« ForrigeFortsæt »
litical character to divert that fund to parliament that they were, for instance any other than its legitimate purposes, as legal as those of assessor or counsel, or there could not be a case of grosser any other expenses of that class. Then impropriety, one better entitled to a legal the question resolved itself into this was remedy, or one more imperatively de- it justifiable in the corporation to apply manding a solemn inquiry upon oath. its own undoubted funds to such a purIf the view of the subject were just, pose? To explain himself more clearly, which he founded on the passage in the by giving an instance :- Might a peer, petition referred to, he had not the against whose interference in election slightest hesitation in saying, that a re- matters there'existed much jealousy-might medy by law was to be preferred to any peer pay any of the expenses of a candimeasure that might be adopted by that date, those expenses not being in themHouse. The allegation in the second selves illegal ? It had never been alleged petition was, that the corporation were that such conduct in a peer would be unnot at liberty to apply their own undis- lawful. Then, was a corporation to be puted property to such a purpose. Now, placed within narrower limits than an inthe distinction between these allegations, dividual? Here he had been confining it was material for the House to observe; himself to what a corporation might for it was one thing to affirm that it was legally do; not what would be judicious a diversion of charitable funds, and quite or expedient. If he were a member of another to allege, that it was illegal in the such a corporation, and the question were corporation so to apply their own funds. propounded to him, he would certainly This question presented itself -- had the advise that there should not be any such corporation a right, from funds legally application of their funds; a corporation, their own, to pay the legal expenses of an composed of members, having an eternal election ? Now, this could scarcely be existence, possessing, perhaps, unlimited answered in the affirmative, if the doc- funds — he would say, that they ought trine of the hon, mover, respecting the seriously to pause, before they made such general powers of corporations, be founded an application of the funds placed at their in law. He maintained, that, unless the disposal. But, though he should feel funds of a corporation be applied to pur- bound to give that advice, he would be poses strictly corporate, it was a misappli- far from saying, that as the law now stood, cation, in which the majority had no power the corporation had been guilty of a breach to bind the minority. While these obser- of the privileges of that House. It was vations were being made, he observed, that by no means an unusual circumstance, the hon. member for London listened with for a corporation to vote 5001. or 2001. to much anxiety. That doctrine must, in the chief magistrates on retirement from deed, to him, have proved new. What! office-or 1,0001. to their last Lord Mayor, the majority not bind the minority, in to reimburse him for the expenses of cercases where there was an application of tain elegant entertainments—though, cerfunds to purposes not directly corporate. tainly, those, it must be confessed, were If that doctrine were true, what became for strictly corporate purposes [a laugh.] of the vote which gave 1,0001. for the en- Whatever views might be entertained on couragement of the Greeks? He stopped either side of this question, he thought it not then to inquire whether such an ap- extremely desirable that the House should plication was right or wrong, he merely be furnished with a plain statement of observed, that it wasnot for corporate pur- what the practice in such cases had been ; poses. Under the influence of a classical and, without prejudging what the law of taste, they had voted a sum of money for the case would turn out to be, he would the relief of a classical people. How could be rather inclined to vote for a committee the gallant officer affirm, that, in the ap- to inquire into the practice. The question plication of money so applied, the ma- was a very important one, and he should jority could not bind the minority. The be extremely unwilling to say any thing that question as it stood before the House, might seem like prejudging it in a legal founded on the two allegations, was one point of view; but, whatever might turn on which he would rather not then give a out to be the law of it, he repeated, that, positive opinion. He would, for the pre-were he a member of a corporation, he sent at least, assume, that the expenses would never advise such an appropriation were legal and perfectly recognized by 1 of public money; at the same time, he
