§ Mr. Hutt
moved,For copies of circulars sent by the Secretary of State for the Home Department, to the various town-clerks or clerks to the magistrates, between the months of August and December, 1841, requiring information as to the state of the magistracy in the towns to which such circulars were sent, as to the number of such magistrates, and of those who had qualified themselves to act.He would offer no apology to the House for bringing under its consideration the subject of which he had given notice; for if the view which he took was correct, it was a matter which imperatively required the attention of the House of Commons. He should have to call their attention to the manner in which magistrates had recently been appointed in different boroughs in the kingdom. It happened, fortunately for the liberty of the people of this country, that the right of nominating municipal magistrates had never, till a very recent period, been vested in the Crown. Up to the year 1836, the municipalities of England, almost without exception, enjoyed the right of electing their own magistrates. The right was one which had been inherited by the people from the earliest founders of their institutions, and, which even on that account, was entitled to the respect and veneration of the people. But it had merits of a higher and practical character; it was admirably adapted for preserving harmony between the governed and those who administered the laws. Accordingly it was preserved by the Government of Lord Grey in the bill which was introduced for reforming the corporations of Scotland; and as the right hon. Baronet had been a Member of Lord Grey's Government, he must have heard with interest and satisfaction of the well-working of the system for which he was in part responsible in the sister kingdom. In 1835, it formed one of the provisions of the bill introduced by the Government of Lord Melbourne, for reforming the corporations in England and Wales. The provision received the unanimous sanction of the House of Commons, but unfortunately, in one of those angry quarrels which had occurred with the other House, it was struck out of the bill. When 117 the bill came down from the other House of Parliament, mutilated in that, as well as in many other respects, the noble Lord, then the leader of that House, though he deplored the circumstance of this provision being struck out of the bill, did not consider it a sufficient reason for rejecting the measure. He observed, that he did not think any Minister would be found hereafter who would refuse to the corporations the exercise of this right; and he remarked, that if any such Minister should hereafter be found, he did not doubt but that the House of Commons would not be slow to censure his conduct. The noble Lord further added, that so long as he held the Seals of the Home Office, he should think it his duty to adhere to the ancient practice of the land, and not to appoint any magistrate till he had previously consulted with the town-council. With this understanding the mutilated bill passed the House of Commons, and then it was that the ancient rights, which they had recently granted to the people of Scotland by the unanimous sanction of both Houses of Parliament in 1833, which the people of England had inherited from the date of their earliest institutions, which they had preserved in some sort or other through all revolutions for 800 years, were snatched from them at last, and unconditionally given up to the Crown. He hoped one day to introduce a bill into that House, which would restore to the people of England those ancient rights, for he believed the municipalities of the country were the only safe and trustworthy depositaries of power in the State. The noble Lord, then Secretary of State for the Home Department, acted up to the declaration he made. Though he might not in every instance adopt the advice of the town-councils, no appointments ever took place without the most frank and open communication with those bodies. It had been said, "Yes, it is very fine to consult the corporations, so long as the corporations are of your own political opinions." There would have been some justice in the sarcasm if the noble Lord had made that declaration after the result of the municipal elections had been determined. But he determined on his course before the bill passed that House—before the corporations were established—before any man living could possibly foresee what would be the result of the municipal elections. It was then that the noble Lord made that declaration to the House and to the coun- 118 try, and to that declaration he adhered. The example set by the noble Lord was followed by Lord Normanby, and he could not see any good reason why the same course should not be still followed. He knew it might be said that corporations did not invariably recommend the fittest persons for the borough magistracy. He thought it probable, that the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, was prepared with a list of many occasions on which they had erred; but did Lord-lieutenants never err in making the selection? No man of common sense would argue, that because the town-councils sometimes erred in the exercise of the right, they ought therefore to be deprived of it. Whoever was acceptable to the municipal body ought to be acceptable to the Secretary of State. Where could a Secretary of State find more constitutional advisers than the local authorities? It was surely far better to resort to them than to anonymous advisers, responsible to no one for the advice they give. The right hon. Baronet, however, had pursued a different course. He thought such a course was highly to be lamented. When they considered that the people of Scotland enjoyed the power of electing their own magistrates by the act of the year 1833—when it was considered that the citizens of London enjoyed this right, and that people of this country had enjoyed for 800 years a similar right —he thought, under all these circumstances, the House would be of opinion, that the right hon. Baronet had taken a very singular view of his duty, and had most improperly strained the power of the Crown. He had in his hand a list of nearly 400 magistrates appointed during the last eight months, and such being the case, he should like to know from what motives the right hon. Baronet had set about this magistrate making? Was it because the magistrates were insufficient, or was it because he had documents showing that justice had been improperly administered? The right hon. Gentleman had evaded the question with less than his usual address. Would he answer it tonight? The right hon. Baronet most probably will not answer it—neither is it necessary that he should. They had the authority of the Lord Chancellor for the motives on which those appointments had taken place. They had been told, that the town-councils recommended too many 119 Liberal magistrates to suit the purposes of the present Government. The Lord High Chancellor is reported to have suggested, in another place, that in consequence of the number of Whig magistrates in the corporate towns, it was necessary to redress the balance by making a large number of Conservative magistrates, in order to secure to the Conservative party the privilege of licensing public houses, a power intended to be used for electioneering purposes. But the right hon. Baronet himself, who seldom indulged in any excess of frankness, was reported to have made an avowal of a similar nature, in answer to certain persons who had waited upon him as a deputation from the Conservative Association of Devonport. These persons had paid a visit to the right hon. Baronet to arrange about the appointment of Conservative magistrates for Devonport. These persons had reported to their friends that they were charmed with the condescension and kindness with which the right hon. Baronet had received them; and in describing their interview with so distinguished a personage, they stated, that while they were dilating on the special merits of the Conservative candidates for the magistracy, the right hon. Baronet had interrupted them by exclaiming, "Never mind about particulars, how many will it take to swamp them." ["Name."] He had read the statement in a Devonport newspaper. He did not wish to take any unfair account of the transaction. Did he understand that the right hon. Baronet disclaimed it? [Sir J. Graham: I have not the slightest recollection of it.] As the right hon. Baronet had not the slightest recollection of it, perhaps the transaction had not taken place; but would the right hon. Baronet deny that he had acted on those principles. If he had not done so, had the appointments been made because there had been any complaints as to the manner in which justice was administered in the country, or as to the insufficiency of the existing number of magistrates? He was not going to quarrel with the appointment of any individual. He had received, since he gave notice of his intention, to ask the House to look into this subject, suggestions from various quarters, as to why this or that man was improper to fill the office in such or such a place. He gave no heed to any such communications, and he would do the right hon. Baronet the justice to express his belief that he had never placed upon the beach any individual whom he 120 did not think qualified to fill the office. As far as he had any personal knowledge of the subject, such unquestionably was the case, and although he complained of the large addition which the right hon. Baronet had made to the magistracy, he admitted that he had made no appointment which did not do great credit to the bench. But he would ask, when he made the last addition to the magistracy of Hull, why did the right hon. Baronet place Dr. Alderson at the head of the list? That gentleman was highly respectable; and when he had the honour to represent the borough, Dr. Alderson was of the Liberal party, although, like the right hon. Baronet, his opinions had since undergone some change. But it was a great slight to other Gentlemen who were quite as respectable, to have him placed upon that account above them. With respect to the town which he now had the honour to represent (Gateshead), there were six magistrates in the borough, one of them being a Conservative. [Cheers.] He understood that cheer. But the right hon. Baronet had not thought the number of magistrates sufficient, and accordingly he had appointed six additional Conservative magistrates, giving to that favourite town as many magistrates as policemen. He asked, why did the right hon. Baronet so accommodate a town—why did he give a town, in which liberal opinions predominated, a majority of Tory magistrates. Upon what principle—what honest principle was this done? The noble Lord, whom the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had raised to the dignified position of Lord-Lieutenant of the county of Durham, in opposition to the claims of another nobleman whose conduct was admired by men of all parties —that noble Lord thought he could justify the proceedings at Gateshead, by remarking that it was a place where revolutionary opinions prevailed, and that the inhabitants had, in former Parliaments, returned a gentleman of revolutionary principles to represent them. It was not necessary for him to defend either his constituents or his friend Mr. Rippon from these idle imputations of their Lord-lieutenant; but he wished the noble Lord who made the observations to remember that in this free and intelligent country no character was so revolutionary — so dangerous to the public peace, as that of a man of high station, of princely fortune, of great political power, who had used these uncommon advantages in such a way as 121 to alienate from him the respect and confidence of his country. But when he looked at the return which he held in his hand, and beheld that in Gateshead, in Bath, in Chester, and in other places where liberal opinions predominate—as is shown by the state of their town-councils and their parliamentary representation — the right hon. Baronet had created a majority of Tory magistrates, he was compelled to conclude that his object was not the equal administration of the laws—that it was not even the specious object of adjusting the balance of parties—but that it was to enable Tory magistrates to traffic in public-house licences, and other matters of magisterial patronage, for party purposes; and he should believe this, even if he had not the authority of the Lord High Chancellor of England for so doing. He believed that the system introduced by the right hon. Baronet was full of danger to the country; and that was not merely his opinion, nor the opinion of the party with which he might be supposed to be connected. He could assure the right hon. Baronet that that was the opinion of men in every position in life. It was the opinion of magistrates of the same political opinions as her Majesty's Government, it was the opinion of many who agreed with Government in their general principles of policy, but who were disgusted at this attempt to pack the local tribunals of the country. The House should remember that they were the only courts of civil or criminal jurisprudence to which alone millions of their countrymen could ever repair. The right hon. Baronet was a man of fortune and high station, who could prosecute a suit in a dozen courts if he thought proper, but the poor man had practically no other courts open to him but the local tribunals of the country. [" Cheers."] He was glad to hear that assenting cheer. Was it then, right that those tribunals should be political. ["Cheers."] He was glad that at least on one point they could agree. He was happy to have the concurrence of the right hon. Baronet that it was neither just nor right that those tribunals should be political. Looking at the state of society in this country, and to the feelings that were abroad, they must see that it was not safe to add to the elements of confusion. He knew it had been said that he judges of the supreme courts were taken from a class of persons who were attached to certain political parties. He knew it. It was the custom in this coun- 122 try, a custom which he thought was more honoured in the breach than the observance. But those judges were more or less distinguished and eminent individuals. They were restrained by their knowledge of the law, and by their habitual defference to the forms of justice from giving way to aay violent political party feeling or bias. But what did these borough justices know about law or jurisprudence? They should be raised to their offices for their personal intelligence and integrity, matters of which the Secretary of State could know nothing, but which their townsmen were sure both to know and appreciate. But the Government would not suffer their townsmen to take part in the election of these magistrates—the testimony of their townsmen the Government rejected; they did not care whether those magistrates obtained and possessed the confidence of their fellow townsmen; all that they cared for was, that they should be active political partisans and determined friends of the Ministers' own recently adopted principles. He protested against this system, and he hoped the House of Commons would see that the time had come to oppose it. It was now declared that the nominations of the town-councils were to be set aside: that every successive Secretary of State was to appoint as many magistrates as suited his purpose, and was to be the sole judge of their fitness and character, while an inquisition was set up on the political opinions of every magistrate on the bench, for the purpose of swamping them every time those opinions might be opposed to those of the party in power. He again protested against the system; it could be fruitful of nothing but mischief, and would render the bench a scene of violent party and political conflict, and make their decisions about as just, about as respectable, and as respected, as the decisions of this House with regard to the trial of controverted elections. The whole system was calculated to deprave the character of the country. It was impossible to exaggerate the importance of having magistrates free from political influence. The general impression in favour of the honourable conduct of those who administer the laws of the country, was one of the leading means by which the English character had been formed. It has given to the humblest among us a feeling of personal independence and individual consequence. To this honourable and exalted feeling, more than to all your successes in war, to your 123 achievements in the arts of peace, is to be attributed the proud position which we occupy among the nations of the globe. But the moment this exalted feeling should be destroyed, the hour was not far distant when they would deeply lament it. He remembered a passage from Lord Clarendon, which was well worthy the attention of the right hon. Baronet or of any statesman who assumed the reins of Government in this country. In tracing the causes of those disasters which raised the people of England against the institutions of their country, and which at last drove them to meet their sovereign in the field, Lord Clarendon said:—It was not the ship-money—it was not the exaction of forced loans which smothered in the hearts of Englishmen those feelings of affection and loyalty to their prince which, in every age and under all circumstances, had been the characteristic of their race. It was not these things. It was the scorn and irreverence into which the judges of the land had fallen; it was in consequence of the people hearing the magistrates pronounce that to be law which every one knew was not law.He would repeat, that if they pursued this course, and if the sanction of the House were given to the innovations of the right hon. Baronet, he believed it would be pregnant with disaster to the country. The right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, in the course of his eloquent peroration in his speech on the finances of the country, took occasion to notice the various calamities with which the country had been visited in the course of the last century—the mutiny at the Nore, the rebellion in Ireland, and the war abroad. But there was one calamity of which he would find no trace in our, annals—he could find there no trace of dishonour, no vestige of national disgrace. But if they permitted a Secretary of State to appoint for his own purposes every man whom it suited him to introduce into the municipalities of this country, then they would have approached the greatest above all calamities—that which was a public and a national dishonour. He could not believe that the right hon. Baronet, looking at the course which he pursued when he held the seals of the Home Office, and looking, indeed, at his general character, he could not believe that the right hon. Baronet could declare that these proceedings had his entire and unqualified approbation. The right hon. Baronet, it was true, was surrounded 124 by persons who were telling him that it was his duty to maintain the supremacy of his party by all means and under all circumstances. But he would presume to give him other counsel. He would suggest to the right hon. Baronet that he could not lay the foundations of his power in a surer manner than by securing to the people of this country the impartial administration of the laws. He would suggest to the right hon. Baronet that he could not raise his name to a higher pitch than by taking care that no individual should be raised to the bench of justice, either in the superior courts of the country or in the local tribunals, except those who possessed the confidence of their fellow-citizens. Others might be disposed to give different counsel, but he was sure of this, that if the right hon. Baronet adopted their advice, he would forfeit, for the little purposes of party and for the triumph of an hour, the vital interests of the country and the permanence of his fame.
