HC Deb 27 June 1842 vol 64 cc635-7
Mr. Roebuck

brought up a special report from the Select Committee on Election Proceedings, which was read. The report stated— That the committee had proceeded to consider the matters referred to them by the House, and that having, in the prosecution of their inquiry, found it necessary to call before them John Walter, Esq., lately a candidate for the borough of Nottingham, the Chairman, by direction of the committee, had issued on Friday, the 24th inst, a summons to the said Mr. Walter, requiring him to attend the committee forthwith, for the purpose of giving evidence before them, and to bring with him all papers and documents relating to the election, petition, and compromise, and all bills of expenses, paid or unpaid, that had reference to the last election for the borough of Nottingham. The report further stated, that two minutes before it was announced to the committee that the Speaker was at prayers they received the following letter from Mr. Walter:— 'Mr. Walter has to acknowledge a summons, received at a quarter past three o'clock this day, with the signature of J. A. Roebuck, Chairman of a committee of the House of Commons, sitting to inquire into election proceedings, and requiring his attendance forthwith. 'Now, though Mr. Walter would feel it to be his duty to obey most readily any order emanating from a committee of the hon. House of Commons; and though he would be also glad of an opportunity of communicating to the committee any facts, which may be within his own knowledge, and affect only himself; yet, not having had the conduct of the petition against the return for Nottingham, he would be wholly unable to afford that information which, in consequence of his having been one of the candidates, may have been erroneously expected from him. Still, however, it would have been his duty to attend, did he not feel himself precluded from so doing by another and more powerful objection, founded upon the most obvious and indefeasible principles of natural justice and constitutional law. 'Mr. Walter sees that the name of Mr. Roebuck is published as the Chairman of that committee before which he is required to appear; and when he considers the power of a committee of the House of Commons over all who may be brought to give evidence before it, and the influence of the Chairman over the proceedings of that committee, he begs to point out to the committee, and through it to the hon. House, the position in which he would be placed should he surrender himself to any order emanating from a body of which Mr. Roebuck is Chairman or President. 'It appears from the proceedings in the House of Commons on the 8th of September last, that Mr. Roebuck rose in his place, and though he repeatedly stated that he had no motion whatever to make, uttered a variety of scandalous expressions reflecting upon the character and conduct of Mr. Walter, in consequence of some supposed reflections cast upon him in a public journal, of which reflections Mr. Walter was not the author, nor does he to this moment know who the author was, nor has he at any time either requested others to write, or himself written, anything injurious to the private or public character of the aforesaid Mr. Roebuck. On the occasion above referred to, Mr. Roebuck used the following audacious and unbecoming expressions:— If any hon. Members were attacked by The Times, and did not wish for a repetition of; the attack, he would suggest to them at once to horsewhip the proprietor, Mr. Walter, and they might depend upon it that the attack would not be repeated. 'Mr. Walter, therefore, trusts it will not be expected from him, that, however disposed to yield obedience to the legal orders issued by the House through one of its committees, he should appear and put himself in the power of a court, the presiding Member of which has manifested such undisguised personal hostility to himself; and who has already, also, prejudged the chief question regarding the Nottingham election by assertions as injurious in their intended effect upon Mr. Walter's character, as they would be found to be erroneous in fact, if they could be properly investigated by an impartial tribunal. Even if brought up by force before such a committee, Mr. Walter would feel bound to refuse to answer questions put to him by a committee thus constituted. 'Mr. Walter begs to state to the committee, that he possesses no papers or documents of the description required, nor "any bills of expenses, paid or unpaid, in the case of the borough of Nottingham." Being, however, very anxious to afford every information to the committee, without subjecting himself to the risk of personal insult, he informs them, that Mr. Francis Soames, solicitor of Wokingham, was Mr. Walter's agent during both the contests at Nottingham; that through his hands all the money passed which was expended on Mr. Walter's behalf, and that Mr. Soames will give the committee every information they can desire. 'No. 8, Charing-cross, half-past 3, p. m., 'June 24.1842.' The report went on to state, that upon receipt of this letter, the Chairman, by direction of the committee, issued a second summons, to Mr. Walter, in similar terms; that the committee, upon meeting pursuant to adjournment, received the following second letter from Mr. Walter, still declining to obey the order to appear before them:— '8, Charing-cross, Friday night, June 24. 'Mr. Walter, in reply to a second summons received from the "Committee on Election Proceedings," and with the same signature of J. A. Roebuck, Chairman, begs to state, that he has no other answer to make than that which he has already sent to the committee, on the receipt of the former summons of the same date.' In conclusion, the report stated, that the committee had resolved to report these circumstances to the House, in order that the House might take such steps as it should deem fit.

Report to lie on the Table.

Mr. Roebuck

, in obedience to the unanimous resolve of the committee, and acting merely in a ministerial capacity as Chairman of that committee, moved that Mr. Walter be brought to the Bar of the House to-morrow.

Motion agreed to.

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