HC Deb 14 May 1840 vol 54 cc76-109
The Earl of Darlington

rose for the purpose of moving "that Mr. Speaker do issue his warrant to the clerk of the Crown to make out a new writ for electing a burgess to serve in this present Parliament for the borough of Ludlow, the lust election of a burgess to serve in Parliament for the said borough having been determined to be void." He was happy to see the noble Lord, the Secretary for the Colonies, in his place, and as the public journals must have made him acquainted with the proceedings in that House, he would offer no further observations to the noble Lord than to say, that if, in consequence of what he had heard or seen, he supposed he meant any discourtesy in the course he had taken, he begged to assure him, that it was far from his intention to do anything of the kind. No person could have been more happy to have done anything to meet the wishes of the noble Lord; and if, after that explanation, he still thought he was in the wrong, no one could regret it more. With these observations he would move, that a new writ do issue for the borough of Ludlow, and after he had heard what the noble Lord had to say on the subject, perhaps the House would allow him to make a few remarks.

Lord J. Russell

could assure the noble Lord that he had no intention of accusing him of any want of courtesy to himself, nor would he have made such an accusation, nor presume to think it discourteous, even if the noble Lord had stated, that he entirely disregarded any request which might have been made; for he should have thought such a declaration entirely consistent with the noble Lord's sense of public duty to that House. He considered, however, that the present was a question of very great public importance, and the noble Lord would allow him to say further, that he did not think the noble Lord had taken up that view which was consistent with the advantage of that House in making the proposition he had made, without giving the House full time and opportunity for the fullest consideration. In saying that, he certainly thought that no party advantage could be drawn in any way from giving the subject the fullest consideration. With respect to the parties who had been concerned in the disgraceful proceedings which had been brought to light by the committee, he could not undertake to say, that either one political party or the other had any reason to pride itself on being free from the contamination of those proceedings; but from the proceedings before the committees, it appeared that after the committees had come to resolutions declaring that the candidates for both Ludlow and Cambridge had been guilty by their agents of bribery and treating, having likewise entered into special resolutions which were presented to the House, and the House having thought fit to order the whole of the evidence to be laid before it, he must tell the noble Lord, that in a party view, he injured his own party, if he sought to interpose any obstacle to prevent the House from entertaining a question which would mark its grave and deep sense of the importance of the subject. The two parties, he believed, had little advantage the one over the other in respect of the election, but that party, he would venture to say, would be prejudiced, who should in that House in any way appear to the public as being justly chargeable with the endeavour to slur over these proceedings, or consider them as a light matter, and proceed at once, without further notice, to issue writs, as if this was merely an unfortunate case in which corrupt practices having been discovered, the parties must be more prudent for the future, but not marking in any way a sense of the degradation of the parties, and the House would fail in its duty if it did not take means to stay the evil of such practices. Therefore, he thought the noble Lord had committed an error, and though, no doubt, the noble Lord would differ from him in that opinion, yet he thought the noble Lord would agree with him in the general principle, that that party would be the loser which appeared to countenance those proceedings, and that there could be no greater advantage, if he wished to make a party use of this, than having an opportunity of showing that his own party in the House were anxious to discourage, prevent, and punish such pro- ceedings, and that those opposed to them took a more favourable, lenient, and partial view of them. But he felt assured, when he stated the course he meant to take, that whatever opinion there might be as to the propriety of the proceedings which he should ask the House to adopt, and whatever might have happened in the last few days (which he wished not further to notice), all parties would join in what he had just now said, and that all would feel it not only disadvantageous, but dishonourable, to them, not to show themselves forward in adopting any measure which would appear to remedy the evils exposed to them in the reports of those committees. With respect to the notice of the noble Lord, he would state at once that he did not mean to oppose the issuing of the writ; but he must at the same time state he did not take that course because he did not think there was sufficient ground to induce the House to suspend the writ, nor that he thought there were wanting precedents in good times for taking such a course. But, on the whole, looking at the evidence—looking to what was notorious with respect to other boroughs, and what had taken place at the last general election, he thought it would be more advisable that the House should proceed by some general measure to provide a further and better remedy against bribery and treating, rather than that they should now, in this particular case, use what was the undoubted power of the House—a power which it had frequently exercised, but which certainly was a very strong power—of keeping below the proper number the Members of that House, and refusing the electors of any particular place, the right of sending Members lo represent their interests, and refusing them the enjoyment of the franchise, to which they were legally entitled. He would make some very short observations with respect to the evidence in these cases, for the noble Lord must allow him to allude to Cambridge as well as Ludlow, because there was a very great similarity between the two cases, and because he was not then making an objection solely to the passing over the case of Ludlow, but an objection to their not considering the whole of the cases as of great public importance. It appeared by the evidence before those committees, that there had been parties bribed directly by the gift of money, and that there had been most notorious cases of treating in both the boroughs. Indeed, although he had looked into many cases of this description—although in former times he had had to deal with several cases in which there was more direct evidence of bribery among a great number of electors, in which, in certain cases, the great majority of electors were proved to have received certain sums of money, and although the evidence in those cases went more directly to the disfranchisement of the borough, and the punishment of individuals, yet he must say, cases more disgusting, or showing a more profligate state of the constituent body, or showing more degrading practices on the part even of those who stood in the highest situations with regard to the elections, down to the lowest, he must say, he never had seen in any evidence taken before any committee. It was not, therefore, on account of the lightness of these cases, or that either of them was to be considered as venial, that they ought to refrain from taking such measures with respect to these cases as the instances of bribery might possibly require. And let him observe, before he went further in stating what he proposed, that he thought these cases of treating—of continued treating—of opening a great number of public-houses, and allowing persons to go to those houses for any period of time, and to drink to any extent, provided only they were supporters of a certain candidate—to ask no question as to expense, and thus, as it were, to drug the electors into voting for a particular candidate— was not only bribery, but one of the most offensive and disgusting species of bribery. It had, certainly, this distinction, and it was a distinction which was favourable to taking means of preventing these practices, that there were more means of discovering treating then there were of discovering bribery. With respect to sums of money given, it was an offence upon which it was the most difficult to procure satisfactory evidence, and, therefore, the House would observe that those few instances that were given with respect to bribery could not be taken as giving anything like the whole of the amount of bribery; but the cases which were proved afforded a sample of the proceedings of the party by whom bribery was resorted to. If they had a person who was not much connected with the borough willing to distribute money, and they had an elector ready to receive that money, the transaction might be kept so secret that it was very difficult, and almost impossible, to discover. The way it came out was, from persons who were not willing to conceal the bribery, either by their pretending that they were persons willing to be bribed, or by their afterwards betraying the facts. But with regard to the numerous cases on which persons acted upon these principles, if principles they could be called, of offering bribes to those who were willing to take them, they had in the great majority of instances no evidence, and they could only tell from the ordinary mode of proceeding adopted, the probable amount of bribery that was committed. With regard, however, to the treating, the hampers of wine, and the quantities of brandy, rum, and gin, it was impossible they could be distributed without some direct evidence of the fact upon which they could go. Still there were, as he conceived, in the mode in which the offences were investigated, most important defects in the state of the law, to which years ago he had endeavoured to apply some remedy. For, in respect to some of those offences, whatever might be the letter of the law, parties were always found to turn and double, so as to avoid it, and the House ought to be ready, from time to lime, to make the law more stringent and active, so as to prevent the offences against which