HC Deb 05 June 1848 vol 99 cc340-4

said, that as the noble Lord at the head of the Government had not given any decisive answer to the question put to him, as to whether he intended to proceed on Wednesday with the Horsham Election Bill, and as the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department stated the other day, that if the House suspended the writ for boroughs until the Bill brought in by the hon. Member for the Flint boroughs had passed, they would vote for the indefinite suspension of those writs, he now thought it his duty to move that a new writ be issued for the borough of Horsham. He asked for the writ as a right, on behalf of the electors of the borough of Horsham; and he hoped that neither the noble Lord (Lord Lincoln) nor the hon. Member for Montrose would be guilty of so unconstitutional an act as to oppose the issuing of the writ for this borough.


observed, that if he was surprised at the Motion for a new writ for Derby, he was much more astonished at the present Motion, Horsham having been reported against by the Committee on the ground that extensive treating had prevailed there. He hoped the House would not agree to this Motion.


The view I take with reference to the proceedings which the House should adopt in regard to these boroughs is briefly this:—An Act passed in 1842, making parties guilty of certain acts liable to the penalties of bribery. There were certain usages which had long prevailed, though not thought to partake of the character of corruption, but which this House decided to be corrupt, and at the instance of the noble Lord they proclaimed that these usages should cease, and that if they were continued, the parties who participated in them should be liable to penalties. I am sorry to find that this statute is inoperative. We see that notwithstanding the penalties which it threatens, these acts, these usages, do prevail. There is every reason to believe that the candidates themselves are not cognisant of them; but that it is local committees and local agents who commit these acts, and place the seats of honourable men in jeopardy, by resorting to proceedings for which their principals are held up to discredit. I think the disadvantages of this state of things are manifest. It will he a great discouragement to honourable men to come forward as candidates. They determine to set their faces against these practices, and deny all participation in them; but parties who are their agents commit these acts, and make their principals responsible; and my belief is, that if these practices prevail, and no means be taken to check them, you will have an inferior class of candidates. I therefore was prepared to vote for the suspension of this writ until the House should adopt some new measure for the purpose of making inquiries into these practices. But I think the House ought to bear in mind the particular relation in which it stands towards the constituencies of the country. We may think it right to institute an inquiry; but if the writs are to be suspended while the inquiry is prosecuted, I think we ought to make all other business subordinate to it. It is most dangerous to sanction the practice of suspending writs, particularly in the case of large constituencies such as Cheltenham and Derby, unless we determine to put an end to those practices. I feel it desirable that we should try some new measure, or, at least, that an inquiry should take place preparatory to some new measure being brought in. But while I consent to suspend the writs, I do entreat the noble Lord to consider this as a Government question which has claims for our immediate consideration. The relation in which the House of Commons stands towards the constituencies of the country requires this. I am content, as I gave my vote to suspend the writ for Derby, to vote for the suspension of the Writ for Horsham, but with a sense of the manifest evils which result from the suspension of writs, and with a strong feeling that the public interest requires as to make up our minds at once, whether there shall be an inquiry or not.


I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, that while this House proposes to make inquiries into the proceedings at certain elections, and the Borough Elections Bill has been read a second time, it is advisable to suspend the writ for Horsham. At the same time I cannot say I think that a Bill of that nature ought to take place of every other Bill. I quite agree, that if only ordinary business were before the House, it would be quite right to take that Bill before such ordinary business. But when a question of great importance is before the House, whether we shall consider the navigation laws this year, or postpone the consideration of them till next Session; or whether we shall make known in June our intentions with regard to the West Indies, or postpone the declaration of our intentions till July; these are matters of such an important nature as cannot be postponed. Therefore, agreeing in the general principles laid down by the right hon. Gentleman, I cannot give up every other species of legislation for the Borough Elections Bill. I thought the other day that there was some case made out for the borough of Derby by my right hon. Friend near me; and, therefore, I voted for the issuing of the writ; but, in the present instance, no case whatever has been made out, and I think that the House ought to refuse all those writs which may he moved for after boroughs have been reported against by Committees.


