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bation he had received. Under all the posite and his colleagues did or did not circumstances, he thought the motion possess the confidence of the people. If should be acceded to.
it were in the power of the Sheriff to reMr. Bootle Wilbraham thought that fuse to take the decision of a meeting, this was not
a matter in which the material injury would arise, both to the House could constitutionally interfere people and to this House, as it would In cases where the privileges of the prevent them from hearing the sentiments House were concerned, they had the of their constituents. Had the object of power of calling the party offending this motion been to censure the conduct 'to the bar. The sheriff was undoubtedly of the sheriff, he should not have been amenable to the House in all cases of willing to go that length in the first
, inelection, but he was not aware that the stance; but, as it went merely to inquire House could constitutionally exercise any into his conduct, he thought the motion control over the sheriff in other cases. ought to be acceded to. It certainly did not appear from Black- Mr. Wynn' said, that the first point stone, that the sheriff was subject to the upon which the conduct of the sheriff was control of this House in any matters arraigned, was, that he had called a meet'except those connected with the election ing of the nobility, gentry, and frecholof knights of the shire. He begged not ders, and not of the freeholders and into be understood as wishing to abridge habitants. Now, he contended, that in the privileges of the House ; but the facts so doing, the sheriff had only discharged of the present case did not appear to bim his duty; for he believed the practice of to justify their interposition. The sheriff summoning the inhabitants to county was a gentleman whose impartiality and meetings was of very recent date. A purity of conduct were unquestionable. county meeting, in the constitutional He was persuaded that he went to the sense, was a meeting of the freeholders meeting with a firm determination to do of the county, of those persons only who his duty with impartiality. One of the had a right to attend the county court. charges against him was, that he did not As to the charge, that the sheriff'did not summon the inhabitants, though required put the amendment, he really was not 'to do so ; another, that he refused to put aware that the forms of that House, howthe amendmentNow, he did not know ever excellent, were of such high autho'what law there was to compel a sheriff to rity, that every' public meeting in the put the amendment. As to the other kingdom was bound to copy them. It charge, that he refused to divide the appeared that an amendment to the ori. meeting, but contented himself with a ginal address had been proposed by lord shew of hands, the usual mode of taking Grosvenor, and that the sheriff, instead 'the sense of a meeting was by a shew of of putting the amendment in the first inhands, and the constitutional appeal from stance, had taken the sense of the meetthe sheriff's decision was to a poll; but ing upon the original address. Now, he this was a case which did not admit of a really could not see why the sense of the poll. He believed the fact was, that the meeting might not be as fairly collected room in which the meeting took place in this way as by following the forms of was so full, that it was next to impossible that House. There was another charge to divide.' He certainly regretted that against the sheriff, that he had refused a the sheriff had not allowed his noble friend division when it was called for. Now he to be heard ; at the same time he must had heard of a great many county meetobserve that soine expressions which ings, but he had never heard of a division had been used by his noble friend were taking place at such a meeting. The ob. received with strong marks of disappro-jection was perfectly frivolous, and hobation, and might account therefore for ( 'nourable members, who knew how much his not obtaining a hearing. He trusted time a division occupied in that House, the House would not yield to this motion, must be aware that the numbers at a
and by so doing afford a triumph to those county meeting could scarcely be counttribunes of the
people who had liberty in ed on a winter's day. He thought the their mouths, but anarchy in their hearts. sheriff had exercised no more than a
Mr. Curwen said, it was of the utmost legal discretion, and that, whether legal importance, that the right of petitioning or otherwise, bis conduct ought not to should not be violated, that the country become the subject of inquiry in shat might know whether the noble lord op House. VOL. IV.
