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ferred that, so long as the solicitors, who courts possessed equal jurisdiction, and enjoyed the exclusive power of wielding where the judges were taken from the same this destructive weapon, should enjoy it bar, and distinguished for nearly the same without limitation, so long as all parties degree of talent, there must be some inliable to the excise laws were placed under herent defects in the court of Exchequer, their particular jurisdiction, they would which clogged the court in its proceedings, not hesitate to seek their own aggran- and prevented the subject from approachdizement, under the mask of advancing ing it for redress. The advantages which and protecting the revenue. It was a fact would arise from enabling the suitor to well deserving the attention of the House, approach it with the same facility that he that no sooner had its vigilance been approached the other courts, were palpable; directed to the subject, than the average for it would diminish the labour of two of number of annual informations was reduced them by adding to the labour of the third. from 700 to 250—a reduction by which There was also in his motion, an allusion every victim rescued from the grasp of the to the equitable jurisdiction possessed by excise laws was saved an expense of 1501. the court of Exchequer: Considering all and the Crown an expense of 3001. or that the House had recently heard on the 4001. upon each prosecution. The reason proceedings in the court of Chancery, he which induced him to revive his former thought it would be advantageous to know inquiry, was a wish to see how far the something of the number of causes decided power of filing informations under the on the equity side of the court of Exchecustoms and excise laws had been exer- quer. The House would then know why cised since the year 1820. It was not for a court scarcely inferior in jurisdiction to him to draw hasty conclusions from state- the high court of Chancery should have ments which were not before the House, its files scarcely touched, whilst the court but which, he believed, could be substan- of Chancery had its files overburthened by tiated; but he should be much surprised, the bills which were filed in it. If, thereif it were not found, that a recurrence of fore, the equity side of the court of Exthe old abuses took place as soon as chequer could be made auxiliary to the the vigilance of parliament ceased to be court of Chancery, an avenue would be directed against them. The other motion opened, by which the discontent generated which he had to submit to the House, was by the expensive delays of the latter court for a return of the number of causes set might gradually disappear.
He did not down for trial and disposed of in the courts now mean to say what degree of equitable of King's-bench, Common Pleas, and Ex- jurisdiction should be extended to the chequer, during the last seven years, and court of Exchequer ; but he thought that, was therefore intimately connected with as the court of Exchequer generally rose the proceedings in the courts of law. after a sitting of half an hour, some business Those three courts possessed equal juris- might be given to it, which would diminish diction in most things, though in some the not only the labour, but the odium at court of Exchequer possessed an exclusive present attached to the court of Chancery. jurisdiction. Though they were all filled Having made these observations, he would by the same number of judges, and though move, “That there be laid before the House, each of them, with the exception of the a Return of the total number of Informachiefs, received the same stipend, still, tions filed in the court of Exchequer, for when the business which they respectively penalties under the Customs and Excise transacted was compared, it was impos- laws, from the year 1820 to the end of sible to come to any other conclusion than Michaelmas term, 1826; with separate this—that the courts of King's-bench and statements of the amount of penalties of Common Pleas were overburthened with sought to be recovered, and the actual business, to the great injury of the suitors amount eventually received; distinguishin them, and that the court of Exchequer ing whether the same was paid before or was little better than a receptacle for legal after verdict, and whether the same was sinecurists. Whilst from seventy to one the full verdict recovered, or the result of hundred causes were daily entered for compromise ; together with the amount of trial in the courts of King's-bench and of the costs incurred in each prosecution, and Common Pleas, there were seldom more what proportion thereof was paid by the than six entered in the court of Exchequer. Crown and the defendant.” His object was to show, that where the Mr. Hume seconded the motion. He said, that last year a similar motion had found that they took the declarations and been made by him, in order to obtain in the pleas on trust; and that when they formation upon this subject. His object were so taken on trust, they were never had been to show the grievous hardships delivered at all, though they were regularly under which persons laboured, who were charged to the unfortunate suitor. By exposed to the operations of the Customs such a proceeding, not only were the and