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FIRST SESSION OF THE
UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND
APPOINTED ΤΟ MEET 10 DECEMBER,
THIRTY-SECOND YEAR OF THE REIGN OF
HER MAJESTY QUEEN VICTORIA.
SECOND VOLUME OF THE SESSION.
HOUSE OF COMMONS,
Thursday, 1st April, 1869.
MINUTES.]-PUBLIC BILLS Ordered-First
PARLIAMENT OF THE
Third Reading-Drainage and Improvement of
INDIA-INDIAN FIELD OFFICERS.
SYKES said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for India, Whether there is any and what foundation for a statement at page 16 of the Home News of the 19th March, that the Council of India have rejected the schemes of Colonel Norman and Colonel Broome, for the relief of the VOL. CXCV. [THIRD SERIES.]
finance of India, by facilitating the retirement of Field Officers for whom there is not employment; and, whether the Council contemplate the reduction. of the charge for unemployed Field Officers in India?
MR. GRANT DUFF said, in reply, that the Secretary of State in Council", that, subject to the obvious correction should be substituted for the "Council" in each of his hon. and gallant Friend's Questions, his answer to both was in the affirmative. If his hon. and gallant Friend would move for the correspondence, he was ready to give it him as an unopposed Return.
Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [12th March], "That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as followeth : B
Most Gracious Sovereign,
By the Act of last Session, the Reports We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal of the Judges, by whom election petiSubjects, the
Commons of the tions were now tried, were substituted United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, for those of the Committees; and he had in Parliament assembled, beg leave humbly to represent to Your Majesty, that Sir Samuel before him the Report of the learned Martin, knight, one of the Barons of the Court Judge who tried the Norwich petition, of Exchequer, and one of the Judges selected for to which, he felt assured, the House the trial of Election Petitions, pursuant to the would not attach less importance than Parliamentary Elections Act, 1868, has reported to the House of Commons, that corrupt practices they had hitherto been in the habit of did prevail at the last Election for the City of attaching to the Report of a Committee. Norwich, and that there is reason to believe that Formerly, he might add, it was the praccorrupt practices did extensively prevail at the tice for the Chairman of the Committee said Election, We therefore humbly pray Your Majesty, that
to move for the appointment of a ComYour Majesty will be graciously pleased to cause
mission, when it was deemed right that inquiry to be made pursuant to the Provisions of that course should be taken; but there the Act of Parliament passed in the sixteenth were now no Chairmen of Committees year of the reign of Your Majesty, intituled," An to undertake that duty; and, as it might Act to provide for more effectual inquiry into the turn out that that which was nobody's existence of Corrupt Practices at Elections for Members to serve in Parliament,” by the appoint- business in particular might not be done ment of George Morley Dowdeswell, esquire, at all, he hoped the House would be of one of Her Majesty's Counsel, Horatio Mansfield, opinion that he was not taking too much esquire, Barrister at Law, and Robert John Biron, on himself in rising to move for the issue esquire, Barrister at Law, as Commissioners for of a Commission in the present instance. the purpose of making inquiry into the existence of such corrupt practices." — (Mr. Allorney Having said thus much, he would invite General.)
the attention of hon. Members to the Question again proposed.
Report of the learned Judge, who
“ And I further report that corrupt practices THE ATTORNEY GENERAL said, did prevail at the said Election, and that there is hon. Members must be aware that in reason to believe that corrupt practices did ex1852, a statute had been passed, pro- of the nature stated in my special Report.”
tensively prevail at the same, and that they were viding that in those cases in which an Election Committee reported that cor- Then came the special Report of the rupt practices had, or that they had learned Judge ; and he might, before reason to believe that they had, exten- more particularly referring to it, observe sively prevailed in a borough, that that the powers of the Judge were conHouse, together with the other House fined to inquiring into the existence of of Parliament, might address the Crown corrupt practices at one election, and on the subject, and the Crown might into the existence of extensive corrupt thereupon appoint a Commission to in- practices to that degree which might be quire into the existence of such prac- necessary to determine his judgment as tices. Commissions thus appointed" had to whether there was sufficient evidence full powers for the purpose of conduct- to unseat the Member, so that, under ing their investigations; and might not those circumstances, it must not be supmerely confine them to the particular posed that his Report could dispose of election immediately in question, but the whole of the cases of corruption carry the inquiry back to former elec- which might have occurred in the botions. The House was aware that the rough. In his special Report, the learned statute to which he referred had on Judge went on to saymany occasions been acted upon, and " At the middle of the day of polling Sir William the Commissions issued under it had, he Russell and Mr. Tillett, tho Liberal candidates, believed, by general consent, done their had a considerable majority, and there is no reason work well, and brought to light a good to believe that up to this time any corrupt vote deal of corruption, which, without their until the close of the poll I believe that bribery
