HC Deb 10 July 1844 vol 76 cc570-87

The Order of the Day for the House to go into Committee on the Actions for Gaming Discontinuance Bill (No. 2) having been read,

Mr. Christie

moved, pursuant to notice, that Charles Henry Russell might be heard by counsel at the Bar of the House against the Bill. The petitioner had a direct interest in the rejection of the Bill. During the suspension of the actions which had already taken place, Mr. Crockford, one of the defendants, and a material witness against the other defendants, had died, and in the actions which had abated by Mr. Crockford's death, the costs fell upon the petitioner. As a precedent in point he would refer to the case of Mr. Wright, who had been heard by counsel in 1814, against a Bill. It might be said that Mr. Wright was heard against a Bill to discontinue actions altogether, and that this was only a Bill to suspend actions. But this was only a difference of degree, and not of kind. A suspending Bill might injure the petitioner more than a discontinuing Bill: by loss of evidence during a suspension, the plaintiff might afterwards be nonplussed, and have to pay the costs on both sides; while if the actions were now discontinued altogether, he could at worst only lose his own costs.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, he had received information that the petitioner was not himself the party interested, and wished to know if the hon. Member could state if Mr. Russell had a direct personal interest, so as to entitle him to be heard by counsel at the Bar

Mr. Christie

believed, that the petitioner was not the only party interested in the result. He was, however, the legal plaintiff, liable for the costs. The solicitor who brought the actions was in the lobby. He was the same person who had given the information that had come to the ears of the right hon. Gentleman, and might be examined with respect to the circumstances under which the actions were brought, and the interest of the plaintiff in them.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

intended no disrespect to the hon. Member by his question. The House would require, he thought, not only that the petitioner should state he had an interest, but that the hon. Member should assure the House the petitioner had an interest. It had been intimated that the party, on failure of the action, would not pay the costs, and that he was a person put for ward by others, who were the real plaintiffs, in order to conceal their own names, and that the petitioner had no direct interest in the result. If that was the case, he would be out of Court. Even supposing, however, that he had a direct interest as stated by the hon. Member, there were sufficient reasons why, in the present stage of the proceedings, he should not be heard. In the Case referred to by the hon. Member, a Bill was brought in to suspend the proceedings in the actions that had been commenced. Mr. Wright petitioned the House, stating the injury that he should sustain, but the Bill being for suspension only, Mr. Wright was not heard. On a second occasion, he believed a Bill for further suspending the proceedings was brought in, and then Mr. Wright was not heard, the House having proceeded upon the principle that the suspension of the proceedings did not determine the question whether the party was injuriously affected or not. But on the third occasion, when a Bill was brought in for the discontinuance of the actions altogether, Mr. Wright petitioned again, and then the House allowed counsel to be heard. So Mr. Wright was not heard upon the Bill for the suspension, but he was heard upon the measure for the entire discontinuance of the proceedings. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) thought that the House would do well to keep that distinction in mind, and not extend the precedent further. Then Mr. Wright stated circumstances of direct personal loss he had sustained. That gentleman was Secretary to certain bishops, and he stated that he was entitled to certain fees, amounting to some hundreds a year, of which he had been deprived by the violation of the statute he sought to enforce; thus showing that he had a direct legal right to certain emoluments, of which he was deprived by the violation of the law for which he had brought his actions. But, in this case, the sole right and title of Mr. Russell was, that he might obtain certain penalties to accrue from the prosecutions, if a certain legal construction should be put upon an Act of Parliament,—a point not yet decided by the Courts of Common Law, and upon which the greatest doubts existed. The case, then, stood upon a different footing from that of Mr. Wright, which was the only precedent which came near the present case, and it did not appear that there were sufficient grounds for hearing Mr. Russell at the Bar.

Mr. T. Duncombe

said, that upon a former occasion he had observed that great injustice would be done if Mr. Russell was not heard by counsel at the Bar, but that was upon the understanding that the petitioner had a direct right and interest, which now appeared questionable. His hon. Friend behind him had stated he believed the petitioner had a direct interest, but it seemed that interest was placed upon the question of costs. Now, if it were a question of costs created by bringing these actions, that would not form a sufficient ground for the petitioner being heard by counsel. The House ought to be satisfied before hearing counsel, that the person had a direct interest; and if he had not, the petition ought not to be entertained for one instant. The petitioner might be called up and examined to ascertain the truth.

