HC Deb 19 May 1846 vol 86 cc882-910

rose to bring forward his Motion, that William Rockett have leave to state his case at the bar of the House, with reference to the Bridport election. He had proposed, in the first instance, to bring forward that subject as a question of privilege; but he had abandoned that determination in obedience to the decision of the Speaker. It was, however, his own opinion, that as the matter was one in which the privileges of an elector, or rather of an electoral body, were involved, it might be considered as one also affecting the privileges of the House. It should be remembered that the election had been decided by the single vote of the elector whose case he wished to bring under their notice. He believed that in consequence of the improper manner in which that vote had been dealt with, there was a Gentleman at present sitting in the House who had no right to be there. That Gentleman had voted on Saturday morning in favour of the third reading of the Bill for repealing the Corn Laws, while as he believed he had no right to give that vote. A boast had been made of the increase of one vote in the majority for the third reading as compared with the second reading of the Bill; but that increase could at once be accounted for by the vote in question. The House had taken into its hands the administration of a certain branch of the law; and he hoped they would, in this case, carry out a principle which was recognised in all courts of law, and admit that where there was a wrong there must also be a remedy. He would prove to them the wrong—it would be for them to say whether they would supply the remedy. A Committee had been appointed to try a petition against the return of Mr. Bailie Cochrane, as Member for Bridport. Now he admitted that no blame could be attached to Mr. Cochrane in connexion with that subject. In his opinion Mr. Cochrane had acted most honourably in resigning his seat before giving a vote which would be a contravention of an implied understanding between himself and his constituents. The Committee had proceeded to try the petition, and had made its report. It had, however, appeared to him that the House ought to have paused before it granted permission to take his seat to the hon. Gentleman, who had been declared to have had a right to be returned. The Committee had given its decision, not upon any allegation in the petition, but upon an extraneous point; and he thought that the House ought to have inquired whether or not such a proceeding was in conformity with the law of Parliament. The oath taken by Members of Committees was to the effect that they would "well and truly try the matter of the petition." Now in the petition to which he was referring, there was not a single word about a scrutiny, or about a mistake in any of the votes at the election. He was, therefore, of opinion, that the Committee had no right to come to the decision at which they had arrived. He was borne out in that opinion by former precedents. There was a case in which a Committee had refused to entertain a petition against a Member of that House who was at the time a high sheriff, on the ground that the fact of his being a high sheriff was not expressly alleged as the cause of his disqualification. Again, in the case of Sir Watkin Lewes, who was supposed to have been returned after the poll had been closed too early, a Committee had refused to try the petition against his return, because the too early closing of the poll had not been expressly set forth in that petition. His hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General might tell him that those were old cases; but he thought that they were not on that account the less entitled to respectful consideration. He would next proceed to show the House how important the case was as regarded the electors of Bridport. He should observe that those electors had had no notice of the attack made upon them. He had received a letter from Mr. Rockett, with whom he was not acquainted, requesting him to present a petition to the House, and stating that the mayor, the check clerk, and the poll clerk, would all testify to the truth of the statements contained in it. He had also received a letter from the polling clerk, informing him that Mr. Rockett distinctly voted for Mr. Cochrane, and did not even mention Mr. Romilly's name, asserting that his statement could be fully borne out by the check clerk. None of these parties were called before the Committee, which proceeded on entirely different evidence—on the evidence of an unknown person, who stated that he heard this person say he voted for Mr. Romilly; but he was never asked who he was, what he was, or where he came from. Really, if they were to take the law into their own hands, they were bound to administer it in conformity with the established rules recognised in the courts of law. He had shown them the wrong which had been committed; it was not for him to point out the remedy. They might have suspended the decision until they had ascertained the truth. The hon. Member concluded by moving— That William Rockett have leave to state his case at the Bar of this House, with reference to the Bridport Election.


could not conceive anything more inconvenient or more irregular—anything more in violation of the spirit of our institutions than was contained in the speech of his noble Friend. His noble Friend proposed nothing less than an investigation into the grounds on which the Committee decided this case—and upon the evidence, and the propriety of being satisfied with that evidence which was brought before them. But what then became of the intention of the Legislature, that the determination of the Select Committee in such cases should be final to all intents and purposes, if it was competent, after that decision had been pronounced, for a Member of the House to get up and attack the decision of the Committee, and to call upon the House to entertain an argument upon the merits of the determination at which the Committee had arrived. As his noble Friend had led them astray, would the House allow him to follow him one moment; and first with regard to the observations he made about the lists. He asked whether the objection to Rockett's vote was on the lists? He was answered that it really was. But see how hard it would be upon the Committee, supposing there had been no specific objection, and that the name of Rockett had not been on the lists. The lists were not seen by the Committee; they had no opportunity of investigating whether the name of a voter was or was not upon the lists; they must rely entirely upon the opposing counsel. He had a right to object to any particular vote being objected to; and if the counsel did not object, the Committee had no right—in fact, they had no power—to investigate for themselves. Then his noble Friend said, "Why did not they call the poll-clerk?" Why, what had the Committee to do with the poll-clerk? They sat there to receive the evidence which was tendered by the parties. They could not give directions how the case was to be conducted; they must judge upon the evidence that was adduced before them; and it was not for the Committee to say to counsel, "You have better evidence behind; why do you not bring us the poll-clerk?" If the Committee had no reason to doubt the evidence which was laid before them, it would have been a most improper course, if he might venture the observation, for the Committee to say to a counsel, give us more evidence. The counsel would in all likelihood reply that is all the evidence on which we propose to rest our case, and we call upon you, on that evidence, to come to a decision. But really he was entering into a discussion into which he ought not to be drawn; and therefore he would now come to the Motion of the hon. Member for Weymouth, which he had purposely abstained from entering upon when he last addressed the House. The hon. Gentleman rested his case upon the precedent which had been set by the House on the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Bath, in 1842. But it must be remembered, that after that Committee had been granted, the House saw the extreme inconvenience of the course into which it had been led; and in August of the same year, an Act was passed on the Motion of the noble Lord the Member for London, by which provisions were specifically made as to the manner in which such inquiries were in future to be conducted. By the first section of that Act it was provided, that where allegations of bribery were contained in a petition, the Committee should be at liberty to go into all the circumstances of the case, in order to ascertain whether any arrangement or understanding had been come to by which the inquiry into the cases of bribery might be prevented: to ascertain, by the oaths of the candidates and their agents, what were the facts of the case, and to report the results of the same to the House. If a further report was considered necessary, the House was bound to go into it; the Speaker must appoint a prosecutor, the Committee must reassemble, with power to examine parties on oath. But suppose the Committee should not report, whether because they did not think it necessary, or because they were not sufficiently alive to the case—for he meant to meet the question fairly—were parties, then, precluded from having the charges of bribery investigated? By no means. A petition might be presented to the House within three months of the time when the bribery was alleged to have been committed, and that petition was to be referred to the General Committee on Elections, which General Committee was to appoint a Select Committee, with all the powers of an Election Committee—that is, to examine parties on oath—and this was the provision which the Legislature considered as a proper substitute for the omission of an Election Committee. Now, the time for presenting such a petition had not yet elapsed; and, therefore, his objection to the Amendment of the hon. Member was, that the Legislature had already provided for this special occasion, and that instead of adopting the means which the Legislature had placed in their hands—and most efficient means they were—the hon. Member asked for that which would be a much more imperfect and unsatisfactory mode of investigation—for a Select Committee which was unable to institute an inquiry upon oath. The hon. Gentleman, in stating his case, assumed that because thirty-seven voters were charged with bribery, that of itself was a ground of suspicion. If the hon. Gentleman had had as much experience of Election Committees as he unquestionably had, he would have known that it was the most common thing in the world to object to voters on this ground. He might refer to the great Dublin case, the Committee on which sat ninety days, and where there was hardly a voter in that extensive constituency who was not objected to on the ground of bribery. The Lord Mayor of Dublin and gentlemen of the highest rank were all alleged to have taken bribes on that occasion. Then another ground of suspicion in the mind of the hon. Gentleman was, that they wished to go into the question of scrutiny before the question of bribery. Why, that was the invariable course of parties before an Election Committee, and it was easily explained. The petitioner wanted the seat; he did not want merely to avoid the election—which a proof of bribery would do—therefore he took up first the question of a scrutiny of votes, which, if he succeeded in, he would at once obtain the seat for himself; and it was only when that failed that he attempted to vacate the seat by proving the charge of bribery. The grounds on which the Amendment had been brought before the House had been placed fully before it, and he was of opinion that they were inadequate to call on the House for interference. He thought the case would be best met by allowing the usual course to be followed, and that the Committee called for by the hon. Member on the other side should not be allowed.


