HC Deb 04 August 1845 vol 82 cc1377-417
Mr. Hawes,

in rising to bring forward the Motion of which he had given notice, could assure the House that it was not without considerable pain that he felt it necessary to call their attention to a portion of the Report of the Committee on the petition of the South-Eastern Railway Company. He had hoped that Her Majesty's Ministers would have spared him the trouble of making, and the House the pain of listening to, the statement of facts to which he now felt it his duty to call their attention. He knew little or nothing of the gentleman whose conduct he was about to bring under their notice. He had no personal feeling whatever towards that gentleman, and he was not aware that, except in his capacity as a public officer, he had ever spoken to him. But, after the notice which the conduct of Mr. Wray had received from the right hon. Home Secretary, he considered it his imperative duty to ask the House and the country to decide whether the strong disapprobation the right hon. Baronet stated he had expressed with regard to Mr. Wray's conduct was a sufficient punishment for the offence that gentleman had committed. It might be said this was a late period of the Session for bringing forward a question of this nature; but he must remind the House that the Report of the Committee to which he had referred was not laid on the Table until the 12th of July. The matter was then left entirely in the hands of the Government; but it was not till the 19th of July that the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) addressed a letter to Mr. Wray—that being the same day on which he (Mr. Hawes) had written to the First Lord of the Treasury (Sir R. Peel), intimating his intention to bring the Report under the notice of the House. The letter of the right hon. Home Secretary to Mr. Wray was not printed till the 22d of July, and he thought the House would admit that it was next to impossible for him to have brought this subject under their consideration at an earlier period. He (Mr. Hawes) wished also, before he took such a step, to obtain the sanction of others to whose judgment he greatly deferred; and this circumstance had alone prevented him from instantly calling the attention of the House to the Report. Now, what had been the conduct of Mr. Wray? The Committee, he might observe, were una- nimous in their Report; they agreed upon all the material facts. Mr. Wray was a public officer, holding an appointment of considerable trust and responsibility, and very large sums of public money passed through his hands. It appeared that in 1836, Mr. Wray allowed himself to be retained as the paid agent of a private company to promote the success of a Bill introduced on their behalf, into Parliament. Mr. Wray stated that his engagement was of a strictly professional character. That engagement, it appeared, consisted in canvassing Members of Parliament, and subsequently in paying 300l. to a Member of Parliament for the services he had rendered to the Company, he having been a Member of the Select Committee, and having voted upon that Committee. He (Mr. Hawes) had not spoken to any Member of the profession on this subject who had not expressed regret at Mr. Wray's conduct, who had not strongly condemned it, and who had not entirely disclaimed the idea of considering such services in the light of professional services. He (Mr. Hawes) understood that the right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) had given Mr. Wray a general permission to exercise his profession while he held the office of Receiver General. He (Mr. Hawes) considered, that in this case Mr. Wray had not acted in the exercise of his profession, but that he had abused the privilege granted to him by the right hon. Baronet. Here was a paid officer who, instead of devoting his attention to his public duties, became the paid agent of a private company, and through whose hands a bribe was conveyed to a Member of that House. What was the opinion expressed by the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) upon such conduct as this? He thought the House would be surprised to find that the right hon. Baronet had taken no notice whatever of this circumstance. In the letter which in that House the right hon. Baronet had said was strongly condemnatory of Mr. Wray's conduct, there was not even a passing allusion to this very remarkable circumstance. There was no fact in this case which might not be found in the shape of admission in Mr. Wray's own evidence. It might be important to ascertain what course the House had taken in cases somewhat similar to this; and it was for them to consider whether, in accordance with former precedents, they could consistently pass in this slight manner over conduct which directly involved a breach of the privileges of the House. It was known to many hon. Members that in 1695 very serious abuses were brought under the notice of the public. At that period Members of Parliament and persons in very high stations were implicated in a system of jobbing somewhat similar to that which had been exposed. The House then came to this general Resolution— That the offer of money or any other advantage to any Member of Parliament as a fee or reward for him to promote the furtherance of any matter depending, or to be transacted in Parliament, is a high crime and misdemeanor, and tends to the subversion of the English Constitution. There could be no doubt that all lawyers would construe such a Resolution to comprehend rewards given afterwards as well as bribes given before the Act done. It was also well known that at common law it was a misdemeanor to offer any reward to any public servant for doing that which he was bound to do without any reward. But the matter which he now sought to bring under the consideration of the House was not one altogether new. He would read a short extract to them, showing what had been done in the case of Mr. Bird:— Mr. Bird attended according to order, and was called in, and being at the bar was told by the Speaker that there had been a complaint made against him to this House for offering money to Mr. Musgrove, a Member of this House, to present a petition to this House. Whereunto he said, that some persons did apprehend that a Bill depending in this House for selling an estate, late of Mr. Howland, did affect their interest in part of that estate, and therefore desired him to prepare a petition to be presented to this House for the providing for their interest, which accordingly he did; and that he being a stranger to the proceedings of this House, and there being a title in the case, and knowing Mr. Musgrove to be a gentleman of the long robe, did intend to give him a guinea for his advice in that matter; but understanding by Mr. Musgrove that he had committed an error in so doing, he begged pardon of Mr. Musgrove, and as he did now of this House, and then withdrew. Resolved, that the said Mr. Bird be called in, and that Mr. Speaker do reprimand him upon his knees at the bar. And he was called in, and upon his knees reprimanded accordingly, and then discharged. He called their attention to this matter for the purpose of showing them how affairs of this kind were dealt with in former times; and he might now add, that there was nothing worse in former times than were the transactions of the present day. He had shown what the House of Commons had done with men high in office—men of rank and station, and at the time of the South Sea bubble he found that the following Resolution had been adopted:— That the taking in or holding of stock by the South Sea Company for the benefit of any Member of either House of Parliament, or person concerned in the Administration (during the time that the Company's proposals, or the Bill thereto relating, were depending in Parliament), without any valuable consideration paid, or sufficient security given for the acceptance of or the payment for such stock, and the Company's paying or allowing such person the difference arising by the advanced price of the stock, were corrupt, infamous, and dangerous practices, and highly reflecting on the honour and justice of Parliament, and destructive of the interest of His Majesty's Government. The case now before the House was one in which an attempt had been made to influence the conduct of Members of the House of Commons, by the application of money belonging to a public company. Then, he would ask, was the House of Commons in the present day to pass over such a case? Would they be satisfied with the weak and undecided letter which the right hon. Baronet had written? It was now time to make a stand against such proceedings, and to call upon the Ministers of the Crown to maintain the purity of the subordinate departments of the Government. He had already referred them to what had been done in the House of Commons, and he had no doubt that the proceedings of the House of Lords would be found to be in consonance with those of the representative branch of the Legislature. In fact, the Journals of the Lords showed this, as might be seen from the following Resolution:— It is resolved by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, that the taking of stock belonging to the South Sea Company, or giving credit for the same without a valuable consideration actually paid or sufficiently secured, or the purchasing stock by any director or agent of the South Sea Company for the use or benefit of any person in the Administration, or any Member of either House of Parliament, during such time as the late Bill relating to the South Sea Company was depending last year in Parliament, was a notorious and most dangerous corruption. Though this was a matter of great importance in the House of Commons, as well as out of doors, yet he refrained from the use of any harsh expression; and he might add, that throughout the whole proceedings of the Committee, there was nothing even approaching to harshness. He was bound further to state, that Mr. Bonham concealed nothing — that he frankly told all he knew—and that the Committee acquitted Captain Boldero of all personal corruption, though his conduct was most indiscreet. But, at the same time, the Committee were quite of opinion that that Gentleman would not, if the Solicitor to the Ordnance had been a man of a different character, have allowed himself to be entangled in such transactions. For Mr. Wray, however, there was no excuse. He took the money in question to Mr. Bonham, that gentleman being at the time under great obligations to him. He did not say that by way of any disparagement to Mr. Bonham, but for the purpose of showing that Mr. Wray ought to have been the last man in the world to solicit him to become concerned in such affairs. Nothing could be so indefensible as was the conduct of Mr. Wray. In bringing these proceedings under the consideration of the House, he stood forward in the discharge of a painful duty. If he had not undertaken that duty, the parties still could not have escaped the just censure of the House, for some other Member would have been induced to call on them to pronounce an opinion. In taking this step, he was sanctioned by the judgment and opinions of several hon. Members, and he felt that it now remained for him to take the sense of the House on the following Resolutions:— That it appears from the Report and Evidence laid before this House by the Select Committee on the South Eastern Railway Company's Petition, that Mr. Wray, the Receiver of the Metropolitan Police District, was, in the year 1836, the retained and paid agent of a private Company, to promote the success of a Bill introduced into Parliament on their behalf. That it also appears, from an Answer to an Address of this House, that the Secretary of State for the Home Department has, in consequence of the Report and Evidence referred to, addressed a letter to Mr. Wray, expressing his strong disapprobation of Mr. Wray's conduct. That it appears to this House, upon a reference to the Evidence, that Mr. Wray, on behalf of the South Eastern Railway Company, paid the sum of 300l., derived from the sale of Railway Shares, to Mr. Bonham, for his services as a Member of this House, and as a Member of a Select Committee, to which the Bill of this Company was referred; a circumstance to which the Secretary of State has not adverted in the letter addressed to Mr. Wray. That in the opinion of this House, such conduct deserves not only the serious animadversion of the House, but disqualifies Mr. Wray from holding an office of trust and responsibility under the Crown.

