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what had likewife fallen from Mr. Jenkinson in the early part of the debate, he concluded by obferving, he should enter more fully into the principle of the bill when it was properly before the Houfe.
Mr. Bearcroft rofe in great anger at the idea of this country having fallen fo low that any member, however noble, or of however long ftanding in that House, fhould object to a bill being brought in, because it had in its title his Majefty's European dominions." He was replied to by
Sir James Erfkine, who ftated the term made ufe of by Lord North, and not as Mr. Bearcroft had misunderstood it.
The Sollicitor-General faid a few words in defence of the bill, when the queftion being put for difcharging the order, it was carried in the negative. Mr. Pitt then brought up the bill, and it was read the firit time,
Tueday, February 8. SEAFORTH ELECTION. Upon the queftion being put for the hearing the petition against the election for Seaforth on the 8th of March, Sir Peter Parker moved for its being put off to the 26th of May, that the honourable member against whom the petition was preferred might have time to enter a proper defence againft it, and not be deprived of his right to a feat in that Houfe by the rapidity with which his antagonists feemed to wish to bring it forward, being, as he fuppofed, ready prepared with their charges, while his honourable friend had to arrange his defence.
Mr. Fox thought there was fufficient time between this and the 8th of March. Seaforth was at no very great diftance from London, and whatever evidence was thought neceffary to be brought from thence, must be conveyed to town long before the appointed time. He was for having the reprefentation of the people in parlia ment as complete as poffible, and as foon as pofiible; therefore he fhould always prefer an early day. That this petition from Seaforth fhould have a peedy termination, was doubly neceffary: for he believed at this very
time one of its late chofen members had vacated his feat for that place, and now actually reprefented another refpectable part of this kingdom: this being the cafe, the fooner their petition was determined upon, the better. He had introduced one a few days fince himself, and that House had allowed him exactly the fame time this was to have; a month to a day. Why a fitting member fhould require an extenfion of time, he did not know, nor would he ever be a friend to allowing it.
Mr. Marsham likewife was of opinion, the first day named was at a fufficient diftant period, and the fooner it was decided upon the better.
The Marquis of Graham faid, there was a material difference between the cafe on which the right honourable gentleman (Mr. Fox) had introduced his petition, and the prefent; his was for a contested election; whereas the prefent wifhed to make the election void, by ftating it had been made on an improper day; therefore, as the cafes bore no analogy, it was abfurd to argue the fame principle as to time which ought to be preferved; as theproper evidence neceffary for the one, being of an intricate nature, might take three times as long to procure, as that which came under the common and general circumstances.
Sir James Johnftone and Lord Mahon fupported Sir Peter Parker's motion, while Mr. Pelham and Mr. Eden declared for an early day; but, previous to the Speaker's putting the queftion, Sir Peter gave up the point, and the 8th of March was appointed,
The bill for allowing the importation of bread, flour, and live cattle into Newfoundland from America, was then read a second time, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer moved for its being committed to-morrow, which drew up Mr. Fox, who obferved, that although the title of the bill had been given up, yet the principle of it was of too extenfive a nature, even with refpect to Newfoundland, to pafs over without being properly difcuffed; and as he thought
was the moft proper time, he was forry the honourable gentleman feemed fo defirous to prefs it forward in fuch hafte. It might, perhaps, be found neceffary to call perfons to the bar, who were more converfant with the poffible effects the bill was likely to be of, than any member in that Houfe could be: fhould this be found the cafe, and as it might not be in their power to obtain the attendance of thofe perfons by to-morrow; yet ftill the honourable gentleman be determined to bring it forward, why then he muft content himself with taking it up in the next ftage, though he confeffed he did not conceive it would be quite fo proper. He did not wish for a long delay; he would propofe Thursday or Friday. This was only poftponing it for a fingle day, and that he apprehended could not be productive of any material confequence.
