§ Mr. Redington
appeared at the Bar and stated that he was instructed to report from the select committee appointed to try the merits of the petition complaining of an undue election for the town of Southampton, that John Wren had been guilty of refusing to give evidence before the said committee, and that he had therefore, by virtue of his office as chairman of the said committee, committed the said John Wren to the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms, where he now remained to await the pleasure of the House. The hon. Member moved that John Wren be brought to the Bar, and interrogated as to whether he would persist in refusing to give evidence before the committee.
§ Mr. Buck,
as a member of the committee who had voted against the committal of this man to the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms, still felt it to be his duty to appeal to the House not to come to any decision in the case until it had had an opportunity of examining the evidence given before the committee. If the House took that course, he was perfectly satisfied that it would coincide with him in the opinion that the witness Wren had not done anything that could be construed into disrespect, and that the punishment he had already received, in being committed to the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms, was more than equal to any offence of which he had been guilty. Beyond this he was convinced that the witness would not have been placed in the situation in which he then stood, had it not been for a misconception on his part of a resolution passed by the committee; and so strongly were some of the members of the committee impressed with that idea, that a discussion and a division took place as to whether his evidence should be erased. He be-believed the witness had been guilty of no disrespect beyond that of refusing to answer a question which he felt would criminate himself; he had not been guilty of the smallest prevarication, nor of any act that would not be tolerated in any court of justice in the kingdom. Under these circumstances he should certainly resist any proposition for detaining the witness in the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms.
§ The Speaker
thought that the hon. Member who had just spoken must have misunderstood the question, which was simply that John Wren be brought to the Bar and interrogated.
§ Mr. Godson,
as a member of the committee, could not bring himself to think that Wren had been guilty of any contempt, and therefore he should oppose the course which it was now proposed to pursue. The hon. and learned Gentleman was proceeding to make a statement of what had transpired before the committee, but was called to order by
§ The Speaker,
who reminded him that the committee had not yet made its report; and that it was contrary to the rule of the House for the proceedings of a committee to be referred to until its report had been laid upon the Table.
§ Mr. Godson
would refer no further to the proceedings of the committee. He contended, however, that it was an axiom of the law of England that a man should not be called upon to criminate himself. In this instance the witness had declared that he could not answer the question without criminating himself. Under such circumstances, the refusal to answer the question could not be construed into contempt.
§ Sir Thomas Wilde
apprehended that the proper course would be to ascertain from the witness himself whether he had really made any such objection as was stated. As yet the House was wholly unapprised of the question, and of the objection to it.
§ The Solicitor-General
thought, that after the reports that had been made from the committee, the only course that the House could adopt would be to call the witness to the Bar.
The question that John Wren be called in, put and carried. John Wren called in and examined by the Speaker, as follows:
Were you examined as a witness before the Southampton election committee?—I was.
In the course of that examination was any question put to you which you refused to answer?—There was.
Why did you refuse to answer that question?—Because I considered it a question which was likely, if I answered it, to criminate myself, and to do me hereafter a serious injury.
Do you still persist in that refusal?—I am willing to bow to the decision of the House. If the House decide that I shall answer the question, I am willing to do so.
Witness ordered to withdraw.
§ Mr. Redington
then asked the indulgence of the House, in consideration of the difficult position in which he stood—a position which he could well wish was filled by a Member of greater experience than himself. He felt the full force of the rule of the House, which precluded any reference to the proceedings of committees, before which inquiries were still pending; and although in the present instance, the rule operated in such a way as to increase the difficulty against which he had to contend, he should make no effort to violate it. All that he asked the House to remember, was this, that the Members of the committee were sworn at the Table of that House to try the merits of the petition referred to their consideration, and that, so acting upon their oaths, they had, after discussion and deliberation, come to a vote that the question propounded to the witness was one that he was bound to answer. The committee were of opinion, that the excuse given by the witness for not answering the question was an excuse that did not bear upon the question that was asked.
§ Mr. Thesiger
observed, that the circumstances under which the House was called upon to act were as yet so imperfectly explained as to render it impossible for them to form an idea what they were to do. He would, therefore, suggest that the witness be called back again, and asked what the question was that he refused to answer.