Sir J. Graham

said: As the hon. Member for Lambeth has so frankly and unreservedly stated the opinion which he entertains of my conduct, I must say, that I do not blame the course which he has thought proper to take upon this occasion. It appears to me that the question now before the House may be disposed of with very little loss of time, for the whole of the circumstances of the case lie within a very narrow compass. But, before I proceed to consider those facts, or to call the attention of the House to the conclusions which must necessarily be deduced from them, I beg to say that I am not at all about to dispute the constitutional doctrines which the hon. Gentleman has laid down. I have no intention whatever of denying the weight of those precedents to which he has referred us. I quite concur with him in thinking that no care is ill bestowed which has a tendency to preserve the purity of this House; and I also agree with him that it is exposed to some danger from the spirit of speculation which at this moment prevails; and furthermore, no man can, for a moment, doubt that strict impartiality ought to be religiously observed by the Members of this House in every matter, public or private, upon which they are required to give a vote. It is also equally unquestionable that no crime is greater than to attempt to seduce the Members of this House from the strict and uniform observance of that impartiality which forms one of their first duties. After expressing these several opinions, I now proceed to the other observations which I feel called upon to make. In the first place, I must observe that I have not risen for the purpose of defending Mr. Wray; nor is it my intention in any respect to palliate his conduct, and, therefore, all that I have now to say may be very briefly brought before the House. To the best of my judgment, I have in this case endeavoured to do justice, and to give effect to that which I conceived to be the decision of the Com- mittee. The hon. Member who brought forward this Motion has told the House that he had no acquaintance with Mr. Wray, nor any knowledge of him previous to the investigations which took place before the Committee. Now, it so happens that, notwithstanding I have been in office during a period of four years, I never yet came into personal contact with Mr. Wray. He is to me a perfect stranger; I therefore cannot have been influenced towards him by any favourable feeling. I can most truly state that until I wrote the letter which has been brought under the notice of the House, I never had any intercourse with Mr. Wray, nor have I ever received any application on his behalf from any friend of his, nor have I been solicited with reference to him in any form whatever. When I wrote to him, therefore, I felt myself perfectly free to take a dispassionate view of his case. The hon. Gentleman has expressed strong regret that he should have been under the necessity of bringing forward the Motion upon which the House now finds it necessary to decide. I confess I feel some surprise that, as he did consider it his duty to make this Motion, he should have thought proper to make it at so late a period of the Session. I must say I think it very unfortunate that these Resolutions were not proposed ten days ago. Looking round me, I do not at present see any Members of that Committee, excepting the hon. Gentleman, who presided over its deliberations, and one other Member. [Mr. Hawes: There are three Members of the Committee present.] Well, admitting that there are three present, three out of fifteen is a very small minority. But, setting aside questions so comparatively unimportant, I proceed to call the attention of the House to this—that the matter really at issue is, have I or have I not fulfilled the recommendations of the Committee? Now, for that purpose, I repeat that I used my best endeavours. I think I have been fortunate enough to render those endeavours successful; but before I enter into the discussion of that point, there are two or three circumstances to which I wish to advert, and it appears to me that those circumstances ought not to be lost sight of. The hon. Member for Lambeth says that Mr. Wray bribed a Member of this House, and by the bribe which he gave him purchased his co-operation. What is the fact? It was distinctly shown in evi- dence before the Committee, that the part taken by Mr. Bonham was taken without any reward or promise whatever; and the opinion of the Committee to that effect is set forth in the Report as clearly as it is possible to make any kind of statement. But, then, it is asserted, that the alleged offer made to Mr. Bonham was made at the suggestion of Mr. Wray. The witness Sewell said it was made principally at his suggestion—that is, at the suggestion of Mr. Wray. Now, I fearlessly state, that in this matter I can have no favourable feeling towards Mr. Wray, for he is unknown to me—while, on the contrary, I have long been acquainted with Mr. Bonham, and I am proud to call that gentleman my friend. He has committed a very grave error, and Mr. Bonham never dissembled the extent of that error. I regret that he should have been betrayed into it, but he still is my friend, and I shall continue to call him my Friend; but, though Mr. Wray is not even known to me, I still am bound to do him justice. From the evidence, or at least from a part of it, it would appear that Mr. Wray had some peculiar and personal objects in making the offers which were said to have been made to Mr. Bonham—that, in fact, he was a creditor of Mr. Bonham, and expected to receive the amount of his debt out of the proceeds of such advantages as were expected to accrue from these railway transactions. But these assertions have been altogether disproved. Nothing can be more clear than that Mr. Wray did not touch a single farthing of the money which came into Mr. Bonham's possession. My prejudices, as I have already said, are against Mr. Wray, and in favour of Mr. Bonham, and I wrote to Mr. Wray under the influence of those impressions. Mr. Wray, when he came before the Committee, was told to bring his private account which he had at Drummonds'; but the Committee did not examine that account. And Mr. Elgood was also in attendance, but he was not called in by the Committee. From Mr. Wray's account at Drummonds', it was clear enough that neither directly nor indirectly did he derive any benefit from these railway transactions. To say thus much, is due in common justice to Mr. Wray. The hon. Member for Lambeth says, that I have not referred to the payments made to Mr. Bonham by Mr. Wray; but these were payments made long anterior to the period into which it was the duty of the Committee to inquire. That which I wished to do was, to notify to Mr. Wray my strong disapprobation of the course pursued, and I did notify my disapprobation of the whole transaction. My wish, as I have already said, was to give effect to the Report of the Committee, and I think it important that any hon. Member should notify wherein I failed to give effect to that Report; and I think I have succeeded in causing such measures to be taken as should meet the exigencies and equity of the case. With respect to Mr. Hignett, I can of course have no hesitation in saying that his conduct was proved to have been such that it became necessary he should be removed from the place he held in connexion with the Board of Ordnance. As to the conduct, however, of Mr. Bonham and Captain Boldero, it was shown that their conduct was not so culpable as that of Mr. Hignett; but yet it was the opinion of the Committee that they should withdraw from the service of the Crown, and that their conduct was inconsistent with the strict impartiality which should characterize officers of Government Departments and Members of this House. So soon as Mr. Bonham and Captain Boldero learned the decision of the Committee, they tendered the resignation of their offices, and those resignations were accepted. At page 13 of the Report the Committee say— Your Committee cannot conclude without calling the attention of the House to the evidence given by Mr. Wray, the Receiver General of Police. That evidence is fully set forth in the Report, and nothing can be more clear than this, that no payment was made to Mr. Bonham. I am called on to give my opinion as to the punishment that ought to be inflicted on Mr. Wray. I find that immediately after the passage I have just quoted, the Committee gave it as their opinion that the conduct of Mr. Wray called for very severe animadversion. Looking, then, at the Report of the Committee, and at the fact upon which it is founded, I still hesitated before I made up my mind on this question, whether or not I should dismiss Mr. Wray; and before I finally decided I inquired of more than one Member of the Committee—since it was not a private Committee—as to what occurred with respect to the part Mr. Wray took in the transaction. I was told that the part of the Report, as originally framed by the Chairman, did not stop at the words "serious animadversion;" but that there was added to that expression a sentence, to the effect that "the attention of the Secretary of State for the Home Department ought seriously to be called to the conduct of Mr. Wray." I was, Sir, assured that these last words were, after a discussion in the Committee, deliberately withdrawn, and that there was no division upon them. That circumstance, when it came to my knowledge, did most materially influence my conduct in the steps which I took with respect to Mr. Wray. If the words originally contained in the Report had been retained there when it was presented to this House, I should have thought that the Committee deemed it necessary for me to adopt some extremely stringent measures with respect to Mr. Wray, and I should have acted accordingly. [Mr. Hawes: The right hon. Gentleman has not told all that passed with regard to Mr. Wray.] I am quite sure that I am stating correctly the facts that were narrated to me by the noble person who formed one of the Committee; and the observation of the hon. Member confirms me in the opinion which I have already expressed as to the disadvantages of discussing a question like the present in the absence of those hon. Members who were on the Committee, and who would be able, if present, to state the facts better than I can do. The real question which is before the House is, whether in fulfilling the functions of the high and responsible office which I have the honour to hold, I have acted fairly and with strict regard to justice and impartiality? I contend, therefore, that I have a right to enter into a consideration of what took place in the Committee; and I do assert that the knowledge on my part of the fact that the words which I have repeated were proposed to be inserted in the Report and were deliberately left out, did most materially and justly weigh with me in writing the letter which it became my duty to address to the individual whose conduct was referred to in that part of the Report. All the individuals implicated in these transactions, have, in so far as Her Majesty's Government had it in their power, been punished. Mr. Hignett was dismissed from his situation as Solicitor to the Board of Ordnance. Two others, one a Member of this House, and the other a Member of the Government, offered their resignations under the most painful circumstances. Mr. Wray, whose position is inferior to that of the gentlemen in question, has been severely censured by me; and I must now say, that, on the whole, though I may be held to have been wrong in what I did, I should under the same circumstances, do the same again that I have done; and I say that every dispassionate man, on reading the Report of the Committee, would come to the same conclusion that I have done with respect to the precise amount of blame which is attached in the words of the Report itself to the conduct of each of the individuals implicated in the transactions inquired into. It will, therefore, be for the House to determine the question upon the grounds which I have now laid before it.

