, S.
Ainsworth, P. Bruges, W. H. L.
Alsager, Captain Buller, C.
Alston, R. Burrell, Sir C.
Ashley, Lord Busfeild, W.
Bagot, hon. W. Byng, G.
Baillie, Colonel Calcraft, J. H.
Baker, E. Campbell, Sir J.
Baling, rt. hon. F. T. Cholmondeley, hn. H.
Baring, H. B. Clay, W.
Barnard, E. G. Clerk, Sir G.
Barry, G. S. Clive, hon. R. H.
Bentinck, Lord G. Cochrane, Sir T. J.
Berkeley, hon. H. Colquhoun, J. C.
Bernal, R. Copeland, Alderman
Blair, J. Craig, W. G.
Blake, W. J. Dalrymple, Sir A.
Blakemore, R. Darby, G.
Boldero, H. G. Davis, Colonel
Bolling, W. Donkin, Sir R. S.
Bramston, T. W. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Broadley, H. Dowdeswell, W.
Brocklehurst, J. Dugdale, W. S.
Brodie, W. B. Duke, Sir J.
Brotherton, J. Duncombe, T.
Duncombe, hon. W. Lushington, rt. hn. S.
East, J. B. Lynch, A. H.
Egerton, W. T. Macaulay, right hon. T. B.
Eliot, Lord
Elliot, hon. J. E. Mackenzie, T.
Ellis, J. Mahon, Viscount
Evans, Sir De L. Marton, G.
Farnham, E. B. Mildmay, P. St. J.
Feilden, W. Milnes, R. M.
Fielden, J. Morpeth, Viscount
Filmer, Sir E. Morris, D.
Fitzalan, Lord Muskett, G. A.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Neeld, J.
Follett, Sir W. Nicholl, J.
Fremantle, Sir T. Norreys, Lord
Gaskell, J. M. O'Ferrall, R. M.
Gladstone, W. E. Packe, C. W.
Goddard, A. Paget, F.
Gordon, R. Pakington, G. S.
Gordon, hn. Captain Parnell, rt. hn. Sir H.
Goring, H. D. Patten, J. W.
Goulburn, rt. hn. H. Pattison, J.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Peel, rt hn. Sir R.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir C. Peel, J.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Pemberton, T.
Grimsditch, T. Perceval, Colonel
Grimston, Lord Phllpot, J.
Grimston, hon. E. H. Pigot, D. R.
Hall, Sir B. Plumptre, J. P.
Harcourt, G. G. Praed, W. T.
Hardinge, right hon. Sir H. Price, Sir R.
Price, R.
Hawes, B. Protheroe, E.
Hayter, W. J. Pryme, G.
Heathcote, Sir W. Pusey, P.
Heneage, G. W. Rae, rt. hon. Sir W.
Heneage, E. Reid, Sir J. R.
Henniker, Lord Rice, E. R.
Hepburn, Sir T. B. Richards, R.
Herries, rt. hon. J. C. Rolleston, L.
Hobhouse, right hon. Sir J. Round, C. G.
Round, J.
Hodgson, F. Russell, Lord J.
Hodgson, R. Rutherfurd, rt. hn. A.
Holmes, hon. W. A. Sandon, Visct.
Hope, G. W. Sanford, E. A.
Howard, hn. E. G.G. Scarlett, hon. J. Y.
Howard, P. H. Sharpe, General
Hurt, F. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Hutchins, E. J. Sheppard, T.
Hutt, W. Shirley, E. J.
Ingestrie, Lord Sinclair, Sir G.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Smith, R. V.
Irving, J. Smyth, Sir G. H.
James, Sir W. C. Somerset, Lord G.
Kelly, F. Sotheron, T. E.
Kemble, H. Spry, Sir S. T.
Knight, H. G. Stanley, E. J.
Labouchere, rt. hn. H. Stanley, Lord
Lambton, H. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Leader, J. T. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Staunton, Sir G. T.
Lennox, Lord G. Stewart, J.
Liddell, hon. H. T. Stock, Dr.
Lincoln, Earl of Sturt, H. C.
Lister, E. C. Style, Sir C.
Lockhart, A. M. Sutton, hn. J. H. T. M.
Teignmouth, Lord Wilshere, W.
Thompson, Alderman Winnington, Sir T. E.
Troubridge, Sir E. T. Winnington, H. J.
Tufnell, H. Wood, Sir M.
Turner, E. Wood, Colonel
Turner, W. Wood, Col. T.
Tyrell, Sir J. T. Worsley, Lord
Vere, Sir C. B. Wyse, T.
Vernon, G. H. Yates, J.A.
Vivian, J. E.
Walsh, Sir J. TELLERS.
Ward, H. G. Stanley, E. J.
White, A. Parker, J.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. James, W.
Aglionby, Major Lushington, C.
Attwood, M. Marshall, W.
Bellew, R. M. Martin, J.
Bewes, T. Melgund, Lord Visc.
Bowes, J. Muntz, G. F.
Bridgeman, H. O'Connell, D.
Browne, R. D. O'Connell, J.
Bulwer, Sir L O'Connell, M.
Butler, hon. Colonel O'Conor Don
Collier, J. Rundle, J.
Corbally, M. E. Somers, J. P.
D'Israeli, B. Stuart, Lord J.
Easthope, J. Strickland, Sir G.
Ellis, W. Strurt, E.
Evans, G. Sugden, rt. hn. Sir E.
Evans, W. Tancred, H. W.
Ewart, W. Thornely, T.
Fort, J. Vigors, N. A.
Gisborne, T. Villiers, hon. C. P.
Greg, R. H. Wallace, R.
Guest, Sir J. Warburton, H.
Hawkins, J. H. Williams, W.
Hill, Lord A. M. C. Wood, G. W.
Hindley, C. Wood, B.
Hobhouse, T. B.
Hodges, T. L. TELLERS.
Howard, F. J. The Solicitor-general
Howick, Viscount Hume J.

Leave given, bill brought in and read a first time.