« PoprzedniaDalej »
under any apprehension, for he never saw a great question, though discussed with much animation, discussed with more quietness. He saw no disposition whatever to impede free discussion. He hoped that his hon. Friend would have found it possible not to have noticed these expressions; and he hoped his hon. Friend would yet see the expediency of not carrying the subject any further. He hoped that his hon. Friend would leave his resolution as a notice, which he was sure would operate as a notice that though the subject might be treated with freedom, it must be treated with decency.
lacqueys of public delinquents," who ought not to dare" to stand up as the advocates of the disgraceful services they had embarked in?" (Hear, hear.) He, therefore, thanked his hon. Friend for having brought forward the motion. He admitted that that question was open to a conflict of opinion, because it was the produce of the moment, and there were no fixed principles to guide them in coming to a decision on the propriety of bringing such questions before the House; but now that it had been brought before it, the House could not shrink from its duty, or get rid of the motion by a verbal amendment. It was au attack on their privileges, and they could not pass it over without a dereliction of duty. (Cheers.)
Mr. PERCEVAL felt himself at all times very inadequate to take part in any discussion for which he was not previously prepared, but he could not avoid speaking on the question. He Sir FRANCIS BURDETT agreed with the hon. could not agree with the desire expressed by Member who spoke last, that the Press had, the hon. Member for Callington, still less with undeviating perseverance, with comcould be agree with the observations of the manding interest, with great ability, and with Right hon. Gentleman, the late Paymaster of great patriotism and integrity (No, no! and the Forces (Mr. Calcraft). According to his cheers-with great patriotism and integrity, poor ability, and looking to the state of the fought the battle which was then at issue country, he had no hesitation in saying, now between the people and the boroughmongers that the question had been mooted by his hon. who sat in that House. (Cheers.) He could Friend, that it could not be got rid of in the not doubt what would be the issue, whatever manner proposed by the hou. Member for course might be taken; and as the matter Cellington, without that House forfeiting all had been brought for inquiry before the peoits authority and losing its character in the ple of the country, he had no doubt that the country. The question having been mooted, corrupt state of the representation (No, no! if the House declined proceeding if it did and cheers)-to whomever the question not vote the paragraph a gross libel and a might be referred, before whatever Jury it breach of the privileges of the House-if the might be brought, before any society of genHouse did not with a firm spirit do its duty, tlemen-that they would all be of the same and assert its dignity, it would give an as- opinion as the generality of the people of Engcendancy to the Press which it could ac juire land, and of the same opinion as he was reby no other means. It might have been a specting the corruption of that House. (Cheers ; question of discretion as to bringing the no, no.) He was indifferent to the vote of subject forward, though he for one did not that House. The statement of the fact of its think it ought not to have been brought general character was by the hon. Gentleman forward; but, having been brought under the called a violation of its privileges, when it notice of the House, it had no course left but was made by an honest writer (A laugh.) to vote the paragraph quoted a gross breach For that statement of a fact, when made of privilege, and take notice of it accordingly, abroad, which hou, Gentlemen knew to he He was not aware, when his bon. Friend true, of which they ought to be ashamed, called the attention of the House to the para- when their practices were exposed by the graph, as he was not then in the House, if he Press, the hon. Gentleman stated that it was a had connected it with a long series of similar violation of the privileges of the House. He paragraphs which could, not have been writ- did not think it was wise to call any part of ten but with the intention of deterring the the Press before the House in the present Members of the House of Commons from excited stae of the country. (No, no! cheers.) doing their duty, and of relenting the effect The Members spoke of the tendency of the of their vote, by libelling their character and articles of the Press; but they overlooked the rendering their authority of no avail in the tendency of those constant violations of the country. This article was one of the series; vital spirit and vital liberties of the countryand no man who had read the series could those violations both of the law and the Conentertain the least doubt that such was the stitution of which they were all sensible when intention of the writer of that Paper, nor that they voted that resolution at the beginning of he was resolved to deter the Members of the every session which lay on their table, and House from doing their duty, by holding which declared that it was a violation of the them up to the scorn and hatred of the couns privileges of that House for Peers, or great try. (Hear, hear) Was not such the ten-money or mere money dealers to traffic in dency of these articles, when it was said that seats of that House. To do that was a viola they ought not to show their faces in that tion of their highest privileges, and yet it was House? Was it pot the tendency of these done every day. (Cheers.) Let the hon. Gen articles to deter them from doing their duty?tlemen bring forward those violations of their and were they not described as "the hired privileges whichys with true hypocrisy were
had no right to take that method of asserting its privileges. He had himself been found guilty of a libel on that House, but he inferred that it was an unjust sentence, and he cared not that he had been found guilty, because the ten-House was not a proper tribunal to try such questions. (Hear, hear.) He would venture to say, whatever legal proceedings might be had, whether they were to get damages if such an action could be brought, or to inflict a vindictive punishment for the violation of the dignity, or as necessary to support tho virtue of the House, he would venture to say that they must fail. If the House, therefore, came to a vote, he hoped it would not be from the expectation of bringing the affair to a favourable issue. Feeling as he did, he should not have done justice to the House or the public if he had not expressed his sentiments in the way he had done. (Cheers.)
