HC Deb 06 June 1842 vol 63 cc1240-58
Mr. Adderly

rose to move, that Mr. Speaker do issue his warrant to the clerk of the Crown to make out a new writ for election of a burgess to serve in this present Parliament in the room of J. Quincey Harris, Esq., whose election has been determined to be void. He believed no case had been made out against the borough of sufficient gravity to warrant the suspension of the writ. The only grounds on which a charge of bribery had been made against the borough was the prevalence of an old custom of the suscessful candidates presenting their supporters with a sovereign each. He thought, that after the decision the House had already come to in a case of this nature, they would be pursuing a very inconsistent course were they to suspend the writ in the present instance.

Mr. Hume

could not agree to the motion. He was personally unconnected with the borough, and his opposition to the issuing of the writ was solely founded upon what he read in the printed report of the committee appointed to inquire into the proceedings at the late election. He would appeal to the House, as they were about to bring in a bill, having for its object the putting down of bribery and corruption; and as a committee had been appointed to investigate into alleged corrupt practices in five or six boroughs, whether this case should be allowed to pass unnoticed, and whether or not the scenes which had taken place at Newcastle-under-Lyme should not be strictly investigated. The printed evidence went to prove twelve individual cases of bribery, naming the amount paid in each case, and the agent in the transaction, and on these grounds one of the sitting Members was unseated. It further appeared from the evidence, that a most objectionable practice had prevailed for many years of distributing money, under the name of "dinner money," and "market money," and various other local terms. He wished the House to be in full possession of the evidence on those points, and he thought that the writ should not be issued until it was ascertained to what extent this money had been distributed, how general was the practice, and in what way it was applied. It appeared also from other statements, that lending of money by the Members to the electors was another objectionable practice very commonly pursued. He wished that no writ should be issued in favour of any place until alleged bribery had been fully inquired into; and he now appealed to the House not to allow the writ to be issued in the present case until the expiration of fourteen days, a course which the House had decided with respect to other boroughs. He trusted that the right hon. Baronet opposite would see in this case sufficient reason to induce him not to issue a writ which would lead in this case to a repetition of those practices which a recent decision of the House had given rise to in another instance. He would propose that the writ be suspended for a period of fourteen days; and he moved that a committee should be appointed to inquire into the extent of bribery and corruption prevalent at the last election at Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Mr. O'Connell