it was directed. With respect to the offence of treating, of which he had already spoken, there was a remarkable difference made in the resolution of 1677, between that and the offence of treating. At the first sight, it might appear that the resolution was as stringent against treating as against bribery. It declared, that the gift of any food, meat, or wine, should be considered as bribery, and should be treated as such; but then, on going on to declare what was to be done in the cases of treating, there was this distinction, that the offence of treating must be committed after the teste of the writ and before the day of election. After the teste of the writ and before the day of election treating was declared to be bribery, and was to have the effect of bribery. In the Act of 7 William 3rd, the time was carried further; it was not confined to the day of election, but till "the Member was elected;" so that any treating which took place after the teste of the writ, and before the return of the Members, was bribery. And with that statute in view, he considered that since the Reform Act, the law extended the time till after the declaration of the poll, because by that Act, after the declaration of the poll, which was the day after the polling, there might be a question with regard to one or two votes which might turn the whole election, and it could not be said who were the Members elected. He thought, however, that the law should go further than this, and that they should try to prevent a repetition of those corrupt practices, by carrying out the principle of the law. He proposed, therefore, to extend the present provisions of the law over a longer space of time, and to declare that treating at any time before the election, or for one month after, should have the same effect as it now had after the teste of the writ. [Sir Robert Peel: For how long before?] At any time before, if it were done with a view to the election. He should state, at the same time, that what he was now proposing did not refer to the offence of bribery to be tried before any court of law, but rather to that offence which was to be tried before an election committee, on a case of an election petition that should come before them, and they would consider the fact and the inference whether the treating was with a view to that election. With regard to bribery, he thought that there was a defect in the law, in consequence of the special manner in which it required the proof of some money contract or engagement. The effect of the words of the statute was, that there must be either a gift before the election, or, if there was a gift afterwards, then it must be in pursuance of some promise or engagement made before the election which induced the voter to give his vote. This, as he conceived, was the cause of very great evasion, for there were cases in which the whole world was convinced, and in which the voters were aware that they were to receive a sum of money—even the exact amount—without any prior contract or promise. To remedy this, he proposed that all gifts of money, either before or after the election, for voting, or for having voted, or for abstaining from voting, should be bribery, and he would declare void the vote given by any person giving or offering, or asking for or taking any bribe. Those were the remedies which he would propose for the defects which had arisen in the present law, and which had arisen principally, perhaps, from the attempts which had been made to define the offence by words, an attempt in which they had not succeeded, and were not very likely to have succeeded. He came next to a very important question, on which, in former days, he used to consult a Member of that House, a right hon. Gentleman who had paid great attention to this, as he had to every other portion of the proceedings of the House, and who, if not usually able to attend, would, he hoped, give them upon this occasion the advantage of his assistance—he alluded to the right hon. Gentleman, the Member for the county of Montgomery (Mr. C. W. Wynn), not only because he was well acquainted with the general law of Parliament, but because he well knew this point. The point related to the indemnity of witnesses giving evidence before committees. As the law now stood, if a witness were called before a committee and asked a question, he could not be required to give any answer, if by that answer he should be obliged to criminate himself. By these means, the general inquisitorial power of the House was greatly limited. The House had passed several particular acts to indemnify witnesses who should give evidence before committees of acts of bribery. He believed, that the last of those acts was to indemnify the witnesses who should give evidence of bribery before the committee on the Stafford election. He proposed to have a general measure, providing an indemnity to parties who should give evidence of bribery, and then to compel these witnesses to answer upon oath all questions relating to those corrupt practices, so that they might be examined before the committee. He was convinced that by those means the House would be able to obtain evidence of great importance. The obstacle which now interposed and prevented the examination of witnesses, was the injustice of examining them without giving them an indemnity; but if they were indemnified they should be compelled to give the evidence, and thus, as he thought, the House would procure evidence of corruption that was practised with great art, with much concealment, and in so much darkness that it was impossible to be reached by an ordinary examination. There was another question which he had, at other times, brought under the consideration of the House, and for which he had proposed, and would now propose, a remedy. He had frequently stated his opinion that the Grenville Act, whilst possessing many advantages over the system which prevailed before its enactment, yet carried with it many disadvantages which attended acts of the kind, and which must attend even the Act last year passed on the motion of the right hon. Gentleman opposite; because they were defects inherent to special tribunals. He meant that before the Grenville Act, although there was no doubt the decisions in particular elections, and with respect to particular seats, were frequently made from party motives, and for party purposes; yet the House considered that it was bound to look into the whole matter of the election as it regarded the constitution of the House; and, therefore, if the case brought before them was at all injurious to the constitution of Parliament, or corrupting the elections made to the House, it was in the power of the House, and as a matter of shame they were forced to inquire, into the whole subject; they looked beyond the decisions in the particular case; they expressly condemned such proceedings, and helped to establish what in the language of the Acts of Parliament was considered "free and indifferent elections." The case was different when a special tribunal was appointed, and what he objected to was this, that the special tribunal considered that it had before it the proceedings, not as they affected the constitution of Parliament, but as between two parties claiming a seat, just as if they were two parties in a court of law making adverse claims to property, and that they had to decide only as to which party the seat belonged. This consequence appeared to be obvious in the reports of committees for many years, and it was a consequence which was most injurious to the public interests. He thought, too, with respect to the report from the Ludlow committee, although he did not mean to cast any blame upon the committee, it was confined too much to the case before them, which they thought their duty, and they left to the House itself any general considerations respecting the borough. What he proposed was, that every election committee, when there were allegations of treating or of corrupt practices, should proceed to investigate those charges, without, at the commencement, requiring them to be connected with the sitting Members, and that they should report separately with the facts proved before them, and how they affected the sitting Members or the petitioners. By adopting this course, he thought that they would give the committees a scope, which more properly belonged to them, for they did not sit to decide merely whether A or B had a right to a seat in that House— whether Whig or Tory should have the election, but to come to a determination upon a question in itself of the highest importance—the independence and purity of that House. He had now stated the course which he proposed to pursue with regard to a general measure upon this subject, and he had done so because he thought that no proceeding should be taken with respect to these election committees, either as to issuing the writ, or refusing to do so, without the House having had some statement, on the part of some Member of that House, whether there were any means, and what, of providing a cure for the great evil which existed. But he thought that there were other lights in which this question might be viewed. It appeared to him sufficient for any purpose that he could usefully effect, that he should undertake to bring in and frame a general measure upon this subject. He had formerly engaged in many of these questions with respect to the delinquency of parliamentary boroughs, and he had endeavoured, both at the bar of the House and otherwise, to detect these corrupt practices, and to bring the parties implicated to punishment, or to propose a remedy for the existing evil. The House would at once feel, however, he thought, that in his present occupation it was quite impossible for him to undertake, even if he thought it proper, any question of this kind. He had then had time and leisure to attend to the inquiries which he thought affected the purity and character of that House; and, he must say, that he did not find the Minister of the day, Lord Castlereagh, present any obstacle to his pursuit of that object, but of course, it was impossible that he should now attempt to go into any particular inquiry with respect to these or any other similar cases. He had already said, that he did not think that a sufficient case was made out with respect to Ludlow to entitle the House to suspend the writ. There might be a question, whether there had not taken place