HC Deb 17 December 1847 vol 95 cc1352-4

On the Order of the Day for resuming the debate on the West Gloucestershire Election (see ante December 14),


wished to say, in reference to the Motion just agreed to, that the opinion he had ventured to express to the House as to the construction of the Act, was formed by him after very careful consideration, and, he would add, after a conference with the highest authority in that House. With respect to the West Gloucestershire petition, he retained the opinion he had already expressed, that there being allegations in this case respecting the organisation of an extensive system of bribery, gross immorality, corruption, and intimidation, it would have been better that the parties should have proceeded under the Act of 1842. The witnesses would then have been examined on oath, and the tribunal would have been more strictly judicial in its nature. He still adhered to the suggestion he had thrown out the other day, that the House ought to be guided by the precedents in former cases, and that the case should be referred to the Committee of Privileges. That Committee had been appointed, as was usual at the beginning of every Session, though it had not yet been nominated; and this case, as one of privilege, ought to be referred to it. The Committee had not been nominated for some years past; and the last time it was nominated was upon a case of privilege not precisely similar to the question now coming before the House. One reason why he thought it most desirable they should adhere to the course adopted on former petitions was, that there were, he thought, allegations in this petition into which the House ought not to inquire, and into which, if it did inquire, it would only be to its own degradation. It would be the duty of the Committee to inquire into those matters which might involve the privileges of the House. Under these circumstances he should move as an Amendment that the Petition, instead of being referred to a Select Committee, should be referred to the Committee of Privileges. Of course, if this were agreed to, it would be necessary to nominate that Committee.


had not the least objection to adopt the course suggested by the right hon. Gentleman.

Motion withdrawn.

Petition referred to the Committee on Privileges.