seconded the motion. He would wish to call the attention of the House to what had formerly happened with respect to the borough in question. In the year 1838 a committee sat to determine the merits of a disputed election, and on the 8th of March in that year, they reported the results of their inquiries to the House. Lord Ebrington, who was chairman of that committee, informed the House, that from the evidence heard before the committee, it was clear that a most objectionable practice had prevailed in the borough for many years of distributing money after the election to the poorer voters. This statement was made in March 1838, and they found, by the report now before the House, that the same practice was pointed out in almost the same terms. They thus found that the attention of the House had been already called to these practices as most objectionable, and he was surprised that any kind of apology was attempted to be made for them, on the ground that the persons receiving the money were poor, for a selection had been carefully made. It might, at the time the first committee sat, have been said the exposure to public censure would have terminated the practices reprehended; that exposure had done nothing; and was this House to send down a writ for Newcastle-under-Lyme without first instituting a rigid inquiry as to the practices prevalent there? If they did, it would be conferring a sanction upon the existing mal-practices. Drunkenness—the most profligate drunkenness —had prevailed, not only among the electors, but pervading the entire class of the working men; and all this profligacy could be traced to the demoralizing effects of the enormous quantity of liquor given away during the election time. He had evidence, too, that much of the bribery had been carried on through the instrumentality of a preacher— of a minister of religion. He had, moreover, to tell the House of the horrible fact of a father who was conducive to the perjury of his son. The father had been instrumental in bribing the son. He attended him to the polling booth, when the bribery oath was administered to him. He took it and voted, and when the father was asked how he could allow his son to perjure himself, he attempted to excuse himself by saying, that many others had done the same thing. If he made out a case of profligate drunkenness, of gross bribery, from the report of the committee, and if he could show the most abandoned disregard of the sacred duties imposed by an oath, he would ask was that a case in which the House would venture to issue a writ, and entrust those drunkards, those bribed wretches, those perjurers, with the power of returning Members to this House? He would refer, first, to the drunkenness. Mary Waite, the landlady of a tavern, was examined, and this was part of her evidence:— Did you on the Monday serve any but the committeemen in your house with drink?— The committee gave orders; I do not know who had it. You told me you had no orders but what the committee gave you; what orders did the committee give?—For refreshment and liquor. What orders did the committee give? For liquor. When was that?— During the election. Was that on the Saturday or the Monday?—During the canvas. Who was it for?—For themselves and others. Where were the others to be served? —In the tap-room. Did they come and have it?—Yes. Did they pay for it? —No. In numbers?— Yes. So that it appeared that the order was unlimited to supply all who came. The next witness examined was Waite, the husband of the preceding witness. He was questioned as to the persons who were to be supplied with liquor for nothing:— Have you any doubt that the order was for burgesses to have the liquor?—Yes, I should have my doubt about that, that the burgesses were alone to have it, and no one else. Did you take the order from the committee?—No. Did you see any parties engaged in drinking the liquor ordered?—Yes, I dare say I did. Did you or did you not?— I should say 1 did, backwards and forwards in the House. Were they or were they not burgesses who were drinking it? —Yes, and others that were not burgesses. Were those their wives and families? —Yes, I dare say they were amongst them. Were the parties drinking the liquor ordered by the committee either burgesses or the wives and families of burgesses? — I should say the burgesses, and those that were not burgesses amongst them. Men that were not burgesses? — Yes. In short, any body who pleased?—Yes, I dare say that was the case at election time. Drunkenness, indeed, was so common at the election time that they heard all this as a mere matter of course. The witnesses who gave this testimony were most unwilling witnesses, but the testimony was forced from them. Eliza Davis, a waitress at the Cock Inn, kept by Mr. Waite, was asked,— What happened between twelve and one o'clock at night?—There was an order came down. Whom from?—I cannot say. After the order came down, what happened?—-They let any one have it as liked. Have what?— Spirits. Out of what vessels were they filled? —Out of the casks. Out of the casks into what?—Into jugs. How were they handed to the people?—In any way, so as they could get them. Were there many people there?— Yes, a great many. How did the people behave; were they in a hurry for the drink? —Yes, in a great hurry. Do you know what scrambling means; trying against one another to get it?—Trying who should get it first. How long did this last? — About half an hour. What made it end?—I suppose the order was up. Those that came after that got none?— No. Did you see whether the barrels ran dry in that time?—No; I cannot say. There are good-sized barrels round the bar-room, are there not? —Yes. What sort of jugs were those, pints or quarts? —Pints and half-pints. That was one order; when was the other? —I think the other was about seven or eight o'clock in the morning. Which morning? — The morning of the polling-day; Did the scramble begin again? —Yes. Did the people come in numbers again? —Yes. Do you know any of the people that came?—No; I cannot say that I do. Do you know any of the people that came at night?—No; I cannot say. Can you tell whether there were any burgesses or no?—I cannot. I dare say you don't know much about the people in Newcastle?—No. Did you see anybody refused that asked?— No; I think there was no one refused. As long as the order lasted?—Yes. So long, continued the right hon. Gen- tleman, as the election continued it seemed clear, then, that a beastly quantity of liquor was served, and that a most profligate degree of drunkenness was the consequence. He would now show the effect of this system upon the young tradesmen of the place, and on this point they had the evidence of a young man named Joseph Lanernor. The following were some of the questions asked him, with his answers:— Does it ever occur to you to be intoxicated?—Yes, I have been intoxicated. Once or twice in your life?—Yes, above scores of times. Does a week ever pass without your becoming intoxicated?—No. Committee: Do you mean that you get drunk once a week? —I have been drunk every day: you asked me whether I ever drank; I said I have. Mr. Austen; I ask you if you have been intoxicated?—I have been. I ask you if a week ever passes without your being intoxicated?—-Yes, plenty. When?—I am not obliged to answer that. I ask you whether it has not happened to you very frequently in your life, short as it is, to he intoxicated?—I have been intoxicated. Have you been intoxicated day after day?—Yes, I have; I have been sober before I have got intoxicated again. But has it happened to you that, day after day, you have been intoxicated?—Yes, before I have gone home. Where do you get the drink?—-I pay for it. Where do you get it?—I work for it. This drunken young creature was cross-examined. Let the House see whether his evidence did not bear out his statements as to the effects produced by these election scenes upon the young working men:— You say you generally get intoxicated when you get your wages; is that common with the journeyman hatters at Newcastle?— Yes, the biggest part of them. Upon a Saturday?—And any other day they can get it. When they get their wages they get drunk?— Yes, sometimes they get it before they get their wages. And you do like the rest?— Yes. What a fearful picture was here given of the state of the town. Here were the journeymen tradesmen getting intoxicated, the habit indeed being that they did so whenever they could; when they got their wages certainly, and before that time, if they could find means to get liquor. He would ask the House, what notion of the morality of the people of England would be entertained out of the country, if the House did not take the most decided steps to put down practices of the description of which he had just been citing ex- amples, by a rigid inquiry into the state of the constituency. He now came to the bribery, which was exceedingly extensive. The evidence of Joseph Fellows proved that three voters were bribed with 31. each by Thomas Mayer, a preacher. The same man bribed others also. He did not know of what persuasion Mayer was a preacher, but he did utter the word of God, he did pretend to call up religious feelings, and was it not most awful that this agent in bribery was a man whose voice was heard upon the Sabbath-day proclaiming the great truths of religion? Might not his influence have been origiginally obtained from religion—that influence so horribly perverted—and with such facts staring them in the face, would they issue a writ to empower these men to repeat these practices? In addition to the ordinary species of corruption, there was a peculiar kind of bribery practised in this borough. The system of carrying flags prevailed to a great extent. Burgesses attended every flag-bearer, and every burgess who accompanied a standard bearer received money to the extent of 3l. 15s. in money, and 5s. in drink. In addition to all this, it was reported by the committee that regular bribery agencies were established in the town; that there were agents appointed, and a commission charged for their trouble in bribing—Mayer, the preacher, was one of those. William Fellowes was questioned as follows:— You got 3l. you say, from Mr. Mayer; what was that for?—For voting. Was that the same Mr. Mayer that you spoke of before? —Yes. Did you go to him to ask for money after the election?—Yes. When was that?— At night, after the election was over. Who went with you?—My wife. You said something about his having no change?-He said he had no change. And then you got a pound and a half of cheese from Mayer?—My wife did. Did you get all the 3l?—No. How much, did you get?—Two pounds, eighteen shillings; he stopped 2s. for his own trouble. "Market money," and "dinner money," were given after every election. He now came to the third point—perjury. He would read the particulars of the case to which, with reference to this part of his charges, he had already referred. Thomas Gullimore was examined as follows:— You voted for Buckley and Miller; did you see your son vote?—Yes. Was the bribery oath put to him?—Yes. Did be take it?— Yes. He swore that he had received no bribe?—Yes. Were you by at the time?— There was only one man voted between him and me; I voted nearly as soon as he. You were by all the time?—Yes. He swore that he had received no bribe, and no promise of a bribe?—He did swear that. You were by him, and heard the oath put to him?—Yes. Did you try to stop him, to prevent his taking the oath?—No. You stood by your son, and heard him take that oath?—Yes, and I heard many a one beside him take the oath. His father who was present at this scene, had just been proved to have been instrumental in giving his son that bribe, which, as he stood beside him, he heard him swear that he had not received. He would put it to the House—put it to the consciences of the Members, whether such things should be allowed to pass unnoticed. Here was a father leading his son on to receive a bribe, and then consummated the villainy by perjury; and did the father show the slightest feeling—the smallest "compunctious visitings?" Did he appear to regret that he was the suborner of his son's perjury? No, he justified it? And how? "There were many besides him took the oath." Was such a matter to be flippantly disposed of—was it nothing to inoculate the whole population with crime? Were these the sources of purity of legislation? They assembled here to deliberate upon grave state matters, and those who sent them there were vile drunkards, bribers, and perjurers. A committee had sat, and instituted an inquiry into the circumstance of the former election. Instead of amendment, deterioration had since taken place, and under these circumstances he asked the House to suspend the writ and institute a further inquiry. If they would not purify the constituency by taking away the temptation to bribery, would they not at least inquire into these practices, as reported by two committees? Would they not, he appealed to them, pause until some investigation had been made, and some method suggested for the suppression of these practices?

