HC Deb 19 March 1867 vol 186 cc167-207

said, he rose to move that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to give directions for the removal of Mr. Churchward from the Commission of the Peace for the Borough of Dover. He had no special connection either with Dover or the county of Kent, nor had he any ill-feeling towards the person whose conduct he impugned, and until a communication was made to him a week ago, he had no knowledge of that gentleman. In the communication which he received from Dover he was told that the people of Dover felt themselves injured and insulted—he used their phrase without endorsing it—by what they termed "an atrocious job," which had placed on the bench of magistrates at Dover a person whose political misdoings had been recorded again and again in the votes of the House, and were enshrined in the deliberate and solemn Report of a Commission. He felt it his duty to look into these assertions, and to search the records of the House where the facts were to be found. Having done so, he thought it his duty to address a question to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department, but did not place the question on the paper without some misgivings and doubts. He said to himself, "Is it conceivable, if the facts are as stated, that any Government would recommend Her Majesty to nominate any such person to the commission of the peace?" He fancied that he might find some commixture, some confusion of names and dates, and be thrown over at last. He thought that if any Government could not have ventured on such a course of proceeding, the present Government would have been the last to do so—that a Government which occupied so peculiar a position in relation to the majority of the House would have been the last Government to deprive themselves of all the characteristics which were supposed to be inherent in what was vulgarly known as a new broom. Was it conceivable, he thought, that Her Majesty's Government, the head of the great Tory party in this country—that party which within one year had refused even to entertain a Reform Bill unless in its four corners there were stringent and effective clauses against bribery and corruption—that party which at the beginning of the Session had before it the Reports of four Commissions relating to certain boroughs which they now proposed wholly to disfranchise, innocent and guilty together—was it conceivable that such a Government could have made such a recommendation? Under those circumstances, could it be conceived that Her Majesty's Government actually recommended Her Majesty to place on the commission of peace at Dover a gentleman who had been reported by a Committee as guilty of bribery? When he asked the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary the question he put to him on a previous occasion he did so with fear and trembling, for he thought he might find himself, to use a familiar phrase, "thrown on his back." He believed, and he said it with all sincerity, that there was not a man on either side of the House who would have felt more pain and disgust than the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to be obliged to give the answer he was compelled to give, which amounted to an admission that Mr. Churchward was the man against whom these heavy charges had been substantiated before the tribunal he had mentioned. The only qualification to that admission was an appeal ad misericordiam with regard to the Report of the Committee of 1853. The right hon. Gentleman stated that his noble Friend the Lord Chancellor, until he saw his (Mr. Taylor's) Motion on the paper, was unaware that there was any stain whatever on the political reputation of Mr. Churchward. He (Mr. Taylor) must say that the Colleagues of the noble and learned Lord had behaved with great unkindness, if not unfairness, to him, because it could not be doubted that many of them were but too well aware of the facts of the case. They all knew that— Where ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be wise; but this bliss was a stolen pleasure which was not permissible in the case of men who discharged high political functions and duties, and who, in discharging them, were bound to exercise certain responsibilities. Among them was the responsibility of not being unaware of that which was sufficiently well known to all the world besides, It happened, with some singularity, that there was a case absolutely parallel with the one before the House, All the circumstances were the same, the same Lord Chancellor and the same Home Secretary being concerned in it, and the only thing which was not the same was that the right hon. Gentleman opposite on that occasion—in 1858—said his noble Friend would instantly proceed to undo the mischief that had been done. The case was that of two persons who had been appointed to the commission of the peace in Canterbury, and who had previously, as in this case, been reported by the Commissioners as having been guilty of bribery, A complaint was made by the hon. and learned Member for South wark (Mr. Locke), and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walpole) then said— His noble Friend (the Lord Chancellor) was not in the least degree aware that the names of either of those persons were in the schedule of the Commissioners' Report to which reference had been made. The moment the case was brought to his Attention, he caused inquiry to be made, and finding that the parties were the same, he instantly sent down to Canterbury to say that he should require both those gentlemen to resign."—[3 Hansard, cl. 264.] He (Mr. Taylor) asserted as a fact—if he were mistaken he should be open to correction—that in September last there was a proposal to place this Mr. Churchward upon the county bench of magistrates in Kent. When that was known a special meeting of the Wingham division of magistrates was called, and largely attended by gentlemen principally belonging to the Tory party, and they sent up an official protest to the lord-lieutenant of the county against that nomination. The result was that no more was heard of that matter. The next time Mr. Churchward turned up he was in the borough of Dover, and it was said that the noble Lord had received recommendations with regard to him which he was bound to entertain. He (Mr. Taylor) wished to know whether they were the usual recommendations from the mayor, aldermen, and common council of the borough? Having asked his question of the right hon. Gentleman, and received the answer he did, he was bound to take this further step by putting this Motion on the paper. He was also bound to look more closely into the whole transaction to see if there was any defence, palliation, excuse, or diminution of the apparent enormity of the act committed, and he was bound to confess that the more he looked into it the worse it appeared; and it seemed to him that no apology could be offered for it. The Home Secretary, in answering his question with reference to the Report of the Committee of 1853, said it was not quite fair to call what was done simple bribery, because no money was given, but only situations promised. But was that a less evil or crime than the giving of money? In his opinion the offence was multiplied threefold, for it was permanent instead of temporary, and indefinite in extent instead of being defined and limited. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had not read a certain paragraph in the Report, which showed that Mr. Churchward, by his own admission, had not only obtained twenty appointments, but had sent thirty or forty men into the dockyard, of whom twenty-five were accepted. That possibly explained why the dockyards always rose before them in such unfavourable colours; why everything there cost so much, and why so many of the ills and abuses mentioned by the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely) were occurring, It that was the way the dockyards were managed they were not honest yards, where a fair day's work was done for a fair day's wages. They were sinks for used up infamy and hospitals for decayed scoundrels. In 1859 the Committee of Mail Contracts made a Report, in which the following passage occurred:— While most anxious for the fulfilment of all engagements entered into in good faith between the Government and individuals, the Committee submits for the consideration of the House whether Mr. Churchward, in having resorted to corrupt expedients, affecting injuriously the character of the representation of the people in Parliament has not rendered it impossible for the House of Commons, with due regard to its honour and dignity, to vote the sums of money necessary to fulfil the agreement to extend his contract from the 20th of June, 1803, to the 20th of April, 1870. That was something much more than a mere formal record placed in the Report that somebody had been guilty of bribery. It stated, in point of fact, that so atrocious and enormous were the political misdeeds which had been committed, that they justified the Committee in recommending the House to absolutely quash and violate the contract with Mr. Churchward, which was ultimately done. That Committee was composed of an equal number of Gentlemen from each side of the House, and the resolutions condemning Mr. Churchward were passed by large majorities, showing that so patent and so strong was the evil proved, that it utterly overrode all those conventional biases which honestly enough would sometimes lead gentlemen of similar opinions to band themselves together on one side or the other. That decision had been three times arraigned in the House, and three times the claims of Mr. Churchward had been decided against, certainly not by very large majorities, as the majorities had been 45 once, then 8, and then 14. But their debates on those occasions were not got up with any idea of whitewashing the character of Mr. Churchward. The question had been simply whether the arrangement with Mr. Churchward was an economical one for the country. So that even if the majorities had gone the other way, and the House had chosen to resuscitate the contract, it would not by its vote have redeemed the character of Mr. Churchward. He would now read a few words spoken in one of those debates by Mr. Cobden, the Chairman of the Committee, whose judgment he had last quoted, and who summed up the case in that concise and masterly manner which was characteristic of him. Mr. Cobden said— Some people argue that we cannot legally refuse to pay the money. Well, then, I would not pay it in any way but a legal way. I quite join with hon. Gentlemen in that view. If they think that Mr. Churchward has a legal claim, let him establish that claim; and for my part I would vote money to enable him to establish his claim—to pay all the legal expenses of a trial—rather than I would agree to grant the money for this contract after the Report of the Committee. What will the public say out of doors? Really, we ought to affect a virtue if we have it not. A Committee of this House reports that a person goes to a public office wanting to bribe a Lord of the Admiralty to assist in bestowing a contract by the most corrupt means. And what is the sort of bribe that is offered? Why, it is the very kind of bribery that ought to be most repugnant to this House. On the one hand, we have before us, as the House of Commons, a case in which an attempt is made upon the virtue of a public functionary, whom we are here especially to superintend and watch; and, on the other hand, the bribe offered us is an attempt to dispose, by corrupt means, of the votes of constituents, in whose purity and independence I should think that we, as the House of Commons, ought to be most deeply interested."—[3 Hansard, clxx. 1896.] This was the case, and he (Mr. Taylor) would leave it now without further comment; comment could add nothing to it; and the reckless exaggeration of a partisan, of which, he was sure, he had not been guilty, would not make the case stronger. There were differences of opinion with regard to the moral sin of bribery and corruption; some thinking that illicit political influence had become really a time-hallowed part of our constitution, while others thought that, however devious and unclean might be the paths by which Members for certain constituencies found their way into Parliament, still, when they reached this House they should be recognised and welcomed as honourable and independent gentlemen, really interested equally with themselves in the good of the country. And, as regarded the constituencies, some might think that when once they went through the ordeal of temptation and a certain fall, they were much the same as other constituencies. He would not discuss those points. But there was one point upon which he thought there would have been no difference of opinion on either side of the house, and that was that however little it might matter comparatively how they formed the House wherein their laws were made, no stain should touch, no blot of suspicion should lie upon those who administered those laws. He had thought it was the boast of this country that whatever might be our political peccadilloes, at any rate the purity of the ermine, the independence and honour of the magisterial bench, could never be impeached. We were in the habit of criticising severely, and perhaps not altogether unjustly, the system in America of electing their Judges for a term of years, and of asking how, under such a system, they could hope to have Judges free from political bias, acting without fear or favour, and beyond all suspicion. Now, he should say that the language which they often heard upon that subject received, in the present case, but a very sorry illustration. There they had a person whose political character was not equivocal, whose political misdeeds had been enshrined in the Report of a Committee, while that Report had itself been endorsed again and again by majorities of that House—they had such a person recommended by the Government to Her Majesty for the commission of the peace—for an office in which he would have to judge without fear, favour, or partiality, and even without the suspicion of being subject to any such influences, the various causes which might come before him, and in which the interests of different classes must be involved. It would be a deliberate poisoning of the fountain of justice at its very source.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to give directions for the removal of Mr. Churchward from the Commission of the Peace for the Borough of Dover."—(Mr. Taylor.)


