§ COLONEL WILSON PATTEN
said, he wished to call the attention of the House to the Petition (presented on the 14th of March) relative to Lancaster Borough, and to move that the petitioners be heard at the Bar of the House upon their petition, if they thought fit. Before addressing the House upon this point, he would present a petition from 1,200 householders in the borough of Lancaster, who had looked for- 983 ward to gaining the franchise under the provisions of the Reform Bill, and who stated that as they bad been totally unconnected with what had taken place at the last election, they considered it would be an act of injustice on account of the malpractices of others to deprive them of the advantages they would otherwise have had. They prayed the House to take their case into consideration, and not to pass that portion of the Bill which included the disfranchisement of Lancaster. He had also to present petitions from two persons, electors of Lancaster, whose names had been inserted in the list of those found guilty of bribery, but who declared that they had taken no part in such bribery, and asked the House to take their cases into consideration, in order that their interests might not suffer. He bad now to bring under their consideration a petition which he presented some time ago from the mayor and corporation of Lancaster, praying to be heard by counsel at the Bar of the House against the disfranchisement of that borough as proposed by the Representation of the People Bill. After the presentation of that petition he had been intrusted with another, signed by about 500 electors of Lancaster, who were quite uncontaminated and unconnected with any of the corrupt practices at that election. The House might confidently rely upon his statement, when he said that no individual who had been either directly or indirectly found guilty of corrupt practices at the last election had been allowed to add his name to this petition. These petitioners also prayed to be heard by counsel against that part of the Reform Bill which proposed to disfranchise their borough. He was aware of the difficulties he had to contend with in introducing the question of which he had given notice. When the Reform Bill was introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer it was impossible not to note the more than ordinarily favourable manner in which that portion of the scheme of the Government was received by both sides which involved the disfranchisement of those boroughs which had been reported as guilty of bribery. Having himself read with great pain the Reports of the Commissioners, he was not in the least surprised at these manifestations on the part of the House. It was perfectly natural and very creditable that they should have occurred; but it greatly increased his difficulty in striving to make them take 984 a dispassionate view of the circumstances which he had to submit. It would be worse than useless for him to attempt to deny the corruption which was proved to exist in the borough of Lancaster. He should at once admit it, though he might be able to offer some extenuation on behalf of a portion of the electors. The main features of the case were very briefly told. After the last election, in consequence of a Report made to the House by the Committee appointed to try the merits of that election, a Commission was very properly sent down to make a searching inquiry into all the transactions. That Commission was composed of three gentlemen who were members of the legal profession. He might say in passing that he had nothing to say against these three gentlemen, nor had the petitioners anything to complain of with respect to their conduct during the investigation, which was conducted throughout with great ability, astuteness, fairness, and impartiality. He wished to ask, however, what object was sought to be gained in confining the constitution of that Commission to members of the legal profession? There must have been some advantage contemplated by such procedure. A glance at the Report would show what that advantage was. No doubt legal gentlemen were selected because from their experience in matters of this kind, from their manner of examining witnesses, and from their general ability in eliciting the facts of a case, they were considered to be better qualified to conduct such an inquiry than gentlemen not belonging to such a profession. That being the case, He claimed for the inhabitants of Lancaster to be allowed the same privilege in conducting the defence as had been granted to those who conducted the prosecution. The inquiry was conducted by these legal gentlemen with the intelligence and assiduity which characterized their profession. It extended over thirty-four days. 1,400 witnesses were examined, about 39,000 questions were asked, and the Report and evidence formed a book of 750 folio pages. That inquiry, however, which extended over so long a period, was from first to last conducted without any of those advantages on the part of the electors of the borough of Lancaster which were allowed to the prosecutors, and which might have enabled the defenders to have elicited facts in their own favour in cross-examination. For this reason, he contended that the petitioners should be heard by coun- 985 sel at the Bar of the House. There was an important point which he should himself like to hear argued at the Bar of the House, more particularly as it was one not confined to elections. The whole of the evidence was obtained by means of an indemnity which was given to the people of Lancaster. In consequence of that indemnity electors came forward willingly, offered their testimony, and with one or two exceptions gave every facility for getting at the truth. He thought the question as to what that indemnity involved should be argued at the Bar of the House. Did it merely involve freedom from personal punishment, or did it also include the loss of the privilege of voting which the parties had enjoyed? Many of the electors of Lancaster believed that the indemnity covered both, and that they would neither suffer in their persons nor privileges, and many of them gave their evidence on that understanding. A Commission had lately been appointed to inquire into the operation of Trades Unions, and in order to induce witnesses to come forward, an Act was passed indemnifying every person who should come forward and give evidence. Some atrocious acts had to be inquired into by that Commission, among others one connected with the town of Sheffield, which had raised general horror throughout