stated his willingness to acquiesce in the suggestions of the Attorney General, provided the hon. and learned Gentleman would pledge himself afterwards to go into an inquiry regarding the compromise that took place before the Committee, and the allegations of bribery that had been made. [The ATTORNEY GENERAL thought the hon. Member had better suspend any observations upon that point until he had discussed his Amendment.] He understood the hon. and learned Gentleman to intimate an opinion that it was not convenient to extend the inquiry beyond the limits he had stated; but the hon. and learned Gentleman had assigned no reason for restricting it as he proposed. The Amendment he was about to move would, perhaps, induce the hon. and learned Gentleman to state his reasons. In giving notice of this Amendment he had no intention to do anything discourteous to the hon. Gentleman, or to take out of his hands a question which he might be supposed to have appropriated. He thought, with the Attorney General, that an inquiry by a Committee would be much more convenient than the examination of Mr. Rockett at the bar of the House; and he entirely differed from the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bankes), who questioned the right of the hon. Member for Bridport to his seat. If the hon. Gentleman concurred with him in the proposal to institute a full inquiry by means of a Committee, he thought he should be able to satisfy the hon. Gentleman that if Mr. Romilly had not been seated, Mr. Cochrane would still have lost his seat. Mr. Cochrane's counsel proposed that the decision should be taken upon the transfer of Mr. Rockett's vote, in order to prevent the discovery of bribery and treating, a discovery which could not otherwise have been prevented. The very object of the compromise was to prevent the evidence of bribery from coming before the Committee. No less than thirty-seven votes were objected to as the votes of persons who had received bribes. There were objections to six others who had voted for Mr. Cochrane, because they had bribed or corrupted others, and so had disqualified themselves. Mr. Cochrane gave many proofs of a desire to avoid inquiry; and inquiry was at last avoided in consequence of a proposal from Mr. Cochrane. The day before Mr. Cochrane made a speech in that House, which would probably be in the recollection of hon. Members, a gentleman who was known to take a very active part in the elections in which the Government took an interest—he meant Mr. Bonham—called on the agent of the petitioners, and offered them a written undertaking that Mr. Cochrane would not again contest Bridport if they abandoned this petition. The petitioners, however, proceeded. At last the question was raised whether a mode of putting Romilly above Cochrane by the transfer of a vote could be suggested; for Mr. Cochrane, it was stated, that he would not oppose such an arrangement. The counsel for Mr. Cochrane was very complaisant; and the transfer of Mr. Rockett's vote was made without calling the poll-clerk. At the time that this Committee so quickly closed its labours, five writs had been issued for penalties against four of Mr. Cochrane's voters. He (Mr. Christie) submitted these facts to the House in the belief that he should be in a condition to prove them, if the Committee for which he asked were granted, and its inquiries were extended beyond the narrow limits which the hon. and learned Gentleman proposed. In 1842 this House granted an inquiry into the existence of alleged compromises, on a statement of the hon. and learned Member for Bath. He was prepared to state, that there had been a compromise in the present case to prevent the discovery of bribery and treating, by parties assenting to the transfer of this vote of Rockett's from Mr. Cochrane to Mr. Romilly. On that ground he begged to move as an Amendment— That the Petition of William Rockett be referred to a Select Committee, which shall be appointed, to inquire into all the circumstances under which Joseph Welch gave evidence before the Select Committee on the Bridport Election Petition, that William Rockett voted for Mr. Romilly, and whether any compromise or arrangement was entered into by the parties to the Petition, their counsel, or agents, to prevent the disclosure of bribery or treating; and also, whether, and to what extent, bribery and treating were practised at the last election for the Borough of Bridport.


