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he considered this country's great com- progress on the enemy's coast. Although mercial advantages. Still, from the evi ihere had been military opinions that this dence before him, he must say, that in the Expedition was doubtful and hazardous, Expedition to the Scheldt the means were yet it must be recollected that such opiadequate to the end, and the end useful nions had been given of other expeditions It was the best diversion this country which had completely succeeded. When could make with the least risk. With the admiral who commanded off Basque such impressions he could not vote for Roads was asked his opinion about attackcensuring his Majesty's ministers. ing the French fleet with fire-ships, be
Mr. Marryat said, that he had attended replied, “ that although it was a most horthe whole of the investigation, had heard rible mode of warfare, and the attempt all the evidence, and bad read the whole was dangerous and almost desperate, it mass of papers which had been produced. might possibly succeed.” Notwithstanding Exercising the best judgment he could this opinion, the attempt was made, and it form upon the subject, he had no doubt of succeeded. He believed, although opithe propriety of sending a British army nions in almost the same words had been to the continent, in order to make a di. delivered respecting the attack of Antversion in favour of our allies. After the werp, yet it would have succeeded if it glorious attempt which Austria had made were not for untoward circumstances, to oppose the tyranny of France, and which, it was unlikely would occur, and when the fa'e of the war appeared soy it was impossible to controul. He could nearly poised at the ever memorable bat- not but believe that the Expedition had tle of Aspern, he thought the ministers of an important effect as a diversion in favour this country would have deserved the of Austria. It was well remembered that highest degree of blame if they had neg. at one time Buonaparté considered Auslected to bring forward the whole strength tria entirely conquered, and called upon and resources of the empire, in aid of the Hungarian nation to elect a king for Austria. The noble lord (Porchester) had themselves. From the admirable and said, that the time and season were ill- heroic General Orders issued by the emchosen; but it must be recollected that it peror of Austria, it appeared that Buonacame out in the evidence, that there was parté, in the beginning of the negotiation, no material part of the army of this coun- proposed such terms as would have shaken try in a situation for effective service be- the very foundation of he Austrian mofore the period at which the Expedition narchy. Very soon, however, after he was undertaken. If a corps had been sent had heard of our Expedition landing in to the North of Germany instead of Wal. Walcheren, he lowered his tone, and cheren, that corps would neither have offered the emperor of Austria such terms been sufficient to cope singly with the as he conceived he might with honour force which the enemy could bring to bear accept. Much blame also had been against it, nor to protect any insurrection thrown on ministers for not evacuating which could be ihen formed. It would Walcheren sooner than they did, but if be also entirely deprived of the co-opera- they had withdrawn the British forces from tion of our navy, which was a description the continent while the fate of Austria of force that was of all others the most remained in doubt, they would have been terrible to the enemy. The objects of justly exposed to the severest censures. the Expedition were two-fold: the first Viewing the subject in this light, he related to British objects only, and the could not agree in the propositions of the second to a diversion in favour of Austria. noble lord, and shouid consequently supNow as far as related to British objects port the Amendment. alone, "he thought it must be acknow- Sir James Hall condemned the vanity ledged that the capture of a fortified town, and presumption of tertain high born perwith a garrison of 9,000 men, and the de- sons in forcing themselves in o situations struction of the basin of Flushing, were which they were not qualified to fill. events of some importance. It was also However he lamented the failure of the his firm opinion, that the ulteriór objects Expedition, he was not for an entire of the Expedition would have been ob- change of ministers, yet he contended tained if it had not been for the very ex- that it was necessary some change should traordinary state of the wind and weather, take place in the administration. He which not only detained the Expedition had not any objection to the marquis so long in our own ports, but retarded its Wellesley i but, without some partial
HOUSE OF COMMONS.
change the country was endangered; he were to be avoided, it was the present. thought the House ought to come to some If, indeed, a complaint were made of a Resolution, to shew that ministers were plain, a palpable and perfectly evident responsible.
breach of a privilege, exactly defined and The Chancellor of the Exchequer rose, unquestionable, then it might be very amidst a loud cry of Adjourn, and ob- proper that the question of privilege served, that as he did not suppose the should take precedence of all others, unother question (meaning ihat relative to less there were other urgent matters pendsir F. Burdett) would occupy much time ing which it would be of the greatest conto-morrow, he would therefore move that sequence to forward. But this was not a the present debate should be postponed case of that description. It was not a to the same day; which was agreed to. plain and simple question, upon which
The other orders of the day were then the House could immediately decide. disposed of, and the House adjourned at There were two distinct questions inthree o'clock.
