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nay, not so much as accused or even sus- | to move the House for leave to bring in a pected, of any crime against the state, or bill for requiring a certain form of oath, against society, should be deprived of his abjuration and declaration from his maestate, for no other reason, than that he jesty's Roman Catholic subjects in that professed the religion most agreeable to part of great Britain called Scotland.” his judgment and his conscience; or that The motion was agreed to nem. con. he should be placed in the wretched si- and the bill passed through all its stages tuation of holding his estates at the mercy without opposition. of any protestant relation, who might be profligate enough to strip him of it by Stockbridge Electors Incapacitating Bill.] enforcing this very penal law. The li- March 18. Mr. Eliot the chairman of berality which had induced the House last the committee on the Stockbridge election, year, and, on a former occasion, to grant called the attention of the House to the relief to the Roman Catholics of England, report of that committee. It appeared, would, he was persuaded, induce them to he said, that previous to the last election, extend relief also to the Roman Catholics a club had been formed for the purpose of Scotland, whose loyalty and good of proceeding regularly upon the business conduct

them an equal claim to the of bribery and corruption: at this club indulgence of the legislature. He admit- was chosen a common agent to transact ted that the particular law to which he the business; and none could be admitted referred was too odious to be often carried to the club but electors of Stockbridge. into execution; but if it was not fit that Here they debated upon their own corit should be executed at all, it ought not ruption, and settled the sum that each to be suffered to remain merely as a temp- elector should take for his vote, as well as tation to the profligate to strip honest the security he was to require for the and meritorious people of their property. payment of it. He therefore trusted the He was extremely sorry to inform the House would see the propriety of coming committee, that there was at this moment to some measure to prevent such shameful a suit actually depending in the courts of proceedings in future. He then moved, law in Scotland, founded on this particular - That leave be given to bring in a bill for statutė. A Roman Catholic gentleman, as the preventing of bribery and corruption respectable and amiable in character as in the election of members to serve in any man in this or any other kingdom, parliament for theborough of Stockbridge.' was possessed of an estate of 1,0001. a year, which had been in his family for at least March 20. The said bill was brought a century and a half; this gentleman, in, read a first time, and ordered to be loved and respected by all who knew him, read a second time on the 11th of April. was now on the point of being stripped of his property by a relation, who could April 10. Mr. Salusbury moved, that have no other shadow of claim to it, than leave be given to bring in a bill to Incathat which he might derive from this penal pacitate those Electors who had been found law, which he was endeavouring rigidly to to be guilty of the bribery and corruption enforce. In the courts as much delay as mentioned in the report from voting at possible was thrown in his way; but it elections in future for members to serve was to be feared that he must succeed at in parliament. last, and reduce to beggary a gentleman Mr. Powys said, that as to the first bill in every respect a most meritorious sub. he had no objection, but unless he had ject. If it was too late to save him from better evidence laid before him, he should such a misfortune, the legislature, he not think himself justified in voting for trusted, would interpose and take care the second. that he should be the last victim to a Mr. Fox approved of the mode which cruel law, and that it should never operate had been adopted in the present case, in in future, to the destruction of any other separating the two objects of the report person; for surely it was no longer to be of the committee. He considered the endured that a man should be placed in bill to disqualify the electors, as a bill of the horrid situation of either renouncing pains and penalties; and he remembered the religion of his heart, or by adhering in the case of Shoreham, when a bill of to it conscientiously, forfeit all his worldly pains and penalties passed, he heard a substance. His lordship concluded by great deal of evidence in the House, but moving, « That the chairman be directed not thinking that evidence sufficent, he voted against that bill. He had no par- tions, belonging to this particular subject, ticular objection to this bill being brought which are fitter to be suggested and left in, in order that the subject might be to the reflections of the House, than to fully discussed, but then he should require be publicly argued in detail. Considerevidence to be given at the bar of that ing the actual state of what is called the House in a very satisfactory manner, of representation of the Commons in parliathe clear guilt of these electors, before he ment, I am against this bill, and shall opshould agree to the passing a bill to pose every measure of this kind, that may deprive them of their right of election. be introduced hereafter on similar ground.