Mr. Baring and Mr. Watfon faid a few words upon it, when Mr. Pitt faid he certainly fhould not contend with the right honourable gentleman for a fingle day, and therefore moved that it fhould be committed on Thursday, which was agreed to.
previous to its entering the committee, the 16th of June, and had continued it from day to day, attending punctually himself: it had commenced in St. Anne's parish, where they had fcrutinized about 100 votes, and then adjourned to St. Martin's; in this parifh about 210 objections had been difcuffed, Sir Cecil Wray having fucceeded against 81, and Mr. Fox 60: that the principal caufe of the delay was the long examination of witnesses, and ftill longer crofs examinations, together with the long arguments by the counfel on both fides, on points of law; this protraction, however, he thought unavoidable, becaufe having no power to administer an oath, crofs examinations were fometimes found neceffary to obtain the truth; the attendance of witneffes was entirely voluntary, nor could he compel any one to give evidence, provided he was not fo inclined. The fcrutiny having been ordered by that House, he did not think he could make a return, but was bound to continue it, although by making a return he should be relieved from a very troublefome office; nay, even though the Houfe fhould withdraw their authority for its continuance, and he was perfectly at liberty, he fhould then require fome time to confider how far he could do it in juftice to the party who had demanded the fcrutiny, as he was not able to determine from the experience he had had in the two parishes, because the fuggeftions of bad votes had not depended on thofe, but were ftated to exift in St. Margaret's and St. John's; and if the petitioners did not carry a great majority upon the balance when they had gone through thofe parishes, he was certain they would think it prudent to decline profecuting it any farther.-He admitted, that one ground for his granting the fcrutiny was the numbers on the poll fo far exceeding any election before; and yet he confeffed that in the parish of St. Anne's, which was the only parish yet entirely decided upon, his opinion did not appear founded in fact. At the election of Trentham and Vandeput there were only 710 polled in that parish; the numbers on the late election were 906,
The order of the day was then read for the attendance of the high-bailiff of Westminster, who being called to the bar, was ordered to ftate to the House, in what manner he had proceeded, with refpect to the Weftminfter fcrutiny, fince he had received the refolutions of that Houfe: to which he replied, that not having expected he fhould be called upon for a regular detail, he had come totally unprepared for that purpofe; but that he was ready to answer any question the right honourable Houfe might think proper to put to him: which mode being acceded to, Mr. Welbore Ellis began.
[To avoid the prolixity of queftion and answer, we fhall felect the fubftance of the high-bailiff's replies to the different interrogatories put by the different members.]
That he had proceeded on the fcrutiny as foon as poffible, which was on
and yet he did not know of any increafe of houses in that parish to ac count for the additional votes. The ftate of the poll at St. Anne's was 364 for Sir Cecil Wray, and 541 for Mr. Fox; Sir Cecil objected to 71, and fucceeded in 25; Mr. Fox objected to only 32, and 26 of them were ftruck off the poll.-Judging from the time which had been already taken up in difcuffing the votes objected to in the first two parishes; and fuppofing the prefent mode was to be continued, he was certain it could not be ended in lefs than two years more; two papers had been put into his hands at St. Martin's veftry, from the friends of Sir Cecil Wray, containing fome propofitions for accelerating the bufinefs; but he could not fpeak to their purport, having paid very little attention to them, leaving them to the difcuffion of the counfel; they had been rejected, on Mr. Fox's counfel convincing him the propofitions were not calculated to answer the propofed purpose, and he did not think himself authorifed to make any regulations, unlefs both parties were agreed. He did not recollect, whether Mr. Hargrave gave his opinion against them or not, or whether Mr. Fox's counfel had propofed any others when thofe were rejected. He declared he was by no means poffeffed of fufficient authority to prevent the delays which had hitherto taken place; juftice might be done in the court where he prefided, but witneffes had often behaved very rudely to him, in his judicial capacity, and had treated him, for his want of power, with contempt, as he confidered himself unable to keep proper decorum; he indeed thought himfelf juftifiable in ordering the attendance of the conftables even during the poll, but that authority expired with the date for his return of the precept. He denied knowing any evidences had been convicted of afferting a falfity, though feveral had been reprehended by Mr. Fox's counsel for prevarication, and their teftimony abandoned by Sir Cecil Wray's for their behaviour; Koller, among others; but then no decihion had been given in favour of Kol