said, he would not trespass at any length on the time of the House; but he felt sure he should receive its indulgence when he rose, as he then did, to defend the character of a person who had suffered a very grievous persecution, and whom he believed to be an upright and honourable man. He thought he should be neither doing his duty as one of the Members for Dover, nor doing justice to a gentleman whom he had no hesitation in saying in that House he was proud to number among his constituents, if he did not state that he looked upon the attack which had been made upon that gentleman by the hon. Member for Leicester as not only wanton and cowardly, but—


Sir, I rise to order. The word "cowardly," Sir, is quite unknown in this House.


The hon. and gallant Member will, no doubt, withdraw that word.


said, he should be sorry if he had said anything which was contrary to the Rules of the House; but he was about to express his reason for his opinion. He must say that He looked upon that attack as unjustifiable. The House would remember that when he had appealed to the Hon. Member in the name of justice to postpone that Motion for a few days only, until certain right hon. Gentlemen could be present who were intimately acquainted with the whole of the facts of the case, and able to bear testimony upon it, the hon. Member refused to accede to so reasonable an appeal. He could not, therefore, compliment the hon. Gentleman on his idea of justice; neither could he share with him the belief that it was right, or proper, or just, to sacrifice the character of an individual to gain a momentary party triumph. The hon. Member had spoken of the decision which was come to by the Committee of 1853, but he had slurred over the second Report of that Committee. He had hardly noticed the fact that the second Report was a complete answer to the first. The hon. Gentleman was as well aware as he was that Mr. Churchward himself had in vain petitioned that House to be heard at its Bar, and examined by counsel. He was also aware that for the last eight years Mr. Churchward had been trying to bring his case before a court of justice, and had always been thwarted by the Government of the day. In 1865 he brought an action in the Court of Queen's Bench, upon the main question, and how was he met? By a demurrer in law, and therefore he was again unable to vindicate his character. The persecution which Mr. Churchward had met with had no precedent in political history. Political spite, he might say, instigated the proceedings of 1859; and political spite, coupled with personal animosity, instigated the proceedings of 1867. The hon. Member for Leicester had told them that he had been asked by the town of Dover to bring that matter forward, and wished them to suppose that Mr. Churchward's appointment had given offence to the whole of that town. [Mr. TAYLOR: Not to the whole town, but to individuals in it.] To prove that Mr. Churchward was held in high esteem in Dover he would read to the House an address to that gentleman, which had been signed by all the leading men of the town in the short space of three hours. The address said— We, the undersigned inhabitants of Dover, beg to express to you our deep regret at the attack that was made upon you on Friday last in the House of Commons in connection with your recent appointment as a magistrate of the borough. We venture to express our sense of the high estimation in which during your long residence among us you have been so deservedly held by a large majority of the inhabitants, and also of your fitness in ever, to fill the office of a magistrate; and we would desire to express to you our heartfelt wish that you may long be spared to assist in administering justice among us, and promoting and measures tending to the advancement and prosperity of our town. Well, how did that matter originate? Was it brought forward by a leading Liberal? He could state that a Liberal of distinction and high honour was asked to bring it forward, and he distinctly refused to have anything to do with it. That proceeding had been instigated by a man who was formerly one of Mr. Churchward's servants, who was discharged for some reason into which he need not enter, and who was now actuated by spite towards his old employer. He knew that a gentleman high in station and character, a Member of that House, connected with Dover, and who was known to be an enemy of Mr. Churchward, had declined to make himself the dirty tool and cat's-paw of the hon. Member for Leicester. If the hon. Member was bursting with a desire to expose all political corruption and vice, he need not have gone to Dover to get a case. He need not have gone back fifteen or even eight years, but only about eight weeks, and he would have found sitting on the Benches opposite, almost by his very side, men who had been proved guilty before Committees of that House of conduct ten times as bad as that of Mr. Churchward. Now what, he would ask, were the accusations which were brought against Mr. Churchward? They were two. One of them related to events which had occurred as far back as 1852; the other to some proceedings which had taken place in 1859. In 1853 a Committee of that House had assembled to inquire into the question whether Mr. Mare had been duly elected for Plymouth in the preceding year, and he admitted that when they first met they had arrived at the conclusion that Mr. Churchward had bribed certain individuals at that election by offering them employment. The first Resolution, however, to which that same Committee had come on re-assembling was— That a general belief prevailed at Plymouth, both previous to and at the election of burgesses to serve in Parliament for the borough of Plymouth in 1852, that it was not illegal for a candidate, or his agents, to obtain, or promise to obtain, situations or employment for electors who had previously pledged their votes. That Resolution entirely removed from Mr. Churchward the odium which the Committee would seem to have cast upon him by their first decision. It should also be remembered that the proceedings connected with the Plymouth election extended over a period of four months, that a Conservative Government was then in power, and he would, under those circumstances, put it to the common sense of the House whether it was not to be expected that the followers of that party were more likely to receive any appointments which were vacant than those who happened to profess Liberal opinions. He would ask the House whether, having taken into account the Resolution which he had just read, Mr. Churchward, after the lapse of fifteen years, was deserving of the special condemnation of his conduct which the hon. Gentleman opposite invited it to pronounce. There was another gentleman, named Mennie, whose name had been brought prominently forward in connection with the election for Plymouth, who had afterwards been made a magistrate. His appointment to that position had been challenged in that House or in the House of Lords; but it was resolved, after the decision arrived at by the Committee, clearing the character of the Conservative agents, that the appointment ought to be allowed to stand. After those transactions, in 1854, a Liberal Government, of which Earl Russell was a member, entered with Mr. Churchward into a contract for the conveyance of the mails between Dover and the Continent, which was renewed by the same Government in 1855. They must, therefore, have supposed that there was no serious reflection on his character. Beyond that, Mr. Churchward had been allowed, unchallenged, to raise a Volunteer Corps in Dover, in which he held a commission. Now, when the House was sitting in judgment upon him, he thought he might without offence ask whether there were any within its walls who, when engaged in the turmoil of a General Election, might not have committed offences as grave as those with which that gentleman was charged. He would say to hon. Members, "let him among us who can put his hand upon his heart and declare that he is without sin cast the first stone." He came next to the year 1859, in which year two Committees sat—the one to inquire whether Admiral Leake and Mr. Nicol had been duly elected Members for Dover, the other to investigate the circumstances connected with the renewal of the mail contract. As to the Election Committee, its Chairman told Mr. Churchward, at the Conclusion of its proceedings, in the open Committee-room, that nothing had transpired in the course of the inquiry which in the slightest degree affected his honour or character. He admitted, however, that the second Committee, which he had just mentioned, had come to the decision that Mr. Churchward had resorted to corrupt expedients. It must at the same time be borne in mind that this was a decision which had been challenged, as being entirely contrary to evidence, and with respect to which many distinguished Members of that and the other House of Parliament as well as of the bar entertained the opinion that on the evidence before them the Committee should have arrived at a different conclusion. It was a decision that had been arrived at altogether upon the evidence of three individuals, and from a conversation ulna lasted only five minutes. He had always understood that in dealing with evidence it was customary when two persons said one thing and a third something different, to believe the statement of the two rather than that of the single individual. On the occasion in question, however, the Committee felt themselves justified in ignoring the testimony of two gentlemen, and taking instead that of one. The three gentlemen who were in the room in which the conversation to which he was alluding took place were Captain Carnegie, Mr. Churchward, and Mr. Herbert Murray, and he would, in the first place, read to the House the evidence of Captain Carnegie, who said— Mr. Churchward spoke to me on the subject of the pending election fur Dover—he made an allusion to his anxiety to obtain the renewal of his contract. Mr. Churchward spoke most freely and openly to me upon the subject the contract. I thought it the most imprudent and incautious speech that ever came from a man's mouth, and it made so great an impression upon me that I recollect every word of it. He led me to the belief that this contract was to be renewed. That was the impression left upon my mind. The following was Mr. Churchward's account of the same conversation:— In the course of his interview with Captain Carnegie the word contract was never mentioned. The word contract was never used, and my recollection of the circumstance is perfect. Mr. Murray said— I do not think the contract was ever mentioned. I am quite quite sure that nothing passed between Mr. Churchward and Captain Carnegie about the contract. I am under the impression that Captain Carnegie is confusing some conversation with him with the one between Mr. Churchward himself and Captain Carnegie. I am quite sure that Mr. Churchward never said those words to Captain Carnegie in my presence. Now, it was on that evidence, and that alone, that the words "corrupt expedients were employed. Mr. Murray further stated, that "the extension of his contract was not the price of Mr. Churchward's support to the Government at Dover." Sir John Pakington said that "he had no knowledge of the means by which the Dover election was to be carried." Sir Stafford Northcote said that political motives had no effect in the granting of the contract." Mr. Corry said that "as far as the Admiralty were concerned, the question was determined by their recommendation to the Treasury on the 24th of February," which was before the alleged statement took place, thus affording a strong presumption that Mr. Churchward could not have used the language attributed to him. Captain Carnegie, moreover, admitted that— Mr. Murray could not have forwarded Mr. Churchward's views at the Admiralty, as before his interviews the question had been disposed of by that Department. Captain Carnegie added, that it was no discredit to a Government contractor to vote for a Government candidate; and Sir Stafford Northcote further said that he had sent for Mr. Churchward, that that gentleman did not apply to him, and that with him mainly rested the responsibility of granting the contract, which was practically settled before the elections came on. Under all those circumstances, he confidently appealed to the House to say whether the charge contained in the Report of the Committee was not simply implied rather than proved, as would seem to be shown by the fact that upon a confessedly partisan division their decision was ratified only by a very small majority. To show what were the views which were entertained on the point by those men who had the best means of judging of the merits of the case, he would read to the House the letters of a right hon. Gentleman and a noble Lord, who now occupied seats on the Treasury Bench. The first letter was as follows:—

"42, Harley Street, May 20, 1863.