now overlooked; for the people were sick, the nation was sick, every man was sick of those continued violations both of the law and the constitution, which made that House anything but a representation of the people. (Hear.) The hon. Member talked of dency; let him put down that tendency to destroy the constitution which arose from the interference of great men; let him put down the late nefarious practices that were avowed; let him put down, too, the influence of such men in that House which had a tendency to destroy the rights and the liberties of the people. Feeling so, thinking that it was not in a case of the infringement of the legal rights and privileges of the House proper for the House to erect itself into a judge of its own cause, assuming what it could have no evidence to prove, and carrying into execu. tion the punishment it decreed for offences against its own dignityas for the character Sir C. WETHERELL said, that there was no of that House, it was destroyed many years | man who was more an advocate for freedom of ago (cheers, no, no) he was astonished that speech, and no man more permitted himself Members should now be so squeamish, when freely to use his speech, than the hon. Member it had been avowed in that House that prae- for Westminster, who was a great friend to tices existed which, at an early period of its freedom of debate in that House. (Hear, hear.) history, it would have been the duty of the The hon. Baronet set out with being a lover of Speaker to call the Member to order who popularity; he was an advocate of freedom,. should have alluded to them. They had since a great theorist, and a great practiser of the then been avowed. Since 1807, when Mr. doctrines of liberty and equality (cheers, and Maddocks detected Lord Castlereagh and Mr. No, no); but, at the same time, since he (Sir Percival in practising this corrupt traffic, they C. Wetherell) had had a seat in that House, having, turned out a Member, Mr. Quintin a more dictatorial speech, more dictatorial in Dick, he believed, because, holding his seat language, more dictatorial in mauner, more for some borough under their influence, he dictatorial in principle, more full of usurpation, would not vote as they wished on the subject more full of that arrogance which carries the of the Duke of York, they requiring only dictatorship of tyranny into the freedom of Members as tools in that House when these debate, he had never heard. The declaration Members were detected in flagranti delicto, of the hon. Baronet had never been equalled and when that question was brought before in that House. The hon. Baronet had the the House, what then was the defence set up? presumption to recommend the borough MemHe would first state that the Ministers, those bers to retire, of whom (said Sir Charles) I am who were concerned in the traffic, did as was one. (A laugh.) Does he dare (continued Sir Dow recommended to the Borough Members Charles) to call upon me, does he dare to call, to do, they had the decency to walk out of does he presume to call upon me (a laugh), the House into the lobby, sure that the persons does he dare to call upon honourable and inthey left behind would whitewash them; dependent gentlemen, gentlemen as honourthey had the lecency to go out, and did not able and independent as he is (cheers); does vote on the question. Let the Boroughmon- the hon. Baronet, say, dare to call upon me gers imitate tliat conduct when the subject in to go out of the House, and not to vote on the which they were interested was discussed, and question which is to revolutionise the legislet them do it with a good grace for whether lature? (No, no.) I say yes. The hon. Bathey did it with a good grace or a bad grace, ronet advised the borough Members to go out their votes, he could tell them, would have no of the House. This is the most ultra dictamore effect than whistling to the winds. (Hear, torship, or I will say, as the noble paymaster hean, criess of Question.!!) // What was the of the Forces said of one the other day, the defence of thesel Ministers, who intended to plus ultra dictatorship, over the debates of commit an offence, but who had not completed this House that was ever known in a public , who had begun a bargain, but had not con-assembly. Shall I retire when the hon. Bacluded it, because they were caught in the rohet keeps his seat? (Hear, hear.) Shall I fact owho were found with the hand in the go out while he keeps bis place on a leather pocket, but had not drawn forth the pocket-cushion? (Hear, hear.) When the hon. Baadudkerchief; what was the defence of these Ministers? Why, they escaped by the great argunient, that, bribery and corruption were as notorious as the sun at doon day it was indifferentdoshims what the decision of the House was, but he would say that the House