§ Sir James Graham:
Sir,—when the hon. Member who has just resumed his seat first gave notice of his intention of bringing this subject under the consideration of the House, I took the earliest opportunity of expressing to him my thanks on that account. Until this morning I certainly felt that I was under great obligations to the hon. Member; for, after all that has been said here and elsewhere with respect to my conduct on this particular subject, I felt satisfied that he was about to bring that conduct under the notice of the House in some tangible shape, on which I might appeal to its deliberate judgment, and by which my conduct might be submitted to it in such a manner as would enable me to ascertain whether the House of Commons condemned me wholly, or whether, on the contrary, it thought that my conduct was worthy of reprobation. Until this morning nothing could be more vague than the terms of the notice which the hon, Member had placed upon the book. It was, simply, a general notice to call the attention of this House to the recent appointment of municipal magistrates; but, to my surprise, this morning I found, without any public notification given on the part of the hon. Gentleman, the precise terms of the motion which he has this evening made. Now let me remind the House what is the nature of the speech which the hon. Gentleman has thought fit to make as a preface 125 to that motion. He has recalled to the recollection of the House the declaration which the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord J. Russell) made at the time of passing the Municipal Reform Bill—namely, that any abuse of the prerogative of the Crown on the part of the Secretary of State in recommending persons to be placed on municipal commissions would be noticed by this House. Not satisfied with that, he has gone on to designate my conduct in the terms which I will now repeat to the House, for I have taken down the very words. He has said thatMy course is highly to be condemned;" "that I have taken a singular view of the duty of my high office;" "that I have strained the prerogative of the Crown;" "that the interests of the people are deeply interwoven in the question now before you;" "that there has been no parallel in the history of this country of such an abuse of power since the time of Charles the Second;" "and that he hopes that this House will interpose to check so great an evil.These are the declarations of the hon. Gentleman, declarations which, as a Member of Parliament, he is fully entitled to make, and which I have no right to complain of whatever, since they have been boldly and openly made to my face. Yet entertaining this opinion of my conduct —having formed his opinions so decidedly, before waiting to hear what I may be able to urge in my own vindication—coming fresh from the calm atmosphere of that judicial tribunal, the Southampton Committee—what is the motion with which the hon. Member has concluded? It might, at least, have been expected that the hon. Member would have made some motion directly condemnatory of my proceedings, or moved an Address to her Majesty to remove me from her councils. If the hon. Member really entertains the opinion he has expressed, no motion could be too strong; but what is the miserable subterfuge, the wretched evasion by which he escapes from a vote of this House? Why, he concludes with asking for the production of papers which he knows it is impossible for the Government to refuse. I candidly avow I am, as her Majesty's Adviser in this matter, responsible for these appointments The hon. Gentlemen says that the Lord Chancellor is technically responsible. I do not see any reason for evading the full responsibility of my office, and I now tell the hon. Member, 126 and I tell the House, that I, and I only, am responsible for the advice given to her Majesty with respect to these appointments. The hon. Member says, that it is most desirable to have magistrates free from political bias; while he, at the same time, expatiated largely on the advantages of having municipal magistrates, chosen by the people. Really, in the present state of parties in this country—although it may be most desirable to have magistrates free from all political bias, I ask whether those magistrates being chosen by the ratepayers, it is not absurd, to expect to find men free from political bias? They must be angels and not men if they are so. If it were possible to find such persons, then I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is desirable that those who exercise judicial functions within the narrow circle of these places, having a separate jurisdiction should not form, as the hon. Member has termed it, a packed tribunal. It is most true, that the communities within the boundaries of these places have, in many instances, access, in matters immediately affecting their property and lives, to no other tribunal, and it is of the last importance that communities so circumstanced, should have confidence in the justice of those who exercise the jurisdiction. As the hon. Gentleman says, it is not just, it is not safe, that persons exercising authority in those limited communities should be tainted with the character of partisans, or that the tribunals should be so composed as to assume an exclusive character. But the hon. Gentleman has, at the same time, said that he has no complaint to make of the individuals appointed by me, although so minute was the criticism of the hon. Member, that when he talked of Hull, a place which he and I both have had the honour of representing, whilst he distinctly admitted, that with respect to one of the Gentlemen whom I recommended to the Crown to be appointed magistrates, he had not one word to say against him, he nevertheless objected to the particular place in the list which the name of Dr. Alderson happened to assume. I know not any reason why Dr. Alderson's name should appear in that particular place, except an alphabetical reason, the name beginning with the letter A; but with all minute criticism of the hon. Gentleman, that is the strongest objection which he has urged against the appointment of magistrates at Hull. 127 But I mean distinctly and frankly to avow, what were the circumstances in which I found the municipal magistracy, when I had the honour to become one of her Majesty's responsible advisers. I do not mean to go into any details more minute than I can avoid with respect to this or that particular town; but I will mention generally what was the state of the magistracy in the municipal bodies when I came into office, and what were the motives which actuated my conduct in reference to the appointments recommended by me; and having done so, I shall then leave it to the House to determine whether I have forfeited their confidence by the course I have pursued. The hon. Gentleman correctly referred to what took place on the passing of the Reform Bill, with respect to the statement made by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) who was then Secretary of State for the Home Department. It had been proposed by the late Government, that the municipal magistrates should not be appointed by the Crown, but should be elected by the town-council. The clause containing that enactment, after a full discussion, was rejected.
Lord J. Russell:
It was not proposed that the magistrates should be elected by the town-councils, but only that they should be appointed upon their recommendation.
§ Sir J. Graham
I am sure the noble Lord will admit, that it was first proposed that the municipal magistrates should be elected, and not nominated by the Crown. Does the noble Lord dissent from that? I really thought there would be no dispute on that point.
Lord J. Russell
My recollection may be wrong, but the impression on my mind is, that by the clause, it was provided that no person should be appointed by the Crown but those who had been recommended by the town-council. The clause did not give a positive power of election by the town-council; but merely gave to the council a power of recommending persons to the Crown.
§ Sir James Graham
I am obliged to the noble Lord for his correction. I will state the case according to the noble Lord's explanation of it. At the time of the introduction of the bill it was proposed that there should be a power given to the Crown to nominate municipal magistrates, and that, coincident with that power, there 128 should also be a power of recommendation exercised on the part of the town-council. That was the mode of nomination proposed to Parliament. Upon full discussion that mode was rejected by the Legislature; and the undoubted prerogative of the Crown received the sanction of Parliament, and, without reference to any recommendation from the town council, the absolute power of nomination was vested in the Crown and its responsibile advisers. Now the noble Lord during the passage of the bill through Parliament, or immediately after it, made an announcement, that notwithstanding the decision of the Legislature in rejecting this recommendation, he, in the exercise of his power as a Minister of the Crown, would not appoint magistrates unless they received the recommendation of the town-council; and, that, by what I call a straining of the prerogative, he would frustrate the intention of the Legislature, and give the power of nomination to the town-council. The time is now gone by for discussing the question—the constitutional question— whether the noble Lord was justified in holding that language, and adopting that course. I have a strong impression on my mind that he was not. But having established that rule, it was of the last importance that the noble Lord should have abided by it, for the declaration was express. I will illustrate what I mean by a few examples. Did the noble Lord adhere to his own rule, and in appointing the municipal magistrates, did he adopt invariably and constantly the recommendations of the town-council? The first case I will bring under the consideration of the House is that of the borough of Bridport. It so happened that the town-council of Bridport was very much divided in politics. They recommended to the noble Lord a mixed commission of the peace. The noble Lord if I mistake not, set aside their recommendation, and appointed five gentlemen of the opposite party, and only one gentleman concurring with those on this side of the House. This, however, was a case which may be considered not very strong. I will now call the attention of the noble Lord and of the House to the case of the borough of Hastings. The town-council of Hastings repeatedly recommended one particular gentleman, who was a resident of that place, as a person most fit to be appointed a magistrate. The noble Lord, notwith- 129 standing these repeated recommendations, set aside that nomination. But then, again, it may be said, that the noble Lord had some particular reason in this case, which in the exercise of his discretion as a Minister he might not think fit to reveal, and that, though acting strictly up to his line of duty, this case might be a special exception to the general rule. I will now bring forward a case of a far different description. I allude to the case of Bristol. At Bristol, after the first election under the Municipal Act, parties stood in the relative position which I am about to state. There were in the town council twenty-five Conservatives and twenty-four professing politics agreeing with gentlemen opposite. For the sake of peace, though there was a Conservative majority, an agreement was come to that they would recommend to the noble Lord an equal number of magistrates—twelve Whig-Radicals and twelve Conservatives. And now observe the rule which the noble Lord laid down: he said that he would attend to the wishes of the town council; and observe, too, the doctrine of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hutt), that equality in this matter is most desirable, in order that impartiality in a judicial tribunal should be preserved, and the sacred cause of justice not be violated amidst the conflict of angry passions and divided parties. In this case, the Conservative party being predominant, they, nevertheless, for the sake of harmony and peace, came to an agreement to recommend twelve magistrates on each side. And here I cannot help observing upon the remark made by the hon. Gentleman who said, that my right hon. Friend (Sir Robert Peel) is pressed by his Conservative supporters to swamp the Whig-Radical magistrates now that he is in power. Was the conduct of the Conservatives of Bristol a proof of any such disposition on the part of the Conservative body generally? But let me call the attention of the House to the course which the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) pursued with respect to the recommendation of the Bristol town-council. He took the twelve Whig-Radicals recommended by the minority, and made them magistrates, but he rejected six out of the twelve Conservatives, recommended by the majority, and among the six whom he so thought fit to reject, was Mr. Daniel, who was at the head of the Conservatives at Bristol—a gentleman of large property 130 —of unimpeached and unimpeachable character—and possessing, in the highest degree the confidence of his fellow-citizens. The only reason assigned for his rejection, was his age, and want of health. From 1836 up to 1841, he remained in perfect health, thereby living to shame the excuse that was brought forward for rejecting him; and I am happy to say, that I have had the good fortune to place his name, not for the alphabetical reason applying to Dr. Alderson, but as a mark of respect, at the head of the list of magistrates appointed to that place. I have stated a strong case of departure from that fixed rule which the noble Lord declared he would adhere to. Let me now bring before the House the instance of Poole. In the spring of 1836, it being understood that Lord John Russell would adopt the recommendation of town-councils throughout the kingdom, the town-council of Poole sent in its list. It will be supposed, perhaps, that, as in the case of Bristol, the noble Lord exercised his discretion by accepting some and rejecting others. Nothing like it. The whole list sent in by the town-council of Poole was rejected. The noble Lord substituted another list; and what will the House believe was the proportion as to party observed in it? The noble Lord appointed seven magistrates; and of those seven, only one was of Conservative principles. Before I go further, I am most anxious to assure the House, that I view with extreme regret the necessity of analyzing the political opinions of the Members of these municipal bodies. 1 feel as strongly as any hon. Member opposite, the great misfortune, that the administration of justice should be tainted with party politics; but that was not the case with which I had to deal. I had to deal with a municipal magistracy, steeped to the very lips in party politics, and it was not for me to determine whether a magistracy should be so tainted, but being so tainted, whether I should with firmness and moderation, apply a corrective. I conceive, that in order to avoid the evil of having persons upon the bench, who would be exposed to undue temptation to interfere in local politics, there are two classes of persons whom it is the special duty of the Crown not to appoint. I allude to practising attorneys and brewers. The late Government made no such exceptions; they appointed practising attornies and 131 brewers. In so extensive an operation as the additions I have made, it was necessarily extensive, for party pervaded the whole of our municipal institutions—I may have been betrayed into error upon this point. When the hon. Gentlemen opposite were in office, practising attorneys and brewers were generally appointed; and through inadvertence, I may have committed some single error, but I am not aware, that in my list will be found one practising attorney, one brewer, or one beneficed clergyman. I have shewn, that the noble Lord did not very strictly adhere to his own rule of attending to the recommendation of the town-councils, and I will now bring under the notice of the House what is very remarkable—it is this —that wherever Conservatives were appointed magistrates, a curious selection was in many instances made. Some Conservatives who were appointed, had informed the noble Lord distinctly, that they would not act; in other cases, the infirmities of the parties were known to be such, that they could not act, and not a few from particular circumstances, were disqualified to act. I might illustrate this singular fact by many examples, but in no case has it been more strikingly exemplified than in that of Norwich. In 1837, six additional names were selected by the town-council to be added to the commission of the peace; three were Whigs and three were Conservatives; all were approved by the noble Lord, but while the three Whigs were active men in the prime of life, two of the Conservatives were extremely aged, and the third paralytic. I found at Norwich nineteen magistrates, thirteen of whom are Whigs and have taken out their dedimus, and of the six Conservatives, two cannot act, and a third cannot walk, and never entered the justice room. Of the remaining three Conservatives, A. B. is eighty-six, C. D. is aged seventy-seven, and E. F. seventy-five. It would be tedious to go through these matters in detail; but it is my duty to bring them tinder the notice of the House compendiously, and to state the general result of the proceedings of the noble Lord, in order that I may contrast them with my own. The hon. Member for Gateshead stated, that the object of the noble Lord had been to establish a mixed magistracy—not one of an exclusive kind; and I think he went the length of saying that the noble Lord 132 had succeeded tolerably well. I will give the House a few specimens of the noble Lord's success, and I will begin with Bath. Eleven magistrates were appointed, nine of whom were Whig-Radicals, and only two Conservatives. At Birmingham thirty-three magistrates were appointed, twenty-seven of whom were Whig-Radicals, and six Conservatives. At Boston five magistrates were appointed, all of them Whig-Radicals. At Bridport four magistrates were appointed, all Whig-Radicals. At Canterbury eight magistrates were appointed, all Whig-Radicals. At Carlisle eleven magistrates were appointed, ten of whom were Whig-Radicals, and only one Conservative. Coventry, fortunate Coventry! had twelve magistrates appointed, and all Whig-Radicals. At Dartmouth six magistrates were appointed, all Whig-Radicals. At Lynn four magistrates were appointed, all Whig-Radicals. At Denbigh the same number, and of the same complexion. At Derby eight magistrates, all of the party of the noble Lord. At Droitwich six magistrates were appointed, all Whig-Radicals. Flint had the benefit of eight Whig-Radical magistrates, without any infusion of Conservatism. Folkestone had four magistrates, all Whig-Radicals. At Great Grimsby seven magistrates were appointed, all Whig-Radicals. At Hereford a slight dash of Conservatism was allowed, for, out of seven magistrates, one was opposed to the politics of the Government of the day. At Hythe there were five magistrates, all Whig-Radicals. At Kendall four, all Whig-Radicals. At Leicester twelve, eleven Whig-Radicals and one Conservative. At Lichfield there were six magistrates, all Whig-Radicals. At Lincoln eight magistrates, in the proportion of seven to one. At Liskeard three magistrates were appointed, all Whig-Radicals. At Liverpool it was hardly possible for the noble Lord to take so bold a course, but still he was courageous enough to approximate very nearly to his usual practice; out of thirty-one magistrates, twenty-five were Whig-Radicals, and six only Conservatives. At Macclesfield the six magistrates were all Whig-Radicals. At Manchester thirty-three magistrates had been appointed in the proportion of twenty-nine to four. At Newcastle-under-Lyme of sixteen magistrates three were Conservatives. Portsmouth at that time enjoyed the great happiness of being re- 133 presented by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and there the eleven magistrates, without a single exception, were supporters of the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman was a Member. At Richmond, in Yorkshire, four magistrates were appointed, all Whig-Radicals. At Stockport they had the advantage of twelve Whig-Radical magistrates, and the Conservative party not one friend on the bench. At Sunderland there were ten Whig-Radicals, and this brings me to the question respecting Gateshead. There are three towns in the county of Durham having magistrates—Stockton, Sunderland, and Gateshead—and the number of magistrates in them is considerable. There are three at Stockton, at Sunderland ten, and at Gateshead six, making nineteen in the whole. Out of these nineteen, when I came into office only one was a Conservative. All at Stockton were Whig-Radicals — all at Sunderland the same—but at Gateshead, there was, by some chance, a single Conservative. This is what is called by the hon. Member the equal administration of justice among the administrators of justice, and I am to be blamed and charged in my place here because I advised the Crown with temper and moderation, but with decision, to put down a local tyranny of this description, by which, under the forms of justice, justice itself was prostituted. If ever there was an evil which called loudly for redress by the fair exercise of the prerogative of the Crown, I stand here as the servant of the Crown, and I declare that this was the occasion. Bring forward no trumpery motions of this description; let us come to the point. Let the hon. Member raise the question fairly before the House; let him appeal to its decision, and let that decision be pronounced. Let the House say, whether I have not discharged properly the duty imperatively forced upon me. I had proceeded in my list as far as Sunderland, and next I come to Tiverton, represented by the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston). What is the case there? Five magistrates were appointed, all of them Whig-Radicals; Totness had four Whig-Radicals, Walsall had seven magistrates, only one of whom was a Conservative. At Wigan, fourteen magistrates were appointed, thirteen of whom were Whig-Radicals with one Conservative. At Chester, they were nine to one; and at Yarmouth, with which I may crown 134 my enumeration, there were nineteen magistrates, eighteen of whom were Whig-Radicals, and only one a Conservative. These are the particulars, but what is the aggregate? What, in fact, was the state of the municipal magistracy when I came into office? I found that there were 1,026 magistrates, and of these how many does the House think, in vindication of the noble Lord's principle of equal justice, without the influence of party, were Whig-Radicals, and how many were Conservatives?
Lord J. Russell
was understood to say, that he had never contended that the numbers of each party should be balanced upon the bench.