Mr. Liddell

hoped the House would not be induced, by the ability and ingenuity of the hon. and learned Member for Cork—a practised lawyer, who had picked out portions of the evidence to suit his own case,—to suspend the issue of this writ, and thus inflict great injustice upon the borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme. There was not sufficient evidence for such a proceeding, and as, according to the doctrine laid down by the right hon. Gentleman at the head of her Majesty's Government, every case ought to be dealt with on its own merits, he hoped the House would not punish one borough for any offences that might have been committed by others. The hon. Member for Montrose could not even state his own case without exaggeration, for instead of twelve cases of bribery, as he had stated, there were only eight. The committee—and he believed a fairer committee had never sat—were unanimous in all their decisions except one, upon which one gentleman divided alone. The committee gave no recommendation to suspend the writ. It was true there was an objectionable practice proved to have prevailed at Newcastle—that of head money. If that was an evil, and he fully admitted it to be so, let steps be taken to get rid of i t There could be no doubt that it was an evil that electors should make a corrupt and venal use of the franchise entrusted to them; but it was a still greater evil that gentlemen of wealth and education should go down to these boroughs with large sums of money, in order to tempt the poor voters to give them suffrages, not according to their conscience, but according to the sums they received. These were evils upon which it behoved the House to express an opinion; and he trusted the noble Lord's bill would put an end to the improper practices which were prevalent: but because a few illiterate ersons—drunken persons, if you will—in a constituency of one thousand electors, had yielded to the temptation of bribery, he trusted the House would not mix up the innocent with the guilty, or be induced to enter upon a further inquiry Sufficient inquiry had already been made The points of evidence selected by the hon. Member for Cork were calculated to raise a presumption that bribery was more general than the evidence proved it to be. That hon. Member spoke with very proper disgust of the drunkenness which appeared to have been indulged in, but that had nothing to do with the election. He had exaggerated the extent of the treating, for the committee found that they should not be justified in voiding the election on the ground of treating. What had been the amount of the bills at the two public-houses where all this treating was said to have taken place? Little more than 50l. —about 531. at each—for the expenses of the candidate and his friends, with all the enormous amount of treating that was said to have taken place during a canvass that lasted for three or four weeks. He insisted there was no ground for depriving the borough of its right to send representatives to the House. If the hon. Member for Cork wished to reclaim the drunkards of Newcastle-under-Lyme, he recommended him to send down his friend Father Mathew who had been so successful in Ireland, and perhaps he might be able to mend their morals. But he hoped the House would not visit the borough with a punishment which it did not deserve. He should certainly divide in favour of the motion of his hon. friend the Member for North Staffordshire.

