HC Deb 19 August 1853 vol 129 cc1818-20

said, he had to present a petition from Mr. John Patrick Somers, which set forth that the petitioner had represented Sligo in Parliament for fourteen years; that he was a candidate at the last election, which took place in July of the present year, and that Mr. John Sadleir was also a candidate; that the latter gentleman was declared to be duly elected, but, believing that his election had been procured by bribery, treating, and personation, Mr. Somers had presented a petition against Mr. Sadleir, complaining of the return, and praying a scrutiny of the votes. The petitioner stated that he had found the necessary recognisances for the prosecution of the petition, but that one of those had been tampered with by an agent of Mr. Sadleir, and, by a gift of 50l., had been induced to make an affidavit that at the time of his becoming one of the sureties he was not worth 500l. In consequence of this the petition was vitiated, and Mr. Somers now prayed for inquiry and redress.


said, he trusted the House would permit him to make one or two observations on the subject of this petition. In the first place, he earnestly hoped the hon. and learned Member for Youghal (Mr. I. Butt) would not delay taking some step to submit the several allegations in the petition to the test of a trial, and of a public and deliberate inquiry before a properly-constituted tribunal. It was due, he (Mr. Sadleir) thought, to his own personal position, as well as to the public position which he occupied as a Member of the House of Commons, that he should declare in the most solemn manner that, so far as regarded himself, the various allegations contained in the petition, reflecting on his conduct and acts, were altogether unfounded and void of truth. He had had no opportunity of communicating with any of the other parties against whose conduct allegations were also made, except Mr. Walker. As Mr. Walker was in London, he called on that gentleman to give him a statement on the subject. Mr. Walker assured him in the most distinct and positive manner that he had no knowledge whatever of the alleged transactions—that if they had taken place it was without authority and direction on his part, and entirely without his knowledge. He (Mr. Sadleir) might also mention that he had no communication, directly or otherwise, with, and had no knowledge of, a man named Simpson spoken of in the petition. It was not the fact that another person named in the petition acted as his agent. No person was authorised to act for him in the matter of the petition presented against his return save Mr. Walker. The sooner the allegations contained in the petition were made the subject of an investigation, the better for every individual affected by the petition. He could not but regard it as a misfortune, that a petition of this character, imputing improper, illegal, corrupt, and unconstitutional conduct to parties, should be presented at the close of one Session of Parliament, when it was utterly impossible to submit those allegations to any test whatsoever before the commencement of another Session of Parliament. He hoped, however, that the hon. and learned Member would take the earliest opportunity of submitting those allegations to public investigation. This petition bore a curious resemblance to one presented in 1848, and he thought it probable that the same fate would attend it. He remembered very well the petition presented in 1848, charging a gentleman who was his predecessor as Member for Sligo with corrupt and illegal acts, and unconstitutional interference with the privileges of that House. That petition was referred to a Select Committee; and the authors of those allegations were obliged to appear before the Committee, which reported on the allegations, after a careful inquiry, as unfunded, and as not having been proved. It was very possible, he apprehended, that the promoters of this petition would find their present attempt as abortive as the attempt of 1848.


said, he could assure the hon. Gentleman that he should take the earliest opportunity of proposing an inquiry. The petition had been put in his hand by a gentleman who had been a Member of that House. He (Mr. I. Butt) said nothing with respect to the allegations; and, while he should regret doing anything to prejudice the hon. Gentleman, he thought the hon. Gentleman would have done better had he abstained from stating anything to prejudice the petitioners.

Petition to lie on the table.

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