was of opinion, that the logical conclusion to be drawn from the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman and of the noble Lord was, that the House ought to issue this writ. After the speech of the noble Lord, in particular, the House could not hesitate to vote for the Motion. The noble Lord had told the House, without the slightest equivocation, that there was not the least chance of carrying the Borough Elections Bill this year. ["No!"] He had so understood the noble Lord. This being the month of June, and the noble Lord having alluded to two measures which the noble Lord considered of more importance, he would ask the House what prospect there was of any such measure as the Borough Elections Bill being carried this Session? Then the question which the House had now to decide was, whether there was a necessary connexion between inquiry into the proceedings at the election for the borough, and the non-issuing of the writ for Horsham. No doubt it would he most convenient to suspend the writ, and prosecute an early inquiry; but as that was impossible, after the statement made by the noble Lord, the more constitutional course would be to issue the writ now, and pursue the inquiry as early as possible. He ventured to hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth would adopt this view of the case, and vote for the Motion.


said, when his noble Friend the Member for Sussex (Lord March) had a Motion similar to the present before the House, he was advised to withdraw his Motion on the ground that it would be better to suspend the writ, as the inconvenience arising from that suspension Would be greatly overpaid by the delay. His noble Friend did withdraw his Motion on that advice. That took place in the month of March, and they were now in the month of June; and he would ask the right hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Peel) if there was any ground in the expectation of speedy legislation for further deferring the issue of the writ? Was it possible, after the statement of the noble Lord with reference to his Bill now before the House, to vote for the suspension of the writ in the face of such an assurance? He would ask whether the position of that Bill was creditable to the Government; and he would further ask if the Members of Her Majesty's Government were prepared to vote one way in the case of Derby, and another way in that of Horsham? Did they suppose that the country would under such circumstances give them credit for a wish to promote purity of election? As for the hon. Gentleman the Member for Montrose, it would appear as if the view he had taken of this question must ever prevent him from voting for the issue of the writ. They had heard lately of a meeting having been held in St. James's square, and of a new party having been formed of which the hon. Member for Montrose was declared the leader, while that very useful and essential functionary in connexion with every party, called a "whipper-in," was announced as having been appointed in the person of Sir Joshua Walmsley. A list of the adherents of this party was published; but from more than one quarter came the intimation that that list was an incorrect one. The question was one of growing importance, whether they should continue their inquiries, or issue the writs now suspended in the case of several boroughs; and he would remind the House that those cases could not be classed under one category without the most shameless injustice. He would tender his vote for the issuing of the writ, because he maintained that not one single case had been made out to disfranchise the borough of Horsham, and because he firmly believed that those who had stifled inquiry, and those most guilty, were not the most prominent in that case.


replied: The public would not fail to see that the Government voted for the issuing of a writ for Derby, where bribery was proved, and opposed it in the case of Horsham, where no bribery was proved. The public would also take notice that Derby had returned two Whig Members for the last twenty years, and that that was the reason why the writ had been issued in the case of that borough, but that because the Member likely to be returned for Horsham would be unfavourable to Government, therefore they opposed the issue of the writ. An hon. Member had talked about reports of great corruption at Horsham being in circulation. One report was that the learned Attorney General was deeply implicated in the bribery, if any did take place, at Horsham; and if the Bill of the noble Lord was not proceeded with on Wednesday, it would greatly strengthen those reports. He must say he was not surprised at the opposition of the hon. Member for Montrose, as he always considered the principles of that hon. Member were at variance with the best principles of the British constitution. He was always very liberal; but when a practical question like the present was brought forward, the despotic spirit of the spurious Liberal showed itself in its true light. It was one of the best principles of the British constitution to consider a man innocent till he was proved guilty; but the hon. Member both convicted and condemned the voters of Horsham without proof, and would deprive them of their privileges. The country might, by this, see what a tyrannous course that hon. Gentleman would pursue if he succeeded in carrying his views and upsetting the institutions of the country.

House divided:—Ayes 117; Noes 231: Majority 114.

