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a first time, and ordered to be read a second time on Friday.
The Simonbourn rectory bill was read a second time, and ordered to be committeil.
On the motion of Mr. Perceval, the assessed taxes rc. gulation bill was ordered to be printed.
PRIVILEGE. Sir Francis Burdelt said, that now that case had occurred, in which, from what had fallen from the chair on a former nigbt, he understood it would be again his duty to address hiinself to the house ; the practical consequence allıded to had occurred, and it was for the house itself to determine, whether its privileges were or were not to be preserved. The house niust itself decide, if the mere fact of a gentleman's taking a seat in that house, to which he had been elected without solicitation, or even without his knowledge, was to subject him to expence. He submitted this casc again to the house, that they might have no ground to say, that he had been the means of compro. mising any of their privileges; for himself he had nothing to pray.
Sir Arihur Pigott expressed a wish (so far as we could collect it, for he spoke in a very low tone) to know, what were the exact circumstances of which the honourable baronet complained ?
Sir Francis Burdelt stated, that the practical inconvenience to which he now alluded was, au execution having been sent into his house, for what were said to have been expences incurred in the election for Westminster for which he had not been a candidate ; and of his nomination, or indeed election, to which he was almost a stranger till the events had taken place. The ground of the de- ; csion too was the fact of his having taken his seat in that house.
Mr. Perreval apprehended, that his honourable friend opposite (sir Arthur Pigott), had not been in the house on the former night, when this case was brought forward. He had then stated, that whatever the decision might have been, the house were not in a condition to give any redress. Tlie honourable baronet then stated, that the direction of the noble and learned judge was, that the person who ap
peared for sir Francis Burdett and claimed seats for his clerks, sbould be adopted as his agent; because the ho. nourable baronet had since taken his seat in consequence of that election. He (Mr. Perceval) then stated, as he did now, that the house was not in a condition to take ad. vantage of this fact. Had this been the direction of tbe judge, the direct and regular road of proceeding would have been to have applied by writ of error, or on the ground of misdirection on the part of the judge; if wrong or right, the ground of the decision would then have appeared on the record, and would have been seen by the house. The honourable baronet's counsel, however, not having adopted that mode, but having moved for a new trial, which had been refused, no way now remained for bringing the matter with effect
, before the house. It now appeared not to be a case of privilege, in which a member of that house, as such, was interested; but a common case of debt, for work and labour. This circumstance did not arise from any defect in the judge, who tried the case, but from the neglect of the counsel of the honourable baronet.
Sir Arthur Pigott declared himself to be perfectly satisfied this was not a case in which the house could interfere. It was a proceeding in the regular course of justice. If the action in this case could have been entertained at all, it must have been on the ground that it rose out of a contract. The act which allowed the expences of erecting hustings, &c. in the case of counties, 'did not extend to boroughs; yet even there candidates might agree that for their accommodation, or that of tlacir voters, during a contest of 14 or 15 days, hustings should bé erected, the cxpence of which could not reasonably be expected to fall on the high bailiff. The action, therefore, could only be on the contract so supposed to be entered into, and could of course have no relation to the election, so as to make it a matter of privilege to be taken up by that house. This must be a question either of factor of law, and in either case it might have been brought before the court by demurrer, or by bill of exceptious, so as to have the ground of it appear on record. It beboved those who had the legal means of defence in their own hands to go before the judge in a regular manner. If they omitted to do so, it was not for that house to interpose. If the house should be of opinion that it would be improper that a candidate should be on any account at the expence of erecting hasuinys, let it be made the subject of a prospective regulation. But as that was not the case at present, this must be like any other suit founded on a covenant, the effect of which must be construed by the jury.