the country. Supposing that the House—respecting the indemnity so far as personal punishment was concerned—was yet to enact that the residents in the city of Sheffield should not in future be allowed to form or enter into such trades unions, would it not be held to be a very hard case? The House might just as well do that as follow out their proposed policy with respect to Lancaster. The cases were similar, and the question might well be argued at the Bar of the House whether the indemnity granted to Lancaster did not protect the electors from forfeiting their electoral privileges. No doubt it might be said that this was a question which it would be competent for Members representing the district to discuss. But hon. Members must labour under great difficulties in undertaking the advocacy of such a case. For himself, he must say he should hesitate to appear as an advocate under such circumstances. He had been returned for an entirely different object. He had never taken part in a case of this kind, and this was the first time he had ever been engaged in the advocacy of such a case. He wished to ask the House whether the 986 suggestion of these parties, to be heard against the proposal to disfranchise Lancaster, was anything new? He had endeavoured to make himself master of all the precedents on this subject, and he had not found an instance in which the house had refused the prayer of the petition. There were thirteen instances to the contrary. He would refer to one or two of them. There was the case of Weymouth, in which the question was whether the voters should be disfranchised. The petition against it was referred to a Committee of the Whole house and was supported by counsel. Then there was the case of Penryn, and also of East Retford, and in both of those cases the parties were allowed to be heard at the Bar of the House. There were also the cases of Liverpool and of Sudbury. The case of East Retford was strictly analogous to Lancaster. After debate on the petition, which stated that the electors had no representative to argue their case, the question put was whether counsel should be heard at the Bar. The House resolved in the affirmative, and Mr. Denman was called in. These petitioners on the part of the borough of Lancaster had no representative, and therefore the same opportunity of being heard should be given to them. He would not trouble the House further with precedents. If hon. Gentlemen would look into the journals of the House they would find ample reasons for granting the prayer of this petition. One other point which he might mention was the fact that one of the Members which the borough of Lancaster had been deprived of by the house was a learned gentleman, a distinguished member of the legal profession, and the people of Lancaster were now deprived of his assistance in defending the Parliamentary existence of their borough. He knew there was a strong feeling in the House against Lancaster; but notwithstanding that, he would lay some facts before them to show that the borough ought not to be disfranchised. Some extenuation might be offered for what had taken place at Lancaster when he stated the amount of temptation which existed. No less than £14,000 were spent in bribery and treating amongst about 800 of the less wealthy classes of the borough at the last election. Notwithstanding so much bribery a large portion of the electors were uncontaminated, and he asked that they should not be sacrificed. He would not defend the expenditure which had taken place; but if there were an 987 excuse for it, it would be found in the fact that the greater part of the money was spent amongst labouring men, who earned their livelihood by daily wages. It would be worth while, in considering this question, to look at the position which the borough of Lancaster would occupy in the event of the passing of the Reform Bill, and in case the clause disfranchising the borough was struck out. The present constituency of Lancaster, including those who had been placed upon the register since the election of 1865, and who were therefore untainted, and excluding those who had been declared corrupt, was 600 and odd, a constituency superior to that of seventy existing boroughs. The population was 17,500, being a larger population than that of ninety-nine boroughs, while the number of male occupiers over £6 and under £10 rating value, and above £10 gross estimated rental, was greatly in excess of that of seventy boroughs. The wealth and importance of the borough were also rapidly increasing year by year. He believed, therefore, that the question of disfranchising a large portion of the constituency who were totally uncorrupted, and he might add, from the temptation to which they had been exposed, perfectly incorruptible, was one well worthy the cautious consideration of the House. It had been his lot to become intimately acquainted with members of both parties in the borough, and from his own knowledge he could testify to the fact that a large portion of the inhabitants of Lancaster had from the beginning deprecated the malpractices which had existed in the borough. He felt, indeed, convinced that if the House should think fit not to carry out the proposed disfranchisement, so strong was the feeling on the subject on the part of those who had no share in the practices complained of, and so sincere was the repentance of many of those who had been concerned in them, that there would be no fear of their recurring at any future time. He had hesitated before bringing this Motion forward, because he had feared that it might be regarded as a desire on his part to cause interruption to the Reform Bill now before the House; but he could assure the House that his intention was far otherwise. He was as anxious as the Government or any hon. Gentleman could be to see a good Reform Bill passed, and to secure that result he had resolved to compromise many of the opinions to which he had hitherto clung. He was 988 therefore far from wishing to offer the slightest obstruction to the Reform Bill; he only desired, if possible, to secure justice for those who, having no other representative, had intrusted their case to his charge.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Mayor and Corporation of the Borough of Lancaster be heard, by Counsel, at the Bar of this House, in Committee on the Representation of the People Bill, upon their Petition, presented on the 14th March, against Clause 8 of the said Bill, which provides for the disfranchisement of that Borough."—(Colonel Wilson Patten.)