proceedings at other elections for the same borough, which showed that corruption and corrupt practices were not merely "casual" there, which he thought was the expression used in the resolution of the House; but he would merely observe that the committee did not go into the case, and there appeared to be no sufficient ground for refusing to accede to the motion of the noble Lord. But, although he did not wish to pursue the inquiry with respect to any of these boroughs, yet he did desire to state to the House what he thought of the general prevalence of these practices, and of what had been done in former times. After the Revolution, it appeared that a great influx of bribery had taken place, and the practice of treating had become more frequent than before, and in consequence the greatest degree of vigilance and severity was called for to put it down. A similar event occurred after the passing of the Reform Act; and after both these events, the one and the other giving a great extension of popular influence, attempts were made to degrade those electors to whom the new powers were given, by means of direct bribery. Neither the great measure of 1688, nor the Reform Act of our own days could entirely root out the system of corruption—the means of influence were not destroyed, and the old system was revived. Now, he wished to state to the House what were the proceedings adopted by the House of Commons after the Revolution on this subject: he wished to show, that if he did not oppose the suspension of the writ in this case it was from no want of precedent, for that course had been adopted in former times, not only as being within the power, but as being the duty of the House. When the House found, that the practice of corruption was becoming more and more frequent, the independence and the character of the House were felt to be affected, and one of the means adopted was the proposing and carrying a general measure with respect to bribery and treating. But this was not their only measure. They took other proceedings, and a proposition was made for disfranchising the borough of Stockton. That was proposed on the 21st of December, 1696, and it was carried that the writ should be suspended. An inquiry with respect to the borough was subsequently instituted, but the franchise was not restored for a year afterwards, on the 13th of December, 1697, when the electors having confessed themselves guilty, and thrown themselves on the mercy of the House, it was ordered that the new writ should issue. In the year 1700, it was ordered that no new writ should issue for Great Grimsby during the Session, and some of the persons implicated were committed to the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms. In 1701, it was ordered that no new writ should issue for Bishop's Castle during the Session, and the candidate was ordered into custody. In 1701, Mr. Booth, the candidate for New Shoreham, was also committed, and no new writ was issued. In 1703, also, it was ordered that the writ for Newcastle-under-Lyne should be suspended during the Session. The House did not stop there, however, but in many other cases, especially that of the Shepherds, the elder of whom was sent to the Tower, the House had shown a determination and decision by every means it could adopt to prevent these practices and similar proceedings had been subsequently taken with respect to Thetford, Wootton Bassett, and many other places. Now, he wished to state this, not only because he thought that this House should be reminded of what was done in former times, and in very good times, with respect to these cases, and because, in agreeing to the motion of the noble Lord, he did not wish to be at all precluded from following such a course as he had pointed out, if he saw occasion, on any future opportunity, for he thought that the cases which he had alluded to were good precedents, and that their ancestors were perfectly justified in taking the steps which they had taken, for the purpose of securing the independence of the House, and he considered that the evil which existed was of such vital importance, and that it would so completely destroy the independence of Parliament, that the House would be fully justified in adopting such proceedings as had been before taken. There was another proceeding taken, to which he would also call the attention of the House, because it was of a nature still stronger than those which had been before mentioned; but which, if all other resources failed, Parliament would be justified in adopting. It was this; that in 1690, with regard to the borough of Hitchin, and in 1691, with regard to Chippenham; the House having found that the person returned as a Member had been guilty of corrupt practices, it not only took away the seat from him, but it gave it to the person next on the poll. This was a plan which was certainly objectionable, as not giving due weight to the majority; but it was that which was also adopted in cases where persons were disqualified from any cause. This, however, was not what he wished to propose in his bill, but he mentioned it as a thing which might in some cases be adopted; and it might be provided that where these practices of bribery and treating became known, it should be competent for any person who was himself no party to any such proceedings, to give notice to the electors, and the votes would in consequence become void. That was the law of election now as regarded treating to a certain extent. For supposing a person to have been found guilty of treating, and to put up a second time for the same place, though he should obtain a majority of votes, he would not obtain his seat, and he owned that he thought that in a case where two persons in a borough were carrying on this system of bribery, striving who should obtain the greater number of votes by such means, it ought to be provided that any person being also a candidate, who should become acquainted with the fact, and should give notice of the circumstance to all parties concerned, should, being himself free from suspicion, obtain the seat. He believed he had now stated both the measure which he meant to propose, and the course which had been taken by the House upon similar proceedings informer times. He believed that this was not only a time when they should take advantage of any opportunity of this description which offered itself, to express their feelings upon the subject, but that they should seize every occasion to show that they were disposed to put an end to scenes of a nature so demoralizing, and so fatal to the constitution of the country. It was, he believed, in fact, the consequence of our having extended popular privileges, that these attempts were made—that extension of the power of popular opinions had occasioned such scenes as he had described, because persons looked upon the voters as persons to whom bribes might be paid, and followed them just as the battles of Salamanca and of Waterloo were followed by vultures and carrion crows. Thus, that which in itself was considered a benefit, was found to produce a still greater evil, although it might be supposed by some that he took an exaggerated view of the mischievous consequences produced. He believed, that there were many persons who did not hesitate to declare their opinions that it was almost a necessary evil, that this was a part of the law which need be observed, and that the system which existed, had continued, and must continue, in spite of the law. Now, he would not use any words of his own upon the subject, but the words of a very eloquent writer, because he thought, that the words which were used, and the fact of their being employed upon an occasion of a general, and not a political subject, gave them great weight. Mr. Thomas Gisborne, in an " Inquiry into the Duties of Man" said:— But the lavish expensiveness of elections extends its pernicious influence far beyond the leaders of the contending sides. It promotes almost every kind of vice, and supplies, without limit, the materials for drunkenness to the voters and their families, with all its attendant effects on their morals and habits of life. It is injurious to the peace of society, by familiarizing the lower ranks to scenes of profligacy and riot. It is injurious to commerce, by accustoming the manufacturer to idleness and intemperance, thus rendering him indisposed or unable to work. It is injurious to the national strength, by ruining the health together with the morals of the subject. It is injurious to the constitution, by extinguishing public spirit and virtuous principles of political conduct in the breast of the people, and by impressing the considerate and the good with such an abhorrence of the numberless mischiefs arising from it, as to deter them from coming forward as candidates and almost to inspire them with disgust against elections and Parliaments. In all these different ways, as well as by its immediate effects on the House of Commons, it preys on the welfare, and endangers the stability of the empire.'' He thought that these words were of great importance, and that they were quite true; for that if the existing evil were permitted to continue, it would indeed, be found to prey upon the vitals of the empire. He trusted, however, that in agreeing to the issue of this writ, they were not countenancing the scenes of profligacy which had been exhibited; and he hoped that, besides the authority of Parliament, and any measures which might be taken by that House, there was a feeling on the part of the public, which would discountenance, and would prevent their continuance. There were many persons living in the neighbourhood of this borough, whom he should look to for setting; every good and virtuous example. With regard to the family mentioned as connected with the proceedings on the one side, he well knew the character of the noble Earl at the head of it, not only as regarded his private virtues, but the faithfulness and zeal with which he discharged his duty as a public officer of the Crown, as well as the other members of it, and he was sure they must in their hearts disapprove of the system which had been carried on, and which must tend to destroy the constitution of the country, to render the electors unworthy of the high trust reposed in them, and finally to injure the political system of Parliament. He should select an early day for further bringing the subject under the notice of the House.