Lord Belgrape said, he was present at the land, it was vested in one noble individu. meeting, and certainly there was a mate-al, and a countess of Pembroke had acturial difference between the terms of the ally sat as sheriff on the bench with the requisition as it had been read by the Judges. This might seem strange to hon. member for Cheshire, and the terms Englishmen, but not so strange to foreignwhich were actually employed. The hon. ers. He was led to this conclusion, from gentleman had stated it to be a requisi- having the other day, accompanied a ţion for a loyal address to his majesty; foreigner to the House of Lords, who oh but the words of the requisition were, seeing the bench of bishops, had asked, • We, the undersigned, call upon you to “ if they were not peeresses who sat convene a meeting, for the purpose of there in there own right.” If the sheriff declaring to his majesty the sentiments complained of, had been in an error, his of loyalty and attachment to the throne conduct ought to meet with reprehenwhich animate the breasts of the inhabi- sion. He thought the House ought to tants of this county." He was sorry to reprehend the conduct of the sheriff
, hear it denied by the sheriff, that he had and declare that the amendment ought refused to put the amendment; for the to have been put, and the division called fact was, that he had distinctly said, “Ifor granted. take upon myself to refuse putting the Mr. Warre was convinced that the amendment to the meeting" He re- sheriff of Chester had not acted with any gretted that he was obliged to complain intentional partiality, even if he had erred of the conduct of several gentlemen on a point of form. He must therefore with whom he had the pleasure of being oppose the motion. personally acquainted, but without enter- Lord Castlereagh felt that no case had ing into details, he would only observe, been made out to impeach the conduct of that so extraordinary was the behaviour the individual in question. No insinuaof some of those gentlemen, and so great tion had been uttered against the intentions was the confusion, that though he was of the sheriff, and his letter bespoke a close to the chair, he could not hear the mind of the utmost candour and liberali. vote of thanks to the sheriff. The sheriff ty. He protested against the doctrine, withdrew precipitately from the hall, and that whenever a charge was brought for the whole transaction reflected disgrace ward casting cven the remotest doubt, upon the county to which he had the an inquiry ought instantly to be comhonour and the happiness to belong. menced. If the House suffered itself The two important points were, that the to be dragged into such investigations, sheriff had first refused to put the amend they must be interminable. He should ment, and next, that he had not al. be sorry indeed to see county meetings lowed a division, though in truth there in any way discouraged, because from ought to have been little difference of them the public sentiment was to be sentiment, since the address and the collected; but it was to be remembered amendment, rightly viewed, were hardly that, by law, the sheriff was invested distinguishable. He was anxious that with a discretion whether he would of the authority of the sheriffs of counties would not call them, and no more effectushould be supported, as he knew that it al mode could be adopted to induce him was as important to a county that its to 'decide against them, than fo threaten sheriffs should be looked up to with re- that his conduct as president, however spect, as it was to the city of London impartial, should be made the subject of that it should have a magnificent lord complaint and inquiry, provided he were mayor. But, he wished the House to re- guilty of the slightest breach of the most member in what manner the sheriffs insignificant forms. Besides, such a jurishad formerly been chosen by the diction did not in fact belong to the House people, and he wished them to look care- of Commons. If the conduct of sheriffs fully at any proceedings that went to at county meetings was to be made the make them act as the mere instruments subject of the labour of committees, in of the Crown. Up to the 9th of Edward 2nd what way were other assemblies whether the sheriffs were always chosen by the convened by lords lieutenants, by "magis people, as much as members of parlia- trates, or in private rooms, to be excludment were at present. He shewed how ed. The presidents of all these miglit în this right had fared in different parts of turn be brought before the House, whose the kingdoin. In the county of Westmor- functions were ill qualified for such
duty. With regard to relevancy, who object of his motion was the encouragewas to decide what was or was not relement of county meetings. If a sheriff vant? At a late meeting in Middlesex could refuse to put the question upon an regarding the Queen, that great reformer, amendment, he could not see what occathe veteran major, had introduced the sion he had to call the meeting at all. He topic of a change in the representation : regretted that an hon. gentleman (Mr. and the subject of the Queen and parlia- Wynn) should have lent the sanction of mentary, reform, to say the least of it, his authority to this doctrine-a doctrine seemed quite as nearly allied as the origi- by which what was called a loyal address nal address moved in Cheshire and the might be represented as containing the senamendment attempted to be substituted timents of the county, although it libelled in its place.
two-thirds of the people, and charged Mr. A. Moore thought it of the highest them with the vilest blasphemy and sediimportance, that the House should inquire tion. The sheriff of Derby, and the whether the sheriff in this instance had sheriff of Oxford, had not acted under violated a public principle, or merely deviat- the guidance of this new light, but had ed from a formal rule. Contradictory considered it to be their duty to offer statements had been submitled to them, amendments to the meeting, those and it' therefore became 'nccessary, in amendments having been regularly order to get at the facts, that the subject moved and seconded. In now pressing should be referred to a committee. That his motion he was actuated by no vindicsome further 'explanation was desirable, tive feeling towards the gentleman whose had, he thought, become obvious. An conduct was the subject of discussion; hon. member had observed, that he should but he thought the House owed it to their have been more inclined to pay attention constituents to uphold the sacred right of to this complaint, had the sheriff refused to petition, and to express their disapprobaconvene the county. Now to him it ap- tion of the course adopted in this inpeared that a refusal to collect and to stance. ascertain the sense of the county when The House divided : Ayes 65 ; Noes it was assembled, called still more loudly 122. Majority 57. for the notice of that House. It was far from his intention to dispute the re
List of the Minority. spectability of the sheriff's character; Allen, J.H.
