HL Deb 04 September 1835 vol 30 cc1334-5
Lord Brougham

moved that the Report on the above named Bill should be now received.

The Earl of Wicklow

disapproved of the Bill, which he thought would tend to the encouragement of perjury. Those who had attended to the proceedings of the other House could not fail to perceive the motive of the introduction of the measure. The most inquisitorial proceedings had lately been adopted by the other branch of the Legislature, but as its power was not considered sufficiently extensive, this Bill was introduced to supply the deficiency. A certain influential individual in the assembly to which he alluded had demanded to know the reason why this Bill had not passed into a law; another gentleman had expressed regret that the House of Commons had not sufficient power to punish individuals who refused to answer questions put to them; whilst a third had declared that it was contrary to reason and common sense that witnesses should not be compelled to criminate themselves. He was surprised that a noble Lord who had sat as a judge upon the woolsack, could advocate so arbitrary and unconstitutional a measure. To prevent mischief he would move that the Report be received that day three months.

Lord Brougham

said, that he had on a former occasion expressed his doubts with respect to the propriety of some provisions of the Bill. The experience of the present Session, however, showed that some measure of this kind was necessary, to enable election Committees of the House of Commons efficiently to execute the judicial functions intrusted to them.

Lord Abinger,

according to the experience he had had in the other House of Parliament and in his profession, ventured to say, that if you wanted to get a set of corrupt witnesses, you could not do better than by feeling your way among those who had been guilty of bribery, and who, on obtaining an indemnity, would not fail to accuse other men of like practices. The utmost, in the way of indemnity, that appeared safe and proper, was to establish the rule that nothing that might transpire in consequence of the evidence of an individual in an inquiry relative to bribery or corruption at elections should ever be used in any shape against him. The present Bill went a great deal further, and seemed to him to be a general measure for creating corrupt and profligate witnesses, of whom he was afraid there were too many to be had. He felt considerable doubts whether the measure might not be productive of great mischief, and therefore he was not at all inclined to support it.

Amendment agreed to. Report postponed for three months.