ronet, with due liberality, recommended me to go out, does he think that he is to be allowed slyly to blackball all those Members who will not vote for the revolutionary principles of a Jacobin revolution? He could tell the hon.. Baronet' (Sir Charles' continued) that the
borough Members would do their duty. After commenting at some further length on the dictatorship of the hon. Member for Westminster, the hon. Baronet proceeded to discuss the question before the House. The hon. Baronet had only drawn a short conclusion from long premises, he had indeed had nothing but premises, and he hoped the House would allow him to lay down his premises before he came to a conclusion. He had been a reader of The Times. The foreign articles of that paper were written with greater ability than those of any other paper, and for those he read The Times. His name was not, he believed, alluded to in the paragraph referred to by the hou. Member for Oxford; that paragraph was not one of those which might apply to A, B, or C, but it described the case of all those whom it was proposed to expel from the House, or not less thon 160 Members. That paragraph was a libel on that House and its Members, and proscribed 160 of its Members. In his view of the paragraph he did not agree with the opinion of the late Paymaster of the Forces (Mr. Calcraft.) If his right hon. Friend looked at it, he would see that it did not depend on the Press if its libels did not take elect. His right hou. Friend did not like the form of expression in which his hon. Friend had clothed his motion; but, for his part, he did not object to it. He did not know that he should, himself, have taken notice of such a libel; but it having been taken notice of and brought before the House, there could be no doubt that it was a libel on the House, and a gross attack on its privileges. He would conclude by saying, that he had never given a vote of which he was more convinced of the propriety than he was of the vote he should give in favour of his hou, Friend's motion. (Hear.)
Sie CHARLES FORBES regretted that the motion of the hon. Member had not gone further,
and taken into consideration the other numbers
of The Times. If he had gone to the paper of the 2d March, he might have introduced some more revolting specimens of the gentlemen of the Press, and of their endeavours to stigmatise as scandalous those who dared to show their faces again in the House, should the Parliament be dissolved. That paper said, and he remembered the words well," that the now infamous and marked-out nominees of peers and other opulent persons would be justly handed over to condign puuishment or popular indignation, if they should dare to obtrude themselves into Parliament." That and similar passages had struck him so forcibly, as being exceedingly offensive and of an infamous character, so contrary to the just and proper liberty of the Press, and so licentious, that he carried the paper down to the House, intending to call the attention of the House to the subject. He consulted persons of high authority on these matters, and they preferred treating the matter with silent contempt, saying, that if it were publicly mentioned, it would give the paragraph that notoriety which
the Editor of The Times was desirous of obtaining. (Hear, hear.) There was some truth, but he thought, more danger in that opinion. It was evident that the House encourages by its silence, and by not noticing such attacks, the Press to proceed in its present course. He saw this, but he was in part reconciled to silence by its being observed, that these puragraphs were the mere productions of an anonymous libeller. Those who wrote such libels were no better than cowardly assassins; and if they were not as cowardly as they were licentious-if they had the spirit-they would be cowardly assassins. He hoped that the people would have more good sense than to allow their judgments to be led astray by what these papers said. He had heard no person speak of these paragraphs but with indignation, The hon. Baronet (the Member for Westminster) had attempted to defend' them, and in his opinion the defence and the cause were worthy of each other. He trusted that no hon. member, would be intimidated from doing his duty by the threats of such men. He hoped that they would do their duty conscientiously, and he trusted they would stand firm, though they should pay with their lives for the performance of the duty. He at least was determined to resist, at every step, this most revolutionary measure; and if it were carried, he did not believe that the same class of men as at present would find their way into the House of Commons. (Question.) The ornaments of the House, the greatest men, the brightest patriots, had found their way into that House through the Lord-with no great consistency, as the means that were now denounced by the noble House and the country might know by comparing the noble Lord's plaus with his written works; and if those denounced means were done away, such men would no longer find their way into Parliament. (Question.)
