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private bill. Now, to him it appeared that the bill was connected, he thought that, the difficulty would not be insuperable. with the addition of sixty from distant They had frequently a great many election parts of the country, an ample security committees, and they found little diffi- was given for an impartial decision, and culty in securing the attendance of mem- that from such decision they would have bers. But, according to the hon. member's very few appeals. Some of his hon. resolutions, a person dissatisfied with the friends had objected to the resolution decision of a private committee might ap- which required a deposit of 500l. from the peal, and the House had no discretion but appellant, but he conceived there would to send it to a select committee, so that be no difficulty in getting such deposit they were to have a select committee after from any party who thought he had a good all.' It was proposed, that to prevent ground of appeal, and the same reason vexatious appeals, the person appealing which would induce him to make the deshould, in the first instance, deposit 5001. posit would make him assent to its applito secure costs, should the committee cation to pay the costs, should the comdecide the appeal to be vexatious. This mittee so decide. Taking all the resoluhe thought was a course which the House tions together, he did not mean to say had no right to adopt. It was, in effect, that they established a perfect system, but taxing the appellants to that extent; and he would vote for their being tried, satisif, as had been contended on a former fied that they would be found a great imevening, the House had no power to com- provement. pel a petitioner to enter into recognizances, Mr. Alderman Waithman said, that as it how could they compel him to deposit was admitted that the present system of money? While he admitted that nothing private committees was extremely defeccalled more loudly for remedy than the tive, he thought the hon. member who present course, with respect to private bill had endeavoured to introduce some amendcommittees, he could not support the one ment was entitled to thanks, and he, for now proposed, as he thought it would be one, thanked him, though at the same time worse than the disease.
he did not think the remedy pointed out Mr. Maberly admitted that some was such as the case required. Indeed, remedy was necessary, but could not con- he did not see how the House, without cur in that now proposed. He thought (passing a censure on itself, could sanction it would be absurd to prevent members resolutions founded on alleged corruption from doing that in a committee; namely, in committees of its own members. He voting on subjects which they had not knew that in speaking of any thing which heard discussed, which was ever permitted passed in the present parliament, he must to them in the House.
be particularly guarded. He should be Lord Althorp observed, that it was careful, therefore, of what he said of the agreed on all hands that the present sys- living, but a much greater latitude was tem required amendment, and the question allowed him with respect to the dead. was what course ought they to adopt. It And, speaking of the late parliament, he was said, that the better way to proceed would complain, and that loudly, of the would be by a select committee on each conduct of some members of it, for their private bill. That, he admitted, would be veryunjust and partial conduct in a commitan improvement on the present mode, but tee on a private bill. A petition had been he thought it would be extremely difficult to presented from the corporation of Lonprocure as many select committees as the don against the Equitable Loan bill, and number of private bills would require. It it was referred to the committee on that was said that they had no difficulty in bill; and though the preamble of that bill procuring election committees. That asserted that it would be a public benefit, might be the fact; but those committees and though the petitioners offered to were not often required. If their appoint- prove that it would be greatly injurious to ment was to run through a whole parlia- the trade of London, and had prayed to ment as frequently as committees on pri- be heard by themselves or their agents, vate bills, it would, he thought, be a mat- the committee at first decided that they ter of some difficulty to procure the at- ought not to be heard ; and on the singutendance of members. As to the nomina- lar ground, that the petitioners had no tion of sixty members from the counties interest in opposing the bill. How difadjoining that with which the object of ferent was such conduct from that pursued by the parliament of 1721, which had re- / which he was alluding, supposing it posceived the petition of the corporation of sible that the members of it were directors London, and allowed them to be heard by of the company against which he had been themselves or counsel, at the bar of the petitioning--that they held shares in it House against a bill of an objectionable that they sold them publicly and openlycharacter, as tending to injure the trade and that they adopted all the artifices of the city! How different was the con- which were used to give to shares an exduct of that parliament, which, on dis- orbitant value in the market? The case covering the improper conduct of some of which he was putting was not one of suptheir own body, as connected with pub- position, but of fact. Let the House but lic companies, had, notwithstanding the go into the committee which he had prosolemn protestations of innocence of those posed, and he would pledge his life, his members, and their loud calls for inquiry, character, his reputation, and every thing expelled them from the House ! The that he held dear, that he would prove hon. member then proceeded to comment beyond all contradiction that it was so. on the conduct of the