ler's teftimony alone-believed justice might now be done without the affiftance of counsel, but did not think that would accelerate the fcrutiny, as the electors themfelves might retard the bufinefs, by asking questions of the witneffes. He granted one instance had occurred where a voter had been ftruck off the poll by there being fome mistake in the entry of the name of the ftreet, who had afterwards applied to have his franchise established; nor could he deny but it was poffible there might be others in the fame predicament, as the legality of their votes were decided in his abfence, nor did he ever fummons them when they were attacked. He had heard the friends. of both parties exclaim against the largenefs of the expences; he believed they might be very great, but he knew not to what amount; his affeffor had ten guineas per day, and there were nine clerks who had half a guinea per day, all of which were paid by the agents of Lord Hood and Sir Cecil Wray; and he could not speak to the amount of their other expences; he pofitively denied his receiving any emolument for his own trouble, or being in expectation of receiving any reward for it, either for himself or any part of his family. Was he entirely at liberty to make the return, upon his prefent ideas, he should be very doubtful; but, as it was, he conceived himfelf acting under the authority of that honourable House, and in obedience to their orders could not make it. Previous to the meeting of parliament, he had granted the fcrutiny by the authority which he conceived to be vested by law in every returning officer. He ftated, Mr. Hargrave had been his first affeffor; and the only reafon he knew for that gentleman's having quitted that station, was, that it interfered materially with his other avocations. He never heard him affign any other reafon; not even on the last day after he had agreed to continue, till all the votes had been decided upon in St. Martin's parish; he knew that Sir Cecil's counfel had expreffed great fatisfaction at his quitting his fituation. He thought there might be fome mode
adopted that would bring the fcrutiny to a fpeedy conclufion, and he was induced to maintain this idea from the contest between Trentham and Vandeput, after prefidents had been eftablished and matters arranged, being finally terminated in lefs than five months; but then it could only be done with the mutual confent and defire of both parties.
The above is nearly the fubftance that was given by Mr. Corbett in reply to the interrogatories which were put to him by Mr. Ellis, Lord North, Mr. Pelham, Sir W. Dolben, Lord Surrey, Mr. Sheridan, Col. Fitzpatrick, Mr. Fox, Lords Mahon and Mulgrave, Sir L. Kenyon, &c. In the courfe of the examination, feveral altercations took place on the propriety of queftions that were put, which occafioned the high-bailiff to be often ordered away from the bar, and then recalled. At the conclufion, Mr. Pelham rofe, and conceived it would be only treating Mr. Corbett with that degree of lenity, which many had experienced from that Houfe, to fuffer the evidence which he had given to be read over to him, as, though he did not mean to charge Mr. Corbett with having wilfully given a contradictory teftimony, yet he believed there would be found many parts, on its being read over, that would not perfectly agree with each other; he thought it, therefore, would be an act of justice to ask him if he chofe to have it read over, that he might have an opportunity of correcting any unintentional errors that it might contain.
Lord Mulgrave thought the whole intent and purpofe of examination at the bar of that Houfe would be done away, if it was to become a practice for every perfon to have an opportunity to erafe that part of their evidence which was the only part that tended to the point for which they had been called to the bar and examined. He would not contend that it had not been permitted; but he did not recollect a fingle inftance ever having occurred fince he had been in parliament. He was very far from objecting to Mr. Corbett's being fo far indulged, be
caufe his evidence had been the cleareft and moft unembarraffed that he had ever heard given, and he was therefore fure no ill confequence could be apprehended from it, but he hoped it would never become a general practice.
A defultory converfation now took place between Mr. Welbore Ellis, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr., Eden, and others, on the motion of Mr. Pelham," That the contradictory evidence of the high-bailiff might be once more read over to him.' The Speaker at length fettled the difpute, by ordering the high-bailiff to be called in again, and afked, "Whether he had any more information to offer to the Houfe?" The bailiff answering in the negative, he was told to withdraw, and Francis Hargrave, Efq. ordered to the bar; who ftated the period of time he had ferved as affeffor in the fcrutiny, viz. from May 28, 1784, to January 12, 1785. The tenour of his whole evidence, which was of extreme length, went most fully to prove the incompetency of the court of fcrutiny to decide upon the merits of the election, from the total want of power in the high-bailiff, or his af feffor; the fhameful and indecent prevarication of witneffes, the impoffibility of compelling them to give teftimony, or to produce deeds or writings, neceffary to elucidate any point under the difcuffion of that impotent court.