My hon. and learned Friend, at the outset of his speech, thought proper to pass some strictures on the speech of my hon. Friend below me (Mr. Bankes), for the mode in which he had introduced his Motion before the House. I do not know what my hon. Friend could have done less, when he proposed that Rockett should be heard at the bar of this House, than to state the grounds on which he made so unusual a proposition; and my hon. Friend did not, as it appears to me, go at all out of his way, when he stated to the House the whole circumstances of the case—when he reminded the House of the oath which had been taken by the Members of the Committee to try the matters contained in the petition, and then to refer to the petition, and to state to the House that none of those matters were in the petition, on the strength of which Mr. Bailie Cochrane was unseated. My hon. and learned Friend seems to me to have strange notions of justice, when he thinks it right that a man should be tried on one issue, and convicted on another. I wonder what my hon. and learned Friend would think, if a man were indicted for forgery, and then, being indicted for forgery, he were convicted of rape? But, Sir, this is exactly the case of Mr. Cochrane. My hon. and learned Friend admitted that it would not be competent for petitioners to go into a question of bribery and treating, unless bribery and treating were alleged in the petition. If the petitioners are not competent to do that, how can it be competent for them to go into a question of a false entry by a poll-clerk, if no such allegation has been placed upon their petition? I should like to ask, whether, in the lists to which my hon. and learned Friend has adverted, there was any notice given of Rockett's vote being objected to, on the ground that he had polled for Mr. Romilly, though his vote was recorded for Mr. Cochrane. I find, that by Act of Parliament, in all cases of controverted elections, parties by themselves or their agents shall deliver into the clerk of the Committee lists of the voters objected to, together with the several heads of objections. I want to know, whether in the several heads of objections in this case, there was any objection to Rockett's vote, that it had been given for Mr. Romilly, and falsely recorded for Mr. Cochrane. [An hon. MEMBER: There was.] There was. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Christie) who stated that thirty-seven votes had been objected to for bribery, did not state to the House, that there was a separate head, in which it was objected to Rockett's vote, that it had been recorded for Mr. Cochrane, while it was actually tendered for Mr. Romilly. But there is another ground. One of the first rules of evidence is, that you are not to take secondary evidence when primary evidence is in your power. What does my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General say to that? It was competent to the Committee to call before them Rockett or the poll-clerk—one or other of them who could have given primary evidence on this point; but neither the one nor the other of them was called before the Committee. My hon. Friend below me, therefore, had a perfect right to say—he never intended to say, that by the law of elections Mr. Romilly had no legal right to sit in this House; but what he meant to say was, that he had no right in equity, no moral right, to sit in this House. The hon. Gentleman on the other side says, that if we give him a Committee he shall be able to prove a case of bribery. I thought it was one of the first principles of English justice, that a man should be held to be innocent till he was proved to be guilty. Then the hon. Gentleman promises, if we grant his Motion for a Committee, to convict certain voters of bribery; and he thinks that a complete answer to the fact before us—he thinks it a complete answer to the question, that the Committee had been sworn to try the case on one ground, and that they have tried it on another. This, I think, is a grave charge to be brought against the Members of the Committee. It is something new for judges or jurymen, or members of an Election Committee, who are sworn to try the matter on a petition, loosely to try some other matter which they are not not sworn to try. This does not comport with my notions either of justice or of moral right. But it is intimated to us that there has been a compromise. I apprehend that it is no part of the duty of an Election Committee to enter into a collusion with the parties that are before them. They must try the case on the evidence which is laid before them; but the charge against this Committee is, that they tried not the matter which was before them, but some other matter—and that they tried even that other matter, not upon legal evidence, but upon secondary evidence, when primary evidence might have been obtained if they thought fit to seek it. It seems to me clear, by all the rules of law and justice, that the Committee, by all the evidence which was laid before them, have no justification for the verdict which they have made, and therefore I think that my hon. Friend was justified in bringing this matter in the perspicuous way he has brought it before the House.


, as Chairman of the Committee, was anxious to make a few remarks to the House.


made an observation across the Table, and the hon. Member sat down.


had been led to expect, from the nature of the hon. Member's Notice, that he intended merely to call the attention of the House to some injury which had been done to this person Rockett, which demanded redress; not that he proposed to bring forward charges against the Committee as to the grounds upon which they had decided in the case of the Bridport Election Petition. The hon. Gentleman had in effect said that his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Romilly), who was Member for Bridport, by virtue of the decision of a Select Commitmittee, which decision was by Act of Parliament final and conclusive, had no right to sit and vote in that House. The hon. Member should have been cautious in making such a charge, and impeaching a title which rested upon the established law. The Select Committee of the House of Commons to which an election petition was referred was a court of exclusive jurisdiction, and its decision was final; and if even they were to decide erroneously, there was no remedy. But the hon. Member said the Committee had investigated matters not properly before them; and when their Report was presented he asked the House to pause before they permitted the present hon. and learned Member for Bridport to take his seat. The House refused that application, for they had not the power to prevent that hon. and learned Member from taking his seat. Then with regard to the question of the scrutiny, he apprehended there was, as the law stood, no necessity to introduce into an election petition any allegation that a vote, or any number of votes, had been given for one candidate instead of another. When it was necessary to go into a scrutiny, a list of the voters objected to, and the specific objection in each case, must be given in by each party a certain time before the Committee met; and no objection could afterwards be entered into against any voter whose name did not appear in such lists, nor upon any objection but that specified against the voter's name. If, therefore, it had been alleged in the petition that the vote of this man had been improperly entered for Mr. Cochrane, and no list had been given, the Committee could not have entertained the objection. The hon. and learned Member said the Committee were bound to give a decision upon oath. What, he (the Attorney General) asked, was the nature of that oath? Why, that the Committee were to inquire into the matter of the petition. What was the matter of this petition? It contained the usual general allegations of bribery and treating, and then there was—what he admitted was absolutely necessary in order to give jurisdiction to the Committee—a complaint against the return, and praying the House to take the premises into consideration, and to declare that Mr. Cochrane was not duly elected, and that he ought not to have been returned, but that Mr. Romilly had been duly elected, and ought to have been returned. If the petition had not contained that prayer it would have been quite incompetent for the Committee to have entered upon the question as to whether Mr. Cochrane had been legally returned or not; but the petition containing a prayer to seat Mr. Romilly, the Committee were bound to hear the general evidence of the petitioner, and to decide upon that evidence. It would have been the duty of the counsel for the then sitting Member to have raised the objection that the name of the voter (Rockett) was not upon the list of those parties whose votes the petitioner prayed an inquiry into; but no such objection having been taken, it was quite competent for the Committee to receive evidence upon that vote, and decide accordingly. He denied that the Committee had exceeded its jurisdiction in dealing with any vote which might not be included in the list of objections. The hon. and learned Member for Dorsetshire had more than once said that when the House assumed this power to themselves, they should take care not to commit an injustice, or, if they did so, that a remedy might be provided. But he assured the hon. and learned Member that power was not assumed in this case. It was given to a Select Committee of the House by the Legislature, and by the Legislature were the limits of that power ascertained and defined, and the Legislature declared that the decision of that Select Committee should be final and conclusive. Under these circumstances, he asked how the hon. and learned Member for Dorsetshire could expect the House to interfere with the decision of a Committee which the Legislature had declared to be final and conclusive. He trusted that the hon. Member for Bridport would feel that he had as good a claim to his seat in that House as the hon. and learned Member for Dorsetshire. With respect to the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman, he certainly had some objections to its form, although not to its substance. What was the case with regard to William Rockett? He came here with a petition, and he said "that great injustice had been done him, inasmuch as he gave his vote, and always intended to give his vote, to Mr. Cochrane; but he found that the vote which he had so given in favour of Mr. Cochrane had been transferred to the poll of the opposing candidate;" and he said, "this had been done by reason of false and perjured testimony given before that House." Now it was quite clear that this was a case which called upon the House to institute an investigation. The only question was, as to the most convenient mode in which this investigation should take place; and he thought that the course suggested, by the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Weymouth for a Select Committee, was the more advisable of the two. One thing was clear, that the House could not refuse to investigate. He was not, however, by this general acquiescence in the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Weymouth, to be understood as agreeing to the whole of his Amendment, but merely as regarded the vote of William Rockett. He thought perhaps it might be inconvenient to enter into an investigation at present of the latter part of that Amendment.