volved in it,-Ist, as to the right of the House of Commons to imprison. 2d, as to the character of the terms with which
the Argument had been accompanied, Wednesday, March 28.
terms with respect to the precise import [StR FRANCIS BURDETT-BREACH OF of which there might be a difference of Privilege.] Mr. Sheridan said that his opinion. If the Argument itself conobject in rising was to say a few words tained nothing but what had been delion one of the most important matters
vered in the House, then another quesupon which that House had ever deli. tion arose, whether if there had been any berated: he meant the resumption of the thing in it contrary to the privileges of adjourned debate on the complaint of a the House, it was likely it could have breach and violation of the privileges of passed without notice by the Speaker, the House, alledged to have been com- who ever presided in that House with mitted by one of their own members dignity and impartiality. But he did not (Sir Francis Burdett.) He should, chere- mean to enter into the details of the ques. fore, in the first placé, move, that the de- tion now, because his proposition was that bate on that subject be now resumed by further time should be allowed to consider the House.
of it. He did not exactly know where the The Speaker then stated to the House, doctrine was to be found, that questions what was the question before them for as to breach of privilege were to have discussion, viz. a Resolution proposed as precedence of all others, though they follows : “ That a Letter signed“ Fran- should not be of a nature to require parcis Burdett," and a further part of a Paper ticular dispatch. There was not, in his intitled " Argument,” in the paper called opinion, any pressing urgency in the preCobbett's Weekly Register, of March 24, sent case to require the House to come to 1810, is a libellous and scandalous paper, an immediate decision. He was not reflecting on the just rights and privileges aware that such a practice with respect to of this House."
the precedence of questions of privilege, Mr. Sheridan then observed, that, had obtained in the best times of the though he considered this as a question of constitution. At the commencement of the highest importance, he would not, in every session, every gentleman must the view he meant to take at present of know, that a standing order was past for it, detain the House above a few minutes. the appointment of a Committee of PriviHis desire was, as he was persuaded it leges, and regulating the times of its sitmust be the desire of every gentleman ting, and, by the order it was specifically who heard him, that this question should directed that to this Committee, were to not interfere with the other great subject be referred all such matters as related to before the House ; and be thought that breach of privilege ; that it was to report this must be equally the wish of both from time to time to the House, and that sides of the House it could not but be when any such question was agitated rethe wish on all hands, that the discussion specting a member, he should withdraw, relative to the Scheldt Expedition should after being heard in his defence, till it not be interrupted. But besides that very was disposed of. This Committee was to weighty consideration-if ever there was sit every Monday, Wednesday, and Fria case in which precipitancy and ras ness day; all members were to have access to
it; they were empowered to call for per- , ing Order, which must be enforced on sons, papers, and records; and, lastly, to the bare suggestion, without any regular deliver their opinions to the House from motion. time to time is reports. (Here the right The Speaker observed, that the Standing hon. gent. read 'the Standing Order.) Order was imperative only so far, that the This he apprehended was not to be con- Committee should sit at stated times, and sidered as a mere formal and barren not that any particular case should be reorder. The subject under consideration ferred to it; whether any particular case was a case perfectly calculated for the should or should not be sent to it, was a Committee of Privileges, and he saw no- matter for the decision of the House, and thing in it that required such haste that it the right hon. gent. might raise the quesshould be proceeded upon to the interrup- tion by moving it as an amendment. tion of the other most important business Mr, Sheridan adverted again to the Orbefore the House. The hon. gent. who der, and still contended that it was manbrought the subject forward was bound to datory not only as to the appointing of shew that great mischief would result the Committee, but also as to the referring from delay-that greater inconvenience to that Committee all matters of privilege. would arise from suffering the discussion The words were, “ they are to take into on the new topic to be postponed for a consideration all matters,” &c. short time, than from interrupting and re- The Speaker again said, that in the way tarding the other business, on which they in which the Orier had been understood, were previously engaged. This had not the House was to pronounce whether any been shewn. The proper and constitu. particular case should or should not be retional course, therefore, he contended, was ferred to the Committee. to refer this matter to a Committee of Mr. Shridan then moved, that the ComPrivileges. It was nothing to him that it mittee of Privileges should sit on Wedneshad not been usual to relor these cases to day next. a Committee of Privileges. He found a The Speaker said, that this must be Standing Order commanding that line of moved as an amendment on the original proceeding, and the present instance was question. a most proper
for the reference Mr. Adam rose to order, and begged which he proposed. He called the at- before the question should be put in a tention of the House to a case in 1779, regular shape upon the amendment, to relating undoubtedly to a person not a suggest to his right hon. friend another member; but the circumstance of a mem- course, by which he could more conveber being the party concerned made the niently but not less effectually get at his argument much stronger in his favour. object. In addition to the case which his The case was that of a person of the right hon. friend had mentioned, there name of Mathews who had published in was one which occurred in 1701, respecte The English Chronicle, a report of a ing a letter written to the Speaker by a speech which was held out to be a gross person of the name of Culpepper. violation of the privileges of the House. had been referred to the Committee of The paper was delivered in at the table, Privileges, which decided upon it in the and ordered to be referred to the Com- first instance and reported thereon to the mittee of Privileges. This shewed that House. But then subsequently the House the practice of reference to this Commit- took the matter into its consideration and tee had not been long discontinued ; but finally decided upon it. The best mode that such a reference had been made at of proceeding, according to his view of the no very distant period, in a case very si- case, would be, that bis right hon. friend milar to that now under discussion. He should withdraw his motion for the preconcluded by moving, « That the Com. sent, and allow his hon. friend near him mittee of Privileges should resume its sit- (Mr. Brand) to move an adjournment, ting on that day sen’night, and that the which he understood his hon. friend paper complained of should be referred
meant to do. If the adjournment for seto it.”
