HC Deb 07 July 1848 vol 100 cc241-2

MR. STAFFORD moved— That Mr. Speaker do issue his warrant to the Clerk of the Crown to make out a New Writ for the Electing of two Burgesses to servo in the present Parliament for the Borough of Derby, in the room of the Right Hon. Edward Strutt and the Hon. Frederick Leveson Gower, whoso Election has been determined to he void. All the other suspended writs, however, having now been issued, with the exception of the disgraceful case of Leicester, and the case of Derby now under consideration, he hoped the House would not refuse to issue the writ for this borough, and that the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown would at once withdraw the Horsham Borough Bill, and the hon. Member for Flint (Sir John Hammer) the Borough Elections Bill; these three things being done on the distinct and clear understanding that the cases of all the boroughs in which bribery had been proved would be taken up by the Government, who alone at this late period of the Session could hope fairly to deal with them.


expressed his cordial gratification that the noble Lord had taken the question into his own hands, and that they might look forward to see it fairly dealt with.


opposed the Motion. He thought it would lower the character of the House to refuse a writ one day and grant it on the next.


begged the House not to agree to the Motion. The hon. Member for North Northamptonshire had said a few days ago that if there was any chance of an inquiry taking place, he would not press for the new writs, and now that inquiry was promised he pressed for them.


thought that House the worst possible judge of its own proceedings. Unless the tribunal in election cases were removed from under the jurisdiction of the House, they would never have purity of election.


said, that he had heard of large, very large, sums of money having been paid at the last election for the city of London—sums as large even as 2,000 sovereigns having been paid at a time. He had had a Committee of 13 non-electors; and one gentleman sent them a present of 65l., being 5l. a piece; but they returned the money, refusing all remuneration.


thought the course the House were pursuing with regard to these writs contrary to the spirit if not to the letter of constitutional law. The franchise was conferred by the united Act of the three branches of the Legislature; and by thus withholding it for an indefinite period, the House of Commons was exceeding the power vested in thorn. The remedy against bribery was to be found in the existing statute law, by which it was held to be a misdemeanour, and the parties convicted liable to imprisonment and loss of franchise. It would have been more becoming and honest in the House to have directed the Attorney General to prosecute in the courts of law those eases which had come within its cognisance, than by withholding these writs to punish the innocent with the guilty, and to make their issue the subject of party strife.


With regard to this Motion, it appeared to him that the House having already decided at least twice that the writ should not issue, he thought that they ought to proceed according to precedents, of which they had so many, and defer issuing the writ until some fixed day, when hon. Members would be prepared for the consideration of the question. Unless this course were adhered to, the decision of a House of 300 Members, when a writ was refused, might be reversed on another day when there were not 50 Members present. He should move, therefore, as an Amendment— That no Writ he issued for the Borough of Derby before Tuesday the 15th day of August next.

Amendment agreed to.

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