The Earl of Darlington

would offer a very few observations to the House, in answer to what had fallen from the noble Lord. So far from disapproving of the principles which he had laid down, and so far from differing from him, as to the necessity of the measure of which he had given notice, he could only say, that there was no part of it in which he should not concur. He assured the noble Lord, that he wished that he should not be considered to have acted rashly or hastily in bringing forward this motion. After having waited several days after the evidence had been printed, he thought that sufficient time had elapsed to enable every hon. Member to become acquainted with it, if he chose; and he conceived also, that if there had been any intention to move a suspension of the writ, a notice to that effect would have been placed upon the paper.

Mr. Hawes

said, that he could not reconcile it with what he considered to be his duty, to give up the motion which he had made on a former evening, for the purpose of obtaining a select committee for inquiring into the corrupt practices which had been proved to exist at the Ludlow election, in consequence of anything which had fallen from the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies.

Lord John Russell

begged to say a few words in explanation. What he had intended to say was, that although he should vote for the issuing of this writ, that did not preclude him, if he should think proper, from subsequently giving his vote also in favour of an inquiry into the state of the borough, without at the same time saying, that there was sufficient to induce him to oppose the issue of the writ.

Mr. Hawes

must still persevere in the amendment which he had before proposed, for a committee to inquire into the practices carried on previous to, and during the election; and he could not help thinking, that on the evidence there were ample grounds for taking this course. It appeared to him, that both with respect to the character of the House, and its best interests, if these practices were known in any instance to prevail, they ought not to be allowed to puss without a most searching inquiry being made into them. The omission to adopt such a course as he recommended, he thought, would be only to bring the House into disrespect and contempt. He had said, on a former occasion, that bribery was as bad as treating. He begged now to repeat that declaration, that between treating and bribery he made no distinction, and he thought that any man who would take a person to the poll to vote, in a state of drunkenness, was unworthy of a seat in that House. For his own part, he begged to disclaim all party feeling upon this subject; but he must say, that he had been astonished that hon. Members opposite had sat silent on a question of this sort. He was surprised that persons who were so zealous in defending the interests of the church, had not come forward to condemn the practices proved in this case to have existed. The evidence went to show facts which he thought would fully justify this amendment, and which proved bribery to have been carried on in the coolest and most business-like manner. George Tilley, landlord of the Compasses, was asked— Do you remember any conversation taking place?—Yes. What was the conversation?—That Mr. Downes and Mr. Alcock had come amongst us again to be a candidate. Did any thing else pass?—Yes; there was a good deal of conversation; Evans, of the Elephant, and me were leaving; Mr. Downes called us back, and said we were to use every endeavour, and render every assistance to win the election, for they were determined to win, they were determined to go all lengths; Mr. Alcock and Mr. Coppock coincided with him. They heard it, they were all sitting at the same table. Mr. Coppock and Mr. Downes said they hoped I would use every endeavour to prevail on Cook; Mr. Alcock would make him any recompense—return him tenfold any loss he should sustain by supporting Mr. Alcock. The witness sees Cook and says,—After taking a little more wine he got more inclined, he did not stand out so much; he said he would trust to no promises. I said, if it is money you want, you can have it no doubt. Witness then adds, that Cook said, if I would tell Mr. Downes privately, if he would place a handsome sum of money in my hands for him (Cook), he would come and vote for Mr. Alcock. Mr. Downes, the witness, states, was seen, and said Cook was as deserving a man as any man, and he might as well have it as others, and he should have it. Mr. Coppock said he should have 25l. When Mr. Coppock came to your house, what did you say to him?—I said, here is Samuel Cook. Mr. Coppock passed him, and went into the smoking-room. And there he gave you three ten-pound notes?—Yes, from among a great number. Did they come to your house?—Yes. Who?—Mr. Downes, Mr. Coppock, Mr. Tyler, and me. Mr. Coppock and Mr. Downes sat down; Mr. Tyler stood up. Mr. Downes said, 'Now, Mr. Tyler, let me settle with you first; what can you do with Bromfield?' I said he would not vote for Mr. Alcock on any account, but if I offered a sum he will go out of the way. Mr. Downes and Mr. Coppock consulted what Mr. Tyler should offer him; one of them desired Tyler to go and offer him 10l. to go out of the way, and not vote, provided he was willing to be brought up to me. Do you mean your house?—Yes, he is a man that likes something to drink. You have said you was sent with a bottle of gin and a bottle of brandy to a voter named Bright?—Yes. What were you to do with him?—To have kept him drinking the liquor, that he might be kept out of the way till the next morning, in time for polling. He voted for Mr. Clive. Edwin Phillips was asked, You do not recollect whether he (Revis) said anything to you about fifty reasons or not? — I cannot say. Did you understand his object to be to offer you money?—Most certainly; I was well aware, that if I had complied, money would not have been wanting to any extent. J. Wade was asked, Revis came on Tuesday morning, and found you at your office?—Yes. What did he say?—He first said 100l; then he says, 'Will 150l. do?' I said, 'No, it will not.' He said, 'Will 200l. do?' I said, 'No.' Then he offered me 250l., and he says, 'Will that do?' I said, 'No.' He says, My power is unlimited—name your own sum.' I said, 'I will not. I told Mr. Alcock I would vote for him.' Timothy Meyrick, a miller was asked, What did Mr. Griffiths say?—He said, which way do you mean to come out this election? I said for myself; on which Griffiths said, 'Oh, if you mean that, I will put 100l. into your pocket.' He turned round and looked to Mr. Coleman, who said he would warrant him all right. Meyrick then has an interview with Mrs. Coleman, who inquires of the witness if 30l. would do. He says no; adding that he understood that they had been bidding hundreds. She says no; fifty pounds was ten pounds more than they had given to anybody. They were willing to give me 50l. The witness gives the money to Mr. Coppock, and votes for Mr. Clive. He was sure that no one would deny the necessity of inquiry, and he did not see why, when the writ was issued, the door of investigation should be closed. The effect of doing so in this case, would be only to tell the electors to be a little more cautious at the next election, and that they would be sure to be preserved from any inconvenience, and he thought that the very fact of the noble family which had been alluded to having adopted means so unworthy, with a view to secure a seat in that House for one of its Members, was, undoubtedly, attributable to the inattention of the House of Commons to such matters. The hon. Member concluded by moving that a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the extent to which bribery and intimidation existed at the last election for the borough of Ludlow, and that, pending the investigation, the writ for that borough be suspended.

Mr. Hume

rose to second the amendment. The noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies had, in his opinion, made out a complete case to justify the appointment of a select committee. He was satisfied that every person in that House who had heard the noble Lord describe the scenes which had taken place at Ludlow, or who had read the evidence taken before the committee, fully expected that the noble Lord would have concluded his observations with proposing the appointment of a committee of inquiry. The noble Lord had admitted, that the Ludlow committee had stopped short in the investigation, and yet the noble Lord had said, that he would not oppose the issuing of a new writ. For what purpose had the noble Lord described those scenes of drunkenness and quoted those precedents which he had referred to? He, for one, had thought that those precedents had been brought forward to justify a motion for inquiry on the part of the noble Lord, and he was therefore surprised that the noble Lord should have stated his determination not to oppose the issuing of a new writ. It had been said, that public opinion was against such proceedings as had taken place at Ludlow, but how, he would ask, could public opinion correct such evils when that House would do nothing for the punishment of such offences, and when it passed them over as unworthy of notice? Good might follow from the bill proposed by the noble Lord, but he thought that the writs for both Ludlow and Cambridge ought to be suspended till they saw whether that bill would pass into a law. He most cordially supported the amendment of his hon. Friend.