Viscount Palmerston

said, that a communication had been made to him yesterday on the subject, with a view of ascertaining whether it were his intention to oppose the Motion of the hon. Member, and in reply he had stated that the case quoted did not appear analogous, and that his opinions were adverse, but he should not offer any opposition from himself. At the same time, however, if the matter was taken up by other Members and the House was divided, he must of course vote in accordance with his opinion. The objections he entertained were nearly the same as those of the right hon. Gentleman. The case of Mr. Wright was not exactly parallel, for he had been heard by counsel on the question of the total discontinuance, and not upon that of the suspension of the proceedings. Moreover, in Mr. Wright's case, the law was clear, while great doubts were entertained in the present one.

Mr. Milner Gibson

suggested that the solicitor who was in attendance should be called in to be examined.

Mr. Escott

wished to know whether the petitioner had any pecuniary interest in the matter. Did he look for penalties? According to his (Mr. Escott's) opinion, the petitioner could have no pecuniary interest, because it was proved before the Committee that the statute under which he brought the action did not apply to the case.

Mr. Christie

asked the Speaker whether it would be in order for him to withdraw his own proposition, to admit of the Motion suggested by the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Gibson) being put.

The Speaker

said, that the Amendment of the hon. Member (Mr. Christie) could not be withdrawn without the leave of the House. The usual mode of proceeding was to refer the petition of the party to a Committee, and then the Committee might inquire what interest the petitioner had, before the House allowed him to be heard by counsel.

The House divided on the question that the Petition be referred to the Committee on the Bill, and the Petitioner heard against the Bill by his counsel upon his Petition if he think fit—Ayes 14; Noes 30: Majority 16.

List of theAYES.
Berkely, hon. Capt. Scott, R.
Elphinstone, H. Strutt, E.
Gibson, T. M. Tancred, H. W.
Hawes, B. Thornely, T.
Hume, J. Wawn, J. T.
Mitcalf, H.
Mitchell, T. A. TELLERS.
Norreys, Sir D. J. Christie, W. D.
Philips, M. Duncombe, T.
List of theNOES.
Bentinck, Lord G. Borthwick, P.
Beresford, Major Cripps, W.
Blackstone, W. S. Denison, E. B.
Escott, B. Nicholl, rt. hn. J.
Goulburn, rt. hn. H. Palmerston, Visct.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Pringle, A.
Greenall, P. Stanley, Lord
Greene, T. Sutton, hn. H. M.
Gregory, W. H. Thesiger, Sir F.
Hayter, W. G. Vane, Lord H.
Hutt, W. Vivian, J. E.
Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E. Wallace, R.
Lincoln, Earl of Yorke, H. R.
Lockhart, W.
McNeill, D. TELLERS.
Martin, C. W. Young, J.
Neville, R. Lennox, Lord A.

[The following statement with reference to these lists appears in the Votes of the House of Commons; the numbers reported by the Tellers being Ayes 14, Noes 30, an objection was taken to the vote of Lord George Bentinck, Member for Lynn, on the ground that he is a Defendant in some of the Actions which are about to be suspended by the Bill:—Motion made and Question proposed, "That the vote of Lord George Bentinck be disallowed:"—Whereupon, Lord George Bentinck declared, that it was not his intention to take advantage of the provisions of the Bill, and plead the same in bar of such Actions:—Motion by leave, withdrawn.

An objection was taken to the vote of Mr. Gregory, Member for Dublin, on the ground that he is a Defendant in some of the Actions which are about to be suspended by the Bill;—Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the vote of Mr. Gregory be disallowed:—Whereupon Mr. Gregory stated, he has not been served with any process in any of the said actions:—Motion, by leave, withdrawn:—Whereupon, Mr. Speaker reported the numbers on the Division, Ayes 14, Noes 30].