§ MR. WALPOLE
said, that the question brought before the House relating to the disfranchisement of so large a borough as Lancaster was one which ought to be dealt with in a judicial, and not in a party spirit. Nobody who had read the Report of the Commissioners could doubt that there had existed a stupendous system of corruption in that borough. When he compared the number of voters with the number of voters bribed, he could not help feeling that disfranchisement was never more justifiable than it would be in this case. Out of 1,408 voters, 843 were bribed, while 89 acted as bribers, giving a total of 932. If the House dealt with Lancaster in a way other than that in which it had dealt with Sudbury and St. Albans, it would be holding out a premium to bribery and corrupt practices. The only thing that could be said was that it was a larger borough; but if that was to have any weight with the House it would be holding out a premium to bribery in large boroughs. Great Yarmouth was a larger borough than Lancaster, and the case of that borough would have to be dealt with in due time. For all boroughs, whether large or small, the same law ought in justice to be applied and administered. He certainly had entertained some doubt, and it was the only point on which he had entertained any, as to the advisability of hearing counsel at the Bar on the ground of the Members having been taken away. But that course had been adopted in only one case, that of Sudbury. There, however, the inquiry was held not by Commissioners, who, being appointed independently of party, might be regarded as judicial investigators, but by a Committee of the House—a difference which he regarded as very material. On the whole, be had arrived at the conclusion that no grounds being urged for impeaching the decision it would not be advisable to hear counsel at the Bar. He was of opinion 989 that if any borough should be disfranchised it was that of Lancaster.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, the right hon. Gentleman appeared to think that no injustice would be done by disfranchising Lancaster. But that was scarcely the question. His hon. and gallant Friend and Colleague had only asked the House to allow the petitioners, who were in the position of criminals, to be heard at the Bar against disfranchisement, The right hon. Gentleman observed that the Commissioners were a judicial tribunal, and therefore fully qualified to give an opinion on the points submitted to them. He (the Marquess of Hartington) did not deny that, nor did his hon. Friend and Colleague, but the Commissioners' duty was merely to report the facts, and it was for the House to decide what should be done upon those facts. The disfranchisement of the borough was not one of the recommendations of the Report. They did not desire that counsel should be heard for the purpose of disputing the conclusions of the Commission, but simply for the purpose of urging reasons against the course which the Government proposed to found upon these conclusions. He would not at present, if at all, enter upon a defence of the borough of Lancaster; but there were circumstances which might be brought forward in extenuation. The Report of the Commissioners was severe, though just. There were 600 voters against whom there had been no proof of corruption. He did not say that punishment might not be necessary, but it should be discriminating. He doubted whether punishment of such severity was productive of much good. The punishment of disfranchisement had been applied already. Sudbury and St. Albans had been disfranchised; but the experience of subsequent Parliaments, particularly the last, had proved that the end desired had not been secured. It was an accident that a petition had been presented against the last return for Lancaster, and it was an accident that the petition was heard. But for such accidents the corruption of the borough would never have been brought to light, the fear of disfranchisement having an obvious tendency to prevent petitions. If the House should decide on the punishment of disfranchisement after mature deliberation the case would be very different. His hon. and gallant Friend had mentioned a point which might properly be argued by counsel, and there was another which might be named—namely, that though the 990 Commissioners, finding the previous election to have been a pure one, were precluded from formally entering into that or former elections, they nevertheless reported that corrupt practices had prevailed on previous occasions. Now it was doubtful whether the Commissioners had a right, under those circumstances, to fix such a stigma on the borough. It had not been the practice to disfranchise a borough on account of the proceedings at one election only. Sudbury and St. Albans were disfranchised not only on the ground that gross corruption had prevailed at the last election, but at many previous elections. But in the case of Lancaster the Commissioners affixed a stigma without full and formal inquiry having taken place, though this ought to be granted before the borough was disfranchised. What he asked was that a borough like Lancaster should not be condemned unheard. The course now proposed to be taken was without precedent. In former times