was of opinion that the law upon controverted elections having been fully laid down, no Member of that House could feel dissatisfied if that law were followed by no other mode of inquiry. Still he was of opinion that cases like the present should on all occasions receive the fullest attention, in order that it might not be said that Members were allowed to sit in the House, against the friends of whom might be brought a charge that they had connived at unfairness. Cases similar to the present often occurred. One hon. Member sat at the present moment in that House, because his opponent not caring to defend his seat, forty-six votes were at once struck off the list of those who had voted for him, and the hon. Member was accordingly declared returned. A mode existed of managing these matters. When it was not desirable that cases of bribery should be disclosed, a proceeding called "jobbing the lists" was practised. Such proceedings as these should be rendered impossible; and he hoped the Committe would not only be appointed, but that they would go to the fullest inquiry, and take other cases besides that of Rockett. Seats had been transferred from one person to another without those most interested knowing a word about the matter. Such proceedings were a great abuse of law and of justice, and he trusted the Legislature would not continue to sit quiet under such a condition of things. If the laws were rendered operative in such cases, he was willing to admit that he must thank the other side of the House for calling attention to the iniquitous practices.


differed in opinion from his hon. Friend the Member for Dorsetshire, when he said they had assumed to themselves a power, and were therefore bound to exercise it with proportionate caution and forbearance. He contended that they had not assumed any such power. Their power was committed to them by an Act of the whole Legislature; and they were bound by law, and therefore it was their duty to exercise the authority with which they were so intrusted. He also differed from the hon. Member for Dorsetshire when he said that the decision of the Committee had added one vote to the recent triumph of the Government. The majority of the Government would not have been one less if the original Member had continued to occupy a seat in the House during the late divisions; for that Gentleman had already intimated his intention to vote with Her Majesty's Ministers. He also differed from his hon. Friend as to the construction of the petition upon which the Election Committee was to decide. He felt that it was not legally necessary that a petition complaining of any one election, should state any given number of charges; it was enough that A. B., being an elector, should state that C. had been improperly returned, and should pray that the House would redress the wrong. He agreed, however, with his hon. Friend, though he differed from him as to these points, that this was a matter of the gravest importance, not merely to those particular individuals immediately concerned, but to every Member of the House, and to all the constituencies which they represented. He could certainly have wished that the hon. and learned Attorney General had not interposed on the present occasion. That interposition was marked by an animation which he thought the subject scarcely called for. He also would have wished that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had not risen to prevent the hon. Gentleman (Mr. C. Wood), the Chairman of this particular Committee, from stating the circumstances connected with it. Since he had had the honour of a seat in that House he was opposed to the reopening of any judicial question which had already been decided by a competent tribunal; but when the House had declared that the minutes of a certain Election Committee should be laid on the Table and be printed, he could never understand the necessity for that waste of paper, of printing, and of time, if they were not to have the power of expressing an opinion upon it. He never heard such a statement of compromise—borne out, as it emphatically was by the absence of evidence to the contrary. And he hardly knew what remedy was provided, or what mode of investigation was pointed out for any such case of compromise as to bribery; indeed, there was a more appropriate tribunal than that which was now contemplated. The more appropriate one was that suggested by his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General—viz., the power granted by the Act called Lord John Russell's Act, which gave the power of examining witnesses on oath, which would fail to attach to the Committee of the hon. Member for Wigan. He held it to be a grievance that an unsworn Committee should sit in judgment on a sworn Committee. He was in the House when the late hon. Member for Bridport addressed the House for the last time; and he had then made observations which he (Sir R. H. Inglis) would not have made if he had been aware that the hon. Gentleman was about to leave the House. He could not but feel that there must have been such practices in the late election for Bridport, as, coupled with the preceding elections for that borough, might justify those who retained the elective franchise in their apprehensions lest further proceedings in a Committee of the House should lead to the disfranchisement of the borough. Under these circumstances he was unwilling that the question should stop where it did; but he hesitated about the support he should give to the Motion of the hon. Member for Weymouth, because he felt that as to bribery a better process was still open—a process which was not exhausted by the lapse of time—which a month or six weeks hence might still be as open as it was now—and by which, with a complete command of the whole machinery of the law, the inquiry might be prosecuted in a more satisfactory manner.


