Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [12th March], "That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as followeth:
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave humbly to represent to Tour Majesty, that Sir Samuel Martin, knight, one of the Barons of the Court of Exchequer, and one of the Judges selected for the trial of Election Petitions, pursuant to the Parliamentary Elections Act, 1868, has reported to the House of Commons, that corrupt practices did prevail at the last Election for the City of Norwich, and that there is reason to believe that corrupt practices did extensively prevail at the said Election.
We therefore humbly pray Your Majesty, that Your Majesty will be graciously pleased to cause inquiry to be made pursuant to the Provisions of the Act of Parliament passed in the sixteenth year of the reign of Your Majesty, intituled, "An Act to provide for more effectual inquiry into the existence of Corrupt Practices at Elections for Members to serve in Parliament," by the appointment of George Morley Dowdeswell, esquire, one of Her Majesty's Counsel, Horatio Mansfield, esquire, Barrister at Law, and Robert John Biron, esquire, Barrister at Law, as Commissioners for the purpose of making inquiry into the existence of such corrupt practices."—(Mr. Attorney General.)
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
said, hon. Members must be aware that in 1852, a statute had been passed, providing that in those cases in which an Election Committee reported that corrupt practices had, or that they had reason to believe that they had, extensively prevailed in a borough, that House, together with the other House of Parliament, might address the Crown on the subject, and the Crown might thereupon appoint a Commission to inquire into the existence of such practices. Commissions thus appointed had full powers for the purpose of conducting their investigations; and might not merely confine them to the particular election immediately in question, but carry the inquiry back to former elections. The House was aware that the statute to which he referred had on many occasions been acted upon, and the Commissions issued under it had, he believed, by general consent, done their work well, and brought to light a good deal of corruption, which, without their aid, would have escaped observation. Action, moreover, had, in more than one instance, been taken on their Reports in the shape of prosecutions instituted by Attorneys General and of Acts of disfranchisement passed by Parliament. 4 By the Act of last Session, the Reports of the Judges, by whom election petitions were now tried, were substituted for those of the Committees; and he had before him the Report of the learned Judge who tried the Norwich petition, to which, he felt assured, the House would not attach less importance than they had hitherto been in the habit of attaching to the Report of a Committee. Formerly, he might add, it was the practice for the Chairman of the Committee to move for the appointment of a Commission, when it was deemed right that that course should be taken; but there were now no Chairmen of Committees to undertake that duty; and, as it might turn out that that which was nobody's business in particular might not be done at all, he hoped the House would be of opinion that he was not taking too much on himself in rising to move for the issue of a Commission in the present instance. Having said thus much, he would invite the attention of hon. Members to the Report of the learned Judge, who said—And I further report that corrupt practices did prevail at the said Election, and that there is reason to believe that corrupt practices did extensively prevail at the same, and that they were of the nature stated in my special Report.Then came the special Report of the learned Judge; and he might, before more particularly referring to it, observe that the powers of the Judge were confined to inquiring into the existence of corrupt practices at one election, and into the existence of extensive corrupt practices to that degree which might be necessary to determine his judgment as to whether there was sufficient evidence to unseat the Member, so that, under those circumstances, it must not be supposed that his Report could dispose of the whole of the cases of corruption which might have occurred in the borough. In his special Report, the learned Judge went on to say—At the middle of the day of polling Sir William Russell and Mr. Tillett, the Liberal candidates, had a considerable majority, and there is no reason to believe that up to this time any corrupt vote had been given on either side; but from thence until the close of the poll I believe that bribery was extensively committed in order to procure the election of Sir Henry Josias Stracey. So far as the evidence went, the voters who were bribed were of one class—namely, workmen or labourers for daily wages. These people did not go to work that day, but collected in considerable numbers in and about public-houses and beer-shops, 5 and there waited to be bribed. Some of them either of themselves thought, or it was suggested to them by others, that it was reasonable and just they should be paid their day's wages by the candidate for whom they voted. It may be that in some instances this feeling was honestly entertained, but in the great majority of instances it was a mere pretext in order to obtain bribes. A number of these voters went to the poll in a gross state of drunkenness, some of