Sir R. Peel

had already stated, that during the whole course of these proceedings he had acted from the impression that in this individual case the evidence was not sufficient to justify the suspension of the writ. He did not agree with the noble Lord opposite that this one case was sufficient to call for a general measure. He thought the rule which was applicable to the present case ought not to be the rule in every case. He was of opinion that every case of this nature which came before them must depend upon its own merits, and that it was impossible to frame a general rule which would be equally applicable to all. He had on former occasions voted for the suspension of writs and for committees of inquiry, but it should not be forgotten that a select committee was far less satisfactory in investigations of this description than an election committee. The powers of a select committee were less, and the opportunities of ascertaining the truth were greater, before an election committee than a select committee. Before a select committee, when the inquiry was into the general delinquency of the elective body, and when the result was likely to lead to the disfranchisement of the borough, it was often found that there was a strong unwillingness on the part of the witnesses to give evidence against the parties implicated, and with the limited powers of such a body there was no means in such cases of fully ascertaining the truth. A select committee could not examine upon oath, while an election committee had that power, and the investigations of the latter body were, therefore, far more satisfactory than those of the former. In the course which he had pursued on this occasion he had been influenced by what seemed to him to be the prevailing opinion of the committee. He had never seen proceedings indicating a greater desire to ascertain the truth than those of this committee. He had never seen anything more satisfactory than the proceedings of this committee, and he rejoiced at it. There had been a total absence of everything like party feeling, and he believed there had been no difference of opinion, nor even a single division. [Lord Sandon: There was one division.] It appeared to him that the members of the committee were one and all impressed with a deep sense of the judicial functions which they were called upon to exercise, and that they had in consequence acted with the most perfect impartiality. When there appeared a disposition on the part of the agents of either party to withdraw any part of the case, the committee had determined to persevere, and, in fact nothing could have been more satisfactory than the whole conduct of this body. But after all the investigation which had taken place, he was of opinion that the impression on the minds of the members of the committee generally was, that there was not sufficient evidence to justify the suspension of the writ. It was true, that one hon. Gentleman seemed to think that treating had been carried to an improper length, but he thought he was justified in saying, that the impression generally in the committee was, that although individual acts of bribery had been established, yet, upon the whole, that it had not prevailed to an extent sufficient to justify the suspension of the writ. If the impression had been otherwise, he felt little doubt that the chairman or the noble Lord, the Member for Northumberland, or some other Member of the committee, would have given notice of a motion upon the subject. Many of the Members of the committee differed from him in politics, but he was sure that if there had been a case case to justify the suspension of the writ, a notice would have been given that it was the opinion of the committee that further inquiry was necessary. He, therefore, thought he was entitled to draw the inference that the impression upon the minds of a majority, of a great majority, of the committee, was, that there was no case to justify the suspension of the writ. It was upon that opinion he had acted. But it was said that the evidence showed that there had been treating, and the noble Lord had contended that treating was as bad as bribery. Treating might be perverted to the purposes of corruption. Let them, if they pleased, establish a new law that corrupt treating should be considered as bribery. He quite admitted that it might be carried to that extent. But hitherto the law had recognized the difference. They might establish a new course for the future; but it would be indeed a hardship to give any such measure a retrospective operation. He retained the opinion which he had expressed on a former evening. Having taken with respect to other boroughs a course favourable to inquiry, and in some instances voted for the suspension of the writ with that view, still he felt that each case must be decided in virtue of its own particular merits. Yet, on the whole, looking at this case of Ludlow, he did not think that they were warranted in suspending the writ. As the hon. Gentleman had declaimed about party motives, he (Sir R. Peel) might also take occasion to state that in these proceedings he had not been in the slightest degree influenced by considerations of party. The hon. Member for Finsbury had stated that they felt secure of returning a Radical at the ensuing election for the borough. In the face, then, of that declaration he (Sir R. Peel) was ready to abide by the opinion which he had expressed. With respect to the general measure of which the noble Lord gave notice, he thought it much more decorous to say now that he would cheerfully cooperate with the noble Lord in devising an effectual remedy against bribery, as well as against treating for corrupt purposes. With the general measure of the noble Lord he concurred, and he thought it better to make this statement than to bind himself to any particular enactment. With respect to treating, which was a question of considerable difficulty, he should not feel the slightest hesitation in extinguishing it, if it were practicable. The great difficulty of dealing with it was the difficulty of defining it. It depended altogether upon the animus. In some cases it was perfectly innocent; in others it was as corrupt, and led to the same consequences, as bribery. For instance, the inviting of one's friend's to his own House to discuss the prospects of an approaching election, although they were brought together bonâ fide for that purpose, and although confidential communications had been carried on between the parties before, was undoubtedly a perfectly innocent act. Yet, if a candidate did so, in the eye of the law it was treating. On the other hand, the indiscriminate opening of public-houses, the inviting of voters to them, and the accustoming of them to habitual drunkenness—that also was treating, and not more punishable by law than the other. Yet who would deny, that it was of a totally different character? It was very questionable whether any of the noble Lord's suggestions would attain his object. "There shall be no treating," he said, "for a month after any election." Now, nothing could be more easy than for the candidate to give notice, that at the expiration of one month after the election there would be a most liberal system of treating on both sides. But the noble Lord met the case with another provision, which would be truly effectual, for he made all treating before a general election subject to the consequences of bribery. Now, this would include a period of six years, or six years and a half, before the election. The noble Lord's provision, therefore, with respect to the month following the election would appear to be scarcely necessary. His advice to the House would be, not by attempting too much to run the risk of defeating the very object which they had in view. How often did they find that severe punishment defeated the intention of the Legislature. If they confounded innocent with guilty acts, their law could not remain long in force. The habit and disposition of the country was rather one of general hospitality; and if they attempted too far to run counter to the general habit, he only feared that the best intentions might be defeated. The noble Lord must take care that the habit of treating did not become transferred to the candidate's zealous and powerful friends. Suppose eight or ten gentlemen, in the interest of a particular candidate, found that treating had prevailed as the universal practice in the county or borough, there was great danger that, without meaning to corrupt, without intending to produce debauchery or excess, intending or asserting that they meant only to continue an old practice of hospitality, which would be undoubtedly innocent if it were not connected with an election, these friends of the candidate would take the very course which was prohibited to the candidate himself. With respect to bribery, there was no question that if they could make the law more efficacious than it was at present, they should do so. He was afraid that the law was stringent enough at present. In the case now under consideration both parties lost the seat. Another remedy was, that the Attorney-general could prosecute, and that the House could give him a direction to that effect. The letter of the law was therefore tolerably strict. The noble Lord, by enlarging the powers of election committees, retaining to them still the authority to administer an oath, and extending the sphere of their inquiries, might effect much in developing these practices. But he would find it necessary to give the committee, thus invested with new authority, the power to adjudicate at once on the rights of the individuals appearing before them. It would be hard to expose these parties to the expense of an inquiry into matters affecting the general state of the borough or other constituency. When the committee had made up their mind as to who had the right to sit, they should, in his opinion, come at once to a decision. The expenses of this part of the inquiry should be divided between them; but they should be relieved from the expense of the further inquiry as to the delinquency of the borough. If they subjected them to too much expense in matters, too, which ought not to fall upon them, the inevitable consequence would be that no parties would appear before their tribunal. The expense and anxiety attendant upon election committees were onerous enough already. The noble Lord had also spoken of an indemnity to witnesses. Upon that subject, he would be disposed to give every consideration to all those additional means of giving protection to the parties who gave evidence under such circumstances. He would give them all the protection which was necessary to prevent them from sheltering themselves from giving evidence on the plea that they would be committing themselves. He did not think that it would be expedient at present to enter further into these details. The hon. Member for Lambeth had expressed surprise that no strong observation had been made on his (Sir R. Peel's) side of the House in condemnation of the practices alleged to have prevailed in these boroughs. Now, it was not absolutely necessary to deal in excessive declamation upon such matters. He for one, thought that it would be greatly for the interest of both parties if men were to come forward and honourably lay claim to seats in Parliament upon the strength of their political principles and character, doing away with those corrupt practices altogether. He was quite opposed to such practices. Neither party derived substantial advantage from them. The general debauchery and corruption which prevailed upon such occasions must sufficiently satisfy any person resident in the country, after a contested election, of the great benefits which would result from extinguishing these practices. Still he thought it might be a fair question, whether any permanent system of conveyance of voters might not be provided, together with a pecuniary provision merely for reasonable allowances. This might be very effectual, if they could prevent it from degenerating into abuse. He would conclude by expressing his desire generally to do what could be done by law to prevent the continued existence of corruption and bribery.

Mr. A. Sanford

, as chairman of the committee, begged to thank the right hon. Baronet for the manner in which he had spoken of their proceedings. The right hon. Baronet had inferred that had the committee believed in the existence of any general system of bribery they would have reported it to the House. His own opinion (and he begged to be understood as expressing his individual opinion only) was, that the committee felt that they were called upon to decide upon a limited number of cases, and that the instant they came to an affirmative decision on one of those cases, it became their duty to intimate to the counsel for prosecuting such cases, that the committee were satisfied that bribery had been committed, one case of bribery being sufficient as the House was aware to establish the case of the petitioning party. The committee felt, also, what had been urged by the right hon. Baronet, that in asking the prosecuting party to proceed beyond the point that was necessary to establish his case, they would be unfairly putting him to expense, and, at the same time, putting him in the situation of public prosecutor. He must say, however, that as far as the opening speech of the counsel for the prosecuting parties went, even if it had been all in proof, there would not have been made out such a case of general bribery as would justify the suspension of the writ. Of treating, on the other hand, there was a most extensive and general system, not confined to any one class, but extending over all classes of the electors, persons of the highest and most respectable description attending the public-houses, which were indiscriminately thrown open to all. Those houses, too, were opened in a very peculiar manner— not by the direct orders of the candidates or their agents, as far as the evidence went to show, but with a full and complete understanding on the part of the owners that the candidates would pay all the expenses. Candidates, agents, and electors, all gathered together in these houses, all receiving every kind of refreshment, but the electors receiving no demand for payment, nor paying anything for the refreshment so liberally supplied to them. The committee thought it necessary to call for the accounts of the keepers of these houses. When they came to examine them, they found that they had been falsified. About the question of a general system of treating having prevailed there could be no doubt; the question was whether such treating formed a ground for suspending the writ. He had looked into all the cases, and had met with no case of a writ suspended on that ground. His opinion, therefore, was, that on that ground there was no case for the suspension of the writ; and he had, therefore, voted in the divisions that had already taken place, not against the renewal of the writ, but for the adjournment of the question, in compliance with the wish of his hon. Friend the Under-Secretary to the Treasury. One observation he would make on the proposition of the noble Lord, though, as chairman of the committee, he had thought it fit to abstain as much as possible from entering into subsequent discussions. He wished to see one check to bribery added to those proposed by the noble Lord. He did think that in an assembly of Gentlemen, such as that House was, no difficulty should be thrown in the way of Members when first elected coming to the Table, and taking an oath that they had not, either directly or indirectly, been guilty of any bribery. He felt this so strongly, that he would feel anxious, on the noble Lord introducing his measure, to introduce a clause with reference to that object.