Excise laws. At present it was in the suitors injured, but the revenue defrauded power of any individual to institute a suit, of the stamp duties. or information, against whomsoever he Mr. Spence said, that the hon. member's pleased for a breach of the Revenue-laws; motion called only for a return of the and, however triumphantly that suit might number of causes set down for trial, which end for the accused, he was obliged to pay was not in itself sufficient. The House all the expenses of the process. He had ought to be informed how long the court known an instance of a suit instituted was occupied in hearing interlocutory against an individual, upon the oath of an motions. He thought, therefore, that a excise officer, and which had been scouted more extensive motion was necessary. He out of court. This individual, however, could assure the House that the judges of found himself liable to all the heavy ex- the court of Exchequer were anxious that penses attending the suit. Persons who that court should be made an efficient were decidedly innocent, should be placed court, and that they would willingly lend on equal advantage with the Crown; their assistance to any measure which which ought to pay all the expenses if the would prevent it from being branded as a party it accused was acquitted. He had receptacle for sinecurists, by giving it known persons involved in ruin by Ex- an active and extensive jurisdiction. chequer prosecutions, although the court The two motions were then agreed to. had pronounced them thoroughly innocent. Mr. Lockhart thought, that if the
HOUSE OF LORDS. judge who tried the information, were to certify that there was no cause for filing
Monday, December 4. it, the Crown should pay the defendant his Corx Laws.] Lord King said, he had costs. If such certificates were given by a petition to present to their lordships the judges, they would bring before the against a grievous and scandalous mononotice of the public the conduct of those poly; namely, the Corn-laws. It had who had the power of filing the informa- pleased some of the landed monopolists to tions. The reason why so little business deceive themselves (he did not think that was transacted in the court of Exchequer they would deceive any body else), and to was, that an attorney could not practise state, that their own wish was to have there in his own name, but was obliged to cheap corn. He had very little hopes practise in the name of one of the side that they would effect their object, nor did clerks. He received, therefore, only half he think that they would carry their other fees; and that was the reason why he point; namely, to make a permanent setwent in preference to the court of King's- tlement, until they did that which was just bench, where he received whole fees. He and right. They might make a new law, thought it would be of great advantage to and he had very little doubt that they the public to get rid of these side clerks would make a new law; but, until they altogether. He supposed they had a vested repealed the existing monopoly, they never interest in their situations, and that there could effect a permanent settlement. The fore the House must indemnify them for petition which he held in his hand came the loss they would sustain by the abolition from Association No. 1, he did not know of their offices. When they were got rid how many more there were, of a society of of, the court might be thrown open, and the manufacturers and inhabitants of Charso be made to relieve the other courts field, in the county of Gloucester, called from the pressure now thrown upon them. the Anti-bread-tax Society. The petiHe was anxious that some attention should tioners stated, that they could see no reabe paid to the internal arrangements of son why the landed interest should have this court; for some years ago, several the special privilege of exempting themmal-practices were detected among its selves from taxes; but the petitioners officers, and that he had himself brought added, that if the landowners should exforward a motion on the subject. It was I empt themselves from paying all taxes, it would be far less injurious to the com- other necessary cause of absence, yet the munity than prohibiting the free importa- same has not only been studiously avoided tion of foreign grain. They likewise at the late borough court for electing a stated that the English manufacturer paid member to represent the petitioners and 3d. per day more than the continental fellow townsmen in parliament, but the manufacturer, which amounted with peti- commonalty have been excluded, and the tioners only, to a tax of 38l. weekly, or necessary notices not posted, nor the rules 2,0001. yearly on wages. This would or regulations required by law complied show their lordships how highly oppressive with, but on the contrary, the election was the Corn-laws were to the labourer, and held by subterfuge, and under the most that, as far as regarded the manufacturer, peculiar and unconstitutional degree of those laws were bad in policy, and highly injustice: that, therefore, petitioners huminjurious to the trade of the country. bly submit to the House, for the reasons
aforesaid and herein stated, that Richard HOUSE OF COMMONS.
Handcock, esq., has been unduly and un
fairly returned, in direct violation of the Monday, December 4.
