HC Deb 18 June 1847 vol 93 cc725-7

hoped, as the House had just submitted to listen to questions of a merely personal character, they would indulge him for a few minutes whilst be also explained a matter that was personal to himself. He was extremely sorry to interpose for a moment, in proceeding to the public business; but as it was the first it was the most fitting time he could take to set himself right with the House upon a matter of difference which had occurred between himself and the hon. Member for Weymouth—upon a matter of fact, on the previous evening. It related to what had taken place during the sitting of the Andover Union Committee. The hon. Member had stated distinctly that he (Mr. Villiers) had made a statement to the House which was untrue; and when he expressed his belief that he was correct, the hon. Member interrupted him, in what he thought was an unparliamentary manner. He was anxious to show that he was right; and if, in the warm manner he had replied to the hon. Member, there was anything unbecoming, he was extremely sorry, and he begged to express his regret to the Speaker of the House. He had stated that he had objected to the manner in which the hon. Member for Weymouth had conducted the examination of Sir Frankland Lewis; and he had said that the hon. Member had attempted to examine Sir F. Lewis upon a matter that was of a private rather than a public nature. The hon. Member had said there was no truth in that assertion; that he had been misled by an incorrect report in a newspaper; and that the statement was neither verbally nor substantially correct. As he was coming into the House that evening, he received a letter from Sir F. Lewis, containing a statement of what had occurred on the occasion in question. It stated the substance and the words which the hon. Member for Weymouth had distinctly denied having put; and it went on to state that several Members of the Committee had objected to the question being-put, and that the writer (Sir F. Lewis) had most earnestly desired to be allowed to answer it. The room, however, was cleared; and on the re-opening of the business, the hon. Member (Mr. Christie) put his question, but in a different form from what he had at first proposed, which was— When you ceased to be a Poor Law Commissioner, was it after an arrangement had been made that your son was to succeed you? Being resolved to leave no doubt upon the subject, he (Mr. Villiers) had, previously to the receipt of Sir F. Lewis's letter, referred to the report which had been published in the Times newspaper on the day after the examination, and it ran thus:— Mr. Christie: Did you not leave the Commission on an arrangement that your son should succeed you? Sir F. Lewis (under great excitement): I particularly wish to answer that question. Mr. Wakley: I think it ought to be answered. Here four or five Members of the Committee began to speak all at once, and much confusion having ensued, Mr. M. Sutton, the Chairman, and other Members, proposed to clear the room. Sir F. Lewis: Oh, pray let me answer the question. I entreat, for my honour, that you let me clear up this point. Mr. Sheridan: Yes, but we had better clear the room first. Sir F. Lewis: I entreat you let me answer it. The Chairman and Mr. M. Sutton: We had better have the room cleared, Sir F. Lewis: Oh, lot me answer it—pray, let me answer it. The room was cleared notwithstanding Sir F. Lewis's very earnest appeal, delivered in a tone which left no doubt of his earnestness, but which caused a great deal of laughter. On the return of parties, The Chairman said, the Committee were unanimously of opinion that he should have an opportunity of giving what answer he liked. That was considered an authentic account of what had taken place; hut he had referred also to the official report made to that House of the evidence. It ran thus:— When you ceased to be a Poor Law Commissioner, will you inform the Committee whether you ceased upon an arrangement being made for your son to succeed you? In putting that question, I am anxious to explain to you that I do not refer to any arrangement which might not have been made with perfect propriety, and without any imputation against either you or your son. The only object of the question is to ascertain, whether, on the appointment of your son, upon your retirement, you ever cautioned him against Mr. Chadwick? What related to the objection on the part of the Committee to the original question, was of course omitted from the Parliamentary report; hut the House would see that there was no connexion between Sir F. Lewis's giving up his place as a Commissioner, whether in favour of his son or not, and his warning him against Mr. Chadwick; and it would see that the hon. Member had actually put the question, which involved the matter which he said related to private and not public affairs. His object was to set himself right with the House, and to show that what he had stated was true.