"My dear Sir,—I must thank you for your note, which has given me much pleasure. It was a great mortification to me to fail of persuading the House of Commons to take a just view of a case which has been so shamefully misrepresented, and I could not but fear that the division was owing to my imperfect statement or ineffective mode of handling the argument. I am truly glad to find that you, at least, give me credit for having done what I could. We shall fight the battle again on the 28th, and I hope with better success, though it is difficult to do away with an impression such as has been produced upon the Hinds of too many Members. Few will give themselves the trouble to examine and weigh the evidence. If they did, they could hardly resist the conviction that if there was any wrong in the proceedings in 1859 (and I do not think there is clear proof of there having been any at all), it was not wrong done by you, but wrong done to you. This has been my feeling throughout, and I cannot doubt that any impartial person who would take the trouble of carefully studying the facts with no other desire but to get at the truth would come to the same conclusion.—I remain, faithfully



J. G. Churchward, Esq."

The second letter was from the noble Lord the First Commissioner of Works, who said—

"Sir,—I avail myself of the opportunity offered by your letter of the 1st to repeat to you personally and privately that which I said publicly in the House of Commons—my entire belief in your honour and good faith, and my conviction that the finding of the Committee, and the action taken by the Government, therefore, are alike opposed to common Sense and common justice. Whether it is still possible to reverse the decision of the House of Commons I cannot presume to say; but if, I will not say your friends, but the friends of honesty, think fit to take further steps in the House, I shall most cordially co-operate with them; and I will anyhow express a hope that, for the future, you will feel that if you have lost a contract through political malevolence you have gained friends, among whom desires to be ranked

—Yours very faithfully,


J. G. Churchward, Esq."

He thought he had now shown the House that there was no good ground for the accusations which had been brought against Mr. Churchward, and that he was, at all events, justified in asking it to withhold its decision. Mr. Churchward, as they all knew, had been endeavouring for a long time, at great cost, to have the case heard in a court of justice; and it would be contrary to every principle of the Constitution if they were to come to a decision that night, and so to prejudice the case in the eyes of those outside the House. By the law, as it at present stood respecting bribery, Members of Parliament who might have been found guilty of the grossest corruption were not prevented from resuming their position as Members of the House. He had no desire to cast a stone at any individual Member; rather than do so he had withdrawn the Motion that stood in his name that evening. One hon. Gentleman whose name had been mentioned (Mr. Watkin) was a personal friend of his. He was happy to see the course he had adopted in writing to the Lord Chancellor; and he had no doubt but that he would be able, when the time arrived, to clear himself on the floor of the House, as Mr. Churchward would be able and glad to do if he had the honour of a seat there. But he would remind hon. Gentlemen opposite that they had already ruined Mr. Churchward's property and fortune, and he had never in any way murmured at the decision. He (Major Dickson) did not find fault with hon. Gentlemen opposite on that account, Very likely if he had himself been sitting at the time on that side of the House he should have done the same. It was done in a moment of political agitation and excitement; but he would appeal to them whether now, in their calmer moments, they were still determined to blacken and destroy Mr. Churchward's character? Were they going to sacrifice an honourable man just for the sake of gaining a fleeting triumph over the Treasury Bench? Would they not have ample opportunities within the next month? was not dual voting to be shortly discussed, when they could exercise their feelings without restraint? Surely that would be a more fitting occasion for triumph, as well as a more liberal and generous one, than that a great party should combine to destroy the reputation of a private gentleman Would it be wise at this moment, when the bitterest animosities of party were ready to burst forth, for hon. Gentlemen to throw this firebrand into the camp, especially when men of all parties in Dover were joining hand with hand in the endeavour to promote the common welfare of the town? For himself he was actuated by no personal animosities; he cared not whether a man were a Radical or a Tory so that he was an honest man; and he appealed to the hon. Member for Leicester, notwithstanding his extreme opinions, whether it was worthy of his high character to stand up in that House and blacken the character of an honourable gentleman when he had not a tittle of evidence to justify the proceeding. He called upon the House, in the sacred name of justice, to pause before committing a wrong which could never be repaired. He could not, indeed, hope fur justice from mere bigoted political partisans; but he was addressing a British House of Commons. He left the case confidently in the hands of hon. Members on both sides of the House, confident that they would be guided by those rules of honour and fairness and justice which regulated the conduct and actions of all honourable men.


said, that at an early period of the evening he addressed a question to the hon. Member for Leicester for the purpose of ascertaining whether the hon, Member would include in his Motion all magistrates in a position similar to Mr. Churchward, and the hon. Member asked whether the question was put seriously. Now, he thought that the discussion, as far as it had gone, showed that there was a great deal of seriousness in the matter. He would not detain the House long, for, after the able address of his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Dover (Major Dickson), he did not think that much was required to be said in favour of Mr. Churchward. As he understood the hon. Member for Leicester to say that Mr. Churchward or any person found to have committed bribery was not fit to be magistrate, he thought that the hon. Member would have done better if he had dealt with the case more generally, and had not selected merely one isolated instance. In cases of this kind, and especially in Mr. Churchward's case, there had been exhibited a great deal of party feeling; and though he did not suppose that the hon. Member for Leicester was actuated by party motives, yet the hon. Member would have done well had he made his Motion more comprehensive. It was well known that there were many magistrates in the position, in this respect, of Mr. Churchward, and as, of course, there was no party feeling or political animosity in the present Motion, as the pure and proper administration of justice was the only object in view, it was clear that the wider the scope of the Motion the more effective it must be. He was of opinion that all personalities should be avoided, and therefore he would mention no case involving the name of any Gentleman in that House; but every one conversant with the political history of this country knew that not only Committees of that House, but tribunals more strictly judicial, such as Royal Commissions, had found that there were many instances of gentlemen who had dealt in election matters in the same manner as Mr. Churchward was charged with acting. He, consequently, proposed to move, by way of Amendment, to omit all the words in the Motion after the word "of," and to add the following words:— All persons in the Commission of the Peace in any County, City, or Borough who have been found, either by Committees of this house or by Royal Commissions guilty of, or privy or assenting to, corrupt practices in Parliamentary Elections,

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the words "removal of" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "all persons in the Commission of the Peace of any County, City, or Borough who have been found, either by Committees of this Rouse or by Royal Commissions guilty of, or privy or assenting to, corrupt practices at Parliamentary Elections."—(Mr. Bentinck.)


Sir, the purpose of the Amendment is, I suppose, to get additional words tacked to the Motion with the view of enabling hon. Members to vole against the Motion in its original form. I did not gather from the speech of the hon. Mover of the Amendment whether that was his intention, and I shall be glad to know whether the additional words are proposed with that view. If so, I think it is the duty of the Government to state, for the guidance of the House, their opinion on a question of a very grave and important nature, and the importance of which I do not think the right hon. Gentleman (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) at all appreciates. I heard his answer to-night to a question put to him from his own side of the House relating to two Members of this House. I did not hear, but I became acquainted in the usual way with the answer he gave on a former occasion to a somewhat similar question. I own I can sympathize with the right hon. Gentleman up to a certain point, inasmuch as I think that class of questions is one of extreme delicacy and difficulty; but I do not sympathize with his practice in attempting to get rid of these subjects as if they were matters that could be treated with great levity. With regard to the Amendment, it appears to me that the subject embraced by it is a very serious and grave one. I am far from saying that much of the matter comprised in it may not deserve the consideration of this House, and I think that, as the circumstances referred to arise out of recent Reports of Commissions, it would have been proper for the Executive Government to state their opinion for the guidance of the House in respect to the course to be taken, The Amendment is not necessarily in propriety or justice entitled to be annexed to the original Motion. This Amendment lays down the principle, if I understand it aright, that whenever a Select Committee of this House or a Royal Commission has found that any person was guilty of corrupt practices such person shall be included within the scope of the Motion, and Her Majesty shall be prayed to remove him from the commission of the peace. That is a very great extension of the original Motion, and an extension nut only as to the persons, but as to the principle. I fully admit that the hon. and gallant Gentleman would be perfectly justified in challenging my hon. Friend to accede to an addition to his Motion with regard to all persons who stand in the same position as Mr. Churchward; but that is not the issue which he has raised. Here I may remark that I was totally ig- norant of anything that had happened as to the case of Mr. Churchward since the last debate in this House, until I heard of the question put by my hon. Friend, and I am exceedingly sorry that anything should have occurred which should render it necessary to recur to a matter that cannot be associated with agreeable recollections for any of us. Mr. Churchward does not stand simply in the position of a gentleman against whom a Select Committee of this House, or any tribunal extraneous to this House, has formed a certain judgment. The broad and palpable difference is this, that the judgment of the Committee has been adopted in the first instance by the Executive Government, and in the second instance by the House itself. It is not therefore upon the decision of a Select Committee or a Royal Commission, but upon the vote and judgment of the House itself that my hon. Friend, as I apprehend, takes his stand. The distinction is broad and clear between that sort of preliminary finding, which the decision of the Committee of 1859 would have been had nothing followed, and the finding we have now before us, when that decision was challenged, and after full debate was affirmed by a majority in this House. The hon. and gallant Gentleman (Major Dickson) in his very able speech has cited, as though they were independent witnesses, the testimony of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India (Sir Stafford Northcote) who was concerned in these transactions—although, by the direct assertion of the Committee, innocently concerned, and everybody who knows him must be convinced that he could not be otherwise concerned—and of a noble Lord (Lord John Manners) who was one of the minority in the Committee. The hon. and gallant Gentleman also goes back to the evidence, and thinks his account of that evidence is sufficient to induce the House to overlook, and to condemn, as partial and prejudiced, the judgment of that Committee. That judgment, however, is a formidable document. I must call the attention of the House to two paragraphs in it, and as the hon. and gallant Gentleman read a letter written by the noble Lord ascribing the judgment to political malevolence—


No, I did not.


