HC Deb 05 February 1851 vol 114 cc134-6

begged to say he was in error in moving, yesterday, a writ for this borough. He had moved it on the assumption that the right hon. Richard Lalor Sheil, having accepted the office of Minister Plenipotentiary to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, had vacated his seat for the borough; but it turned out that this was a mistake, for, on referring to precedents, it appeared that the seat was not vacated by the acceptance of that office. Therefore, the only course now left him was to move that the order be superseded; and with that view he begged to move that the Order of yesterday, the 4th instant, in reference to the writ, be then read.

The Clerk having read the Order,


begged to move— That Mr. Speaker do issue his warrant to the Clerk of the Crown, in Ireland, to make out a supersedeas to the said writ for the Election of a Burgess to serve in this present Parliament for the Borough of Dungarvan.


wished to know if that was the ordinary mode of proceeding? If not, there would be great danger in establishing it as a precedent. Any hon. Member might become obnoxious to a majority in that House; but that should be no reason why a supersedeas should issue. If once they established such a precedent, he feared it would become injurious to the liberty and privileges of that House. However, if the course now about to be pursued by the right hon. Gentleman accorded with precedent, of course he (Mr. Roebuck) could have nothing to say. But he should like to have assurance to that effect, that no harm might arise hereafter.


said, the hon. Gentleman wished to know whether or not the present course was that usually pursued. Now, he apprehended the usual course was, when an error had been committed, to rectify it as soon as possible. The fact would depend on the commission of the error. On reference to Hatsell, vol. ii., page 23, there was this cntry:— On the 7th July, 1715, on a question whether Mr. Carpenter, having been appointed Envoy to the Court of Vienna, is thereby included in the disability of the 6th of Anne, c. 7, it passed in the negative. There were several instances where Gentlemen who were Members of the House, had discharged the duties of Ambassadors also; there was the case of Mr. Canning, of Sir Robert Adair, and of Lord Burghersh. Therefore, it seemed clear that the mere acceptance of this office did not divest the Ambassador of the character of Member of this House.


explained that he had been mistaken. He thought the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hayter) was going a step too far.


thought the proceedings quite contrary to common sense, that an hon. Member should accept an office of emolument and still retain his seat. Here was the acceptance of an office of emolument under the Crown, which would, moreover, leave the constituency unrepresented—Mr. Canning's was merely a temporary mission. It would be well if the Attorney General explained.


inquired in what state the writ would remain. The law was clear that the writ, after being moved for, should be forwarded by the next post. Now it would be very inconvenient if the sheriff of Waterford received the writ and appointed a day for the election, and was then compelled to suspend that election by supersedeas. He knew the state of feeling that existed in the borough; and, therefore, he knew that such a course would be attended with unpleasant consequences.


said, the House would be aware that by the statute 6th of Anne, the acceptance of any office of profit from the Crown makes the elec- tion void. The question was, whether the acceptance of this office of Envoy to a Foreign Court—such as had been accepted by his right hon. Friend Richard Lalor Sheil—came within the disability of the statute of Queen Anne. Now there were distinct precedents where that House had decided that the acceptance of such office did not come within the disability. A case of inadvertence had occurred in the issue of a writ for the borough of Dungarvan. In fact the borough of Dungarvan was not vacant; and, therefore, no election could at present take place. In case an election did take place, under the circumstances, the gentleman so elected would not be entitled to take his seat in that House, did he present himself at the table. The right hon. Richard Lalor Sheil was at that moment Member for Dungarvan; and the question was now, what course they were to adopt to remedy the error. He saw no course but to authorise the Speaker to issue a writ of supersedeas. Some inconvenience would no doubt arise; but no inconvenience would be so great as that which must follow from a proceeding contrary to law. In any case, it was only a matter of twenty-four hours' inconvenience, which could not be said to be very grievous.


inquired if the right hon. Gentleman the late Master of the Mint would be suffered to retain his seat?


replied, that a new writ would be moved for when the seat became vacant. Of course his right hon. Friend (Mr. Sheil) would see that his present position as Plenipotentiary to the Grand Duke of Tuscany was incompatible with his representation of Dungarvan, and would no doubt accordingly take the proper steps to vacate his seat in that House.

The subject then dropped.

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