§ Sir T. Wilde
agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down, that the House was at present in a state of complete darkness upon the subject. After the very proper and becoming disposition manifested by the witness, he thought it would be well that the House should relieve itself from the position of difficulty in which it now stood by discharging the witness, and sending him before the committee for further examination, and with the permission of the House he would moveThat John Wren be called to the bar, and informed that the legal tribunal to decide on his obligation to answer questions in the select committee appointed under an Act of Parliament to try the matter of the petition, and that as' he has declared his readiness to submit to the authority of the House, he be discharged.
observed that the witness, in his examination at the Bar, although expressing a general willingness 1059 to submit to the decision of the House, had not said that he was willing to go back to the committee, and there answer the question which he had previously refused to answer. The witness had declared that to answer the question would be to criminate himself; and the question raised before the House was, whether the man should or should not be required to criminate himself. If he were sent back to the committee without any direction from the House as to whether he was to answer a question which would criminate himself, no progress of any kind would have been made in the transaction. He was the more anxious to prevent such a course from being taken, because this was not the first time that an erroneous construction had been placed upon the conduct of witnesses before committees of the House. In the present instance, no distinct allegation was made, but the motion of the chairman of the committee implied that the witness had been guilty of contempt. He might be wrong; but it occurred to him that a witness refusing, either before a committee of the House of Commons or any other tribunal competent to act as a court of justice, to answer a question that tended to criminate himself, was not guilty of contempt. In support of this view the hon. and learned Gentleman quoted a passage from one of the judgments of Lord Eldon. In his judgment, the House could not erect itself into a tribunal of appeal from the decisions of election committees. Therefore, if in this instance, the witness had been committed to the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms, under a notion on the part of the committee that he was bound to answer a question tending to criminate himself, and if the committee honestly avowed that that was their rule of proceeding, he should be very unwilling to interpose the authority of the House in favour of the witness; but if it were the opinion of the committee, that the witness was endeavouring to shelter himself against a proper inquiry by alleging that the question was one to which he could not reply without criminating himself, when in fact the question was not one of such a nature, then he thought it would be incumbent upon the House to support the authority of the committee.
§ Mr. Redington
The majority of the committee, who voted for the committal of the witness, were under the impression that the question could not criminate him.
§ Viscount Howick
thought it perfectly clear that the House ought not to erect itself into a tribunal of appeal to try the proceedings of the election committees. Such a course once adopted would necessarily give rise to very serious inconveniences. In this instance, the most expedient course for the House to adopt appeared to him to be this:—That the Speaker should inform the witness that although it was true that he could not he called upon to answer a question tending to criminate himself, yet that it was for the committee to judge of, whether the excuse were good or not; and if the committee upon consideration should determine that the question was one that would not criminate the witness, then the witness should be bound to answer it. As the witness had already stated to the House that he would answer if the House saw fit, be thought there could not be any doubt of the witness obeying their decision.
stated, that the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite had stated what was most undoubtedly the law in courts of justice. He wished the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire had been in his place, because he remembered well that when he some ten or twelve years ago, endeavoured to maintain the same principle, he was assailed from all quarters. He was told that he could not limit the power of Parliament by any application to their proceedings of any rule of law. The case he alluded to was one of bribery and corruption in one of the Cornish boroughs. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite knew that, by a rule of law, no solicitor or attorney could be called on in a court of justice to betray the secrets of his clients. A solicitor was summoned to the Bar of the House in that case, and on declining to answer certain questions because his doing so would betray the secrets of his client, he was told that he could not avail himself of that excuse, as the House was not bound by any rule of law, and if he was not mistaken, the solicitor was committed. He wished to see the rules of the House, as well as the rules of law, paid attention to; hut he thought that the House had decided, on the occasion alluded to, that it did not consider itself bound by any analagous decision of a court of law. They were now in a difficulty, because it had been laid down by the Chair that they could not publish the proceedings of the committee until the 1061 committee concluded its labours, and the hon. Member for Kidderminster was prohibited by a rule of the House from even alluding to what took place before the committee. How could the House, then, judge as between the committee and the witness. The witness said that he was willing to bow to the decision of the House, but he did not say that he was willing to how to the decision of the committee.