them so drunk as not to know for whom they came to vote; and I have no doubt that a very considerable number of bribed voters gave their votes between two and four o'clock of the day of polling. I expected that there would have been a scrutiny, but it was abandoned on behalf of Mr. Tillett, and I am, therefore, unable to state the number of the bribed voters. I am also unable to state who the bribers were, with the exception of the man Hardiment, who absconded after the petition was presented, and the man Arthur Hunt, who was examined at the trial. Another man called Warledge also absconded after the petition was presented, and he, probably, was extensively employed in bribing. The sum paid to each bribed voter was small. One pound to each was the sum proved to have been paid by Hardiment, and seven shillings and sixpence each to the voters bribed by Hunt. I am also unable to state what amount of money was spent in bribery, and I failed to obtain any information as to the source from whence the money came, or the persons by whom it was supplied to the bribers; but I believe that there was a corrupt agency at Norwich by which the money was supplied.The Report proceeded to state further instances of bribery; but he did not think the House would be of opinion that it was necessary he should enter at any great length into the evidence. It would be enough for him to say that the evidence, which he had carefully read, appeared to bear out the Report of the learned Judge, which Report, as might be expected, rather kept within than went beyond the extent of the bribery practised at the election. The general aspect of the case was that until about two o'clock the Liberal candidates at the late election for Norwich were considerably ahead, the Conservative candidate Sir Henry Stracey far behind. After two o'clock, however, much greater activity on the side of Sir Henry Stracey began to be displayed. As the time drew near for the close of the poll voters began to poll for him in greater numbers, so that in the last half-hour a larger number of votes were recorded for him than in any previous half-hour throughout the day, and the result was that he was returned. On examining the evidence they could not be at any loss to account for that increased electoral activity, and he would refer to it to show the House how it was brought 6 about that the candidate at the bottom of the poll at the middle of the day was at the head of the poll at the close of the day. It appeared that a number of public-houses were engaged, and that knots of twenty or thirty voters were collected together waiting to be bribed. The bribery, it further seemed, was confined to one side, and therefore the figure was not high; but in saying that he was far from wishing to impute bribery to only one party, or stating that the Liberal party had always been immaculate at Norwich; because, on a previous occasion, two Members who sat on the Liberal side of the House were unseated for bribery. But, be that as it might, he should, by way of giving a sample of the evidence which had been adduced at the recent inquiry, read two or three extracts from it. There were several public-houses in the town, one of which was called the "Marquess of Granby." One of the witnesses went there and saw Mackley, and, he said—He told me that he had a considerable number of men either in his house or about his premises who would come and vote for the Liberal candidates; they only wanted to be paid some money; and I told him it was not our intention to do anything of the kind.Where upon all the men went away and appear to have voted on the other side. There was another public-house named the "Trumpet," and what took place there was very shortly but graphically narrated by one of the witnesses—Mr. Hunt, who was reported as one of the main bribers, came into the room and asked the men present had they voted. They said 'No,' and he then said 'I have 5s. for each of you.' Did he count the money?—Yes. Did he say anything more than 'I have got 5s. for you?'—They grumbled at the 5s., and said they would not have it. During that time was Smith, the fowl-dealer in the room?—He was. Upon the grumbling taking place did Smith say anything?—He said, 'My boys, I shall be a sovereign out of my own pocket, and give you 2s, 6d. each more, which will make it 7s. 6d.' Upon Smith offering to make up the amount to 7s. 6d. did any persons in the room accept it?—They then said that they might as well take it, for if they did not take it they should get nothing,So these men having stood out against 5s., and finding that they could not get any higher terms, condescended at length to accept the amount offered; they were all bribed, and they all went to the poll and voted. At another public-house called the "Woolpack," a man named Hardiment bribed, and the price then appeared to be about £1. Hardiment 7 had a bagful of gold, and the men at first wanted £3 from him, but he only gave them £1 apiece. In the course, however, of the inquiry with respect to Hardiment a piece of evidence came out which will, I think, satisfy the House that the bribery at Norwich was of a very extensive character. After giving £1 each to all the other men, there were two or three to whom he would not give anything; and the witness was asked—Did Hardiment give any reason for not paying money to the two men from the Third Ward?—Yes, he said they did not belong to his ward. Did he say they could get it from their own ward?