veral days should be carried, then the The Speaker asked whether the right reference might be made to the Comhon. meinber moved this as an amend- mittee, and its report laid on the table bement on the original question ?
fore the termination of the adjournment, Mr. Sheridan said, he thought that un- when the question might undergo a full necessary, because he stood on the Stand. and deliberate discussion in the House.
If a debate should arise on the proposition, that had been submitted to the House ; yet for an adjournment, he trusted he should he had no hesitation in saying, that there be allowed to give his reasons for the was one passage amongst those pointed
course of proceeding which he had recom- out by the hon. member (Mr. Lethbridge), mended.
which he considered as falling under Mr. Brand rose, when the Speaker ob- every definition of a breach of privilege, Served, that at present the debate rested and with the amendments and alterations on the' merits of the original question, un. which he should propose, he would vote less the amendment was distinctly put. for that determination ; but, when he was
Mr. Brand then proceeded. It was his called upon to say, that a paper laid before intention to move the arljournment of this the House, was a libellous and scandalous debate, after previously stating such rea- reflection upon the just rights of the sons as appeared to him satisfactory and House, he must have time to consider conclusive as to the propriety of some fur- what those just rights were. He had, as ther delay. If the hon. gent. who had yet, hardly had time to look over the brought this subject to the notice of the elaborate argument of Mr. Hargrave on House, had been aware of the Interruption this subject. On a point of so much imwhich it was calculated to give to the portance it was absolutely necessary for other important question now pending, he the due discharge of their duty that they was convinced the hon. gent. would not should have time to resort to all the have lent himself to any such purpose. sources of intelligence which they could (Hear! hear!) It was obvious that no discover. Sir Matthew Hale had said, mischief could result from any farther cir- that no offence ought to be decided upon culation of this paper, and therefore there in that House, where a remedy was to be was no cause for precipitation from any had in a court of law. A remedy for libel apprehension of that kind; whereas there was open in the ordinary course of law. was great danger of serious inconvenience Mr. Reeves had been prosecuted by the from interrupting the discussion on the Attorney General for a libel at the instance Scheldt inquiry, as the public attention of the House. So far he referred to the would be diverted from a subject in which great constitutional questions which would the interests of the nation were most arise upon this paper. As to the passages deeply concerned. But from that subject marked, there was one, as he had already the public attention would be diverted, said, which might be soon decided upon; but and very naturally, if this question was the rest, he thought, required very grave suffered to intervene. Great and import and serious deliberation before gentlemen ant, however, as he thought that question could pronounce a dispassionate and just to be, still he would acknowledge, that he judgment upon them. For instance, it considered every question in which the must be first very maturely considered rights and privileges of the House of Com- how far a member was entitled to tell his mons, and the liberty of the subject were constituents what he had stated in that concerned, to be of the first rank in the House. He could not immediately make scale of importance, and to be more inte- up his mind on that point-a point, the deresting than twenty questions on Expedi- termination on which would involve many tions to Walcheren or to any other part of important consequences. Was a member the globe, and their consequent failures not at liberty to tell his constituents what and disgraces. But the question to be now he had uttered in that House unreproved ? discussed was not so much as to the right Many of the points contained in the paper of the House to commit for breaches of upon the table had been expressed by the privilege in certain cases, but as to how worthy bart. in that House; nay, had even far the exercise of such right extended; been enlarged upon, and supported by what were its limits, and whether it applied other members. If the worthy bart. had to cases where redress might be had in the a right to give to his constituents what he ordinary course of law. On these points, had stated in that House, and laid down to which were most important in their na- be good constitutional doctrine, then in the ture and consequences, there might be commencement of his letter he had not much difference of opinion. These were gone too far in the following paragraph: not, therefore, questions to be determined “ Gentlemen-The House of Commons upon in a