§ Sir J. Graham:
The noble Lord in the case of Kidderminster, appointed three magistrates of one party, and three of another; and he is reported to have said, that his object was to make the numbers of each party equal on the bench. It certainly, however, did happen, that upon one of the Conservative magistrates of Kidderminster dying shortly after, the noble Lord sought to maintain the equilibrium of the judicial bench by appointing two Whig-radicals in his stead. I have stated to the House the entire number of municipal magistrates existing at the time I succeeded to office, with the exception of fifty-seven, who act in boroughs where I have made no addition to the commission, and who are not, therefore, taken into my calculation; but of the 1,026 magistrates nominated by the late Government, the proportions, excluding the fifty-seven, were these —
§ That was the sort of equality with which I had to deal when I came into office. The individual appointments I have made are not carped at by the hon. Member for Gateshead. He says, he does not complain of the selection of particular persons, but he rests his charge upon general grounds; and let me now call the attention of the House to what has been the effect of the operation which I have performed, or of which I advised the performance. The gross number has been increased by me from 1,026 to 1,435. Let it be recollected, that much angry feeling having been excited with reference to this subject, I have had the exclusion of particular names pressed upon me; but in no instance have I omitted the name of a 135 single magistrate appointed by my predecessor. Various reasons were assigned to induce me to take a contrary course, but I answered that the march of the Government might be rendered unsteady, if what a former Government had done in the name of the Crown were to be undone by their successors from party motives. I did not think it would be safe for the Secretary of State to enter into such questions with a view to censure or punishment, and the consequence has been that I have not. excluded a single magistrate. Having excluded none, but added many, the gross number stands, instead of 1,206, 1,435. The hon. Member talks about my swamping the Liberal magistracy; and here I beg leave to deny any recollection of a conversation with gentlemen from Devonport such as the hon. Member has course the noble Lord sometimes took to reported. If the hon. Member received procure information respecting the the account from any one of the deputation, his recollection may be more accurate than mine, but I never heard of it that I am aware of till the moment the hon. Member mentioned it; and my belief is, that he has been most grossly misinformed. So far from wishing to invert the balance of parties, I am persuaded that it has been done in very few cases; and if I were to discuss the matter place by place, I could show good reasons why it had been done there. But I am not now entering into details; I deal only with the general result; and I say that the proportion of equality under the noble Lord's administration was 743 Whig-Radicals to 226 Conservatives. What has been the result of what I have done? Out of the total number of 1,435 magistrates there remains, exclusive of the fifty-seven to whom I before referred, a majority of 743 Whig-Radicals, and a minority of 635 Conservatives. I do appeal, then, with confidence to the House of Commons, and ask whether what we have done in this matter is the act of a Government flushed with success, and intoxicated with power, and whether we deserve that it should be asserted of us that we have swamped the Liberal magistracy in all the municipal corporations of the kingdom? I am prepared to vindicate my conduct, both generally and specifically; but it may be asked, and indeed it has been asked, from what quarter do I draw my information? I am responsible for the advice 1 have given to the Crown, and to the best of my belief the appointments are 136 unexceptionable, and they are such as even the hon. Member cannot individually object to. I have obtained my information from the highest quarters—from gentlemen of honour, intelligence, and integrity, on whom I could depend, and, depending upon them, I am responsible for the course I have taken in recommending magistrates to the Crown. If I am asked from what source I have derived my knowledge of the characters and politics of the parties selected, I may answer that I have derived it in much the same way as other people obtain information respecting the worth and opinions of individuals. I shall not state exactly what I did do, but I will tell the House what I did not do. I will give the hon. Member some light upon the question negatively, by showing him what course the noble Lord sometimes took to procure information respecting the characters, and the politics, too, of candidates for the magisterial bench. In the Buckinghamshire newspaper a correspondence is published, which bears date in 1836, and one of the letters I will read to the House. It is dated "Reform Association, 3, Cleveland Row, 24th June, 1836," and it is signed "James Coppock." It is addressed to "J. Voules, Esq., Windsor, and is in these terms: —
I will thank you to have the goodness to inform me, by an early coach to-morrow morning, what is the profession, trade, and politics of the following gentlemen in Windsor:—Mr. W. Lee, Mr. Robert Blunt, Mr. Edward Bobbington, Mr. R. Tebbott, and Sir J. Chapman. I shall feel much obliged by your reply, and remain, &c."
§ The answer to this polite note signed "James Coppock," and dated from the Reform Association, was dated the 29th January; and Mr. Voules there apologises for not having sooner sent his reply, because the inquiry had not earlier reached his hands, and proceeds thus:—
I now beg to forward to you the information you require. Mr. W. Lee is a banker and brewer, and a Liberal. Mr. Robert Blunt is a saddler, who has always supported the Government, and voted for Ramsbotham. Mr. Edward Bobbington is a Liberal. Mr. R. Tebbot is a builder, of the same politics; and Sir J. Chapman is a surgeon, and a high Tory.
§ This answer was delayed owing to the absence of Mr. Voules until the 29th of January, but I find by the records of the Home-office, that on the first of February were appointed the following gentlemen, 137 magistrates of Windsor:—Mr. W. Lee, the banker, brewer, and Liberal; Mr. Robert Blunt, the saddler, who had always voted for Ramsbotham; Mr. Edward Bob-bington, the Liberal; Mr. R. Tebbott, the builder, and constant supporter of Government; and, lastly, for decency's sake, Sir J. Chapman, the surgeon, and high Tory. I tell the House at once that I can have no objection to have my appointments canvassed. I may have been deceived; I may have been unfortunate in my nominations in one or two instances; but as yet no gentleman I recommended to the Crown, to be placed among the municipal magistrates, has been convicted of high treason. I am not the Secretary of State who recommended Mr. John Frost to the special trust and favour of her Majesty. I have not a word to say against the production of the document required, but I wish the hon. Member joy of ending such a speech as he has made with such a motion.
§ Mr. F. Maule,
having occupied an official situation in the Home Office, during the period referred to, hoped that he should be excused for addressing the House immediately after the right hon. Baronet. He was aware, that he must speak under a considerable disadvantage, because he could not have access to official documents, and was unable to carry in his memory much that related to the list which the right hon. Baronet had read. There were, however, some points upon which he thought he could make out a satisfactory answer; but before he alluded to them, he might be permitted to say, that the right hon. Baronet might have replied to the speech of the hon. Member for Gateshead, with something more of calmness and in a better temper. If, instead of so far forgetting himself as to allude to the position presently occupied by the hon. Member upon an election committee with the proceedings of which the House had been too much troubled, the right hon. Baronet had drawn a distinction between his own situation now, and that of the noble Member for London some time ago, he would certainly have spoken more to the purpose. His hon. Friend (Mr. Hutt) had anticipated that the right hon. Baronet would rely entirely upon a tu quoque sort of argument, but the difference in the respective positions of his noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) and of the right hon. Baronet formed a most material 138 part of the case. His noble Friend had been called upon to act just after a statute had been passed abolishing the old magistracy in the municipal towns of England; it was the duty of his noble Friend to advise the Crown as to the future constitution of that magistracy, and his advice was, that means should be taken to arrive at such a nomination as would give to those in the commission of the peace the confidence of the inhabitants of the various towns. His noble Friend had even proposed, not that the magistrates should be elected by the town-councils, but, simply, that the Crown should possess a veto on their nomination. Such was the clause introduced into the Municipal Reform Bill, but it was rejected in the House of Lord, and his noble Friend, when the bill came back from the other House, stated, as an inducement to the acceptance of the mutilated measure, that although the prerogative was vested in the Crown, yet that, as Secretary of State for the Home Department, his ears would be open to listen to and consider the recommendations of the town-councils. The best principle for the appointment of magistrates anywhere was, that such should be chosen, because they possessed the confidence of those among whom they resided; and no man would assert that in listening to the town-councils, and in selecting the magistrates after having listened, the right principle had not been adopted. If it were not the right principle, why had it been applied to Scotland? Why did the right hon. Baronet, as part and parcel of Lord Grey's Government, consent to pass the Scotch Municipal Bill, by which the election was given to the town-councils, without even the veto of the Crown? Yet that measure had worked well, and would continue to work well; there had been, and would be no complaint regarding its operation. If the system were so objectionable in England, why had it been extended to Scotland? If it were so objectionable, why was it permitted still to prevail in London? London was the highest and most important city in the world, but there were others of great wealth and power, and why was that granted to London, which was refused to other great municipalities? His noble Friend before, not, as had been asserted, after the municipal elections in 1836, had issued a circular to the boroughs, intimating his intention to listen to the voice of the town-councils but there was a great 139 difference between the right hon. Baronet's representation of the contents of that circular and the reality; for the noble Lord did not pledge himself to obey the recommendations of the town-councils, but left himself at full liberty to advise the Crown on the exercise of its prerogative. It had certainly turned out, that the great majority of magistrates recommended was of a particular party in politics; that fact was too obvious, to be denied for a moment; so obvious was it, that the right hon. Baronet had brought the subject under the notice of this House, and Lord Wharncliffe had also made a motion upon it in the House of Peers. The very case of Bristol now revived, had then been brought forward and discussed, and the treatment of Mr. Daniel had been made the subject of much observation. Why that gentleman was now put into the commission, excepting as an empty honour in the evening of his days, he could not imagine. He was aged and deaf in 1836, and for that, among other reasons, he was not, indeed, excluded from the magistracy, but was not appointed to the bench. The House would bear in mind, that his noble Friend (Lord John Russell) had informed the House, that Mr. Daniel, in 1836, was so infirm, that he had been unable to fill the office of mayor of Bristol in the preceding year. Was it possible, then, that the right hon. Baronet should now attempt to take credit to himself for appointing Mr. Daniel to the empty honour of a magistrate of Bristol? The House had heard a long list of the names places to show the inequality of the appointments as to party politics; but when the right hon. Baronet read it, he was not able to inform the House that it was not the list which had been sent up by the town-councils themselves, nor had he ventured to assert that the list had been altered to suit the political views of the noble Lord then in office. He believed that it was the list recommended by the inhabitants of the boroughs. Whatever disproportion there might be, he was prepared to maintain, that the magistrates possessed the confidence of the persons by whom they were recommended, and instead of injury having been done, general satisfaction had been experienced. He now came to an expression used by the right hon. Baronet, to which he begged to call the particular attention of the House; it was that justice had been prostituted by the appointments of the noble Lord, the Member for London. 140 The right hon. Baronet had complained of the charge this night brought against him self; but what charge could be more grave or more gross than that made by the right hon. Baronet himself, when he said that the noble Lord, his predecessor in office, had been guilty of a prostitution of justice. To that, and to nothing less, the accusation amounted, and he had no hesitation in declaring that it was totally, utterly, and entirely groundless. It was a charge which the right hon. Baronet could not prove; for if he could have proved it, he was not the man to have left it unestablished. Justice prostituted in the boroughs of England! and that accusation was made by a Secretary of State in a speech from his place in the House of Commons! The charge proceeded from one who had access to all official documents showing it to be unfounded, but who nevertheless brought it forward for the sake of procuring a party cheer. That accusation was that night repeated as it had slipped from the tongue of the right hon. Gentleman in the year 1836, but which the right hon. Gentleman had not ventured to substantiate. That accusation was utterly groundless, and he fearlessly appealed to the people of England, and to the people of the municipalities of England, to give a contradiction broad and direct to the accusations of the right hon. Gentleman. Until, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman retracted that accusation, or came forward with evidence to substantiate it, he himself must stand in an equivocal position before the country. The statement of a responsible Minister of the Crown that justice had been prostituted by the two Ministers who had preceded him in the same department was not likely to be passed over quietly by that House or by the people of England. And he must tell the right hon. Baronet that it would not be lightly passed over, unless he brought forward evidence to substantiate the charge, or honesly retracted it. It would be believed to have been used only as a tuquoque argument, resorted to merely to draw down a few party cheers, and to lead off the attention from the accusation made against himself. While the right hon. Gentleman was making these accusations against his noble Friend in that House, he had done well to rescue his own noble Friend, the Lord Chancellor, from the somewhat remarkable assertion he had made in another House. The Lord Chancellor was reported to have said in another place, that in no one instance had the 141 balance of parties been changed in any one borough of which he had cognizance; and further, he could positively assert, that the prerogative of the Crown had not been exercised with the view of giving the majority. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir James Graham) had, in passing, contradicted that statement. He was prepared also to contradict that statement by facts. In the borough of Gateshead, which had been particularly alluded to, the original number of magistrates was six, of whom five were Liberals and one was a Tory'— the right hon. Gentleman had added six Tories, subverting and reversing the original proportions. In the city of Bath the original numbers were two Tories, two absentees, and six Liberals; supposing that the two absentees were Liberals, there would be but eight Liberals; and the right hon. Gentleman had added eight Tories, subverting the Liberal majority. In the city of Chester, the magistrates were seven —three Tories and four Liberals. He should have thought that this might have satisfied the right hon. Gentleman. [Sir James Graham;" The numbers were five to two."] He repeated, there were three Tories to four Liberals, and the right hon. Gentleman had added six Tories. In Dover, where there had been five Tories and seven Liberals, the right hon. Gentleman had added seven Tories. He should not have mentioned these cases unless the Lord Chancellor of England had stated more—had unscrupulously stated that in no one instance had the additions to the magistracy had the effect of changing the state of parties on the bench. He concluded that the noble and learned Lord had made these statements from ignorance, or from that recklessness of assertion to which he sometimes gave way when he had a difficult case to meet. He came now to the case of Poole; a case on which the right hon. Gentleman had laid considerable stress, and in which the right hon. Gentleman accused his noble Friend (Lord J. Russell) of rejecting the recommendations of the town-council after he had laid down the principle of adopting them. He admitted, that his noble Friend had rejected the recommendations of the town-council, and when he reminded the House of the means by which that town-council was elected, and the fraudulent means by which the majority was obtained, and when he read to the House the report which a committee of their own House had made of the conduct of the returning officer, the 142 House would agree with him that his noble Friend was justified in recognising no act of that town-council; and more especially when all the acts of that town-council were called in question before the courts of law. On referring to the report of the committee on the municipal election of Poole, he found that the then returning officer, Mr. R. Slade, had stated that he first took the split voting papers, or those which had not the full number; that he then took the full voting papers; and in every instance took the vote rejected from the second voting paper; that many duplicates were put in, and in every instance gave the benefit of these duplicates to the Tories. By these means a fraudulent town-council was obtained for Poole. These were the facts which were substantiated before a committee of their own House. He said then that his noble Friend was perfectly right when he rejected the recommendations of the town-council, and selected gentlemen for magistrates, the capacity of every one of whom was undisputed, and had remained undisputed to the present moment. What, "however, had the right hon. Gentleman done the instant he came into office with respect to this very town, Poole? He found there a certain number of magistrates of whom eight were liberals, and he did not know whether more than one was a Tory; he immediately added five to the commission, of whom one was this Mr. R. Slade, the returning officer at this very municipal election, which obtained a fraudulent corporation for the borough of Poole. The very gentleman who had been most mixed up with the transactions to which he had referred, which were recorded iu a report of the committee of the House of Commons, had been selected by the right hon. Gentleman as a magistrate for the town of Poole. He asked how the people could have confidence in such an individual? For his part, he never could have consented to make this man a magistrate in that town. It appeared that the right hon. Gentleman had subsequently appointed Mr. Thomas Slade. He had reason to believe that the right hon. Gentleman had mistaken this Thomas Slade for R. Slade, the late mayor, for the appointment was not dated till the 21st of February, and had been suspended till inquiry had been made. It showed that the right hon. Gentleman was not well informed as to the original recommendation for Poole, when he made the mistake of Thomas Slade for R. Slade. It was curious 143 that the very person who accused his noble Friend of acting from party motives should have been the party in the borough of Poole to choose the man who had been mixed up in this manner as returning officer, and who if he had not been himself guilty of the fraud, was at all events cognizant of it. With reference to the case of Bridport, his recollection did not carry him sufficiently far back to enable him to reply to the right hon. Gentleman; but with respect to Hastings, the last appointment of the Marquess of Normanby was of three magistrates, and of those he nominated one Conservative. In naming three magistrates he took two Whigs, instead of two Whigs who had gone away from the place, and in addition a Conservative magistrate had been put in at the request of the town-council. There was therefore nothing unfair with respect to the nomination in that town. His hon. Friend near him (Mr. Hutt) had said, that the town-councils might have erred in some of their nominations. He admitted, that they might have formed an erroneous judgment, but be that as it might, he thought that with all that objection and that drawback, if they pursued the Scotch system, they were more likely to obtain magistrates possessing the confidence of the people, than under the contrary system now pursued in England. He thought it was better that in the boroughs the magistrates should be persons selected by the people themselves; if in England the prerogative of the Crown was superior to the authority of the law he would bend, but still he was of opinion that they should attend to the recommendations of the town-council, as far as it was possible, reserving to the Crown the right of striking out the names of any persons who might be objectionable, and adding those persons whom the Crown should have reason to believe had been improperly left out. On the whole, he should maintain that persons were most likely to gain the confidence of the inhabitants who were chosen by themselves. His noble Friend had followed that principle in his appointments; such had not been the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman. When the right hon. Gentleman came into office, he found a large body of magistrates differing largely from the principles of his Government. He did not deny it, but of the vast majority of the individuals forming that body no complaint had been made in that House, or out of it, 144 since the year 1836. No one had called in question the due and fair administration of justice; and if any question had been raised as to their integrity, and as to their mode of dispensing justice, when that question had been directed to the proper quarter, he would confidently appeal to the records of the Home Office as evidence that it had never been unattended to. Under these circumstances, therefore, he thought it was unwise to make this sweeping addition to the borough magistracy. He looked upon it as a precedent that might be followed in after times, not only to the great detriment of justice itself, but almost to the denial of justice in the municipal corporations. In Scotland, for ages past it had been the custom for the people in the boroughs to appoint their own magistrates. No Secretary of State had ever stood up in his place and declared that "justice had been prostituted there." All had worked well there; it was only when the administration of justice had been made use of for the purposes of party, and had been placed in the hands of political partisans that they had the charge of justice being prostituted. He maintained, then, that his noble Friend's conduct with respect to the appointment of magistrates had been consonant to the feelings and the wishes of those for whom justice was to be administered. He maintained, that the course of the right hon. Gentleman was opposed to their feelings and sentiments; and he warned the right hon. Gentleman, that if he pursued the system of appointing magistrates against the wishes of the people, he would speedily lower, and ultimately lose all the respect now paid to the administration of justice. If the right hon. Gentleman had confined himself to filling up the vacancies which were every day occurring, from death or resignation—if he had said that he found an undue preponderance of Liberals, and had declared that all future appointments ought to be Tory, he should have offered no opposition to such a course. But he did object to a course which was bad as an example, and which he feared might have the effect of detracting from the respect paid to the administration of justice.