Mr. Hawes,

in explanation, would state to the House the facts relative to the alteration of the Report, without making any comment. The original draught of the Report, as framed by himself in his capacity of Chairman of the Select Committee, said, with reference to Mr. Wray, that "such conduct deserved the immediate notice of the Secretary of State for the Home Department." Some objection was taken by a Member of the Committee to the introduction of the mention of the Secretary of State in the Report. It was urged that the duty confided to the Committee was to examine into the matters referred to them, and to report the facts to the House; and it was then proposed that, in lieu of drawing the attention of the Home Secretary to the conduct of Mr. Wray, the words "serious animadversion" should be substituted. He confessed that he was of opinion at the time that this expression was far more severe than that which he had originally proposed, but at the same time he did not think it was more severe than the circumstances called for.

Mr. Sheil

said, that the statement of the right hon. Baronet was, that he had given to the composition of the letter to Mr. Wray the utmost care and attention—weighing, in fact, every expression employed in it. He admitted that he had sent for a noble Lord a Member of the Committee—Lord Ashley, he presumed—[Sir J. Graham: I did not say so.] No, but he was justified in assuming that it was the noble Lord, as the right hon. Gentleman had been in communication with a noble Lord a Member of the Committee, and Lord Ashley was the only noble Lord to whom the description could apply. He could not help, however, thinking it rather extraordinary that the right hon. Gentleman should not have consulted the chairman of the Committee as to a fact in which the chairman was principally concerned. The draft of the Report was furnished by the chairman in the performance of his official functions as head of the Committee. Certain alterations were made in it: but would it not have been the regular course, in inquiring into these alterations, to have sent for the individual with whom the Report had originated? The right hon. Baronet stated, that he had not written this letter in a careless, hasty mood, but that, on the contrary, he had well weighed its every expression—every phrase. Now, that being the case, it was curious that he should have omitted from the letter to Mr. Wray all mention of the principal charge brought against him. The Report of the Committee made a distinct specification of that particular charge. Let the House listen to the concluding paragraph of that part of the Report which referred to Mr. Wray:— Your Committee feel the greatest regret in being obliged to direct the attention of the House to a circumstance which has been disclosed in the course of this investigation, viz., that Mr. Bonham received from the South Eastern Railway Company in the year 1836, at which time he was a Member of the House of Commons, the sum of 300l. This sum appears to have arisen from the premium upon the sale of 100 reserved shares, which were, subsequently to the passing of the Bill, appropriated to Mr. Bonham, and disposed of for his benefit, and was paid by a check to Mr. Bonham, through Mr. Wray, as a gratuity for the services which he had rendered to that Company, both in and out of Parliament, and as a Member of the Committee on the South Eastern Railway Company's Bill. But the Committee are bound, in justice to Mr. Bonham, to add, that they received no evidence to show that such gratuity was the result of any previous arrangement between Mr. Bonham and the Company. Here then (said the right hon. and learned Gentleman) is a fact—a most material fact—selected by the Committee, dwelt on by the Committee with more distinctness, and in a spirit of more specific reprehension than any other, and one in reference to which, as the immediate antecedent (you will excuse the legal expression), the Com- mittee reported they could not abstain from saying that "the conduct of Mr. Wray was deserving of serious animadversion." It is to that—what shall I call it?—most unfortunate transaction, in which Mr. Wray and Mr. Bonham were both implicated, and with respect to which, if Mr. Bonham is criminal at all, Mr. Wray is far more culpable, that the Committee directed the special attention of the House. And yet that is the very fact which the right hon. Gentleman, I will not say studiously omitted, but which, after mature deliberation, he neglected to notice. I turn from one part of the conduct of Mr. Wray noticed by the Committee, to the other reprehended in the letter of the right hon. Gentleman, and which really was not a serious charge—that this Gentleman was the paid agent of a Company at the same time that he was a paid officer of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman says:— I have learnt with regret from this Report, that you were, in the year 1836, while holding a responsible office under Government, retained as a paid agent of a private Company to promote the success of a Bill introduced into Parliament on their behalf; and that you were engaged to canvass Members of the House of Commons in favour of that measure during its progress through Parliament. [Sir James Graham: Read on.] The right hon. Gentleman continues:— It now becomes my duty to convey to you my strong disapprobation of the course which you thus pursued. I do not think it necessary, on the present occasion, to express any opinion whether the due performance of the duties of Receiver General of Police might or might not have been, in the first instance, compatible with private practice as a barrister; but I can entertain no doubt that your interference, especially as a paid agent in canvassing Members, must tend to weaken the confidence of the public in the impartiality of the Government, whose officer you are, and materially to impair your efficiency in the performance of the official duties which are entrusted to you. Now, I must say, with reference to this part of the reprimand of the right hon. Gentleman, that to canvass Members of Parliament in that lobby is one thing, and to apply to an individual Member of a Select Committee to use his influence to pass the Bill which was referred to that body—to solicit his sustainment of a measure, in reference to which he stood in a fiduciary and, I may say, judicial capacity—is quite a different thing. Now, hear the statement made by Mr. Bonham, whom the Committee reported to have regularly attended and voted on the Committee of the South Eastern Railway Bill:— In the early part of the Session of 1836, Mr. Wray, to whom I was under considerable obligations (it is not necessary to state them with explicitness), came to me and said, 'I am very much interested in the success of the South Eastern Railway, and I wish you would give us a lift; and I want your advice upon some points.' I said, 'My dear Wray, I owe very great obligations to you, and I will do anything I can to serve you,' He said, 'I should be very much obliged to you if you would.' And upon that, I have not the least hesitation in stating that I did all I could individually to assist Mr. Wray in the object he had in view; that is, in plain terms, I did what I could to assist him in passing that Bill, both in and out of Parliament. Mr. Wray never held out to me one word, nor did any conversation ever take place, as to any advantage of any kind or sort that I was to derive from it. I considered it a great personal advantage; I mean personal, with reference to the debt of gratitude that I owed him. Now, I think, it will be admitted that Mr. Wray, being the creditor of Mr. Bonham, and having the power of dictating, as has been said by a high authority, "in all the obsequious forms of peremptory submission," his application on the Bill referred to was something very different from what we understand as the canvass of Members of Parliament. [Sir James Graham: Read on.] I shall read that part to which the right hon. Gentleman seems to refer:— I can only state again that, as to the transaction itself, there was never, at the time I assisted them, the smallest expectation on my mind of deriving any advantage from it; and of course, when I state this, the Committee will most naturally and properly take care to ascertain that fact from other quarters. Now, I will say more. I have read the evidence carefully, and I have not found an insinuation, even in the shape of an intelligible inuendo, that any arrangement was previously entered into with Mr. Bonham that he should vote in a particular way. That the communication was understood by Mr. Bonham to be in the shape of a bribe, is what by no circumlocution, or by the most malignant paraphrase, can be inferred; but what the meaning of Mr. Wray's offers were, can be best interpreted by his own evidence. Here it is:—

"CHAIRMAN: Were you not appointed to confer with Mr. Bonham upon the matter? — An offer of 100 shares was made through me to Mr. Bonham.

When did you make the offer to Mr. Bonham?—Subsequently to the passing of the Bill.

How?—I do not know. I am very intimate with Mr. Bonham; I very likely told him.

What did you tell him it was offered for?—I told him they wished to show some mark of gratitude for his favours, and that 100 shares were therefore placed at his disposal.

Mr. ROEBUCK: For the services he had rendered to the Bill?—Yes.

In what capacity?—For the general support he had given to the Bill.

In the House of Commons?—He was in the House of Commons, I think.

CHAIRMAN: You do not doubt that he was in the House of Commons?—I think he was.

Mr. ROEBUCK: Could he have rendered assistance in any other way?—I do not think he could, except by canvassing parties out of doors. There were several Members of Parliament who were equally active, I think, with him.

Did they receive any money?—I do not know; I am not in the least aware.

But he was an active Member of Parliament, and paid for his activity?—He was an active Member of Parliament, and paid in that way, you may take it.

CHAIRMAN: But you have no doubt of the fact that 300l. was awarded to Mr. Bonham, and he received it?—None.

Mr. ROEBUCK: For his services as a Member of Parliament?—The Committee must draw its own inference; I can only say that they felt very grateful to him for his services both in and out of doors."

Now, under these circumstances, can the House be of opinion that the letter addressed to Mr. Wray by the right hon. Gentleman, within whose cognizance this matter specially fell, was of the character it ought to be? The Committee, composed of men of high rank and station in this House—men of all parties, the majority being of the right hon. Gentleman's own party, and there not being a single division, were unanimous that Mr. Wray deserved serious reprehension. For what? For that which the right hon. Gentleman entirely omitted in his reprimand. The charge I bring against the right hon. Gentleman is, that "canvassing Members of Parliament" did not include the specific accusation brought against Mr. Wray, and in that respect the right hon. Gentleman was himself in fault; for— Judex damnatur cum nocens absolvitur. The right hon. Gentleman says he is him- self implicated in this case; and of a sin of omisson I think he has proved himself guilty.