committee in the The worthy alderman was proceeding to last parliament, on the Equitable Loan discuss the conduct of the committee on bill, in having at first refused to hear him, the Equitable-Loan-bill towards other petion the part of the corporation, against the tioners, when he was called to order. bill. After having decided that the cor-spoke under correction of the Speaker, poration should not be heard, except on and if he was out of order, he regretted it one point, they afterwards heard counsel deeply; for the subject on which he was and evidence in support of the bill. Then, addressing the House was of great importone of their members stated, that as they ance to the public. But he contended had heard evidence on one side, they that he was not out of order. A proposiwould consent to hear him, but it would tion was made to remedy certain proceedbe only as a matter of grace and favour. ings, which he had not called by the title He got until the next day to decide what of disgraceful, though some other members course he should take; but the next day had applied the term to them. He was he came down and protested against that only telling the House what the conduct being conceded to him only by way of of one committee had been, and in so grace and favour, to which he had an un- doing, he had given a striking instance of doubted right. After this, he and those the injustice with which such committees who attended with him were ordered to too often acted. Surely, it was not a withdraw, and some discussion took place deviation from order to enter into a full in the committee. So confounded was he description of an abuse, at a time when by the order to withdraw, and the objec- they were seeking to find a remedy for it! tions that were taken to this mode of pro- With regard to the remedy proposed, he ceeding, that when he was again admitted did not consider it adequate to the object to the committee, after an absence of half in view; and he therefore trusted that the an hour, and was told that he was allowed hon. mover would endeavour to devise to proceed as matter, not of right, but of something more effective. He considered grace and favour, he protested loudly that the exacting of 5001. as a deposit against the injustice of the decision adopted from petitioners, previous to the balloting by the committee, and determined not to for the committee of appeal, was a harsh open his case in an imperfect and muti- and unnecessary provision. For instance, lated state. He either had a right to be in the Equitable-Loan Company, which heard, or he had not: if he had a right, was put forth as a matter of charity, and he was determined to use it uncontrolled; as a check against the pawnbrokers, but and if he had not a right, he was deter- which, in point of fact, was a measure of mined not to act upon powers which he greater hypocrisy than any which had ever did not possess. He, therefore, thought been previously brought forward—the peit expedient, considering the circumstances titioners against it might have spent 5,0001. in which he was placed, to withdraw; not, in prosecuting their first petition, and yet, however, without protesting against the after all the injustice they had suffered, injustice of the measure which had com- must have found security for 5001. more, pelled him to come to such a resolution. before they could have applied for redress Now, he would ask the House, what opi- to a committee of appeal, which, in all pion they would form of the committee to probability, would act, to a certain degree, under the influence of the former commit- believed that a case had occurred in which tee. He likewise contended, that the the proposition for a canal bill was referred House ought to take care that its com- to a committee, of which every member mittees acted as much like juries as possi- was either a director, or a person largely ble, and exhorted it to devise some mea- concerned in the canal. In the county sure which would prevent the repetition of of Devon the number was 168; in Wiltsuch injustice in future.
shire 194; and in Hampshire 234. So Mr. Secretary Peel said, that, though that the number of persons composing the he was by no means so satisfied as the committee on a private bill relating to hon. gentleman opposite seemed to be, of Hampshire, was four times as great as that the gross misconduct of the committees on on a private bill relating to Staffordshire. private bills, still it was his intention to That statement formed a sufficient reason vote in favour of the resolutions of his for adopting some arrangement better hon. friend, as a precautionary experiment, than the present, and would justify them for the present session, against any mis- in adopting the three first resolutions. conduct that might by possibility arise. He conceived that there would be great He did not believe the committees on difficulty in obtaining select committees, if private bills to be that mass of corruption they were to be chosen like election comwhich some members asserted them to be. mittees. In the first session of a new parThere might have been some cases, in liament, supposing there were ten election which members who had not been present committees, and twenty or thirty private at the evidence, had entered the com- bills, it would be impossible for the House mittee-room, and overwhelmed the voices to act. It was therefore better to adopt of those who had been present; but he had the remedy proposed by his hon. friend, not heard of any instance of gross injustice which gave to any petitioner who conin their disposal of private property. ceived himself injured the liberty to appeal The worthy alderman had said, that as the to another committee. He likewise last parliament was dead he had a right to thought it right that of the hundred abuse it'; but, though that parliament was and twenty members placed in each list, dead, the members who composed it were sixty should be connected by