HL Deb 09 May 1842 vol 63 cc252-6
The Marquess of Normanby

had now to request their Lordships' attention to the subject which he had mentioned just before the rising of the House on Friday last. But before he put the question to the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Londonderry) of which he had given notice, he begged to say one word as to the order of their proceedings. He found the other night that a disposition was shown to adhere strictly to a rule of the House to which, on previous occasions, he had not observed that much regard had been paid. He had no objection to raise upon that point, provided that the application of the rule were made stringent and uniform, and to extend to all cases without exception. He owned however, that he had felt the other evening a strong feeling of disappointment, mingled perhaps, with other feelings, when he found that hon. men who came forward at the earliest moment to repeal unfounded aspersions upon their character, were prevented by the rules of the House., and by the backwardness of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Londonderry) their accuser, to whom with a generous confidence they had trusted to make their de-Fence as public as he had made the charge —he regretted, he said, to find that men, so aspersed and so anxious to defend themselves, were prevented by the rules of the House, and by the noble Marquess's backwardness, from entering upon the vindication of their character and reputation at the earliest possible moment. Acting under that feeling, he had determined to afford to those gentlemen an opportunity of putting their vindication before the House upon record, and of rendering their denial of the charge brought against them, as public as the charge itself. He merely mentioned this, in reference to the order of proceeding, that had been adopted on a previous evening. Upon the present occasion, he was ready to confine himself, and he thought it would be most advisable, that the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Londonderry) should also confine himself, to this single and simple point, "Does the noble Marquess adhere to, or is he inclined to retract, the accusation he made against the magistrates of Sunderland on a former evening?" He had no objection to enter again into the general question, upon the proper occasion, but he appealed to their Lordships whether, that evening, it would not be more desirable, that they should confine themselves to the specific point to which he had adverted? He asked this, because the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Londonderry) had intimated an intention of referring to some other points. He certainly thought it was incumbent upon the noble Marquess to prove or retract the aspersions he had already thrown upon the character and reputation of a body of honourable men, before he proceeded to throw out any more. He believed, that there would be no dispute as to the words which the noble Marquess had used on the occasion. His recollection exactly confirmed what these gentlemen alleged the noble Marquess had said of them. It was true, that he was not paying much attention to what fell from the noble Marquess, but all the reports of the newspapers in which any notice was taken of the noble Marquess's speech, were substantially the same; and, indeed, he understood, the other evening, that the reason of the noble Marquess for resisting the appeal which was made to him, to vindicate the conduct of the gentlemen he had accused, was, that he was prepared to maintain the truth of all that he had asserted against them. With these preliminary remarks, he would proceed to read, as part of his own statement, and as a reason for venturing to put the question with which he should conclude, to the noble Marquess, a statement which had been put into his hands as the defence of the magistrates of Sunderland against the charge which the noble Marquess had made against them. It was in these terms:— Mayor's Chamber, Sunderland, May 4, 1842. At a meeting of magistrates of the borough of Sunderland—Present, Richard Spoor in the chair (in the absence of Sir Hedworth Williamson, Bart., the mayor, who is now in London), Andrew White, John Lotherington, Joseph Brown, Joseph Simpson, Richard White, Edward Backhouse, William Bell, Walker Featherstonhaugh; An extract from the Morning Chronicle, of the 30th ult. having been read, in which the Marquess of Londonderry is represented to say, in his place in Parliament, ' That the late Government appointed ten magistrates in Sunderland, all of whom were Whigs, and the consequence was, that at the last election they refused a license to every individual who would not vote in accordance with their (the magistrates') Whig principles;' Resolved unanimously,—' That the allegation made, that" the late Government appointed ten magistrates in Sunderland, all of whom were Whigs," is incorrect, two of the gentlemen alluded to, having been, at the time of their appointment, and still continuing, of Conservative principles.' Also resolved unanimously, —' That the allegation made, that" the magistrates at the last election refused a licence to every individual who would not vote in accordance with their (the magistrates') Whig principles" is totally without foundation, the following being a correct statement of the applications made, and the decisions come to on the occasion alluded to, and when not less than four Conservative gentlemen, resident in the borough and in the commission of the peace (the justices for the county of Durham having concurrent jurisdiction with the justices of the borough), were on the bench. The total number of applicants was sixteen. To five of these, licences were granted. One of these five licences was granted to a clerk of one of the most strenuous supporters of the Conservative interest in Sunderland, both master and clerk voting for Mr. Attwood; a second was granted in the same vicinity, which had lately become most densely populated: a third was granted in respect of a very house establishment, which had lately been erected by public subscription, near the seashore, for the accommodation of visitors; a fourth was granted to a widow (without political interest); and the fifth was granted in lieu of an old-established licence held by the applicant, upon condition that the old licence was not renewed, which condition was complied with. ' With regard to the eleven individuals, whose applications were not granted, four voted for Lord Hewick, two for Mr. Attwood, and the remaining five were not voters. One of the two who voted for Mr. Attwood, the Conservative candidate, had previously supported and voted for the Whig party, but in this instance, openly declared his intention to vote for Mr. Attwood, in consequence of his previous applications for a licence having been rejected. In conclusion, the magistrates, though sorry to have occasion to assert it, have ever acted on the principle of discharging all their functions on the bench, whether in the licensing of public-houses, or those more strictly judicial, regardless of party or political considerations, and with reference merely to public duty and justice; and in this course they purpose to persevere.' RICHARD SPOOR, Chairman. This statement of the magistrates, satisfactory as he should have thought it must have been to everybody, was accompanied by the following letter, signed by the chairman of the meeting of the magistrates, Richard Spoor, and addressed to the noble Marquess opposite, repelling, in the most respectful manner, the charges which the noble Marquess had made against the magistracy of the borough. The reason assigned by the noble Marquess the other evening, for not acting upon this letter was, that it proceeded from some six or eight Whig magistrates. Now what would be thought of the knowledge of the noble Marquess on the subject of the magistracy of the county over which he presided as Lord-lieutenant, when the House was informed that the Mr. Spoor who had signed the letter to the noble Marquess was a Conservative? Mr. Spoor's letter to the noble Marquess was in these terms:— Mayor's Chamber, Sunderland, May 4, 1842. My Lord—As chairman of a meeting of the magistrates of this borough appointed by her Majesty's late Government, I have the honour of transmitting to your Lordship a copy of their resolutions. By these your Lordship will perceive either that the newspaper report is incorrect, or that your Lordship has been led into error. In either case I feel convinced that your Lordship will be anxious to correct, in your place in Parliament, on Friday next, any erroneous impression which may have been made on the public mind regarding the conduct of the Sunderland magistracy. I have the honour to remain, my Lord, Your Lordship's most humble and obedient servant, RICHARD SPOOR. The Most Noble the Marquess of "Londonderry, Holderness House."