Mr. Hussey thought the proceeding in In what I am going to say, I do not this bill to be properly speaking, a pro- mean to make a particular application to ceeding upon an ex post facto law; if the law the present House of Commons. I look was perfect, why not proceed upon it as it back to what has been, and forward to stands ; if otherwise, why make a law for what may be. My opinion relates to a this case in particular, why not alter the general system, which I believe to prevail law in general? He considered this mea- through the kingdom, and of which it sure as an act of oppression upon these would be equally unnecessary and disorpersons; for was it possible for them to derly to select the present House of Comappear properly before the House to make mons as a distinguished or prominent extheir own defence ? He therefore moved ample. I deem this bill to be, in the first “ That this debate be adjourned to this place, partial and unjust in its immediate day threemonths."

penal operation ; in the second, utterly The Solicitor General objected to the useless and ineffectual to its professed or principle of the bill. There was, he said, supposed; and finally, according to my an act of parliament, the 2nd of Geo. 2nd. view of the whole subject, not only not which regulated the mode of trying persons beneficial, but likely to be injurious to for bribery at elections, and of punishing the public service. In the distribution them if convicted. The time of pro- of justice, particularly where great pesecution was by that act limited to two nalties are proposed to be inflicted, I years after the conviction of the offence, hold it to be an essential principle, that and this bill might be said to be a bill for equal measure should be observed, alike enlarging the powers of that act. and indifferently, to all men. We have

Mr. Buxton thought that every man no right to fix upon special instances, for who had the right of electing members to the purpose of particular punishment, serve in parliament, ought not to consi- while we permit or connive at the general der himself as holding it for his own in- system, to which those instances insepaterest, or even for the interest of the rably belong. They, whose minds are place in which he lived, but that he held vigorous enough to deny, or too feeble it for the general interest of the whole to believe, that the construction of the country, and that so regarding it, he House of Commons, in former times, has should give his vote for the wisest and not been considerably influenced by the best man he knew, in order that the money,—that it has not been or is not people at large should be satisfied with likely to be the subject of pecuniary barthe state of their representation ; for gain between the candidate and the conthese reasons he thought that House stituent-will differ from me in my concould not be too eager to punish those clusion. But he who believes, as I do, who had been guilty of bribery and cor- that a system of bribery and corruption ruption.

prevails almost universally, with the tacit Mr. Windham was not of opinion that consent, at least, of those who ought and the present was such a case as called for are able to correct it if they think it a the severity of a bill of pains and penal bad one, will never consent to inflict ties; such a measure should be reserved special penalties on persons, who are no for great offenders ; he was therefore way distinguished from their neighbours, against the bringing in of the bill. but by the accident of being caught.

Mr. Francis said ;-Mr. Speaker ; my You suffer the snare to exist, and you puopinion, on the nature and effect of this nish the unwary offender, who happens bill, may possibly be singular, and per- to be taken in by it. But is he any worse haps may be thought extraordinary; but than the multitudes who escape? If you it is serious and sincere. Every man must believe that the commodity in question is be sensible that there are many considera- every day bought and sold by wholesale, (VOL. XXX.]