locality with living, and he, as one of them, must beg the county which the bill affected, and leave to vindicate its conduct. What the that the other sixty should be persons who present parliament might turn out, he were not under the influence of local bias. could not tell; but with the benefit of the He conceived that the most effectual worthy alderman's bright example, he had remedy to the abuses incident to comno doubt but that it would be much mittees on private bills, would be by letting better than that of which he had spoken the light of day in upon them; and that with so much reprobation. Though he the appointment of a committee of appeal he could not agree in every point with the would in itself be a tacit correction of the proposed resolutions, he must repeat that evil complained of. He could not see he was not unwilling to adopt them as a how the long story which the worthy precautionary experiment for the present alderman had told them respecting the session. His reason for so doing was not Equitable-Loan-bill Committee bore upon founded so much on the misconduct of the present question ; for he was quite the committees on private bills, as upon certain, that if the facts which the worthy the standing orders themselves. He dis- alderman had mentioned were correct, approved of the method of referring and had been stated to the House, he private bills to the consideration of a com- would have obtained an appeal against mittee formed of the members of that that committee. The worthy alderman county to which the bill applied, and the had also objected to the deposit of the adjoining counties, because the number 5001. as a hardship; but he was strongly of persons on such a committee varied inclined to think, that if the worthy aldervery greatly. In the case of the man had felt one half the indignation county of Derby, the number of members against the members of the committee for that and the adjoining counties, which he had that night expressed, he to whom private bills might be referred, would have gladly laid down the sum for was 80. In the county of Warwick the the petitioners whom he had taken under number was 87; in that of Leicester 69; his protection. and in that of Staffordshire 66; and he Mr, W. Smith said, that though he had VOL. XVI,
several objections to the proposed resolu- | rested upon the ground, that security was tions, he would support them until some demanded before the parties complaining better proposition was submitted in their should be allowed to prove their case. stead.
The same objection, he conceived, applied Mr. G. Bankes suggested the propriety to the resolution now before them. He of giving a power to wave that part of the knew not that the House had the power of resolutions which rendered it necessary to enforcing any such resolution. If a deposit 5001. before any appeal could be litigious person were, after an award had made from one committee to another. been made, to bring an action against the Unless such a power were vested some clerk of the Fees, then the validity of this where, some parties must be seriously resolution would be subject to the decision injured by the resolution.
of a court of law; a state of things which Mr. Wynn said, there was no analogy certainly ought to be avoided. For his between election committees and com- own part, he could not conceive what mittees on private bills; for the questions right one branch of the legislature had to submitted to the first were mixed questions levy money in this manner; and therefore, of law and fact, while those submitted he thought the hon. gentleman would do to the latter were questions of policy well to postpone the resolution. and expediency. He did not believe Mr. Wynn looked upon the proposition that any such extent of evil as was now embraced by the resolution, as similar to a pretended had arisen from the mis- case of arbitration, where the parties conconduct of private committees; and he tending agreed to abide by any order or was of opinion, that they were oftener award which might be decided on by prejudiced against advantageous bills than those to whom the matter in dispute was biassed in favour of improper bills by un- referred. worthy motives. It had been suggested, The resolution was withdrawn. that the nomination of the committees by ballot would often exclude from them
HOUSE OF LORDS. useful local knowledge. He was himself of that.opinion, and would have great
Wednesday, Nov, 29. difficulty in believing that fifteen gentle- Corn Laws.] Lord King said, he had men of Hampshire could legislate easily some more petitions to present on a subon the local interests of Northumberland. ject on which some persons thought that He conceived that great advantage would the less was said the better, but on which, arise from acceding to the resolutions. in his opinion, the more was said the At present it was prudent to bring them better. They were given to understand in experimentally. If, upon trial, they that no alteration was to take place in the should be found beneficial, they might be Corn-laws till after the holidays, but they made standing orders of the House. were told, at the same time, that some The injury done by committees on private alteration was decided upon, though God bills was not, in his opinion, great, but the only knew what it was to be. It apscandal of them was extreme ; for suppos- peared that his majesty's ministers had a ing the committees to come to a right good deal of difficulty in settling with their decision, still, if it were seen that numbers, friends on the subject, and no small share who had not previously attended, flocked in in settling with their colleagues. One fact to give their vote, it never could give satis- seemed certain ; namely, that in whatever faction to the parties defeated by it, and should be done, nothing but the minimum thus became detrimental to the dignity of improvement was likely to be adopted. and character of the House.