Mr. W. Patten

said, that it was impossible to pursue a discussion like the present without inflicting a very serious degree of pain upon many individuals; and if that was the object in view, he should have supposed that the suffering occasioned by the former discussion had been sufficiently severe. He should therefore abstain from entering upon any topic other than that immediately under consideration, namely, the construction to be put upon the Report. He must, however, be permitted to observe, that as the right hon. Baronet had referred in handsome terms to Mr. Bonham, whose friendship he had not hesitated to claim, so he (Mr. W. Patten) must say with reference to Captain Boldero, that he was guiltless of everything, except indiscretion, in the transactions reported upon; and he fearlessly asserted that his friend Captain Boldero was entirely innocent in the matter. Not one of the Committee had said a word which could affect the honour of Captain Boldero; and he regretted very much, though the circumstance was highly to his credit, that he should have felt called upon to resign his office. The hon. Member for Lambeth had alluded to the unanimity which prevailed in the Committee. Looking to the particular circumstances brought under discussion by him, he thought the hon. Member would have acted somewhat more fairly if he had referred to the Members of the Committee, and have asked their opinions before he brought his Motion before the House. He was bound to express his conviction, that if the Committee had to make their Report over again, they would not convey their opinion in the language stated by the hon. Member. He had taken notes of what had occurred in the Committee, and from their perusal, aided by his own recollection, he must certainly state that the words "serious animadversion" were not intended by the Committee to lead to the course against Mr. Wray recommended to be adopted by the hon. Member for Lambeth. Several circumstances concurred in leading the Committee to adopt a lenient and moderate course—amongst those circumstances the lapse of time since the transactions occurred, and the imperfect recollection of the transactions by Mr. Wray. He must, therefore, repeat his observation that he could have wished the hon. Member had taken the opinion of the Committee before he adopted his present course. He must say, that the right hon. Baronet had correctly judged of the Report. If he had not done so, he (Mr. W. Patten) must state, that he himself ought to be held responsible for not having more accurately and precisely expressed his meaning when he agreed to the expressions referring to Mr. Wray. The right hon. Baronet had no power to act beyond that line which the Committee had distinctly marked out for him, for the Committee itself selected the evidence upon which Mr. Wray's culpability rested. Then it proceeded to say, having given that summary of the evidence, "Your Committee cannot abstain from expressing their opinion, that the part taken by Mr. Wray is deserving of serious animadversion." Now, he (Mr. W. Patten) was bound to say, if the right hon. Baronet had actually dismissed Mr. Wray, considering that Mr. Wray was his own accuser, and looking at all the circumstances of the case—though he would not say that it would not have been just—that he should have regarded it as a rigid measure of justice; and he did think that the right hon. Baronet, in taking a lenient course, had erred, if he had erred at all, upon the right side. He had a strong opinion upon the criminality of the practice imputed to Mr. Wray; and he agreed, that at the present moment every exertion should be made by that House to check its progress. He was unwilling, however, that the House should come to a decision upon this point when so few of the Committee were present; but he felt, also, that he should be acting in a more severe manner than the case justified if he should accede to the Motion of the hon. Member for Lambeth; he hoped, therefore, that the hon. Gentleman would not feel aggrieved if he (Mr. W. Patten) should move the previous question. The question was one of the most painful in which he had ever been engaged, since he had been a Member of that House. He did not know Mr. Wray—he had never seen him till he entered the Committee room, nor had he seen him since—but he must say, that if Mr. Wray possessed the common feelings of humanity, a much severer punishment than that which had been inflicted upon him by the right hon. Baronet, could not by possi- bility have been passed. He should, therefore, move as an Amendment the previous question.

Lord J. Russell

said: Sir, the question now before the House is, whether the House shall think proper to take any notice of a transaction with respect to which a Committee has laid a Report before the House; or whether the House shall entirely pass it by? The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and who moved the previous question, says, that this is a painful subject. No doubt it is a painful subject, as all accusations involving the character of individuals must be; but the question really for the House to consider, is, whether, because it is a painful subject, they can altogether avoid expressing any opinion upon it, and whether it is not due to the character of the House and to public justice that some Resolution of this kind should be passed? There is no doubt that every case of a Resolution of censure—that every case of impeachment, especially, which is brought before this House, imposes on it a painful duty; but if it is a question on which the House is bound to express an opinion, its being a painful duty is no reason whatever why we should endeavour to evade it, and to shrink from the performance of that which the Constitution has made it incumbent on us to perform. The right hon. Gentleman has stated, that it is very unfortunate that my hon. Friend should have brought forward this Motion so late in the Session. I own, I hardly expected that that would be brought as a reproach against my hon. Friend. As soon as I perceived that a Report was coming into this House, I asked my hon. Friend, if he were not going to take some notice of it? He replied, that he thought it right to wait a week, that you might have full time to deliberate and to decide upon the course which you might think right? I thought that my hon. Friend took a just and proper determination—it was a determination of forbearance towards the Executive Government, and I thought he acted rightly. But it is now made a reproach to my hon. Friend. ["No, no."] It is now, I say, made a reproach to my hon. Friend, that he did not ten days ago, bring forward this Motion. That is the charge which the right hon. Gentleman thinks it decent to bring against my hon. Friend. Why, it was necessary, as my hon. Friend had waited so long, that he should then ascer- tain from the Ministers of the Crown what course they had adopted; and when the right hon. Gentleman said, that he had contented himself with writing a letter of reprimand to Mr. Wray, it was proper that he should see that letter, and should consider what it was incumbent on him then to do under the circumstances; so that delay could hardly be avoided, consistently, in the first place, with the forbearance due to the Executive Government, and in the next place, to the justice of the case. But then the right hon. Gentleman says, that he has considered the case with the view of adopting the recommendations of the Committee. That is the whole case of the right hon. Gentleman, and that, as I think, involves a mistake in judgment which he committed. When I say a mistake in judgment, I am not accusing him of any particular partiality to Mr. Wray. I do not say, that Mr. Wray is a friend or political partisan of the right hon. Baronet; I am not making any accusation of that kind; but the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to say, that I think he committed an error in judgment, in his place as a Minister of the Crown, in the course which he adopted. It does not appear to me that the Committee had any business to apportion the punishment which might be due for the several faults or offences which they might find to have been committed; that, I think, was no part of the duty of the Committee. I cannot find, with regard to more serious offences, that Committees of this House have ever thought it to be their duty to apportion the amount of punishment which ought to be inflicted. I was referring to a case of a much graver nature than this, viz. that of Sir Jonah Barrington, who was removed from his office in consequence of an Address of this House. I find that the Committee stated all the circumstances — they stated the culpability of Sir J. Barrington in having converted to his own use moneys paid in by certain persons who were before his court; but they never laid down what the penalty should be. Being a Committee carefully and judiciously performing their duty, they thought it no part of their duty to tell the House, or to dictate to the Crown, what should be done. That was the business of the House; and this House and the other House undertook that duty, a painful one no doubt; they addressed the Crown for the removal of Sir J. Bar- rington, and the Crown complied with that Address. That is the business of the House; and, therefore, I think that the right hon. Gentleman is quite mistaken in saying that he was to look to the Report of the Committee, and to endeavour to gather from their words what was the exact course which he was bound to take with regard to Mr. Wray. I think he was still more in error when he endeavoured to gather from a single Member of the Committee what had passed in the Committee, and what were the general views of the Committee—I think he was wrong to take any such course; but I think, if he had adopted such a step at all, that he should have gone to the Chairman of the Committee. The right hon. Baronet, however, asks the opinion of a single Member; he gathers from him what he thinks to be their opinion; he acts upon that opinion, and it turns out to be totally at variance with the opinion of the Chairman, and, as the Chairman supposes, with that of the Committee itself. That shows that the right hon. Gentleman is in error when he conceived that it was his duty simply to take into his consideration the Report of the Committee. Well, now, Sir, what I have said is for the purpose of showing that I think this was a matter for the House to consider, and not for the Committee. I think that my hon. Friend was justified in bringing it before the House; because I consider that the offence is a very grave one, and that it cannot be passed over by this House without inflicting a serious injury upon the character of the House. What has the right hon. Gentleman done? He has, in the opinion of my hon. Friend, and in my opinion, entirely passed over the offence of offering 300l. to a Member of this House for his services in this House, and has only censured Mr. Wray for having undertaken business incompatible with the due performance of his functions. Why, if Mr. Wray had undertaken the common duties of a barrister—if he had pleaded in the Court of Queen's Bench—if he had done anything that would have been commendable in any other person not a public functionary, I think that this reprimand would have been almost as applicable as to the present case. It is as if any office-keeper or messenger in the right hon. Gentleman's office should be distributing bribes to the electors of Westminster at the time of an election, and the right hon. Gentleman should say to him, "I don't think it right that you should continue to distribute those bribes, because it takes up your time, the whole of which you should devote to the Home Office." That is just the sort of reprimand which the right hon. Baronet has given in this case, and therefore I think that it is inadequate. Now as to the kind of offence which has been committed. I have compared it to what I think is the nearest analogy that can be made to it, viz. to the offence of bribing electors who are entitled to vote in the election of a Member to serve in Parliament. It is an offence of a like nature, but of a higher degree. The right hon. Gentleman says, that Mr. Wray never said to Mr. Bonham, "If you take a part actively in our favour in the Committee, and if you promote the South-Eastern Railway Bill in the House, you shall have a particular reward." The right hon. Gentleman was right in that; but how is the offence of bribery defined in the case of voting for Members to serve in Parliament? The Act relative to bribery has a clause with regard to giving head money at elections, and after stating that such a practice prevails, it says— Be it declared and enacted, that the payment or gift of any sum of money to any voter before or after any election, or to any person on his behalf, or to any person related to him by birth or affinity, on account of such voter having voted, or refrained from voting, whether paid under the name of head money, or under any name whatsoever, the same shall be deemed to be bribery. And that is, whether there is any previous understanding or not; there is nothing in the clause with respect to any previous promise—the only question is, whether money is paid to him on account of his having voted, or having refrained from voting, at any election. Then I come to this case; and I ask, is it on account of the votes and of the conduct of Mr. Bonham, as a Member of this House, that 300l. was paid to him, derived from shares which had been disposed of by Mr. Wray for the purpose of obtaining that 300l.? and I find this in the evidence, after proof is given of the offering of 100 shares to Mr. Bonham by Mr. Wray:—

"What did you tell him it was offered for?—I told him they wished to show some mark of gratitude for his favours, and that 100 shares were therefore placed at his disposal.