Lord J. Russell
said, that it had been repeatedly maintained that the refusal of a witness to answer a question because it might criminate himself, ought not to be considered as conclusive. The general parliamentary power of compelling a witness to answer, even though such answer should criminate himself, was not now the question before the House. That was a power which Parliament possessed, and which they might use on great occasions for the purpose of detecting some public fraud. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were mistaken in supposing that in the bill, in which he proposed that an indemnity should be given to certain witnesses under particular circumstances, there was any thing calculated to lead to the belief that that power was to be given up. In certain cases witnesses would be protected by an act of indemnity, but then committees acted under a special act of Parliament. They were judicial tribunals, formed of Members of this House, and as much a judicial tribunal as the Court of Queen's Bench would be, if the House of Commons had conferred on it the power of deciding on election petitions. The hon. and learned Attorney-general said, that the rule of law protected the witness when he refused to answer on the ground that his doing so would criminate himself, but that it would not apply where the witness refused merely from a wish to shelter himself, and avoid giving evidence. But the power of deciding the question, whether the rule applied or not, was left to the court who tried the case. The hon. Member for Dundalk had told the House that the question had been discussed before the committee, and that they had come to the decision that the witness might answer the question without criminating himself. If the judges in a court of law had come to a similar decision, he thought that the witness, would have been obliged to answer the question. It was impossible to go into the merits of the present case, be 1062 cause they were ignorant not only of the question itself, but they knew nothing of the train of questions and answers which led to' the question which the witness refused to answer. He felt inclined to rely on the authority of the committee. Nothing had been said to induce him to look with distrust on the proceedings of that committee. He had some doubt, however, whether the motion of his hon. and learned Friend, or the proposition of the Attorney-general, would answer the object in view. The witness said that he could not answer the question without criminating himself, but that he was ready to answer if it was the pleasure of the House that he should do so. If they merely referred the witness again to the committee, and if they should give no directions to the committee on the subject, he feared that they would only find themselves in the same difficulty as that in which they now were—the witness would refuse to answer the question, and the committee would persist in considering him guilty. It was, therefore, his opinion, that they ought to inform the witness that it was the opinion of the House that he was bound to answer the question according to the direction of the committee.
said, that the Attorney-general had laid down the law accurately enough as far as he had stated it; but there was this qualification. If a witness began to describe a certain transaction, and gave part of the evidence, he could not stop short in the middle. He must make his objections in the first instance. If he did not do so, he was bound to go on, and, having told a part, he was bound to tell the whole. For his own part, he should not be sorry if a witness told a fact which might even criminate himself. A great deal of bribery and corruption was caused by a too strict adherence to the rule that a man ought not to answer any question that might criminate himself. A bill passed the House the last Session on the subject of bribery, but Lord Brougham had done a great deal of mischief by procuring the rejection of the principal clauses, when the measure was before the House of Lords. The present Govern 1063 ment were strong in the House of Lords, and he wished they would bring in a similar bill. In regard to the question before the House, he thought they ought to leave it to the committee to deal with it as they might think fit.
§ Sir R. Peel
agreed with the noble Lord the Member for London. He thought there was a material distinction between the extreme powers possessed by the House as the great inquest of the nation, and the powers possessed by certain portions of the House, constituted as tribunals, under special act of Parliament. It did not follow that the power and privileges of those tribunals defined by statute were the same as those which were possessed by the House of Commons. It appeared to him that the safest course to adopt was to remit the witness to the committee, as it was of great importance to maintain the authority of the committees appointed for the trial of election petitions, and to interfere as little as possible with their jurisdiction. He thought it would be a most dangerous course to examine the witness at the Bar of the House for the purpose of enabling them to form an opinion whether the question which he was called on to answer would criminate him or not. But, at the same time, he was afraid that the witness had left the matter to the decision of the House in a manner not generally understood. The witness said that he would submit himself to the authority of the House, and would take any course which the House might think fit. He was afraid that the witness would think, if the House should order him to answer, without reference to consequences, that he was bound to criminate himself. Now, he did not consider himself entitled to tell the witness that he was bound to answer the question even though it should criminate himself. He had gone as far as any one in defending the privileges of the House, and should do so again if it were necessary; but he was not prepared to tell the witness that he was bound to criminate himself. He thought they ought not, without the maturest consideration, to arrogate to any tribunal a power of that nature, at variance as it was with every principle of justice and law. If they did so, they would be establishing a principle most dangerous to the subject, not only with regard to their own inquisitorial powers, but also in regard to the powers of their committees. He 1064 did not infer that the committee claimed the power of compelling the witness to criminate himself, but merely the power of judging whether the witness was acting bonâ fide, or whether, under the pretence of not criminating himself, he sought to withhold evidence which might have that effect, but which it was important for the committee to know. It appeared to him to be a nice question for any tribunal to determine, whether a witness should or should not answer, because no person except the witness could know whether the answer would criminate him or not, nor could any one except the witness himself know whether he was acting bonâ fide or not. Still that was a discretion which they must give to a tribunal. It was clearly impossible to allow a witness to claim the privilege of refusing to answer a question on the ground that by so doing be would criminate himself. If that were allowed, it would strike at the root of all evidence; and, in his opinion, every tribunal must possess the power of judging whether the witness was making a bonâ fide answer or not, or whether the effect of the answer might criminate him or not. Such a discretion must be left to the tribunal, and, in his opinion, they ought to remit the witness to the committee, leaving to the committee to decide whether the answer should be given or not.
