said, he rose to call the attention of their Lordships to a matter of the highest importance. It appeared from the proceedings as they were recorded in the votes of the other House of Parliament, that the time had now arrived when it was his duty to bring forward the great question to which he had invited their attention towards the close of the last Session; the time had come for him to redeem the pledge which he had then given, that he would call their attention to the corrupt, 200 illegal, and unconstitutional practices that prevailed, and that but too generally, in the election of Members of Parliament. As a preparatory step for moving for the appointment of a committee to undertake this important inquiry, he would now present a bill for furthering inquiry into bribery, corruption, and intimidation, at the election of Members to serve in Parliament; which, when passed into a law, would enable the committee to prosecute the inquiry; and if the bill were not passed, either in the shape in which it was now presented, or in some similar form, it was his clear and decided opinion, it would be wholly in vain to expect any good results from the labours of such a committee. He should have an opportunity of entering more fully into this subject when he came to move the second reading of the bill. Their Lordships would find, that the provisions of this bill went somewhat beyond those of similar measures. He proposed, not only to give protection to witnesses, and to persons who might have evidence to give on the subject, but he proposed to give a discretionary power to the committee to ensure to witnesses an absolute and unqualified indemnity, without which it would be impossible to carry any inquiry to a satisfactory result.
§ Bill read a first time.