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lord John vis not his, during the" it he would proposition concurrence
the House, > in the shape'?
the 26th of
CHA P. IV.
last buvo Bin to prevent Bribery at Elections--Resolutions against Bribery
Lord John Russell's Motion on Parliamentary Reform—Mr. Abercromby's Motion for amending the Representation of EdinburghMotion to Disfranchise non-resident Freemen in Ireland-Resolutions for the Regulation of Private Committees-Mr. Pelham's Motion to hold Parliament occasionally in Dublin and Edinburgh, Privilege of Members not to be summoned on Juries-Restoration of forfeited Scottish Peerages-Debate on Motion to disjoin the Presidency of the Board of Trade from the Treasurership of the Navy-Bill for the Consolidation of the Laws against Theft-Bill to amend the Administration of the Criminal Law-Debate on Motion to allow Counsel to Prisoners on Trial for Felony–Case of Mr. KenrickProceedings regarding the Court of Chancery.
N the 2nd of March, lord of bringing such points before their
John Russell moved for leave consideration might deter private to bring in a bill for the better pre individuals; or it might happen vention of Bribery at Elections. that those who had the means of i He did not seek his object by di doing so were also tainted with: recting new prohibitions against bribery, and shrunk from bringing the giving and taking pf money, on an investigation into the con or propose aggravate the punish- duct of others. Under these cirments by which the existing laws cumstances, the public had not that were already sanctioned ; his pur- degree of security which it had pose seemed rather to be, to invi when the matter was brought be.' gorate those laws by facilitating fore the House to be investigated. the detection of those who might The remedy he proposed was, that be tempted to break them. Every when any party complained of a .; one, he said, knew that, in former corrupt election which had ocdays, the decisions of this House curred within six years before the were so interested and corrupt, as petition had been present, if the to render it necessary to impose on House thought that the petition a select number of members an set forth circumstances requiring obligation to do justice between further investigation, it should apthe parties. This remedy, it was point a committee, consisting of generally admitted, was satisfac- fourteen members and the memitory; and he was ready to admit, ber who presented the petition. that, as between party and party, He did not propose that it was satisfactory, but not as re bers should be struck off, as in garded the public. There were ordinary election committees, but many points into which the com- simply that they should be chosen mittee would not inquire ; and it by lot : that this committee should might happen, that the expenses investigate the circumstances dis.
closed in the petition, and report thought too long. He also obthereon. It would then be for the jected that there was no penalty or House to consider, in each case, punishment assigned to an whether any, and what, ulterior founded charge. A frivolous charge measures ought to be taken. He ought to be visited with costs to could not, he said, be met on the the individual; whereas it was present occasion with the objection, proposed by this bill to charge the which his motions for reform had public with costs. A member of often had toencounter, that his views parliament could not be placed in were vague and general, and that a situation more repugnant to good nothing should be ventured on but feelings. He was sure there was what was specific. Here was a no situation to which he could have great evil
, and here was proposed a greater objection, than to be a specific remedy for it. He, there called upon to inquire respecting fore, moved for leave to bring in a an election, when he had previbill « for the better discovery and ously heard the detail of the cirsuppression of Bribery, and other cumstances from the mouth of one corrupt practices, in the election of of the interested parties. Still, members to serve in parliament.”. notwithstanding what he had felt
The bill was brought in, and on it his duty to say on the subject the moving of the second reading before the House, he would wil(14th March), Mr. Wynn said, lingly give the matter further con that he had many objections against sideration, and perhaps, at a future it, which he feared it would not stage, add some additional obserbe praeticable to remove, so as to vations. render the bill fit for the adoption Mr. Hobhouse, Mr. A. Smith, of the House. The principle of and Mr. Fyshe Palmer supported the bill, as he understood it, was, the bill; the latter recommending that, uponi complaint made to the that the candidate should be bound, House by petition, a select com as well as the elector, to take the mittee should be appointed to try oath that he was free from all the issue, and that their decision bribery, either by fee or 'reward." should be absolute and final. To But the measure never proceeded
there was the obvious objec- farther; for when the report on tion, that the decision of no com the bill was to be taken into con>"} mittee could be binding upon that sideration (28th April), lord John House. The inquisitorial powers Russell stated that it was not his', of the House might be delegated, intention to press it during the" but not the judicial. A body might present session ; but that he would be appointed to bring in a true probably, if such a proposition verdict'as to fact, but the question should meet with the concurrence of corruption was a question of of the other side of the House, 1 influence. All that a committee embody its provisions in the shape could do was, to report to the of resolutions. House; and the House could then Accordingly, on the 26th of 1 either proceed further, or allow the May, the very last day of the "sesmatter to sleep. The bill also gave sion, his lordship moved the twopower to present petitions of com- following resolutions: plaint within six years from the "1. That whenever a petition period of election; and this he shall be presented to this House,
