HC Deb 05 July 1844 vol 76 cc447-8
Lord G. Somerset

had, as Chairman of the Committee under the Controverted Elections Act, been requested to move for the renewal and continuance of the Act for the trial of Controverted Elections of Members of Parliament.

Viscount Mahon

wished to suggest that the Bill should be temporary instead of being permanent. Such had been the precedent in two former Sessions, in each of which the Bill had passed for one year only reserving both its principle and its details to be considered as a permanent measure, at an earlier period after Parliament met. The Bill involved two very important points which he was anxious to have discussed. These points were, first, whether the appointment of a tribunal, not consisting of Members of Parliament, would not be most conducive to the justice of each case; and the second was, as to the numbers of the Committee, whether it ought to consist of three or seven Members. At that late period of the Session, and when the second reading of the Bill could not take place until the week after next, he would ask, whether they were not in such a position, that a temporary measure would now as in former Sessions be best calculated to ensure in the end a good law on this important subject. It ought to be remembered, that they could not now come to a discussion on the Bill without losing the advantage of the assistance of the legal Members, every one of whom would be absent from London on the business of the Circuit. Under these circumstances, he hoped that the noble Lord would be content with a temporary Bill, and would feel the justice of reserving the permanent measure until the beginning of the next Session.

Sir R. Peel

considered the time had fully arrived when the House ought to decide upon retaining in its own hands the jurisdiction respecting Controverted Elections. He could not help thinking that there was, on the part of a great majority of the Members of that House, at least, a determination not to part with that jurisdiction, and a conviction of the danger of giving it up to Courts of Law. He, for one, should see with regret the House of Commons delegate to a Court of Law the power of de- ciding the question of Members of Parliament touching their seats. He objected to a proposition to the effect that the House of Lords were to be left in the full possession of their privileges, whilst those of the House of Commons would be left to the Courts of Law. With respect to the provisions of this Bill, it should not be forgotten that the Bill of last Session was made temporary in order to enable a Committee of that House to report upon the subject of the present Act, and that those very provisions were those recommended by that Committee. He trusted, therefore, that the House would, in the present instance, decide on making the measure a permanent one, and that it would no longer exhibit itself to the country in the position of not having yet made up its mind upon the subject. He should cordially support the Motion of his noble Friend.

Leave given. Bill brought in and read a first time.

House adjourned at twenty minutes to one o'clock.