Mr. C. Buller

maintained that the practice of distributing money, as had been done at Newcastle-under-Lyme, was nothing else but bribery. It was bribery paid after the election to avoid the consequences of paying it while the election was going on. The hon. Gentleman had tried to make the House imagine that very little money had been paid; but let them see what the evidence said: Thomas Emary is asked,— Is Hill a voter?—'Yes. He voted for Buckley and Miller?—I believe he did. [Interruption.'] I believe (said the hon. Member) for my own part the evidence is just as strong against the sitting Member as against the Member that has been unseated. I do not mean to say that he should on that account be unseated before he has been heard, and before his case has been inquired into. But I will now quote the evidence: My learned friend has been asking you a good deal about your expectations, and you have told him about a rule in the borough; your expectation is on account of that rule?— Certainly. Your only expecting is the rule?— Yes; they generally call it market money. That rule, you say, Mr. Buckley and Mr. Miller have complied with, and they have paid?— Yes, I believe they have, to all those that did not get £5 for their vote What did this evidence indicate, but that there was a kind of rude justice among the electors of Newcastle, and that they were at all events desirous that no man should get the 5l. twice over? The character of the borough was notorious for bribery. One witness after another had proved that money had been distributed among the electors under the various denominations of head-money, flag-money, colour-money, and market-money. [Mr. Liddell:Read the next answer.] I will do so with pleasure, for it makes my case still stronger:— Do you know of any persons having received the 1l. market-money from Mr. Buckley and Mr. Miller?—I do not know any one individual, to tell the truth, but it was a general remark that it was the case. He had thus the general notoriety of the practices that prevailed in the borough; he had the most objectionable practice, as it had been described by the committee, of giving head-money; he had proofs of the disgusting practice of drunkenness, and with this evidence before them, if the House should determine on sending down this writ, it would be the same thing as sending down an order for so much drunkenness, and for the distribution among the electors of so much head-money, and so much market-money. He saw that Mr. Miller was one of the candidates on the present occasion; so they would be sending down the same candidate to the same electors, and must look for a renewal of the same practices. He differed from many Gentlemen on his own side of the House on the subject of disfranchising boroughs. He thought it an objectionable practice to suspend a writ, unless it was understood that that suspension was to be followed up by some practical measure; but here a practical measure was in view. The House which had appointed a committee of inquiry to investigate these corrupt practices, and had determined to adopt some remedial measures, and his noble Friend was that night to bring in a bill for the express purpose of preventing the repetition of such practices. Under these circumstances, it was impossible there could be a case where it would be more justifiable to suspend the writ, when it was proved that the last election for the borough was carried by bribery.