Mr. Warburton

said, that he differed from the opinion which had been expressed by the right hon. Baronet opposite, that there had not been a sufficient case made out for sending this case for inquiry before a select committee. The hon. Member for West Somersetshire (Mr. Sanford) had explained very clearly the reasons why he thought that it should not he sent to such an inquiry. He (Mr. Warburton) begged leave, however, to remind the House that Mr. Cockburn, in his opening speech, had stated that he was prepared to open and prove against Mr. Clive himself one of the most aggravated cases of wholesale corruption that had ever been brought within his knowledge, and that he had afterwards opened ten different cases of corruption. As soon as the first of those ten eases was established, the members of the committee thought, that as they had before them one case on which they could convict, it was not part of their duty to proceed into the investigation of the other nine cases opened to them, and therefore their labours were terminated, as he thought, very prematurely. Now, as one case of corruption had been distinctly made out, and as counsel had stated, that he could make out nine others, he wanted to know whether the House would stop where it then was, and, on the mere allegation that no extensive bribery had been established, would refuse to inquire into those nine cases! He contended that on such a primâ facie case the House was imperatively bound to proceed at once to inquiry. On each of those nine cases the House might collaterally obtain proof that extensive bribery had been practised in the borough of Ludlow. If they determined to inquire, then, in pursuance of all former precedent, they must agree to suspend the writ till the inquiry was terminated. When the motion came on for issuing a new writ to the borough of Cambridge, he should take the liberty of presenting a petition to the House, which he had received from the electors of that borough, praying for further examination into the corrupt practices which prevailed there, in protection to those electors of that place who had exercised their franchise honestly. He reminded the House that it was not the dread of pains and penalties, but the dread of exposure, which operated most forcibly on the noblemen, and the sons of noblemen, who entered upon these corrupt and guilty practices. With respect to the bill, of which the noble Lord had given them some description that evening, he should be glad to hear that it contained clauses to prevent, not only treating and bribery, but intimidation also. For intimidation, by degrading the voter in his own estimation, prepared him for the reception of bribery and corruption. The noble Lord, therefore, if he wished to render his bill perfect, should prepare a clause to protect the voter from that intimidation to which he was now so regularly and so notoriously exposed. There was also another point on which he thought that the noble Lord's bill might be very materially amended. As the law stood at present, after an election committee was appointed, and the two parties were fairly pitted one against the other, and were exposing the misdeeds of which they had been mutually guilty, there certainly appeared some chance of the malpractices prevalent in the borough being exposed. But could no hon. Member remember a case, or rather could not every hon. Member who then heard him remember many cases, in which, from the dread of exposure and of its consequences, both parties had declined to go before the committee? The noble Lord proposed that when the parties had once been before the committee, the committee should have power, if they saw reason for supposing that further delinquency could be exposed, to prosecute their inquiries, even though the parties had mutually retired from the investigation. He thought that still further extension ought to be given to these inquiries, and that if a petition were once presented, a committee should have power to inquire into the allegations of it, even though the petitioners themselves should be anxious to withdraw it. There was also another point to which he wished to call the attention of the House, however briefly. One of the arguments used by the noble Lord on introducing the Reform Bill was, that the House of Commons, as then constituted, had lost the confidence of the people. The noble Lord, in the same speech, instanced the evils of bribery, and mentioned, with great indignation, the excessive corruption and venality which pre- vailed in the then unreformed borough of Liverpool. Now, if some means were not taken to prevent such bribery and corruption as had been proved to prevail recently at Cambridge and Ludlow—if sufficient protection were not given to the honest and independent electors of the country, could the noble Lord expect that this Parliament, though it called itself a reformed Parliament, would retain the confidence of the people? Nay, was not that confidence already lost, when noble Lords and hon. Gentlemen opposite declared that transactions of this kind were of every day occurrence? From the statements contained in the petition which he had received from the electors of Cambridge, it appeared that the investigation of the House of Commons into the bribery which had been practised there, was a constant source of laughter to those who had practised it, that those who had dispensed the bribes were talking freely about treating and bribery at the next election as they had done at the last, and that those who had received the bribes were anticipating another donation of them with the utmost confidence and delight. He should certainly vote in support of the amendment proposed by his hon. Friend, the Member for Lambeth, and he hoped that, when the noble Lord brought in his bill, he would correct those imperfections which appeared in its provisions, according to the outline of them which he had that evening sketched to the House.

Viscount Sandon

rose for the purpose of correcting an erroneous impression which had got abroad respecting the conduct of his committee. It seemed to be understood in the House that the committee had closed the investigation with an intimation to counsel that they need not carry it further, as sufficient had been proved to vacate the seat. Now, no such fact had taken place. On one side there was only one case of bribery alleged—on the other there were ten cases alleged. The committee had examined into five of those cases, and had never hinted its opinion upon one of them to counsel until they had closed their case. So far from it, the committee pursued its investigations for some time after Mr. Clive had announced his intention to retire from the contest. He did not think that hon. Members opposite had a right to taunt hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House with being the abettors of bribery and corruption, when they recollected that it was before this very committee that the immaculate secretary of the Reform Association had been convicted of dispensing bribes when they recollected that it was this very secretary (Mr. Coppock) who had got up and presented fourteen reform petitions against the return of hon. Members on his side of the House, for the mere purpose of disqualifying them from sitting on election petitions. He confessed that, he did not think that the Reform party had any right to taunt the Conservative party in that House, with a peculiar attachment to corruption, or to glory in their own unimpeached and unimpeachable purity. He knew that, it was the custom of hon. Gentlemen opposite, whenever his friends would not redress a grievance by the commission of an act of injustice, to taunt them with being supporters of the grievance, and to keep out of sight that their objection was to the mode, and not to the necessity, of redressing it. He hoped that the crime of bribery would be pursued henceforward with all the rigour of the law, but not with a rigour beyond the law. And, as the House had never yet come to a resolution declaring that treating was sufficient to disqualify a constituency, he had no difficulty in voting upon this occasion in favour of the motion for the immediate issue of the writ.

Mr. Goring

informed the House that the noble Lord who had just sat down had led the House, no doubt unintentionally, into an error respecting the proceedings before the committee. He would read from the minutes what the proceedings of that committee were:— The committee-room was cleared, after some time the counsel and parties were again called in, and informed, that in consequence of the communication which was made to the committee yesterday by Mr. Austen, the committee had come to the following resolution:— 'That Henry Clive, Esq., by his agents, was guilty of treating at the last election for the borough of Ludlow;' and the chairman added that he was directed by the committee to ask the parties whether, the committee having come to that resolution, it was their wish to proceed. Mr. Cockburn stated, that the object of those for whom he appeared, in proceeding further, was to prove acts of bribery, with a view to the matter being thoroughly investigated hereafter. After a discussion between the committee and counsel, Mr. Cockburn stated, that after the suggestion of the committee, he woutd conclude the evidence which had been commenced with respect to the vote of Timothy Meyrick, and then leave the case in the hands of the committee. Such was the statement of the proceedings before the committee as given in the evidence attached to its report. He thought that the committee, acting on the principle of the Grenville Act, had come to a resolution that as soon as evidence was given sufficient to vacate the seat, the prosecution of the charges ought to be stopped. He regretted that the noble Lord had not moved for a commission to go down to Ludlow to inquire into these practices on the spot, for the purpose of disfranchising those persons who might be proved guilty of them. He submitted to the noble Lord, that one of the most effectual measures to stop bribery and corruption, would be to deprive the agents and others connected with the election of the power of recovering by law any sums expended or demanded for articles used for electioneering purposes. If the agents were thus thrown upon their own responsibility, it would go a long way to put a stop to all improper and unconstitutional practices. He had had some experience himself in these matters; but the suggestion which he had just thrown out, had been made by a gentleman who had been an electioneering agent, but who had now retired from business.