§ Mr. Wakley
said, that on such occasions they ought to recollect what took place on the trial of a Peer, in the House of Lords, for a most serious offence. One of the witnesses, after answering one or two questions, refused to answer any other question on the ground that the answer might criminate himself. That happened within the last two years, and the trial, which took place in the highest criminal court in the kingdom, was put an end to by the refusal of a witness to answer, on the ground that he would criminate himself. Was that witness committed or punished? No such thing. He was not even requested to state his answer, in order that the judges might determine whether the answer would criminate him or not. He was allowed to exercise his own judgment, and nothing was said or done to him for his refusal to answer.
§ Sir W. Follett
said, the law was this— any individual who was asked a question tending to criminate himself had a right to refuse to answer that question. He understood the rule to be this. A witness 1065 being examined with respect to a transaction in which he had taken a part, and that transaction being of a criminal nature, if, in the course of his examination, a question was put to him, and he said that he believed the answer would tend to criminate him, the province of the tribunal in that case would be, to decide whether or not his refusal to answer was bonâ fide or for the mere purpose of avoiding to give evidence in the case. The House would see that it was perfectly impossible for the judge to decide whether or not the refusal was bonâ fide. No person could thoroughly decide that but the witness himself— and if the refusal was bonâ fide, the rule of law was that the witness ought not to be compelled to answer a question that would criminate himself. Now, with respect to a committee, the same rules of evidence and law applied there as before any other tribunal, and he apprehended if a witness refused bonâ fide to answer a question on the ground that it would criminate himself, the committee were bound to give effect to that refusal. But if a witness had already criminated himself by his answer, he could not in that case be allowed to state that he would answer no further; but if any answer already given had not criminated the witness, he might then in any stage of the inquiry refuse to answer a question on the ground that it would criminate him. With respect to the proceedings that the House should take, he (Sir W. Follett) did not see how the House could take any other course but to send this witness back again before the committee. He (Sir W. Follett) should be extremely sorry to see that House sit as a court of appeal in any matter concerning the authority of an election committee.
§ Mr. C. Wood
said, if the course suggested by the hon. and learned Gentleman were followed, they would to-morrow be precisely in the same situation as that in which they now were. The committee claimed no authority except such as belonged to every judicial tribunal. All that the House could know of the case was, that the witness had declined to answer a question which the committee were of opinion he should have answered. He apprehended that every judicial tribunal would commit such a person. The committee ought to decide as to whether the refusal of the witness to answer was bonâ fide or not; such a discretion was left to them, and in his opinion the exercise of it 1066 in the present case was rendered absolutely necessary.
§ Mr. Godson
said, that it was with some surprise that he heard the learned Solicitor-general state, that the witness was to judge whether his answer would criminate himself or not. The House could judge of the demeanour of the witness when at the Bar. Such was also his demeanour when before the committee. One good result would spring from this discussion. When the committee met again they would understand, that they were bound to try the question by the law of the land, and not by their own individual opinions, and to do justice in the committee in the same way as if they sat in a court of justice. They would have to decide whether the witness was fairly of opinion that his answer would criminate himself; and should they think that he was acting honestly in refusing the answer, it would be their duty to tell him that he was not bound to answer.
§ Sir T. Wilde
said, that the rule acted on for the last forty years, was to require the witness to state as much of his answer as would enable the judges to decide whether it might criminate him or not. He recollected a case which illustrated what the practice was. A witness was asked, "Did you ever see that paper?" and a bill of Exchange was put into his hands. He declined to answer, because he would criminate himself. He was asked how? and he answered, that he had been guilty of usury in respect of that bill. He objected, therefore, to answer the question, and the objection was allowed. His hon. and learned Friend would, therefore, perceive that the practice was to require the witness to state as much as would enable the judge to decide whether his answer might have a tendency to criminate him; but. it never was the rule to allow a witness to get off without answering the question merely on his saying, that his doing so would criminate him. Looking to the state of political parties, he should say, that if they were to admit an objection of that kind, all inquiry would stop; and he trusted, the House would see the necessity of coming to some decision on the subject.