Lord ALTHORP said that it was impossible to deny that this was a question of the privileges of the House. (Hear.) But it was a differeut question whether the subject ought to have been brought before the House or not. The question of Reform interested all the people; it had excited the whole nation, and it could not be denied that improper language had been used on both sides. (Hear, hear.) Would the honourable Baronet say that no attacks were made on the Ministers ? Were they not called revolutionary? Were they not attacked for endeavouring, as was said, to produce a revolution in the country? (Hear, hear.) He admitted that the language brought under the notice of the House was not justifiable; but it was a question of prudence whether the House should, ander the present circumstances, engage itself in a conflict with the people? Was that a proper period, when all the feelings of the country were excited, to take strong measures to preserve from violation the privileges of the House? If it was not then proper to interfere-if the House suffered itself to be carried away by feeling-it would
that it was not prudent to commit the House to a contest with the people, which was undoubtedly a subject of serious consideration. But it could not be doubted that these libels would go on increasing if they were unnoticed
not do itself any credit, and would not increase the respect of the people. Under these circumstances, he felt a difficulty as to what course to pursue, and if it were consistent with the forms of the House, he would move the previous question. The noble Lord con--would not any person who might be brought cluded by moving the previous question.
Mr. CAMPBELL referred to the cases of the Queen's Trial and to the period of the Catholic Emancipation, to show that in periods of much popular excitement warm aud intemperate language had generally been overlooked. He complained of the honourable Member not having brought forward the subject im mediately after it had occurred; it ought to have been on the moment. The House had sat every day last week, even Saturday, and yet not one word had been said on the subject till that night. [The honourable and learned Member made some further observations, which, as he spoke from under the gallery, were not audible.]
Mr. C. WYNN regretted that he could not vote with his noble Friend. (Hear, hear.) Whether or not it was desirable to have brought forward the subject was one thing, but now that it had been brought forward he was compelled to say that the House could take no other course than to declare that it was a libel, and an infringement on the privileges of the House. Considering the nature of the great question before the House, the paramount interest it had excited in the country, and the great talents that had been called into the discussion, he thought some greater latitude might be allowed than ordinary circumstances. If the discussion had been confined to the defects of the Constitution, and to show the necessity of reforming it, he would allow great liberty. But what was this writing? It went to deprive a great part of the Members of that House of the freedom of deliberation. He begged the second paragraph referred to might be read.
The Clerk accordingly read the following paragraph:
"When, night after night, borough nominees rise to infest the proceedings of the House of Commons with arguments to justify their own intrusion into it, and their continuance there, thus impudently maintaining what the lawyers call an adverse possessio in spite of judgment against them, we really feel inclined to ask why the rightful owners of the House should be longer insulted by the presence of such unwelcome inmates? It is beyond question a piece of the broadest and coolest effrontery in the world, for these hired lacqueys of public delinquents to stand up as advocates of the disgraceful service they have embarked in."
The hon. Member continued-If that were not the despotism of that arbitrary system of liberty which they had seen elsewhere; if that were not the introduction into this country of that system of tolerant intolerance which would allow no liberty to any opinions but his own, he did not know what was. It was said
up at a future time justly complain of the injustice of the House in allowing writers to go such lengths, and having passed over these libels as unworthy of notice? To that course, then, he could not assent. He knew the inconveniences to which public men exposed themselves by embracing the course he recommended; he knew the penalty they must pay, and he was not afraid to meet it. (Hear.)