List of the AYES.
Adderley, C. B. Bruce, C. L. C.
Anstey, T. C. Buck, L. W.
Archdall, Capt. Buller, Sir J. Y.
Bailey, J. Burrell, Sir C. M.
Baillie, H. J. Chichester, Lord J. L.
Baldock, E. H. Christopher, R. A.
Bankes, G. Cobbold, J. C.
Baring, T. Cocks, T. S.
Barrington, Visct. Colvile, C. R.
Benbow, J. Damer, hon. Col.
Bentinck, Lord G. Deedes, W.
Bentinck, Lord H. Disraeli, B.
Beresford, W. Drummond, H.
Blackall, S. W. Duncombe, hon. O.
Blandford, Marq. of Dundas, G.
Boiling, W. Du Pre, C. G.
Bourke, R. S. East, Sir J. B.
Bowles, Adm. Euston, Earl of
Boyd, J. Farnham, E. B.
Bramston, T. W. Farrer, J.
Bremridge, R. Floyer, J
Forbes, W. Newdegate, C. N.
Fox, S. W. L. Newport, Visct.
Fuller, A. E. Noel, hon. G. J.
Galway, Visct. O'Brien, Sir L.
Godson, R. O'Connell, M. J.
Goulburn, rt. hon. H Oswald, A.
Greene, T. Peel, Col.
Grogan, E. Powlett, Lord W.
Hale, R. B. Reid, Col.
Hall, Col. Repton, G. W. J.
Hamilton, G. A. Robinson, G. R.
Harris, hon. Capt. Rushout, Capt.
Henley, J. W. Scott, hon. F.
Herries, rt. hon. J. C Seaham, Visct.
Hodgson, W. N. Seymer, H. K.
Hogg, Sir J. W. Shirley, E. J.
Hope, Sir J. Sibthorp, Col.
Hornby, J. Sidney, Ald.
Houlosworth, T. Sotheron, T. H. S.
Ingestre, Visct. Spooner, R.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Stanley, E.
Jones, Capt. Stuart, J.
Keogh, W. Taylor, T. E.
Kerrison, Sir E. Thompson, Ald.
Knox, Col. Thornhill, G.
Lascelles, hon. E. Tollemache, hon. J. F.
Law, hon. C. E. Trollope, Sir J.
Lennox, Lord H. G. Tyrell, Sir J. T.
Lowther, hon. Col. Urquhart, D.
Lygon, hon. Gen. Vyvyan, Sir R. R.
Mackenzie, W. F. Vyse, R. H. R. H.
Mahon, Visct. Wadington, H. S.
Mandeville, Visct. Walsh, Sir J. B.
Manners, Lord G. Welby, G. E.
Meux, Sir H. Willoughby, Sir H.
Miles, W. Wodehouse, E.
Mullings, J. R. TELLERS.
Mure, Col. Goring, C.
Neeld, J. Stafford, A.
List of the NOES.
Acland, Sir T. D. Carter, J. B.
Adair, H. E. Caulfeild, J. M.
Adair, R. A. S. Cavendish, hon. C. C.
Aglionby, H. A. Cavendish, hon. G. H.
Anson, hon. Col. Cayley, E. S.
Armstrong, Sir A. Charteris, hon. F.
Armstrong, R. B. Childers, J. W.
Ashley, Lord Cholmeley, Sir M.
Baines, M. T. Clay, J.
Baring, rt. hon. Sir F. T. Clerk, rt. hon. Sir G.
Barnard, E. G. Clifford, H. M.
Bellew, R. M. Cobden, R.
Benett, J. Cochrane, A. D. R. W. B.
Berkeley, hon. G. F. Cockburn, A. J. E.
Bernal, R. Colebrooke, Sir T. E.
Birch, Sir T. B. Corbally, M. E.
Blackstone, W. S. Cowper, hon. W. F.
Blake, M. J. Craig, W. G.
Bowring, Dr. Currie, H
Boyle, hon. Col. Dalrymple, Capt.
Braekley, Visct. Davie, Sir H. R. F.
Brand, T. Dawson, hon. T. V.
Bright, J. Denison, W. J.
Brotherton, J. Devereux, J. T.
Brown, W. D'Eyncourt, rt. hon. C. T.
Bulkeley, Sir R. B. W. Divett, E.
Bunbnry, E. H. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Burke, Sir T. J. Drumlanrig, Visct.
Buxton, Sir E. N. Drummond, H. H.
Callaghan, D. Duncan, G.