Mr. Wakley

was glad to find, that the conduct of the minority during the last two or three days, had been completely justified by the observations which had fallen from the noble Lord the Secretary for the Colonies that evening. He was of opinion that, after what had fallen in the course of the present debate from the noble Lord and the right hon. Baronet opposite, it was quite impossible for them to oppose the institution of an inquiry into the system of treating and bribery prevalent at Ludlow. As both parties seemed to agree that the writ should be issued, he would entreat his hon. Friend to withdraw his amendment, and bring on the question of inquiry on another day, as a substantive motion. At present his hon. Friend would have no chance of carrying his amendment, and the proposition for inquiry by a select committee would not have a fair chance.

Sir R. Peel

explained, that if a motion for inquiry should be made on a future day, he should judge for himself as to the expediency of agreeing to it, without con- sidering himself at all bound to any course. All that he had said was, that an inquiry of this kind before a select committee always had an unsatisfactory result, as the committee did not possess the powers of an election committee.

Mr. Aglionby

said, he should strenuously recommend his hon. Friend, the Member for Lambeth, to press his amendment to a division, and if he did so, were there but half-a-dozen to join them, he would divide with them. He asked what new circumstances had transpired to render that course wrong now which was right the other night. If he had not thought the noble Lord entertained the same view of this question with himself, he would never have persisted in those divisions. The hon. Gentleman then entered into a detail of the proceedings of the committee, and said, he could not but think the counsel were of opinion the committee had done their duty, and that it was not necessary for them to proceed further, as the matter would be investigated before another tribunal. On these grounds he voted with the hon. Member, for Lambeth, and would observe to the noble Lord the Member for Liverpool, the very circumstance mentioned by the noble Lord, made it imperative upon him to show that lie was not acting in this business from party motives. As to the suspending of the writ, and the committee of inquiry afterwards, they must take place together or not at all. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had quoted a variety of precedents; and when he thought the noble Lord was going to act upon them, he found he meant to act directly contrary, and consent that the writ should issue; but although the noble Lord had not convinced himself, he had convinced him, and he should therefore, support the amendment of the hon. Member for Lambeth.

Mr. Horsman

said, the case of Ludlow might not have been worse than many previous cases, but it was very bad, and under a new system of trying election petitions, the public had a right to expect a rigid inquiry into every case of corruption. The system was brought to the utmost perfection at Ludlow. The machinery of treating was complete, and yet it was almost impossible to discover those who set it in motion. It was attempted on the other side to throw discredit on the evidence of Mr. Revis, by whom bribery was proved against the Conservative candidate. His bankruptcy was examined into, and his character impeached; but all that could be said against him might have been said while he was still the agent of the Conservatives. He would read some testimonies to Mr. Revis's character, which were given by members of the Conservative party so lately as 1838, at a time when Mr. Revis's services to the Conservative cause were thought worthy of a piece of plate. The hon. Gentleman then read the following letters. The first was from Henry Whittall, Esq., director of the Commercial Bank of England, Ludlow:— Dear Sir—I understand that you wish testimonials from your old friends here to your new ones at Salop. I, for one, am proud and happy to have an opportunity of recording the well-merited approbation your talent and exertions have created, and to that I may add sincere regret at your departure. The general feeling and expression is, 'We ne'er shall see his like again.' You have, however, left behind such works as can never be forgotten whilst the fame of Revis's Rooms can be lisped out by the youngest Conservative, or gazed at with envy by the levelling Radicals. My pen will not do justice to such a willing, able, and powerful advocate for the good cause of Conservatism; but to that I would wish to say, honour and integrity in no small degree have ever marked your progress at Ludlow. These sentiments in a short time will be responded to by a present of plate now being subscribed for by the intelligent and influential part of our little borough; and as you are not so well aware of this matter, I send, in the mean time, the names of a few of the subscribers. I remain, yours truly, HENRY WHITTALL. The second was from William Lloyd, Esq.:— Dear Sir—It affords me great pleasure to add my testimony to your zealous and indefatigable conduct whilst in Ludlow, not only in promoting the best interest of the Conservative cause, but generally, whenever an opportunity occurred in which your services were required for the good of the town and neighbourhood. I lament your loss, as well personally as on public grounds, but it is some consolation that if we have lost your services, our Conservative county will reap the advantage, and be much benefitted. I trust the testimonial your friends here will shortly present to you, will convince your new acquaintance of the estimation in which you were held at Ludlow. I am, dear Sir, your's faithfully, WILLIAM LLOYD, Afterwards he was employed at the very last election, and on his arrival was greeted as an old friend, and admitted at once into the secrets of the party. Mr. Williams showed him the plan of the battle, and told him it would be a close fight, but that if money could win it, it should be won. Mr. Revis's evidence was full of various circumstances affecting several parties, who might have contradicted him if it had been possible, but they did not. Mr. Williams showed Mr. Revis a list of electors ready to be bribed. He would read it from the evidence. In answer to question 3473, Mr. Revis said, that Mr. Williams showed him a list of voters who were to be bribed. He was subsequently introduced into a room, where he found Mr. Holmes, with several agents, who all appeared to look to him for their instructions. These circumstances might have been contradicted before the committee, but were not. The Conservative party appeared to find it easier to criminate than to confute Mr. Revis, and to vilify his character than to meet his statements.

Lord Sandon

begged to know whether the hon. Member himself, in the committee, expressed confidence in Mr. Revis's statements?

Mr. Horsman

said, that the question did not come directly before the committee. For his own part, he reserved his belief until he saw whether the other parties would be brought forward to confute the statements of Mr. Revis, and until the last moment he did not know but that they might be put into the box. Upon the whole there were abundant grounds for inquiry. A general system of treating was established, and both candidates were proved guilty of bribery. He should vote, therefore, for the motion of the hon. Member for Lambeth.

Mr. T. Duncombe

said it was but just to Mr. Revis to state, that he had that morning received by post a petition from Mr. Revis, with a request that it should be presented before the debate came on. He had not presented it because it referred to the conduct of his hon. Friend, the Member for Berwick, to whom he should be sorry to be guilty of any discourtesy, by presenting it without his knowledge. He had since shown his hon. Friend the petition, and as he had no objection that it should be presented, he would state the substance to the House. The petitioner stated, that he was examined as a witness before the select committee on the Ludlow election — that he stated in evidence, that Mr. William Holmes was cognizant of certain bribery transactions at that elec. tion—that he was informed Mr. Holmes had denied that statement, although he was not examined before the committee to contradict the petitioner. The petitioner, therefore, prayed that the House would examine him at the bar, as well as other witnesses who could corroborate the charges made against Mr. William Holmes, or that the House would appoint a select committee for the purpose of hearing evidence touching the conduct of the said William Holmes. He (Mr. Duncombe) would present the petition as soon as the present debate was disposed of. In the mean time he should certainly vote for the motion. The scenes which were proved to have taken place at Ludlow called for inquiry. He did not wish to enter into particulars, but if hon. Members would read some of the evidence at page 165, [cries of "Read, read!"] He would read a few of the questions and answers from the evidence of Edward Cook, the landlord of the Angel, with reference to a meeting held at his house on the 18th of May. He was asked:— Was the room full?—Yes, pretty near. Was it pretty near or quite full?—Well, I say pretty near. Did you know many of the people?—A great many of the people. Were they Cliveites?—Yes, almost every one, I should say. You were doing your duty as landlord during the time they were there?—I was sitting down, drinking with them. You helped to fill the room, did you?— Yes. What was there to drink?—Anything as they liked to have. Spirits and wine?—Yes. And ale?—Ale, tobacco, and cigars. Anything to eat?—I dare say there was but I do not recollect that there was any eating in that room; there was eating out, if they chose to go, I will be bound. Eating at the bar, and so on?—Yes. ''You will be bound there was?—I think there was: I will not swear there was any eating, but I think there was. When you say eating out, you mean in the house?—Yes, You were in the room; did you see the Cliveites help themselves freely?—Yes; there was more drinking going on, I know, than eating. When a bottle was empty, what happened? —We filled it again. That happened a good many times, did it not?—Yes, I should think it did. Your liquor is good; did you see any drunk?—Yes, a good many; I got drunk myself for one. How late did you keep it up?—Sometimes till eleven, and sometimes till twelve: we have stopped occasionally till half-past twelve. I should think, by the look of you, you made a speech? — Yes, and sung my song too. Were you in the chair?—Sometimes. I mean on the 18th?—I forget who was what we call the chairman. Do you know Mr. William Lloyd?—Yes, very well. He is an attorney?—Yes. And a good Cliveite?—I should think so. You have no doubt about it?—Not the least. Tax your recollection whether you did not see Mr. William Lloyd in the chair that night? —I will not say whether he was or was not. Were you so drunk that you could not see?—No, I was pretty fresh. Whom did you last see in the chair?—I cannot recollect, because when one tumbles down, we always put another in. Extensive as that evidence proved the treating to be at Ludlow, he did not think the Ludlow and Cambridge elections were worse than others, but the House having got those cases before it, he thought it ought to make examples of them.