the custom had been to bring in an Act for disfranchisement and for that only. In no previous case had the matter been disposed of in the same Parliament, or within a considerable number of years. It was true that in 1852 the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) proposed to dispose of the seats forfeited at Sudbury and St. Albans in the same Session of Parliament, but that proposal was defeated by a large majority. If hon. Members referred to the debates of the time they would see that it had been maintained by persons of great distinction on both sides of the House, that the question of the disfranchisement of a corrupt borough should be considered solely with respect to the borough. It was proposed to mix up a question so peculiarly important to the boroughs themselves in a Bill of the general importance of the Reform Bill. The course proposed would be unjust and inexpedient. The punishment proposed to be inflicted in the cases of Lancaster and Yarmouth, and other boroughs, would be very much nullified on account of its severity and injustice. It should be clearly seen by the country that Parliament acted solely from a sense of justice, and not with a view to the convenience of Government or the House of Commons, when it resolved upon so extreme a measure as disfranchisement. It should not appear to result from a desire to obtain seats to be allotted to new constituencies with as little trouble as possible. If the punishment were inflicted it should be carried out in the same 991 manner as in former times. A Bill of disfranchisement alone ought to be brought in. It was not fair and just that the discussion of this question should be mixed up with the discussion of a Reform Bill. Parliament would, to a certain extent, expose itself to the imputation of insincerity if it assented to this proposal. What would be said if, upon the trial of a criminal, the Judge and jury proceeded to appropriate and dispose of the property of the condemned? Even though the punishment might be just, the justice of the proceeding would be very liable to observation. That was just such a course as the Government proposed. This mode of dealing would secure to them seven seats, and there was no doubt that they desired to get seats with as little trouble and alarm as possible. He asked the House to hear the electors by counsel at the Bar. He hoped the House would pause before they proceeded in the course pointed out by Government, and that they would deal with the question separately, and not as part of a Reform Bill. He asked this, not in the interest of the borough alone, but on the grounds of honour and justice.
I think it would be difficult to read a document disclosing more general corruption than the Report of the Commissioners in the case of the borough of Lancaster. That being the case, and the House being asked to inflict the highest penalty they are capable of inflicting, I ask them to be careful not to omit the smallest portion of that justice which might be claimed by the humblest criminal. Let the House hear at least what these electors have to say in their defence. I hardly ever heard of a case where the parties were not heard. You may say the parties were before the Commission; but those were the guilty parties only. The parties not mixed up with this transaction have not been heard. The Commission had simply to report whether corruption existed; and, if so, who were the guilty parties. They had not to form any opinion as to the consequences of their finding; and this proposal did not emanate from them. This is entirely a new matter. I think the House has never proceeded to punish parties without a hearing. I know nothing in which this country stands so high as in this—that every man is entitled to offer what he has to say in his defence. It cannot be presumed that we should argue the case of Lancaster on the second 992 reading of the Bill, or on going into Committee—still less on the third reading. But if a special Bill had been brought in, these parties and their friends, if they have friends, would have had the opportunity of raising the question at every stage; whereas now it will simply arise in Committee on the question whether the word Lancaster shall be retained in the clause. Disfranchisement being intended for an example, it ought not to be inflicted in an unusual manner nor the condemned parties refused a hearing. What has been heard at one time might be repelled at another. The case looks a strong one primâ facie, but the stronger the case the greater the claim to be heard. But here it will be said that you have acted contrary to the usual custom; and it will be alleged that you have refused to hear what was to be said in defence. Having been always desirous to hear what can be said on both sides before I proceed to judge, and especially before consenting to inflict the highest penalty, I think my hon. and gallant Friend is justified in asking us to hear before we proceed to a decision.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
