Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

made by the naval commissioners ? Ile the longest political life ever enjoyed by would not now pretend to dive into the any prime minister of this country; markfeelings and inotives of the right hon. gent. ; sed bim out as the very individual by whom but for his own character's sake he would the country would most wish such a comprosess that had he been similarly circum- mittee to be nominated. Ile called on stanced with regard to the persons detect- the house to repel with indiguation any ed of delinquency, he would not have imputation on their honour, let it came ventured to come forward for the purpose from what quarter it might. Would they of naming the committee who were to endure to be told, that they were willing follow up the investigation; and if ever to subject themselves to the authority of there was a question upon which the house any individual, however pure his chashould be least diposed to compliment racter, however high he niglit stand ili the right hon. gent. with the privilege of their estimation, from the experience of nominating a committee, the present was many years 'during a period as critical and undoubtedly that occasion. He approv- important as ever'occurred in the annals ed, however, of what the right hon. gent. of the world ? As to observations on the said of the objects of this bill. It was intended regulations of the bill, it would much; but there was still a necessity for be more proper to defer them till the bill inuch more. The navy and the army were was actually before the house itself. undoubtedly two great branches of public Mr. Fox explained, by saying, he had expenditure, in which great abuses had not imputed to the right hon. gent, any unquestionably occurred, but there were such direct influence as to say he could still others that as loudly challenged en- dictate the choice of a committee, le quiry. Did the right hon. gent. think only meant that there was generally a sort that enquiry was not full as necessary in of courtesy observable in the house, on the expenditure of the treasury, so much most occasions, to indulge the inclinations more immediately connected with himself? of the right hon. gelit. and

upon the saine principle, if he were to Mr. Grey admired the dignified zeal with bring enquiry forward and name the com- which the nobie lord asserted the indivimittee, he might as well nominate the lords dual purity of his right hon. friend; and of the treasury at once to investigate and yet he begged leave to remind the noble censure their own delinquencies, if they lord, that more flagrant corruption had were guilty. But that those persons whose prevailed in the country during the period conduct was the object of enquiry should that right hon. gent. had been at the head be perunitted to nominate the enquirers, of the government, than during any other was contrary to every principle of common period in our history. He (Mr. Grey) well justice, common decency, and common recollected, that the noble lord himself had sense. Bu let not the right hon. gent. taken fire in a

imilar manner, when his lay this flattering unction to his soul,” own individual purity was called in questhat after what had passed in that house, tion by a right hon. gent. who was now alier the enormities that had already been one of his colleagues (Mr. Foster). The dragged to light, the public would be satis- noble lord indignantly repelled the insinuafied with the appointment of a commissi- tion of corruption brought against his own on by himself, to enquire into those bran-government, and concluded by an highches of the public service with which he him- fraught panegyric, on the spoiless purity selfwas immediately connected. If he enter- of the Irish House of commons ! His right tained this hope, he was convinced that he hon. friend, however, answered, “ the nowould find himself very seriously mistaken. ble lord mistakes me I have urged no

Lord Castlereagh rose, with much insinuation; but I directly charge, that there warmth, to vindicate the conduct of his was a gross and corrupt profusion of the right hon. friend (Mr. Pitt), whose indi- public money perverted to procure votes vidual purity not only placed him far in the Irish parliament in favour of the above the unwarrantable imputation of the union ; and i charge the noble lord, then hon. gent., but justly attached to him the at the head of administration in Ireland, estcem and confidence of the country. The with being the proposer, chief manager, personal purity of his right hon, friend ren- and principal instrument in carrying that dered his character such as any country measure,” . The noble lord, however, sat might be proud of, and the spotless inte- silent, and did not ibiuk proper 10 ven. grity he had maintained during perhaps ture on a reply. - The hon, gent. concluded

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

by observing, that after what had passed came into their hands subsequent to the with respect to abuses in the naval de- Ist of January, 1786.” partment, there was well founded suspi- Sir Robert Burton seconded the mocion, at least, that similar abuses were pre- tion, and said, that illness prevented him valent in other departments also. The from being in the house on the first night expectations of the people were now raised, of discussing the subject of the tenth reand they looked up for investigation. I porț; had be been able to attend, he it was earnestly and honestly followed, the should certainly have voted in the majopeople would be satisfied, but if merely Irity, on the ground of the noble lord's hacarried on for the purposes of đeception, ving violated an act of parliament. and the protection of delinquents, the na- Mr. Bankes regretted that the motion ural result would be dissatisfaction and was brought forward this night, because discontent in every quarter of the realm.-- he did not think that it would satisfy the The question was now put, and leave given public, or answer the ends of public jus. to bring in the bill.