Campbell, hon. W. F. Duncombe, hon. A.
Cardwell, E. Duncuft, J.
Dundas, Adm M'Taggart, Sir J.
Dunne, F. P. Mahon, The O 'Gorman
Ebrington, Visct. Maitland, T.
Egerton, W. T. Mangles, R. D.
Ellice, rt. hon. E. Marshall, J. G.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Marshall, W.
Estcourt, J. B. B. Martin, J.
Evans, Sir De L. Matheson, A.
Evans, J. Matheson, Col.
Evans, W. Maule, rt. hon. F.
Ewart, W. Milnes, R. M.
Fagan, W. Mitchell, T. A.
Fellowes, E. Moftatt, G.
Fergus, J. Morgan, H. K. G.
Fitzroy, hon. H. Morris, D.
Fitzwilliam, hon. G. W. Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.
Fortescue, C. Mowatt, F.
Fortescue, hon. J. W. Mulgrave, Earl of
Fox, W. J. Muntz, G. F.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Norreys, Lord
Gladstone, rt. hon. W. E. Norreys, Sir D. J.
Glyn, G. C. Nugent, Lord
Graham, rt. hon. Sir J. O'Brien, J.
Granger, T. C. O'Brien, T.
Grattan, H. O'Flaherty, A.
Greenall, G. Ogle, S. C. H.
Greene, J. Packe, C. W.
Grenfell, C. P. Paget, Lord C.
Grey, R. W. Pakington, Sir J.
Grosvenor, Lord R. Palmerston, Visct.
Guest, Sir J. Parker, J.
Halford, Sir H. Patten, J. W.
Hallyburton, Lord J. F. Pattison, J.
Hastie, A. Pearson, C.
Hastie, A. Peehell, Capt.
Hawes, B. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Hay, Lord J. Pendarves, E. W. W.
Hayes, Sir E. Perfect, R.
Hayter, W. G. Pilkington, J.
Headlam, T. E. Power, Dr.
Heathcoat, J. Pusey, P.
Heneage, E. Raphael, A.
Herbert, rt. hon. S. Rawdon, Col.
Hervey, Lord A. Ricardo, J. L.
Heywood, J. Ricardo, O.
Hill, Lord M. Rice, E. R.
Hodges, T. L. Rich, H.
Hood, Sir A. Richards, R.
Horsman, E. Robartes, T. J. A.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Roche, E. B.
Howard, hon. E. G. G. Romilly, Sir J.
Humphery, Ald. Russell, Lord J.
Johnstone, Sir J. Russell, F. C. H
Keating, R. Rutherfurd, A.
Keppel, hon. G. T. Sadlier, J.
Kershaw, J. Salwey, Col.
Kildare, Marq. of Sandars, G.
King, hon. P. J. L. Sholefield, W.
Langston, J. H. Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.
Laseelles, hon. W.S. Simeon, J.
Lemon, Sir C. Smith, rt. hon. R. V.
Lewis, rt. hon. Sir T. F. Smith, J. A.
Lewis, G. C. Smith, J. B.
Lincoln, Earl of Somerville, rt. hn. Sir W.
Lindsay, hon. Col. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Littleton, hon. E. R. Stanton, W. H.
Loch, J. Strickland, Sir G.
Locke, J. Stuart, Lord J.
Lockhart, A. E. Sullivan, M.
Lushington, C. Talbot, C. R. M.
Macnamara, Maj. Tancred, H W.
M'Cullagh, W. T. Tenison, E. K.
M'Gregor, J. Thicknesse, R. A.
Thompson, Col. Westhead, J. P.
Towneley, C. Wilcox, B. M.
Towneley, J. Williams, J.
Townley, R. G. Williamson, Sir H.
Trelawny, J. S. Wilson, J.
Turner, E. Wood, W. P.
Vane, Lord H. Wrightson, W. B.
Verney, Sir H. Wyvill, M.
Villiers, hon. C. Young, Sir J.
Vivian, J. H. TELLERS.
Ward, H. G. Hume, J.
Watkins, Col. Hanmer, Sir J.