—Yes.From this statement of Hardiment's it certainly appeared to him that there was bribery in each ward, or at all events, in most of the wards in the town. There were other public-houses and other bribers in Norwich, but the cases being of a similar character it was not necessary to trouble the House with details. Many of the men when they came to the poll were in such a state of intoxication that they actually did not know the names of the candidates for whom they were voting. The Report, as he had ventured to suggest already, hardly gave any idea of the extent of the corruption which in all probability prevailed at Norwich, for after counsel for the petitioner had called a number of witnesses to depose to certain facts, he stated that there were a great many others who could be produced to give evidence to the same effect, whereupon the learned Baron who presided said he did not think Mr. Keane would be forwarding his case by adducing any more evidence of that class. And accordingly the case was stopped short. But it was clear from the statement of Mr. Keane, and he believed no doubt existed as to the fact, that evidence such as that to which he had just called the attention of the House was but a sample of what might be given. The learned Judge said there was one thing which puzzled him, and that was to discover where the money came from. That was a matter which he himself should like exceedingly to see investigated by a Commission. There was, however, one curious piece of evidence which threw some light upon the subject. A man named Webster stated that between two and three o'clock in the afternoon he went to the bank to get a cheque cashed for £200. He was asked 8 why he had got a cheque cashed on that particular day, and was it not rather an inconvenient day on which to receive and carry a large sum of money. He replied that he had some small bills to pay, and had no change in the house. The question was then put to him—You took all this in half-sovereigns for the convenience of the thing?—I did not ask for half-sovereigns. They said they had got £200 worth of half-sovereigns ready counted up, and I said, 'Very well, then, that will do.' It so happened that Messrs. Harvey's bank are Conservatives in the town?—I do not know; yes, I think they are. Think! Mr. Webster. Is he not one of the stanchest of your lot?—That is true, so he is. So it happened that at this stanch Conservative bank there were £200 in half-sovereigns that happened to be counted up?—Just so.If, therefore, between two and three o'clock in the afternoon of the day of polling at Norwich Mr. Webster came into possession of 400 half-sovereigns ready counted out on the counter of the Conservative bank, the House could be at no loss to account for a certain amount of that electoral activity which prevailed in the town. If this clue were followed up by the Commissioners, they would probably discover from what sources the bribery came. For his own part, he confessed he was not well satisfied to proceed merely against inferior agents; he wished to discover the really guilty parties in the background, the persons who had supplied the money forming the source of all the corruption. It was his painful duty to add that on the part of the borough this was not a first offence. Norwich, in fact, was an old offender. It was not necessary to go back to 1837, when a very eminent Member of the House was unseated for bribery. It would be enough to refer to the year 1859, when two Members were unseated for the same cause. In that year a very remarkable Petition from the Mayor and Corporation of Norwich had been presented by his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Bright), who had also, he believed, a Petition to present on this occasion, but was not now present. The petition to which he referred, after alleging that extensive and systematic bribery had been practised at the last election, went on to say—Your petitioners are desirous that a thorough inquiry and investigation should take place before a Committee of your House, or before a Royal Commission, into the alleged bribery and corruption practised at the last election, and particularly 9 into the sources from which the money so corruptly expended was derived, and that such inquiry may be full, searching, and impartial.At that time the House were unable on technical grounds to comply with the request, which did not emanate from a Committee; but now he trusted the House, by sanctioning a full, searching, and impartial inquiry, would give effect to the expressed wishes of the Mayor and Corporation of Norwich. This was a case in which the Judge had reported that there was reason to believe corrupt practices had extensively prevailed; the attention of the House had been expressly drawn to the provisions giving power to order an inquiry such as he now proposed, and on former occasions Members had been unseated for gross and systematic bribery in the same borough. If this were not a case in which the House thought proper to exercise its powers, it was difficult to conceive any case in which it would ever do so. A salutary effect would, he thought, attend the exercise of those powers, while, on the other hand, if they took no step, the House would practically be abdicating some of its most important functions, if not actually neglecting its duty. It would, moreover, be almost impossible to persuade the country that Members were really in earnest in their endeavours to put down bribery. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving his Motion.