§ Sir J. Hanmer
said, that when a vacancy had occurred in the High Stewardship of Hull, the Duke of Wellington had been duly recommended for the office; but it seemed that in those days the authority of ancient charters, on which that recommendation bad been made, were not much 145 thought of, and that the power of the Crown went for something in opposition to the wishes of those entitled to recommend, for the Crown had been advised to appoint the Marquess of Normanby to the office of High Steward. He thought, that the fair and impartial character of justice had been greatly damaged and altogether outraged by such constant appointments to the bench amongst political partisans as had been made by the late Ministry. In the town of Hull, at the passing of the Municipal Corporations Bill, eighteen magistrates had been appointed, out of whom only two were Conservatives, one a Gentleman who had a seat in that House, and did not live in Hull, but in Beverley, and the other had never qualified, nor did he ever intend to qualify. The highest testimony had been then borne by the bitterest enemies of the old corporation to the manner in which their duties had been discharged. In 1841, it became necessary that some addition should be made to the magistracy, and the name of Mr. Bark-worth, a gentleman who had filled the office of mayor, and who for a long period of time had been a magistrate, and had given the greatest satisfaction in the discharge of his duties, and that of another gentleman who had been a magistrate, were proposed to the town-council, but they had been passed by; their services had been forgotten, and in the place of Mr. Barkworth (who had been called one of the first, magistrates in the kingdom) and the other gentleman named, the town-council had recommended two of their own partisans. At present, how did the case stand? Out of the twenty magistrates in Hull, thirteen entertained opinions similar to those of hon. Members opposite, and seven only were Conservatives. But those seven had not been appointed by the right hon. the Secretary of State for the Home Department, because of political partisanship. He had never heard of the appointments until they had been made. The two gentlemen he had named who had been added to the bench, had before been passed over; they were great merchants, fit to represent their own town, or any constituency in Parliament, and with five other gentlemen they had most properly been added to the bench. And what had been the result? Increased confidence in the discharge of the magisterial duties, and the respect paid to the bench had increased one hundred-fold. He merely bore testimony to the effect of the appointments in one place 146 which he knew. He could not tell what was the sense or the meaning of the motion before the House; he could not understand it. He believed almost every Member of a municipal town could bear similar testimony to what he had done. There were no complaints made against these appointments, except such as bore on the face of them the evidence of party spirit.
Mr. H. Berkeley
said, that the right hon. Baronet had stated, that the town-council of Bristol, having been called upon to send up twenty-four names for the magistracy, had sent in the names of twelve Liberals and twelve Tories; but that the late Government, on the other hand, had selected the twelve Liberals and only six Tories. As he thought this case had been years ago set at rest, he was surprised that the right hon. Gentleman had relied so much upon it, and that hon. Gentlemen had so lustily cheered it. He did not think, however, that the right hon. Gentleman was quite correct in the statement he had made to the House. He would therefore explain exactly how the case stood, and then leave the House to judge whether there had been any exaggeration. Eighteen magistrates were required for the city of Bristol. The town-council had named twenty-four persons. Twelve of these were said by the right hon. Gentleman to be Liberals; but of these twelve so-called Liberals, two had never voted at all. So much with regard to that part of the charge. Of the rejected six, some formed part of that incapable body of magistrates when the city of Bristol was ravaged and nearly burnt down by a lawless mob. Others were rejected because they were dealers under the excise acts, and so disqualified by statute; and another was passed by on account of his advanced age; and if anything were said as to the conduct of the bench before the right hon. Gentleman gave the town the advantages of his additions, he could only observe that they actually appointed Tory officers in opposition to Whig candidates.
§ Mr. Brotherton
observed, that it had been stated there were twenty-nine Liberals appointed magistrates in Manchester. It might be in the recollection of the right hon. Baronet that when the Municipal Corporation Bill was before the House, he divided with him in favour of dividing the town into wards, and he avowed that he had a great objection to 147 making the corporation political, or giving an ascendancy to any one party; and he certainly did advise the gentlemen who were connected with the corporation to invite a number of the Tory party to be magistrates. A great number of those gentlemen refused to have anything to do with the corporation, and it was in consequence of their refusal that so many of the Liberal party were appointed. He was one of those appointed, and he would say for himself, and for several other magistrates, that they were now ready to resign if it would have the effect of producing harmony and remove that opposition to the corporation of Manchester that had existed for a considerable time. He did not like to see party politics introduced, and he did think there would be no objection in Manchester to equalise the number of those of different politics. Whatever might be said by others, he felt fully convinced there was a feeling on the part of one party in Manchester to conciliate the other, and he was certain they would act cordially with them.
§ Sir Charles Douglas
said, he did not consider that the House would think that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the late Under Secretary of State, was any answer to the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham), who had made so complete and unanswerable a statement of facts, that he (Sir C. Douglas) felt much hesitation in attempting to add any thing upon the subject, and he would not venture to do so if he had not received such communications from Birmingham, Coventry and Warwick, as proved to him that his constituents, and also many other persons in those towns, took a deep interest in the subject before the House. He held in his hand a return dated July, 1839, by which it appeared, as stated by the right hon. Baronet, that the late Government had appointed twenty-five magistrates for Birmingham, of whom five only held Conservative opinions; in Coventry they had appointed twelve, all of whom held Radical opinions; and in Warwick of five magistrates four were Radicals and one Conservative. It had been said, that the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) acted on the principle of taking the recommendations of the town-councils, but such was not the case, except when it suited the views of the late Government—the wishes of the people were not attended to by them, in proof of which he would read an extract 148 from a petition presented to the noble Lord in January, 1839, most numerously and respectably signed by the clergy, gentry, bankers, merchants, and other inhabitants of Birmingham, complaining that nearly all the magistrates appointed by the noble Lord held extreme Radical opinions, they statedThe importance of keeping the administration of justice free from the taint of partiality and political bias.And they prayed that those who had hitherto given general satisfaction as magistrates might be continued in the commission for Birmingham. But what answer did the noble Lord give? He admitted the number and respectability of the petitioners, acknowledged the petition, and took no further notice of it. The clause in the Municipal Act which gave the Secretary of State the power of making these appointments was introduced expressly to prevent the administration of justice being swamped by the popular clamour of the day—and the noble Lord immediately, so far as he could, swamped it altogether by the immense preponderance of those of one party, whom he appointed for life. In Coventry (and he would here apologise for troubling the House with reference to these two places, but he had been requested to do so, and he had a right to comment on the appointment of the Government in any place,) twelve Radicals had been appointed by the late Government. [Mr. Williams: No.] Whigs might be a more agreeable term to the hon. Gentleman, but he (Sir C. Douglas) could not call them by that term; however they voted for the hon. Gentleman. The city of Coventry had sent a memorial in 1837 to Lord John Russell, requesting that four Conservatives might be added to those twelve—-viz., two old magistrates, a banker, and a gentleman of property. The Conservatives of Coventry asked only for four—but that even was useless, the noble Lord rejected the four Conservatives, and appointed the twelve Radicals, and so it existed at the dissolution of Parliament by the late Government. With respect to the conduct of these magistrates, he did not wish to cast any imputation; they might be most respectable and fitted for their situations, and he was ready to admit that their conduct would probably have been the same had they been Conservatives instead of Radicals; but as it had been alleged by 149 the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Fox Maule) that the administration of justice had been questioned by the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) without any reason whatever, he (Sir C. Douglas) begged to state, that partiality had been shown by those Radical magistrates, to as great an extent as possible, in granting licences to public houses, and that was a matter of importance in any borough, and it was in such matters that political bias and party motives should never be allowed to interfere. He would state the facts as communicated to him. He held in his hand a list of twelve public houses and the names of those to whom the licence had been granted—they had all (with one exception, where the man had no vote) voted for Ellice and Williams, and not one Conservative had succeeded in getting a licence, though many had made applications, and notwithstanding their applications had been backed by most respectable requisitions. The consequence in Coventry had been disgust and terror; some not venturing to vote at all, and others voting against their consciences for fear of losing their licences. The present Government had added seven gentlemen of Conservative opinions to the twelve Radicals, and therefore, so far from leaving the borough of Coventry with twelve of their own party, without one of their opponents, they left it with a majority of five Radical magistrates. He would not now allude to another matter in which the late Government had shown equal party favour, viz. in the appointment of charity trustees at Coventry, another time he might. He would now take the case of Stratford-on-Avon. This town did not send a Member to Parliament, but the facts were, the town-council recommended to Lord John Russell three persons, a Quaker, who never voted at all, and had been mayor, a Radical, and a Conservative. The late Government, however, objected to him for being a maltster, and without any further communication with the town-council, they appointed another Radical — giving to Stratford only two magistrates, both Radicals, passing over the neutral and objecting to the Conservative—one Radical soon left the town and then the Quaker got in. The town-council asked for one Radical, one Conservative, and one neutral —they got two Radicals from Lord John Russell. So much for the pretence that the late Government took the recommen- 150 dations of the town-councils. He now came to the case of the town he had the honour to represent, Warwick. There the town-council had recommended to the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) seven gentlemen, of whom one held Conservative opinions. [Lord J. Russell — "His Name."] Mr. Kelynge Greenway, the late high sheriff, a gentleman highly respected. Parties in Warwick at that time and since, whatever they might be now, were very nearly balanced, as was proved by parliamentary and municipal elections. The inhabitants of Warwick thought they might venture to hope, that the noble Lord would give a fair consideration to their wishes, and therefore they presented a petition, praying that more than one Conservative might have a seat on the bench —it was signed by about 600 persons, and it named two Gentlemen who had been in the commission under the old corporation. Now, it was worth while to observe, that although the commissioners of corporate inquiry had ended their report with some severe remarks on the then corporation, nevertheless as to the administration of justice in the borough, they said, "the conduct of the corporate magistrates in the administration of justice was not called in question on our inquiry, and the absence of any complaint on the part of the numerous opponents of the corporation, sufficiently warrants the inference, that this branch of the municipal authority has been satisfactorily conducted," and it was, therefore, beyond dispute, that so far as the administration of justice was concerned, the numerous opponents had said nothing against the old magistrates—against the two whom the petition prayed might be added. But what followed? The noble Lord acknowledged the receipt of the petition, he directly appointed five out of the list sent up by the town-council, viz. four Radicals and one Conservative. He (Sir C. Douglas) would here observe, that it was not his intention to say one word against any of those gentlemen, and he would not have entered on this subject if obliged thereby to say anything which would affect their characters or hurt their feelings—they were all highly respectable--he only spoke of them with reference to the subject before the House, as being four of one party to one of the other, appointed by the late Government; he had met with great civility from them as well as from others of 151 his opponents in the borough, and he was proud to acknowledge it in that House. Well, some time after, one of the four left the town—a gentleman who was now giving to the Hanwell Lunatic Asylum the benefit of his professional ability, and whose exertions there did him the highest credit—did the noble Lord then appoint one of these magistrates who had given so much satisfaction, for whom 600 of the people had petitioned? No, he added another Radical, thus leaving it still as four to one; so much for the late Government in this case, for he would not allude now to their appointments of charity trustees, though on that he should have much to say, when that subject came more regularly before the House. Now, as to the conduct of these magistrates, he would state some facts which had been represented to him, but before he did so, he begged again to disclaim all intention of saying anything to give them pain, or affecting their characters, for while he pointed to what they had done, he was ready to admit, that if a Conservative Government had made borough magistrates for party purposes in as exclusive and sweeping a way as the late Government had, so unjustifiable a number of any one party, Tory or Conservative would probably have acted in the same way; and he now said nothing of his opponents, he would not say of his own political Friends who under the same circumstances would act in the same manner—his complaint was against the late Government, and he would now shew that the magistrates they appointed, had, with regard to licensing public houses, acted in a similar way at Warwick as at Coventry. In 1841, the town-council (Conservative, though formerly Radical), sent a memorial to the magistrates, before the day appointed for granting licences, stating that so many liquor licences were injurious to the town; but the said magistrates disregarded the representation of the town-council, and granted fifteen licences,,of which there were two to Conservatives, and thirteen to Radicals—there were previously fourteen Radicals; one went against his party—his licence was taken away, and the reason given was, that "the House was noisy." He stated these facts to prove, that although a large Tory majority might have acted in the same way, a majority of four Radicals to one Conservative had granted licences to public houses in the proportion of thirteen 152 Radicals to two Conservatives, in a town where parties were nearly balanced, which showed political bias to an extent which was not to be justified, and also, that the addition of some magistrates of Conservative opinions, would tend to restore public confidence with regard to such matters. One word with regard to the late appointments—he was not ashamed to say he had made a communication to the Home-office on the subject, and he was sure, that the course taken by his right hon. Friend could not fail to give satisfaction to those who thought that the administration of justice should not be thrown entirely into the hands of one party alone. He had written to those capable of giving accurate information to this effect:—That in consequence of the prevalence of Conservative opinions in Warwick, they ought to have a majority of borough magistrates he would not undertake to say, but he did think they were entiled to an equality, and he thought that such persons should be appointed as would neutralise the Radical majority which then existed.Three gentlemen were finally recommended to the Home Secretary, one an old magistrate who had formerly given so much satisfaction, one a banker in the town, of property in the county, and much respected, and one a gentleman of independent fortune, also much respected, and who had never taken a very active political part in the borough. The addition of these three left the relative numbers thus—four Radicals, and four Conservative magistrates. The mayor and the ex-mayor were always ex-officio magistrates, they were annually chosen by popular election. The right hon. Baronet, therefore, had, in Warwick, left an equality, so far as party was concerned, and the casting voice to the people. What could be more fair, more just than to leave, in a case where the majority must be on one side or the other, the choice to popular election? He considered he had, so far as the boroughs in Warwickshire were concerned, made out a strong case against the late Government. The present Ministers had done that justice which the circumstances of the case called for, and he hoped he should be excused for having stated those facts, in connection with the subject, which had come to his knowledge.