I think I heard the words.


It was the gloss which the hon. and gallant Gentleman put upon the noble Lord's letter.


I am glad to hear it is so; but I confess I should have thought that was the natural construction of the words. If, however, that was not the noble Lord's intention, so much the better. Well, in the Committee these questions were asked by Mr. Crawford—I confess I am very sorry to be obliged to read this, but after what has been said with regard to the judgment of the Committee I am compelled to do so— Did you vote at the previous election for Dover? Mr. Churchward: Yes. For whom did you vote? For the Secretary to the Admiralty, Mr. Bernal Osborne. Then you voted for the Gentleman with the long tongue?' Yes, I voted for the Gentleman with the long tongue; I voted for Mr. Osborne. Did you vote for him from political considerations? No; not at all. I distinctly stated that I did not support him on political considerations, but because I thought that as he was the Secretary to the Admiralty, and as there was a chance of the harbour being turned over to the Admiralty, and that they were likely to buy it, I thought that Mr. Bernal Osborne could serve the interests of Dover and also my interests better than any one else. That was the view taken with regard to the exercise of the franchise, and he made the announcement with satisfaction. With what face, I ask, are we to set ourselves to take measures for the prevention of bribery if such disposal of a vote, the exercise of a public trust, with a view to private benefit, is allowed to pass without censure? I now come to paragraph No. 6, which contained the words, "having resorted to corrupt expedients." An Amendment was moved by a Gentleman, always to be named with honour for his strict political integrity and his jealous guardianship of public interest, the late Sir Henry Willoughby, for leaving out those words and substituting for them "endeavoured to exercise an undue influence, as appears from his conversation with Captain Carnegie," The Committee divided, and a minority of 6 voted for the Amendment, and a majority of 8 against it, the majority including the late Lord Northbrook, then Sir Francis Baring, a man than whom a more perfect example of purity and impartiality in his public conduct with respect to any question of this class never occupied a place in this House. The paragraph was then put to the vote as it stands, being in the following terms:— While most anxious for the fulfilment of all engagements entered into in good faith between the Government and individuals, the Committee submits for the consideration of the House whether Mr. Churchward, in having resorted to corrupt expedients affecting injuriously the character of the representation of the people in Parliament, has not rendered it impossible for the House of Commons, with due regard to its honour and dignity, to vote the sums of money necessary to fulfil the agreement to extend his contrast from the 20th of June, 1863, to the 26th of April, 1870. That paragraph, containing the full breadth of the censure which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has impugned, was carried by a majority of 9 to 4, and in the majority was Sir Henry Willoughby, though that distinguished gentleman was on the same political side as Mr. Churchward. The Committee's Report came under the consideration of Lord Palmerston's Government, and they had to consider whether, with that Report before them, they would take upon themselves the responsibility of proposing this money. They determined that they would not assume any such responsibility. The question, however, was raised in this House by those who represented the views of the four dissenting members of the Committee. In the month of March, 1860, Captain Leicester Vernon challenged the Report of the Committee, and made a Motion to this effect— That this House, having considered the Report and the evidence presented by the Select Committee on Packet and Telegraph Contracts, it of opinion that the contract entered into ought to be fulfilled. It was impossible to raise the issue more distinctly between the Committee and Mr. Churchward than was then done. That Motion was the subject of a long, animated, and searching debate, the result being that when the House divided 117 persons supported it, and 162 adopted the Report of the Committee by giving a negative to the Motion. There was afterwards a series of proceedings year after year with which the House need not be troubled, and never, except on a single occasion, was a vote of this House passed for money for the Dover contract without certainly in the most invidious manner including the name of Mr. Churchward, in order to oust him from any monies stipulated in the contract made by him and condemned by the Committee. Once that mode of proceeding was questioned by a Motion to alter the form of the vote—the question of the Report of the Committee was never directly raised—and upon that occasion the Motion was rejected, I admit by a very small majority. But the Report of the Committee, when directly brought to issue, was, as I have shown, made its own by this House; this House, therefore, is as responsible for that Report as if we had all been members of the Committee, and that is the foundation of the relation between the House of Commons and Mr. Churchward. Now, I think it was most unfortunate, I think it was not consistent with a due respect to this House, that the Lord Chancellor, the head of the legal profession, should, under these circumstances, and at the very time, or immediately after the very period when the House had been renewing its Vote of Censure against Mr. Churchward, have appointed that gentleman to the magistracy. And here I may say that, in one respect, I am glad that a question was put from the opposite side of the House to-night, whatever the motive in putting it might be, because it gave to the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Watkin) an opportunity of making a declaration which I cannot but think does him the highest honour. He had called for inquiry, but of course he might know there would be difficulties in the way, and consequently he had voluntarily abjured all assumption of the dignity and power of the magistracy until he should be acquitted if the charge brought against him. I do not dwell on the charge made against Mr. Churchward in 1853, because I am not cognizant of the circumstances of the Report of that year, further than that I find, on referring to it, that the conduct pursued had been of a very extraordinary character, since it seems that something like forty or forty-five Government employments had been procured by Mr. Churchward for the purpose of distributing them among the electors of Plymouth. Now, under these circumstances, what are we to do? My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department told us the, other night that the Lord Chancellor made this appointment in ignorance of what had taken place between this House and Mr. Churchward. Sir, I must say, if that be so, the Lord Chancellor has the utmost reason to complain of those gentlemen, however respectable, who recommended him to appoint Mr. Church ward to the magistracy in ignorance of facts grave and serious, But, if the Lord Chancellor acted in ignorance, it was his ditty upon the discovery of the facts to undo what he had done before. It is no answer to the House to say that he was ignorant of the circumstances. I must confess when I heard that this debate was ac- tually to take place I did hope that we should have had either from some Member of the Government who had communicated with Mr. Churchward, or from the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Major Dickson), some declaration which would have relieved us from the painful issue raised between the dignity and duty of this House to support its own authoritative judgments and the character of Mr. Churchward. Had Mr. Churchward authorized anybody on his behalf to whisper one syllable of regret for the conduct which drew upon him the censure of the Committee, and after that Report the judgment of this House and the loss of the contract, which, no doubt, must have been attended with more or less loss of commercial profit in itself legitimate, I feel confident—though I have not had any communication with him on that point—my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester would have withdrawn his Motion. I, for one, would not have supported it had any such communication been made. Does Mr. Churchward regret the conduct which brought down upon him the Reports of 1853 and of 1859 and the judgments of this House; or are we to be told, as has been fairly stated or implied in the speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, that this judgment of the House and of its Committees were acts performed in the spirit of political partisanship? Well, then, that is to be the reason why Mr. Churchward is to remain a magistrate. Does not the hon. and gallant Gentleman see the fatal error that he commits when he himself raises the issue between the character of this House and the character of Mr. Churchward, because if Mr. Churchward is to remain a magistrate it is because the judgment of the Committee and of this House were governed by the spirit of political partisanship. That, therefore, is the admission we are called upon to make. Well, then, if that be the issue I accept it, but I accept it with regret. The smallest intimation on the part of Mr. Churchward, which, forbearing to accuse this House, would have expressed regret for the conduct in question might, I think, have induced the House to acquiesce, though not without some difficulty. But even in the choice between difficulties the House, I am sure, would have acquiesced; because it is irksome, it is odious, it is invidious, to have to go back upon questions of this kind which one might have hoped had been long closed. But as we are now distinctly told by the hon. and gallant Gen- tleman who appears here as the advocate and champion of Mr. Churchward that we must retrace our steps and must negative the Motion of the hon. Member for Leicester because our judgments were founded on political partisanship—[Major DICKSON: I asked to postpone the Motion.] That is not the question at all; no Motion of that kind has been made, for an Amendment of another description is before the House. All I can say is if a Motion had been made to postpone the decision on the ground that there was some hope of an apology from Mr. Churchward, I, for one, would be prepared to recommend it. Or if some other Gentleman, authorized to speak for Mr. Churchward, will give us that satisfaction which the hon. and gallant Member has declined—has more than declined—to give, because he brings the majority of this House into court and condemns us—if that satisfaction is given, I, for one, shall feel that my duty is performed, and I shall gladly retire from this arena. But if it be not given, whatever pain I may feel, I see no option left me but to support the Motion of the hon. Member for Leicester, who has undertaken the discharge of a most painful duty.