§ MR. READ
said, the constituency which he represented embraced many of the leading citizens and men of influence in Norwich, and that must be, in part, his excuse for asking the House not to agree to the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He had just presented to the House a Petition signed by upwards of 2,900 magistrates, merchants, manufacturers and tradesmen of all shades of politics in the city of Norwich, and that must be a further excuse. The persons signing that Petition stated that corrupt practices prevailed at the last election only to a very slight extent, and were conducted by private persons entirely on their own responsibility; that only eight cases of bribery were proved, and that the amount given was small and at a late hour, negativing the idea of any preconcerted scheme of corruption; and, further, that new Writs had been already issued to 10 places where corrupt practices had prevailed; and the petitioners therefore prayed the House to deal the same measure of justice to them as to other places, and not to cast a stigma on the honesty of 12,000 or 13,000 electors because of the corrupt practices of a few. He was not going to contend that Norwich had always been an immaculate city. In olden times a Liberal majority was purchased by the Liberals, and that was attempted to be overturned by Conservative money. This state of things reached its culminating point in 1859, when the gentlemen who had since succeeded in disfranchising Lancaster very nearly succeeded in disfranchising Norwich, and in consequence of the startling and disreputable disclosures then made both parties determined to turn over a new leaf, though undoubtedly there still remained a residuum of drunkenness and venality. At the recent election the heads of both parties declared that they would not in any way countenance any act of bribery; and it had been proved that, on the part of the Liberals, not 6d. was spent, and that up to two o'clock in the afternoon the Conservatives were equally free from bribery. By that time some 8,000 honest electors had recorded their votes, and then, no doubt, a few over-zealous and injudicious partizans did bribe to a limited extent; but there was no organized system. What was done was small in extent and insignificant in amount. The Attorney General had overstated the case in some respects. Only one or two persons were reported to have received £1, none to have received 10s., but some had taken 7s. 6d. or 2s. 6d. It must be remembered that the Norwich trial was the first that took place under the new Act, hence a certain harshness of procedure that was not practised elsewhere; and he believed that the law laid down with regard to agency was hardly the same as had been subsequently laid down by the same learned Judge in the cases of Westminster and Wigan Petitions. In regard to the state of the poll at two o'clock, the facts were these—that the Liberal committee only issued one return at ten o'clock, which claimed for them a majority of 600, but they afterwards owned that it was incorrect, and they issued no more. The Conservative returns showed a gradual diminution of the majority against Sir Henry Stracey after eleven 11 o'clock. It had been said that the day of election seemed to be made a general holiday; but a great number of the new electors were very poor men, not earning more than 10s. or 12s. a week, and some of the larger employers of labour gave them a half-holiday, but few of them could have afforded to lose a day's work, and consequently numbers of workmen voted in the afternoon. The learned Judge had, in the midst of his general severity, made one excuse—namely, that some of the voters really thought they were entitled to a day's work. He (Mr. Head) would venture to offer another. It was a common delusion, but one not likely to occur again, among the extinguished compound-householders, that they were entitled to recoup themselves for the rates they had been called upon to pay. It would be remembered—to the credit of Norwich—that though the election undoubtedly occasioned considerable excitement, there was no tumult, rioting, intimidation, or window-breaking; that no watchers were employed, and no cabs hired. Of the nine Conservative committee-rooms only four were at public-houses. At the election in 1865 £7,000 was spent in legitimate expenses; in 1868 the sum disbursed by both candidates for that purpose was under £4,000. It had been said that the day of election was marked by general drunkenness. That he entirely denied. He had seen the chief constable of Norwich and the deputy chief constable of Norfolk, and they both assured him that drunkenness was not at all general on the day of election, and that they had seen much more on many market and fair days. According to the police reports only three cases of drunkenness occurred, and the Adjutant of the 1st Norfolk Rifle Volunteers stated in a letter to him that he had been quartered in many garrison towns, and that he never saw a quieter or more orderly election, and though much about the entire day he could not call to mind a solitary case of drunkenness. The colonel commanding the Royal Horse Artillery at Norwich had also sent him a communication, in which the writer stated that he was particularly struck by the great quiet, good order and temper that prevailed in the town during the election, and that he had since frequently expressed his pleasure at finding that so much of the disorder, rioting, 12 and drunkenness which formerly prevailed at elections had ceased to exist, and he concluded by observing that he had at all times found Norwich the quietest and best behaved town he had been in. If the Commission were issued, he believed that only some trumpery cases of bribery would be proved; and though he was not at all afraid that disfranchisement would follow he was anxious that Norwich should be spared the stain and stigma that the appointment of a Royal Commission would occasion. As to the three Commissioners, he would suggest that ample occupation might be found for them if they were instructed to make a digest of the different decisions of the Judges upon treating and agency, for the use of stupid Members of Parliament like himself. A Royal Commission was not required for the punishment of the guilty persons, for the evidence already collected was amply sufficient for a prosecution, and it would be a great hardship to inflict the pain, disgrace, and expense of a Royal Commission upon Norwich, where the ratepayers were already burdened with local taxes to the amount of half their rent. He appealed to the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir William Russell), who had represented Norwich in three successive Parliaments, to stand up, and either confirm or contradict the statement he (Mr. Read) had made. It was due to himself, to the constituency he represented, to the House, and to the country, that the hon. and gallant Baronet should do this.