regretted that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had interfered and prevented the Chairman of the Committee from disclosing those circumstances with which he thought the House ought to be acquainted, and he thought that the hon. Chairman had exercised a sound discretion in making the attempt. What was the case? An Election Committee had sat to determine who ought to possess the seat after the late election at Bridport; and it was disclosed that the Member who had obtained the seat had done so by a majority of one vote. Subsequently, a petition was presented to the House by the Gentleman who was supposed at the time to have lost the election, for an inquiry into the circumstances, and charging bribery and corruption on the other side. The Committee sat, and called bfeore them a voter, a man named Welch, of whom nobody apparently knew anything; and Welch was asked how another voter named Rockett gave his vote, and he stated that he heard Rockett vote for Romilly, and not for Cochrane; and, as far as the evidence before the House went, upon the single, unsupported testimony of that man, Mr. Romilly was seated as secure as if he was sitting on birdlime, and Mr. Cochrane had lost the position which he hoped to hold. Nobody disputed Mr. Romilly's legal and equitable right to the seat; for the law on the subject was so decided, that it would be child's play to dispute it for a moment. Was it not a most extraordinary thing that the Committee did not consider it their duty to call Rockett himself before them to ask how he voted? Instead of that, poor man, he was made to go up for Cochrane and come down for Romilly. It appeared to him to be one of the grossest absurdities which had ever occurred before a judicial, not a judicious, tribunal. The Committee had to discharge a duty; he admitted that it had performed that duty, and not in a creditable manner. The Chairman wished to explain the circumstances under which they were placed, but an imprudent interference had prevented him. Had not the House a duty to discharge, without referring to the ultimate effect that its decision or inquiry might have as to the legal bearing of the question? With reference to future and late legislation, was it not their duty to inquire into the manner in which these Committees worked? Also, with reference to sustaining the purity of election; for nothing could be more damaging to the character of the Legislature than that persons should obtain their seats in the House by bribery and corrupt practices. He was grateful, for one, to the hon. and learned Member for Dorchester, who had brought this question before the House; and he thought that his hon. and learned Friend had rendered a service by appending to the Motion the Amendment which he had made. The Attorney General had treated the question with great fairness; but he proposed that they should stop short at that part of the inquiry where its utility obviously commenced. Why should they not adopt the course which was pursued in the case of the petition from Bath? When the hon. Member for Weymouth stated in his place that he had reason to believe that there were corrupt practices at the late election for Bridport, and that if a Select Committee were granted, he should have it in his power to prove, by undoubted testimony, the existence of such practices, could the House, with any sense of propriety, refuse the investigation? He thought that words ought to be introduced extending the inquiry to both parties. The House would not discharge their duty to themselves or to that portion of the public who desired to see Members returned by pure practices and not by bribery, if they limited the investigation to the point put by the Attorney General.


said, that the hon. Gentleman had fallen into an error, in reply to the Attorney General's argument. The hon. and learned Gentleman did not proceed on the assumption, that it was not right to make an inquiry into circumstances such as they were now discussing, when they were brought before the House; but his argument was, that Parliament had laid down a particular course for a strict and searching inquiry into transactions of this nature, and that it was not, therefore, expedient in this or similar cases to take upon themselves inquiries before an unsworn Committee into facts and circumstances with respect to which the law had provided the means of inquiry before a sworn tribunal. The hon. Gentleman said, "You have these facts before you, will you not inquire into them?" An hon. Member might come down and say, "I was present at the election of an hon. Member, when such and such scenes took place; and I call on you to have a Select Committee." This law was framed with reference to the very case to which the hon. Member had adverted; for it was immediately after inquiries, at the suggestion of Mr. Roebuck, that Lord John Russell introduced this measure, remarking on the inconvenience which resulted from conducting inquiries of that nature in the way in which they had been conducted. He laid down the rule that there should be a bonâ fide charge substantiated on the best evidence, and that it should be submitted to the best tribunal—viz., that of Members acting under an oath to discharge their duty. His hon. Friend had expressed his readiness to inquire into the transfer of a vote: there was no unwillingness to have the charges inquired into; but the law had pointed out how they should be inquired into; and if the Committee had omitted a duty in not recommending the House to proceed with the inquiry, the parties had the remedy in their own hands. His hon. Friend who had opened this discussion seemed to apprehend that he had been subjected to something like a grievance in not being allowed to bring forward this question as a matter of privilege. He thought the hon. Member was acting under an error as to what came within the definition of privilege. The question of privilege was confined to those acts which affected the immediate rights of the House, or the rights of particular Members to discharge their duties within the House; and therefore questions as to Members who were wrongfully in the House, or who were wrongfully excluded from the House, or who had their rights infringed upon so as to prevent them discharging their duties, had precedence of other questions; but the privilege of an elector did not come within the category of interfering with the discharge of the duty of a Member within the House.


said, that he was not going to say one word as to the question, but in reference to what the hon. Member for Finsbury had stated that this question was presented by him (Mr. Romilly). When the late election for Bridport was concluded against him, he felt somewhat dissatisfied, but declined, though pressed to do so, to take any steps whatever to reverse the decision. He was pressed on several occasions to be the petitioning party against Mr. Cochrane, but declined to be connected with the petition, or to have anything whatever to do with it. The petition was presented in the name of a voter; he knew nothing of its being brought forward except by casual report, from his learned Friends, who, thinking he might feel interested, came and spoke to him on the subject. He never was consulted by any person with regard to the petition, consequently he was a total stranger as to whether there was a compromise or not. So far as this Motion was concerned, personally, he should wish the fullest possible inquiry into all the circumstances connected with the late election for Bridport. He should not wish an inquiry as to what one side or what one candidate had done, but the fullest inquiry into everything that had taken place; and he pledged himself, as far as he was able, to give the fullest possible assistance. He would suggest to his hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, that the proceeding under the Bill of the noble Lord would be more effective if the proceedings were carried on, not at the costs of the parties to the petition, but at the expense of the county, otherwise the petition would be presented under the Act.


agreed with what had fallen from the hon. Member for Finsbury (Mr. Wakley), that it would have been a great advantage had the hon. Member for Halifax, the Chairman of the Committee, given his opinion on this question. He (Mr. Aglionoy) did not think that the Committee would be compromised or its functions interfered with; and the hon. Member would have spoken merely on his knowledge of the facts, and those facts would have guided the House in its decision. He could not see the grounds on which the hon. and learned Gentleman (the Attorney General) objected to the Amendment. What was there which could interfere with the functions of the Committee on the Motion "that the petition of William Rockett be referred to a Select Committee?" But the hon. and learned Gentleman objected to the concluding portions—"whether any compromise or arrangement was entered into by the parties to the petition;" and "whether, and to what extent, bribery and treating were practised at the last olection for the borough of Bridport?" The first was agreed to, the second and third were objected to; and the Attorney General said he objected to an inquiry in this way, because there was another mode; but he (Mr. Aglionby) said there was no other mode open to the House. It had been argued that the 5th and 6th Victoria, cap. 102, put an end to the functions and jurisdiction of the House in this matter; but this was a mistake. The provisions of that Act were entirely concurrent with the jurisdiction of that House. The Act must be construed by itself, and not by anything that might have fallen from its promoters; and the Act contained no words excluding the jurisdiction of the House. The first section gave power to the Committee, at its discretion, to take certain steps; but the Committee were not bound to exercise that power. If they had sufficient evidence before them to raise a suspicion that there was a compromise, it would be their duty to proceed in the inquiry; but supposing the Committee had no evidence tendered to them, it was no imputation upon the discretion of the Committee to say that they might not consider it their duty to originate an inquiry. He assumed that neither of the parties before the Committee tendered evidence to raise a suspicion of bribery or of compromise; and if so, the Committee were not bound to raise it of their own accord. There was another mode of proceeding; the House might appoint a Committee, with certain modes of acting, who might examine witnesses upon oath, and report the result to the House, and the expense of that Committee (for there the hon. Member for Bridport was mistaken) would be borne by the public if there was a primâ facie case. But it was a perilous thing to attempt to set up a primâ facie case. And the party petitioning must be a voter, and what motive could a voter have for taking such a step? It must be purely and entirely from public spirit. Could it be expected that a voter would do from public spirit what the House would not do to-night? In the next place, there must be an allegation of "general and extensive bribery;" but his hon. and learned Friend asked for inquiry on another ground. In this case he had no doubt that in the borough of Bridport there were grounds for suspecting bribery, and that a compromise had been entered into, and that Rockett had been juggled out of his vote; but he knew nothing of the facts, or of Rockett or Welsh? but no Member, he thought, could have much doubt that there had been a compromise to prevent further inquiry. He should vote for the Motion, not intending any imputation upon the integrity or discernment of the Committee. He recommended his hon. and learned Friend to withdraw the latter part of the Amendment.