Sir, there are many points connected with this question upon which it is impossible that should remain silent. I stand here, however, at some disadvantage, because I have just returned from my election in the country. I was not aware of what was coming before the House, and I am sorry to say that I am not in a position to-night to enter upon the general question; but as my name has been prominently brought forward in more than one of the speeches made to-night, and as I am now addressing a House of Commons, many Members of which are not familiar with what took place in the last House, I feel it my duty to say a few words with respect to the exact circumstances of the transactions of 1839, as well as I can recall them at this moment. I would premise that I know very little of what took place in 1853, and that I am not aware of the circumstances under which Mr. Churchward has now been appointed to the magistracy of Dover. It appears to be the feeling of the House, and a very natural feeling it is, that the circumstances which attended the making and the cancelling of the contract entered into by the Government of 1859 require the grave consideration of this House. As I was one of the parties that led to the appointment of the Committee, I may state the general character of the transaction, and why I feel that Mr. Churchward received an injury on the part of the house of Commons. I believed then, and I have always felt, that he was treated in a manner that gave him legitimate cause of complaint. Laying aside all questions of his general fitness for appointment to the magistracy, it was due to him that those who were in any way connected with the transaction of 1859 should endeavour to mark their sense that he was an injured man. That is the feeling with which I rose, and I feel it the more strongly because it was the pleasure of the Committee of 1859 to pronounce a verdict in which I on one side and Mr. Churchward on the other might be said to have been put on our trial, and the result was that they acquitted me and condemned him. Under these circumstances I was placed in a position which I felt to be most painful, because I always considered that if there had been condemnation of both, or an acquittal of both, little could have been said; but when the Committee chose to single him out for condemnation and pronounce an acquittal on me, they came to a verdict which I have repeatedly said I could not accede to—a verdict which, so long as I ant able to stand up, I shall say was an unjust verdict. I am sorry, Sir, that I have not had time to refer carefully to the proceedings of the Committee; but I remember, generally, what the circumstances were. They were these: Mr. Churchward—I am telling an old story to many Gentlemen, but there are other, who were not Members of the last Parliament—Mr. Churchward was a contractor with the Government. His contract had several years to run. Mr. Churchward came to the government of Lord Derby in 1859, when I was Secretary of the Treasury, and he asked a renewal of that contract some years before it expired. He gave as a reason that he was prepared to enlarge the service and build new vessels or something equivalent. His application was referred in due course to the Admiralty, and the Board of Admiralty reported in favour of his proposal. It was sent to the Postmaster General, who reported against the extension of the contract. The matter then came to the Treasury, and a Report was made by the permanent Under Secretary or some other officer of the Treasury. I forget on which side he reported. It then came to me at a time when an election was just about to take place. The important point, however, was this:—that the Board of Admiralty had reported in its favour before there was any prospect of an election. It came to me just at the moment the election was about to take place. In consequence of Mr. Churchward being likely to take an active part in the Dover election I put aside the papers, not intending to take them up again till the election was over. But I was afterwards induced to take them up by these considerations I do not think I had any communication with Mr. Churchward; but my attention being brought to the subject. I sent for Mr. Churchward and suggested to him that he should modify his proposal. He said he would not do so. He added something about a contract with the French Government, and that there were special reasons for taking up the subject at that moment. I said there was a difficulty in dealing with it just when an election was about, to take place. Mr. Churchward said it was a very hard ease that it should be put off; he had made the proposal to the Government several months ago; it had been hung up in a public office, and was now to be put off because of an election which had, in fact, nothing to do with it. I thought he was right, and I thought I should be acting as a coward if I put it off. Accordingly, I considered it on its merits; I thought he had a good case for the renewal of his contract; I agreed to renew it, and it was renewed. These circumstances were brought forward; a Committee of the House was appointed to inquire into the circumstances of the case; and before that Committee there was brought out what I certainly never heard of, that a conversation had taken place between Mr. Churchward and Captain Carnegie, one of the Lords of the Admiralty, who was afterwards a candidate for Dover. It appears that in this conversation he, in the first instance, promised Captain Carnegie his support, and after he had so promised he made allusion to his contract and asked him to do what he could for him. But no communication was ever made by Captain Carnegie on the subject. The Admiralty had reported in its favour, and took no further step in the matter. Well, under these circumstances, when the matter came to be inquired into before the Committee, they came to the conclusion by a majority to the effect reported to the House; but when it is said that the Committee came to their decision by a large majority, and that the Com- mittee was composed of Members taken equally from both sides of the House, I must say that, although the Members were taken equally from both sides of the House, yet there were two taken from this side who were in a very peculiar position, I was one, and Mr. Corry—I mention his name as he is not at present a Member of this House—who was then Secretary to the Admiralty, was the other. We were both placed on the Committee; but, although we took part in the examination of witnesses, we felt that being Members of the Government that made the contract, and Members of the Departments concerned in it, it would not be consistent with decency if we took part in the decision of the Committee, and the Members of this side were in a considerable minority, because two of them felt themselves to be in that critical kind of position. It is perfectly true that Sir Henry Willoughby, who sat on our side, voted on that occasion with the majority; but in the decision before, the majority consisted exclusively of Gentlemen on the other side of the House. I do not say the case was not one in which there might be difference of opinion. I am not endeavouring to charge the Committee of 1859 with having acted with a partisan spirit, but what I am anxious to say is this—that, looking carefully into the matter, and inquiring into what the conduct of Mr. Churchward was, I found it utterly impossible to come to the conclusion that he had recourse to corrupt expedients to obtain the contract on any grounds which did not fix on the Government that renewed it the imputation that they were parties to that corrupt contract. It was absurd to make a charge of corrupt expedients when he made no application, direct or indirect, to the Department which had the whole management of the business in its hands. I therefore say that the verdict was an inconsistent and perfectly futile judgment. If the opinion of the Committee was that there was anything corrupt in that contract, it was the duty of the Committee to report against those who granted it as well as against him who applied for it. Well, when they came to the conclusion that nothing implicated the officers of the Admiralty or Treasury in anything corrupt, I thought it was scarcely consistent that they should have fastened on Mr. Churchward the charge of having recourse to corrupt expedients. Having said this much I come back to the point that we have been in these relations with Mr. Churchward—that we have felt he has had a grievous stigma inflicted upon him, and been subjected to heavy pecuniary loss, while we have been, I suppose I may say, honourably acquitted. That has been a very painful reflection to me and to others who hold the same opinion; and the more that whenever Mr. Churchward endeavoured to bring forward his case to have it fairly and impartially investigated he has always been refused the opportunity. He applied to be heard before the Dover Election Committee, where he might have been examined on oath; but he was told there was no reason for hearing him. He has more than once brought actions in Courts of Law; but he has been met by demurrer, on the technical ground that it was a matter alleged to affect the prerogative or public policy. He tried to refer the matter to arbitration—to Sir John Coleridge and several other gentlemen of high standing; but he has never been allowed that opportunity. The position, therefore, of Mr. Churchward, in the opinion of those cognizant of the proceedings of 1859, is one extremely painful—and which it is quite unfair that he should be placed in. I always myself said that I could not accept with any satisfaction the decision to which the Committee of 1859 arrived, which acquitted me while Mr. Churchward was found guilty. I am not at all aware as to how far he is fitted to be appointed a magistrate, but I shall certainly, as far as I can by my vote to-night, support the credit and reputation of a man who I think has been very unjustly treated.


Sir, I feel personally thankful to the right hon. Member who has just concluded his speech for not giving us a history of the events of 1853. I did think his friend, Mr. Churchward, might have applied to him the same epithet that he applied to me—that of being "long-tongued,"—with his digest of a blue book, which he has been pouting like invidious poison into our ears. I should not, upon this occasion, have displayed the length of that peccant member which has given me such unenviable notoriety, had I not been somewhat unnecessarily dragged into the debate. I never voted upon the Committee, as I thought had I done so I should have exposed myself to have my motives impugned, for there is probably no Gentleman in this House who knows more of Mr. Churchward than I do, and probably no Gentleman in this House rejoices less than I do in his acquaintance. But I cannot for that reason sit still upon this occasion. I abstain from giving my opinion upon the subject under discussion. I merely rise for one purpose. I think it has been rather insinuated by the hon. and gallant Officer (Major Dickson), who rejoices in the friendship of Mr. Churchward, that this Motion—and I stand corrected if I am wrong—had been brought to me to bring forward. I ask that hon. and gallant Officer, does he intend to fasten that upon me? I ask him this because, if he does intend to fasten that upon me, I tell him that—he is labouring under a very great mistake. Sir, that Motion was brought to me in the lobby of this House. [Major DICKSON: That is all I said.] Yes; but you afterwards said that I had got a tool to hold it. [Major DICKSON dissented.] I am glad to hear it. I wish the House to understand my position. Something was brought to me, but I said, "No; you can't touch pitch without being defiled. I will have nothing to do with Mr. Churchward. You may get somebody else to do the work I will not take any part in it." I said, "I will take no part in the debate"—have been forced to get up now by the insinuations of the hon. and gallant Officer—"and what is more, when the subject is brought forward I will give no vote." I have never voted against Mr. Churchward. I felt that I was not in a position to do so. I hope the House will give me credit for that, and I hope that the hon. and gallant Officer will give me credit for it. As to my having endeavoured to get anybody to bring this Motion forward, had I wanted to bring it forward, I should have brought it forward on my own responsibility. But I go further. I believe that the Lord High Chancellor of England has been most grossly and improperly calumniated in this matter. I believe that he is totally incapable of giving a commission of the peace to a man who he thought was an improper one to hold it. Having gone so far, I will say nothing about the occurrence of the year 1859, or of the "martyred Churchward" of the Treasury Bench; but this I will say, that if the Government have instructed my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Walpole), who we all know is the soul of honour, to get up in his place—as I recommend him to do, and if he does it I will ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his Motion—and say, "Mr. Churchward will retire quietly into the society of those friends who value his ac- quaintance in private life"—I merely throw this out as a suggestion—I think that it will make everybody comfortable. I shall give no vote in this instance, and I only rose in consequence of the insinuations of the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I hope that the hon. and gallant Officer is satisfied, and I hope Mr. Churchward will be satisfied.