tice. No man had a higher respect for [ PROCEEDINGS RESPECTING LORD the courts of law than he entertained, and MELVILLE AND MR. Trotter.) Mr. he hoped that the matter might some time Spencer Stanhope rose, and said that or other come before one of those ancient he felt it necessary to have the matter of tribunals, where no prejudice existed, and charge contained in the tenth report of the from which, consequently, a fair and just commissioners of naval enquiry put in a decision should be anticipated; but he course of investigation. The charges wished the house to consider at present, which it made were very serious, and before it parted with the business, or sent should be proceeded on with decision and it to the court of exchequer, what would dispatch. Though he was convinced that be the result. This might be easily inlord Melville was not guilty of participa- ferred, considering that the person or per, ting the gains of malversation of public sons to be examined might demur, and money, yet he should not attempt to thus defeat the end of substantial justice : screen the noble lord, or throw dust in the besides, the intricacy and mixture of the eyes of the public on the present occasion, different accounts, and the diffculty of but he thought it improper to have con- distinguishing the itens of each, threw demned the noble lord before he was difficulties almost insurmountable in the beard ; in saying so, however, he did not way of accomplishing the object to be atmean to question the decision of parlia- tained. He was decidedly in favour of a ment, which found the noble lord guilty of committee with enlarged powers ; but as having violated the law; but he could not this did not seem likely to be attained, he refrain from saying, that he abhorred the thought that the magnitude of the subject, barbarous mode of first cutting off a man's and the satisfaction of the public, made head, and trying afterwards whether he it necessary to move generally, that the was guilty. Ile was of opinion that the attorney-general be directed to prosecute most eligible mode of proceeding would the noble lord and Mr. Trotter. He be, to have a civil process instituted should therefore propose as an amendo against the noble lord and Mr. Trotter in nient, that all the words after “ lord the court of exchequer, in order to have Melville and Mr. Trotter” be left out, restitution made to the public. Should it and these words be inserted, “and that turn out, in the course of the proceeding, the attorney-general be directed to prothat the noble viscount was in a corrupt secute the said lord Melville and Mr. league with Trotter, he trusted,' then, Trotter for the said offences.?--On the that the house would proceed by impeach- question being put, ment; but he again repeated his convic- Mr. IVindham considered it perfectly tion that this was not the case. He con- clear, that the best way of proceeding cluded with moving, " that the attorney would have been to have referred the general be directed to take such measures whole matter to a select cominittee, who as may appear most effectual in ascertain-could have taken the opinion of the law ilig and securing, by a due course of laiv, officers in what manner the suit ought to such sums as may be due to the public by be brought with the best chance of suclorü Melville and Mr. Trotter, in respect ceeding in its object. They would have to the profits araising from inoney ap- been able to ascertain whetver there existplicable to the service of the navy, which ed evidence sufficient either to support # VOL. IY.

2 K

:

civil action, or a criminal prosecution branch of the charge, namely, the violation Since that course was not taken, and the of the law, which had been admitted, and alternative lay merely between the civil could not preclude an enquiry into the paraction and the criminal prosecution, he ticipation in the peculations, which was should give his vote for the latter. punishable, both in a civil and criminal

