§ MR. COBB
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he received an official letter from the clerk to the Southam Bench of Magistrates, dated 31st July, and, since then, a Report of the observations made officially and publicly by the clerk at the meeting of the Bench on 4th August; whether, in such observations as reported, the clerk to the Magistrates publicly and officials insinuated that—The manners and morals of the chosen of the people at St. Stephen's have fallen to a very low ebb indeed,and specially attacked the conduct of the Liberal Party in the House of Commons; whether the official letter, after replying to questions from the Home Office, and (inter alia) truly stating that the Lord Lieutenant of the county was exceedingly careful to see that the Commission of the Peace only contained the names of gentlemen—Free from any suspicion of bias through local, personal, or Party feeling,went on at considerable length to attack the public and political conduct, and to impugn the motives of the Member of Parliament for that division of the county; whether he is aware that a very strong feeling exists in the district that it is not conducive to the impartial administration of justice, or to the proper conduct of the business of the Bench, that the clerk should be permitted publicly, and in his official capacity, to write letters or make observations showing any party bias or attacking either Political Party; and whether he will communicate with the Lord Lieutenant of the county, and the Chairman of the Southam Bench, with reference to the conduct of the clerk?
§ MR. MATTHEWS
The answer to the first, second, and third paragraphs is in the affirmative. I have no information on the fourth paragraph. The introduction by the Magistrates' clerk into his letters to me answering an official inquiry, of personal comments on the hon. Member, appeared to me unbecoming and improper; but it is no part of 710 my duty to inform the Lord Lieutenant or the Chairman of facts with which they are fully acquainted, and which are outside my jurisdiction.