"Mr. ROEBUCK: For the services he had rendered to the Bill?—Yes.

"In what capacity?—For the general support he had given to the Bill.

"In the House of Commons?—He was in the House of Commons, I think.

"CHAIRMAN: You do not doubt that he was in the House of Commons?—I think he was.

"Mr. ROEBUCK: Could he have rendered assistance in any other way?—I do not think he could, except by canvassing parties out of doors. There were several Members of Parliament who were equally active, I think, with him.

"Did they receive any money?—I do not know; I am not in the least aware.

"But he was an active Member of Parliament, and paid for his activity?—He was an active Member of Parliament, and paid in that way, you may take it."

Now, that is the whole case; and that justifies, I think, my hon. Friend in saying that this was a bribe administered by Mr. Wray to a Member of this House for his active services as a Member of this House. That is the case as admitted by Mr. Wray; and this which I have before read is that which you, by an Act of Parliament passed a few years ago, have declared to be bribery at elections. Of this you may be sure, that there is no man who is a handloom weaver, or a cobbler, or a day labourer in agriculture, who, if found receiving money under such circumstances for having given his vote, and brought before a court of law, would not be convicted of bribery, and suffer the penalty due in that behalf. If that be the case—if any man in those circumstances—if any man compelled by his poverty, is tempted by the offer of 5l. or 10l. to gain a sum by which his wife and family may be supported—if such a man is to be sent to gaol, and to be subject to a heavy penalty—I say it is not justice to allow 300l. to be given to a Member of Parliament for his vote, and afterwards to adminster to the person who gave it, only a gentle rebuke for his improper interference in matters which were inconsistent with his business as Receiver General of Police. That is the view which I take of the case; and there are no considerations of the pain it may give to Mr. Wray, or to any other person who has committed this offence, which would induce me to refrain from giving my vote upon this occasion in support of the Motion of my hon. Friend; by which means I believe I shall best meet the justice of the case, and uphold the dignity of this House. The House declares, that it will visit se- verely the offering of any gratuity to any Member of this House for any part of his Parliamentary conduct. Are you prepared not to act up to that? Do you mean to declare that the Resolutions of 1695, or of the time of the South Sea bubble, were of an age too virtuous for your imitation—that you dare not imitate the times of William III. or George I.—and that in these days we must be more lax in the rules which we apply to Members of Parliament? I trust you will not sanction such an inference as that; and yet you cannot pass this matter by by voting the previous question without inducing that inference, and compelling the public to believe that you do conceive it a small offence, sufficient that it is mentioned with a reprimand, that 300l. is given to a Member of Parliament for his vote and influence upon a Private Bill in this House. Then it appears that this happened a long time ago, in 1836. That may be. But in the case of Sir Jonah Barrington, with respect to whom an Address of this House was presented to the Crown to remove him from his judicial office, the greatest punishment that could be inflicted on any one holding the office of Judge, was passed in 1829, The offences were committed in 1805 and 1810, and they were not represented to this House till twenty-four years after; and then that was an offence for which this House, and the House of Lords, without any difference of opinion, without any division, carried up an Address to the Crown, praying that Sir Jonah Barrington might be removed. Sir, the right hon. Gentleman, in the last place, says it will be an attack upon, or a censure upon him, if this Resolution shall be passed. Why, Sir, are we to come to this, that we cannot preserve the purity of this House, if our doing so should in any way reflect on the purity of the Secretary of State? Are we to have it said, "You must not endeavour to protect your Members from the offence of bribery, to remove those who have in any way attempted to bribe—not because the Secretary of State is in any way involved in this corrupt transaction — not because he is in any way connected with the offending party — but because, on reviewing the offence, he came to one opinion, and therefore the House of Commons must not venture to come to another." Are we really sunk so low as this? I dare say many official Gentlemen are here who will be ready to maintain the infallibility of the Secretary of State; but I must raise my voice on behalf of the House of Commons. I must say that the House of Commons, however late it may be in the Session, if the Secretary of State has not shown a good judgment, ought to show a better. I do not think a Secretary of State need be much ashamed if the House of Commons should venture to say, in a matter that concerns themselves, that they have formed a judgment different from his—one formed on juster precedents, and tending more to the purity of Parliament. And I think it hardly fair for the Secretary of State to say to the House of Commons, "Do not come to this Resolution, because, if you do, you will be reflecting on me, I having come, ten days ago, to a different decision; I read the Report. I considered it quite by myself without consulting any body else; mine is therefore to be reckoned an infallible decision, and you are not to deal with it." The right hon. Gentleman says, too, that his decision has been one of lenity. I do not impute to him in this case the being actuated by any other motive than a wish not to deal too harshly with a public servant, placed under his own auspices, but with whom he has no personal connexion. But I do not think the right hon. Gentleman always takes the lenient view. I have known individuals, foreigners in this country, who were exposed to charges that they were suborners of assassination, and the right hon. Gentleman having received those accusations in the month of February, in the one year, brought them forward in the month of April in the next year, having allowed fourteen months to elapse, without inquiring whether there was an answer to those accusations, which should prove them to be untrue, false, and unfounded. I think a right hon. Gentleman who could so have acted, can hardly take credit for his leniency; can hardly take credit for being a person who is ready to spare the feelings of others—can hardly take credit for having acted from no other motive than regard to public concernments. I shall never forget that case; it made a very deep impression upon me; I think it reflected upon the hospitality of this country. But this case is eminently one of justice; I think it a case in which the justice of this House is concerned. The right hon. Gentleman (Sir Robert Peel) received the resignations of Mr. Bonham and Captain Boldero. If he thought they had been unjustly treated—that their offence did not merit removal from the public service, he had only to say, I shall not offer your resignations to Her Majesty; I think you are innocent, and it is my duty, therefore, to ask you to continue to hold your offices. He judged otherwise, and I think rightly. I think neither Mr. Bonham nor Captain Boldero ought to have continued to hold their situations in the public service. But with respect to their offences there is a mighty difference. In regard to Mr. Bonham's connexion with Mr. Wray, he is so far guilty, that although he did not expect to receive a pecuniary reward, he did not withstand the temptation of 300l. offered by a Company for services performed in this House. Therefore I think the right hon. Gentleman could not do otherwise than tender the resignation of Mr. Bonham to Her Majesty, and advise her to accept it. With respect to Captain Boldero, I think it was a much more doubtful matter. I myself consider that there was no criminality attaching to Captain Boldero, though I consider there was conduct which did not become a person holding an office in a public department which had to give its consent to certain railways with which he chose to be connected. I do not think there is any proof that reflections which might have struck a more discreet person than Captain Boldero, did strike his mind, or that he was aware of the impropriety of his conduct. I think, therefore, it amounted to this—that the right hon. Gentleman was bound to accept his resignation, and did his duty in tendering it to Her Majesty; while I think it was fair that he should, as I dare say he did, express to Her Majesty his very great regret that such should be his public duty towards a man whose personal integrity he had no reason to doubt. But the case of Captain Boldero being what I have just stated, now comes the question whether another person who was concerned much more deeply, and with respect to a much more grave offence, should be allowed to escape only with a letter which he could show merely as a proof that the Secretary of State did not think it altogether proper that he should act as a barrister at the same time that he was Receiver General of Police. Is this fair and equal justice? I do not see any reason why you should act differently in that case from the others. I will even say, if there are men to whom you are disposed to act with partiality, you should be more strict in visiting their misconduct with this penalty, but that should not prevent you from inquiring into the justice of the case before you, and dealing with each as he deserves. This is, in fine, not a question of accusation against the Ministers of the Crown, as the right hon. Gentleman has chosen to put it; it is a question regarding the purity and character of this House, upon which, if the House were to agree with my hon. Friend, they would certainly impugn the justice, while they did not call in question the purity of the motives of the Secretary of State for the Home Department. This, as far as I see, is the whole question, and I shall certainly give my vote in favour of the Motion.