said, he had been accused of being too loud on the hustings in his demand that corruption should be brought to punishment; but he held one great maxim of English policy to be that a man should not be punished two or three times for the same offence, and that such punishment should not be inflicted before the offender had been heard in his own defence. The real question before the House was this—would the House of Commons, upon various reports of what had occurred fourteeen years ago, stigmatise a man for life, and punish him with the severest punishment that it was within their power to inflict? The House had already punished Mr. Churchward very seriously. He had no acquaintance with Mr. Churchward, and never had any conversation with him, and, except from what he had heard respecting him in that House, he knew nothing about that gentleman. But he thought that, whatever right the House might have to act upon the Report of one of its Committees, appointed to investigate a question affecting one of its own Members, they had no right to pronounce judicially upon the conduct of any man who had not been heard in his own defence, He understood from the speeches of two hon. Members that Mr. Churchward hail challenged inquiry into the facts alleged against him, and that his application had been refused on some technical objection. He thought this was a good reason why the Motion of the hon. Gentleman asking the House to stigmatize Mr. Churchward without his being heard in his own defence should be rejected.


Sir, it is most painful for those who have to charge such a duty to rise in support of a Motion of this kind; but I cannot at all agree with the hon. Gentleman who spoke last, that this Motion is a proceeding in pœna against Mr. Churchward. What is the occasion of the Motion? It is that Mr. Churchward has been selected recently and for the first time as a fit person to be appointed one of Her Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the borough of Dover. Therefore the step which has occasioned this Motion has not been taken by the hon. Gentleman who makes this Motion, but by the Government that made the appointment. I say "by the Government" deliberately; because I feel sure that had the matter rested solely in the hands of the Lord Chancellor, for whom I entertain the utmost personal regard and respect, and had all the facts of the case been brought before him, he would not have thought this a desirable appointment. But we are told by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Stafford Northcote) that we are to take a much broader view of the matter, and that Her Majesty's Government fully and entirely accept the responsibility of the appointment of Mr. Churchward upon the footing of its being a proper mode of redressing an act of injustice which has been committed by this House. I must say that that view appears to me to be a most extraordinary one, and that this step on the part of Her Majesty's Government opens up still more serious questions for our consideration than that which appeared to be raised by the Motion before the House. Are the judgments of this House never to be authoritative—are they never to be settled? Is every Ministry who succeed another Ministry at all times to be entitled to disregard the repeated judgments of the House—judgments which have even passed into the form of Acts of Parliament—Session after Session? I thought that the divisions of even our Committees, if we believed that they had discharged their duties honestly and fairly, were always entitled to our support. But this is not merely a case where only the judgment of a Committee is involved. The Committee which decided this case was one constituted of as honourable gentlemen as ever sat on such an inquiry. They were Sir Francis Baring (Lord Northbrook), Sir Henry Willoughby, Mr. Scholefield, and others, all of whom concurred in passing this Report. Therefore, I say that it is a very serious thing for the House, which had trusted entirely to this Report, upon the authority of those hon. Members, to be asked to sanction the proceeding of Her Majesty's Government in this matter, and to treat as a nullity the finding of that Committee upon this important subject. The finding of that Committee has been followed up by three consecutive Resolutions of this House, and on those Resolutions no less than four Acts of Parliament have been founded; and yet after that we are told by the present Government that they conceive it to be their duty to mark by some honour to Mr. Churchward their sense of the injustice which the decision of the House has done him. In that case I say that at least the House ought to require very strong and clear proof before they admit that any injustice has been done in this matter. Having more than once considered the evidence laid before the Committee, I differ from those who say that injustice has been done, and I shall be much deceived if that be not the opinion of the majority of those whom I am addressing. In the first place, let me call the attention of the House to this transaction, the evidence upon which, without trenching on the region of oral statement, mainly consists of written documents. I put aside the fact that Mr. Churchward had been subjected to the adverse Report of a Committee, on account of electioneering prosecuted with political zeal. Mr. Churchward obtained the contract, and under Lord Aberdeen's Government he applied for an extension of his contract without success. The correspondence ceases in 1857, a new Government comes in, he renews his application to them in January, 1859, and, of course, everybody who recollects the particulars of that Government acknowledge that even at that time the possibility of a general election was a thing which might be present to men's minds. The Board of Admiralty, not the First Lord, conceived that the investigation of the application on its merits belonged to the Treasury, and forwarded the application to the Treasury, with a "favourable recommendation," which, given by the Board of Admiralty, meant nothing whatever, as the Board did not profess to be judges of the question of renewing the contract, and did not profess to investigate the matter on its merits. The First Lord said he knew nothing about it; and therefore the reference to the Board of Admiralty of the 23rd of February was a matter of trifling importance. What was done? The Treasury, no doubt, discharged its duty in referring the matter to the Post Office; and on the 10th of January the Postmaster General reported strongly against the application for the renewal of the contract. Mr. Stephenson, of the Treasury, confirmed the Postmaster General; Mr. Hamilton, of the Treasury, differed from them. Before anything more was done, came the defeat of the then Government on the then Reform Bill, and it is remarkable that these questions always coincide with Reform Bills. Of course, everybody at that time knew that a dissolution was impending; and it actually took place on the 19th of April. Now the plot thickens. I have said before, and say again, I am ready to acquit the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for India (Sir Stafford Northcote) of doing anything unworthy of his position; therefore, I protest against the fallacies into which his excessive generosity leads him, when he says, "If yon condemn Mr. Churchward you must condemn me." I say there is no ground for any such conclusion. The right hon. Gentleman might have had, and I dare say had, reasons before him which might satisfy other men as well as himself. He was therefore totally free from the imputation of any improper motive. What he eventually did was right; but the evidence is irresistible, and it convinced the Committee that, as regards Mr. Churchward, electioneering was mixed up with the matter, and that the two things went on together. On the 4th of April Mr. Churchward writes a very urgent letter to Mr. Hamilton, of the Treasury, in which he says— No compensation whatever could be offered me equivalent to the extension of my contract that I have prayed for. The extension is the pivot on which every department of my business turns. With the extension I have hopes of the ultimate success of my enterprize. And so on, urging the case in the strongest possible manner. The next day, as it appears from the evidence of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for India (Sir Stafford Northcote), Mr. Murray, Private Secretary to the First Lord of the Admiralty, writes to Captain Carnegie a letter, in which he says— My dear Carnegie,—Sir William Jolliffe is very anxious to see you this evening at the Committee-room, at 6, Victoria Street. They say they must get you to stand either for Dover or Devonport, both of which must be fought by Admiralty men. I am inclined to think you would have the best chance at Devonport. I don't like Dover much. The enthusiasts think they can turn out Russell. I told them they might turn out Osborne, but had no chance with Russell; and, in fact, I believe the latter would pull through the former. I will send for Churchward and ask him what the chances are; but I think, as a friend, you will have to stand for one of these two places. While on the 4th of April Mr. Churchward is writing and pressing his claims for the extension of the contract, on the 5th of April Mr. Murray is communicating with Mr. Churchward with a view to what is going on at Dover. That is not all. There is a letter written clearly about that time, though the date is not given. It is given on the evidence of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for India, and I ask particular attention to its terms. The right hon. Baronet is asked— Had you any other pressure put upon you except that which Sir William Jolliffe brought to bear to induce you to expedite this business just at the critical time of the election? My right hon. Friend (Sir Stafford Northcote) said that Sir William Jolliffe, who occupied an important and responsible position in that Government, urged the business to be expedited.


No! just the contrary. Sir William Jolliffe said— This is a matter not to be brought forward during an election. There is an election coming on. You had better, therefore, deal with it before, or put it off until after, the election.


