HC Deb 10 March 1884 vol 285 cc1047-50

said, that he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade a Question of which he had given him private Notice—namely, Whether he has made any inquiries, or whether he proposes to take any steps in reference to Mr. Messent, the Official Receiver of the Ipswich district, with regard to whom the hon. Member for Evesham (Mr. Dixon-Hartland), in a speech in that House on Friday last, had used the following words:— He was at one time so successful in business at Birmingham that he was obliged to ask for the indulgence of his creditors?


Sir, I have received a letter from Mr. Messent, the Receiving Officer of the Ipswich district, to the following effect:— I enclose a copy of a letter I have addressed to Mr. Dixon-Hartland. I am not clear whether that gentleman meant that I have compounded with my creditors, or that I have asked for time to meet my engagements. In either case my denial is equally emphatic, and extends both to my creditors as a body, or to every individual among them. Upon the suggestion of Lord George Hamilton that I was a stranger imported here by Mr. Collings, I may observe that the greater part of my life has been spent in this town, in which I was born, and from which I believe I have never been away for three months in succession. I am not aware that Mr. Collings knew I was connected with the neighbourhood until several months after I had left Birmingham, and returned here to reside, which I did in April, 1881. I think the House will share with me the regret that so serious an attack should have been made on a public official without sufficient investigation. With the permission of the House, I wish to make two other corrections arising out of this debate. It was stated that Mr. George Mallam, who was appointed Receiver for Oxford, was the political agent for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department. I have to-day received a letter from Mr. Hughes, who is, I believe, the Mayor of Oxford, and who said that Mr. Dixon-Hartland appeared to have remarked that the person appointed to the office of Receiver had acted as agent for the Secretary of State for the Home Department. He added that Mr. George Mallam, who was appointed Receiver, never acted for Sir William Harcourt. It was Mr. Thomas Mallam who was his agent. Mr. Hughes goes on to say that when he received a letter from the Board of Trade asking for information as to the fitness of Mr. Mallam for the appointment, he called a meeting of the Estates Committee, consisting of all the members of the Town Council, and a very prominent Conservative proposed that Mr. Mallam's appointment should be approved. This was carried, and the only member who voted against the Motion was a Liberal. The letter concluded by saying that, all things being taken into consideration, there could be no doubt that Mr. George Mallam was the most eligible candidate, he having done more bankruptcy work than any other man in the town. I have also received a letter from Mr. Herbert Bramley, who complains that I was reported to have said of him that he had acted as agent for both political Parties. He informs me that he has been recently an active worker for the Conservative side, but that he never received from them any remuneration for his services. He was, however, my political agent, and I have remunerated him, though not at all beyond the services which he rendered to me. I am very sorry to have troubled the House on this matter; but I think the House will see that it is necessary, in consequence of the failure of the hon. Member for Evesham (Mr. Dixon-Hartland) to give me any Notice beforehand of the cases he intended to bring forward.


gave Notice that, tomorrow, he would ask Mr. Attorney General, Whether he had brought under the consideration of the hon. Member for Evesham the following words said to have been used by the hon. Member in the debate on Friday last:— Take the last election for Hereford. After the last election, a petition was presented asking that the two Members returned for that place might he unseated; but it was withdrawn at the last moment, in consequence of an arrangement signed on behalf of the Liberal Party by Mr. Scobie. He would ask, whether the Attorney General was prepared to assent to the appointment of a Committee to test the accuracy of this statement; and what steps he proposed to take to secure purity of election, and to vindicate the character of Members of that House?


I rise to say that I was not in my place on Friday night when the hon. Member for Evesham (Mr. Dixon-Hartland) referred to the circumstances connected with the Election Petition at the city of Hereford. Had I been in my place, I should have risen to say that I was not connected at all with the withdrawal to which he alluded, and that any agreement which might have been entered into was entered into without my knowledge, authority, or consent. I beg to say also, at the same time, that I think the hon. Member for Evesham, if he is in his place, can bear witness that my Colleague and myself resisted every pressure that was brought upon us to be connected in any way with any compromise.