Sir R. Peel

The noble Lord has entirely mistaken the purport and intent of the observations of my right hon. Friend, when he complained of the late period of the Session at which the hon. Gentleman had submitted this question to the consideration of the House. My right hon. Friend, with myself, was disposed to give to the hon. Gentleman all due credit for that forbearance which led him to postpone any question as to the course which her Majesty's Government intended to pursue, until the lapse of that period which should enable them maturely to consider the bearing and effect of the Report agreed to by the Committee. My right hon. Friend said nothing to-night which was meant in the slightest degree to charge the hon. Gentleman with any neglect of duty in that respect. But this was the fact to which the observations of my right hon. Friend had reference, that the letter which my right hon. Friend wrote to Mr. Wray, conveying the decision of the Government to him, was presented to this House on the 22nd of July. If the hon. Gentleman were dissatisfied with the decision to which my right hon. Friend had come, why is it that he postponed calling the attention of the House to the subject until the 4th of August, having been in possession of that letter on the 22nd July? [Mr. Hawes: I gave notice last Thursday.] Yes; but if you were dissatisfied with the course taken by my right hon. Friend, surely it was competent for you, immediately on seeing that letter, and ascertaining the decision of my right hon. Friend—or, at least, it clearly was within two days of the reading of that letter, competent to have given that notice which would have enabled Members of that Committee to have been present at this discussion. The noble Lord adverted to an expression of my right hon. Friend behind me, that this was a painful subject, saying, that, although it was painful to our private feelings, we were not on that account at liberty to shrink from the performance of a public duty. I admit the position of the noble Lord; I think on this, as on many other subjects, no consideration of pain to our private feelings, is sufficient to save us from the performance of a public duty. But is it possible he can believe that any consideration of the kind has prevented Government from dealing out that measure which is consistent with justice? Can he make no allowance for persons in the situation of my right hon. Friend and myself, for the pain it must have caused them to accept of the resignations of Mr. Bonham and Captain Boldero? Have we shown, from a desire to consult our private feelings, or protect our personal friends, any disposition to shrink from the adoption of those measures which might be necessary for the purpose of justice? Having had to perform many painful acts in the course of my public life, I can sincerely say that I never have performed any so painful to my private feelings as the advising Her Majesty to accept the resignation tendered by Captain Boldero. With respect to Mr. Bonham, I have long been connected with him by ties of private friendship; and now, at a time when he is labouring under the affliction inseparable from removal from the public service, I will not hesitate to say that, impossible as it is to defend that act, my feelings towards him remain unaltered. And although not connected with him by the same ties of private friendship, the pain I felt in advising Her Majesty to accept the resignation of Captain Boldero, was equal to that I felt in advising the acceptance of the resignation of Mr. Bonham. And this I will say of Captain Boldero, that I do not believe, in the whole range of the public service, except as to this particular transaction, there is a man who has performed with greater fidelity, industry, and integrity, the duties of his situation; I know all the difficulties of a military man filling such a situation; I know how difficult it is to resist solicitation; but I appeal to my right hon. Friend, whether or no we have not entire confidence that any matter of public business entrusted to Captain Boldero would be transacted by him with no other view, no other intention, than looking in what mode he could best consult the interests of economy; and, at the same time, provide for the public service? In the execution of his duty I never met with an officer whose conduct, up to the period of this particular transaction—and in that it was inadvertence, and not corruption — was more blameless. Why did he tender his resignation? Not from the consciousness of having acted corruptly, not from any belief felt that his official conduct had been influenced in the slightest degree by the possession of those shares; but, in the spirit which I think became a man of honour, seeing the Report of that Committee, and the expressions used respecting his conduct, he felt it better that he should tender his resignation. I have referred to this for the purpose of showing that it is quite possible for me to concur with the noble Lord, that no consideration of personal feeling, no fear of being subjected to pain, should deter us from the performance of a public duty. I think we have shown throughout this transaction, in the acceptance of these resignations, a desire to prevent the influence of personal feelings weighing injuriously, and to protect the honour and credit of the public service. But then the noble Lord says, we are not to be prevented from passing any Resolution, merely because it is to censure my right hon. Friend. Did my right hon. Friend ask any forbearance towards him? Did he claim any exemption from punishment, if it be just? But the question is, whether the course taken by my right hon. Friend subjects him to the implied censure which you will pass upon him if you proceed to this Resolution. That is the whole question, not whether you cannot do it, but whether it be just or not. This is an offence against Parliamentary privileges, rather than an offence against the Crown, committed in the execution of particular duties incumbent on the holder of the office of Receiver General of Police. This House, therefore, took it into its cognizance, and appointed a Committee on which it devolved the duty of expressing an opinion. If you assign to us, then, the duty of inflicting punishment without reference to the Report, you have led us into a snare, because this House is responsible for the acts of the Committee, which it did not disavow. The Committee, having given a summary of the evidence, proceed to state to the House the conclusion to which they have come, both with respect to the charges contained in the petition of the South Eastern Railway Company, and the conduct of the parties implicated in the transaction, as disclosed in the evidence. They did not say, We will rehearse to you the bare facts; and leave it to the Crown to judge of them; but they said, We will now proceed to apprise you of the conclusions to which we have come upon them. They did not content themselves, as in the case of Sir Jonah Barrington, with relating what had been done, but they discriminated between the cases, and apportioned the degree of blame that each was conceived to deserve. With respect to Mr. Hignett, they did not content themselves with saying, "There is his case, and you will observe his conduct has been corrupt." Not at all. They said that— Mr. Hignett corruptly used the influence of his official station for the furtherance of his private pecuniary interest, and has therefore shown himself unworthy of confidence as a public man. Acting on the Report of the Committee, I advised the Master General of the Ordnance immediately to proceed to the dismissal of Mr. Hignett. I said, "Here is the Report of the Committee; they state that they think Mr. Hignett unworthy of confidence as a public officer; at once dismiss him from the public service; that is the report of the tribunal appointed by the House of Commons to inquire into this transaction, and to lay before the Mouse of Commons its sentiments with regard to the conduct of the public officers concerned." You tell us the Committee was appointed of distinguished men, and was unanimous in its opinion, Why, that is precisely the point we took into consideration. My right hon. Friend said, the Committee was unanimous, and above all exception in its own position; I cannot take a better course than to carry out the recommendation of the Committee. With respect to Mr. Bonham and Captain Boldero, they have said that— Such transactions are inconsistent with the maintenance of that strict impartiality of conduct upon public questions which is to be expected from the public servants of the Crown, and calculated to impair the confidence of the public in the integrity of Members of Parliament. My right hon. Friend and myself, therefore, determined to accept the resignation which they tendered. Having shown an utter disregard of our private feelings, and acted so far in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee, we came to the case of Mr. Wray. My right hon. Friend said, "With respect to this matter, which is not one of official conduct that the Crown could notice, but a Parliamentary offence, I wish to carry out the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee." And what said they with respect to Mr. Wray? "Your Committee cannot abstain from expressing their opinion that the part taken by Mr. Wray, the Receiver General of Police, is deserving of serious animadversion." "Well," said my right hon. Friend, "we have dismissed Mr. Hignett; we have accepted the resignations of our private and political friends, and I will fulfil the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee, and express my severe disapprobation of the conduct of Mr. Wray." It was for the conduct thus pursued by Mr. Wray, that my right hon. Friend said, "I visit you with my severe reprobation, and unless you confine yourself to the duties of your office, you incur the penalties of dismissal." Just contrast the Motion made with the recommendation of the Committee. I ask, will the House pass an implied censure on my right hon. Friend, for having complied with that recommendation? In your Report, you draw a manifest distinction, sufficient to deceive any Minister of the Crown, between the cases of Hignett and Wray. You do not say of the latter that he has rendered himself unworthy of public confidence, but he has rendered himself liable to severe animadversion. But when you make your Parliamentary Motion, what are your words? "That Mr. Wray's conduct deserves not only the serious animadversion of the House"—that being the recommendation of the Committee—"but disqualifies Mr. Wray from holding an office of trust and responsibility." Would there be any justice in now visiting us with punishment, because we construed the intentions of the Committee from their expressions, and did not subject Mr. Wray to the same punishment as Mr. Hignett? In your Resolution, you assimilate Mr. Wray's case to that of Mr. Hignett, but you did not do so before. Did you think him equally culpable, or so much so that he ought to be removed from office? Then why did you not say so? If you had said a word as to Mr. Wray being undeserving of confidence as a public officer, my right hon. Friend would have dismissed him at once; but you said nothing of the kind. In the original draught of the Report stood the words— To call the attention of the Secretary of State particularly to the conduct of Mr. Wray;"— But these were omitted afterwards. The hon. Gentleman suggests a doubt as to the difficulty of the House of Commons calling the attention of the Secretary of State to the conduct of Mr. Wray; but you might have avoided all difficulty by simply following the method adopted with respect to the case of Mr. Hignett. My right hon. Friend said that from no human being has he received a solicitation in favour of Mr. Wray, nor was any communication, direct or indirect, made on his behalf. This is important, as showing the animus of my right hon. Friend, and that he had no motive but a wish to do justice. I do not know what such a stoic, with feelings so Spartan as those of the noble Lord might have advised; but you must make allowance for the weaknesses of human nature. It is at least magnanimous to punish the powerful, and not visit with the greatest severity the weakest party, who has no claims upon you. We determined to execute the intention and fulfil the purpose of that Committee, which was unanimous in its opinion—which was composed of men in whose impartiality and integrity we reposed confidence; and it was because they were above all suspicion that we thought ourselves safe if we adopted the conclusions they drew. I must say, considering the situation of Mr. Wray, his age, and his being a barrister, to be visited on the part of the Secretary of State with severe disapprobation, and to have the expression of it published to the world, and laid on the Table of this House, is an ample measure of punishment. I know not what the noble Lord may think of it; but next to the absolute deprivation of office, I can conceive no penalty more serious than has been already inflicted upon Mr. Wray. What is the object of punishment in this and every other case? It is to deter from similar conduct in future. If that be your present object, can you justly charge my right hon. Friend with undue favour? If you cannot, if you believe that to an honourable mind, to a man who, as a barrister, has enjoyed the respect of an honourable and high-minded profession, and who now meets a public rebuke, this must be a severe penalty. You may think public duty requires you to go still further; but if you do, I think you will push punishment beyond its legitimate object. But, above all, I think you will involve us in blame unjustly, because our object has been the fulfilment of the intentions of your own tribunal. Even if we have erred on the side of lenity, it has not been from a desire to protect the powerful; it has been consistent with an earnest wish to do everything that justice towards Parliament requires; to do everything that for the sake both of present punishment and future example the offences committed require.