had been given on either side ; but from thence aid, would have escaped observation. was extensively committed in order to procure Action, moreover, had, in more than one the election of Sir Henry Josias Stracey. So instance, been taken on their Reports in far as the evidence went, the voters who were the shape of prosecutions instituted by bribed were of one class-namely, workmen or Attorneys General and of Acts of dis- go to work that day, but collected in considerable
labourers for daily wages. These people did not franchisement passed by Parliament. numbers in and about public-houses and beer-shops,
about that the candidate at the bottom
of the poll at the middle of the day was at the head of the poll at the close of the day. It appeared that a number of
knots of twenty or thirty voters were collected together waiting to be bribed. The bribery, it further seemed, was confined to one side, and therefore the figure was not high; but in saying that he was far from wishing to impute bribery to only one party, or stating that the Liberal party had always been immaculate at Norwich; because, on a previous occasion, two Members who sat on the Liberal side of the House were unseated for bribery. But, be that as it might, he should, by way of giving a sample of the evidence which had been adduced at the recent inquiry, read two or three extracts from it. There were several public-houses in the town, one of which was called the "Marquess of Granby." One of the witnesses went there and saw Mackley, and, he said—
and there waited to be bribed. Some of them either of themselves thought, or it was suggested to them by others, that it was reasonable and just they should be paid their day's wages by the candidate for whom they voted. It may be that in some instances this feeling was honestly enter-public-houses were engaged, and that tained, but in the great majority of instances it was a mere pretext in order to obtain bribes. A number of these voters went to the poll in a gross state of drunkenness, some of them so drunk as not to know for whom they came to vote; and I have no doubt that a very considerable number of bribed voters gave their votes between two and four o'clock of the day of polling. I expected that there would have been a scrutiny, but it was abandoned on behalf of Mr. Tillett, and I am, therefore, unable to state the number of the bribed voters. I am also unable to state who the bribers were, with the exception of the man Hardiment, who absconded after the petition was presented, and the man Arthur Hunt, who was examined at the trial. Another man called Warledge also absconded after the petition was presented, and he, probably, was extensively employed in bribing. The sum paid to each bribed voter was small. One pound to each was the sum proved to have been paid by Hardiment, and seven shillings and sixpence each to the voters bribed by Hunt. I am also unable to state what amount of money was spent in bribery, and I failed to obtain any information as to the source from whence the money came, or the persons by whom it was supplied to the bribers; but I believe that there was a corrupt agency at Norwich by which the money was supplied."
"He told me that he had a considerable num
ber of men either in his house or about his pre-
main bribers, came into the room and asked the
The Report proceeded to state further
So these men having stood out against 58., and finding that they could not get any higher terms, condescended at length to accept the amount offered; they were all bribed, and they all went to the poll and voted. At another public-house called the "Woolpack," a man named Hardiment bribed, and the price then appeared to be about £1. Hardiment
had a bagful of gold, and the men at / why he had got a cheque cashed on that first wanted £3 from him, but he only particular day, and was it not rather an gave them £1 apiece. In the course, inconvenient day on which to receive however, of the inquiry with respect to and carry a large sum of money., He Hardiment a piece of evidence came out replied that he had some small bills to which will, I think, satisfy the House pay, and had no change in the house. that the bribery at Norwich was of a The question was then put to him very extensive character. After giving “ You took all this in half-sovereigns for the £1 each to all the other men, there were convenience of the thing ?-I did not ask for halftwo or three to whom he would not give sovereigns. They said they had got £200 worth anything; and the witness was asked- of half-sovereigns ready counted up, and I said,
• Very well, then, that will do.' It so happened “Did Ilardiment give any reason for not pay. that Messrs. Ilarvey's bank are Conservatives in ing money to the two men from the Third Ward ? the town?-I do not know ; yes, I think they are. - Yes, he said they did not belong to his ward. Think! Mr. Webster. Is he not one of the Did he say they could get it from their own ward? stanchest of your lot ?- That is true, so he is. -Yes.
So it happened that at this stanch Conservativo
bank there were £200 in half-sovereigns that From this statement of Hardiment's it happened to be counted up ?—Just so.” certainly appeared to him that there was bribery in each ward, or at all events, in If
, therefore, between two and three most ofthewards in the town. There were
o'clock in the afternoon of the day of other public-houses and other bribers in polling at Norwich Mr. Webster came Norvich, but the cases being of a similar into possession of 400 half-sovereigns character it was not necessary to trouble ready counted out on the counter of the the House with details. Many of the
Conservative bank, the House could be men when they came to the poll were in at no loss to account for a certain amount such a state of intoxication that they ac- of that electoral activity which prevailed
in tually did not know the names of the candidates for whom they were voting. up by the Commissioners, they would The Report, as he had ventured to sugbribery came.
