§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
I beg to move—That it be referred to a Select Committee of Seven Members to consider whether Mr. Octavius Vaughan Morgan is disqualified from sitting and voting as a Member of this House, under the Statute 22 George 3, c. 45, and to report their opinion thereon.At the last General Election Mr. Morgan was returned for Battersea by a majority of 712 over the Conservative candidate (Mr. J. E. Cooke). Mr. Morgan is a member of the firm of Morgan Crucible Company—a private firm which holds contracts with various Government Departments. Having regard to the provisions of 22 Geo. III. c. 45, however, Mr. Morgan entered into a bonâ fide agreement, before his nomination, with his partners whereby he ceased to have any interest in such contracts. After Mr. 840 Morgan had taken the Oaths, a Member of the House informed him of a contemplated movement to question the legality of his election, upon the ground of his being a Government contractor. He also received the following letter from the Battersea Central Conservative Registration Association:—Dear Sir,—I feel that I should thus acquaint you that we are in possession of the fact that, on the 27th November last, the day you were declared the elected Member for this borough, you were legally incapacitated from being elected a Member of Parliament, in consequence of your firm being Government contractors. In giving you this intimation, I am only actuated by a desire that the necessary steps should be taken, with as little delay as possible, to remedy this unfortunate state of affairs, both pleasantly and without resort to those legal remedies which are duly provided for by law, and which I have reason to believe will be resorted to if necessary.Yours faithfully,CHAS. WM. MUNSLOW.No Petition was lodged, however, within the time prescribed by the Statute, or at any other time, complaining of Mr. Morgan's return; but having regard to the very penal nature of the Statute 22 Geo. III., and the intimation that proceedings would be taken against him if he sat and voted in the House, he sought legal advice, and was advised that, as the threatened proceedings affected his privileges as a Member of the House, he should follow the precedent adopted in Sir Sydney Waterlow's case in 1869, and ask for an inquiry by a Select Committee as to whether he was or was not a Government contractor within the provisions of the Statute I have mentioned at the time of his election. The course pursued in Sir Sydney Waterlow's case will be found reported on page 190 of Hansard's Parliamentary Debates, Third Series, vol. 194, 32 Viet. It may be mentioned, also, that in the case of Mr. Somes, the large shipowner, who was returned for Dartmouth in the year 1844, and who held Government contracts previous to his election, but who, previous to his nomination, transferred all his interest in his business to his nephews, a Petition was presented against his return, questioning the bona fides of the proceedings between himself and his nephews; and, although the transfer was not quite completed, the Committee held that he was duly elected, as he had ceased to have any interest in the contracts before his election. The 841 case of Baron Rothschild and other cases are referred to in the debate on the Waterlow case. This morning Mr. Morgan received another letter, as follows:—Battersea Central Conservative Registration Association.Dear Sir,—I am instructed by the Executive of this Association to forward you a copy of a resolution passed by them at their meeting last evening, and I trust you will give it your serious consideration.Tours faithfully,CHAS. W. MUNSLOW.
The resolution inclosed in this letter is as follows:—
That Battersea being at this moment practically unrepresented in the House of Commons, this meeting respectfully asks Mr. Morgan to immediately get his position defined, and, in the interest of the constituency, either take his seat or get his seat vacated,
Mr. Morgan is himself anxious to adopt this suggestion, and I hope, therefore, that I shall have the support of hon. Members to the Resolution of which I have given Notice.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That it be referred to a Select Committee of Seven Members to consider whether Mr. Octavius Vaughan Morgan is disqualified from sitting and voting as a Member of this House, under the Statute 22 George 3, c. 45, and to report their opinion thereon."—(Sir John Lubbock.)
§ Motion agreed to.