It is not without regret that I feel compelled to take a part different to that pursued by my noble Friend (the Marquess of Hartington), to whose spirit and motives I desire to do full justice. But we have to discharge a duty involving a principle not connected merely with a particular place. We have to consider not only the case of Lancaster, but the cases of the three other constituencies which are to be disfranchised; and we are also about to make a precedent for future cases which may arise. I differ from the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, whose statement is founded on the fallacy that there is something we are to hear and decide that has not already been heard and decided. What has been done? Cases of corruption have frequently come before the House; and Parliament enacted, by 14 & 15 Vict., that when it should have been reported by an Election Committee that extensive corruption had prevailed in any particular case there should be an inquiry by a Royal Commission, when all persons connected with the locality might be examined generally as to the proceedings at the last and previous elections. All persons concerned had notice therefore that their borough would be placed on its trial. Those who had an interest in showing that there was a large section of the community which had 993 set its face against bribery had the opportunity of coming forward to prove it; and those interested in preserving the representation of the place had the opportunity of making out a case for that purpose. But let not the House suppose that because there are 600 electors not proved guilty of bribery that all these must be innocent persons to whom we should be doing wrong by disfranchisement. It is impossible that such gross corruption could have gone on without its being generally known. If all these electors had done their duty there might have been no necessity for the Commission. The Commission has heard the case and has reported. What, then, is the House to hear? This is not a question of private right. It is a question of public functions of which we are judges. No counsel could assist us in the duty of debate which will devolve upon us when it comes before us. We are the persons to argue this question on the ground of public right. It would be wrong to look at this as a matter of private right. When it is proved that a constituency has been guilty of gross and systematic corruption, it is for us to determine whether that constituency shall continue to return Members. That is not the duty of counsel; and if the House were to take the course proposed, it would, in fact, be calling upon counsel to participate in our debates. For this reason, I say such a course ought not to be followed. Enormous inconvenience would arise from such a precedent. If counsel were to come to your Bar, who could stop counsel? They might argue from the contents of these blue books to the very end of the Session—and they not improbably would, and bring business to a dead-lock. If it could be shown that sound principles of justice required this, then no difficulties ought to stand in the way. But no principles of justice do require it:—it is our business, when facts have been ascertained before a competent tribunal, to determine what ought to be done. My noble Friend (the Marquess of Hartington) gave forcible reasons why the cases of these boroughs should be dealt with singly rather than be mixed up with a Reform Bill; and it is only right to point out that the mode in which it is proposed to deal with these places is inconvenient on many accounts. Upon all former occasions of disfranchisement where there has been corruption established, the proceeding has beets by Bill for that special purpose; and it has been shown, on the face of the Act, 994 what were the grounds of disfranchisement. When we arrive at that part of the Reform Bill which deals with these boroughs, if it is not thought right to deal with them by special Act, I hope a special preamble will be introduced stating the grounds of the disfranchisement of these particular boroughs.
said, he had understood from the hon. and learned Gentleman that in all cases where corrupt practices had prevailed extensively a Commission had been issued.
§ SIR ROUNDELL PALMER
said, that such a Report must have been made as to justify the issue of a Commission. It was for the House to address Her Majesty to issue a Commission.
said, he wished to point out that last year, from the inquiry which took place, it was shown that corrupt practices had prevailed extensively at the election which took place in 1865 for the borough of Galway. He asked the right hon. Gentleman (Sir George Grey) whether it was his intention to move for a Commission to make inquiry into the circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman said that he was unwilling to move for a Commission to inquire into the corrupt practices, as the Chairman of the Committee did not think fit to do so; but that if any other person moved for it he would assent to it. No Member of the Committee did move for the issuing of a Commission. He wished to know whether it was the right course that the Government of the day should allow the question whether a Commission should issue to depend upon the opinion entertained by the Chair-of the Committee or the zeal of some Member of that body? It appeared to him that it was not right to allow a matter of this kind to depend on what the Chairman or the Members of the Committee might think fit to do.