§ The Solicitor-General
did not understand in what point his hon. and learned Friend disagreed with him. What he (the Solicitor-general) staled was, that if the committee were of opinion, that the 1067 object of the witness in refusing to answer a question was a bonâ fide fear of criminating himself, and not the intention of screening others, the committee would not call on him to answer such question.
§ Mr. Watson
thought the witness ought to purge the contempt of which he had been guilty, by giving a full and explicit answer to the questions put to him, before he was discharged.
§ Sergeant Jackson
said, that might impress the witness with the idea, that the House approved of the questions which had been put to him. This he conceived was not what the House intended to do.
§ Sir R. Peel
wished to ask whether, supposing the present motion should be carried, the House had any security that the witness would appear before the committee and answer the questions put to him. It was very material to determine whether the original summons remained in force after the witness should be discharged. Care ought to be taken, that the witness went again before the committee, and the House ought to be sure that by discharging him from the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms, they were not relieving him from any legal necessity of appearing before the committee again.
§ The Speaker
said, in answer to the question put to him by the right hon. Baronet, that by the act of Parliament any witness refusing to give evidence before a committee might be committed to the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms for any time not exceeding twenty-four hours if the House should be sitting, and, if not, then for any time not exceeding twenty-four hours after the hour to which the House should then have been adjourned. He apprehended, that the House having been adjourned over to this day, the witness would remain in custody for twenty-four hours after the House again met. In that case the witness would be forthcoming at any time to answer any questions put to him by the committee, if the committee wished him to be re-examined. He was assuming that if the House ordered the witness to be discharged, he would be discharged at once out of custody; then it Would be necessary for the committee to summon him again.
§ Mr. Godson
said, the committee were of Opinion, that when the witness was once 1068 committed to custody, he was out of their power.
§ Sir C. Clerk
remarked, that if a witness were committed for prevarication and perjury, his evidence might be accounted not worth anything, but it was different when the question was, whether he might change his mind, and answer the questions put to him by the committee. The witness, he apprehended, would not be required to answer a question if it distinctly appeared that the object of his refusal was bonâ fide the fear of being criminated.
§ Mr. Law
said, that any resolution which did not clearly intimate to the Witness the tribunal by which he should abide would be unsatisfactory. He should, therefore, move, that the witness should be called to the Bar, and be informed by the Speaker that any objections which he has to urge must be submitted to the committee, and be determined by them.
§ Mr. Borthwick
said, that though from his experience of election committee's, fee was not inclined to think Very highly of their decisions, he did not see why the House should depart from its usual practice. He would, therefore, move, that the witness be now called up, and if he did not refuse obedience, but expressed his willingness to answer the questions put to him, he should be discharged, and it should be ascertained if he was willing to submit to the decision of that which, rightly or wrongly, was universally allowed to be the proper tribunal.
§ The Speaker
said, that an original motion and amendment were already before the House, and must be decided before the motion of the hon. Member could he put.
The question put, and decided as follows:—
That John Wren be called to the bar, and informed that the legal tribunal to decide upon his obligation to answer "questions, is the select committee appointed under an act of Parliament to try the matter of the petition; and that, as he has declared his readiness to submit to the authority of the House, he be discharged:—
Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "Petition," to the end of the Question, in order to add the Words,
And that Mr. Speaker do also inform him, that any objection he has to urge must be submitted to the committee, and determined by them,—
§ Put and negatived:—Words added:— Main question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
That John Wren be called to the Bar, and informed that the legal tribunal to decide upon his obligation to answer questions, is the Select committee appointed under an act of Parliament to try the matter of the petition; and that Mr. Speaker do also inform him, that any objection he has to urge must be submitted to the committee, and determined by them.
§ The Solicitor-General
moved,—That John Wren be now discharged from the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms attending this House, and be directed to attend the committee tomorrow.