On the Question, that the Speaker do now leave the Chair,

Mr. Christie

moved that the House do in six months resolve itself into a Committee. He thought that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government had acted not quite fairly in this matter. He was informed the day before yesterday, by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Lord Palmerston), that that noble Lord would not offer any opposition to his Motion if the Government did not. Now, he (Mr. Christie) had understood from the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Treasury, that the Government would not offer any opposition, and therefore, Mr. Russell at his (Mr. Christie's) suggestion, had gone to the expense of feeing counsel, and had given the learned counsel the trouble of being in attendance to be called in. The noble Lord had made use of an expression in reference to him which was certainly afterwards retracted, but not until the Speaker interfered. [The hon. Gentleman referred to Lord George Bentinck, and to something which that noble Lord had said during the exclusion of reporters from the gallery.] But, considering the evidence which the noble Lord himself had given when he was placed in the witness box, as to the sort of persons with whom he had been in the habit of associating; that he had betted with keepers of gaming-houses, whom he knew to be such, and when he recollected the very strong remarks of a learned Judge in another cause, the Judge having said that he had been filled with disgust at finding the noble Lord and others associating with blackguards, and that they deserved to be cheated, and he felt no regret for them—he certainly was very much surprised at the noble Lords taunting him with his accomplices and associates. He knew nothing of Mr. Russell before he came to him, asking to present his Petition; and whatever Mr. Russell might be, he thought his Petition a just one, and had agreed to present it. The whole proceedings of the House about the Bill had been most unfair. When he considered that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government had not acted with good faith towards him, he should certainly avail himself of all the forms of the House, as long as he could find two Members to back him, to obstruct the further progress of this Bill. He had never been factious in that House, and would be unwilling to be factious for the first time against the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton; but under the circumstances he felt himself justified in throwing every difficulty in the way of the Bill.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, it was certainly open to the hon. Gentleman to pursue what course he pleased; but he could not permit the hon. Gentleman to be under the delusion, or the House to be under the impression, that the course which he had pursued was in the least unfair, unkind, or inconsiderate towards the hon. Gentleman himself. The hon. Gentleman did not appear to be aware that in presenting a petition from one individual, and asking the House to act upon that Petition in confidence of the truth of the facts stated in the Petition he was responsible to the House for the accuracy of the statements contained in the Petition upon which he asked the House to institute proceedings. If, then, he had heard it rumoured that the Gentleman whose Petition it was had no interest in the case, as stated in the Petition, he thought he was doing no more than his duty in apprizing the hon. Gentleman that such a rumour had existed, and therefore giving the hon. Gentleman an opportunity to withdraw the Petition, and not incur the Parliamentary offence of inducing the House to institute an inquiry upon a statement for which there was no foundation. He would put it to any Member of the House, who knew the forms of the House, whether in the exercise of his duty there had been anything in the least degree unfair in his conduct.

Viscount Palmerston

regretted that a degree of warmth should have introduced itself into this debate on both sides, which did not seem naturally to belong to the subject itself. He hoped that that warmth might be allowed to evaporate, and that the House would be permitted to discuss the question on its own proper merits. His hon. Friend (Mr. Christie) had complained of the course which he had taken on this occasion; but really he must be allowed to defend himself against that complaint, for he did not think it was just. He stated to his hon. Friend the objections he felt against a Motion for counsel being heard, and he pointed out to his hon. Friend the distinction between the case on which he founded his Motion and the present case; but he then said that if these objections were not entertained by other parties, he would not himself press them. This was not a mere personal question, but one materially affecting precedents, and, in that view, of much importance; the House ought to be careful how it established a precedent respecting the hearing of counsel for or against a Bill. He hoped that his hon. and learned Friend would not see sufficient ground for adopting the extreme, not to call it factious, course to which he had referred in his Speech, especially as he understood that his hon. Friend did not in principle object to the Bill.

