HC Deb 01 August 1842 vol 65 cc893-5
Mr. Mackinnon

said, in rising to move for a new writ for the town of' Southampton, he was induced to do so in consequence of the many applications he received on the subject. He trusted that the result of the Bribery Bill now beware the House would be to put an end to that corrupt practice; at least, no person could be more anxious for that result than he. He did not ask for the issuing of that writ as a favour, but as a matter of justice. It would he perfectly right to sus- pend the writ if the House had before it any legislative measure for disfranchising the borough, but as no hon. Member had given any notice of motion with a view to that object, he thought the House could not refuse to issue the writ.

Mr. T. Duncombe

said, looking to the circumstance that the committee had expressed no opinion as to whether the writ should issue or not; considering, also, the fact that there was then a bill pending in that House against bribery and treating, which was to have a retrospective effect; looking to the fact that the chief object of the 320 persons, whose petition he had presented to the House, was, that the writ should not issue until some legislative enactment had been passed for the purpose of preventing treating and bribery; and understanding from the right hon. Baronet that he pledged himself, as far as Government influence could avail, that the measure should pass through both the Houses of Parliament, he would withdraw his opposition to the writ for Southampton, and he hoped that the candidates. whether Liberal or Conservative, would conduct themselves better than they had done on former occasions.

Sir R. Peel:

The hon. Gentleman must recollect what it was that I stated the other night, viz., that I had hitherto supported the bill, and that I would never be a party, either directly or indirectly, to the defeating a measure which I had supported. I could not undertake to promise that the bill should pass through the other House of Parliament. The bill met with the general concurrence of her Majesty's Government, and I have no doubt will receive their general support; but of course I cannot answer for any bill passing in another place, or for any alteration that may be made in it.

Mr. V. Smith

said, although it was impossible war the right hon. Baronet to pledge himself that no amendments should be made in the details of the bill, he thought it was important that the House should know whether it was intended to give the Government support to the retrospective clause in the bill. He wished to know whether to that clause the right hon. Baronet could hold out any hope of the other House giving its assent.

Sir R. Peel:

Perhaps it is hardly necessary for me lo qualify the statement that the bill would receive Government support. There is no new offence of bribery created by this bill, excepting with respect to head-money. I apprehend that, under the existing law, if a vacancy take place, and any candidate should treat, he would lose his seat. I recommend to the noble Lord who framed the bill, that elections after the 1st of July should be subject to the operation of this bill; that was to say, supposing there would be an allegation of bribery with respect to any election which might take place to-morrow, then I think the new tribunal should have power to investigate that case as though it had occurred before the passing of the act, and that any election which took place in future should be subject to the provisions of that act. I can give the same assurances with respect to this bill as with respect to any other bill which received Government support and no more.

Writ ordered to issue.

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