rash and even impetuous man- having passed a Vote, which amounts to ner. Though he was not called upon to “ a declaration, that an Order of theirs is say whether be agreed in the Resolution “ to be of more weight than Magna Charta " and the laws of the land, I think it my friend he would most strongly recom. “ duty to lay my sentiments thereon be. mend to him to grant time, for all must “fore my constituents, whose character think, as the matter was at present ma-, " as freemen, and even whose personal naged, and he himself most certainly “ safety depend in a great degree upon thought, that this was a sop thrown out to “ the decision of this question-a question an attentive llouse and an indignant people. " of no less importance than this, whether (Loud cries of Hear! hear!] He really “our liberty be still to be secured by the had some hopes that the hon. gent. who “ laws of our forefathers, or be to lay at introduced this subject would, upon better " the absolute mercy of a part of our fel- reflection, second the motion of adjourn“ low-subjects, collected together by ment and he was convinced that the bon. “ means which it is not necessary for me gent. would regret afterwards that he had “ to describe?” If he had a right to pressed the matter at this period. He con. convey to his constituents all he had stated cluded by moving as an amendment on in that House, in thus adverting to what the original question, " That the debale he had openly complained of, and what be adjourned till to-morrow se'nnight." had been admitted on the other side of Mr. Lethbridge then rose and said that the House, and defended only on the he should not second the motion. (A ground of its universality, it was absti- laugh.) nence and moderation in the hon. baronet The Speaker informed the hon. member to say no more. If a member was to be that the amendment had been seconded. permitted to tell his constituents what he Mr. Lethbridge again rose and said, that, had said in that House unreproved, where as the mover of the Resolutions before the was the breach of privilege in that pas. House, be could not consent to the proposage? Upon this supposition the allusion sition for adjourning the debate. He had had been made in language which evinced most certainly, at the time when he great forbearance and moderation. He brought forward the Resolutions, been sen. could not help considering it as astonishing sible that he was entering upon a grare that this should have been so readily and serious subject; and it had never been made a matter of complaint after the in his contemplation to proceed in it with manner in which a celebrated charge of precipitancy. That had not been at any his hon. friend (Mr. Madocks), had been time his wish, and he conceived he had received, and after the charge had been placed himself in the hands of the House, dismissed, upon the ground that the prac- and that the House had determined for him. tice was universal. The passage which Further than that, he had nothing to do he himself considered as a breach of pri- with the course, which had been pursued. vilege, was that in which it was stated But the argument of the bon. gent who that the members of that House “ inflated had brought forward the amendment, ap“ with their high blown fanciful ideas of peared to him to answer itself, as it fur“ Majesty, and tricked out in the trap- nished the strongest ground against agree“pings of royalty, thought privilege and ing to it. The hon. gent. had stated that ~ protection beneath their dignity-as- this question was of graver and greater “sumed the sword of prerogative, and importance than twenty cxpeditions, such « lorded it equally over the King and as that to the Scheldt, or to any other “ people.” This he conceived did amount part of the world. In this sentiment of clearly to a breach of privilege. (Hear, the hon gent. he perfectly coincided ; and hear, from the ministerial side. ] He if no other argument could be suggested knew not how exactly to take that cheer, for proceeding immediately with the disbut he had stated this fairly, because he was cussion, he should, upon that alone, reapt to be sincere. But with respect to fuse his assent to the adjournment. He other passages, there was not a word in should not follow the hon. gent. througla them but what was synonymous with what | the various statements he had gone into, the worthy baronet had said in discussing nor the able arguments, as he conceived the question of Reform, both in that House them to be, which had been urged by him. and to his constituents. There was no He had but one word more to add, and he point of view therefore in which time was hoped the House would believe him as not necessary, in order to arrive at a calm, sincere in the declaration, as he believed just, and dignified conclusion. If he were the hon. gent, to be in all that had fallen a friend of the right bon. the Chancellor from him. The hon. gent. had stated, of the Exchequer, he meant a political previously to his making his motion, that