Mr. Milner Gibson

observed that Government had allowed his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Christie) to believe on one day that it would not oppose the hearing of counsel at the Bar, and on the next had resisted a Motion to that effect. Counsel had been instructed, and had come down in expectation of being permitted to address the House, and were now to be prevented from doing so. The fact was, that regarding this measure Ministers had from the first pursued a timid and shilly-shally course unworthy of a strong Government; and as if they wished the Bill to pass, and yet were ashamed of standing forward until they saw some indication of public opinion in its favour. This very timidity had led many to form the opinion that there was something wrong in principle; but, out of the House, he had never heard but one opinion, viz., that hard as the case was against the parties involved, the stopping of the actions was an act of gross class-legislation, which never would have been attempted if the parties had been in an humbler and less influential situation in life. He was opposed to the laws imposing penalties on betting and gambling generally; but that was a different question to whether a Bill ought to be passed for the purpose of screening particular individuals. He complained that Ministers had adopted no decided part on his subject, when they ought rather to have taken upon themselves the responsibility of the measure.

Lord Stanley

could not see that this was a Bill which peculiarly fell within the province of Government; on the contrary, if they had undertaken it, and had neglected any of the large measures which they had introduced, it might indeed have been fairly urged against them, that they had misapplied their time to class-legislation. All that Government had stated in the first instance was, that the Members of it did not care whether counsel were or were not heard at the Bar; but when they found that there was an objection to this course upon principle, upon principle they had resisted it. The objection was, that the plaintiff in the actions had no direct personal and pecuniary interest in the fate of the Bill, and that objection, in his opinion, ought to prevail. He appealed to the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Christie), whether he did not believe and know that the plaintiff was only a man of straw, put forward in order to keep the real party to the actions in the back ground—that he had sustained no damage, and had not advanced a shilling toward the costs, nor would be liable for any unless the result of the suit were unfavourable. Did not the hon. and learned Gentleman believe that such was the fact? [Mr. Christie: I have already stated that I do not believe all that.] He put it to the hon. and learned Gentleman whether he would get up in his place and say that he believed the plaintiff had any other or different interest to that which he had stated?

Mr. Vernon Smith

admitted, that he had entered the House only while the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson) was speaking and charging Ministers with shilly-shally conduct in respect to this measure. In that accusation he fully concurred. It was one question whether qui tam actions ought to be allowed, and another whether the Bill now under consideration ought to be passed in order to continue for a-year an Act passed earlier in the Session. He should be disposed to say that it ought to be continued; but he agreed with the hon. Member for Manchester, that the recent Indemnity Bill would never have been introduced at all, if it had not affected persons in high and conspicuous situations, connected with Members of the Legislature. It was remarkable that the Select Committee on Gambling had not said one word on the subject of horse-racing, and yet only a few days after they had made their Report, one of the grossest cases of fraud in horse-racing had been brought to light, so gross that the Judge who presided in his charge had expressed his astonishment that Gentlemen consented to associate with the characters concerned in it.

Sir J. Graham

admitted the talents of the hon. Member who had just taken his seat, as a debater, and regretted that he did not always do himself justice; for instance, having no doubt been more agreeably employed, and not having been present during the discussion, he had ventured to speak, and therefore adverted to topics already introduced by other Members. On this account he had noticed again the Judge's charge, a dish that had been previously served up with sauce piquante by the hon. Member for Weymouth. As to the supposed shilly-shally conduct of Ministers, there was not the least ground for such an accusation. When appealed to, he had expressly and distinctly stated, that able as was the Report of the Committee on gambling, Government could not be prepared in the present Session to bring forward any measure to carry its recommendations into effect. In the same way, when asked if Ministers would introduce a continuance of the Action Suspension Bill, he had replied at once that they could not. In short, nothing could be more clear and definite than his declarations upon the subject, so that there was not the slightest foundation for the charge that Ministers had pursued an undecided course. He was prepared to support the further progress of the Bill now under consideration, and thought that it would establish a dangerous precedent if the House consented to hear counsel for a party who had no direct interest in a measure.

