§ Mr. Wakley
begged to ask the hon. Member for Sheffield whether he was prepared to state to the House the name and address of the Poor-law guardian with whom he said in his speech the night before he had held a conversation in which his (Mr. Wakley's) name had been introduced.
§ Mr. Wakley
had no objection to the course taken by the hon. Member, if the House thought fit that Members should State conversations which they had held with parties, those conversations involving calumnies of the most atrocious kind against other Members of the House. If this was to be permitted, he was content to yield to such a species of warfare. If he was to be attacked by unfair weapons, and the use of them was considered quite correct, lawful, and parliamentary, he presumed he would be admitted to defend himself with weapons of a similar description. The hon. Member for Sheffield, in stating, the conversation last night, admitted that the language was not respectful with regard to him (Mr. Wakley). Now he (Mr. Wakley) considered the matter of so much importance that, without entertaining any enmity or hostility to the hon. Member—as he trusted he should always be enabled to conduct himself without entertaining such feelings towards a political opponent—he should feel it his duty to sift the matter to the bottom. He felt it due to the character of the House to do so. It was a matter of safety and security with regard to hon. Members. If conversations of the kind he referred to were to be related in that House by persons under no responsibility he should like to know what was the protection for individual character. The hon. Gentleman objected to give the name 1006 and address of the guardian with whom the conversation occurred. He begged to know whether the hon. Member would state the name of the union to which that guardian belonged. He would undertake to go to that board, or to write to every Member of it, to ask whether he was the person or not. And if it should so happen that every Member denied having held such a conversation, then they should know in whose honourable and courageous mind the calumnious insinuation originated.
§ The Speaker
, who said he felt it necessary to call the attention of the House, to what had fallen from the hon. Member for Finsbury. The rule of the House was, that when an hon. Member stated, in his place in the House, anything which had occurred to him, such a statement was considered to be made upon the honour of the hon. Member. Such a statement was not to be questioned either in the House or out of it. Therefore he had to call the hon. Member for Finsbury to order for making allusion to steps to be taken to question a statement made to the House in the manner referred to.
§ Mr. Ward
, with the utmost deference to the observations of the Speaker, hoped he might be permitted to say that there was nothing in the conversation he had repeated which could be called a calumny. There was nothing calumnious in the expression of an opinion, on the part of a member of a board of guardians who had seen the warm and violent speeches made by the hon. Member for Finsbury upon the Poor-law—that he felt great horror at having the interpretation of the new Poor-law left to boards of guardians, when they might have a Wakley at every board, putting his own interpretation on those principles, and forcing others to adopt it by raising an outcry against them if they did not, and denouncing them for inhumanity. Such a person was perfectly entitled to hold such an opinion, and express horror at such a prospect, and there was nothing in it to affect the hon. Member's Parliamentary conduct, or to prevent his discharging his duties in the House in any manner he thought proper. He disclaimed the idea of any calumny, in the matter. But he was connected with three boards of guardians, and after what had fallen from the hon. Member, he was less disposed 1007 than ever to give him the name of the person referred to.
§ Mr. Wakley
was disposed to bow implicitly to the decision of the chair. The hon. Member opposite disclaimed the idea of calumny, but the hon. Member had not quoted all the words he made use of last night.
§ The Speaker
said, the hon. Member was again out of order. According to the strict rule of the House, he could not refer to a former debate.
§ Report received.