Various reports were in circulation, some The first eight resolutions were then of which had reached his ears. One report agreed to. On the ninth being put, was, that when the price of corn was at
Mr. G. Lamb said, he much doubted 558. a duty of 17s. was to be imposed. the propriety of this resolution, and hoped for his own part, he would much rather it the hon. gentleman would postpone it be left at the mercy of ministers, acting on until it could be more maturely considered. their own responsibility, than at the mercy He understood on a former evening, that of so merciless a law as that. He beone of the great objections urged against lieved there was a malignant party in the the resolutions of his noble friend (lord cabinet, who were hostile to all improveAlthorp) relative to bribery at elections, I ment, and at variance with their own colleagues, whose schemes of political eco-1 subject at the earliest possible period after nomy they hoped would not take effect. the recess; and, though the measure would It was influenced by a good and an evil naturally originate elsewhere, yet he principle; but he feared that the evil prin- would not wait for that event to put their ciple would predominate. The petition lordships in possession of the sentiments of which he should now present had been his majesty's government upon a question agreed to at a public meeting of the work so very important to the interests of the ing elasses, at Manchester. It stated, that country, in the twelfth year of peace the greatest The Earl of Lauderdale said, he did not misery and distress prevailed, and that the at all object to the line which the noble eruel prohibition against the importation earl had prescribed to himself, nor did he of foreign corn deprived the manufacturing mean to urge any proposition against it, classes of a market for the produce of their though he wished that the noble earl had industry, while it increased the price of found it convenient to state the nature of bread, only to keep up a standing army, the measure. He trusted, however, that and enable persons to escape from burthens, when it was brought forward, sufficient in order that they might be imposed on time would be allowed the country to conothers. In conclusion, the petition prayed sider its merits. The agriculturists, in their for the total abolition of the Corn-laws. numerous petitions, expressed their senti
The Earl of Liverpool said, that before ments on what they thought fitting for he adverted to what had fallen from the themselves, and in consonance with the noble lord, he wished to offer a few words interests of the community at large. In respecting what had passed in the House petitions respecting the Corn-laws, they yesterday. He had come down to the did not wish to see the topics of parliaHouse on several occasions since the mentary reform, or of church property incommencement of the session, but found troduced. that their lordships had adjourned before The Earl of Liverpool said, he was so five o'clock. Now he did not object to anxious that a speedy decision should be this, for he thought that public business come to on this question, that he would ought to eommence at four instead of five not, as he had already stated, wait till a o'clock. With respect to the subject measure should be brought forward elsematter of the petition, he did not mean to where, He was most desirous, to take be, on the present occasion, drawn into a the first convenient opportunity of stating discussion relative to the Corn-laws, by to their lordships the views which his any thing that had been said by the noble majesty's ministers entertained with regard lord. He could assure the noble lord, to it. One general feeling peryaded this however, that he was greatly mistaken in country on the subject, and when the quessupposing that his majesty's government tion was once mooted, it was of the uthad not come to a decision on this subject. most importance that the decision should In that respect there was nothing what- not be long delayed. It was very natural ever to prevent him from bringing forward that the decision, if kept in suspense, must the question at present, but he felt that he greatly operate on individual interests. should not be dealing fairly with its merits, There was nothing which he more desired, or with the feeling of the country in doing than that when the question should be so, when a full attendance was not to be brought forward, a due regard should be expected. The object for which parliament had to all the great interests of the country. had assembled at so early a period, was The Marquis of Salisbury said, it had only to confirm those measures which his been assumed that an alteration in the majesty's ministers had adopted in Sep-Corn-laws was necessary, but, in his opitember, on their own responsibility, and to nion, no case was made out to establish the grant them the necessary indemnity. He necessity. would not be led into any explanation of Lord Clifden wished that the com the measure which it was intended, in question could have now been gone into. due time, to submit to their flordships; The noble earl had stated many reasons for feeling, as he did, that any premature not bringing the subject forward immedistatement might cause a great deal of ately; but delay was a great evil, for until mischief, by giving rise to much misap- this question should be settled, no man in prehension. He pledged himself, however, the country could tell what his situation to call their lorçlships' attention to the ) was. At the same time, he admitted the