Captain Berkeley

said, that let the insinuations against him, in that House, or out of it, be what they might, he should not be deterred from doing what he considered his duty towards his constituents and his country. He feared no comparisons, and was confident that his character would stand any test to which it might be submitted. He had opposed the Bill originally, and when, because he had been connected with the turf, it had been sent down to him by, he believed, the secretary to the Jockey Club, he had replied that he would be no party to the relief of persons from penalties they had, under such circumstances, incurred. He had been one of the Members on the Committee, who would have saved the House from some difficulty by calling certain parties as witnesses; but he and others of the same opinion were over-ruled; consequently no information had been obtained as to the motives which had led to the commencement of the actions. He owned that he felt considerable reluctance that such heavy penalties should fall into such hands; but the noble Lord opposite had met the matter gallantly, and had said, "recover your penalties, and I will not screen myself by the Bill of Indemnity." Notwithstanding the dirty work connected with it and arising out of it, he believed horse-racing to be essential to our breed of horses, and thus a great national good; but the excess of gambling on the turf had brought it into disrepute, and been the cause of the villanous transactions recently brought to light. As long as this system continued, he would not lend his vote to relieve persons from their liabilities.

Sir G. Clerk

said, in reference to the precedent in Wright's case, he had consulted the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government, who had said that he should take no part in the question whether counsel should be heard. Subsequently it appeared that Wright's case did not justify the course contemplated by the hon. and learned Gentleman, and then it was determined to resist it on the ground that it would establish a bad precedent.

Mr. Christie

explained that the hon. Baronet (Sir G. Clerk) had told him that the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government "did not care a fig" whether counsel were heard or not, and that the Government would make no opposition, if the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston) made none; and the noble Lord had said he would make none, if the Government made none.

Colonel Peel

begged to be allowed to say a few words on a personal matter. The hon. Members for Weymouth and Northampton had adverted to an expression made use of by the learned Judge on a recent trial, when he stated the regret he felt that Gentlemen would associate with such parties. He had never, in any sense of the word, associated with the plaintiff, and had never seen him until he had addressed him in court. He could no more prevent such persons from coming upon a race-course or into a betting stand, than he could prevent their walking into Westminster Hall. Because the noble Lord (Lord G. Bentinck) had exerted himself with equal ability and success, he had brought down upon himself the consequences now threatened. As a Member of the Committee, he had objected to the calling of such persons, because the opposite parties were excluded by the indemnity, and could not be heard. The main object of the hon. Member for Manchester, in the Committee, seemed to be to obtain evidence to support the qui tarn actions; and when be perceived it, he objected to it, and was still of opinion that he was right. The Committee and the country were much indebted to the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) for the able manner in which he had presided over its deliberations.

Mr. M. Gibson

wished to say a few words on the charge that in the Committee he had conducted himself in an unfair manner. He most distinctly denied that he had examined any witnesses with reference to the pending actions; and when it was pointed out to him that a question he had put might affect them, he was most anxious that it should be expunged. His object had been to elicit the truth as to the practices on the turf, and as he knew that plenty of evidence could be procured of the fairness of the proceedings regarding horse-racing, he did not wish the Committee to separate, leaving an impression on the public mind that the affairs of the turf were always conducted with the purest virtue and the strictest integrity. He avowed that he felt it his duty to receive information from Mr. Russell, and to put such questions as might elicit the truth—not making assertions on his own authority, but putting questions for the public interest; and be would say further, that if he felt it necesary, in the due discharge of a public duty, and to bring out the truth in a public investigation, he would see Mr. Russell every day and every hour of the day. It would have been quite competent for any Member of the Committee to have objected to any question he had put.