The House divided on the original question:—Ayes 182; Noes 104: Majority 78.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Buller, C.
A'Court, Captain Buller, Sir J. Y.
Alsager, Captain Burr, H.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Burroughes, H. N.
Archdall, M. Calcraft, J. H.
Ashley, Lord Chute, W. L. W.
Attwood, W. Clay,W.
Attwood, M. Clerk, Sir G.
Bailey, J. Clive, hon. R. H.
Bailey, J. jun. Cochrane, Sir T. J.
Baillie, Colonel Codrington, C. W.
Baker, E. Cole, hon. A. H.
Baldwin, C. B. Colquhoun, J, C.
Barrington, Viscount Conolly, E.
Bateson, Sir R. Corry, hon. H.
Bentinck, Lord G. Courtenay, P.
Blair, J. Cresswell, C.
Blakemore, R. Crewe, Sir G.
Boldero, H. G. Dalrymple, Sir A.
Boiling, W. Damer, hon. D.
Bradshaw, J. Darby, G.
Bramston, T. W. De Horsey, S. H.
Broadley, H. Dick, Q.
Bruce, Lord E. D'Israeli, B.
Bruce, C. L. C. Dottin, A. H.
Bruges, W. H. L. Drummond, H. H.
Bucke, L. W. Duffield, T.
Dunbar, G. Miller, W. H.
Duncombe, hon. W. Miles, P. W. S.
Dungannon, Viscount Morgan, C. M. R.
Du Pre, G. Morpeth, Viscount
Eastnor, Viscount Nicholl, J.
Eaton, R. J. Norreys, Lord
Ellis, J. Northland, Lord
Farnham, E. B. O'Neill, hon. J. B. R.
Fielden, W. Ossulston, Lord
Filmer, Sir E. Packe, C. W.
Follett, Sir W. Pakington, J S.
Fox, S. L. Palmer, G.
Freshfield, J. W. Parker, M.
Gaskell, J. Milnes Patten, J. W.
Gladstone, W. E. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. eel, J. got, D. R.
Godson, R.
Gordon, hon. Captain
Gore, O. W. Polhill, F.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Pollen, Sir J. W
Granby, Marquess of Pollock, Sir F.
Greene, T. Powell, Colonel
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Praed, W. T.
Grimsditch, T. Price, R.
Hale, R. B. Pringle, A. usey, P.
Halford, H.
Hamilton, C. J. B. Rae, rt. hon. Sir W.
Hamilton, Lord C. Reid, Sir J. R.
Harcourt, G. G. Richards, R.
Harcourt, G. S. Rickford, W.
Hardinge, rt. hn. Sir H. Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.
Hawkes, T. Round, C. G.
Heathcoat, G. J. Round, J.
Heneage, G. W. Rushbrooke, Colonel
Hepburn, Sir T. B. Russell, Lord J.
Herries, rt. hon. J. C. Rutherford, rt. hn. A.
Hogg, J. W. Sandon, Viscount
Holmes, W. Scarlett, hon. J. Y.
Hope, hon. C. Shaw rt. hon. F.
Hope, G. W. Sheppard,T.
Hotham, Lord Shirley, E. J.
Hughes, W.B. Sibthorp, Colonel
Hurst, R. H. Somerset, Lord G.
Hurt, F. Sotherton, T. E.
Ingham, R. Stanley, Lord
Irton, S. Stewart, J.
Johnstone, H. Sturt, H. C.
Jones, Captain Teignmouth, Lord
Kelly, F. Thesiger, F.
Kerrison, Sir E. Thomas, Col. H.
Kirk, P. Thornhill, G.
Knatchbull, Sir E. Tollemache, F. J
Knight, H. G. Trench, Sir F.
Knightley, Sir C. Trevor, hon. G. R.
Lefroy, rt. hon. T. Vere, Sir C. B.
Lincoln, Earl of Vernor, Colonel
Litton, E. Vivian, J. E.
Long, W. Wadddington, H. S.
Lowther, J. H. Walsh, Sir J.
Mackenzie, T. Welby, G. E.
Mackenzie, W. F. Wood, Colonel T.
Marsland, T. Young, J.
Martin, T. B. Young, Sir W.
Maule, hon. F.
Maunsell, T. P. TELLERS.
Meynell, Captain Darlington, Earl of
Miles, W. Fremantle, Sir T.
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, Major Marshall, W.
Archbold, R. Marsland, H.
Baines, E. Muntz, G. F.
Barnard, E. G. Murray, A.
Barry, G. S. Nagle, Sir R.
Bewes, T. O'Brien, W. S.
Blackstone, W. S. O'Connell, J.
Bridgeman, H. Pattison, J.
Briscoe, J. I. Pendarves, E. W. W.
Brodie, W, B. Philips, M.
Brotherton, J. Pinney, W.
Bryan, G. Power, J.
Buller, E. Price, Sir R.
Bulwer, Sir E. L. Protheroe, E.
Busfeild, W. Pryme, G.
Butler, hon. Colonel Ramsbottom, J.
Callaghan, D. Redington, T. N.
Chester, H. Roche, W.
Clements, Viscount Roche, Sir D.
Collier, J. Russell, Lord C.
Collins, W. Seale, Sir J. H.
Corbally, M. E. Smith, B.
Craig, W. G. Somerville, Sir W. M.
Currie, R. Stanley, hon. W. O.
Duke, Sir J. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Duncombe, T. Stuart, W. B.
Dundas, D. Stock, Dr.
Easthope, J. Strickland, Sir G.
Edwards, Sir J. Strutt, E.
Elliott, hon. J. E. Style, Sir C.
Ellis, W. Tancred, H. W.
Etwall, R. Thornely, T.
Ewart, W. Townley, R. G.
Fielden, J. Turner, E.
Fleetwood, Sir P. H. Turner, W.
Gillon, W. D. Vigors, N. A.
Gisborne, T. Villiers, hon. C. P.
Goring, H. D. Wakley, T.
Greg, R. H. Walker, R.
Greig, D. Warburton, H.
Hector, C. J. Ward, H. G.
Hill, Lord, A.M. C. White, A.
Hindley, C. White, S.
Hobhouse, T. B. Wilbraham, G.
Hodges, T. L. Williams, W.
Horsman, E. Williams, W. A.
Hoskins, K. Winnington, Sir T. E.
Hume, J. Winnington, H. J.
James, W. Wood, Sir M.
Jervis, S. Wood, B.
Langdale, hon. C.
Lister, E. C. TELLERS.
Lushington, C. Aglionby, H. A.
Lushinston, rt. hn. S. Hawes, B.

Writ ordered to be issued.

Back to