Hutchinson, hon. C. indeed, that respectability added to the Althorp, lord
H. importance of not suffering his example Becher, W.W. Lambton, J. G. to become a precedent. It had been Bright, H.
Lennard, T. B. urged that the practice of convening Bury, visct. Lushington, Dr. counties under the authority of the sheriff Calvert, C.
Macdonald, J. was but of recent date. He agreed that Campbell, hon. F. They had no judicial power over such as Clifton, lord
Caulfield, hon. H. Marjoribanks, S. semblies :--they were in a situation simi- Crespigny, sir W.
Monck, J. B. lar to that which they held'in their coun- | Davies, T. H. Moore, A. ty courts
. In the latter case the jury, Denison, W. J. Moore, P: and in the former the freeholders, were Duncannon, visct. Newport, sir J. the judges. The office of Sheriff was Ellice, E.
O'Callaghan, J. purely ministerial; when he refused, there- Farquharson, A. Ord, 'W. fore, to put an amendment, he exercised Fergusson, sir R. Ossulston, lord a discretion with which he was not invest-Grant, J. P.
Palmer, C.F. ed. The persons assembled, and not Gordon, R.
Phillips, J. R.
Price, R. the sheriff , were to pronounce an opi- Griffiths, J.
Ramsden, J.C. nion on the relevancy or non-relevancy Guise, sir W. Rice, G. of the proposition submitted to them. Hamilton, lord A. Robarts, A. It was to that House alone that the Harbord, hon. E. Robarts, G. people could look for redress of a griev- Heathcote, G.J. Robinson, sir G. ance of this nature.
Rumbold, c. A court of law Hill, lord A. could afford none; but the animadversion Hobhouse, J.C. Sefton, earl of of the House, and a recorded statement
Ilonywood, W. P. Stanley, lord of its opinion, could hardly fail to pre- Howard, hop. W,
Taylor, M. A.
Tennyson, C. veni
Hughes, W.L. Western, C.C. Mr. Creevey then shortly replied. The Hume, J.
Whitmore, W. W.
Mr. Gordon said, he had been a niemWilson, sir R. Crcevey, Thos.
ber of the committee to which the affairs, Wood, ald.
Philips, G. Wyvill, M.
of the African company had been referShelley, sir J.
red, and had been instrumental in the
drawing up of the report which it had preAFRICAN COMPANY.] Mr. Goulburn sented to the House. When the commit. rose to move for leave to bring in a bill tee recommended that the sovereignty of to abolish the African Company, and to the settlements on the Gold Coast should transfer to his majesty all the forts and be continued to the African company, it possessions belonging to them. He had done so from the difficulty of knowwished not to be understood, that by ing how to avoid many evils which anomaking such a motion, he cast any in- ther system of government was certain putation whatever on the company.
to introduce. His majesty's ministers Mr. Marryat observed, that though the had since laboured under the same diffiobject of this bill was not to impute any culty: and he was informed that they had blame to the African company, the effect considered many plans for the administra of it certainly was, to cast an imputation tion of those settlements before they had upon it. The House had heard much of determined on taking them under their late of the impropriety of prejudging a own control and governance. That meacase before a trial; but the House, in sure appeared to him to be wise and poliacceding to this motion, was going to tic, and calculated to produce the most condemn a party which, on a former oc- beneficial effects. He did not see what 'casion, had been acquitted by a commit- right the African company had to com tee of its own selection, Gentleman plain of these forts being taken out of would recollecct, that after the affairs of their hands. They were originally placed the African company had been submitted under their control to support the slave to the consideration of a committee, the trade: and one would suppose that when committee had declared itself satisfied the slave trade was abolished those forts with the manner in which they were ads would be abolished also. Besides, the ministered, and had merely recommended country paid from 25,0001. to 30,0001. that the governor of its settlements annually for their maintenance, and of should be appointed by his majesty, that this sum he thought the 1,200l. paid in the number of its forts should be dimi- salaries to nine of its directors might at nished, and that the number of governors least be saved. He did not anticipate any should be reduced from nine to six. increase of influence to the Crown What had occurred since that period to from this measure; for he thought that show the necessity of altering the manner none of the canditates for office would in which the affairs of that settlement wish to go out as governor to Cape Coast were regulated he did not know. The Castle, and none of the aspirants in diright hon. gentleman had not stated any plomacy to live as resident at the town of cause for altering it, and a very deserving | Tombuctoo, or other capital of the king officer, (sir G. Collier)had spoken in high of Ashantee. terms of the internal administration of it. Leave was given to bring in the bill. He wished to remind the House, that that company had opened a communica
HOUSE OF LORDS. tion with the king of Ashantée, and with others of the native chieftains, from
Wednesday, February 21. which there was a certainty of obtaining
Foreign Trade-Commerce of the better intelligence respecting the interior CountRY.] The Marquis of Lansdown of Africa than any which had been yet rose, in pursuance of notice, to move the acquired; while two expeditions which re-appointment of the committee of last had been sent out from Sierra Leone, at session, or rather of a new committee, to a cost of thirty or forty thousand pounds to consider the state of our Foreign Trade. the country, had entirely failed in the In doing so, when he recollected the geobjects for which they had been fitted out. neral concurrence of opinion which preHe did not see why a company which vailed last year, he felt it would not be was acknowleged on all hands to have necessary for bim to go into those details acted meritoriously should be abolished, to which he had then been induced to diwithout the necessity of the abolition of it rect their lordships' attention.