by rich and eminent persons, in all parts view of the subject, nothing can be more of the kingdom, will you punish a few injurious to the public service than to poor, ill-educated men, for endeavouring hold out to the people the appearance of to take their share in the same traffick, parliamentary vigour, in particular inand for doing in retail, and with much stances of corruption, when, in fact, we stronger temptations, what their betters are indifferent about the whole system, are doing in gross? The poor man and suffer it to take its course without takes the bribe. Against him you are interruption or notice. The effect of severe. The rich man offers it. Of him these pretended remedies, these occayou take no notice. Gentlemen, I think, sional palliatives, I fear, will be to lull should look a little to their consciences and stupify the people, already too dull before they venture to assume the office and indifferent, on the subject of a parof judge in this case. A good deal has liamentary reform, and to deprive us of been said by gentlemen who oppose the any chance of a real effective remedy. bill, of the want of legal proofs in the Believing, as I do, that a complete al. present instance, and the difficulty of ob- teration in the construction of the House taining such evidence as would justify of Commons is indispensably necessary to the House in passing a bill of pains and the preservation of the constitution, I penalties. For my part, Sir, I lay all never will concur in any measure that those considerations out of the question. tends to throw a veil over the general I take it for granted, that the particulars abuse, or to encourage the people in stated in the report of your Committee thinking that a general comprehensive are well founded. If I had heard every remedy for a universal and rooted evil instance of the corruptions in question may be delayed with safety: For my proved specifically at your bar-if I had part, Sir, I seriously and solemnly deseen the electors of Stockbridge take the clare, that, considering all the circummoney-it would make no difference in stances of our situation, I think it would my opinion of this bill. You cannot be ultimately more advantageous to the punish, when you refuse or neglect to re- country, that the abuse, of which we form. The abuse is general and noto- have now one solitary example before us, rious. The instance you prohibit is no- should be suffered to grow and increase, thing but a sample of the practice you per- as it has done, rather than resort to the mit. Do you think that, by disfranchis- useless checks of such occasional bills as ing these individuals, the principal end of this ; for then, perhaps, a time may come, penal justice will in any degree be ob- when the evil may cure itself, or when tained? Do you believe it will deter the public shame and scandal of the preothers, either high or low, from selling sent mode of election may become so their interests or their votes in other gross and enormous, that this House places, or at this place at a future elec- may at last be compelled to put an end tion? You know it will not. All the to it. effect, to be expected from such a mea- Mr. Powys diclaimed all the sentiments sure as this, is to make other persons, in he had just heard, and begged it to be a similar situation, a little more cautious understood, that he voted against the in the form of their proceedings, a little bill, not on any theoretic ideas of gemore dextrous in the management of their neral reform, but on the insufficiency of corrupt engagements, and more careful the evidence in this specific case. of exposing themselves to be detected. The question being put, That the said Under pretence of punishing bribery in a debate be adjourned till this day three particular case, all you do is to teach the months, the House divided : Yeas, 18; lesson and inculcate the necessity, of act. Noes, 19. Leave was then given to bring ing with deeper fraud on other occasions. in the bill. If there be any truth in these reflections ; if it be admitted, as I think it must, in April 11. A petition was presented the mind of every man, that this bill, from several electors of Stockbridge, whether just or not in its immediate ap- complaining of the injury which their plication, will not deter others ; I then property would sustain if the bill then should be glad to know, in what sense depending in the House, extending to our having recourse to such a measure the freeholders of the adjacent hundreds can be of any advantage to the public. the right of voting for members to repreOn my principles, and according to my sent the said borough in parliament, which right was at present confined to house- might complain, that both his property holders paying scot and lot, should pass and importance would be thereby dimiinto a law; and praying that they might nished. One of the best plans for a parbe heard by their counsel against the liamentary reform that had ever been laid said bil. A motion was made, that the before the House, was formed on the petition should lie upon the table, and principle, that the elective franchise in that on the second reading of the bill to boroughs was a matter of property, and which it referred, the petitioners should on that ground it went to provide for the be heard by their counsel against the purchase of all burgage tenures. With same.”

respect to the petitioners, he thought the Mr. Eliot considered the prayer of this House could not in justice or decency repetition to be extremely indecent, as it fuse to hear what they had to say. went the length of insinuating, that the The House divided. For the amendment, right of voting for members to sit in par- 12; Against it, 39. liament was a matter of property, and that The bill against which the petition was the legislature ought not to pass a law, presented, was, according to the order of however necessary it might be to the pu- the day, to be read a second time. To oprity of representation, because forsooth, pose the second reading Mr. Piggot and what the electors very indecently called Mr. Douglas appeared at the bar as coun.. their property, would be injured by it. sel for the petitioners.

The former gen. The fact was, the right of voting was a tleman first addressed the House, and trust, and whenever it was evident that having proceeded for half an hour in his it was grossly abused, it was a duty in- speech, he was interrupted by Mr. Hussey, cumbent on parliament to guard against who moved that the counsel should with a repetition of the abuse, and to attend draw; and the reason he assigned for this solely to the public good, regardless of motion was, that the arguments which the private considerations. Irresistible evi- learned gentleman was using was of too dence had been given in the committee ap- much importance to be addressed to alpointed to try the merits of the last election most empty benches; they were well en. for Stockbridge, of gross and notorious bri- titled to the consideration of a full House; bery and corruption practised at the and to urge them then, when so few memsame ; so that the committee had directed bers were present, could be of little use that a motion should be made in the to the parties concerned. He desired that House for leave to bring in a bill for dis- the House might be counted; it was acfranchising 62 electors of that borough, cordingly counted, and only 31 members and for extending to others the right of being present, an adjournment took place. election. Under these circumstances, he considered it to be his duty to refuse May 3. Mr. Rose moved, “ That the to hear the petitioners by their counsel order for the second reading of the Stockagainst the disfranchising' bill, which the bridge Incapacitating bill on Monday next, House had ordered in, and which was to should be read;" which being done, he be this day read a second time. He stated himself to be an enemy, in general, moved by way of amendment, that the to all bills of pains and penalties. In the words, and that the petitioners be heard present case the bill went to disqualify by their counsel, &c. be left out. upwards of sixty electors of Stockbridge,