The Master of the Rulls observed, that point of view. every thing on which a civil suit could Sir J. Nettport expressed his preference proceed had been already settled by the of a commitee with extensive powers, to vote of the house. What were the reasons à committee with limited powers, and conurged by gentlemen on the other side of tended that such a committee should make the house for the adoption of the resolu- a general enquiry and tefer certain points tions of the 8th instant, in opposition tv for prosecution. As however this was not the wish of his right hon. friend, that the to be donë, he certainly preferred a criwhole business should be referred to a minal prosecution to a civil one. In his escomınittee ? Because they asserted nothing tination, the satisfaction of public justice could be done in the comunittee. It was was of intinitely more consequence than impossible to change their opinion of the the regaining of a paltry sum of money. transaction, as it was impossible to do Mr. Pytches said he thought that if the away the effects of lord Melville's con- shameful conduct of this great delinquent fession of an infringement of the law, and were screetied, men would soon become the proofs of Mr. Trotter's speculating ashamed of speaking against corruption. with the public money. If so, if this lle severely censured the conduct of the were true; how could' a committee find last adininistration of the right hon. gent. out better grounds for prosecution than opposite, and spoke with inuch warmnih in what existed ? If parts of the subject favour of a criminal proceeding. were referred to a court of law, it would be Mr. For said, he had but a word or highly improper that the same topics at two to offer on the present question. the same time should be under the con- Gentlemen had alluded to several modes sideration of a committee of the house. It of proceeding, in order to meet the ir would be better to postpone a reference tentions of the house, and the expectations to law without abandoning it altogether. of the country. Some, it appeared, were An hon. gent. had proposed an amend- for a civil, others; for a criniinal prosement to the original motion for a civil cution: others again, would prefer tlie suit, in which he had moved for a crimi- mode of impeachment. His object was, Aal prosecution ! and that to ascertain to see lord Melville prosecuted and puwhether or not lord Melville received any nished one way or the other. As the case profits from the use of the public money. now stood, the noble lord was not punishIf he did, they ought to be the object of a ed in any degree at all. If the present civil suit. Besides there was no better question, or the amendment moved upon elance of obtaining that information in a it, or an impeachment, went nearer the ac: criminal court than in a civil one. Evi- complishnient of their object, be should dence must be produced in both, and vote for it. He had no other anxiety, evidence would prove it in either. The than to see adopted the speediest mode resolutions of the house contained a cen- of obtaining redress for bis constituents. sure on lord Melville's conduct. His re- Mr. S. Stanhope in explanation, said, signation which was in consequence of those that lord Melville had already been suffiresolutions, was in fact a substantial pu- ciently punished, unless he was convicted nishment inficted by the house. Aiter of wilful participation in the illicit profits. these grave resulutions, it would be ha- Mr. T. Grenvilte felt no very strong mozardous to send the affair into a court of tives of preference for a criminal rather law. The conviction could not be an-than a civil prosecution. He feared ihat swered for, mor the sentence on conviction. either would be found inadequate for the It would be impossible, he believed, to discovery of a corrupt participation on the prove any actual participation in pecuni- part of lord Melville. But as he now bad ary advantages, and the legal punishment, no other choice, he should vote for the might not accord exactly with the idea aniendident, as it seetied somewhat more the house entertained of the heinousness | closely to follow up the spirit and intention of the offence.

of the resolutions which the house had alDr. Laurence contended, that the re-ready adopted. This was more his object solutions of the house only went to one than a vain attempt to recover the money.

a

He was

7

Should the house adopt no other measures gent. in contending that a civil prosecuthan those now:proposed in furtherance of tion was the only remedy, and yet at the their resolutions, they would but ill answer same time contessing that they would not the expectations which the country had answer for the success of it. He sincerely conceived from the resolutions. By these regretted that the powers of the committee the house had pronounced that ford Mel- had been restricted. On the investigations ville had been guilty of a flagrant breach there to be made, the public might have of the law, and of an evident dereliction relied for success. Any other mode must of duty; and was no legal punishment to be open to disappointments, inconvefollow such a proved and acknowledged nience, and delay. The attention of the offence ? As to an impeachment, little public was fixed on the proceedings of the could be expected from it. The public house, and of the courts of judicature, to justice of the couutry might be better sa- which they should resort for justice and tisfied, perhaps, by a criminal prosecution, punishment of the offenders. and in that view of it, he should vote for averse from allowing the possibility of the that mode of proceeding.

ends of justice being defeated, or that any Mr. Sheridan said, there were two modes disappointment should low from such a proposed; one for a civil suit, and the quarter ; that the public should find that other for a criminal process. The gent. they were so short-sighted, ignorant, and who proposed the former said, he did not improvident as to the decision which must think lord Melville had participated in follow. It was their duty; they were the slightest degree in the emoluments called on to preserve the good opinion of of Mr. Trotter. He would ask, why the public in the course of law of the then did he move that a civil action should kingdom; and, so far as in them lay, not be instituted against him? Surely, every to allow the public mind to relax in any person must see that such a mction was share of that love, confidence, and affection absolutely useless, that it must be worse in their proceedings which we knew at than useless in the opinion of the gentle- present existed. Here a great public deman who made the motion; as, though linquent had been proclaimed to the coun. he was convinced lord Melville did not try. His offence had even been in part acparticipate in the profits of Mr. Trotter, knowledged: but when parliament carried he made this motion, it is to be supposed, him into a court of law, nothing could be to prevent those on the other side from made of him! He approved of the obinstituting more effectual proceedings. The servation of the hon. bart. (sir John Newhouse was now driven to make a chuice port). It was not money which that of the two measures, and, something like house and the country sought for in a grand jury who had not found a bill, they this instance ; it was for the adoption of were about to proceed for the recovery of that proceeding which should best conthe money, assuming every thing which sult the dignity and honour of parliaought first to be precisely ascertained. The ment, and of the nation. His hon, house were turning their backs upon friend (Mr. Bankes) had said, that the that of which they had proof, namely, the adopting of the one mode of proceeding in violation of the law, and they were sent the criminal court, would not preclude ding the participation, of which they had them from their civil suit. In this he no proof, before a jury.