§ MR. D. DALRYMPLE
said, he thought that what had just fallen from the hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. Read) went a considerable way to justify the step taken by the Attorney General. He was not present at the last election for Norwich—he might fairly say he was better engaged in another borough—but he attended at the inquiry before the Judge, and he must say that, if there was one point more completely proved than another, it was the fact that Sir Henry Stracey was himself entirely free from any participation in the disgraceful proceedings which occurred at the last election. He, for one, regretted personally not to see the stalwart form of the hon. Baronet on the Benches opposite; but the regret was personal and not political, for he was not indifferent to the success of his party 13 but he desired that the success should be obtained honestly and with clean hands. He thought there was a remarkable similarity between the elections of 1832 and 1868. On both occasions there had been a Reform Act, with a large addition to the constituency, and on both occasions the very first step of the Tory—or, as it was latterly termed, the Constitutional—party had been to try and bribe the new constituency. He had himself entertained high hopes of the political integrity of that body; and he saw with regret that the foul stream of electoral corruption had not ceased to flow. If any other means could be suggested by which to get at the bottom of the evil he should be glad to spare his native town the stigma and expense of a Commission and the possible consequences that might ensue. But if the remedy could not be attained by any other means he was prepared that a Commission should issue rather than have it said corruption had been going on for thirty-five years and no attempt made to put a stop to it. He could very well understand that in the minds of some hon. Gentlemen opposite there might be strong objections to the appointment of a Commission. When the political trigonometers went through the county of Norfolk they created a remarkably pleasant constituency called South Norfolk—it was a constituency in which not even the reeds were shaken the strong winds of democracy—and in case of the disfranchisement of Norwich it might be fatal to the Conservative interest to have an influx of the Liberals thrown in upon that bucolic constituency. It did not seem to him at all necessary that disfranchisement should follow. If there were disclosures as to who supplied the money on this last occasion, it would surely be competent for the Attorney General to prosecute those parties. He (Mr. Dalrymple) disliked disfranchisement, which involved the many innocent in the punishment of the few guilty. The parties bribed, as had been stated in the Report, were persons in the receipt of wages not higher than 10s. or 12s. a week. Now, if hon. Members had seen, as he had seen, the silent loom, the cold hearth, the empty cupboard, and the still more empty stomachs of such men as these, they would hardly blame them for taking the bribes offered. It was those who found the money and gave the bribes 14 who were the real delinquents and deserved punishment. It was said only eight cases of bribery had been proved. That might be strictly true; but if Mr. Tillett had proceeded with the scrutiny there could be very little doubt that number would have been multiplied by eight, ten, or twenty. But a scrutiny cost nearly as much as a contested election, and they could, therefore, all very well understand why the scrutiny had not been pushed further than was necessary to demonstrate the existence of bribery as well as the agency employed in it. He did not think any measure short of a Commission would be effectual, otherwise he believed the Attorney General would have adopted it. The hon. Member for South Norfolk had read letters from various parties to the effect that Norwich had been very orderly, and that there was comparatively little drunkenness on the occasion of the last election; he (Mr. Dalrymple) also held | in his hand letters from influential persons, clergymen, solicitors, and others belonging to both parties, who strongly urged that an effort should now be made to get rid of the stain which for so many years had rested upon the town, and he cordially echoed that sentiment, rejoicing, as he did, that the first opportunity he had of addressing that House was with a view to raise the standard of electoral morality in his native town.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
If there is one thing more desirable than another in inquiries of this kind, it is that they should be conducted in a spirit of impartiality and freedom from all semblance of party motive. Last Session, when an alteration was made in the system which had before prevailed, of trying election petitions, we endeavoured to obtain a tribunal that would be respected by the House and the country—a tribunal of which there would be no possibility of saying that it was affected by the partiality which attached to Committees, which, in many cases, did not deserve the imputation. We endeavoured to get rid of the difficulty by having the Judges to preside at those trials, who are to make a Report to this House, and, that Report having been made, there remained the question of the course to be taken in order to give effect to it. There is at present no public prosecutor, no Committee sitting that can initiate proceedings after the inquiry, and therefore 15 that duty is devolved on the Law Officer of the Crown, who very properly comes forward as a quasi-judicial officer, and, placing the case before the House in connection with the Report of the Judge, moves for the issue of a Commission. It seems to me we ought to act on the Report of the Judge. The Judge reports, in the express terms of the statute, that bribery was proved to exist, and that he has reason to believe that bribery extensively prevailed, and the Act of last Session provided that on such a Report we should address Her Majesty to issue a Commission to inquire. In this case there can be no dispute as to facts. The learned Judge purposely inserted these words in his Report with a view to call the attention of the House to the circumstances that came before him, and impressed his mind with the necessity of full inquiry. The learned Judge said there was a necessity for inquiry, and the Attorney General therefore comes forward in a quasi-judicial capacity to initiate the proceedings. When that has been done—when the Judge reports in the terms of the Act of last Session, and when a Motion is made, as in the present instance, by the Attorney General, we ought, I think, in order to avoid all painful discussions, to act in accordance with the Judge's Report. The whole of the facts are not gone into before the Judge; there is no occasion for a party to the proceedings to go further than he thinks necessary for his own objects; but the Judge has seen reason to ask the House to go further, and, relying on his Report, and the action of the Attorney General, I think it is our bounden duty to accept the recommendation of the Judge.