§ Captain Mangles
said, he should not detain the House long, but referring to what had taken place in the borough he 153 had the honour to represent, he could not give a verdict in favour of the course pursued by the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. Graham). A noble and learned Lord, in another place, had selected Guildford as a place in which an outrage upon the feelings of the inhabitants had been committed by the late Government, and the noble and learned Lord added, that in Guildford the majority of the respectable inhabitants belonged to the political party, that the noble and learned Lord was himself attached to, but that great partiality had been shown by the noble Lord in the appointment of magistrates for that borough. Now, he (Captain Mangles) thought he should be able to convince the House, that both these statements were inaccurate, and that a very different and far less justifiable course of proceeding with regard to that borough, had been taken by the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. Graham). As to the assumption, that the politics of Guildford were entirely of a Tory complexion, the facts were these. In 1831, that borough returned to Parliament two Liberals; in 1831 it returned one Liberal and one Conservative; in 1835, one Liberal and one Conservative. In both these two last instances, the Liberal was considerably at the head of the poll. In 1837, for the first time, an hon. relative of his had been deposed from his seat (by what means was well known), and two Conservatives were returned, but in 1841, the borough had again returned two Liberals. Under such circumstances, it was a great deal too much to assume, that the borough of Guildford was of so Tory a complexion, that it was peculiarly unjust and unfair, that any preponderance of Liberals should be placed upon the magisterial bench. And now, as to the political opinions held by the magistrates appointed by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell). Four had been appointed, two of whom (Messrs. Waugh and Hooker) had always, it was true, voted for the Liberal candidates, but were as little partisans, as it was possible for any men to be. They never influenced a single elector, and simply contented themselves by recording their own votes. The third was Mr. T. Hayden, a gentleman who, in 1837, did not vote at all, and, in 1841, had voted against him. The fourth gentleman appointed by the noble Lord, was Mr. Newman, a man respected by all 154 who knew him, and a strong Conservative. These gentlemen were still living, but the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. Graham) had thought it necessary to appoint two new magistrates. The right hon. Baronet had denied, that he had any wish to swamp the majority on the bench, or to invert that majority—but here, with two magistrates who voted for the Liberals, and two who voted for the Conservative candidate at the last election, he had appointed two more of his own party, Mr. Steadman and Mr. Joseph Hayden. Was that, or was it not, inverting the balance of power on the magisterial bench? Now, it so happened, that he had, like the hon. Member for Warwick, taken upon himself to recommend a gentleman for elevation to the bench; but what had occurred on that occasion? About a year and a half ago, Mr. Waugh was in ill health, and his life being despaired of, it was thought necessary to look out for a successor to supply the vacancy likely to be created by his death. He had ventured to recommend to a personal Friend, connected with the late Government, a gentleman in every way qualified for the office. The late Government knew, at that time, that he was a candidate for the borough — they knew it would be a close contest, and, therefore, they had every inducement, if so disposed, and if such had been the general tenour of their conduct, they had every temptation, to oblige him, and to serve, thereby, their own cause. To that recommendation, he had received an answer in writing, stating, that because the town-council (which was exclusively Tory) had not recommended the appointment, it could not take place—in other words, that the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), when at the Home Office, had laid down as a rule, that magistrates should only be appointed on the recommendation of the town-council, that that rule would not be departed from, and that his friend would not be appointed, unless so recommended by the town-council.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
would only remark, with regard to Lincoln, that the six gentlemen appointed as magistrates in that borough by his hon. Friends, were gentlemen, than whom none could be found more respectable or more strictly honourable and impartial in the discharge of their duties. Those gentlemen were, undoubtedly, Conservatives, but, notwithstanding their appointment, 155 the Liberals still maintained a majority of three on the bench—a majority which might be always sustained at the will of the people, by whom the mayor, who was ex officio magistrate, was elected.
§ Lord Robert Grosvenor
would state to the House, as shortly as he could, what had been the conduct of the present Government with regard to Chester. When the town-council were called upon to nominate persons to fill the office of magistrates, they had thought that they should best perform their duty by sending up to the noble Lord, then "at the head of the Home Department, the names of all persons who at a ballot in the council had had twenty votes. There were names sent up of persons of various political opinions, and the Government might, if they chose—and they might have done so very justly, because liberal opinions were very much in favour in the town—have selected the majority of Whig principles. What was the fact? They appointed seven magistrates, three Whigs and three Tories, and a seventh, a gentleman whose opinions were very much in favour of the present Government, but who, considering himself under obligation to a family in the neighbourhood, never voted in opposition to their interests. Subsequently to that, the city of Chester was anxious to pay a compliment to a noble relative of his own, who, however, could never qualify nor act, and the town council wrote to the Home Office, with a request that his name might be added to the list, a request which was complied with. Since that time another magistrate, who was as well qualified for taking a seat in that House, he believed, as almost any hon. Member—whose appointment as a magistrate he had no hesitation in saying, was exceedingly proper, was placed on the list. One of the Liberal magistrates subsequently quitted the town, and then, the number of magistrates was again reduced to the original number. Now, what possible ground could the right hon. Baronet have for appointing such strong partisans as he had since named. The right hon. Baronet had no notion of the mischief which he had done, or of the manner in which that measure was looked upon by all classes. The town-council was remarkably free from party politics, and so desirous was the present mayor, a gentleman of strong Whig politics, of excluding all such feelings, that he had refused to vote with his own party, on 156 questions of addressing that House or the Throne. The House, he thought, would perceive the great impropriety committed in appointing six magistrates in addition to those already acting for this city. There having been no complaints either of insufficiency in point of number, or partiality in the administration of justice. The lion. Gentleman, the Member for Gateshead, had asked the right hon. Baronet on what principle it was, that these appointments had been made, but the right hon. Baronet had entirely avoided the inquiry, and the only principle on which he could suppose that he had acted was, that he had made these appointments because the gentlemen appointed were strong political partisans. The right hon. Baronet, the Member for Tamworth, had told him the other evening, that he had introduced a dangerous precedent in proposing that the Income-tax should be levied upon a scale, but he could not help thinking, that in pursuing the course of appointing political partisans to these offices, the right hon. Gentleman had adopted a still more dangerous principle. To the appointment of additional magistrates here and there, where necessity called for them, he should feel no objection whatever; but he could find no words strong enough to express his opinion of the wholesale appointment of men who had been useful during the late elections, to offices of so much importance.
would offer a few observations to the House, with reference to the borough with which he was connected. In the borough of Newport, owing to circumstances which it was unnecessary to explain, the charter of incorporation was in abeyance, and it being requisite that magistrates should be appointed, their appointment took place under circumstances which rendered it peculiarly the act of the late Government. The persons whom they nominated were three Whigs and one Conservative. This state of things called forth a remonstrance to the Government, and then it was consented, that the commission should be amended, and a gentleman who was eighty-five years of age was placed on the list. The corporation being subsequently applied to, to send up the names of persons eligible to fill the office of magistrates, they named two gentlemen, of Conservative feelings, against whom nothing could be alleged, and although in the case of one of those gentlemen, the right hon. Baronet had not 157 acted in pursuance of the recommendation, that recommendation was altogether rejected by the former Government, and it was no argument on these grounds to say-that it was to swell the list of Conservative magistrates. So matters remained until the present Government came into power, when the corporation being again applied to for the names of new magistrates, they sent up those of the same gentlemen which had been before supplied. The Government abstained from appointing one of those gentlemen, because he was a practising solicitor, but they appointed the other, as well as a second gentleman who was a Conservative. Thus the number of magistrates was increased to six, three being Whigs, and three Conservatives.
§ Mr. Lambton
could not avoid alluding to the language used in another place by a noble Marquess, as to the appointment of magistrates for the county of Durham. The noble Lord alluded to the appointment of these magistrates as being indicative of their being appointed for party purposes. It was stated in the course of the debate he alluded to,"With regard to the county of Durham, if the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Normanby) challenged the appointments in the boroughs, let him look to those in that county. Did he know the state of that county with respect to the magistracy? It consisted of about fifty magistrates, out of which only sixteen were Conservatives, and all the rest were Whigs. He had lately received a communication from a highly respectable gentleman at South Shields to this effect, that the borough of South Shields was happily not one of the municipal corporations, that the magistrates were necessarily those of the county; but, that with a population of 25,000 inhabitants, there was only one resident magistrate; that that magistrate was assisted by others residing in the neighbourhood, but that they were Whigs.He did not attach much importance to this attack, and he should not have noticed it, had he not recollected that these appointments had been made by the late Duke of Cleveland; he therefore felt bound to rise and vindicate his memory. He was prepared to show, that in no instance could the charge of being actuated by party politics in the appointing those magistrates be fairly made against that noble Duke. Now, how did the case stand? Formerly the magistrates of the county were appointed by the Bishop of Durham as Palatine and Custos Rotulo- 158 rum, and it was not until 1835, that a bill was brought in by his noble Friend near him, in which for the future he vested the appointment of magistrates in the Lord-lieutenant. He felt certain, that in no instance did the noble Duke refuse to appoint any person to the bench if duly qualified, in consequence of his political opinions. The noble Duke invariably attended to the recommendation of the chairman and magistrates at quarter sessions, and to that of the magistrates at petty sessions in the appointment of magistrates which he made, and it did so happen, that the two very last appointments which he made, were at the recommendation of the magistrates in session at Bishop Auckland, and these two gentlemen, whose names were R. Surtees, Esq., and G. Crossley, Esq., were Tories. This, he believed, had uniformly been the noble Duke's practice as regarded the county magistracy. With regard to South Shields, it so happened, that there were only one or two Tory gentlemen in the neighbourhood who were qualified to act, and at all willing to act. He had received this information that day from a gentleman well acquainted with the place, and who assured him that the Duke of Cleveland had never refused to appoint any magistrate to that place if qualified, and he expressed a wish to act. He felt it to be his duty to say this much with respect to the county magistracy, because it appeared to him, that the charge which had been made seemed to imply— although it might not have been intended —an attack on the memory of the late Duke of Cleveland. He was sure, that the whole body of the magistrates of the county of Durham, would confirm the statement which he had just made. The noble Marquess had also stated it was reported, that in Sunderland, the whole of the magistrates, ten in number, were Whigs, and they would not grant a licence for a public house to any but their own party. Now, this was a very grave accusation made against these gentlemen, and he thought, that the person who made it, should be called upon to prove it. He believed, that the Sunderland magistrates were perfectly free from the charge made against them. He called upon the party opposite to take steps to prove the charge. If they succeeded in doing so, he for one should hold up these magistrates, and he did not care who they were, to public censure; but if the charge was not made out, those persons 159 were greatly to blame for bringing such an accusation against the magistrates of Sunderland. He must also express his deep regret at the language used in another place by a noble and learned Lord, and by the right hon. Baronet that evening, on the subject of appointing magistrates. Was it not distressing to see that noble and learned Lord rise up in the Lords with all the authority of the Woolsack, and to see the right hon. Baronet in this House rise up, to use his own words, "steeped up to the lips in party politics," and openly avowing that the rule that would govern them in the appointment of magistrates was a consideration of party feeling. He had been accustomed to hear the administration of justice and the law in this country held up to admiration; but what could be thought when such a principle was avowed in one place by the Lord Chancellor, and in that House by the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Was this the principle on which the magistracy of this country should be appointed? If those who now sat on his side of the House had acted upon this principle, and he admitted, that it had been shewn, that they had done so in some few instances, they had done wrong, but the conduct of the present Government had been much more erring. He trusted, that the right hon. Baronet, at the head of the Government, would employ his eminent abilities to see whether some better and more constitutional mode of appointing magistrates could not be devised.
Mr. Tatton Egerton
thought a satisfactory answer could be given to the noble Lord (Lord R. Grosvenor) as to the appointment of magistrates at Chester. Till they were made, there was only one Conservative magistrate for that city, and he was a banker. In the four other municipal boroughs of Chester there was not one Conservative magistrate. In Stockport three new magistrates had been appointed last July, when it was notorious, from the elections which had taken place, that the fate of the late Government was determined. This, it was true, had been done at the instance of the town-council of that place, who had sent up a list of five names for appointment. He hoped, however, never to see the day return when the election of magistrates was to depend on the voice of the town-council. If this principle were to be acted upon, it was the surest way to perpetuate the continuance of party tribunals.
§ Mr. Jervis
could imagine that the right hon. Baronet had been misinformed as to he state of the magistracy in many places; and, therefore, had been induced to act erroneously. He knew that this had been the case with regard to Chester. The appointment of six new Tory magistrates for that city, had excited a strong and general feeling of disapprobation amongst its inhabitants and even amongst the partisans of the Government. He did not believe that such appointments could have any effect in Chester in the election of Members to that House, as the Liberal party were too strong to be shaken. With respect also to the political opinion of the town-council of that city, he did not know, and he believed his noble Colleague did not know, what was the predominant opinion in it. This, however, was certain, that the recommendation of the appointment of the new magistrates had come from the disappointed party in that city; but the odium of the appointment rested with the right hon. Baronet. With respect to the present motion, he thought that his hon. Friend had adopted a sound course in bringing it forward. The right hon. Baronet rejoiced that the motion had been made, as it afforded him the means of explanation. The right hon. Baronet said, that he was gratified in having the opportunity of answering the trumpery charge which had been made against him; but his language and conduct did not show an absence of angry language and paltry allusions. He could hardly understand what the right hon. Baronet meant by his calm answer, when he indulged in the expressions which he did, most of which were utterly irrelevant to the subject, and many of which were evidently intended to cast a slur on his hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, and to wound his feelings, and obtain a party cheer, rather than to carry conviction to the minds of his hearers. He hardly knew how to describe the conduct of the right hon. Baronet, as regarded the language which he had used, and the terms of vituperation which he had indulged in towards those with whom he had formerly acted. What did he mean by the constant iteration of the term Whig-Radical? This was nothing more nor less than a coarse and vulgar term of party ribaldry. For his own part he did not care about the application of the term to himself, but he could not help marking the animus in which it had been used by the right hon. Baronet. He could not forget that the 161 right hon. Baronet was formerly one of the most violent of those whom he was now pleased to term Whig-Radicals, and this he presumed, the right hon. Baronet thought, was as an excuse for his own tergiversation in turning from the party to which he then affected to belong, and acting with those whom formerly he would not have designated by the mild term "Conservative." The right hon. Baronet opposite had not fallen upon one Whig in his appointments. He seemed to have avoided them by intuition. In his 400 appointments he had not selected a beneficed clergyman or a brewer. Did the right hon. Baronet wish to give confidence to his own party, the Conservatives, in every borough which he meddled with, and enable publicans to vote without fear of losing their licences; or was his motive to insure votes by showing that the preponderance in the magistracy was on the side of the Conservative party? Whether it was so or not, however, the system of appointments followed by the right hon. Baronet, dissatisfied all who had occasion to apply to the magistracy for justice. If, however, as the right hon. Baronet argued, it would be improper to have brewers in the commission, or attorneys, or beneficed clergymen, or manufacturers in manufacturing towns, because they would have to decide upon questions of wages between masters and workmen—how came they to appoint in Congleton four gentlemen cotton and silk spinners, all of whom entertained Conservative opinions? He deprecated the system which had been pursued during the debate by the Ministerial party, of justifying their appointments by reference to those which had been made by the other party while in power. He thought that it was better to argue the case upon more general grounds. It was a most painful thing for a man closely connected like himself with the legal profession, to see purely political appointments made to offices involving the administration of justice. Such a system was to be dreaded even in courts of law, where the observations and comments of a whole Bar, and the great power of public opinion, were actively employed in checking any political predilections which might appear in the conduct of judges. But under the circumstances which surrounded and influenced municipal magistracies, without parties to keep them in check, and when they heard it openly announced that the object of some, at all events, of these ap- 162 pointments was to obtain political influence, it did seem to him that the country was coming into a very melancholy position. It was enough to condemn the Government to find appointments to judicial functions emanating from an avowed desire to promote the ends of party and partisanship; and when the charge was made against the right hon. Baronet opposite, he could only shield himself by attacking the noble Lord (Lord John Russell) for making appointments, the influence of which he was bound to counteract.
§ Mr. Scarlett
thought, that in arguing the question, the Whigs had much better keep the general principles than descend to detail, for if there was any point of their conduct which would bear less examination than another, it was their conduct in the appointment of municipal magistracies. He could not conceive, when he heard of the motion, on what principle the hon. Mover meant to discuss it. He thought, that the right hon. Baronet, the Secretary for the Home Department, was in his conduct in the appointment of magistrates, as unlike the noble Lord opposite as he could possibly be. The right hon. Baronet had been only applying a remedy for the conduct of that noble Lord. In 1836, when the conduct of that noble Lord was under discussion in the House, some harsh terms were applied to it—terms which he would not repeat, but he did say, that if the former Government had deserted its duty, so as to destroy the confidence of the country in the administration of justice, such a fact was a good reason for the right hon. Baronet's attempting to restore it. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had talked about the country having fallen upon melancholy times, but he thought, that he knew as much of the feelings of the country as the hon. Gentleman, and he believed, that the appointments in question had given general satisfaction. Mention had been made of the case of Guildford, and he would beg to state the facts of the case. Guildford had a Conservative corporation at the period in question, and on their being requested to send up a recommendation for magistrates, to be appointed, they sent up the names of the members of the town council. Four of these members were Whigs, and of the number appointed three were Whigs, and the only Conservative was a superannuated old gentleman, who was incapable of acting; while the principal magistrate of the 163 town was displaced, to the great injury of the interests of the place. He thought, that the appointments of the hon. Baronet were founded upon a proper system, and one which would give general satisfaction.
§ Mr. Callaghan
would only say one word as respected some of the appointments made by the right hon. Baronet opposite in the place which he had the honour of representing. The Irish Municipal Corporation Bill had only come into operation since the accession to power of the present Government; and in its selection of magistrates for the city of Cork, he was bound to say, that a very great number of highly respectable names appeared, but among them were those of several parties who were objectionable, because they did not reside in the locality, and the appointment of such parties had given rise to much dissatisfaction. He could not but state, that among the gentlemen appointed for Cork were men of various political opinions, who deserved the full confidence of the people; the objection was, that many did not reside in the locality.