The Solicitor General

wished to state the reasons why he should vote against the suspension of this writ, and he could assure the House that he was not led to that conclusion by any approbation of the practices which appeared to have prevailed at Newcastle-under-Lyme of paying head-money. He agreed with the Gentlemen opposite that some very objectionable practices had prevailed, and he thought no one could find fault with the committee for unseating the Member who was proved to have been by his agents a party to those practices; but he should have been glad if some other Member of the committee, besides his hon. Friend had stated the views of the committee as to the effect of the evidence, because it was impossible not to see that the right hon. and learned Member for Cork had selected certain passages as if they were applicable to the constituency of the borough, when it was perfectly plain that they were applicable only to a very small portion of it. Why there was scarcely a borough or a county in which you could not in this manner make out a case for the suspension of the writ. Nobody of course complained that the decision of the committee, which left the right hon. and learned Member his seat, was not perfectly right, but if any one would take the evidence in that case, and read the evidence as to the scenes of violence and outrage which had occurred, and read that part only, and demand of the House whether that was the sort of constituency to which they were prepared to send a writ, might not as strong a case be made out for the disfranchisement of that constituency as any that existed here? That might be done in any case; but that was not the way to look at the case; and notwithstanding the charge or insinuation that every man who did not at once assent to any proposition that might be brought forward purporting to put an end to bribery and for the suspension of a writ, was not anxious to put down bribery—in spite of that charge, he felt it his duty to exercise his judgment upon every proposition that might be submitted to the House; and he knew of nothing more dangerous or objectionable than the power which the House of Commons seemed to be assuming to itself of suspending writs. On what principle did the House propose to exercise this power in the case before it? His hon. Friend the Member for Liskeard said, the practice of suspending a writ was a bad one, unless it were followed up by some remedial or penal measure. What was the authority for such a proceeding at all? Hon. Gentlemen spoke as if it was a power to be exercised for the purpose of punishing a borough or some parties in it; but he did not apprehend that the constitution gave that power to the House on any such ground. If they wished to disfranchise a borough, it must be by an act of the Legislature; but the House of Commons had no power of suspending a writ for the purpose of punishing a borough. The only constitutional reason or ground for the suspension of a writ was, that the House of Commons was on the point of taking some practical step against a borough, to be followed up by a 1838, and that of the late committee, with respect to head money. If they thought it necessary to disfranchise the borough, suspend the writ; but if not, it was not why suspend it? What was the object?the mean- The hon. Member for Montrose had stated legislative measure, and that expedient to issue the writ in time. If any Gentleman told him, that none, nor had the hon. Member for Cork The hon. Member for Liskeard said, it was necessary to suspend the writ, because the noble Lord, the Member for the City of London was about to bring in a bill for the effectual prevention of bribery, but what had that, to do with the suspending this writ? Was it meant that the writ should be suspended till the bill should become there was sufficient in the evidence to disfranchise the borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme, and undertook to bring in a bill for that purpose, he would understand the object of suspending the writ. In the present case, no witnesses had refused to answer the questions put to them. It was not like the case of Southampton, where the witnesses refused to disclose what they knew, on the ground of criminating themselves. There had been no compromise. The inquiry was followed up. All the witnesses answered the questions put to them. They were examined with respect to bribery and treating; and with regard to treating, which the right hon. Member for Cork put forward as the most important part of his case, it was stated by one Member of the committee, and not contradicted by any other, that the committee did not consider the treating sufficient even to unseat the Member. If not, it surely was not sufficient to disfranchise the borough. The committee had acted with the utmost impartiality throughout. Whoever looked at their resolutions must see, at least, that no party motives had influenced their report. They reported that three persons in one family, and five other persons, had received bribes, but there was no report at all against the borough. There was no recommendation that the writ should be suspended, and neither the chairman nor any other Member had made any motion to that effect, and as far as the statements in the report of the committee went, it appeared that they did not consider there was any ground for proceeding against the borough. If, then, there was no ground for disfranchising the borough, was there any for suspending the writ. He believed, that most objectionable practices prevailed, and if any bill was brought in by the noble Lord, he hoped he would be able to introduce some enactment to meet them, for one great objection to the present system was that committees doubted whether cases of that nature came under the class of bribery that only suspended the writ. The facts were not disputed. They had the report of the committee of 1838, and that of the late committee, with respect to head money. If they thought it necessary to disfranchise the borough, suspend the writ; but if not, why suspend it? What was the object? The hon. Member for Montrose had stated none, nor had the hon. Member for Cork. The hon. Member for Liskeard said, it was necessary to suspend the writ, because the noble Lord, the Member for the city of London was about to bring in a bill for the effectual prevention of bribery, but what had that to do with the suspending this writ? Was it meant that the writ should be suspended till the bill should become law. For what purpose? He could very well understand it if the noble Lord was about to bring in a bill for preventing bribery, and enabling parties in the boroughs in which bribery prevailed to be dealt with by the bill; but he could not conceive that the bill which the noble Lord was about to bring in, furnished any reason for suspending the writ. He objected to such a proceeding on constitutional grounds. He did not think the House of Commons ought lightly to adopt such a step. It would be unconstitutional to suspend a writ merely for the purpose of punishment; and if any legislative measure were proposed for the purpose of putting an end to bribery, he should be quite ready to lend any aid in his power for the purpose of making it effectual. But no such legislative measure had been proposed, nor did he find that any such was contemplated. With respect to drunkenness, surely the evidence given, before the committee by the journeyman hatter, was no ground for suspending the writ. Let the House consider who they would be punishing by a suspension of the writ. There were a thousand electors in Newcastle; and on the evidence of a drunken journeyman hatter they were asked to take this step ! Now, however objectionable treating might be, it was a very different case to giving money to private persons for their votes. It certainly was a highly objectionable practice; but it did not show, that the constituency of Newcastle was in that rotten and depraved state that this House ought to suspend the writ. And if the House, having all the evidence before them, and there being no allegation of a compromise, were not prepared for a legislative measure, he, for one, would not give his vote in favour of the suspension of the writ; for he be- lieved it was not justifiable to do so, unless further legislative measures were taken upon the subject.