believed he should, on the whole, best exercise his discretion by saying a few words upon this question; if he was wrong, he hoped the House would extend its indulgence to him. He did not intend—which would be wrong—to enter into a justification of the proceedings of the Committee; but he thought he should not transgress the limits of his duty by stating a few facts. He apprehended that the duties now of Election Committees were of two different kinds; they had judicial functions, under the now Grenville Act; and under the Act of his noble Friend the Member for the city of London they had inquisitorial functions. As to their judicial functions, the mention of them suggested two considerations—first, their exact jurisdiction; and, secondly, the exercise of that jurisdiction. Their jurisdiction was of this character, that they could not call for any evidence, but must be contented with that which was adduced by counsel; and the exercise of their jurisdiction was, that upon the evidence so adduced they should pronounce their decision. This was precisely what they had done in the present case. No doubt had been thrown upon the evidence that was adduced—no adverse testimony had been given to prove its falsity—and therefore the Committee had no option but to receive it as true, and decide accordingly. It was impossible, therefore, that the conduct of the Committee could be impeached. It was not usual for Election Committees to call for lists; but when they were brought before them in the course of arguments by counsel, it was, of course, their duty to take them into consideration. It had been said by some hon. Member—he believed the hon. Member for Finsbury—that the Committee had made no inquiry with respect to the circumstance of the voter himself not having been called; but, in point of fact, the Committee themselves were proceeding to call the voter before them when a point of objection was raised by counsel, who proved that the Committee had no power to make any such call, and showed that it was incompetent for them to act on such evidence. It was very possible that under the present system of Election Committees the interests of the voters were not sufficiently attended to. It was, perhaps, quite true that the voter's vote was too often disposed of in the manner which appeared to be best suited to the interests of the litigant parties, and without any regard to his own interests, and possibly without his consent or knowlege. If this was so, inquiry might be very desirable, with a view to remedy the evil by wholesome legislation; and an investigation for that purpose should have his assent. Nor would be have the slightest objection that an inquiry should take place into the circumstances under which Welch gave his evidence; but he did not think there were the slightest grounds for impeaching the conduct of the Committee. They could not themselves originate a presumption of bribery. No adverse testimony was adduced; and as no doubt had been cast upon the only evidence before them, they were bound to believe it true. Their duty was merely to make a scrutiny into the validity of the election, and this they had done. The case had been compromised, and it did not occur to any Member of the Committee that it was one which called for further investigation. With respect to the allegation of bribery, that was a matter which, if it was now proposed to investigate it, should be inquired into only by such a tribunal as that sanctioned under Lord John Russell's Act. He was decidedly averse to any inquiry at this stage of the proceedings into the matter of the compromise, for he thought that such an inquiry would be a most bootless one. Such an inquiry would now be quite useless. It could only have been of service as affording evidence from which the bribery might be inferred; but if anything was to be investigated it should be the allegation of bribery itself, and that should be inquired into by such a tribunal as was appointed under Lord John Russell's Act.


said, that the noble Lord the Member for Lynn would not have attacked the Committee as he had done if he had known the facts of the case; and, considering that the Committee were bound by oath to discharge their functions, he should have thought if the noble Lord had any complaint to make, it would have been made, not by insinuation, but by direct and straightforward accusation; but if the noble Lord had been in the habit of speaking from information, the House would not have heard from him so many long harangues as they had been favoured with during the last two months. However, the proceedings of the Committees had not been generally attacked; indeed, he did not know how they could be, by any one who had not been present, and who could know nothing of the proceedings except from a printed paper, of which he chose to read only such parts as suited him. At all events, no person could doubt that the present Member for Bridport was the proper representative of that town; for he thought that when his learned Friend Mr. Austin, representing the claimant of a seat in that House, threw up his brief, that was sufficient ground for any judicial tribunal to proceed upon. Every Member must desire that there should be a searching inquiry into any corrupt proceedings at the Bridport election. The only question with him was, what tribunal would be the best to investigate that matter. He did not venture to say decidedly that it might not have been more discreet in the Committee to have carried their inquiry further; but when the noble Lord the Member for Lynn threw out imputations against members of a Committee, as honourable as himself, he begged to remind the noble Lord that in the next sentence he had said that the Committee were bound by oath to decide on the evidence brought before them; and it was impossible to deny that they had so decided upon the evidence which was produced before them.


said, that to deny that the hon. Member for Bridport was de facto sitting in that House, would be absurd. He was sitting there; but the majority of the electors of Bridport felt injured by that circumstance. He was there, they alleged, against their desire; and that was a wrong for which, if possible, they should find a remedy. He had discharged the duty to the House which he was requested to perform, namely, to present the petition to the House, and, in conformity with the prayer of that petition, to pray that the party should be heard. He had limited his application to that, and it was his desire that the House should be able to satisfy themselves that this was a genuine petition. It appeared to him that it was a genuine petition; but the most satisfactory way of ascertaining that was, by bringing the petitioners to the bar of the House. The hon. Member for Weymouth, however, had substituted an Amendment, to which he (Mr. Bankes) was ready to accede; but when he asked him whether he was disposed to move for a Select Committee, he told him that he was already on other Committees which sufficiently occupied him, and he could not sit on any other Select Committee. The Attorney General had mentioned that this petition was sufficient to meet the case that had been tried before; but he begged to call his attention to the fact that there was not one word in this petition which met the case that was tried. There was not one word in this petition which alleged that a vote was improperly put on one poll that ought to be put on the other. The prayer of the petition was this—that the House should take the premises into their consideration, those premises being what was contained in the petition, and that the parties should get such relief on the premises as to the House should seem met. As to what had been said by the hon. Member for Oxford with regard to the jurisdiction of the House, he (Mr. Bankes) did not think that he had used any improper phrase when he said they took a considerable branch of the law into their own hands; and when they had done so, it was their duty to keep the law which they had so taken into their hands as pure and free from suspicion as they could. It appeared to him that it was desirable to have this very singular transaction investigated; and as there was no other mode of doing it, he should concur in the Amendment of the hon. Member for Weymouth.