must add, that he did not believe the cor- be necessary to prevent the recurrence of poration of Northampton wished to pre- proceedings so reprehensible and unconjudice the inquiry, or to do any thing that stitutional. It appeared to him, as he was wrong. They, there was every reason was sure it must also appear to the right to believe, had acted all along, as if they hon. gentleman, that if every corporation thought themselves perfectly warranted in in the kingdom were to be permitted to the course they were pursuing—they had apply its funds as the corporation of consulted the most eminent lawyers—they Northampton was stated to have done (and denied that the funds were appointed for if one corporation made such an approcharitable purposes. For years past, they priation, all had an equal right to do so), had been in the habit of disposing of these the practice would be a direct infringefunds in such manner as they thought ment upon the privileges of that House, proper; and, so far as could be perceived, and could not fail to be attended with the it had never entered into their contempla- most pernicious consequences to the tion to doubt that they were doing other country. wise, than disposing of their lawful pro- Mr. Abercromby considered this to be perty, in supporting a candidate, whose a question on which it was desirable that political opinions coincided with their the House should act upon some clear, own. They spared no pains to satisfy definite, and ascertained 'principle. The themselves that they were pursuing a right hon. Secretary seemed to have fallen course warranted by the general law of into a misconception, and to have attached the land, and the privileges of parliament. the whole importance to the questionThey took the opinion of Mr. Warren, and whether or not the money had been dithat was decidedly with them. It was verted from charitable purposes. But, perfectly clear that the corporation had the real and single point with which the no wish to offend: it was evident that House had to deal, was the fact as al. they had taken every pains to avoid leged, that 1,0001. had been appropriated offence, and nothing but the great ques to election purposes. The sole question tion remained, as to their legal right, both was, whether the House should suffer all as to the nature of the expenses paid, and corporations' to appropriate their funds to the source whence the funds were derived. election purposes? If it should appear on If it appeared to be manifestly a misap- investigation that any portion of this plication of charitable property to election 1,0001. had been so employed, that would purposes, then he would at once say, go form a case in which the House would be before a court of law, and assert your bound to adopt measures, founded upon right; and even if it should appear, as
the ascertained fact, that a sum of money there was reason, from the second petition, had been applied in a practice such as to expect it might, to have been an appli- that House did not sanction. If it were cation of property, in the disposal of which found that the funds appointed for chathey were not specially limited, to elec- ritable purposes had been misappropriated tion purposes, he would not be disposed in the manner complained of, it would to shrink from such an inquiry as would devolve upon the House, as a duty, put the House in possession of the prac- to order the attorney-general to take tice; and, when that was once ascertain- means to vindicate the rights of those chaed, it only remained to determine whether rities. But he protested against that any, and what, legislative measure might which would be contrary to the known be required.
principles of that House-namely, against Lord Althorp said, that the present its affording a sanction to the attorneycomplaint was one which affected the general, or any other person, going to a rights and privileges of the House, and as court of law or equity, to obtain from it a such it was their duty to inquire into the decision as to the rights and privileges of circumstances out of which it arose. He that House. concurred with the right hon. Secretary, Mr. Alderman Waithman denied that that it was desirable that the House should the corporation, to which he had the hoacquire a knowledge of facts, before any nour to belong, had ever made an improper distinct measure was adopted. If it should application of the charitable funds inturn out upon investigation that the facts, trusted to their care. It had happened to as stated in the last petition, were true, him that he had been obliged to differ some act of legislative interposition would with the corporation of London as to the
application of funds intrusted to their the more necessary to preserve the purity management, but never upon occasions of of parliament. this description. He agreed with the Mr. Secretary Peel.--I am sorry that right hon. Secretary, that such proceedings my argument has been so completely mison the part of any corporation ought to understood. What I say is this, if any be inquired into ; for, if allowed to be corporation has applied charitable funds to practised, the great cities and towns of election purposes, I cannot conceive a more the empire might be reduced to the situa- reprehensible application of such funds. tion of Bath, where the corporation elected If a corporation has applied funds over each other, and some thirty or forty per- which they have an entire and undisputed sons return representatives for a popula- control, to election purposes, I do not say tion of many thousands.
