§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I ask for the indulgence of the House while I make a personal explanation 1009 with reference to a statement which I made on the first day of the Session. I may recall the recollection of the House to the fact that on the Monday following that statement the First Lord of the Treasury declined to grant a Select Committee, and stated that he was fortified in his refusal by information which had reached him to the effect that the issue between the Junior Member for Northampton and the Marquess of Salisbury would be dealt with in legal proceedings then pending. In reply to the right hon. Gentleman I stated that, in my view, there were no legal proceedings pending that could so raise the issue, but that if the Marquess of Salisbury admitted the legal responsibility of the letter signed "R. T. Gunton," dated the 5th of December, and published on the 7th December, in which a charge of wilful perjury was brought against me, I would take care that the issue was at once submitted to a Court of Law. On the 15th of February the First Lord of the Treasury wrote me a letter to the following effect:—Lord Salisbury states that his solicitor, Sir R. Nicholson, 23, Parliament Street, has been instructed to deal with any communication you may wish to make.On the same day I wrote to Sir R, Nicholson in precisely the same terms as my Question to the First Lord of the Treasury, to ask if he was instructed to admit the legal responsibility of the letter signed "R. T. Gunton," dated the 5th of December, and published on the 7th of December, in which a charge of wilful perjury was brought against me. This morning I received from Sir R. Nicholson, as Lord Salisbury's solicitor, a letter which concludes—I received your letter this morning. I beg to say, in answer to your letter of the 25th inst., that Mr. Gunton's letter was not published by Lord Salisbury, or with his authority; and I am not instructed to admit his Lordship's legal responsibility for the publication of the letter.I should not have deemed myself justified in obtruding a personal matter on the House, if it did not involve a charge of deliberate falsehood in relation to a matter which I had stated to the House in the course of debate. I think the House will feel satisfied, a Select Committee having been refused me and a Court of Law denied me, that no further responsibility rests upon me in the matter.