He had not Mr.Wilberforce said, that the hon. gent, contended, as the hon. and learned gent. who had made the present motion, did (the master of the rolls) seenied to imagine, uot seem to have attended to the circum- that they would avail themselves of both stances of the case. For that hon. gent, proceedings. That he understood not to he entertained the highest respect, but he be the meaning of his lion. friend; but could not think that his motion was calcu. only that if one failed they might then related to produce any good effect. The cur to the other. , If in the criminal action subject of the motion was one, on which they felt embarrassed, they might be enthere was no proof, and in the success of titled in the civil action to attempt somewhich, their own professional men did thing like compelling restoration. It was not hold out to them any very flattering of the utmost importance for parliament hopes. What man could seriously listen to take care that they did not go to demand to the recomniendation, who would not the opinion of a court of judicature in that Imost smile at the right, hun. and learned part of their case in which there was a chance of failure. He was a great friend the house ought not to go those lengths to judicial proceeding, and he wished the which they declined at first without a furpe ple in general to be so. He confessed ther aggravation of his lordship's offence. he had had no doubts, although the spirit With this feeling, therefore, I shall vote of the law was unquestionably with them, for the original motion. whether it was equally clear that the let- Mr. Whitbread.—The right hon. gent., ter of the law was so 100.- None of those who bas just sat down, argues as if the gentlemen, however, who were better quali- house had decided that they would proceed fied than the pretended to be to judge on by civil suit. That, however, is not the that subject, having started any doubt ou case. He has indulged in much sarcasm the subject, he should hope there was on against me on account of the course of my that point no risk of failure. Failure was proceedings. Sir, I say, that in what I at this monent greatly to be deprecated. have done, I have proceeded with delibeIt was not against the courts of law alone ration, and I am not sorry for any step I that the obloquy would attach. Parlia- have taken. I wish to proceed in both ment would also come in for its share. He ways. I mean after the house had declared was not anxious for popularity, he was itself uson that part of the charge which solely so citous to preserve unbroken, is indisputable, I wished for a committee those bonds of esteem, allection, and con- to ascertain every thing else connected fidence, which he hoped would always with the subject. The house has decided continue to subsist between the people of upon the violation of the law, but not upon this country and parliament. He there the participation of viscount Melville in fore, as the best measure which now re- the profits. Now whut says the right hon. mained to be adopted, gave the amendment gent. (Mr. Pitt)? He advises us to try bis cordial support.

agreed with his hon. friend.

a civil suit for the participation, while the The Chancellor of the Exchequer.- I think law officers of the crown admitted it had I am warranted in saying that the mode little chance of success. I therefore wish proposed by the lion. gent. (Mr. S. Stan. for a mode by which effectual justice may hope), is that which was approved by a be done, and that is a committee of the great majority of the house. The ques- whole house. That a great wound bas tion then is, whether we shall wave it, been inflicted upon my lord Melville by and substitute one which the gentlemen the discovery, I admit; but is that a puthemselves, who have brought it forward, vishment? When a grand jury finds a bill, say iş liable to some objection? The ob- is that a punishment for the offence servation made respecting the powers of charged, and is the case not to be sent for the committee does not appear to me to be trial to a petty jury? I admit that the founded in fact. The question of enlarging vote of the house compelled the resig. its powers did not affect the particular nation of lord Melville; but there is a case of lord Melville. The doubt arising great deal of difference between that resigupon that subject was whether the powers nation and his dismissal. The people of the committee were sufficiently wide, should have seen and known that he was and embraced every other proper object dismissed. The effect ought to have been of enquiry, exclusive of the particular case plain and palpable to the understanding referred to a court of law? That, however, of every man. If a civil suit were to dis. is not the question now. The question cover that the money was picked out of now is which of the two modes is prefer- the pocket of the public, would that be able ? and I contend that the civil bill is punishment, unless followed by restitution ? better calculated to obtain the object than I admit I might have the committee, and the criminal process. After having in the right hon. gent. said he would not opflicted so henvy a wound upon lord Mel- pose it; but to obtain his concurrence, I ville, as that which his lordship had al- must have abandoned the particular case ready suflered, he did not understand that in question, and acquiesced in an attempt the house wished to follow it up in a io cloak and screen lord Melville, and that penal way, unless satisfied of his lordship’s I did not choose to do. The criminal participation in the profits. With a cun- proceeding is, I am sure, the best calcusciousness to that effect, I thought the lated to obtain the ends of justice, and I house would be content with an assurance shall accordingly vote for it. that his lordship was not to return to bis The Attorney-General wished to ofier a majesty's councils. I think, then, that word or two in explanation of the opinion

« AnteriorContinuar »