I am much obliged to my right hon. Friend, and I accept that statement. To the question I have read my right hon. Friend replied— There was another person who mentioned the matter, not to me, but to Mr. Hamilton, about the same time or, as nearly as possible, at the same time Mr. Hamilton received from Mr. Whitmore a letter, which has been already mentioned as having been written by Mr. Herbert Murray to Mr. Whitmore at the Treasury. I do not remember the exact terms, but it was to this effect, We are anxious to expedite Mr. Churchward's matter, and we want him to go down to Dover to canvass.' The question is whether we are to stigmatize the Committee as having come to an unwarrantable verdict. It is to be recollected that Captain Carnegie, after personal communication with Mr. Churchward as well as with Mr. Murray, believed that there was substantially an understanding or bargain for Mr. Churchward's vote and interest. Mr. Churchward distinctly denies that, but Captain Carnegie says— Mr. Churchward spoke to me on the subject of the pending election for Dover, and, having volunteered his support and promised me his assistance in general terms, he made an allusion to his anxiety to obtain the renewal of his contract, and he said that they were anxious to deter signing the renewal of his contract until after the election was over; but he felt that that would be too hard upon him, and that he would rather prefer voting for Mr. Bernal Osborne and for myself, inasmuch as he would then have a friend in power, whoever was in office. He also added that he thought they wanted him to return two Government Members for Dover, and if they did so he should be obliged to comply with it. Afterwards Mr. Carnegie says he distinctly understood the effect of this communication to be that Mr. Churchward, if his wishes as to the contract were gratified, would help to return two Government Members for Dover; otherwise his feelings and his own interest in possible events would be to divide his vote and interest, and give half of it to Mr. Bernal Osborne. Was that not evidence which the Committee were entitled to believe, concurring, as it does, with the documents and facts I have mentioned? The Treasury Minute approving the contract was signed on the 15th of April. Is it possible, in this state of things, for the House to say it is in a situation to treat Mr. Churchward as an injured man, injured by this House? But the picture would not be complete without Mr. Churchward's portraiture of himself. Mr. Churchward denies he entered into such a bargain; he denies that such a conversation with Captain Carnegie took place. It was for the Committee to judge to whom they could give most credit, and of materials for their judgment there were some by no means of slight importance in the answers given by Mr. Churchward himself to several questions put to him. In answer to the question, "Did you vote for him (Mr. Osborne) from political considerations?" he said— No, not at all. I distinctly stated that I did not support him on political considerations, but because I thought that, as he was the secretary of the Admiralty, and there was a chance of the harbour being turned over to the Admiralty, and that they were likely to buy it, Mr. Bernal Osborne could serve the interest of Dover, and also my interest, better than anyone else. This is the account of this gentleman himself, giving the grounds on which he disposed of his political influence. But if these were the grounds, according to his own account, why Mr. Churchward gave his vote and used his influence, is it not probable that Captain Carnegie's account of what had previously taken place was the correct one? The question is, which of these accounts is the correct one? Did Mr. Churchward use his political influence in accordance with the interests of Dover and of himself, or upon purely political and independent grounds? Then, to proceed to the Question No. 1,075— With regard to the vote you gave at Dover, you gave it entirely on personal grounds, as concerned yourself, and without reference to the contract?—On personal grounds, certainly, but it did enter into my consideration at the time that, inasmuch as I had received at the hands of the Government an extension of my contract, it would be unbecoming in me to oppose the Government. Therefore it singularly enough happened that this consideration did actuate the vote which he gave. So that although he denied that he had told Captain Carnegie that it was to be so, singularly enough the event occurred, and according to his own showing a sense of gratitude directed the vote which he gave. Gratitude for what? For the extension of this contract. Then what was his answer to Question 1,879?— Having heard the evidence (of Captain Carnegie and Mr. Murray), do you adhere to the version you gave to the Committee the other day?—I repeat that at that interview, in the presence of Mr. Murray, not one word was mentioned respecting the contract, or my anxiety to obtain the signing of the contract. I should not have dreamt of doing so imprudent a thing. The House will judge whether the Committee should have thought that was consistent with the statement of Captain Carnegie. Then came this question— What number of votes have you in connection with your establishment?—I think there are about fifty-two belonging to my establishment who have votes. Did they all vote right?—I think they did. I do not think I had one traitor. I have no inclination to detain the House; but I cannot help saying that, after the evidence which was adduced, the Committee were most fully justified in the conclusion at which they arrived as far as Mr. Churchward was concerned. If the House does not wish to give countenance to the mixing up the obtaining of Government contracts with electioneering for the Government, the House will not by its vote to-night depart from the principles on which it has already acted, or express its approbation of the selection of this gentleman to fill the office of a justice of the peace, especially of a justice of the peace for that very borough of Dover.


said, he was at all times most unwilling to obtrude himself on the notice of the House; but there were occasions on which silence might be construed as a want of moral courage, and the present was, in his opinion, one of those occasions. As one of the Members for Dover, he thought it was his duty to say a few words respecting the Motion under discussion; because he feared a great act of injustice would be perpetrated on the Government and on Mr. Churchward if that Motion were allowed to pass. It was cruel in the extreme to attack an individual in the way in which Mr. Churchward had been attacked that evening without any adequate cause. The present attack did not emanate from Dover, nor from the county of Kent, nor from any locality connected with Mr. Churchward or his doings. There were hon. Gentlemen round about him, representatives of the county of Kent, who, if there had been any impropriety in this appointment, would have been ready to point it out to the House. But the attack proceeded from that cold and bitter locality the North of England, and was supported by the hon. Gentleman who once represented Dover, but who now hailed from another place, he having owed his displacement in Dover to the influence of Mr. Churchward, his legitimate and proper influence in that borough. What were the charges brought against the Government and against Mr. Churchward? First, that in 1853 a Committee which sat to inquire into the election for Plymouth found that Mr. Churchward had been guilty of bribery, in the sense of having offered a place to an individual who had voted. The Committee sat a second time, to determine whether further proceedings should be taken or not, and the first Resolution they adopted was to the effect that it was the prevailing opinion in Plymouth at that time that after a man had promised his vote the promise of a place was not an infraction of the law. What was the second Resolution of the Committee? It was that the circumstances of the case did not call for further proceedings. Then there were the proceedings of the Committee of 1859. In 1859 a Committee of that House found that Mr. Churchward had been guilty of resorting to corrupt expedients affecting injuriously the character of the representatives of the people in circumstances affecting a contract for the mail packet service. The question in dispute was one involving moral character, and if such a question were put to the House there could be no doubt of the result. Now, what were the numbers on the two divisions? On the first, 162 to 117; and on the second, 176 to 168. Those numbers clearly proved that the house was not voting simply and solely on a question of moral character or conduct. It was plain that it was a party question, and that parties being then nearly equally divided, the divisions were very close ones. Mr. Churchward, however, did not submit quietly to the judgment of the House, but instituted legal proceedings for the purpose of proving the validity of the contract. The then Attorney General, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer), opposed those proceedings; but, instead of pleading that the contract was corrupt, and consequently invalid, he raised a demurrer to the effect that on the terms of the contract there was no mutual obligation. Unfortunately for Mr. Churchward it was a unilateral contract. Mr. Churchward was bound to carry the mails if required, but the Government was not bound to employ him. Such, at least, was the decision of the Courts of Law. But it should be borne in mind that Mr. Churchward had to fight the Government, which was so ably represented by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Richmond, and what chance had he under those circumstances? Hon. Members had noticed that evening the spirit displayed by the late Attorney General. The hon. and learned Gentleman put into the Acts of Parliament a clause such as had never before been introduced into any Act, and that clause excluded Mr. Churchward from the benefit of contracts made with the Government. Such a proceeding was, in his judgment, unconstitutional. The evidence of corruption in regard to the contract was simply that Mr. Churchward, being in a room with two gentlemen of unimpeachable character, made use of a particular expression. Mr. Churchward ought to have been entitled to show that his contract was good, notwithstanding that the House of Commons might have been affronted by a conversation that had taken place, in which it was supposed that Mr. Churchward said he could influence votes at Dover. If so, that might be the act of a simple man, but not of a corrupt man. The use of such words tended to show that there was no corruption, for people did not talk corruptly if they thought and acted corruptly. It was idle to contend that light words spoken in casual conversation were to have any relevance as regards the contract being corrupt. Indeed, it was immaterial whether those words were used or not. It was proved at the time that the contract was necessary, that the Government were rightly to extend the period of the contract, and that it was right that Mr. Churchward should come to the Government and ask them to extend it. Mr. Churchward was able to obtain a more rapid transit of the French mails. The contract was entered into properly and righteously enough, and there was nothing even alleged to be wrong, but a supposed statement which was denied. Mr. Churchward had been unjustly used, especially when the hon. and learned Member for Richmond, the then Attorney General, shut him up in a Court of Law, by insisting that the contract did not mean that he was to receive payment, but meant that he was always to have his boats ready for the service of Her Majesty's Government. An attack was unjustly and unfairly made upon Mr. Churchward, so as to put him in a position of not being entitled to receive the grant which the Crown had made for the services which that gentleman had rendered. And that was followed up by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Richmond, the late Attorney General, preventing Mr. Churchward from showing in a Court of Law that his contract was a valid one, by meeting him with a demurrer to that very contract for the rescinding of which the hon. and learned Gentleman was responsible. Mr. Churchward had been most unjustly treated. When he (Mr. Freshfield) heard that night the statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman, made as it was in that spirit of advocacy which was so oppressive, when administered by so eminent an advocate, he could not refrain from addressing the House against this attempt to shut out Mr. Churchward under those circumstances from exercising the office of magistrate for the borough of Dover, which his position in that place justly entitled him to occupy. This proceeding would be a great hardship on Mr. Churchward, following, as it would, the hardship of having denied him the benefit of the contract which he made with the Crown.

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

The House divided:—Ayes 141; Noes 161: Majority 20.