Sir JAMES GRAHAM had heard the speech of his right honourable Friend with regret, but not with astonishment. He was aware that his right honourable Friend had a partiality through his whole life to support the forms of the House, and, therefore, he was not surprised at his speech. He had heard, however, that speech with great regret, for though he was aware of the opinions of his late colleague aud right honourable Friend on the subject of reform, he was himself sincerely and ardently desirous that the House should come to a favourable decision on that great question. (Calls of "Question.") If the House would allow him, he was anxious to be permitted to say a few words, though be should be reluctant to infringe on the rules of the House. He knew its general courtesy, and should be ready to bend to its wishes. He was about to say, that though no man was more ardently desirous than he was, that the great measure which had received the sanction of the Administration should be approved of by Parliament, yet there was one feeling in his heart which was more ardent still, and thas was, that the discussions on this question should be conducted so as to preserve the peace of the country, and the stability of our institutions, and that there should be no excitement of any angry feelings either in that House or the country. Entertaining that wish, he thought it was most unfortunate that the hou. Member for Oxford should have regarded it as his duty to bring before the House a question of that nature, when the eyes of all the country were turned on the
use, and all the nation was waiting in breathless expectation for its decision. He was sorry that his honourable Friend had deemed it his duty to t aside attention from that great quesion to a conflict between the privileges of that House and the freedom of the press. It was desirauer there should be no such discussion betwee the House and the press before they came to settle the great question of the evening. He hoped he should not betray any soreness an such a subject, but week after week-Sunday after Sunday (hear, hear), some kind friend of his who had probably left the warm precincts of office (hear, hear), "easting leag lingering looks behind him" (hear, and a
called on them, at the same time, when they proposed to deal with this question in the manner recommended by the hon. Baronet (Inglis), to consider that they were a deliberative assembly, and that they could not, as parties, exercise a sound discretion in the capacity of judges. (Hear.) He agreed in the force of the observations of the lion. Baronet (the Member for Westminster), with reference to the language of some of the petitions which had been presented, and which that House had not hesitated to receive and to allow to be printed. The Members of the Duke of Newcastle had been spoken of in these petitions; the boroughs of Lord Fitzwilliam had been alluded to; and could they, after having thus admitted themselves to be nominees, declare they were the real representatives of the people? (Hear) The right hon, Baronet concluded by observing, that he thought what had been done on this subject would operate as a salutary warning on both sides; but if the hon. Baronet pressed his motion to a division, he must oppose it for the sake of the peace of the country, and the safety of our public institutions. (Hear.)
laugh), made attacks of somewhat the same description on him and the right honourable Friends who sat near him. He was reminded day after day of the question directed to him in the course of the debate by the hon. Member for Boroughbridge (Sir C. Wetherell), and he was asked what will your constituents at Cockermouth say to this? (A laugh.) He was vilified and abused in the coarsest terms of sarcasm and invective ridicule; but was he deterred from the fulfilment of his duty by the repetition of these attacks? No. If he wanted any additional stimulus to pursue the course he had undertaken, and to discharge his duty to his country and to his constituents honestly, fairly, and conscien. tiously, he found that stimulus in the attacks to which he was thus subjected. (Hear, hear.) If, however, these attacks are to be taken as questions of privilege on one side, they are so on and those who would punish the newspapers for what they may consider as libels will be bound themselves to abstain from many of those observations which had been used but too freely in the course of the debates on reform. It -will be their bounden duty to suppress all those passages in the speeches of the members which stigmatise the measure of reform hon, Baronet who had just spoken, although Sir H. HARDINGE thought, that the right now proposed by the ministers, under the he deprecated further discussion, was one of sanction of the Sovereign, as tending to bring those who had done his utmost to prolong it. about a revolution. (Hear.) Why, it was (Hear.) The right hon. Baronet had gone but the other evening, in course of the dis-out of his way to select an illustration for his cussions, that an hon. Baronet (Sir H. Hardinge) declared that the Reform Bill would, if carried, shake the crown from the head of the Sovereign. Hear, hear.) That sentiment had been since repeated in the House, and echoed in the newspapers (hear), and yet no one on that side of the House had thought of treating it as a breach of privilege, or an invasion of the right of free discussion. Better at once shut up the gallery of that House, and proclaim to the world, by a rigid enforcement of the Standing Orders, that no strangers shall be admitted, nor no account of the proceedings of that House go forth to the public. They might as well put an end at once to all free discussion as to attempt, by a proceeding like that recommended by the hon. Baronet (Inglis), to endeavour to prescribe the limits in which it is to be carried on. Of the danger of that course to the country y and to the constitution he had not, however, the slightest doubt; and in so much dread would he hold the prospect of such an event, that although the passing of the Reform Bill was one of the objects dearest to his heart, and which he considered likely to prove most beneficial to his country, yet he would be content to forego reform itself, rather than abandon that freedom of discussion and publicity of their proceedings which was so essential to the preservation of their constitutional liberties. (Hear.) If he was called on to express an Opinion on the subject of the article in The Tones, he would say with the noble Lord (Alhorp) that he could not A defend it; but he