§ Sir R. H. Inglis
objected to the proposition. The witness Was still subject to the authority of the committee, and the summons of the Chairman could bring him up at once; for Whether the man was in custody or not, it was still of sufficient power. If the motion of his hon. and learned Friend, the Solicitor-general, was adopted, a stigma would be cast on the committee and its proceedings in this matter. The House had no more authority to direct the witness to attend before the committee than any individual Member had to do so. The act of Parliament delegated the power of commanding attendance to the Chairman of the committee, and for the House to interpose on the question was, in his (Sir R. H. Inglis's) opinion, an improper interference with the proceedings of an election committee, as well as a violation of an act of Parliament. He thought, therefore, that it would be the best course to pursue to leave the matter in the hands of the committee.
§ Mr. C. Wood
thought it desirable that the grounds for discharging the witness should be recorded; namely, that he had submitted to the authority of the House. The committee had reported that the witness had committed a contempt; this the House could not overlook. He would, therefore, move, by way of amendment,—That John Wren having expressed his readiness to submit himself to the authority of the House, be discharged from the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms, and that he be directed to attend the committee appointed to try the matter of the Southampton election petition tomorrow morning.
§ Mr. Hume
said, either the committee 1070 had power over the witness, or it had not. In this opinion, the moment the witness was discharged from custody, the authority of the committee commenced. If so, and the House took upon itself to interfere, they might interfere in anything else. He Would suggest that the words "directing the witness's attendance before the committee" should be left out as unnecessary.
§ Sir R. Peel
Sir, I think that two questions arise on the proposal of my hon. and learned Friend (Sir W. Follet), which it is as well to resolve before we agree to the motion. The first is, whether or not the original summons of the committee to this witness has been vitiated by the report to the House? If it remain in force, it is clearly not necessary for the House to interpose its authority, as between the Chairman and the witness, at present; and if it is clear that the witness is bound by that summons still-—as I apprehend he is—no interposition is necessary, and I think all interposition that is superfluous should be avoided by this House. But it is said the Chairman of the committee has power to issue a summons to the witness on his own authority alone. That 1 doubt. The act of Parliament is specific on the subject. It says,—Be it enacted, that the select committee so appointed for the trial of contested Parliamentary elections shall have the power to send for ' persons., papers, and records.'"These are the words of the act. Now, Sir, under ordinary circumstances, the Chairman of a committee is the organ of that committee, and if ordinary circumstances existed in this case, no doubt the Chairman would be the organ of this committee. But the committee is not now sitting, and therefore the chairman cannot at this moment be considered their organ, or in the exercise, consequently, of their power. We should, therefore, be very cautious what we do in this matter. The question, then, comes to this. Does the original summons resume its force on the discharge of the witness, or does the act of the House in discharging him remove him from its power. If it does resume its force, then there is no need of interference on our part. If it does not, then the Chairman should not exercise a right which is his only by the special devolution of the committee of this House.
§ Mr. Murphy
thought the case of a witness who was commuted by a court of 1071 justice for refusing to answer any question, was perfectly analogous to the present case. If such witness afterwards expressed his willingness to give evidence, no new subpoena was necessary. Why, then, should any fresh summons be required here? He submitted this question for the opinion of his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-general.
could not see any possible objection to the House giving the required direction; if it were superfluous it could do no harm, and if it were not, it would be well that that course had been taken. He hoped, therefore, that the opposition would be withdrawn.
Question then put as follows:—
That John Wren be now discharged from the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms attending this House, and directed to attend the Committee to-morrow.
Amendment proposed, to leave out from "John Wren" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words,
Having expressed his readiness to submit himself to the pleasure of the House, be now discharged from the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms attending this House, and that he be directed to attend the Committee appointed to try the matter of the Southampton Election Petition to-morrow morning,
That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question,
§ Put and negatived:—Words added:— Main question, as amended, put and agreed to.
That John Wren, having expressed his readiness to submit himself to the pleasure of the House, be now discharged from the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms attending this House, and that he be directed to attend the committee appointed to try the matter of the Southampton Election Petition to-morrow morning.
§ Question agreed to.
§ John Wren was then called to the Bar.
§ The Speaker
I am now commanded by the House to inform you, that the select committee for the trial of the Southampton election petition is the tribunal constituted by law to determine your obligation to answer or not to answer any question that may be put to you by the committee. If you have an objection to any question which may be so put to you, you are to submit that objection to the committee; but if the committee, after hearing your 1072 objection, decide that you are to answer that question, this House is of opinion, that it is your bounden duty to do so. I am also to state, that you are to attend the committee to-morrow at its sitting. You may now withdraw.
§ John Wren withdrew.