HL Deb 21 March 1834 vol 22 cc496-7

The Earl of Radnor moved the first reading of this Bill, and, stated, that the course he meant to pursue was this.—He should move, that a Message be sent from that House to the House of Commons, requesting a copy of the Report of the Select Committee of that House which had sat on this subject in 1831, and the Report of the Select Committee of the last Session. He hoped, that noble Lords would look at these Reports, and would be satisfied with the account of the evidence there given without requiring a further examination at the Bar of that House. He should move the second reading on Monday, the 28th of April.

Lord Wynford

never could consent to pass such a Bill merely on the report of evidence given before a Committee of the House of Commons. He hoped, that this House would never depart from the ancient practice of examining witnesses themselves, especially, as the noble Earl had said the other night, when they had judicially to decide on the disfranchisement of a borough. He was the last person in the world to wish to defend corruption, but he would not consent to act upon evidence taken in another place. However, to show, that he wished to throw no impediments in the way of this measure or to interrupt the business of the House, he was ready to consent that the evidence should be taken before a Committee up stairs. He, therefore, gave the noble Earl notice, that when the second reading was moved, he should move as an Amendment, that the parties be heard at the Bar of that House.

The Marquess of Salisbury

had the greatest respect for the noble and learned Lord, but he must say, that he objected to to any proceeding before a Committee up stairs, the evidence before which was to be a ground for the House to act in a judicial manner. He thought, it was not expedient to depart from the precedents which had hitherto governed the conduct of their Lordships.

Lord Ellenborough

did not mean to say anything on this question, but suggested to the noble Earl, that as the second reading of the Warwick Bill was fixed for the 24th, and it was not likely that the House could dispose of it by the 28th, the second reading of the present Bill ought to be fixed for some other day, so that the House might proceed from day to day with one, and then take up the other.

The Earl of Durham

saw no reason whatever why the House should agree with this proposition. For once in his life, he agreed with the noble Marquess opposite, that there ought to be no delegation to a Select Committee sitting with closed doors. He wished to ask the noble and learned Lord opposite, what he meant by a Motion that the parties should be heard at the Bar? Did he mean that the parties who promoted the Bill should be heard at the Bar whether they wished it or not? They had not petitioned to be heard. Did the noble and learned Lord mean to conduct the examination?

Lord Wynford

admitted the objection to having the witnesses before a Committee up stairs. To obviate that, and not interrupt the business of the House, he was ready to consent that they should be examined in the morning. In answer to the noble Earl, he said, that what he meant was, that there should be an examination of witnesses in support of the allegations of this Committee. If these allegations were not proved, the Bill would fail. He certainly did not mean to conduct the case. From what he had already seen of this Bill he was satisfied it ought to fail.

The Bill was read a first time.