probably discover from what sources the gest already, hardly gave any idea of
For his own part, he the extent of the corruption which in all confessed he was not well satisfied to probability prevailed at Norwich, for proceed merely against inferior agents ; after counsel for the petitioner had called he wished to discover the really guilty a number of witnesses to depose to cer
parties in the background, the persons tain facts, he stated that there were a
who had supplied the money forming great many others who could be pro- his painful duty to add that on the part
the source of all the corruption. duced to give evidence to the same effect
, of the borough this was not a first of, whereupon the learned Baron who pre- fence. sided said he did not think Mr. Keane
Norwich, in fact, was an old
offender. It was not necessary to go would be forwarding his case by adducing any more evidence of that class.
back to 1837, when a very eminent And accordingly the case was stopped
Member of the House was unseated for short. But it was clear from the state- bribery. It would be enough to refer ment of Mr. Keane, and he believed no
to the year 1859, when two Members doubt existed as to the fact, that evi- were unseated for the same cause. In dence such as that to which he had just from the Mayor and Corporation of Nor
that year a very remarkable Petition called the attention of the House was wich had been presented by his right but a sample of what might be given. hon. Friend the President of the Board The learned Judge said there was one of Trade (Mr. Bright), who had also, he thing which puzzled him, and that was believed, a Petition to present on this to discover where the money came from. That was a matter which he himself occasion, but was not now present. The should like exceedingly to see investi- petition to which he referred, after al
leging that extensive and systematic gated by a Commission. There was, however, one curious piece of evidence bribery had been practised at the last which threw some light upon the sub
election, went on to sayject. A man named Webster stated “Your petitioners are desirous that a thorough that between two and three o'clock in inquiry and investigation should take place before the afternoon he went to the bank to get Commission, into the alleged bribery and corrup
a Committee of your House, or before a Royal a cheque cashed for £200. He was asked tion practised at the last election, and particularly
into the sources from which the money so corruptly expended was derived, and that such inquiry may be full, searching, and impartial." At that time the House were unable on technical grounds to comply with the request, which did not emanate from a Committee; but now he trusted the House, by sanctioning a full, searching, and impartial inquiry, would give effect to the expressed wishes of the Mayor and Corporation of Norwich. This was a case in which the Judge had reported that there was reason to believe corrupt practices had extensively prevailed; the attention of the House had been expressly drawn to the provisions giving power to order an inquiry such as he now proposed, and on former occasions Members had been unseated for gross and systematic bribery in the same borough. If this were not a case in which the House thought proper to exercise its powers, it was difficult to conceive any case in which it would ever do so. A salutary effect would, he thought, attend the exercise of those powers, while, on the other hand, if they took no step, the House would practically be abdicating some of its most important functions, if not actually neglecting its duty. It would, moreover, be almost impossible to persuade the country that Members were really in earnest in their endeavours to put down bribery. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving his
MR. READ said, the constituency which he represented embraced many of the leading citizens and men of influence in Norwich, and that must be, in part, his excuse for asking the House not to agree to the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He had just presented to the House a Petition signed by upwards of 2,900 magistrates, merchants, manufacturers and tradesmen of all shades of politics in the city of Norwich, and that must be a further excuse. The persons signing that Petition stated that corrupt practices prevailed at the last election only to a very slight extent, and were conducted by private persons entirely on their own responsibility; that only eight cases of bribery were proved, and that the amount given was small and at a late hour, negativing the idea of any preconcerted scheme of corruption; and, further, that new Writs had been already issued to
places where corrupt practices had prevailed; and the petitioners therefore prayed the House to deal the same meaand not to cast a stigma on the honesty sure of justice to them as to other places, of 12,000 or 13,000 electors because of the corrupt practices of a few. He was not going to contend that Norwich had always been an immaculate city. In olden times a Liberal majority was purchased by the Liberals, and that was attempted to be overturned by Conservative money. This state of things reached its culminating point in 1859, when the gentlemen who had since succeeded in disfranchising Lancaster very nearly succeeded in disfranchising Norwich, and in consequence of the startling and disreputable disclosures then made both parties determined to turn over a new leaf, though undoubtedly there still remained a residuum of drunkenness and venality.
At the recent election the heads of both parties declared that they would not in any way countenance any act of bribery; and it had been proved that, on the part of the Liberals, not 6d. was spent, and that up to two o'clock in the afternoon the Conservatives were equally free from bribery. By that time some 8,000 honest electors had recorded their votes, and then, no doubt, a few over-zealous and injudicious partizans did bribe to a limited extent; but there was no organized system. What was done was small in extent and insignificant in amount. The Attorney General had overstated the case in some respects. Only one or two persons were reported to have received £1, none to have received 10s., but some had taken 78. 6d. or 28. 6d. It must be remembered that the Norwich trial was the first that took place under the new Act, hence a certain harshness of procedure that was not practised elsewhere; and he believed that the law laid down with regard to agency was hardly the same as had been subsequently laid down by the same learned Judge in the cases of Westminster and Wigan Petitions. In regard to the state of the poll at two o'clock, the facts were these that the Liberal committee only issued one return at ten o'clock, which claimed for them a majority of 600, but they afterwards owned that it was incorrect, and they issued no more. The Conservative returns showed a gradual diminution of the majority against Sir Henry Stracey after eleven