§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL moved that no warrants for new writs for Barnstaple, Cambridge, Canterbury, Kingston, Hull, Maldon, and Tynemouth, be issued before the 9th of March next. It was exceedingly desirable that the House should have full time to consider what remedy should be applied to the cases of these boroughs, the writs for which had been suspended in consequence of the appointment of Commissions to inquire into the alleged existence of extensive bribery and corruption. The Reports of all the Commissions, except that in the case of Tynemouth, had been printed and laid before the House, and it was in order that that Report might be in the hands of Members, and that the House might have an ample opportunity of considering the whole of these cases together, that he now moved the further suspension of the writs to the day he had named.
§ MR. FITZSTEPHEN FRENCH
asked why the noble Lord fixed the 9th of March? The practice of withholding writs was unconstitutional and objectionable; and he thought it was highly desirable that the House should come to a decision as to whether the Government of the day should have the power to suspend writs from time to time.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
would have no objection to fix the 10th of March, if the hon. Member preferred that day. The reason he fixed the 9th of March was that that day was five weeks from the present date, and he thought that would be sufficient time to allow the House to consider the whole of the cases together. It would not be desirable that the House should adopt one course in the cases of Canterbury and Cambridge, the reports upon which were before them, and then, when they saw the other reports, adopt different measures with respect to the other boroughs.
§ SIR FREDERIC THESIGER
suggested that no order should be made in the case of Tynemouth until the report of the Commission upon that borough was before the House; because, should it turn out that there was no case against that place, it would be rather hard that the writ should be suspended to the 9th of March.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
said, that he had put all the boroughs in the same list, because, had he not, there might have been questions raised as to the course that it was desirable to take in each instance. The report upon Tynemouth had not been printed, nor was he aware that it had been presented to the House; it was well known that no Commissions had been granted except in cases where there was good reason to suppose that there had been a good deal of bribery and corruption, and he thought that this fact was amply sufficient to justify the postponement of the writs until all these boroughs could be dealt with together.
§ Motion agreed to.