said, the attention of the House had been called to this subject on the Motion of his hon. Friend who had just concluded his address to the House. And his hon. Friend had stated a fact which appeared to him (Sir R. Peel) to be very deserving of the attention of the House; namely, a voter was declared by a Committee to have voted for a candidate for whom he asserted that he did not vote. He said, that thereby his character was injured; that he had uniformly voted for a party professing certain principles; but that the Committee of the House of Commons had declared that he had voted for the opposite candidate, and that the consequence of that was, that the vote which he had given for one candidate was given to another. It was quite clear that by the statute law of the country, so far as the seat was concerned, that was decided. There could not be a question of it that the present Member for the town of Bridport (Mr. Romilly) was entitled to the seat. He had a statutable parliamentary right to it; and no decision on the part of that House, no other authority than that of an Act of Parliament, could deprive that Gentleman of the right to which he was entitled by the statute law of this country. Redress, therefore, even if wrong had been committed, would not be given in that case; but it was for the House to consider whether or no, on an allegation of a petitioner that injustice had been done to him, they would not institute an inquiry into that specific case. He confessed that, in his opinion, an inquiry ought to be instituted into that specific case. If there was no other mode of conducting the inquiry, he should vote for the original Motion, namely, that the party should be called to the bar; but he thought there was another and more efficacious mode of conducting the inquiry, namely, by means of a Select Committee. That Committee would have the power of examining the evidence, and the inquiry would be much more complete before a tribunal of that kind than it probably could be if the time of the House were occupied in hearing the party at the bar. He proposed, therefore, that a Select Committee should be appointed to inquire into the facts. Then came another question—whether they should institute a more extensive inquiry. He must say, he believed it would be much better in this case to adhere to the law which was passed at the instance of the noble Lord (Lord John Russell), and not institute an inquiry, except it were an inquiry under the provisions of that Act. There was nothing he should regret more than that that House should undertake to interfere unnecessarily in this case. There was a constant tendency on the part of the House to draw within the sphere of its own functions those matters which should be referred to tribunals constituted under the law, and with functions defined by statute. What were the provisions of the Act proposed by the noble Lord? That Act was calculated, he (Sir R. Peel) apprehended, to defeat the concealment of improper practices, by means of compromise. It contemplated a double object—the defeat of compromise, and also the defeat of attempts to prevent inquiry into bribery by lapse of time. The noble Lord's Act gave the Committee appointed to adjudicate upon election matters the right to make a special report; to state that there was reason to apprehend that the inquiry into bribery had been defeated by means of compromise; and on making that special report there was reserved to the House full opportunity of instituting an inquiry. The House assumed that the Select Committee appointed to adjudicate upon the election, would, if they saw sufficient grounds, have made a special report, and provoke their inquiry. If there had been sufficient grounds to institute an inquiry into the fact of compromise, the Committee over which the right hon. Gentleman had presided should have made that report. His presumption was entirely in favour of the integrity of the Committee, and of the acuteness and judgment of the members who composed it. The House devolved upon them the power of saying whether there should be an inquiry into compromise or not. They had the facts before them—they made no special report to the House—they were not prepared to recommend that special inquiry which the House directed should be instituted on special report. Now, what as to hribery?—what was the mode of instituting an inquiry as to bribery? It did not depend upon the presentation of a petition within fourteen days after the election. The noble Lord's Act provided that in case any one person entitled to vote should allege extensive bribery, and within three months after an act of bribery was alleged to be committed, should petition that House, in that case an opportunity should be afforded of instituting an inquiry into that alleged bribery. It was not necessary to prove extensive and general bribery; he apprehended all that was required was that the petitioner should state his belief that extensive and general bribery prevailed in a particular borough — that he should bring proof of the act of bribery, one or more acts of bribery, and enter into recognizance that he bonâ fide entertained the belief which he professed to act upon. And if he did allege extensive bribery, and enter into recognizance, provision was made for the appointment of a Committee, which would institute that inquiry, and it was enacted that that Committee should have all the functions and power that an Election Committee should possess. That Committee was to have the power of examining witnesses, and was armed with all the powers which a mere Select Committee of the House of Commons did not possess. And all its functions were called into action by the petition of one single voter, alleging his belief of general and extensive bribery, and that he was prepared to enter into recognizances to prove it. And did the Act impose on the petitioner the pecuniary expense of instituting that inquiry? On the contrary, it provided that if the Committee reported that there were reasonable grounds for the allegation in the petition, the Committee should have the power to order that the costs of the petition should be borne, as in the case of any public matter, with reference to which an inquiry had been directed by the House of Commons. If they were dissatisfied with that law let them alter it. It appeared to give extensive powers for inquiry into compromise—it appeared to give extensive powers for inquiry into bribery; and what it required was, in case a petition was presented, the party presenting it should have a vote, and enter into a recognizance to prove it. The noble Lord had brought forward that Bill after the institution of that Select Committee which was appointed at the instance of the hon. Member for Bath. The general feeling was, that when the proceeding did directly affect the right of a seat in that House—when it affected the rights of a Member of Parliament, that it would be be inconvenient to appoint a Committee on any Member undertaking to prove certain allegations. It was thought to be inconvenient to appoint a Select Committee without an allegation upon oath, and the noble Lord offered this remedy. He said, "I give you this opportunity for inquiry into the allegation before a Committee—I will enable you to institute that inquiry within three months after an act of bribery is committed, on the petition of any voter, and I save him harmless from pecuniary expense, if the Committee certify that his allegation was probable, and that there was reason for entertaining the belief that bribery had been committed." That Bill was passed to give security to Members (after their right to their seats was decided upon) from vexatious inquiry. Those were the provisions of the law, and he saw no reason whatever to question the policy and justice of that law, for he thought that further opportunities should be given for inquiry by a tribunal armed with all the powers that an Election Committee possessed. It was quite competent for them to alter that law; but while the law remained in force, and until its inadequacy was proved, were they prepared to see all the ill consequences that would arise from the House interfering? Whether this tribunal was deficient or not, seeing the injury to the character of the House, what at a former period of their history—50 or 60 years since—was inflicted by party spirit deciding the right to vote; and, seeing the tendency of the House to interfere with the decisions of Committees, he for one should resist any other inquiry into this matter except that inquiry which was sanctioned by the law proposed by the noble Lord, and which would have for its object to rescue the character of an individual who alleged that he had been injured."