constitution and of the established law of ATHLONE ELECTION.] The Speaker the realm, and, in particular, of the laws, said, he hoped the House would permit rules, and regulations for regulating bohim to draw its attention to the petition rough elections in Ireland, inasmuch as which had been received last week from four days' notice should have been given, the borough of Athlone. On Saturday in the most public manner, signed by the last, he had told the House that such a returning officer upon the receipt of two petition had been presented, and had re- precepts from the sheriffs of the counties quested its assistance in deciding whether of Westmeath and Roscommon, to each it came within the restrictions which were of which counties the precincts of the borequisite to constitute it an election pe- rough extends; whereas the election was tition. The restrictions, as the House held upon one precept, and without any well knew, rendered it necessary that the returning officer legally appointed, and petitioners should be persons who claimed without the necessary number of burgesses to be either candidates or voters. Now, required by law having been present at this petition did not describe the peti- such elections; and, above all, petitioners tioners, directly or indirectly, as persons humbly submit to the House, that as the who claimed to be either candidates or corporation of Athlone has been long in voters. A question might be raised part defunct, and the corporate body havupon it; namely, had the petitioners a ing died a natural death, and ought to be right to vote? which question they wished dissolved, as will appear by the corporato raise by their petition. If the House tion books when laid before a committee should be of opinion, that their petition of the House, with other substantial inwas an election petition, they had nothing controvertible proofs, and also by the reto do but to leave it to the usual course of turns signed and filed in the Hanapersuch petitions ; but if they should be of a office, Dublin, of Mr. Kerr's return the eleccontrary opinion, the House ought to have tion before last, and of Mr. Handcock's rethe petition entered as read, and then turn at the late assumed election ; that the some member could move to discharge House will not permit a member returned the order made upon it, and treat it as a not only unconstitutionally but unfairly, mere ordinary petition.
and in direct violation of the laws, to sit The petition of certain inhabitants of in the House as representative for Athlone, the borough of Athlone was then deli- and whose vote might perhaps be calcuvered in and read, setting forth,
lated to form a majority on an important “That, notwithstanding that by the con- question upon which the salvation of stitution of the charters of Athlone, by Great Britain might depend; wherefore law and by the express rules of justice, by petitioners humbly implore the House to law and by the sound principles of the con- try and inquire, by the production of the stitution, there should have been present at corporation books, of copies of the returns the election of a member of parliament for in the Hanaper-office, Dublin, and by the the borough of Athlone, the whole and examination of witnesses, whether the said every of the burgesses, unless proof made in Richard Handcock is constitutionally, open borough court of indisposition, or fairly, or legally, returned or not; and if it
appears that he is not, the petitioners hum- they said was, “that at the election of a bly expect that the House will order new member of parliament for the borough of writs to issue to the sheriffs of the coun- Athlone, the whole and every of the burties of Westmeath and Roscommon, and gesses should be present." They did not that petitioners may be entitled to their even claim to vote at the late election, unvaluable privileges, the right of freedom of less such an inference could be drawn, election."
which he thought could not, from the conMr. Wynn said, that he had before cluding sentence of the petition :-“ The stated the rule of the House, and the law petitioners humbly expect that the House of the country on all cases, like the pre- will order new writs, to issue to the sheriffs sent. Such petitions by law could only of the counties of Westmeath and Rosbe received from those who were candi- common, and that petitioners may be endates at the election, or from those who titled to their valuable privileges, the right claimed a right to vote for them. That of freedom of election.” He submitted to was the rule of parliament, and indeed the House, that this petition could not be the law of the land, until the time of the considered as an election petition. If the Grenville act. The right of petitioning House thought that, under particular cirwas thrown open by that act to all per- cumstances of the case, some indulgence
Considerable inconvenience, how- ought to be extended to the petitioners, it ever, being found to arise from the prac- could extend the time for receiving their tice, the former rule was revived. In all petition beyond the usual term of fourteen points relating to the reception of petitions, days; and could give them, but them only, it was the duty of the House to lean to the right of presenting another petition the side of the petitioners; but, in cases against the return, within a certain limited like the present, the words of the act were time. imperative, and the House was bound to Mr. Goulburn contended, that it was abide by them. There was one point to evident, from a former petition presented which he wished to call the attention of by the individuals whose names were subthe House ; and that was, that any deci- scribed to this petition, that they did not sion to which they might that night come claim a right to vote at the last election. was not final, and that the election com- He therefore thought that the order made mittee to which it might be referred would on the petition ought to be discharged. have the power of deciding whether it Mr. Hume thought it only fair that came under the head of an election peti- time should be allowed to the petitioners tion or not. He needed only to refer to to amend their petition. the decision in the Nottingham case ; The order was then discharged; and where, in the middle of the trial, it was Mr. Wynn gave notice, that he would todiscovered that the petitioners who had morrow move for an extension of time, in described themselves as freeholders of the order that the petitioners might have an town and county of Nottingham were not opportunity to amend their petition, by such, and therefore were not entitled to stating in what capacity they came before vote for the election of members for the the House. said borough. If the House were to send to an election committee the present peti- Private Bills COMMITTEES.) Mr. tion, not being such as an election commit- Littleton rose to move the resolution, tee could take cognizance of, it would be directing that any individual who appealed making a heavy infliction on both parties, from the decision of a committee on a owing to the expenses which they would private bill, should, in the first instance, have to incur in bringing their witnesses deposit the sum of 5001., to meet such to England. He mentioned that circum- costs and expenses as might ultimately stance, in order to show that the course be awarded by the select committee, which which it ought to follow was chalked out he had felt it his duty on a former evening by the act of parliament, and that there to withdraw, in consequence of the rewas nothing in the particular features of quest of several honourable members. He the case to induce it to transgress that now meant to move this resolution in course. Now, from the petition itself, it substance; but, with such an alteration, did not appear that the petitioners were as would, he trusted, remove the objecelectors. They did not say that they tions that were urged against it. He here themselves had a right to vote-all that thought it right to state, that a precedent
for the principle on which this resolution tended greatly to the public good, and was founded existed in the uniform prac- decided with the least disadvantage to tice of that House, which made it impera- adverse parties, whose interests were aftive on every parliamentary agent to de- fected by particular measures.
