§ SIR HARRY VERNEY
said, he would beg to ask the hon. Member for Montrose to state to the House the reasons for which the inquiry into the alleged corrupt practices by the Bridgwater Election Petitions Committee was stopped, one hundred and eighty cases of bribery having been stated, and only seven of them investigated?
§ MR. BAXTER,
in reply, said, the question put to him was one of a very unusual nature, and he could not help thinking that if he were to state in detail the reasons which had induced the Committee to arrive at the decision which had been recorded he might be setting a very unfortunate and inconvenient precedent. Unless called upon by the hon. Baronet for further explanation, he should confine himself to the assertion that the course taken in no way affected the honour or impartiality of the Committee, which sat for eight days investigating the ease, and was unanimous in all its decisions.
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, be hoped the hon. Member would give some explanation of the reasons why he, as Chairman of the Bridgwater Election Committee, was not present in the House the other evening, when his authority was quoted, and that he would also state whether in his absence he had authorized any hon. Member to express his opinions?
§ MR. BAXTER
said, it was true he had been appointed Chairman of the Bridgwater Election Committee, and to the best of his ability he had endeavoured to discharge his duty in that capacity; but he did not consider it any part of that duty to attend in his place subsequently, when a Motion for the issue of the Writ was under discussion, at the rather inconvenient hour of two o'clock in the morning.
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, the hon. Member had not mentioned whether he gave authority to anybody else to speak for him.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I think the original Question was hardly in order. The hon. Member for Montrose has performed his duty as Chairman of the Election Commit tee. The evidence of that Committee has been laid on the table of the House; it has been for some time in the hands of Members, and the House has acted upon it 1798 and issued the Writ. It is beyond the province of a private Member to interrogate the Chairman now as to the proceedings of that Committee.