Mr. Martin considered the elective against none of whom was any direct proof franchise as a trust, and not as a matter of bribery or corruption brought home by of property, and therefore hoped the the evidence. He disapproved entirely House would not grant the prayer of the of the principle of the bill, and would petitioners.

therefore move that the said order be Mr. Hussey thought that the elective discharged. franchise, when attached to a house, ren- Mr. Francis said, he congratulated the dered that house more valuable than it independent electors of Stockbridge, on could be without it; and consequently, the powerful security now held out to that to strip it of that valuable appendage them, in the respectable protection of the must be an injury to the proprietor. It secretary of the treasury, who had frankly was laudable in a man to acquire property declared himself an enemy in general to in a house which would give its owner or all bills of pains and penalties for bribery inhabitant the right of voting; and the and corruption. On such a subject, the man who should be deprived of that right hon. gentleman's authority was great, for

his experience must be considerable, and “ Your petitioners are lovers of peace, his knowledge extensive. The cause and of liberty, and justice. They are in gethe patron had a natural relation, and were neral tradesmen and artificers, unpossessed perfectly worthy of one another. He of freehold land, and consequently have should agree in the motion for discharging no voice in choosing members to sit in

parthe order, though not for any of the rea- liament;-but though they may not be sons assigned by the worthy secretary. freeholders, they are men, and do not think 1 He had no sort of doubt of the guilt of the themselves fairly used in being excluded persons named in the bill, nor of the cor- the rights of citizens. Their all is at stake rupt character of the whole borough; but equally with the freeholder's; and wheas he was sure that the disease, of which the ther that all be much, or little, whilst they practice at Stockbridge was nothing but pay their full share of taxes, and are a symptom prevailed universally through peaceable and loyal members of society, the kingdom, he thought it equally incon- they see no reason why they should not sistent with his personal honour and pub- be consulted with respect to the common lic duty, to make himself a party to partial interests of their common country. They correctives for general abuses, even if the think men are objects of representation, correctives were real and effective, as far and not the land of a freeholder, or the as they went; and much more so, to false houses of a borough-monger. and hypocritical remedies for a real deep, “It is not merely because heavy and and rooted evil; for an evil which might grievous taxes oppress them, that your be, and ought to be eradicated, but which petitioners pray for the reform of abuses, otherwise, in its nature, was incapable of which are too notorious to be denied by being cured.

the most prejudiced: It is as much on acThe question being put, that the said count of the application of the money, as order be discharged, the House divided. of the money itself, for which they are TELLERS.

concerned. They love their country, and

would contribute a portion of their last Yeas {Mr. Pole Carew

E3 shilling to its support, were they sure

that every shilling paid was well expended. Sir Francis Basset Nors {

They pray also for the correction of this Mr. Thomas Thompson

abuse, because they are convinced that So it was resolved in the affirmative. It upon it depend the peace, happiness, and was then ordered, that the said bill be prosperity of their country. read a second time upon this day three That your petitioners wish the House months.

of Commons to become the true repre

sentative, or judgment of the Commons Debate in the Commons on the Sheffield of Great Britain, and the undoubted guarPetition for a Reform in Parliament]. dian of the interests of the people. That May 2.

Mr. Duncombe offered to pre- the delegates and their constituents may sent the following petition :

feel one common interest, members of To the honourable the Commons of parliament should be chosen for short Great Britain in Parliament assem

terms; and descending from their delebled. The Petition of the inhabitants gated station, mix again with the people of the town and neighbourhood of by whom they were chosen. Sheffield,

“ That the voice of the great body of

the people ought not to be smothered by v « Sheweth ; That the House of Com the voice of a partial interest; but should mons is not, in the just sense of the words be fairly and fully heard ; as nothing short what your petitioners are from form, obliged of this will do away that unhappy spirit of to term it, viz. • The Commons of Great discontent which so generally prevails in • Britain in Parliament assembled, not our country; and this done, neither probeing freely elected by a majority of the clamations nor prosecutions will be neceswhole people, but by a very small portion sary to secure its tranquillity and peace. thereof: and that from the partial man- • Your petitioners therefore, relying ner in which members are sent to parlia- with the greatest confidence on the virtue ment, and their long continuance there, of some, and on the candour, good sense, they are not the real, fair, and indepen-prudence and justice of all, hope this hodent representatives of the whole people nourable House will take these premises of Great Britain.

into their most serious consideration, and

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