§ Lord Eliot
was not prepared to enter into any discussion with the hon. Gentleman as to the merits of the appointments for Cork. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had fully admitted, that the appointments had not been made with any political bias. He had not before been aware, that any of the gentlemen appointed were objectionable on the score of their not residing in the neighbourhood, and he had had every reason to believe, that the appointments had been such as gave general satisfaction.
could not help remarking on an unaccountable obliquity of vision on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who talked about the "balance of justice", as if there ever had been any such "balance" preserved in the magisterial appointments when they were on the Ministerial side, as if the scales had been held in anything like a fair position. Why, had not one side kicked the beam? Had there not been an overwhelming preponderance on the side of the Whig-Radical party? and was it not perfectly just and reasonable in some degree to restore the balance? This had been done most judiciously by the present Government, to the entire satisfaction of the country generally. Was it not monstrous to hear Gentlemen on the other side talking of fairness, forsooth, when in one town the predecessors of the present Government had appointed to the 164 magistracy eight of their own party out of nine and in another five out of six? He used the term "Whig- Radical" in reference to the party opposite advisedly. He thought the term best expressed that singular mixture of persons, that strange miscellany of opinions, which now prevailed on the other side. He thought the phrase aptly characterised a party which was neither "Whig" in the good old acceptation of the word, nor "Radical" in the view given by the enormous petition presented the other night with its millions of "signatures," yards of which he could personally testify were written in one hand: the party opposite, indeed, was of so motley a character as to be most fitly designated by the compound term "Whig-Radical." The hon. Member for Gateshead had been surprised by a smile from him. But when the hon. Member coolly stood up in his place and said, "I will undertake to advise the right hon. Baronet and the rest of the Government," he candidly admitted that he did smile, and, further, he owned that he might smile again, nay, that he might laugh outright, whenever he heard the hon. Member undertake, after his fashion, to advise and to counsel the first Minister of the Crown. He was inclined to own too, that he was not indisposed to laugh at the motion itself. When he came into the House, and saw the hon. Member rise, with so portentous a manner, he did think a motion of a solemn nature was to follow — that at least there would be a resolution recommending the impeachment of the Home Secretary. But,Parturiunt montes, nascitur ridiculus mus;indeed, in this case not even a mouse was brought forth, for a mouse has some life and spirit about it, but this motion was a nonentity, a mere demand for papers, which would be produced as a matter of course. Unworthy as the general affair was, however, of serious consideration, there was one point of the hon. Gentleman's speech to which he had paid marked attention, and which he should have risen immediately to reply to, had he not at the time been sitting in a retired part of the House, where he was quite unable to catch the Speaker's eye. He referred to that part of the hon. Member's address in which he had particularly referred to a near relative of his own. He owned that the allusions the hon. Member had made to that nobleman had filled him with extreme indignation, not because he was 165 disposed to take offence hastily, but because the allusions were in themselves most unjust and unmerited. The hon. Member had said that that nobleman's high station, his political power and influence, his princely fortune, and his position in society, were all employed in a manner calculated to alienate rather than to gain for him the respect and the confidence of the majority of the influential inhabitants of the county of Durham. Now, when the hon. Member said this, he would take leave to remind him, that the nobleman of whom he had thus invidiously spoken had employed a princely fortune in building an immense harbour in the county, in working extensive collieries, and in erecting a magnificent mansion which it had taken years to raise from its foundations, thus giving occupation to thousands of labourers who might otherwise have been unemployed and destitute. No man could do so much as that without acquiring the respect and affection of those who resided about him; and although he did not profess to know much of the county of Durham, yet he was sufficiently acquainted with it to know something of the feeling of its inhabitants, and he could state, that at the county meetings which he had attended there were few names which had been received by with more regard and enthusiasm than the name of the noble Lord to whom the hon. Member for Gateshead had so invidiously, so unnecessarily, and so unjustly referred.
Mr. V. Smith
would not attempt to follow the hon. Member who had last spoken in making invidious speculations on the nomenclature of parties, but he would content himself with recommending the hon. and gallant Member to apply his mind to devise some term by which the right hon. Baronet, the Member for Dorchester, and the other secesssors from the Whigs, might be appropriately described. He had come down to the House that evening, fully anticipating all that had occurred. He had expected to hear something said about Frost; he had anticipated the trumpery tu quoque defence which had been set up by the other side, yet he candidly owned that he did not expect that the right hon. Baronet would have been so oppressed by the arguments on that side of the House, as to have been obliged to reply to these charges by a series of sneers and inappropriate comments. He owned he was not much inclined to enter into the 166 general question. In the first place, he thought it of too much importance to be entered on in discussing an isolated topic; and in the next, it appeared now to be pretty generally admitted that in the opinions of the Government, partisanship was the best and most proper qualification for a judge. He would, however, venture to ask the right hon. Baronet on what principle he had appointed the three new magistrates at Northampton. There were no circumstances which rendered such appointments either necessary or expedient, and he owned he could divine no reasons why they should have been made, except that the right hon. Baronet thought he ought to be consistent in appointing magistrates merely for party purposes at one place as well as at another. He had nothing whatever to say against the respectability of the newly made justices. As to their wisdom, however, that remained to be proved, and certainly the only official act they had hitherto performed, did not tend to show that they were the adopted of Minerva. As the House, perhaps, might be ignorant of what that important act was, he would take the trouble to blow the trumpet for the new justices of the peace. The House must know, that on the occasion of the Corn Bill being introduced by the right hon. Baronet opposite, some of the boys of Northampton had thought it right to burn the right hon. Baronet in effigy. The usual process was going on quietly enough, when the new magistrates, no doubt thinking that as they had been appointed by the Government, they were bound to protect the Prime Minister from being burnt in effigy, galloped off to Weedon barracks and called in the military. Perhaps, never had the right hon. Baronet received so great a compliment as he had been paid that night, for the mob of boys having been completely routed, a military guard was stationed, not over the right hon. Baronet himself, who might have been very dangerous, but over his effigy, which was a very harmless thing of straw and parchment. Certainly, therefore, whatever he might be disposed to say of the respectability of the new Northampton magistrates, he could say very little as to their wisdom. But, leaving them to display better judgment hereafter, he would only add, that he had heard the speech of the Home Secretary, he would not say with disgust, but with the bitterest regret, and he would take leave to tell the right hon. Baronet that he knew nothing 167 more calculated than that speech to confirm the views of the Chartists as expressed in the petition discussed the other night, "that that House represented parties, and not the general opinion and feeling of the nation."
§ Mr. Wakley
agreed with several hon. Members who had spoken in the course of this debate, that the motion before the House was unworthy of its subject. It was a small motion, and an exceedingly large question. When a question of such importance was opened in that House, it I was well, that they should be bound down in the expression of their opinions, to some clear, understood, and well-defined principle. Now, it would be impossible to say what would be the opinion expressed by a motion of this kind. It was scarcely right, for when a charge so serious was brought against a Minister of the Crown, that Minister ought to know what it was he was called upon to answer. The House, also, ought to have an opportunity of expressing a decided opinion upon that Minister's conduct. In this case, it would be impossible, that they could express that opinion, for the motion was only for papers, which even the Home Secretary acknowledged it just to produce. At the same time, he admitted, that the motion was calculated to have a useful effect on the minds of the people. There had been quite enough of crimination and recrimination on both sides, so just let him call their attention to the question, "What are the allegations against the Government?" It was said, that the Home Secretary had employed his power for a political purpose.—for a political purpose, too, having reference to the administration of justice. This was a serious—-a very serious allegation. He owned, he was not altogether satisfied with the answer to it. And why not? Because the right hon. Baronet's answer was this—" I have not done quite right myself, but you have done a great deal worse." Now, he thought, that was not the sort of reply which ought to have been given. He was sure the right hon. Baronet would think so too, when he came to consider it. The reply was unfortunate. The right hon. Baronet said, "You appointed political magistrates — it was my duty to counteract the effects of such appointments — I endeavoured to do so." How? By acting on the same principle? ["No, no."] They said "No," but what said the Home Secretary himself? He said, "I found 1,026 magistrates in com- 168 mission, when I took office. Of these, 700 and odd were Whig-Radicals; 200 and odd were Conservatives or Tories." Then, he said, "How have I left them? how are they now? There are 1,435 magistrates— 700 and odd of these are Whig-Radicals; 600 and odd are Tories or Conservatives." The right hon. Baronet left 61 unaccounted for. They might, when their politics were discovered, be added to the number on the right side. Well, if this was the state of things, who could deny, that they were curing one evil, by substituting another? And, then, what a precedent they were setting the next Government? ["Oh!"] Ay, they might say, "Oh," but they had not got a lease of office for life. The day would arrive, when the Radicals would have their turn. They must take an important step, then, to swamp the great evil the Tories were creating. Yes; and it was impossible to reflect on such a state of things, without pain. It was impossible to look at such circumstances without sorrow, and without regret. He did say, it was next to impossible, that the people could receive justice at the hands of justices so appointed. There must be conflicts between the magistrates on either side, for they must know, that they were appointed, not to administer justice, but to support a party. [" No!"] Was not that admitted? [" No."] What, did hon. Gentlemen again cry, "No?" What were the allegations of the right hon. Baronet, at the head of the Home Department? Did he not say, that the Whig-Radicals had secured a preponderance of power for their party in the magisterial department, and that it was necessary to correct that preponderance by appointing others of opposite principles? Now, he would contend, that from the statements made, it was evident, that both parties made their selection of persons to be appointed to the magisterial office, rather because the persons to be appointed were political partisans, than that they manifested high mental and moral qualifications for the discharge of the magisterial duties. Was it not disgusting and disgraceful, in the last degree, to hear such notes as those which had been addressed to Windsor, with respect to the persons to be appointed to judicial offices? The questions contained in those missives, referred to the political opinions and partisanship of the persons to whom they related, and not to their mental capabilities, their intellectual acquirements, their moral worth, and the degree of respect in which they were 169 held by their fellow-townsmen. No, these? were not the questions or qualifications required. All that was required was to ascertain how far they were likely to go, as pettifogging intriguers and political partisans. This, it appeared, was the rule laid down for the selection of magistrates, and it was a rule which was acted upon by both parties. This was the practice of the Whigs and the Tories, and he hoped the right hon. Baronet, if he had occasion, in future, to refer to such cases, would not include the Radicals in the practice. Let him call the Whigs by their own name. There was no necessity for the super-addition of Radical—A rose "By any other name will smell as sweet.Let the Whigs have the full advantage of their own name, but let not the Radicals be mixed up with them. The right hon. Baronet, too, dropped the ancient name of Tory, as if there was any change of persons or opinions in that party. Why change the word? It represented a great and proud party in the State. Were they ashamed of the name by which they were so long, so well, though, perhaps, not so conveniently known? Why take the trouble of using four syllables, when two would more expressively designate them? It was to be regretted, that there was not something more specific in the motion, which would render the object of it more tangible, and the present proceeding more intelligible to the public. Still, he did not regret, that the discussion had taken place, as it would serve to direct the public mind, and call public attention to the manner in which the appointments to the justice-seat were conducted by both parties. The people would learn by it, that they should have some choice in the selection of those by whom the laws were to be administered. The Crown should, at all events, be supposed to be above the influence of political motives in such selections as these. The inquiry should be into the mental and moral fitness of the parties to be selected, and the appointment should be made without reference to political opinions. If this were not done—if a different course were adopted-—the consequence would be, that the public would necessarily be distrustful of, and dissatisfied with the Administration —and would conclude, that all the appointments, from the highest to the lowest, were influenced by the same political considerations. There was a political Lord Chancellor, political magistrates; political 170 justices of the peace; indeed, politics ran through the whole course of justice from the fountain-head even to the very lowest point of the stream. The consequence was —it was well known, and he did not hesitate to say it—that we had incompetent judges upon the bench. He did not impute this as a fault peculiar to the present Government. It was common to all Administrations; whilst, at the same time, the country suffered, and would suffer as long as the system continued. The right hon. Baronet, now at the head of the Government, was sufficiently powerful, with his majority, to act upon a different principle. The 380 additions to the magistracy, was a tolerably good increase for so short a period. Government could now afford to go on with a more sparing hand, and it was to be hoped, that in future, intellectual and moral qualifications would prove a recommendation to office rather than political bias.