Mr. Hume

considered that Captain Boldero had been harshly treated. Corruption could not be in any way laid to his charge; and it was against that their animadversion was directed. He felt deep regret for the position in which Mr. Wray was placed; he had known that gentleman for twenty years, and never observed any but the most honourable conduct in him; he felt great pain for the rebuke which Mr. Wray had received on account of the late transaction. So far from thinking that they ought to go further, as his hon. Friend asked them, he thought the animadversion of the right hon. Gentleman sufficient, though he was not prepared to deny its justice. He blamed Mr. Bonham, who ought, from his position, to have been the last man to receive such an indication of the railway company's good opinion; he blamed Mr. Wray for having been the means of carrying out the objects of the company; but he should remark, that the whole case against Mr. Wray ended there. That was the whole extent of it, and he did not believe that it showed any corruption; there had been no previous bargaining between Mr. Wray and Mr. Bonham; and whilst he regretted that Mr. Wray had lent himself to such a proceeding—than which nothing deserved more to be deprecated—yet he thought they had done sufficient in the matter, inasmuch as Mr. Wray and Mr. Bonham had not previously communicated upon the subject of this transfer of shares. He was of opinion that Mr. Wray had been grievously punished by the censure of the right hon. Baronet opposite—a censure which had been extensively circulated, and which, to a man of sensitive mind, such as he knew Mr. Wray to be, was a very severe punishment. Feeling that enough had been already done in reference to this matter, he should vote against the Motion of the hon. Member for Lambeth.

Viscount Ebrington

said, that whilst the mode of proceeding was so severe against those who elected Members for Parliament who received bribes, it appeared strange that hon. Members should feel so little disposed to take any active course when the charge was against those in a higher sphere. The speech of the right hon. Secretary of State for the Home Department rather surprised him, for it treated the proceedings of the Committee as if they had been all confined to a few sentences at the conclusion, and as if there had been no proof of Mr. Wray having been instrumental in conveying those shares to Mr. Bonham. Agreeing with the noble Lord the Member for London, that it was most desirable to preserve the purity of the House of Commons, and particularly at a time when so much excitement prevailed in the money market, he would support the Motion of the hon. Member for Lambeth.

Mr. Ward

feared that his vote, which would be with the hon. Member for Montrose, would bring upon him the censure of the noble Lord behind him (Lord Ebrington). The question which they had to decide was, whether the punishment which had been already inflicted was or was not proportionate to the offence which had been committed. They were not to decide upon the fallibility or infallibility of the Secretary of State for the Home Department; but they were to consider whether they would affirm a Resolution which would, if carried, inflict utter ruin on a man who up to the time when that charge was made, had never been accused of any conduct incompatible with his official duties or his high personal character; a man who, it must be admitted, had considerable good qualities, when even in the heat of party he had friends on both sides of the House. Mr. Wray had been censured by his official superior; and that censure had been almost doubled by the speech of the noble Lord, his predecessor in office. He was sure that the hon. Member for Lambeth was actuated by conscientious motives in the course which he had taken; but he could not agree with him in thinking that the House ought to agree to his Motion. The hon. Member ought to recollect, that the House had done all that it could to protect the purity of the tribunals which were connected with it, by which matters affecting private rights were decided; and that nothing could be more advantageous to the public, as compared with another, than the present system of regulating their Committees compared with the odious system which prevailed in 1836. Under the system which prevailed in 1836, individuals who had private interests to advance, attended the Committee, and urged those interests, in some cases, as far as they could. That system had been altogether reformed by the House; and the result of it was, that not the slightest suspicion attached to any of their Committees—a fact that was of very great importance, when they recollected the unparalleled amount of money which was concerned in the cases that had been before the various Committees of the House of Commons during this Session. Parties who were concerned might have complained of the judgment which a Committee of the House of Commons had displayed, or they might have complained that a sufficient time had not been allowed to individuals to be heard; but there had not been, as far as he could understand, an idea of a shadow of a shade of a complaint of any corrupt motive on the part of their Committees during this Session. He had the authority of Mr. Wray for stating that there was a very great misunderstanding abroad, to the effect that Mr. Bonham was at one period in debt to Mr. Wray. The fact was, that Mr. Bonham had never solicited any assistance from Mr. Wray, and that no such pecuniary relations existed between them. There had been no previous understanding between Mr. Wray and Mr. Bonham, and no advantage whatever had been obtained or demanded by Mr. Wray, who had been sufficiently punished. He had been severely censured by his superior; and the House would act harshly and unfeelingly if they went further with the matter, and ran down small game, by affirming the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Lam- beth. He should prefer giving a direct negative to the Resolution of the hon. Member for Lambeth; and for that purpose he hoped the hon. Member who had moved the previous question as an Amendment would withdraw it, in order to allow a direct negative to be given to the Motion.

Colonel Peel

expressed his high opinion of his two Friends who had resigned their offices, and assured the House that he had been one of those most anxious to have the whole case investigated when the charge was made. Indeed, so desirous was he to have this investigation, that if no one else had brought it forward, he (Colonel Peel) had determined to bring it forward, although he had no personal interest in the matter, as he never had any railroad shares in his life. His hon. Friends had expressed to him their sense of the kindness and courtesy of the Committee towards them; and he felt it his duty to state that feeling to the House. With respect to the North Kent Railway, his two hon. Friends, having seen from what since occurred that it was indiscreet on their part that shares should be nominally held by them, as the public, not knowing that the shares were held but nominally by them, would be less inclined to depend on their decisions in consequence of that holding of shares. It appeared perfectly clear from all the transactions, that neither of his hon. Friends had availed themselves of the knowledge of the assent of the Master General of the Ordnance to go to the market and purchase shares, or make any pecuniary profit. When his hon. Friend (Captain Boldero) was aware of the assent of the Master General of the Ordnance to three railways, he made no use of his knowledge to buy shares, or avail himself of any advantage from that knowledge, which showed that he had no disposition to avail himself of his official position for his private interest. It might be necessary for him to inform the House that Mr. Bonham had stated in a letter that Mr. Wray had never even indirectly alluded to his (Mr. Bonham's) conduct on the South Eastern Railway Committee; and it was not until after the Royal Assent had been given to the Bill that he got 100 reserved shares. On reference to the proceedings of the Committee, it appeared that in the divisions, the majorities were such as to show that Mr. Bonham's vote could not have carried the question in those cases. He was confident that his two Friends were most honourable men, and that anything which could affect their character, would be felt by them more severely than any worldly loss.

Sir John Easthope

said, that he felt called upon to discharge a very painful duty in giving his vote on this occasion. The man who would not feel it painful to be obliged by his sense of duty to sanction a Motion which would bear so strongly upon an individual with a large family, such as Mr. Wray had been described to be by his hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, was a man whose feelings he did not envy. He intended to vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Lambeth, solely from a sense of justice; he could have no other feeling, for he had never seen Mr. Wray, nor had he ever had the slightest communication with him. He participated fully in all those feelings of personal respect which had been expressed towards an individual whose name had been brought forward in relation to those transactions, for he had the pleasure of personally knowing him, and he was gratified to find that the general feeling of the House had perfectly acquitted the hon. and gallant Officer to whom he alluded, of corrupt or dishonourable conduct—he meant Captain Boldero, who, notwithstanding, had yet felt it needful to retire from the public service. Nothing could be more gratifying to him (Sir John Easthope) than to find that this acquittal was the universal opinion of the House. He believed that the acceptance of Captain Boldero's resignation was due to public opinion, and to the character of the public men of this country before the world. Approving both of the hon. and gallant Officer for resigning his office, and of the course which the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Government had felt himself called on to pursue, he could not agree with the hon. Member for Sheffield, that he (Sir J. Easthope) was joining with those who would destroy a deserving man with a large family, merely because he would adopt the same rule with regard to Mr. Wray which had been adopted with respect to Captain Boldero and Mr. Bonham. He regretted very much to feel obliged to vote for the Motion of the hon. Member for Lambeth; but he would ask the House to consider the opinions of the public with regard to their conduct in this matter—to reflect upon the probable feelings of those of an humbler class than that to which Mr. Wray belonged, if the House were to pass by his conduct with comparative impunity. He was not disposed to question the motives of those who might vote against the Motion, or to attribute to them any desire to acquiesce in the improper conduct of Mr. Wray. He did not attribute unworthy motives to those who were opposed to the Motion of the hon. Member for Lambeth; but he strongly objected to the right of the hon. Member for Sheffield to say that those who voted for the Motion were seeking to ruin a man because they were desirous that the same course should be adopted towards him which had been taken with regard to Captain Boldero and Mr. Bonham.