Sir Lloyd Kenyon here obferved, that though the high-bailiff did not know his own power, he would venture to affert, that offenders might be punished who mifbehaved in any court in this kingdom.
Mr. Fox, Lord North, and Mr. Burke treated this extraordinary doctrine with great freedom and farcasm; and on Mr. Hargrave's being recalled to the bar, refpectively drew from that learned gentleman an unequivocal declaration, "That he knew no law of the land, that empowered the highbailiff to punish any defcription of of fenders whatever!"
Mr. Murphy was next called in, who faid he was the fucceeding affeffor to Mr. Hargrave; and confirmed all the points of incompetency in the
high bailiff's court of jurifdiction, as ftated by his predeceffor. He faid no unnecessary procrastination took place; and according to the prefent fyftem, it might be two years, nay, he did not know how long, before the fcrutiny was brought to a decifion. Upon an average, he could only decide upon two votes a day, each vote being as a new caufe at nifi prius before Lord Mansfield. If he were to propofe a plan of alteration, he fhould recommend the mode before a committee of the House of Commons as a model.Here a variety of queftions were put to him refpecting the expediency of counfels' fpeeches; to which Mr. Murphy not anfwering very explicitly, Mr. Fox infifted upon the laft, that the witness fhould give a plain anfwer to a plain queftion.
Lord Mulgrave rofe in great warmth to fpeak to order; ironically charging the right honourable gentleman with an indecent attack on the refpectable and learned witnefs at the bar.
Mr. Marsham rofe, and requested that the bufinefs might be difcuffed with temper and coolnefs. That if any warmth could be admitted, that of the right honourable gentleman, whofe interefts were fo nearly concerned, might furely plead for extenuation. Great ftrefs had been laid on the indelicate treatment of Mr. Murphy; but he recollected Mr. Hargrave, a gentleman at least equally refpectable, had complained of a laugh in the Houfe, which he thought pointed at him; and yet gentlemen on the other fide had not taken the alarm, and thought it incumbent upon them to rife, in fupport of his wounded feelings!
Mr. Fox rofe after Mr. Marsham, and said in substance nearly as follows: "No man is more ready to apologize for any impropriety than I am. To my honourable friend who fpoke laft, I am obliged very much for the manner in which he has placed me, relative to this bufinefs; but I beg leave to declare, that I feel utterly unconfcious of hav ing done any thing neceffary to apologize for. I afferted, and now re-affert, that I thought I faw an unwillingnefs in Mr. Murphy to give a plain answer
to a plain queftion. More I faid not than this; and one tittle less than this I fhall never fay upon the fubject. I meant no reflection upon Mr. Murphy. A thousand reafons might operate to prevent a plain answer, without any criminality in the perfon refufing; and while I confefs that comments on the moment a witness is giving evidence, are not regular, I am perfectly fatisfied that it is a regularity which never yet was adhered to in the course of any examination. With refpect to my ideas of Mr. Murphy, I profess that every fentiment I entertain of him from any portion of perfonal knowlegde, or any thing I have been in the habit of hearing of him from my youth, has been much in his favour. If I could be perfuaded to entertain a prepoffeffion against him, fuch a converfion of opinion could only arise from the circumftance of his being brought to fill the place of Mr. Hargrave; a man celebrated for his learning, diftinguifhed for his integrity, and with fo nice a fenfe of rectitude, that if he ever deviated into error, it has only been from an excefs of delicacy-with a knowledge of the laws of England, furpaffed by none of his Majefty's first law officers [looking towards the Mafter of the Rolls]. Such an event only could alter my favourable fentiments of Mr. Murphy, because the removal of Mr. Hargrave affords prefumption that fomething is meant to be perpetrated, to which his high character is a pledge to the country, that he cannot be prevailed upon to lend himself. With refpect to the interruption created by the noble lord, and the cenfure which he has endeavoured to pronounce against me to his hearers, I fhall only remark, that if the noble lord affumes the office of cenfor in this Houfe, and if it be neceffary to the politenefs of this affembly that fuch an officer fhould be appointed, the noble lord may make himfelf fecure of my vote, for there is no perfon under the lafh of whose reprehenfion I fhall feel lefs, than under that of the noble lord. My honourable friend, Mr. Marfham, has faid, that warmth fhould be allowed to me on the prefent occafion; whe