But, being shown to a committee.
though he did not ihink it necessary to travel over the ground he had last year turned, not only to a fixed standard, but taken, it appeared to him not improper to one contracted and diminished. Unto advert to some petitions which had less this statement could be controverted, been presented to the House on the he could hardly conceive that the House state of the country, and in particular to would think a committee necessary to inthe dissent expressed from the propriety quire into the cause of the present dis. of that specific limitation of the inquiry tress. It would be only deluding the which had last year been adopted on his people to lead them to believe that any motion, and which he should now again good could be attained by an inquiry propose. He wished to call the attention which would travel out of those great of their lordships to what appeared to operating causes. Whilst they continued him to be the true causes of the distress to operate, no adequate remedy could be which was so generally complained of; found. Painful as was the admission, yet because, if he were right in the opinion it was certain, that no prompt remedy to he had formed, those causes were so ob- the existing distresses was to be expected; vious, lay so much upon the surface, and more particularly to that part of the diswere so little abstract in their nature, tress which pressed most heavily on agrithat the mere statement of them would at culture; because it was impossible to once show that their lordships were re- connect it with the state of commerce. lieved from the necessity of appointing Whether the chief cause of the sufferings any other committee than that which he of the agriculturists were, as the noble was about to propose, and that they earl opposite, maintained, an excessive could only be required to proceed with production, or as he (the marquis) conrespect to them as they would upon any tended," a decreased consumption, or other admitted facts. He was also the whether both of them were partly right more induced to enter into this explana- and partly wrong, it was impossible that tion, as the noble earl opposite bad ex- the state of the Corn Laws could have pressed his intention of communicating any share in producing that distress. It some information on the same subject. was impossible, that in contemplation, that Any person that had kept his attention at some future period, if the price of corn fixed on the events which had passed rose to 80 shillings, Foreign importation during the last thirty years on the great would be allowed, farmers should keep theatre of the world, would have no diffi- down their corn to 50 shillings per quarculty in understanding how the present ter, and thus speculate themselves out of state of things had been produced. It their profits and capital, for fear of distant was evident that, for a long period of contingency. It was therefore clear, that years, a large portion of the capital of no alteration needed to be made in the this country had been drawn from the Corn Laws; and that none which could subject, and made a part of the annual be made would have the effect of affordexpenditure. The effect of the capital ing any remedy to the agricultural disthus expended was, to cause a great de tress. That distress arose from the state mand, not only on the part of the govern of the home market, which laboured ment of the country, but on that of under the pressure either of a superathose who lived on such an expenditure ; bundant supply, or of a diminished deand the effect of such a demand being to mand. He should therefore feel himself create supply, a great supply of manu- to be acting very wrong if he held out exfactured articles was produced in the pectations of advantage from any other country. Not only was the capital ex- measures than those to which he was now pended, but it was done through the me about to allude. But the question put dium of a circulation, which having no by the petitioners was “ Is there no reme. fixed standard, lent itself with elasticity dy at all ?". That there should be no to all the operations of speculators. The prompt and ready remedy for an evil time of correcting the evils of such a cir- which had been growing up for years, culation, and of restoring a fixed stand-, could be no matter of astonishment to ard, having at last arrived, although it their lordships, nor to the thinking part might have been possible for the legisla- of the country. But though no prompt ture to defer it longer, there remained remedy could be expected, some might nothing but a load of immense taxation be found in the gradual progress of ecoon the one side, and a superabundant 'sup- nomy and retrenchment. The natural reply on the other, whilst the country remedy to a state of things which had