Ir. Tierney said, it appeared to him, no! wiủhstanding what had fallen from his honourable and learned friend, and from the right honourable and learned gentleman opposite, that the present was a que tion of privilege. He could not admit of the cloctrine, that'the house of commons was not entitled to interfere in the acts of omission or comonission of the courts below, so far as the privileges of the nicmbers of that house were concerned. The case was this ; the worthy baronet was returned without his knowledge, and without any previous consent on his part: the returning officer had no right to make a demand on any candidate for bustings ; but a person whom he supposed to be the agent of sir Francis Burdett baving made use of them when erected, he sues sir Francis for his proportion of these expences; the judge esteems the honourable baronet's taking his seat as a confirmation and approbation of the conduct of the person who appeared on his behalf, in fact as a recognition of him as his agent; he instructs the jury accoklingly, and they, in compliance with this recommendation, find the worthy barone: liable. If these facts were so, he asked, was not this a grave and serious motion of privilege ? or was the house, by refusing to listen to the motion, to sanction the idea, that in complying with an order which he was not entitled to resist, namely, taking a seat when called to it by the electors, every member of that house was to incur a penalty which he bad not contemplated, and which, but for the officious and forward zeal of a person with whom probably the party had no concern, the returning officer had no right to demand ? In saying this much, the honourable member begged to be understood as by no means retlecting on the noble and learned lord who tried the action. Tie knew that there was no person less likely than he to do anything that could seem to infer a breach of the privileges of the house. It was possible, however, that even he might be mistaken. It would be a grievous burden if a member returned to parliament without any personal interference of VOL. III.-1808.
his own, were obliged to shew, as by law he was, not only that be possessed a qualification of 3 or 4001. a year, but also to produce out of his pocket 4 or 3001. to defray the expence of the hustings. He hoped, therefore, the question would not be supposed to lave been disposed of, but that it would be renewed for after-consideration : appear. ing, as it did to him, to be one well worthy of deliberation before a decision was come to upon it.
Mr. Leycester argued that the person who had been held as sir Francis's agent had called on the high bailiff, and, in the name of sir Francis, declared that he would not
рау. for the hustings; yet that this saine person, day after day, a ked, obtained, and availed himself of, the advantage of scais for the check-clerks, inspectors, &c. who were to attend to the banourable baronci's in erests in the election. The honourable member did nos pretend to say what was the recommendation of the judge; but it was hardly probable that it was such as had been represented, else a new trial, wbich had been moved for, would have been granted.
Mr. Bathurst thought it impossible for the house to entertain a question on which they had no authentic information; the recommendation of the judge, which could alone forin the ground of the proceeding, not having entered the record.
The Speaker said, aficr what had passed in allusion to him, it was necessary for him to put the honourable baro. ret right as to what he had stated on a former night. What lie said was, that when any practical inconvenience did arise, if the honourable barojiet continued to think that it involved a question of privilegi, bie should in, that event lose no time in applying to the house. He had no liesitation in saying, that it'any judge should recommend to a jury what could be construed into a breach of the privileges of that house, it was the duty of the house to resist, and to guide their course according to circunstances. As there was no maiion before the house, he should only suggest two different modes of proceeding, both of which had been adopted in the reign of Charles the Second. One was in the case of judge Weston, where an impeachment was ordered; and the other in the same reign, where that measure not being deemed necessary, the matter was allowed to drop without any further dis.
cussion. Those who thought the present a case of the most serious nature, would probably be of opinion, that the former of'these was the preferable mode of proceeding i while others again might be inclined to think that the latter was the most desirable way of disposing of the present question. He had stated what were the modes of proceeding; and it was for the house to say, whether in this case the more or less serious mode ought to be adopted.
Sir Francis Burdett said, the sources from whence he derived his information as to the recommendation of the judge, were the notes of the short-hand writer enployel to take down the trial, and the information of his counsel. He esteemed these as affording him suficient foundation for bringing the matter before the house. thing he had submitted to the house was the instruction of the judge; that the circumstance of his taking his scat, a thing which was incumbent on him, was such an approval and ratification of the proceedings had under the election, as must subject him to the expence of the hustings. He felt himself by no ineans interested in the fate of this discussion. He esteemed it to be the ciuse of the house ; and if he had taken a bill of exceptions, or adopted any other mode of sciiing aside the verdict than that which he now used in submitting the case to the consideration of the house, he should have conceived that he subjected bimself to a severe censure for his co iduct. He now left it to the house to determine as they thought proper. Here the matter dropped.
IRISH CATHOLICS. Mr. Sheridan presented a petition from the Roman-catholic inhabitants of the county of Wexford, praying to be relieved from the disabilities under which the catholic body labour.
Sir John Newport presented a similar petition from the catholic inhabitants of the city of Waterford.
Mr. Butler presented a similar petition from the catholic inhabitants of the county and city of Kilkenny.
Mr. M. Fitzgerald presented a similar petition from the catholic inhabitants of the county of Kerry.
Mr. Shaw presented a petition from the lord mayor, aldermen, and common council, of the city of Dublin against the Roman-catholic claims. All these were ordered to lie on the table.