Mr. Bernal,

as a Member of the committee, agreed with his hon. and learned Friend, the Solicitor-general, that there was no evidence with respect to drunkenness or treating in the borough of Newcastle sufficient to unseat the Members. But, in coming to what was the constitutional doctrine, he thought his hon. and learned Friend took too narrow a view of the question. He said, it was not constitutional to suspend a writ in any case where the House was not prepared immediately, per saltum, to disfranchise the borough. On that point he joined issue; and would say that, according to the practice which had prevailed of late years, and a salutary, wholesome, and necessary practice it was, that if they intended to be serious, and convince people out of doors that they were in earnest in their attempts to put down mal-practices at elections, they must suspend the writs in cases where committees reported against boroughs. He asked his hon. and learned Friend opposite on what ground the notification was made by the committee in their report, that objectionable practices had prevailed in this borough at the last and previous elections? Upon what ground did the committee of 1838 make a similar notification to the House? What was the use of such a notification, except to induce the attention of the House, and to call upon the House to take some steps on such a notification? If this were not so, it was mere child's play to give committees the powers with which they were invested. The point was, whether there was a sufficient indication in the opinion of the committee that it was incidentally proved before them that objectionable practices prevailed in Newcastle-under-Lyme, not only at the last, but also at previous elections. The committee reported that; and in his opinion that was sufficient ground for further investigation. It was said that it was not necessary to go into the argument whether head-money was bribery or not. He thought it was the province of the House to go into that question. It was enough, however, that the committee of 1838 proved to the same extent, and in the same spirit, and that four years had since passed away without anything having been done to remedy the practices or counteract the evil which must naturally result from these practices. But in 1842, when a committee reported the same, it was said, "Oh, it is not constitutional to suspend the writ; wait until some measure drops from the clouds, or the noble Lord brings in his bill." But if this bill did not pass into a law, still they would be considered as having done their duty as the House of Commons, because it was argued not to be constitutional to suspend the writ. Upon that narrow pivot the whole question turned. The hon. Gentleman concluded by stating that he should give his vote for the amendment of the hon. Member for Montrose.

Mr. Williams Wynn

would be sorry if the vote he was about to give should infer disapprobation of the argument that this House ought to be most jealous and most particular in agreeing to any motion for the suspension of a writ. He should be sorry also to be supposed not to agree with his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-general, that there were not grounds in the evidence before the Newcastle committee upon which to frame a bill for the disfranchisement of the borough. He did not conceive that there were; but he did think there grounds which not only warranted, but actually required further inquiry. In the first place, this was a second time that it had been reported that an objectionable practice prevailed in Newcastle of distributing money under particular appellations to the poorer voters after the election; and it was his decided opinion that when those parties voted they did so with the expectation of receiving this money at a future period. He remembered it was stated before the committee, in the case of the borough of Warwick, that it was the constant practice of a person, who was known by the name of" The Miller," to go round as soon as the period for presenting petitions had elapsed and | distribute money among the electors. That seemed to be very much the case in the borough of Newcastle, except, perhaps, that on this occasion they had to wait until the decision of the committee. The acceptance of head-money was stated in the evidence to have been very general. There appeared to be no less than six agents for the purposes of bribery, subordinate agents, for they could not be assumed to be the heads of it, and it was naturally supposed that they were employed by some other agents. It was proved in evidence by Isaac Titensaw, that in Newcastle there were six burgesses to each of the three great flags of the party, and three burgesses to each of the six or seven small flags, and that all these received, as flag-bearers, 3l. 15s. each. Now, those gentlemen did not take the trouble of carrying the flags themselves. They were merely flag-bearers for the purpose of receiving a large fee, and Titensaw gave a sovereign and a pair of boots to a man for acting as his deputy, There was also very similar evidence with respect to the band. But if it were asked, "Would you proceed to disfranchise the borough," he would distinctly say "no." The view he entertained was, that by sitting the evidence given before the committee, and by inquiry, it might be found out to what extent those objectionable practices were carried on, and what number of persons had actually been bribed. It was said that one feature of this case was that no witness had refused to answer; but then the evidence given before the committee proved more than sufficient bribery to unseat the Members. In the recent Ipswich case, he recommended a general instruction to the Attorney-general to prosecute those persons who were concerned in acts of bribery, and he did so because he could not tell how many of those against whom there was specific evidence it might be necessary to employ as witnesses in order to convict the principal offenders. And he was still of opinion that that mode of prosecution was justified both by precedent and principle. There had been repeated instances in which the Attorney-general had been directed to prosecute the author, publisher, and printer of a libel, not to punish all the three, but, if he could not get at the author, to proceed against the publisher, and soon. No longer ago than the year 1835, in the case of the borough of Ipswich, a general instruction was given to the Attorney-general to prosecute such persons as should appear to have been engaged in the practices carried on in that borough. But, as the House was now unwilling to commit this duty to the Attorney-general, they had no option but to agree to a committee, unless they meant, that in this case, there should be no punishment awarded against the borough, or against individuals. He knew he was censured, and was told, "Will you punish these poor persons, for the bribers are of the lower orders as well as the bribed;" but, in answer to that, he could only say, he knew no way of checking offences, but by punishing: offenders.