after the expiration of the time House ; and such select committee allowed for presenting petitions shall consist of thirteen members, against the validity of the return to be chosen by lot, according to of any member of this House, by the directions, provisions, rules, any person or persons, affirming and regulations, and subject to the that, at any time within eighteen exemptions for choosing forty-nine calendar months previous to pre- members by lot, contained in the senting the said petition, general various acts to regulate the trials bribery or corruption has been of controverted elections, or returns practised, for the
purpose of pro of members to serve in parliament, curing the election or return of so far as they are applicable thereany member or members to serve to, and of two other members to in parliament for any borough, be appointed by the said House, out cinque port, or place, and it shall of the members then present in the appear to the House, that such pe- said House ; and the thirteen memtition contains allegations suffi- bers so chosen by lot, together ciently specific to require further with the two members to be so investigation, a day and hour shall appointed by the said House, shall be appointed by the said House for be a select committee, and shall taking the said petition into consi- inquire into and try the matter of deration, so that the space of such petition, and shall report twenty days shall intervene be- their opinion thereof, together with tween the day on which the said the evidence given before them, to petition shall have been presented, the said House.” and the day appointed by the said Mr. Wynn said, that he by no House for taking the same into means intended to object to the consideration ; and notice of such principles of the resolutions ; but, day and hour shall be inserted, by as the forms of the House had proorder of the Speaker, in one of the vided a mode of redress for all cases two next London Gazettes, and of abuse, he was averse to entering shall also be sent by him to the upon a general inquiry. Hethought returning officer of the borough, that the desired end would be betcinque port, or place, to which ter obtained by the appointment of such petition shall relate ; and a a local committee, where every true copy of such notice shall, by member who chose might attend, such returning officer, be affixed than by the ordinary mode of proto the door of the town hall, or ceeding by ballot; and he would parish church, nearest to the place suggest to the noble lord, that, as where the election of members to the present was the seventh session serve in parliament for such bo- of parliament, it would be better rough, cinque port, or place, has if he were to reserve his resolubeen usually held.
tions till the next parliament, as “ 2. That, at the hour appointed they would require, at all events, by the said House for taking such to be affirmed by it. He was not petition into consideration, the said aware of the abuse which had been House shall proceed to appoint a adverted to: viz. the distributing -select committee to inquire into of money to the electors after the the truth of the matters contained fourteen days prescribed for the in the said petition, and report the presenting of petitions had elapsed. result of their inquiry to the said if such a case could be brought
forward, the House, he had no praise of being distinct and specidoubt, would order the Attorney- fic, which he had bestowed upon general to prosecute the parties; his bill for the prevention of or if it could be proved that the bribery. The resolution which he great body of electors had partici- proposed for the adoption of the pated in the corruption, the House House was, “That the present might proceed to disfranchise state of the representation of this them. He would repeat his sug- country in parliament requires the gestion to the noble lord, to try most serious consideration of the his experiment in the next parlia- House;" and the line of remark by ment, in the event of any case oc which he supported this propocurring which the resolutions con sition was similar to that which templated. It would then be com he had applied to the same purpose petent for him to move for the
ap on former occasions. He laid down pointment of a select committee, two premises: first, it was a matand to conduct the inquiry in the ter of paramount importance to way which he proposed.
adapt every government to the Mr. Peel, likewise, wished the wants and wishes, the prejudices, consideration of the resolutions to and existing circumstances of the bé delayed until next session. They country for which it was intended. involved matter well worthy the The grand Seignior might safely attention of the House, and he amuse himself with as many decadid not think the last day of a ses- pitations daily as he chose ; but he sion à fitting time either for that could not safely neglect, or refuse, deliberation which they required, to appear before his people at stated or for measures which were to bind intervals which custom had prefuture parliaments. The resolu- scribed. Secondly, the people of tions, in fact, were of so important this country had arrived at a dea character, that full effect ought gree of knowledge, intelligence, to be given to them only by a le- and wealth, which made them a gislative enactment, which could people more worthy, than had ever not take place till next parliament. before existed, of being intrusted But lord John Russell having with the privilege of electing their pressed his motion to a division, as representatives, and more capable he could not be certain of having of exercising it with advantage. å seat in the next parliament, and From these premises, the mover of the numbers on each side being the resolution concluded, that the equal (62), the Speaker gave his House of Commons, as at present casting vote, as is usual in such constituted, was badly constituted, cases, in favour of the resolutions; for, instead of being chosen by the the last breath of the expiring par- more numerous, the more intelliliament being thus spent in prayers gent, and, compared with past for the integrity of its successors. times, the more wealthy class, it
About the same time at which was elected by those who were less lord John Russell gave up the numerous, less intelligent, and less bill for effectuating this particular wealthy. Since, therefore, the improvement, he again brought elective franchise, instead of reforward (27th April) the general maining in the hands of the many, question of parliamentary reform had become the property of a few, in a shape that could not claim the since such a discrepancy between