§ SIR WILLIAM RUSSELL
, as representing the city of Norwich for the third time, desired to state that after the year 1859 it was determined by both parties to avoid all corrupt influences, and that determination had been religiously carried out by the Leaders on both sides. At the next election not a farthing, he believed, had been spent; and on the last occasion the Judge had given his opinion that, as far as the Liberal candidates were concerned, no money whatever had been spent. As far as the Conservative party was concerned, up to the middle of the day he did not believe one single farthing was spent; 16 and after that time what was spent was by two, three, or four private individuals, entirely without the knowledge of Sir Henry Stracey, and to a very small extent. The present was not a question on which, as a Member for Norwich, he could venture to give an opinion. He left that entirely to the House, but having been called on to state what he knew of the facts he had done so as well as he could.
§ MR. HOWES
said, he hoped to represent his present constituency for many years, but he trusted that he should not have the pleasure of receiving so large an addition to their numbers as would be the consequence of disfranchising the city of Norwich. The constituency of South Norfolk already numbered 8,000 voters, and that was quite a sufficient burden on the shoulders of any representative. After what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gathorne Hardy), it was not for him to oppose the Motion before the House; at the same time he must express his regret that greater pains were not taken to inquire into the errors that were said to have been committed. He would make no reflections on the ruling of the learned Judge who tried the petition, but it was a mistake to assume that the Liberal candidate was the favourite and popular candidate. On the contrary, he did not believe there was a more unpopular man in Norwich than Mr. Tillett, although, no doubt, much of this was due to the share he had in the petition. All parties were agreed that Sir Henry Stracey was perfectly innocent of any participation in corrupt practices. At the same time it could not be denied that some of his supporters had bribed to a certain extent. He believed, however, that the amount spent in bribery was exceedingly small, and that the number of persons who had accepted bribes was also very limited. Now, if a Commission were appointed, and it should be found that there had after all been only a few cases of bribery, and that the sum given did not exceed 2s. 6d. per man, the effect would only be to throw ridicule upon the appointment of a Royal Commission, and to leave a strong sense of injury on the minds of the inhabitants, who would be saddled with the expenses, not one farthing of which would fall upon the guilty parties. He might pursue these remarks much 17 further, but after the opinion expressed by his right hon. Friend, he should not oppose the Motion.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as followeth:
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave humbly to represent to Your Majesty, that Sir Samuel Martin, knight, one of the Barons of the Court of Exchequer, and one of the Judges selected for the trial of Election Petitions, pursuant to the Parliamentary Elections Act, 1868, has reported to the House of Commons, that corrupt practices did prevail at the last Election for the City of Norwich, and that there is reason to believe that corrupt practices did extensively prevail at the said Election.
We therefore humbly pray Your Majesty, that Your Majesty will be graciously pleased to cause inquiry to be made pursuant to the Provisions of the Act of Parliament passed in the sixteenth year of the reign of Your Majesty, intituled, "An Act to provide for more effectual inquiry into the existence of Corrupt Practices at Elections for Members to serve in Parliament," by the appointment of George Morley Dowdeswell, esquire, one of Her Majesty's Counsel, Horatio Mansfield, esquire, Barrister at Law, and Robert John Biron, esquire, Barrister at Law, as Commissioners for the purpose of making inquiry into the existence of such corrupt practices.
§ Address to be communicated to The Lords, and their concurrence desired thereto.