Cases, posit a certain sum with the proper officer however, had occurred, in which misconfor the payment of fees; the amount of duct was apparent; and therefore he was which fees was, after the case was disposed friendly to a court of appeal, before which of, settled by the House. In his view of persons complaining of being aggrieved the subject, the whole system which he might be heard. At the same time, he wished to introduce would be completely thought it was absolutely necessary that useless, unless such a security as that some security should be given, to prevent which the resolution set forth were given. frivolous and vexatious complaints from It was his firm conviction, that it would being preferred. effectually prevent frivolous and vexatious Mr. Secretary Peel said, that, on the appeals against the decision of commit- whole, he thought great benefit would tees on private bills.—The hon. gentleman result, if the House laid down some speciconcluded by moving,
fic rule, in accordance with which an ap“ That the party or parties complaining, peal might be made against the decision or their agents, shall
, previously to the of a committee, instead of leaving the balloting for such select committee, de- matter in so indefinite a shape as the preposit with the clerk of the fees the sum of sent resolution did. The resolutions, ge5001., for the payment of such costs as nerally, went to purify the constitution of may be awarded against him or them; committees; and therefore appeals were and shall, at the same time, sign a note likely to be less numerous than they otherin writing, declaring that the whole or wise would be. But he hoped, if it any part of that sum, shall be paid in peared that injustice had been done to an such manner as the select committee shall individual, that he would not be debarred adjudge.”
from redress because he could not put Mr. G. Bankes observed, that a great down 5001. A poor man ought to have part of the argument against the resolutions liberty to say, “ It is true, I have not 5001. of the noble member for Northamptonshire to advance; but I will state my case to (lord Althorp), with respect to bribery at the House, and call on them to do me elections, on a former evening, turned on justice.” The House ought to reserve to the right of the House to award costs; and itself the right of doing justice to an indihe could not easily divide the two cases. vidual, in any stage of a private bill. In his opinion, the final decision with re- Mr. Calcraft felt the proposition for a spect to costs should not be left with the deposit of 5001. to be most objectionable. committee; and therefore he thought it It would be adding materially to the difwould be right, supposing the House to ficulties which poor people had to encounbe favourable to the resolution, that these ter, in procuring justice from a committee. words, “ unless the House should other- Be the case of oppression what it might, wise direct,” or words to that purport, it was quite clear, that unless the appelshould be added. By this alteration an lants possessed considerable resources, opportunity would be given to the House they could not obtain justice at the hands to remedy any wrong, or to rectify of a committee. After having been deany error, in the adjudication of costs, feated before one committee and incurred which might be committed by the select great expense, persons feeling themselves committee. He was aware that this ulti- aggrieved could not come before this new mate appeal to the House might oc- tribunal without depositing 5001. He had casionally take up a considerable portion but little expectation that benefit would of their time; but it appeared to him, that be derived from the resolutions; and he the interests of justice required such a thought that, in receiving them, the House course.
had suffered the conduct of private-bill Sir T. Acland said, he would not, as committees to be greatly overcharged. some gentlemen had done, condemn in toto From his own experience of those commitcommittees on private bills. He believed, tees, he was convinced that justice had generally speaking, that substantial jus- generally been done by them. It seemed tice was administered by those committees to be supposed, that there was at present They frequently forwarded matters which / no appeal from the decision of a commit