Lord George Bentinck

said, it was most singularly unfortunate for the hon. Member for Manchester that he should have directed his attention and the evidence to one particular bet, if it had nothing to do with the object of the plaintiff in the action. The true state of the case was, that thirty-four writs had been issued, but declarations had only been delivered against two individuals. One of them was named Hill, and the declaration against him claimed penalties of 12,000l. in consideration of a bet of 20,000l. to 3,000l. on a late Derby, alleged by the plaintiff to have been laid against a horse belonging to himself called Gaper. The hon. Member for Manchester said, that he had not been instructed to put particular questions with a view to this action, but he would not deny that the solicitor of the plaintiff had paid him constant visits at his house, and suggested the questions which should be put to the different witnesses. The hon. Member for Manchester had repeatedly in the Committee—[an hon. Member near him said, "three times"]—put the question to a witness whether he did not know of an individual bet of 3,000l. lost upon the occasion of a late Derby; and could any one have believed, if it had not been stated by an hon. Member of that House, and therefore they were obliged to believe it, that the object of putting the question was, not directly for the prosecution against the individual, of whom he had spoken? He thought, therefore, that there was some ground for stating that the hon. Member for Manchester, had sought to make the Committee for which he had moved, an instrument for the person who had brought these qui tam actions. He would leave the House and the country to judge whether the effect of those questions was not to forward the views of the plaintiff? He would not stop to notice the observations of the hon. and learned Member for Weymouth with respect to what had taken place in the Court of Exchequer. He was quite content to leave his character before the public with respect to anything he had done himself, or had been said or done in the Court of Exchequer. But it had been urged by the hon. Members for Manchester and Weymouth, that this was class legislation, and that the Bill would not be allowed to pass if it did not affect noble Lords and supporters of the Government; whereas, he believed that if the qui tam actions had not affected persons of high station, this Bill would have met with no objection. The ground on which he stated this was, that he had searched for precedents, and he found that there were no less than twenty-three precedents of cases in which actions of this description were suspended or discontinued; but they generally affected persons in a more humble degree of life, and in no one instance had there been a division in the House against them. It might be said that the clergy were persons connected with influential parties; but Bills had been introduced to protect manufacturers of turpentine, the boilers of pitch and tar, the proprietors, publishers, and printers of newspapers, the woollen manufacturers, the poor players, the coal fitters, and the Joint Stock Companies, which had incurred penalties. He, therefore, thought it hard to arraign that House and the other House of Parliament of class legislation, because it suspended actions of a frivolous kind. [The noble Lord made some further observations reflecting on the character of an individual, which we omit.]

Mr. Hume

thought it was the duty of his hon. Friend (Mr. Milner Gibson) to receive information for the purpose of eliciting the truth. If he had been in the place of his hon. Friend he would have done the same. He would have asked those for information who could have answered the questions and elicited the truth, and this he believed, would have been doing his duty. The noble Lord had stated, that there were a number of precedents, but he had always opposed those precedents, but he was always answered by the statement that they were solitary instances, and that no individual would be injured. He should vote with his hon. Friend, and would not say he was not warranted in the course he had taken after the treatment he had received, and in consequence of the unfair manner in which he had been attacked. A more unjust proceeding he had never known. The noble Lord said, that this was not class legislation; there was no one out of that House who thought with the noble Lord, and he believed that if the parties had not been highly connected, the Bill never would have been proposed. The country looked with alarm at the Legislature laying aside every rule, and refusing to allow individuals to continue actions which Acts of Parliament had authorized them to bring.

Mr. B. Escott

, as a Member of the Committee, who had watched the conduct of the hon. Member for Manchester, felt bound, from a strong sense of duty, to say that he thought his conduct had been marked with extreme fairness throughout the whole proceedings. In the questions which he put the hon. Member for Manchester seemed actuated only by a desire to elicit the truth, and as he (Mr. B. Escott) had desired only to know the truth, he would say that he would not have been so able to decide if it had not been for the questions asked by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. W. G. Hayter

had not seen anything unfair in any question which had been put. With regard to the particular question which had been put two or three times, it certainly appeared to have a direct bearing on the actions which were pending; but as soon as it was pointed out to the hon. Member that the question had this bearing, the hon. Member at once withdrew the question. The Statute Book was full of penalties, which were never enforced, and ought not to remain.

Mr. T. S. Duncombe

, when the original Bill was before the House, had regretted that it had not been introduced in the shape of a personal Bill, because then the parties interested might have been heard against it. It was all nonsense to call this a public Bill, for it only affected particular parties. He also regretted that the individual who alleged his interest was affected by the Bill, had not been allowed to show that he had an interest entitling him to be heard against it. In the absence of positive information, he must be guided by the best evidence he could obtain; and as far as the evidence had gone, he believed that the action had been brought for a vexatious purpose. On that ground he had originally voted for the suspension, and should do so now. If, therefore, his hon. and learned Friend opposed the Motion, he must vote against him; for he did not think this such an extreme case as would justify the course proposed.