that I approve of such an application; all Mr. Secretary Peel disclaimed the in- I ask of this House is, not this night to tention of casting any imputation upon vote such an application a breach of its the corporation of London. He had had privileges. I have such doubts of the an opportunity, for several years, of ob- propriety of such an application of corposerving the conduct of that body, and had ration funds, that if any corporation were never known a single act to have been to ask my opinion as to their right so to done by it, upon which that House, or he, apply the general funds of the corporation, or any other individual, could found a rea- my advice would be—"Don't do any sonable complaint. He had only referred thing of the kind." And I further say, to the corporation of London incidentally, that if such an application of corporation in answer to the argument of the gallant funds shall be decided not to be illegal, officer, and the purport of his observation my objections to it are so strong, that in in reference to it, was merely, that if the my opinion, a legislative remedy should proposition of the minority being bound be resorted to, to prevent the recurrence by the majority were tenable, the act of of a similar application. the corporation which he had instanced, Major Maberly begged leave to withcould not, on that principle, be vindicated. draw his original motion, and to substitute
Lord John Russell expressed his surprise the following :-" That a Select Committee at the unwillingness of the right hon. be appointed to inquire into any payment, gentleman to refer the question in the or engagement to pay Election expenses, manner proposed. The practice com- by the corporation of Northampton, at the plained of might prove in the highest de- late Election."--The motion was agreed gree detrimental. The question certainly to, and a committee appointed. was not, whether the candidate, supported by a corporation, were a ministerial, or an
HOUSE OF LORDS. opposition candidate, but whether a corporation was to be suffered to set one
Thursday, February 22. party in a town against another. If the Corn Laws.] Earl Bathurst rose, habit of supporting the candidates of par- and desired, that the order for summoning ticular parties prevailed, elections in this their lordships on Monday, which had country would soon become even more been made on the motion of the earl of corrupt than they had been, and the ge- Liverpool, should be read. His lordship neral opinion of a city would be overborne then said, that, although it was necessary, by the contribution of immense sums to from the nature of the measure which support the person who might happen for would be proposed, that the proceedings the time to be the favourite of the corpo- relative to the Corn-laws should begin in ration. It might be said, that the funds another place, yet his noble friend had appropriated to these purposes did not given notice, in consideration of the great form a portion of the funds designed for importance of the question, and what he charitable objects. But how could this considered due to his own high station, fact be ascertained? Who could say that he should take an early opportunity what particular portion of the funds of a of explaining in detail, the nature of the corporation had been applied to a specific resolutions which were to be submitted to purpose? If this was a legal application the other House; and he had fixed Monof the funds, he should be, on that ac- day for that purpose. His noble friend count, even more anxious for a committee; had hoped that he might be able, by his før in that case some measure would be explanations, to arrest that conflict bez
tween the great interests of the state however, help expressing his sincere regret which had been most unjustifiably aug- on account of the illness of the noble earl mented; and, undoubtedly, there was no whose motion it was proposed to discharge. man whose character and disposition ren- As a public man, he was looked up to by dered him better able to interfere with the people of England, and was well quaeffect than bis noble friend. Unfortunately, lified to be the mediator between those he was now prevented from doing as he conflicting interests to which the noble had proposed by his sudden illness, which earl had just alluded; for no man's chamade it impossible for him to give their racter stood higher. As a peer, there lordships the explanations he had in- never was a fairer debater than the noble tended. He would, therefore, move that earl, whose absence their lordships all dethe order for their lordships to be plored. But he hoped and believed that
, summoned on Monday be discharged. the friends of the noble earl would not be Before he sat down, he thought it proper deprived of the pleasure of his society, to state, that certain resolutions on the whatever might be the case with that subject of the Corn-laws would be moved House. With regard to bringing forward in the other House on Monday, which the question of the Corn-laws at any would make the substance of the measures future period, whether he should think to be proposed known to their lordships, proper to submit any resolutions to the, and give them an opportunity of judging House, or whether he should think proper whether any further inquiry was necessary. to propose such an inquiry as that menHe felt it his duty, however, to add, that tioned by the noble earl, in whatever manif any of their lordships should make a ner he might trouble their lordships, suffimotion for a general inquiry, to such an cient time must be taken for consideration; inquiry there were so many real objections, for the question was of too much importand it would open such a wide field for ance to be speedily decided. delay, that he should be obliged to oppose Lord King observed, that the noble earl it. To a limited inquiry, similar objec- opposite had been pleased to allude to the tions could not be made; and such an in-conflict of interests which he said had been quiry would probably, involve two different most unjustifiably augmented; but, if it questions. The first was, into the rate at had been augmented, it had been done which the home-grower could bring his by the most unjustifiable delays to which produce to market; and the second into this question had been subjected. the rate at which the importer could bring to be brought forward one session; it was foreign corn into our markets. If any then postponed to the next. It was to inquiry were to be made as to the first come on this year; it was then put off to question, their lordships would be doing another, and then came the dissolution of what had already been done to a great parliament. After what had been stated extent. Parliamentary committees had by the noble earl, he looked on the quescarefully inquired into this subject; and, tion with despondency, and almost deafter all that had been done, any of their spair, particularly as they were deprived lordships acquainted with the subject of the assistance of that noble lord, whom would form as correct an opinion of the he regarded as the most sincere in wishsum at which the home-grower could bring ing to get rid of the Corn-laws. He had his corn to market, as any of the witnesses hoped, that before this time their lordships who would be examined. As to the second would have seen the necessity of agreeing part of the inquiry, his majesty's govern- to such a measure as would content the ment had thought that the information people. He was afraid that the plan was deficient, and they had sent a gen- would only be an alteration, and scarcely tleman abroad to collect information. an improvement. He had now to present The report made by that gentleman was a petition from Blackburn. It came from before the House, and if any of their lord a place at which the people were suffering ships should think fit to propose further the deepest distress. Their sufferings inquiries into this part of the subject, he were, indeed, so great, that they were disshould be ready to agree to any reasonable tinguished in the
midst of general distress. proposition.
