HL Deb 14 April 1859 vol 153 cc1688-9

hoped their Lordships would extend their indulgence to him for a few minutes, while he referred to a matter somewhat personal to himself. He was the more reluctant to trespass upon the patience of the House because he knew that their Lordships had assembled in greater numbers than usual for a far different purpose; but he had always understood that whenever a member of their Lordships' House was put in a position whereby his motives were liable to misconstruction, their Lordships were accustomed to afford the earliest opportunity for removing any imputation which might seem to attach to him. On Tuesday last a Motion was made by a noble and learned Lord (Lord Campbell) which certainly in effect called in question the proceedings of a Committee of which he (Lord Ebury) was the Chairman. He regretted that he was not in the House at the time, for he was not only willing to share in the general responsibility which attached to the individual members of the Committee, but to take to himself all the especial responsibility which attached to him in consequence of his being the Chairman of the Committee. The circumstances which gave rise to the Motion took place ten days ago. The Committee concluded its sittings on a Monday between two and three o'clock, and as he did not suppose that any notice was likely to be taken of their proceedings in the House, and having occasion to go into the country, he requested a noble Friend to present the Report of the Committee formally to the House. When the notice of the noble and learned Lord's Motion was sent to him, it was sent to his town house, and not to his country residence; and it was not until he saw the report of what had occurred in the House in the newspapers that he was aware there was any motion for the purpose of referring the matter back to the Committee. He had no intention whatever of seeking to reverse the decision which had been arrived at. He understood the Committee were blamed because they did not hear all the evidence which was tendered, nor hear counsel sum up the case, The fact was, that the opponents of the Bill adduced evidence which it took a whole day to hear, and at the termination of that day it struck both the Committee and himself that the testimony given against the Bill entirely proved the case of the promoters; and, under those circumstances, he indicated on the following morning that, with respect to the points on which they had heard evidence, the Committee were perfectly satisfied, but that they were ready to hear any evidence upon other points. Another day's evidence was received; but the additional witnesses only accumulated evidence upon the points already settled. On that ground the Committee thought proper to stop the case—on the ground that the testimony adduced against the Bill really went to justify the allegations of the preamble. He did not, therefore, acquiesce in the decision of the House, but he did not desire to alter it. He assured the House that he never saw a Committee more patient or more anxious to do justice to all parties. It had been his lot to perform an honourable, arduous, and it now appeared an invidious duty, and he accepted and took upon himself, without reluctance or hesitation, the whole responsibility of the proceedings of the Committee.


said, that no blame whatever was cast upon the noble Lord or the other members of the Committee. What had been stated was, that the case had been decided before the whole of the evidence had been heard, and the decision of their Lordships was grounded upon that fact.