Adair, H. E. Candlish, J.
Adam, W. P. Cardwell, rt. hon. E.
Amberley, Viscount Carnegie, hon. C.
Anstruther, Sir R. Cave, T.
Antrobus, E. Cavendish, Lord G.
Barnes, T. Cheetham, J.
Barry, A. H. S. Childers, H. C. E.
Barry, C. R. Clay, J.
Bass, M. T. Clement, W. J.
Biddulph, Colonel R. M. Clive, G.
Bonham-Carter, J. Cogan, rt. hn. W. H. F.
Brand, hon. H. Collier, Sir R. P.
Bruce, Lord C. Colvile, C. R.
Bryan, G. L. Cowen, J.
Buller, Sir E. M. Cowper, hon. H. F.
Buxton, Sir T. F. Crawford, R. W.
Calcraft, J. H M. Crossley, Sir F.
De La Poer, E. M'Laren, D.
Dent, J. D. Marjoribanks, D. C.
Dillwyn, L. L. Merry, J.
Duff, R. W. Milbank, F. A.
Dunlop, A. C. S. M. Mill, J. S.
Edwards, C. Mills, J. R.
Erskine, Vice-Ad. J. E. Milton, Viscount
Evans, T. W. Moffatt, G.
Ewing, H. E. Crum- Monsell, rt. hon. W.
Eykyn, R. Moore, C.
Fawcett, H. Morrison, W.
Fildes, J. Murphy, N. D.
FitzGerald, Lord O. A. O'Brien, Sir P.
Fitzwilliam, hn. C. W. W. O'Conor Don, The
Foljambe, F. J. S. O'Donoghue, The
Forster, C. O'Loghlen, Sir C. M.
Forster, W. E. Onslow, G.
Fortescue, hon. D. F. O'Reilly, M. W.
Gavin, Major Otway, A. J.
Gibson, rt. hon. T. M. Padmore, R.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Palmer, Sir R.
Gladstone, W. H. Pease, J. W.
Glyn, G. G. Pelham, Lord
Goldsmid, Sir F. H. Pim, J.
Goschen, rt. hon. G. J. Pollard-Urquhart, W.
Gray, Sir J. Potter, E.
Grey, rt. hon. Sir G. Power, Sir J.
Grove, T. F. Robertson, D.
Gurney, S. Rothschild, Baron M. de
Hadfield, G. Rothschild, N. M. de
Hamilton, E. W. T. Samuelson, B.
Hardcastle, J. A Scholefield, W.
Harris, J. D. Sherriff, A. C.
Hartington, Marquess of Simeon, Sir J.
Henderson, J. Smith, J.
Herbert, H. A. Speirs, A. A.
Hodgkinson, G. Stacpoole, W.
Holden, I. Stansfeld, J.
Howard, hon. C. W. G. Sullivan, E.
Hughes, T. Synan, E. J.
Ingham, R. Tracy, hon. C. R. D. Hanbury-
Jervoise, Sir J. C.
Johnstone, Sir J. Trevelyan, G. O.
Kinglake, J. A. Villiers, rt. hon. C. P.
Kingscote, Colonel Whatman, J.
Kinnaird, hon. A. F. White, hon. Capt. C.
Layard, A. H. White, J.
Lamont, J. Whitworth, B.
Lawson, rt. hon. J. A. Williamson, Sir H.
Leatham, W. H. Woods, H.
Lefevre, G. J. S. Wyvill, M.
Locke, J. Young, R.
Lowe, rt. hon. R.
Mackie, J. Taylor, P. A.
Mackinnon, Capt. L. B. Craufurd, E. H. J.
Annersley, hon. Col. H. Bingham, Lord
Archdall, Captain M. Bourne, Colonel
Bagge, W. Bowen, J. B.
Bailey, Sir J. R. Bowyer, Sir G.
Barnett, H. Bridges, Sir B. W.
Barrington, Viscount Bromley, W. D.
Barrow, W. H. Bruce, Sir H. H.
Barttelot, Colonel Cartwright, Colonel
Bateson, Sir T. Cave, rt. hon. S.
Bathurst, A. A. Chatterton, H. E.
Beach, Sir M. H. Clinton, Lord A. P.
Beach, W. W. B. Clive, Capt. hon. G. W.
Beecroft, G. S. Cobbold, J. C.
Benyon, R. Cole, hon. H.
Bernard, hn. Col. H. B. Cole, hon. J. L.
Corrance, F. S. Lindsay, Col. R. L.
Courtenay, Lord MacEvoy, E.
Cooper, E. H. M'Kenna, J. N.
Cox, W. T. M'Lagan, P.
Dick, F. Mainwaring, T.
Dickson, Major A. G. Malcolm, J. W.
Disraeli, rt. hon. B. Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.
Dowdeswell, W. E. Mitchell, A.
Du Cane, C. Montgomery, Sir G.
Dyke, W. H. Mordaunt, Sir C.
Dyott, Colonel R. Morgan, O.
Earle, R. A. Morgan, hon. Major
Eaton, H. W, Mowbray, rt. hon. J. R.
Edwards, Sir H. Naas, Lord
Egerton, E. C. Neate, C.
Egerton, hon. W. Neeld, Sir J.
Fane, Colonel J. W. Neville-Grenville, R.
Fellowes, E. Newdegate, C. N.
Fergusson, Sir J. Newport, Viscount
Floyer, J. Noel, hon. G. J.
Forester, rt. hon. Gen. North, Colonel
Freshfield, C. K. Northcote, rt. hn. Sir S.H.
Gallwey, Sir W. P. O'Beirne, J. L.
Gilpin, Colonel O'Neill, E.
Goddard, A. L. Paget, R. H.
Goldney, G. Parker, Major W.
Gore, J. R. O. Powell, F. S.
Gore, W. R. O. Read, C. S.
Gorst, J. E. Repton, G. W. J.
Grant, A. Ridley, Sir M. W.
Graves, S. R. Robertson, P. F.
Greenall, G. Russell, Sir C.
Greene, E. Schreiber, C.
Grey, hon. T. de Sclater-Booth, G.
Griffith, C. D. Selwyn, H. J.
Gurney, rt. hon. R. Selwyn, C. J.
Hamilton, Lord C. Severne, J. E.
Hamilton, I. T. Sheridan, H. B.
Hanmer, Sir J. Simonds, W. B.
Hartley, J. Smith, A.
Hartopp, E. B. Stanhope, J. B.
Hay, Sir J. C. D. Stanley, Lord
Henniker-Major, hon. J. M. Stirling-Maxwell, Sir W.
Stopford, S. G.
Herbert, hn. Colonel P. Stuart, Lt.-Colonel W.
Hesketh, Sir T. G. Surtees, F.
Hildyard, T. B. T. Surtees, H. E.
Hodgson, W. N. Taylor, Colonel
Hogg, Lt.-Col. J. M. Thynne, Lord H. F.
Holmesdale, Viscount Tollemache, J.
Huddleston, J. W. Turner, C.
Hunt, G. W. Vance, J.
Innes, A. C. Vandeleur, Colonel
Jolliffe, hon. H. H. Verner, E. W.
Karslake, Sir J. B. Walker, Major G. G.
Karslake, E. K. Walpole, rt. hon. S. H.
Kavanagh, A. Walsh, Sir J.
Kelk, J. Waterhouse, S.
Kendall, N. Whalley, G. H
King, J. G. Whitmore, H.
Knightley, Sir R. Wise, H. C.
Knox, hn. Major S. Woodd, B. T.
Lacon, Sir E. Wyld, J.
Laird, J. Wyndham, hon. P.
Leader, N. P.
Lennox, Lord G. G. TELLERS.
Lennox, Lord H. G. Bentinck, G. A. C.
Lindsay, hon. Col. C. Lowther, J.

Question put, "That those words be there added."


I hope the House will pause before assenting to a general proposition of this nature without any examination into it.


Sir, I hope the House and I hope the country will consider well the purport of the short speech that has now been extracted from the right hon. Gentleman. About an hour ago it was my duty to rise upon the Amendment propounded—no doubt, honestly propounded—by my hon. Friend the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Bentinck), and I pointed out, or endeavoured to point out, that the subject-matter of the Amendment, at the proper time, deserved the consideration of the House of Commons. In doing so, Sir, I was guided mainly by the fact that this important Amendment had been proposed and the discussion on it raised without previous notice given to the House. On that account it did appear to me that the time for the discussion of the question had not arrived, and that it should not be discussed except on notice, because of its novelty and because of the breadth of the field which it covered. The right hon. Gentleman has now discovered this. "The engineer hoist with his own petard," and smarting under the consequences of the victory which his Friends have gained for him, now falls back on words of wisdom, which he would not speak while it was yet time. I raised that issue. I did not object to the substance of the Amendment. I am convinced that the time is come when this House should take care as to the impression it creates out of doors with regard to the seriousness of its intentions at striking at acts of bribery in high places. But upon the issue of the unfitness of the present time. I objected to the addition of the words of the Amendment. The House has overruled my objection by a majority. The House has decided by a majority that this is the time to entertain the question, and Her Majesty's Government have formed a portion of that majority. If, Sir, this be the time to entertain the question, I feel that my duty to the House, and my respect to the House, bind me to say "Aye" or "No" on it. My choice is made in a moment. I will say "Aye" on it.


The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gladstone) warned us to think well before we adopted the Amendment that is now before us. I voted against the Motion, because I felt that we were likely to be guilty of a gross injus- tice in punishing a man a second time for an offence committed in a matter which a Committee had recommended should not be further proceeded with, and I voted in the majority. The right hon. Gentleman now for the sake of attracting popular attention supports an Amendment which he condemned at the beginning of this debate. I have no love of corruption. I supported last year the Motion of the hon. Baronet the Member for Northamptonshire (Sir Rainald Knightley) upon the subject of bribery and corruption, and I did so honestly, in the sense in which Mr. Pitt proposed to punish bribery and corruption—namely, by disfranchising the corrupt constituencies. I am prepared to pursue that course again; and I know that the hon. Baronet will not be wanting when the time comes. But I am not going to vote for an Address to the Crown to issue a fishing inquiry into transactions of years long past. I am not going to vote for a proposition that the right hon. Gentleman condemned at the beginning of this discussion. He may find it convenient to change his opinion during the evening. I shall retain mine. All I hope is that when the time comes for the hon. Baronet the Member for Northamptonshire to cite Mr. Pitt's opinion for the effectual prevention of bribery we shall be supported by the right hon. Gentleman.

Motion agreed to.

Words added.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to. Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She will be graciously pleased to give directions for the removal of all persons in the Commission of the Peace of any County, City, or Borough who have been found, either by Committees of this House or by Royal Commissions guilty of, or privy or assenting to, corrupt practices at Parliamentary Elections.