He should not be dealing fairly by their The Earl of Lauderdale did not rise to lordships if he did not state, that the pemake any objection to the course just pro- tition contained many hard things against posed by the noble earl, He could not, parliament, and particularly against that
House. His lordship moved, that the the noble baron, by having had the petipetition be read. After it had been read, tion read, and informed their lordships,
Earl Stanhope said, that, although he that it contained certain expressions was never disposed unnecessarily to reject against themselves, identified himself with the petitions of the people, and wished to the petition. open the door of parliament to them as The petition was rejected. widely as possible, yet he held it to be in- Lord King then presented, what he consistent with the duty which their lord - called, a quiet, meek, humble, petition, ships owed to themselves, to receive any not containing one word which could ofpetitions which, like the one then offered fend their lordships. It was from the Into their lordships, was couched in the corporated Trades of Saint Andrews. In most offensive language, and contained presenting it, he wished to tell the noble the most false statements. The Petition- lord who spoke last, that he meant to ers said, “ that the legislature had, for use the same language he always had their own aggrandisement, ruined and de- used, until their lordships did what was graded the working classes.” He knew right and just. not that the legislature had ever done so; The Marquis of Lansdown presented a but he would say, that if they were to petition froin the town of Liverpool. He adopt any measure which went to alter the thought it due to the petitioners, as well Corn-laws, without a full inquiry, not into as to their lordships, to have the petition a part of the question, but into the whole read. He begged leave, at the same time, of it—any measure which went to lessen to express his satisfaction at learning, by the supply of food—then he would say what fell from the noble Secretary of that their lordships were doing what might State, that the great misfortune which had ruin not only the working classes, but all befallen his noble friend at the head of classes of the empire. He put it to their the government – a misfortune which lordships, whether they would receive the deeply affected the public, and for which petition, and allow themselves to be in- no man felt more than himself-would sulted.
not occasion the postponement of the Lord King was indifferent whether their great public question beyond Monday lordships received the petition or not. It next. He thought it most important that had been read; but he had told their lord- the question should be decided as soon as ships before it was read, that it came from possible; because, while it was unsettled, one of the most suffering parts of this no contracts could be entered into between deeply-suffering country; and it was for landlords and tenants. their lordships to decide, whether they Lord Redesdale said, that a great miswould or not make some allowance for the take pervaded all the reasoning of this hasty expressions of people in such a and of most of the petitions on this substate.
ject. The petitioners all seemed to think that Earl Stanhope admitted the distress of the manufacture of other commodities and the petitioners, but contended, that it did of corn were precisely the same; whereas not arise from measures adopted by par- they depended on very different principles. liament. Their lordships could not give the manufacture of other commodities dethese people higher wages, nor find them pended altogether on man. The growth additional employment. He must, once of corn depended on the seasons. In one for all, enter his protest against the opi- season there was an abundant crop, in nion expressed in that and other petitions, another a scarcity; while the expense of that the Corn-laws had anything to do cultivation was the same in both years. with low wages. The assertions of the It was impossible that the corn could be petitioners were contradicted by facts. sold for the same price in both years. Not longer ago than last session, a mea. This was a decree of Heaven, and could sure was adopted, having for its object to not be altered. Corn could not be sold lower the price of corn.
at the same price in a number of succesThe Earl of Limerick deprecated the sive years ; if the prayers of the petitioninflammatory language which had been ers were complied with, and their comfrequently used on this subject, which plaints redressed, it would desolate the had, he thought, unjustifiably augmented country. The Corn-laws of the reign of the conflict between the opposite inter- Charles 2nd were founded on the peculiar ests of the country. He thought that principle which distinguished the produc