HC Deb 11 May 1842 vol 63 cc425-7
Lord John Russell

said, that it certainly appeared to him desirable, for the regularity of their proceedings, that such questions should not be allowed to be put; and he was happy to find the Speaker had interfered on that occasion. He wished to ask a question himself of the hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Bath, which would be in order. The hon. and learned Member had a notice on the paper to-night for naming the Members on the Select Committee to inquire into certain Election Proceedings. The inquiry was a most important one. Upon that inquiry, the hon. and learned Gentleman proposed to found a bill of indemnity for the protection of witnesses, which would require the sanction of the other House of Parliament. The subject was, therefore, one of great importance. The question which he wished to put to the hon. and learned Gentleman was this, whether he meant to bring on his motion for appointing the committee after the other business was disposed of? It was very likely the House would at that time be very thin. Many Members might possibly object to the constitution of that committee as proposed by the hon. and learned Member; it was, therefore, desirable, that the subject should be brought forward at a time when there would be a full attendance of Members.

Mr. Roebuck

said, that he was most anxious to consult the wishes of the House on the subject of the motion. The appointment of the committee would necessarily be a difficult and an invidious task; and he would bring the matter before the House in any way they might think desirable. Perhaps the noble Lord would himself state the time at which he wished the motion should be submitted to the House.

Lord John Russell

considered it better,perhaps, that the right hon. Baronet opposite should state the time when he thought the House could properly entertain the question.

Sir R. Peel

had already stated, that it was his intention to move on Friday, the adjournment of the House until the Friday following. The hon. and learned Gentleman, the Member for Bath, would thus be limited either to this day, the day after, or to Friday, in bringing forward his motion. For his part, he had no objection, that any day should be selected by the hon. and learned Gentleman which would meet the wishes of the House.

After a short conversation across the Table, the right hon. Baronet said he thought the hon. and learned Gentleman had better proceed on Friday.

Mr. T. Duncombe

begged to give notice, that whenever the committee should be moved for, he should propose the following addition to it:— That it be ordered, that each Member appointed to serve on the said committee shall subscribe the following declaration in the presence of Mr. Speaker. ' I do solemnly declare, that I never, directly or indirectly, have been guilty, by myself or my agents, of any act of bribery or corruption for the purpose of procuring a seat in Parliament; that I have never paid, or promised to pay, or have ever sanctioned the payment of any sum or sums of money, beyond the legal expenses of my last, or any previous election; and that I have never at any time connived at, assisted in, or been privy to, any corrupt practices, by myself or agents, for the purpose of procuring the return of any Member to serve in Parliament.'

Sir Robert Peel

said, that when with a view of consulting the general convenience of the House, he did not anticipate any such discussion as would affect the progress of the tariff. The appointment of the committee was a matter of considerable importance, and he did hope the House would be spared the very disagreeable discussion, that must arise from making allusions to individual names. It was of the utmost importance, that a committee of this kind should be such as would command general confidence, not in respect merely to the individual Members composing it, but that it should be so constituted, as to obtain the general confidence as a committee of authority and weight. He never recollected an occasion of the appointment of a committee, in which it was more important that it should do so. He hoped, therefore, that some arrangement would be made, that should prevent any disagreeable discussion as to the preponderance of individuals of one political set of opinions over those of another set of opinions. It was in that hope, that he had consented to give up his right of precedence on Friday. But the amendment of the hon. Member for Finsbury would open a new field for discussion, and, therefore, he was afraid he should now entirely lose the whole of Friday in reference to public business.

Mr. T. Duncombe

said, that he did not intend mentioning the names of any individuals, nor should he propose to add any. His only wish was that those who should be appointed to try this great and important question should go into court with clean hands. Therefore, whether the motion should be made now or another day, he should certainly move, that the words he had read, should be added to it as an amendment.

Mr. Roebuck

said, that if it were the desire of the House, he would go on at once. [" Go on."] Then if the House were determined that he should go on, it must understand that the responsibility of any invidious discussion was not to rest on his shoulders.

Mr. S. Wortley

said, that it would lead to a very serious discussion if the hon. and learned Gentleman were to go on now, and would interfere with a very important measure, the intention with regard to which it was desirable the public should be acquainted with.

Lord J. Russell

said, that unless there was a general consent of the House, he did not think the subject ought to be discussed on a different day from that on which it was fixed to be brought on, and unless there was some reason to the contrary, he thought that it should be deferred till to-morrow or Friday.

Mr. Pakington

hoped, that the discussion would be postponed till Friday, which would afford time for an arrangement to be made, as to the names of the committee.

Sir Robert Peel

said, that so far as the appointment of the committee was concerned, he was willing, in the earnest hope that all unpleasant personal discussion would be avoided, to give up his right of precedence to the hon. and learned Gentleman on Friday next. As to the bill of indemnity, that must take its course. He could not make any engagement with reference to any other subject, except that of the appointment of the committee.

Subject to be discussed on Friday.