HC Deb 05 July 1842 vol 64 cc982-3
Mr. Cochrane

wished to address a few words to the House. He heard stated that indictments had been preferred against him, and as this might lead to a wrong inference, he wished now to mention that there had been an acquittal, no witness appearing against him. There was one point, however, to which he wished to refer. It was with respect to the consistency, kindness, and courtesy which the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) was accustomed to show, whenever he found a friend in a difficulty. That right hon. Baronet had certainly made a statement, which led to an unfavourable impression respecting his conduct, and that was, when the right hon. Baronet stated that he had wished for a committee, and requested an investigation into the proceedings at Bridport. Now, if he could have acted in that manner, he would have been guilty of great inconsistency; but the truth was, he did no such thing. When Mr. Warburton presented a petition, he begged for an early day to be named to consider it, in order that he might refute it. Then, when the right hon. Baronet had agreed that that petition was to be referred to a committee, and the question came to be whether it should go before Mr. Roebuck's or another committee, he said, to save the time of the House, he thought it would be preferable that it should go before Mr. Roebuck's committee, but he never did say that it should be referred to a committee at all. He never did entertain the opinion that cases of bribery and corruption should go before a committee; he thought rather that the matter should be fully discussed in that House. He thought, too, after the avowal of the hon. Member for Finsbury, that he had spent between 30,000l. and 40,000l. at Hertford, he could not find much fault with the hon. Member if he admitted that he had been guilty of bribery and compromise. One thing he would say, however, which was this, that in appearing before the committee, he should give up no documents whatever, and should answer no questions but such as he thought fit. He would do nothing that might compromise others; for the bill indemnified witnesses, but not those to whom they referred. If they looked at the bill they would see what he stated to be a fact. He again said he was determined to do nothing that might injure others. For instance, a poor man might be deeply injured if it were known that he had received some money for his vote. He was determined not to give up the names of those who did him the honour of returning him, and placing confidence in him. Whatever might happen, he was determined on being guided by his own judgment. He mentioned this to save time. Upon one point he could not but congratulate the House—upon the perfect harmony that seemed to exist, and that had resulted from this committee. All must remember that when the hon. Member for Bath first rose to put a question on this matter, and a Member admitted he was guilty of a compromise, the hon. Member thanked him for his politeness; and now it was said that the urbanity, kindness, and courtesy of the hon. Member for Bath was quite astonishing. He supposed it was because the hon. Member sat in the Star Chamber, and did not use the thumbscrew? The conduct of the hon. Member for Bath hitherto must have been most extraordinary, because every one seemed to be surprised that he had not been insulted. He must say he did not see such wonderful courtesy in the hon. Member for Bath. The proceedings of the committee were now closed, at least the hon. Member for Bath had adjourned his committee till Thursday, and he announced his intention of conducting it in future on a different system. What this system would be, he did not know. His opinion was, that justice could never be obtained by unjust means, and an unconstitutional tribunal would not vindicate the law or the constitution. He begged to say that he should appear before the committee, but that he should only answer what questions he thought fit.

Subject at an end.