Sir Robert Peel

had already stated, that in similar cases to the present, he had found it exceedingly difficult to adopt any principle which was capable of a general application. He must, therefore, judge of the merits of each particular case by itself, and having weighed and mate-ally considered these, then to come to a decision from a review of its special circumstances. In attempting thus to apply himself to each particular case, he might appear inconsistent, and his opinions conflicting—but he did not think, that he was fairly liable to such an imputation. He referred to the cases of Ipswich and Southampton. In the case of Ipswich, he had stated he did not consider that either in the report of the committee, or the evidence reported by the committee, there was sufficient to warrant them in suspending the writ. He thought, that the suspending of the writ was a most important matter in itself. It was a most important precedent to establish; and he thought, that nothing but very peculiar circumstances could justify the House of Commons in suspending the constitutional rights of the constituents. He thought, that the noble Lord opposite had admitted that the suspension of the writ in the case of Ipswich was a matter difficult to determine. He did not find in the report of the committee for Ipswich, that the committee thought, that there was ground for disfranchisement; nor did they recommend an inquiry on that ground. It had been stated, that there was extensive bribery in the borough; but then the committee were not of opinion, that there were grounds for disfranchisement, or that there ought to be an inquiry with a view to the disfranchisement. The committee was the recognised tribunal, and they ought to have its distinct recommendation for further inquiry, and no Member of the committee had ever proposed it. As to the case of Southampton, if he were to decide it upon the report of the committee alone, he must have voted for the issuing of the writ. But, in that case, they had the petition of 300 electors, who supported the general allegations contained in the petition, and they stated, that there was an extensive system of bribery prevailing there. In addition to those reasons for further inquiry, there was the evidence of a witness, who was willing, if indemnified, to support the allegations of extensive bribery. He thought, then, that in the case of Southampton the allegation of the 300 petitioners was, with other circumstances, sufficient for suspending the writ. They now came to deal with the case of the borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme. He confessed, that judging from the report of the committee, he did not think the case of Newcastle was so strong as that of Ipswich. He, for his part, placed confidence in the proceedings of committees, and he did so, although a different opinion had been expressed. He said, that judging from their proceedings, they seemed to be well constituted tribunals. He found, in this instance, the committee reporting against specific cases of bribery, and also that which appeared to be a most objectionable practice prevailing at the borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme— that which was the distribution of "market mouey." He admitted, that it was very objectionable, and ought to be abolished. He believed, that it had grown up in this way. A dinner was given after the election. There was an expensive dinner to the principal voters of the town of respectable station. The lower class of voters naturally said, "if you, gentlemen of the town, can have these pleasures, why not let us partake in them?" Then there was a dinner for that class of voters, and that ended in a commutation of the dinner for money. That practice had prevailed for a long series of years. That practice was objectionable, and if brought home to the sitting Member, would be sufficient to unseat him. If the sum were very small, and not sufficient to influence a vote, he doubted whether it might be so severely visited—but, then, long prevailing as it did, and though in some degree an abuse, yet he did not think it would be regarded as bribery by the law, or that it would not be considered as given for a corrupt purpose. He did not think it sufficient for a suspension of the writt He did not deny the evil of drunkenness which had been referred to by the right hon. and learned Member for Cork; but, then, he saw no requisition from voters calling for disfranchisement. On the whole, he meant to give his vote on the same principle as he had given it in the Ipswich case. He did not think there was sufficient ground for their suspending the writ, and therefore he should simply give his vote for the writ being issued.

Lord John Russell

had only one remark to make. He meant to vote for the suspension on the grounds on which the hon. and learned Solicitor-general had come to an opposite conclusion. The hon. and learned Gentleman had stated that money given in the way it was distributed in this place was very objectionable, yet there was a doubt amongst many legal persons that it was bribery, and he had recommended that there should be a clause inserted in his proposed bill with respect to it. There could be no doubt as to its objectionable nature, and that it partook very much of bribery. But then if there were a doubt as to its legality, and if legislation could put an end to it, he then said, in that case, it was adviseable for them not to issue the writ for Newcastle-under-Lyme until by the Legislature they had prohibited it for the future.

The House divided, on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question—Ayes 143; Noes 97: Majority 46.

