HC Deb 06 February 1843 vol 66 cc207-9
Colonel Rushbrooke

rose to move, that the Speaker do issue his warrant to the Clerk of the Crown, directing the issue of a writ for the election of Members for the borough of Sudbury. The hon. Member observed, that he had undertaken his present task in compliance with the wish of his constituents, who, as they had no one else to ask, had applied to him,—"Quoniam nemini obtrudi potest itur ad me." The question relating to Sudbury had been so often before the House, that he would not take up its time by again entering upon it, but would only observe, that no case had been made out to keep the borough without its representatives in Parliament.

On the question being put,

The Speaker

said, that the hon. Member might obtain his object by allowing the amendment of another hon. Member to stand as an original motion, to which he could move, if he pleased, an amendment.

Mr. Tufnell

After the bill that had been unanimously passed last Session by that House for the disfranchisement of Sudbury, he had not expected on the first night of the Session notice would have been given of a motion for the issue of a new writ. The most extensive bribery was proved to have prevailed at Sudbury, but as the motion for the new writ was not to be pressed, he should make no farther remarks on the subject, but would, in the course of the evening, move for leave to bring in the bill, of which he had given notice, for the disfranchisement of the borough. In the mean time he would move that the Speaker should not issue his writ for the election of a new Member until the 20th March next.

Colonel Rushbrooke

said he would not object to such a motion.

Motion agreed to.

Mr. Tufnell

then moved, "That leave be given to bring in a bill to exclude the borough of Sudbury from sending burgesses to serve in Parliament." He founded his motion upon the report of the committee, who had found that gross bribery had prevailed at the late election.

Mr. Blackstone

thought that no case had been made out which could justify the House in taking the extreme course of disfranchising all the electors of the borough. He had taken an opportunity last Session of moving that the adjacent hundred be added to the borough. This, if acceded to, would have had the effect of introducing a sufficient number of good electors into the borough. The committee had not carried their inquiry far enough to prove the general corruption of the borough. At Stafford it had been proved that of 945 electors, 804 had received money for their votes; but if they looked into the case of Sudbury, they would not find more than eight or nine cases of persons who had received bribes; and it was not, therefore, just to take away the franchise from those who had done nothing to forfeit it. He thought that before the House proceeded to this step it ought to be in possession of the fullest information. With this view, he would move, as an amendment,

That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the corrupt practices alleged to have prevailed at the last election for the borough of Sudbury, and to report the result of their inquiries to the House. If general corruption should then be proved, he would not object to the hon. Member's bill; but, until such proof were given, he would oppose it.

Mr. T. Duncombe

said, that when this question was before the House in the last Session he took the liberty of interposing between the hon. and gallant Member and the issue of the writ, and the House agreed with him on the occasion, and he hoped it would not now stultify itself by giving a negative to the report of the committee of last Session, and by allowing the hon. and gallant Member to steal a march upon it in the beginning of the present. The committee to which the election petition relating to the return for Sudbury had been referred had unanimously reported that gross and systematic bribery had prevailed at the last election, and that the borough ought to be disfranchised. To carry out the report of that committee such a measure as the proposed bill was necessary. When the bill was before the House in the last Session, it was first moved that counsel be heard against it. That was negatived. It was then moved that the virtue of the adjoining hundred be infused into the representation with the view of purifying it; but even that the House would not accept, and the bill for disfranchising the borough was passed, and sent to the Lords, but at too late a period to allow a chance of its passing, and it was not passed. After this, would the House consider that another committee of inquiry was necessary? Would such a committee be considered necessary, when it was already proved that more than 200 of the voters of the borough were bribed in one day? He thought an example should be made of that most delinquent borough, and he hoped his hon. Friend would press his motion.

Sir E. Peel

thought last Session, when the facts of the case were fresh in his recollection, that there was ample reason for sending the bill for disfranchising Sudbury up to the House of Lords. Considering the unanimous report made by the committee and the evidence which they reported to the House, and as he was not aware of any new facts [loud cheers] which would induce him to alter his opinion, he should give his vote in favour of the introduction of the bill.

Colonel Wyndham

approved of the course taken by the right hon. Baronet; therefore he also would give his vote against the amendment.

Amendment negatived: Main question agreed to: Leave given.