§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, he would remind the House that there was another case last year besides that of Galway. He alluded to Bridgwater. He had made an ineffectual attempt to prevent the issue of a writ for that borough. But the right hon. Baronet (Sir George Grey) supported the Motion for the writ. Probably the right hon. Baronet expected to win the seat. Both sides expected to win it. At all events, both sides of the House assented to it, and both had won it one after the other. The Ministerial side had been outbid in that borough. It was not an im- 995 proper or extravagant assertion to say that in all probability the same means had been employed at Bridgwater as had previously been had recourse to at Yarmouth.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, that in the case of the borough of Galway the Chairman of the Committee objected to move for a Commission because he found that Commissions were not followed by the exercise of the penal powers of the House. He (Sir George Grey) endeavoured to dissuade him from acting on that opinion, but unsuccessfully, and when the hon. Member (Mr. Yorke) applied to him he told him that it was perfectly competent for any Member of the Committee to move for a Commission, and that if that course were acted upon he had no doubt that he should be able to support the Motion made. Such a Motion, however, had never been made by the Government. It was always made by a Member of the Committee, because the Members of the Committee were familiar with the evidence. The practice had been for the Chairman of a Member of the Committee in moving for a Commission to give a short summary of the evidence, to point out the parts that bore most materially upon the question, and upon that to ask the House to issue a Commission. No Member of the Committee had taken that course. Therefore, he ventured to presume that no Member of the Committee thought that a sufficient case had been made out for the issue of a Commission; and he had not felt himself called upon to read the evidence through in order to move for a Commission. The case of Bridgwater was very different. The matter in that case was brought before the House, and one Member of the Committee after another said that though they felt there had been corruption at Bridgwater, yet they were unanimously of opinion that the evidence would not warrant the issuing of a Commission. It was in that case just as competent for the hon. Member for Devizes (Mr. Darby Griffith) as for him (Sir George Grey) to move for a Commission. It was not a matter which rested with the Government.
§ COLONEL FRENCH
said, that in the case of Galway the attempt to move for a Commission was not carried out because it was felt that the evidence was not sufficient.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
If the House wants really to put down bribery and corruption at elections there are two things that it is necessary to insist upon. The first is that the inves- 996 tigation of the Royal Commission shall be conclusive. The second is that the House may be induced—as I hope it will within a few days—to delegate part of their authority whenever there are these allegations of bribery and corruption to assessors, who shall proceed to investigate the matter on the spot. If the House shall adopt these two proposals and adhere to them, I do hope and believe that we shall, if not entirely terminate, at all events greatly limit bribery and corruption.
said, he thought that there was one point to which attention had not been directed, and that was, what was to become of the voters in these corrupt boroughs? Were they, when the boroughs were disfranchised, to enter into the county constituencies? If so, it would place the Members for the counties in rather an unenviable position. He would suggest to those Gentlemen who were so fond of grouping that all the corrupt boroughs should be grouped, and that they should return one Member that was, if there could be found any gentlemen bold enough to canvass them.
§ COLONEL WILSON PATTEN
said, that he had seldom been more surprised than he had been by the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Roundell Palmer) when he propounded the opinion that when a Commission went down to investigate the conduct of a borough it was the duty of the inhabitants to go before that Commission and to make their case clear. He (Colonel Wilson Patten) could only say that so far as the inhabitants of Lancaster were concerned they were totally ignorant of this being so. They were summoned before the Commissioners, and they went there like a flock of sheep. As to those 600 inhabitants defending themselves, or offering reasons why their borough should not be disfranchised, they were entirely ignorant that it was their duty or their privilege to do so. The hon. and learned Member warned the House against establishing a bad precedent by admitting counsel—the truth being, that he was establishing a precedent, and that former precedents were all the other way. In former times there was no exception to the rule as he (Colonel Wilson Patten) had stated it. In modern times there was only one precedent, that of St. Albans, for the course now proposed by the Government. Some of the precedents were most forcible the other way. In the case of East Retford the investigation, according to 997 the custom of that day, took place at the Bar of the House, and the examination of witnesses was by Members of the House; therefore, there might then have been some reason for saying that they would not hear counsel. But even under those circumstances it was thought that the parties should not be condemned unheard. What was more, from some cause or other on that occasion East Retford was not disfranchised. The same course was adopted with regard to Penryn, and that place also was not disfranchised. Why, then, was Lancaster to be told that the place should be disfranchised without hearing the parties. He, however, felt that the opinion of the house was against him, and therefore he should not press his Motion; but on a future occasion he should take another opportunity to try to induce the House to review the question.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.