List of the AYES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Corry, rt. hon. H.
A'Court, Capt. Cripps, W.
Ackers, J. Darby, G.
Adare, Visct. Denison, E. B.
Alexander, N. Douglas, Sir H.
Allix. J.P. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Douglas, J. D. S.
Arkwright, G. Duffield, T.
Bailey, J. Dugdale, W. S.
Baird, W, Duncombe, hon. O.
Bankes, G. Eastnor, Visct.
Baring, hon. W. B. Eaton. R. J.
Baring, H. B. Egerton, Sir P.
Bateson, R.; Eliot, Lord
Beckett, W. Fitzroy, Capt.
Bentinck, Lord G. Flower, Sir J.
Beresford, Capt. Follett, Sir W. \V.
Bernard, Visct. Ffolliott, J.
Boldero, H. G. Forbes, W.
Botfield, B. Fremantle, Sir T.
Broadley, H. Fuller, A. E.
Broad wood, H. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Bruce, Lord E. Glynne, Sir S. R.
Cardwell, E. Godson, R.
Carnegie, hon. Capt. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Chapman, A. Gore, M.
Chetwode, Sir J. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Chute, W. L. W. Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.
Clayton, R. R. Greenall, P.
Clerk, Sir G. Greene, T.
Cockburn. rt. hn. Sir G. Grimsditch, T.
Codrington, C. W. Grimston, Visct.
Collett, W. R. Grogan, E.
Connolly, Col. Hamilton, W. J.
Hampden, R. Neeld, J.
Hardinge, rt. hn. sir H. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Hardy, J. O'Brien, A. S.
Henley, J. W. Packe, C. W.
Hepburn, Sir T. B. Pakington, J. S.
Herbert, hon. S. Patten, J. W.
Hervey, Lord A. Peel, rt. hn. Sir R.
Hinde, J. H. Peel, J.
Hodgson, R. Pollington, Visct.
Hogg, J. W. Pollock, Sir F.
Holmes, hn. W. A.'Ct. Praed, W. T.
Hope, hon. C. Price, R.
Hughes, W. B. Pringle, A.
Humphery, Mr. Ald. Reade, W. M.
Hussey, T. Richards, R.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Rolleston, Col.
Jackson, J. D. Rose, rt. hon. Sir G.
Jones, Capt. Round, J.
Kemble, H. Scarlett, hon. R. C.
Knatchbull, rt. hn. SirE. Scott, R.
Knightley, Sir C. Scott, hon. F.
Lefroy, A. Somerset, Lord G.
Lennox, Lord A. Stanley, Lord
Lincoln, Earl of Sutton, hon. H. M.
Litton, E. Taylor, T. E.
Lockhart, W. Thornhill, G.
Long, W. Trotter, J.
Lowther, J. H. Verner, Col.
Lygon, hon. General Vernon, G. H.
Mackenzie, T. Vivian, J. E.
Mackenzie, W. F. Waddington, H. S.
Mc Geachy, F. A. Wall, C. B.
Martin, C. W. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Master, T. W. C. Whitmore, T. C.
Masterman, J. Wyndham, Col. C.
Milnes, R. M. Young, J.
Morgan, O. TELLERS.
Morgan, C. Adderley, C. B.
Murray, C. R. S. Liddell, hon. H. T.
List of the NOES.
Acton, Col. Divett, E.
Aldam, W. Duncan, G.
Bannerman, A. Easthope, Sir J.
Barclay, D. Ellice, rt. hon. E.
Barnard, E. G. Ellice, E.
Bellew, R. M. Elphinstone, H.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Ferguson, Col,
Bernal, R. Fielden, J.
Bodkin, J. J. Gibson, T. M.
Bowring, Dr. Gore, hon. R.
Brocklehurst, J. Hamilton, J. H.
Brodie, W. B. Hawes, B.
Brotherton, J. Hay, Sir A. L.
Browne, hon. W. Heathcoat, J.
Buller, C. Johnson, General
Busfield, W. Lambton, H
Butler, hon. Col. Langston, J. H
Chapman, B. Layard, Capt.
Childers, J. W. Lemon, Sir C.
Christie, W. D. Mangles, R. D.
Cobden, R. Marsland, H.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Martin, J.
Courtenay, Lord Maule, rt. hon. F.
Craig, W. G. Mitcalfe, H.
Dennistoun, J. Mitchell, T. A.
Dickinson, F. H. Morris, D.
Morison, General Strickland, Sir G.
Murphy, F. S. Strutt, E.
Napier, Sir C. Thornely, T.
O'Brien, J. Turner, E.
O'Brien, W. S. Vane, Lord H.
O'Connell, M. J Vivian, J. H.
O'Connell,.J. Wakley, T.
Ogle, S.C. H. Wallace, R.
Palmerston, Visct. Watson, W. H.
Philips, G. R. Wawn, J. T.
Plumridge, Capt. Wemyss, Capt.
Ponsonby. hn. C. F. C. White, H.
Protheroe, E. Wilde, Sir T.
Ramsbottom, J. Williams, W.
Roebuck, J. A. Wood, B.
Russell, Lord J. Wood, C.
Seymour, Lord Wood, G. W.
Sheil, rt. hon. R. L. Worsley, Lord
Somerville, Sir W. M. Wrightson, W. B.
Stansfield, W. R. C. Wynn, rt. hn. C. W.W.
Stanton, W. H.
Staunton, Sir G. T. TELLERS.
Stuart, Lord J. Hume, J.
Stuart, W. V. O'Connell, D.

on the main question being put,

Mr. Hume

considered, after the vote which the house had come to, that would be much better for them to repeal all the bribery laws. They ought to tell candidates to go down to the different constituencies, and fairly tell them that they would buy and sell them as they pleased. Let the electors sell themselves, and the candidates buy them, if it would content a majority of the House. The mode in which they voted was for the continuance of bribery and corruption. Here was an attempt to blind the people of England. They saw the Minister of the Crown lending his opposition against an inquiry into bribery, which he did not say he would wish to countenance, because he | believed he was sincerely anxious to put it I down. But then, he regretted that the time of the House should be thus taken up—that they should so speak against bribery, and yet so countenance it by their acts.

Writ ordered to be issued.