Sir R. Inglis

said, though appointed a Member of the Committtee, he did not attend, because, having been physically unable to do so the first day, he did not think it right to join it subsequently. He had, however, followed with deeply painful, but still he hoped judicial interests, the proceedings day by day, and he felt that the Resolutions of the Committee had fallen too severely on all three of the Gentlemen affected by it; and if that was his opinion of the Report, of course he looked with less favour on the Motion of the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. Hawes) who carried the Resolutions of the Committee far beyond the line they had originally drawn, and subjected to severer punishment than they had intended the individual whose conduct the House was then discussing. The hon. Member for Sheffield had made an appeal ad misericordiam on behalf of that gentleman. He was not insensible to such an appeal; but sitting there judicially, he hoped he would not suffer any such feelings to influence his opinion. He thought it was due to Mr. Wray to appeal not to their mercy, but to their justice; and he hoped, therefore, that his hon. Friend who had moved the previous question, would withdraw that Amendment, and let the sense of the House be taken "aye" or "no," upon the direct Motion. If Mr. Wray were guilty beyond the measure of guilt in which every Member of that House then in Parliament must acknowledge they were involved nine years ago before the House had reformed itself, he would not stand there to defend him or advocate his case. He thought he could say that he knew the same thing was done by another individual on the opposite side of the House with reference to the very same question; and when such was the case, and the matter had not occurred this year or last year, which would have made the case different, he hoped the House would negative the proposition of the hon. Member for Lambeth.

Mr. Mitchell

felt it his duty to vote for the Motion. He did not think it just to Captain Boldero and Mr. Bonham to remove them from office, and suffer Mr. Wray—who, after reading the whole of the evidence, he thought the more guilty—to retain his office. He did not censure the Government for the course they had taken in the matter; but the Committee, he thought, were to blame for the way in which they had acted in this respect.

Sir J. Graham

wished to say one word on the Motion now before the House, and he confessed he hoped that, notwithstanding the opinions expressed by various parties who had spoken, the hon. Member for North Lancashire (Mr. W. Patten) would adhere to his preposition. He thought "the previous question" was the direct mode of meeting the Motion of the hon. Member for Lambeth. He (Sir J. Graham) should have a difficulty in negativing the proposition that the conduct of Mr. Wray was deserving of censure; besides, he felt that there was force in what had fallen from the hon. Member who had just sat down. He thought if they would directly negative the Motion, the conduct of Captain Boldero and Mr. Bonham would appear more culpable than that of Mr. Wray—a conclusion at which he certainly could not arrive. He thought the position of Captain Boldero and Mr. Wray had rendered their conduct more amenable to censure; but, looking at the merits and demerits of the case, he was bound to say he did not consider the conduct of Mr. Wray as less culpable than that of Captain Boldero and Mr. Bonham; and he thought that would appear to be the case if they were to negative the last Resolution. He hoped, therefore, the hon. Member would adhere to his Amendment.

Mr. B. Escott

would not vote for the Motion if he felt it implied any censure on the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the view he had taken of the case; for he felt that the most honourable and upright men might have taken a lenient view of the matter. He also thought the Report of the Committee justified the course the right hon. Gentleman had taken. It was the Committee that had brought them into their present difficulty. The Committee ought to have distinguished between the degrees of culpability of the persons charged with offences before them. He rejoiced on one account that the question had been brought forward, and that was, that it had been the means of eliciting from the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government that noble testimony to the character of those two honourable men, Captain Boldero and Mr. Bonham, and of confirming that testimony by practical experience of their merits. What struck him more in this than in the former debate was, that Captain Boldero and Mr. Bonham, through their own sense of honour, and through a high appreciation of their sense of duty on the part of the Government, had been visited with punishment, while Mr. Wray, the really guilty party, escaped. The question was, had Mr. Wray, or had he not, offered money or money's worth to a Member of that House for the discharge of some sort of function or other which belonged to him as a Member of Parliment? If he did so, he was guilty of an offence for which he ought to be visited with the censure of that House. He knew of an instance in which, within the last few days, a Member of that House was offered money in order to make him discharge a certain duty in the House in a manner which would be most acceptable to the person who would pay the amount. The hon. Gentleman immediately caused it to be intimated to the party that he would throw his petition into the fire unless the offer were withdrawn.

Mr. Hawes

rose amidst cries of "divide," "divide." He said that he would detain the House but for a moment, in adverting to one or two points, which he thought it his duty to refer to, before the vote was taken. The right hon. Gentleman opposite fell into an error, in stating that there was an alteration effected in the Report of the Committee, and that words which imported that Mr. Wray should be dismissed were struck out, and that milder terms had been substituted in their stead. The words which first stood in the Report were to the effect that "the conduct of Mr. Wray deserved the immediate notice of the Secretary of State;" and the words substituted were, that "conduct deserved serious animadversion." These words had been substituted after serious reflection, and the Committee had reason to think that these words would lead to the dismissal of the man whose conduct was so animadverted upon. In regard to Mr. Hignett, the words of the Report were of a decisive character. But did the Committee say that Mr. Bonham and Captain Boldero should be dismissed? Why, then, did the Government accept their resignation? In accepting the resignation of Captain Boldero and Mr. Bonham, they had gone beyond the words of the Report. Was it an objection that, in the present case, they should do the same, if reason existed for their so doing? Two points had been wholly overlooked by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. The first was the omission which had been alluded to, as having taken place in the letter. Mr. Wray's was an offence against society, against that House, and against the Government. If the Government did not mark such conduct with their censure, they were open to the charge of being somewhat indifferent to the character of the public men whom they employ. The right hon. Gentleman was a great advocate of Parliamentary privilege. They had a Resolution which declared such an offence a breach of privilege; and yet the right hon. Gentleman did not condescend to notice that. He defied them to negative the Resolution now before the House. The main facts were incontestable; and if that were so, let the consequences follow. The Committee, when the matter was under their consideration, saw that, whilst they were dealing as leniently as they could with the offences before them, these offences must in the end be visited by loss of situation to the patties implicated. He lamented the whole matter as much as any one could. He was keenly alive to the painfulness of the duty which now devolved upon him, but it was a duty from which he was not inclined to shrink. As to the charge of delay, when he moved for the letter of Mr. Wray, the right hon. Gentleman himself asked him if he intended to found a Motion upon it. He then said that he could not at the time give a decisive answer, but that the matter was subject to his future consideration. Within a week afterwards, there was a Notice upon the Table. He was somewhat surprised at what had fallen that evening from the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Ward) and the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford (Sir R. Inglis), who had said more to bring the House into contempt than he expected to have heard from such quarters. He denied the imputation cast upon the House by the hon. Member for Sheffield, when he said, that in 1830, there were not fifty Members in it who were not implicated, more or less, in transactions somewhat similar to these. He felt himself called upon to vindicate the character of the House from such aspersions. By not visiting with the only punishment which they could inflict such conduct as was now complained of, the Government seemed to sanction what appeared to be, at least, a direct act of bribery on the part of a public officer.

The House divided on the previous Question, namely, that that Question be now put:—Ayes 18; Noes 81: Majority 63.

List of the AYES.
Brotherton, J. Palmerston, Visct.
Collett, J. Plumridge, Capt.
Easthope, Sir J. Russell, Lord J.
Ebrington, Visct. Scott, R.
Escott, B. Sheridan, R. B.
Fielden, J. Tufnell, H.
Mitchell, T. A. Yorke, H. R.
Moffatt, G.
Morris, D. TELLERS.
Norreys, Sir D. J. Hawes, B.
O'Connell, M. J. Sheil, R. L.
List of the NOES.
Antrobus, E. Fremantle, rt. hn. Sir T.
Baillie, H. J. Fuller, A. E.
Barkly, H. Gaskell, J. Milnes
Baring, rt. hn. W. B. Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Borthwick, P. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Bowles, Adm. Gore, M.
Broadley, H. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Bruce, Lord E. Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.
Buller, Sir J. Y. Greene, T.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Hamilton, G. A.
Cardwell, E. Hamilton, W. J.
Chelsea, Visct. Hamilton, Lord C.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Henley, J. W.
Clive, Visct. Herbert, rt. hon. S.
Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G. Hope, G. W.
Collins, W. Houldsworth, T.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Hume, J.
Cripps, W. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Damer, hon. Col. Kelly, F. R.
Darby, G. Lincoln, Earl of
Denison, E. B. Lowther, Sir J. H.
Dick, Q. Lygon, hon. Gen.
Douglas, Sir H. Mackinnon, W. A.
Duckworth, Sir J. T. B. Maclean, D.
Duncan, G. McNeill, D.
Estcourt, T. G. B. Meynell, Capt.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Mildmay, H. St. John
Mundy, E. M. Smith, rt. hn. T. B. C.
Neeld, J. Somerset, Lord G.
Nicholl, rt. hon. J. Spooner, R.
Palmer, G. Stuart, H.
Patten, J. W. Sutton, hon. H. M.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Tennent, J. E.
Peel, J. Thesiger, Sir F.
Polhill, F. Trench, Sir F. W.
Pollington, Visct. Vesey, hon. T.
Pringle, A. Ward, H. G.
Rashleigh, W. Wellesley, Lord C.
Richards, R. Wood, Col. T.
Scott, hon. F. TELLERS.
Shaw, rt. hon. F. Young, J.
Sibthorp, Col. Baring, H.