§ Sir R. Peel:
The hon. Gentleman, who has just sat down, has, with that simplicity of character, so curiously blended with natural shrewdness, complained, that so important a subject, introduced in so vehement a speech as that of the hon. Member who brought it forward, should conclude with so contemptible a motion. Did it not occur to the hon. Member for Finsbury, that the hon. Gentleman who brought forward this question found it one of no little difficulty, and that he exhibited a good share of judgment and discretion in preferring to put on the paper this innocuous motion for circulars, rather than making a distinct charge? Suppose the motion to run thus:—" Resolved, that it is expedient, that all appointments of justices should be recommended by municipal councils, and that the Crown should in every instance adhere to the recommendations so made." Now, this resolution would not apply so well, for when the council happened to be of Conservative opinions, such a resolution would not be acceptable to hon. Gentlemen opposite. Or, if the hon. Gentleman framed his resolution in another way, thus,—" Resolved, that it has a tendency to shake the confidence of the public in the administration of justice, to select a majority of the magistrates from any one political party." Neither would that be a convenient course. It certainly would serve to bring the question to an intelligible issue, but it would not be convenient for the purpose intended. Nei- 171 ther of these modes would suit the hon. Gentleman. He first gave notice, that he should call the attention of the House to the question; and then, having revolved in his mind all the Parliamentary modes in which it could be brought forward, and having, it is to be presumed, elicited the opinion of his friends as to the course which he should pursue, he came to the conclusion, that the safest course would be to move for returns of circulars, the contents of which must be already known to everybody. Suppose, again, that the hon. Gentleman brought forward his motion in the following shape,— "Resolved, it is fitting, that in the selection of magistrates, the opinions of political partisans should be entirely excluded, and that the Crown, without reference to town-councils or others, select those whom the Crown conceives best fitted for the office." If the hon. Member brought forward such a motion, I could vote for it, the hon. Member for Finsbury could vote for it, but surely such a resolution could not be supported by those who think political bodies are the fitting persons to recommend to such appointments. It is true, that living as we do under free institutions, we must submit to some of the inconveniences with which those institutions are necessarily attended. Under these circumstances, all appointments must be, in some degree, tainted by political predilections. If the Government were despotic, if our institutions were arbitrary, if public opinion possessed no influence, we might escape the evils attendant upon party feeling, and might be able to find and to select candidates for the magistracy free from party leaning or political bias. But if, as I believe they do, the advantages derived from free institutions and a free Government infinitely outweigh those pertaining to a despotism, we must expect and endure the evils inherent in such free institutions. It is in a society, such as this, constituted under these institutions, that men like Lord Lyndhurst can elevate themselves from the lowest point of their professional rank to the very highest. The hon. Member for Finsbury should not forget what advantages these institutions are capable of conferring on men in his and in my position. Looking at the present Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and at the holder of a similar office in this country, and seeing, that they are positions to which men in our own class may aspire, we 172 should not dwell too much on the evils inalienable from free institutions, nor discard them for the purpose of realizing some of the advantages pertaining to despotic Governments. The hon. Member for Finsbury and others misrepresented, or perhaps, misunderstood, some expressions used by a noble and learned Friend of mine in another House, as well as those which fell from my right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Home Department. We do not defend the appointments which we have made upon the ground that it was desirable to have political partisans amongst the magistrates; on the contrary, we endeavour to exclude as much as possible, anything like partisanship; but whilst our institutions are free, it would be utterly impossible to effect that object. It would be possible to substitute, instead of an unpaid magistracy, professional men of greater learning or acquirements, paying them large salaries; but even then, whilst our institutions continue as they are, you cannot altogether exclude political feeling. Such a class of magistrates must be appointed by the Government for the time being, and any unpopular decisions or judgments at which they might arrive would render them as liable to the imputations of partisanship as those who now receive no other reward than the consciousness of administering equal justice to the best of their power to all classes of her Majesty's subjects. In a country like this, let the magistrates be constituted as they may. it will be impossible to keep them clear from the suspicions of political bias which must necessarily attach to them. The ground of justification which we assume is this:— If we find magistrates, no matter from whatever motives, taken chiefly from one political party, and in many towns predominating in a degree not justified by the example of the predecessors of the Government by whom they were appointed, we hold it best for the security of the administration of justice, and the estimation in which it should be held by the people, to make the balance more equal between the two parties. We say to them, "We cannot strip you of your political prepossessions and prejudices, but we will take the best security in our power to guard against any abuse of your office to which those prepossessions might lead, by placing upon the bench men who hold political opinions different from yours." This, surely, is no recriminatory 173 course. This is no tu quoque argument. I do not defend the appointments on that ground; but I do say, that an approach to an equalisation of the magistracy has a tendency to beget in the public mind a confidence in the administration of equal justice, for it is impossible for the public to suppose that the law can be equally administered when the administration is confined exclusively to the hands of one political party. My right hon. Friend has been accused of shaking the reliance of public opinion on the pure administration of justice, by procuring a preponderance in the magistracy for the Conservative party. One hon. Gentleman says, that in the borough of Guildford there were three magistrates who did not belong to any party, though they voted for him, and that they were men of moderate politics. He said, that two more were added, and now that there was the enormous disproportion of four Conservatives to three of the opposite party, all confidence in the administration of justice was gone. Then it was stated that in Northampton there were six magistrates on the Liberal side, and three on the Conservative; that on the 9th of May three more were added, and since then the people became dissatisfied, and doubtful of the impartial administration of justice. The magistracy there is now equally divided, and yet dissatisfaction is felt. The hon. Member for Salford said, that there was a decided majority of Liberals on the bench there, but though the magistrates and the community were of Liberal opinions, they would like an addition of Conservative magistrates. In this, I am of opinion they think justly and wisely, for such an addition would tend to remove any impression which may exist of there not being an equal distribution of justice. These are the principles upon which Government has proceeded in its appointments to the magistracy, and the new selections were made to remove the impressions which might be created where the preponderance of the Liberal over the Conservative magistracy were strikingly great. Let us take the instance of a large town, and let me ask, not for any purpose of recrimination, what is the impression likely to be created, if I find such a state of things as that even impartial and intelligent men are of opinion that the preponderance is too great to permit the administration of justice to be impartially exercised? Is it not right, when we have 174 the power, so to alter the balance as to produce more equality? Why, even on your own principle, something ought to be done to remove the impression which the inequality has produced. Let me take, for instance, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Leeds. In those four towns there are 118 municipal magistrates. I know something of those towns, and if the magistracy were appointed in proportion to their wealth, their respectability, and their inclination properly to discharge the duties of the office, the preponderance of one party would not have been so great. The preponderance in these four towns must strike everybody. The number of Conservative magistrates was twenty, whilst the number of those of the opposite party was no less than ninety-eight. In Manchester, there were twenty-nine Liberals, and but four Conservatives. In Liverpool twenty-five Liberals to six Conservatives. In Birmingham twenty-seven Liberals to six Conservatives; and in Leeds the proportions were seventeen to four. This was, surely, anything but a fair proportion. You say they were recommended by the town-councils. What is it to me by whom they were recommended if the disproportions are so unfair and so unjust, and if the disproportion has a tendency to weaken public opinion as to the impartial administration of justice? It is no answer to tell me that the town-council representing a political party in the town recommended the nomination of these magistrates. It is true, that we who are now in power were then in a minority and represented the Opposition in Parliament; but that should not furnish a reason why the magistracy should be banded over to the nomination of the town-councils, and no stronger reason could be urged for retaining those appointments in the power of the Crown, than the impolicy of yielding them up to bodies of men lately engaged in frequent and warm political contests. Look, again at the proportions in some of the other large towns. In Bristol there were eleven Liberal to six Conservative magistrates; in Hull, eighteen to three; in Yarmouth, eighteen to one; and in Portsmouth, eleven to none. Out of sixty-eight magistrates, then, here are fifty-eight of one opinion and ten of another. Now, in a place like Portsmouth, where it must be notorious that there are men maintaining Conservative opinions of equal re- 175 spectability, and in equal, or nearly equal numbers, perfectly qualified for the discharge of public duties, is that a satisfactory arrangement which in the case of a municipal magistracy, consisting of eleven men, takes the eleven from one side and excludes the other altogether? I will now take the county of Durham. There are three corporations in that county; Sunderland, Stockton, and Gateshead, and in the three there are nineteen magistrates, eighteen of one opinion and only one of the other—nineteen municipal magistrates, and eighteen of one opinion ! In the county of Chester there are four corporations. What said, my hon. Friend who spoke to-night, referring to his own division? He said, there were four corporations and not one Conservative magistrate. Again, in the town of Stockport there are twelve magistrates, all of the same opinions. In Congleton, there are five, all of the same opinion. In Macclesfield, there are six, all of the same opinion. There is not one Conservative magistrate in those boroughs, and yet you say, you want to keep the magistracy free from the contamination of political party. Under the letters C and D, I find five boroughs in succession, not picked out from different parts, but following each other in alphabetical order:—Coventry, Dartmouth, Deal, Derby, Devizes. In those towns which return Members to Parliament, the inhabitants are subject to excitement from which towns not returning Members are free. In those towns opinion is necessarily much divided, and there are inevitable evils flowing from such a cause, though compensated by the infinitely greater advantages of the institutions under which they live. Party spirit, however, runs high; there is a blue and yellow party, which spend their time in abusing each other. The corporation prevails, their party gets the majority, and although those to whom they are opposed charge them with all kinds of corruption and bribery, they have the recommendation of the magistracy. The course of justice is to be bound hand and foot by the recommendation of these town-councils, and this, too, in places where animosities of the election are annually revived by the registration. The consequence of acting on that system is, that in Coventry, there are twelve magistrates all of one opinion; in Dartmouth, there are six, all of the same opinion; in Deal, 176 there are four, all of the same opinion; in Denbigh, there are four, and in Derby eight, all of the same opinion. In Devizes, there are ten magistrates, but that is a happy exception, for there are nine Liberal, and absolutely one Conservative. So that in those six towns, which I have taken from this paper, to which any one may refer, on which they stand in succession—towns returning Members to Parliament, and torn by the dissentions inevitable in municipal contests, there are forty-four magistrates administering justice, forty-three of whom are of one opinion, and one only of a different opinion in politics. Now let us come to smaller towns in which perhaps political animosities are more intense than in the larger towns. I admit, that the list of towns I am about to read is a selection. In the eight small boroughs of Bridport, Hythe, Kendal, Maldon, Pontefract, Tiverton, Totness, and Truro, I find this happy arrangement of judical functionaries prevailing. I do not think it will be disputed that whatever superiority one party may have, still the defeated party has a right to have justice. They are not to be excommunicated or shut out of the pale of the constitution. Yet in those eight towns there are thirty-one magistrates, all of the same political opinions. There is not one single Conservative to break the uniformity of Liberalism among the magistracy. Need I go any further? Need I say, that a Government which attempts to redress this glaring disproportion, which attempts to give some influence to opposite opinions on the bench, is not justifying itself by the evil conduct of its predecessors, but is taking a course which is essential in order to produce some satisfaction in those communities with the administration of justice? If we pursued this course for the purpose of rewarding and encouraging political partisans we should be wrong, but if you charge us with that design, if you say, that by our appointments we have made the judicial function an instrument for gaining political power, if that charge be valid against us, with what infinitely greater force must it weigh against those who, in the places I have named, have confined the magisterial bench exclusively to one class. Now, what is the result to which this system has conducted? I think my right hon. Friend stated, that out of 1,026 magistrates, there were 745 of one opi- 177 nion, and 226 of another. You say, the town-councils recommended them, that they must be supposed to be the appointments of the town-councils, the representatives of popular opinion. But I say, here again, it is right that popular opinion should determine political office, and that the minority should, as respects such matters, be bound by the majority. But that is not true of the administration of justice; it is not true that popular election should determine who are to be magistrates. It is no impeachment of the town-councils to say that they are tainted with political opinions. Naturally and necessarily they are so. We, their representatives, who appeal to them, set them the example. But if you are conscious that they are so far tainted by political opinions that they will recommend men for magisterial functions who exclusively entertain the same opinions with themselves, then the minority have a right to appeal to the Ministers of the Crown for protection; they have a right to claim that the injustice done to them should be redressed. The general result, then, is, that out of 1,026 magistrates there are 743 magistrates maintaining Liberal, and 226 maintaining Conservative opinions. I say that that distribution of power bears no proportion whatever to the extent of the qualifications possessed by both parties respectively to be intrusted with the discharge of judicial functions. I think I have heard, from good authorities, some such proposition as this,—that almost every man with 5001. a-year in this country is a Conservative. 1 have heard that, although I do not maintain any such doctrine; but, speaking of men qualified for the magistracy, when we know what are the prevailing opinions of men of intelligence, respectability, and wealth in this country—though I will not define the proportion they may bear to other opinions—I say that any system of selection, whether it be popular or not, that gives such a proportion as 226 Conservatives to 743 men of opposite opinions is defective, viewed with reference to its power of producing satisfaction with the administration of justice. I think it was said that my noble and learned Friend has attempted to abuse the power which he possesses by swamping, to use a vulgar phrase, the existing magistracy. Now, I will not enter into the details of particular cases. It would be unfair to judge the noble Lord 178 opposite by particular cases; he may have been deceived—it was inevitable, perhaps, that he should be so in some cases; the town-councils may have recommended bad men to him, and in the same way it is possible that with respect to two or three places the intention of my noble Friend to restore a fair balance may have been disturbed. When a discussion takes place in this House as to facts occurring in a particular county, it is very difficult without personal acquaintance with them to form a correct conclusion. But this I will say, that with respect to the general result, so far from my right hon. Friend having used the power which his office conferred on him for the purpose of greatly disturbing this phalanx, and transferring judicial power from the Liberals to the Conservatives, he has left the balance in the hands in which he found it placed. He has left the municipal magistracy with 745 Liberals on the bench, while the result of his new appointments has been to raise the number of Conservatives to 629. But then, says the hon. Member for Finsbury, "What a bad example you are setting. When the Radicals come into power they will appeal to this precedent, and follow the example set them." Well, I hope they will show equal moderation. I hope their object will be, as that of my right hon. Friend has been, not to gain an ascendency of political power, but to redress an unfair and unequal balance. My right hon. Friend has left the power in the hands in which he found it; but he has not left the magisterial bench subject to the same imputations to which it might have been liable from the gross preponderance of one description of political opinion; and if the hon. Gentleman, speaking for the Radical party, and looking forward to its advent to power, will promise me strictly to follow our example, I, for my part, with the authority of the hon. Gentleman on my side, shall not be deterred from pursuing the same course we have hitherto followed. They must still be content, following this precedent, to leave the balance of power in the hands in which they found it. I am not in the slightest degree apprehensive as to the opinion the public will form on this subject. The hon. Gentleman fairly admits, that with respect to the character of the persons appointed he has no complaint to make. The hon. Gentleman can, of course, only speak from personal know- 179 ledge of the parties, but so far as that personal knowledge extends, he says the men appointed are a desirable addition to the magistracy, and perfectly qualified in every respect for the due administration of justice; all that disturbs him is that Dr. Alderson has been put at the head of the magistracy of the town with which he is connected. But if the hon. Gentleman has had some sleepless nights on that account, I shall, I hope, relieve him altogether from future anxiety by assuring him that Dr. Alderson is indebted for this enviable pre-eminence to the accidental circumstance that his name begins with the letter A. The returns on the paper for Kingston-on-Hull show that the second name is Barthwell, the third Beadle, the fourth Eddington. [Mr. Hutt complained that this was not the list to which he referred.] Oh, I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon. I was trying, if possible, to relieve him from his anxiety, and so far as the paper before me goes, the names follow in alphabetical order. The hon. Gentleman, however, admits that so far as his knowledge goes, there is no question of the propriety of the appointment, All that the right hon. Member for Northampton has to allege is, that the magistrates lately appointed in the place with which he is most acquainted have no personal defect—that they are highly respectable, and that upon their appointment they naturally enough proceeded to the protection of an effigy before they proceeded to the protection of human beings. Being suddenly called on to perform these important functions, and, seeing an effigy about to be burnt (I really forget whether the rioters were free traders or not—whether they were farmers, dissatisfied because they thought the Corn-bill did not afford sufficient protection, or others, who thought that it gave too much)—all I know is, there were riots, for which I am not responsible. But the magistrates being called on to exercise their functions, they exerted themselves actively, and, I believe, succeeded in rescuing the effigy. [" No, no."] Did they not? I thought they had. They, however, called in the aid of a troop of cavalry, and yet, such was the violence of the mob, that it appears, notwithstanding the presence of 150 troops, the magistrates did not succeed. But we have the testimony of the right hon. Member for Northampton, and of the hon. Member for 180 Gateshead, and of other hon. Members, that so far as their own knowledge goes, and the appointments made are unexceptionable, these admissions go far in themselves to vindicate my right hon. Friend from any imputation of partiality. I beg, therefore, Sir, that I may be distinctly understood, that the ground we have taken up is, that my right hon. Friend has made a complete and satisfactory vindication of these acts, and that we do not rest the vindication of our conduct on the shabby plea of our opponents having done the same thing and worse. We have heard an admission from one of their avowed partisans, that their windows are completely broken. What we have done is to attempt to repair the damage. We deny that our windows, larger and more capacious and handsomer, have sustained any similar injury. We have attempted to repair the breaches made, and we rest our vindication of the additions which we have made to the magistracy on these grounds—that, when there is so great a preponderance in the magistracy of persons holding one class of opinions, though the men may be perfectly honest and just, there is yet a natural impression of uneasiness produced on the minds of those who had justice administered to them, when they see that these appointments are held through distinctions made from political motives. We cannot, perhaps, provide a complete remedy for the evil; but we have attempted at least a partial one—one that will hold out some chance of giving general satisfaction, and providing that the magisterial bench in certain communities shall not be filled by men holding one class of opinions exclusively; while in no case—at least in very rare ones—has my right hon. Friend given a preponderance to the opposite opinions. In the course we have pursued we have been actuated by no motive of mere political partisanship; our simple object has been to redress the unjust inequality existing, by making additions to the magistracy of men holding opinions opposite to those which held this unfair preponderance; and the persons whom we have nominated have been admitted to be men eminently qualified for the effectual discharge of their duties, and to be ornaments of the bench to which they have been appointed.
