HC Deb 13 May 1853 vol 127 cc374-7

Order read, for resuming adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed [12th May], to be made to. Question [2d. May],"That Mr. Speaker do issue his Warrant to the Clerk of the Crown, to make out a New Writ for the electing of a Baron to serve in this present Parliament for the Town and Port of Rye, in the room of William Alexander Mackinnon, esquire, whose Election has been determined to be void:"—And which Amendment was to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "no New Writ be issued for the Town and Port of Rye until Friday the 27th day of this instant May," instead thereof.

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."

Debate resumed.


said, he had no objection, on the part of the Government, to urge to the issuing of the writ; but at the same time he was disposed to leave the question entirely in the hands of the House. It did not appear there was any strong ground for suspending the writ; and the general practice was, that if the issue of the writ was postponed, it would only be with the view of bringing in a measure bearing upon the place for which the writ was to issue. He understood it was the intention of an hon. Member to give notice of such a Bill; but, as far as the Government was concerned, no opposition would be offered to the issue of the writ.


then rose, but was received with loud cries of "Spoke!" which obliged him to resume his seat.


said, if the hon. Gentleman had already spoken in this debate, he could not address the House again.


In order that fair play may take place with regard to the borough, I am anxious to hear what the hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, who has taken the question into his hands with reference to the postponement of the writ, has to say on the subject. To enable him to make his statement, I move that the House do now adjourn.


seconded the Motion.


said, the hon. Gentleman, having seconded the Motion, could not speak again upon it.


who was again received with loud cries of "Spoke!" said, he only desired to state, in answer to what he supposed to be the suggestion of the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston), that he should ask the leave of the House to introduce a Bill for the disfranchisement of the borough of Rye.


said, he would withdraw his Motion by leave of the House. [Loud cries of "No, no!"and "Divide!"]

Motion made, and Question put, "That this House do now adjourn."

The House divided:—Ayes 52; Noes 193: Majority 141.

Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


said, the evidence taken before the Committee was very voluminous, and hon. Members had not yet had an opportunity of reading it. He was therefore in favour of the postponement of the writ.


said, he had been misunderstood in what had fallen from him on the subject of the writ. What he had said was, that, on the part of the Government, he was not prepared to oppose the issue of the writ. He had stated, that in the general course of proceeding, writs were not postponed, except with a view to ulterior proceedings; but the House would recollect that all the members of the Committee stated there was no ground for disfranchisement. There appeared, therefore, no ground for postponing the writ.


said, the House must recollect that this was the second Committee which had sat upon the question; and that consequently the matter had been fully investigated. As the Committee had not recommended the postponement of the writ, he thought it ought to issue.


said, he regretted that he felt compelled to come to a different conclusion. If they issued the writ in this case, it would render their proceedings on election petitions a perfect farce. This was a very flagrant instance, for in addition to a most vicious system of loans, it was notorious that the grossest treating had been resorted to. Yet it was only the other day that they refused the writ for Harwich, where there was hardly a tittle of evidence. Here was a case in which the hon. Gentleman who had been unseated had deposited 2,000l. with his banker, the whole of which was expended in the most corrupt practices; and out of thirty-nine public houses, thirty-four had been opened for the purpose of demoralising the electors.


said, he entirely concurred with the hon. and gallant Mem- ber who had last spoken. If this, writ were allowed to issue, the House would expose itself to the charge of hypocrisy in the measures they had taken for the repression of corrupt practices.


said, he considered that the only safe course was to go by the opinion of the Committee. The majority of the constituency of Rye appeared to be as pure as any constituency could be, and as it was idle to suppose that there was any chance of passing a Bill for disfranchising the borough, he was decidedly of opinion that it was the bounden duty of the House not to keep the constituency any longer from the exercise of their electoral privileges.


said, he should support the issuing of the writ. He thought it was neither constitutional nor just to suspend issuing a writ unless with the view to some ulterior proceedings which it was expected would terminate in the disfranchisement of the borough. The first Committee on the Rye election recommended the suspension of the writ in order that a further investigation should take place. Accordingly, another Committee was appointed, and the result of their inquiry was now before the House; but the Chairman of that Committee had expressed himself favourable to the issuing of the writ. Under those circumstances—though he was the last man to defend the practices which had taken place—he should vote in favour of the writ being issued.


said, as a Member of the Committee, that if they thought there was a case made out for the disfranchisement of the borough, they would certainly have recommended the suspension of the writ, and it was because they considered there was no such case that they had not adopted that course.


said, the country would look with astonishment upon the course adopted by the House, with regard to the issuing of writs. The hon. Baronet the Member for Westminster (Sir J. Shelley) set himself up as a kind of public prosecutor; but a person who assumed such a character, he thought, should be a little more consistent. He was continually getting up making statements, and moving resolutions, either for the delay of writs, or for the prosecution of men. A great many of these party debates, he (Lord A. Vane) would suggest, might be avoided, if some Government would bring forward some uniform rule for the guidance of the House, Thinking it was too late an hour to discuss the issuing of the writ, he would move that the debate be adjourned. He believed that the revelations with regard to Rye were stronger than those in any other case that had come before the House.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the debate be now adjourned."


said, he hoped the noble Lord would not press his Amendment. He trusted the House would endeavour to divest these questions of party politics, and to decide upon them judicially. He looked upon the present question as one of justice. In his conscience he was convinced that there was no ground for the disfranchisement of the borough, and he must therefore vote for the issuing of the writ.


said, he had always made it a point on divisions for the issuing of writs to vote in the same lobby with the Chairman of the Committee. He regretted to say that in the present instance he could not vote with the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington, because he believed there was a necessity for further inquiry.


said, the Committee stated in their Report that the remedy for the corruption existed at Rye should be provided for by future legislation. What was the good of the Committee making such a Report if another man was to be elected by similar corrupt means? He was informed by a gentleman who had long represented the borough, and who had authorised him to make the statement, that not only was the borough of Rye under the control of Mr. Jeremiah Smith, but that he had actually offered it for sale. That was not a mere rumour, for there were gentlemen who could prove that he had offered to enter into negotiations with them for the sale of his influence. It would be an absolute farce to issue the writ, when it was well known that the electors could not exercise their freedom of choice.


said, he would withdraw his Amendment.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 118; Noes 99: Majority 19.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

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