was willing to adopt the suggestion of the hon. Members for Cockermouth and Oxford, and leave out the latter words of his Motion, namely, "and also whether and to what extent bribery and treating were practised at the last election for the borough of Bridport."


observed, that if they did not inquire into the allegation of compromise, and their reason for it, they would not do anything. The petitioner, Rockett, complained that the Committee had transferred his vote from Cochrane to Romilly without his consent; and he said in his petition, such a proceeding was repugnant to his feelings, and highly indignant to his character. They complained of this; and if there was only to be an inquiry into this man's character, it would be a mere waste of time, for they might at once admit that the course taken was "highly indignant to his character." If any one possessed of common sense read the evidence taken before the Committee, and printed by order of the House, he would at once see that it had been completely bamboozled. The Committee, before it struck off the name of Rockett, should either have sent for that person, or had some better evidence than that of Welch. It appeared as if the learned counsel for Mr. Cochrane had been retained against him, and that they were resolved that Mr. Romilly should be declared duly elected. Was the evidence which had been printed of such a nature as to justify them in depriving a Member of his seat, or was it such as should satisfy the House? Was it not clear that the object of the whole proceedings before the Committee was to defeat the Act of Parliament? He hoped that the House would go into the case of compromise.


could not agree that the principal thing to be inquired into was, whether an injury had not been done to Mr. Rockett. There was another question, of far greater consequence—namely, whether a fraud had not been practised on the Committee of the House. There was a primâ facie case that fraud had been practised. He did not cast the smallest imputation on the Committee, but it was quite possible that a plan might be concocted in a borough to practise a deliberate fraud on a Committee; and if there was reason to suppose such had been the case, it was due to the House and the Committee to inquire into the fact. It had been said that it would be improper to inquire whether extensive bribery existed or not, because the proper remedy was to present a petition under Lord John Russell's Act. But what was the use of inquiry into a compromise if no inquiry was made into the bribery? A compromise was no offence. It might be a matter of perfect propriety if further investigation would be a mere waste of time. A compromise was only an offence when it was done to conceal bribery.


said, the discussion which had taken place on the question, would increase the opinion out of doors that election inquiries were little better than a farce. The allegation in the petition was bribery and treating; but the decision given by the Committee was on a point not sent to them by the House. How came the question of bribery to get the go-by? The Gentlemen on the Treasury bench said, that bribery should be inquired into by the Bill of the noble Lord; but, in his opinion, that Act was framed for the express purpose of eluding all inquiry into that subject. In point of fact, a general understanding existed in boroughs not to petition on the ground of bribery, lest their borough should be disfranchised; but when they did petition, to petition on some general allegation, calculated to throw dust in the eyes of the public. Unless the House granted the inquiry proposed by the hon. Member for Weymouth, the whole matter, from beginning to end, would be a mere farce. The question was, whether a compromise existed or not; or had the Committee been bamboozled, as the hon. Member on the other side stated. That required to be cleared up and set straight; if not the general opinion would be that the House shut the door against all inquiry.

Motion and Amendment withdrawn.


moved his Amendment as a substantive Motion.


moved, as an Amendment, the omission of all the words after "Romilly."

The House divided on the Question, that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—Ayes 47; Noes 47.

List of the AYES.
Bankes, G. Escott, B.
Barnard, E. G. Gisborne, T.
Bennet, P. Henley, J. W.
Bentinck, Lord G. Hume, J.
Bentinck, Lord H. Inglis, Sir R. H.
Beresford, Major Lambton, H.
Blackstone, W. S. Law, hon. C. E.
Borthwick, P. Lawson, A.
Bowring, Dr. Lowther, hon. Col.
Brotherton, J. M'Carthy, A.
Burrell, Sir C. M. Marsland, H.
Christopher, R. A. Morris, D.
Collett, J. Napier, Sir C.
Curteis, H. B. Neeld, J.
Duke, Sir J. Powell, C.
Duncombe, T. Protheroe, E.
Elphinstone, Sir H. Rashleigh, W.
Rich, H. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Scott, hon. F. Wakley, T.
Spooner, R. Wawn, J. T.
Stuart, Lord J. Williams, W.
Tancred, H. W. Wedchouse, E.
Thornley, T. TELLERS.
Tollemache, J. Aglionby, J.
Trelawny, J. S. Christie, W.
List of the NOES.
A'Court, Capt. Hay, Sir A. L.
Antrobus, E. Herbert, rt. hon. S.
Barkly, H. Hinde, J. H.
Baring, rt. hon. W. B. Hope, G. W.
Blackburne, J. I. Hudson, G.
Bowles, Adm. Hutt, W.
Boyd, J. Kelly, Sir F.
Bruce, Lord E. Labouchere, rt. hon. H.
Cardwell, E. Lygon, hon. G.
Carnegie, hon. Capt. Mahon, Vise.
Chichester, Lord J. L. O'Connor, Don
Clay, Sir W. Palmerston, Visc.
Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Cockburn, rt. hn. Sir G. Peel, J.
Corry, rt. hon. H. Russell, Lord J.
Courtenay, Lord Somerset, Lord G.
Douglas, Sir C. E. Stanton, W. H.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Stuart, H.
Gladstone, Capt. Thesiger, Sir F.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H. Trench, Sir F. W.
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. Vivian, J. E.
Greene, T. Wood, C.
Grimsditch, T. TELLERS.
Hamilton, Lord C. Young, J.
Harcourt, G. G. Cripps, T.

said, that as the House had no better means of forming a judgment upon the question than the Election Committee who had already declined to entertain it, and as it would still be open to any elector of the borough, under the provisions of the Act 5 and 6 Vict. c. 2, to present a petition to the House, praying that a Committee, having power to examine upon oath, might be appointed to investigate the subject of bribery and compromise, he therefore declared himself with the Noes.

The Question, as amended, was put from the Chair.


moved the adjournment of the debate until Thursday, as Mr. Christie and other hon. Members had gone away thinking the question was settled.

Debate adjourned.