HC Deb 12 July 1844 vol 76 cc756-9

On the Motion that the Actions for Gaming Discontinuance Bill (No. 2), be read a third time,

Viscount Palmerston

was anxious to say a few words with respect to the use made, in reference to this Bill, of a knowledge of what had passed elsewhere. He did not think that blame attached to any one for this; but, if blame was due, he held himself entirely responsible. When the Committee met, it desired him to place himself in communication with the Chairman of the Committee of the House of Lords, in order that by private communication they might have a general knowledge each of what was doing in the other Committee, with a view to assist the inquiry. Those communications were accepted on the part of the noble Duke, the Chairman of the other Committee. They were frequent and repeated, and on one occasion especially, it would be remembered by the Members of the Commons' Committee, that a table of decisions was communicated to them, which was of great use to them in one part of the inquiry. The day before yesterday, in the morning, in pursuance and as a continuation of the same communications, he was put in possession of what had passed in the examination of a witness before the other Committee. He came down to the House with a record of that knowledge in his possession; it was not given to him under a pledge of secrecy, and he did not feel himself otherwise than at liberty to make what use of it he thought proper. He communicated it first to the hon. Member for Manchester, the hon. Member for Weymouth, and the hon. Member for Finsbury; after he had made that communication which he thought it right to make, inasmuch as the facts so communicated bore on the question they were about to discuss, the noble Lord the Member for Lynn (Lord G. Bentinck) came to him and asked whether he had any objection to make the same communication to him he had already made to his hon. Friends. He thought in fairness he could not refuse to do so, and it was by his communication that the noble Lord and other Gentlemen on that side of the House were put in possession of the knowledge they made use of. He did not think that any one in that House or elsewhere could justly complain of the course he had pursued; but, if any error had been committed, he was sorry for it, and he only was to blame.

Bill read a third time, and passed.