Captain Pechell

regretted that the noble Lord had been betrayed into expressions discourteous to the hon. Member for Manchester and the hon. Member for Weymouth, for he thought that, on cooler reflection, he would not allude to those associations, which, however proper on the turf, were not usual in that House. The noble Lord had alluded to the Act which he (Captain Pechell) had brought in in the year 1835, for relieving printers and publishers from certain penalties, but he considered this to be a widely different case. There the parties acting in ignorance of the law had had advantage taken of them for a trifling omission in not inserting their place of residence at the end of their papers, and it would have been injustice to have allowed informers on such a plea to levy thousands upon thousands in penalties. This case was very different. When he saw this observation so properly delivered by Mr. Baron Alderson at a late trial, that "if gentlemen will bet with blackguards they must expect to be cheated," he thought they would do a monstrous deal of good in the country—they would reform the turf. It was in consequence of such proceedings that the turf had brought down upon it general indignation; the whole thing wanted reforming, and he wished that the law should take its course.

The House divided on the question that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question—Ayes 45; Noes 9; Majority 36.

List of theAYES.
Arkwright, G. Jermyn, Earl
Armstrong, Sir A. Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E.
Bentinck, Lord G. Lincoln, Earl of
Beresford, Major Lockhart, W.
Blackstone, W. S. M'Neill, D.
Boldero, H. G. Manners, Lord C. S.
Bramston, T. W. Martin, C. W.
Carnegie, hon. Capt. Neville, R.
Christopher, R. A. Nicholl, rt. hon. J.
Clerk, Sir G. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Cripps, W. Northland, Visct.
Duncombe, T. Palmerston, Visct.
Escott, B. Peel, J.
Forbes, W. Pringle, A.
Fuller, A. E. Stanley, Lord
Gladstone, Capt. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Gordon, hon. Capt. Thesiger, Sir F.
Graham, rt. hn. Sir J. Vane, Lord H.
Greenall, P. Verner, Col.
Greene, T. Vivian, J. E.
Gregory, W. H. Yorke, H. R.
Hayter, W. G. TELLERS.
Henley, J. W. Lennox, Lord A.
Hutt, W. Young, J.
List of theNOES.
Berkeley, hon. Capt. Pechell, Capt.
Collett, J. Tancred, H. W.
Elphinstone, H. Wawn, J. T.
Mitchell, T. A. Christie, W. D.
Morison, Gen. Gibson, T. M.

On the main, question being again put,

Mr. Christie

said, that he would avail himself of the opportunity which was then afforded him of entering into an explanation as to the statements made by the noble Lord opposite. He had made all the inquiries which he had been able to make on this subject, and he did not think that he was liable to the charge made by the noble Lord, that he had neglected to obtain the necessary information. The plaintiff (Russell) had not been called before the Committee of that House; but it might hereafter turn out that he had been called before a Committee in another place since the presentation of his petition, and had stated very extraordinary facts as to his intercourse with an hon. Member of that House. The evidence taken before the Committee elsewhere had not yet been published, and, therefore, he would not further allude to it; but he thought it would appear that the opinion he had already formed of the undue haste with which the Bill had been brought forward and carried on, was a correct one. It had been stated, and truly, that he did not object to the principle of the Bill, and he thought that the actions had been brought from unworthy motives, and the Legislature might fairly interfere to prevent them; but still he could not consent to any injustice being done to the plaintiff in the action which had been alluded to; and if the noble Lord would consent to the payment of the costs to the plaintiff, he would not offer any further opposition to the Bill. The Legislature had called common informers into action, and however contemptible they might be, it ought not to refuse to make use of them, and thus not only to reject, but injure them. Holding these opinions, however, he would not offer any factious opposition to the Bill.

Bill went through a Committee. House resumed.