HC Deb 11 March 1853 vol 125 cc36-7

said, he would beg to give notice that on the Motion for issuing a new writ for the Borough of Bridgenorth he would move as an Amendment that a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the allegations of certain electors of that Borough, complaining of the corrupt practices that prevailed at the last and previous elections. He would now move, in accordance with his notice, that the petition from the electors f Bridge-north, presented on the 10th of March, be printed with the Votes.


said, he wished to say that the petition to which the hon. Member referred did not represent the feelings of the electors of Bridgenorth generally, but had emanated from a hole-and-corner meeting of a few individuals, the great body of the electors having had no opportunity of expressing their opinion upon it. The House should bear in mind that after eight days' investigation before a Select Committee, one single case of indirect bribery only had been reported out of a constituency of 700. Under such circumstances he considered that it would be very hard if the writ were suspended. Of the persons who had signed the petition one was imbecile, two were dissenting ministers, and the rest were shopkeepers and innkeepers. He had no hesitation in saying that the constituency of Bridge-north, taken as a whole, was as pure as any in the Kingdom, and that the statement referred to on a previous evening by the hon. Member for West Riding (Mr. Cobden)—that an organised system of bribery and corruption existed there—was wholly incorrect.


in explanation, said, that he had presented the petition as that of "certain" electors of the Borough in question, and the statements of the hon. Gentleman himself proved that it was so.


Sir, as I have been referred to, I wish just to say one word. The hon. Member (Mr. Whitmore) has impugned the truth of a letter which I read to the House on a former occasion, charging the constituency of Bridgenorth with bribery and corruption. I wish to say that since then, I have received many other communications to the same effect, from parties I know to be respectable, confirmatory of that statement. If, however, the hon. Member is convinced that the statement is unfounded, and that no corruption, intimidation, or bribery exists in Bridgenorth—that it is not as bad as Sudbury was, but that it is, as he says, as pure a constituency as any in the Kingdom—then I ask him to offer no opposition to the Motion for inquiry, seeing that the result must, in that case, lead to the confounding of those persons who have made the charge, and to his own triumph.

Motion agreed to.