Lord J. Russell
said, Sir, my hon. Friend, in the course taken by him upon this motion, has acted in conformity with 181 that which was adopted by the right hon. Gentleman opposite in the year 1836. The right hon. Gentleman on that occasion neither brought forward a vote of censure, nor a general resolution, but moved for a list of magistrates, which could not be refused. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it would not be right to interfere with the prerogative of the Crown, but I do think that it is right to seek for such explanations as may inform us whether confidence should be placed in the conduct of the Secretary of State in respect of these magisterial appointments. Now, I will first state broadly what is the fact, and, secondly, the principles—the new and extraordinary principles—brought forward by the right hon. Gentleman. The late Government had established a magistracy, who were proceeding, as far as we knew, in the most satisfactory way for the administration of justice in the different boroughs. The right hon. Baronet, and those who objected to those magistrates on political grounds, all admitted that the gentlemen who had been appointed by the late Government were personally respectable and competent. But immediately after the late change of Government took place, there were 400 new magistrates appointed. Now, was not this, in itself, a most extraordinary fact? Did not this require explanation, that there should be so large an addition to the magistracy—a magistracy which, as far as the public, as far as the late Secretary of State for the Home Department knew—was fully adequate to the satisfactory performance of all its duties? Even the right hon. Baronet, the present Secretary of State for Home Affairs, and the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, thought it necessary to give some explanation of this proceeding. The right hon. Gentleman, the Home Secretary, answered by refreshing his memory with the debate that took place in the year 1836, and reproducing the charges then made, and, as 1 think, then satisfactorily answered. With respect to what has fallen from the right hon. Baronet, as to the appointment of Mr. John Frost to the magistracy, a person since convicted of treason, I took what I thought sufficient pains to inform myself of that person's fitness, having received a general testimonial in his favour from his townsmen, and having been informed by the Lord-lieutenant of the county that he was a fit individual to be appointed. But the 182 right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government takes up now the ground, which, if just, would be fully sufficient for his case, but which introduces a dangerous principle with regard to future magisterial appointments. The right hon. Gentleman said, that that was not an arrangement which would ensure public confidence in the magistracy when there was a large majority, in the proportion of about 740 to about 220 of one political party. The right hon. Gentleman states, that in certain towns nearly the whole, and in others all, the magistrates belonged to one party. He stated, that this state of things could not, and did not, afford satisfaction to the public mind, for the due performance and administration of justice, on account of the political opinions of the great and preponderating majority. Now, Sir, if this principle be taken to the full extent to which it goes, where will it end? Let us inquire what is the predominating proportion of political opinions amongst the county magistracy of this country? What was the state of the case with regard to the county magistracy, when Lord Grey's Government came into office in 1830, after a succession, during many years, of Tory Chancellors and Tory Lord-lieutenants of counties? 1 do not here impute to these functionaries any very great or unfair partiality in appointments to the magistracy; but 1 venture to say, that if my Lord Grey had, at that time, instituted an inquiry into the subject, the proportion of Tory county magistrates would not be 740 to 220, but much more nearly 1,000 to 100. Would it have been right of the Government of that day to turn round on these Gentlemen and say, that justice was not duly administered by them?—that the people had no confidence in them because they were Tories, and that 600 or 700 magistrates of Liberal opinions should be appointed to rectify the difference and redress the balance? Is that, Sir, the principle upon which a magistracy should be appointed? The right hon. Gentleman has substantially said it is. I contend that it is not. Take men from what side you may, if you select men of character and well-known integrity, who in themselves were unexceptionable, you had a security that such men would do justice to all parties, Whig, Tory, and Radical. In certain cases, where previously gross instances of partiality had been manifested, it was deemed necessary to do justice to men of liberal poli- 183 tics, who had been most improperly set aside; but for the late Government to have laid down a principle, that magistrates, in particular places, were not fit to administer justice, 'simply because they were members of a party of this or that side in politics, would have shown that government to have been unworthy of the public confidence. And yet that is the result of the right hon. Gentleman's principle, and the right hon. Gentleman has applied a rule of action grounded on it to the Liberals, which we declined at all times to apply to the Tories. The right hon. Gentleman throws overboard the ground of naming magistrates for the purpose of licensing public-houses, and he goes exclusively on the want of confidence in the administration of justice. But I ask you, Sir, what security does the right hon. Gentleman offer, that there will be more confidence in his appointments to the bench of justice than there has been in our appointments? or that the course he is taking will have the effect he anticipates. But the principle laid down by the right hon. Gentleman goes farther still; for, as far as I can see, it reaches even the judicial bench itself. When I was in office, the then Solicitor-general (now Mr. Baron Rolfe) was recommended to the Crown as a fit and proper person to be appointed to a seat on the bench, and was appointed accordingly. No complaint that I ever heard of has been made against him on the ground of his administration of justice. Since then another Gentleman (Mr. Cress-well) was recommended on the other side, and appointed to the bench in the Court of Common Pleas, and no fault whatever has been found with him in the discharge of his judicial functions. And yet both these Gentlemen were decided politicians in the House, and decided partisans. It is my firm belief, that if every Judge on the bench was equally impartial with Baron Rolfe, the Tories would feel a full confidence in his administration of justice. While on the other hand, if they were equally able and impartial as Mr. Justice Cresswell, the same confidence would be felt in him by the Liberals. But if we take the principle of the right hon. Gentleman, there can be no confidence even in these learned Judges; and, to inspire it, we should have an equal balance of Whig and Tory on the bench—say half Whig and half Tory in the Courts of Queen's Beach and Common Pleas, with 184 a few Radicals in the Court of Exchequer. The right hon. Gentleman, however, not only went further than I did, but he also quoted as against me more than I said. The right hon. Gentlemen referred to a circular issued by me to the municipal bodies in relation to the town magistracy. Now, Sir, I did not in that circular say, that the recommendation of the town-councils 'would in all cases be adopted. I merely stated, that they would have their due weight with the responsible advisers of the Crown. I did not say, that all the persons named by them would be appointed to the magistracy. I only said, that their nomination would have its due weight. The right hon. Gentleman says, that the town-councils, being decided political partisans, named in these cases political partisans of their own way of thinking, and therefore, that a corrective became necessary to such a state of things. Now, Sir, if that is the opinion, and those the views of the right hon. Gentleman, he should proceed at once, on his own principle, to take away the privileges of the city of London, because there the magistracy is selected in the same manner. And, more than that, he should also take away the privileges of the people of Scotland in municipal boroughs, because the magistracy is there appointed on the same popular principle. The right hon. Gentleman affects to despise the recommendations of the town-councils, because they are political partisans. In that, Sir, I cannot agree with him. I think, on the contrary, that persons having the confidence of the town council of their respective boroughs, possess some claims to consideration from that fact alone, and I do not know, on the whole, whether it would not be much better to make the practice in this respect the same as it is in Scotland. But, Sir, as I stated, the right hon. Gentleman should carry his principle further, and, if he despises the recommendations of the town councils, he should also despise the mode in which the magistracy of London are appointed, and make a corresponding change accordingly. I did, Sir, in some instances decline to comply with the recommendations of the town councils to appoint certain Conservative magistrates in their several boroughs, because I believed that such appointments would have given dissatisfaction to their fellow-townsmen, but when the right hon. Gentleman says, that I appointed only 185 twenty Conservatives in Manchester, Liverpool, and two or three other great towns, I meet him by stating the fact, that out of this number not more than four or five were recommended by the town councils. In that instance, as in others, I did not attempt the right hon. Gentleman's favourite plan of a balance, but I thought the exclusion of Conservatives from the magistracy in these places was inadvisable, and I appointed them on my own responsibility accordingly. And when the right hon. Gentleman, in allusion to my conduct in respect to these places with held this fact, I consider that I have some reason to complain of his candour and fair dealing. Sir, I shall not, at this hour of the night, go over all the list of my appointments, but this I will say, that the result of my advice generally was to give a more liberal complexion to the municipal magistracy in that respect than the town councils mostly desired. The right hon. Gentleman has entered into an examination of the political opinions of persons appointed to the magistracy, but that, after all, is very uncertain ground— such is the difference between men's views on the subject. The right hon. Baronet, and the hon. Member for Guildford, for instance, are at issue about the political party of one Gentleman, while the right hon. Baronet, and the hon. Member for Coventry are at issue about the creed of others; and I myself remember a case in Exeter, where a gentleman appointed to the magistracy was objected to by the Whigs as too strong a Tory, and by the Tories as too violent a Whig. Such is, and such ever will be, the consequence of attempting to draw such nice distinctions on the subject of party politics. Such are the circumstances that must ever occur in attempting to fix so unsteady a thing as the shade of political opinion. You have declared, however, to the whole world, and the right hon. Baronet has confirmed it, that the country has no reason to have confidence in the great body of the municipal magistracy, because they are of one shade of political opinion, and you, therefore, create a number of magistrates of another shade to restore that confidence. But, Sir, that is a lesson as easily learnt by one party in politics as by the other, and if you proceed on the principle, that a Liberal magistracy cannot be rusted with the administration of justice, because of their political colour, you will 186 find that the Tories will not be trusted by the Liberals for the same reason. You introduce a new principle into the administration of justice, and it is not a sound one. I do not deny, that the town councils may have recommended a great majority of their own political opinions in the magistracy—persons in whom they had confidence, and whom they deemed worthy of the trust; but if the town councils change, you will have persons Of other politics recommended, and you can then appoint them without objection and without blame. In the mean time I think you will have the administration of justice more correctly attended to than if you are to have two parties in the magistracy, placed there on antagonistic principles, and for the purpose of counterbalancing one another. The right hon. Gentleman alluded to a letter from Mr. Coppock to Mr. Voules, which he found in the newspapers. Now, Sir, I am not at all acquainted with either of these Gentlemen. I do not know who they are; and the letter, I presume, was intended to obtain information. But, with respect to one point in that document, I am bound to say that it was wholly unnecessary to make any inquiry about it— I mean the occupations of the Gentlemen in question, for it is the duty of the Under Secretary of State to write an official letter to the town-council on all such occasions for the purpose of asking that information. But, after all, what is there in this letter or the deduction drawn from it? According to the statement of the right hon. Baronet, four persons were recommended for the magistracy, and they were all appointed. Therefore, I cannot but think that this subject was introduced by the right hon. Baronet in his adroit way, as a make weight in favour of a weak argument, and for the purpose of raising a cheer on his own side of the House, in defending his own very questionable proceeding. The hon. Gentleman, the hon. Member for Durham, says, that I have changed my politics very much, and that my political opinions twenty years ago were very different from those I have expressed within the last twelvemonth. I am certainly not conscious of the extraordinary change which it is assumed my views have undergone. I did think that I was at least as consistent as the right hon. Secretary of State for the Home Department. It is about twenty years ago that I brought on the 187 question of Reform in Parliament, and I recollect that I then stated that my proposal would not remedy the distress, but that it was intended to cure the practical evils of the representation. I was then a moderate Reformer and a Whig. I am nothing more than a moderate Reformer and a Whig at the present time. If I have ever been guilty of a deviation from those principles, I think it was in 1830, when the right hon. Gentleman now Secretary of State for the Home Department brought on certain motions for the production of the list of the Privy Councillors. I was induced by the eloquence and the captivating declamation of the right hon. Gentleman to follow him when he made the most violent denunciations against the Members of the Privy Council, and expressed too sweeping a condemnation of all those who formed it, without regard to politics or situation, and not remembering to make an exception in favour of those who exercised judicial and ecclesiastical functions. I do think that in voting for that motion, I gave a greater countenance to extreme radical opinions than was consistent with the remainder of my political life. I certainly admit, that with regard to that part of my conduct, I look back to it with regret, and admit my error. The right hon. Gentleman, I am quite sure, must now likewise repent of the course which he then adopted; for those against whom he uttered the fiercest denunciations are his present friends, colleagues, and supporters, and the party against whom he poured forth such indignant imputations; those whom he described as persons steeped in corruption; as utterly unfit for the trust reposed in them, and unworthy of governing the country on account of the total absence of all public virtue. This is the very party in favour of whom he has now appointed 400 magistrates. Therefore, although I may have somewhat changed my views in the course of twenty years, as the hon. Member for Durham says I have, and though I may have some votes to repent of as of too democratic a tendency, it is some comfort that my repentance can neither be so deep, nor my conversion so extreme, as that which is required by the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman.
defended the conduct of the magistrates of Coventry. The statements of the hon. Member for Warwick were wholly unfounded, and if that hon. 188 Gentleman knew the magistrates whom he attacked, he must have been convinced that they were incapable of the conduct which had been attributed to them. There was no more respectable body of men in every point of view, and however high ran party politics, their administration of justice was above suspicion. The selection of the magistrates had been made before the election, at which he first stood candidate, and if they had voted for him at the last election, he was glad to hear that they approved of his conduct since he first presented himself to their notice. He must say, that the noble Lord only acted in accordance with what he conceived to be a just principle, in taking the recommendation of the town-council.
§ Mr. Collins
said, that it was a great injustice to charge partiality against the magistrates of the town which he represented. He believed—and he spoke from a thorough knowledge of the body to which he had the honour of belonging— that they were as honourable men as any in that House. As to the house which had been refused a license, he convicted persons who had concocted robberies in that House. Whether those who owned it were Tories or not he did not know. At all events they never exercised their rights in his favour, and he was quite willing to give his hon. Colleague the benefit of their support.
§ Mr. G. W. Wood
wished merely to observe, that the right hon. Baronet, in stating what he did respecting the borough I of Kendal, must have been misinformed.
§ Lord Worsley
hoped he might be allowed to state what were not only his own opinions, but those of many other persons who resided, not only in his county, but in other counties adjoining—namely, that; it would give great satisfaction if there was an alteration in the present system of appointing the magistrates. There were a great many clergymen appointed to the magistracy, who were objected to, because it was thought that when there were others more competent to perform the same duties, though not perhaps recommended by the Lord-lieutenant of the county, clergymen should not be selected. He had been speaking upon the subject to the Lord-lieutenant of his county, who said that it was not his wish to appoint clergymen to the office of magistrates when he, could get others equally qualified to do the duties, but he found it most difficult 189 to procure such persons to whom the other magistrates would make no objection. He believed that if the yeomanry of the county—the men who lived on their property all the year round, and who were looked up to and respected in their neighbourhood, fully as much as the more wealthy gentry—were put in the commission of the peace, it would be far better than selecting clergymen, who, however worthy of such a trust, must often be mixed up with transactions which could not increase their popularity, or enhance the deference which the sacred character of their office should ever command.
§ Mr. Strutt
observed, that it was a mistake to say that the eight magistrates, appointed by the Whigs in Derby, were all Liberals. One of these Gentlemen was a decided Tory. It was true that the remaining seven were Liberals; but why? Because they possessed the confidence of the majority, and precisely for the same reason that at this moment none but men: of Conservative views held the office in the county. He had lived in the town of Derby, and knew as much as any man of its concerns; but he never heard the least complaint of the administration of justice under the Whig magistrates, or of any demand for the appointment of new ones. Against the personal character of the new magistrates he had nothing to say. He was ready to bear his testimony to their respectability. But this he would say, that though the unavoidable practice had been to appoint magistrates either resident in the town or connected with it by business, the present Government had been obliged to select two country gentlemen living in the neighbourhood, and another who held the situation of postmaster. He must add, that the addition of five magistrates was considered by the majority unnecessary, and that the change had given great dissatisfaction.
§ Mr. Strutt
answered that he was aware that the gentlemen were not disqualified; but what he complained of was, that a rule, which had been followed before and since the Municipal Act, had been departed from.
said, that the two gentlemen referred to by the hon. Member for Derby lived within two short miles of the town, 190 and had always taken an active part in its affairs. If the right hon. Baronet had looked through the whole county he could not have found two gentlemen better qualified to discharge satisfactorily the duties of the office to which they had been appointed.
§ Mr. Strutt
said, that he had expressly stated that the gentlemen in question lived within two or three miles of the town. He principally dwelt upon the fact of their not being possessed of either the municipal or Parliamentary franchise.
§ Captain Layard
said, that the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department having alluded to Southampton, he would take the liberty of acquainting the House with the state of things existing there, in relation to the municipal magistracy. The town-council of that town being Tory, the magistrates originally appointed were six Tories and four Liberals. One of the former died, and a deputation waited upon the right hon. Member for Perth to ascertain whether a Liberal could not be appointed in his place. The right hon. Gentleman's answer was, that Lord John Russell could do nothing of the kind, but would be guided by the recommendation of the town-council, and the result was, that a Tory, Mr. Barnard, was appointed. The relative numbers, therefore, still remained six Tories and four Liberals. Since the right hon. Baronet entered office three more Conservatives were appointed, in order, of course, to balance the scales of justice. In Southampton, therefore, there were at present ten Tory magistrates and three Whigs.
§ Mr. Hutt
said, he would, at that late hour, trouble the House with only a few observations. The right hon. Baronet, the Secretary for the Home Department, had observed, that he would have expected him to have expressed himself with greater moderation, in consideration of his having come fresh from the Southampton committee. What did the right hon. Baronet mean by that allusion? What did he mean by that decent and gentlemanly allusion? —["Order."]
§ Mr. Hutt
explained that he had used the word gentlemanly. Whether he had conducted himself in the Southampton committee as became the Member of a judicial tribunal, he would not ask upon the right hon. Baronet to decide. He would, with perfect confidence, leave that question 191 to be decided by the hon. Member for Newcastle and the hon. Member for the county of Devon, who were also Members of the same committee. He would leave the matter in the hands of the House, when his hon. Friend, the Chairman of the committee, should lay its report upon the Table. He could scarcely believe that the right hon. Baronet in attacking him intended to take an unfair advantage of the peculiar circumstances in which he was placed, which precluded him from making ' any explanations in defence. If such were the right hon. Baronet's intentions, he did not envy him his feelings. A great deal had been said about the trifling nature of the motion which he had submitted to the House. The right hon, Baronet was the first to remark upon that point, and he was followed by the hon. and gallant Member opposite (Captain Fitzroy), who had expressed himself deeply disappointed with the nature of the motion. He was surprised that the hon. and gallant Member should be dissatisfied on the occasion, because it had afforded the hon. and gallant Member an opportunity of talking about himself and his noble relative, and other matters which he was rather fond of talking about. The hon. and gallant Member had quoted the old line from Horace about the mountain and the mouse. Which of the two parties the hon. and gallant Member meant for the mountain, and which for the mouse, he would not inquire; but he trusted that the next time the hon. and gallant Member referred to what fell from him, he would quote his language correctly. He was glad to perceive that the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tam-worth had entirely thrown over the defence advanced by the right hon. Secretary for the Home Department. The latter right hon. Baronet had adopted precisely the tu quoque defence, which he had deprecated in his opening speech. The right hon. Baronet had merely said—" You did wrong, and so we did wrong likewise." The right hon. Baronet had said a great deal about Whig-Radicals. It might be thought that that was a term from which he ought rather to have abstained; for, on one occasion, when he went to Hull, he found the minds of the people so debauched by the writings of the right hon. Baronet, that they refused to elect him, on the ground that he was not prepared to go as far as Sir J. Graham. That was in 1831.
§ Motion agreed to.