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more fit to be adopted upon a matter of clude with an order to report. As to the such importance, than that of moving the great question involving the privileges of appointment of a Select Committee to that House, Mr. Adam said, he had made consider of the proceedings had and to be up his mind upon it. His conviction was, had in reference to the Notices communi. that their privileges must be maintained cated to that House by their Speaker. inviolate by resolving and acting accord
The Speaker observed, that perhaps the ing to their privileges; therefore he saw more convenient way, in the first instance, no reason for a Committee at all; at the would be to enter the Notices as read, and same time, if it was the wish of others, he then move for the appointment of the should not object to it; but then it must Select Committee. The Notices were ac. be confined and restricted. He thought cordingly entered as read.
the motion, as it was now worded, transThe Chancellor of the Exchequer then ferred to the Committee the powers of the move 1, That there be appointed a Select House, and established them as a comCommittee to consider of the proceedingsmittee of direction, which was most objeco hal and to be had, with reference to the lionable, as it admitted of a construction Notices served upon the Speaker at the inconsistent with their privileges, and instance of sir Francis Burdett.
raised a doubt where none existed. A Mr. Whitbread expressed a wish that the Committee might, for the satisfaction of right hon. gent. would condescend to put members who had not had leisure them. the House in possession of the grounds selves to search, be appointed to report up in which he thought it right to move facts and precedents, but not opinions. for the appointment of a Committee. The He would therefore suggest the propriety right hon. gent. might have reasons, which of a verbal alteration in the motion, authough satisfactory to bimself, might not thorizing the Comınittee, su appointed, to when stated be equally so to many others report to the House facts and precedents. who had come down to the Ilouse, with- The Speaker observed, that tbe usual out having yet made up their minds upon method was to insert in such motion cerwhat was the best course to be pursued tain formal words of instruction to the in a case of such unprecedented difticulty. | Committee.
The Chancellor of the Erchequer replied, The Chancellor of the Exchequer was prothat it was with a view to obviate the ne- ceeding so io alter his motion, when cessity of any discussion in the present
Mr. Adum suggested the propriety of stage, that he had moved for a Committee requiring the Committee to give in their in ihe first instance. To provoke a de- Report upon a certain day. The time of bate upon the case as it the stood, would notice was nearly expired, and there only be calling upon the House to do that should be as little delay as possible, upon which could be so much more convenient- a matter of such importance. The more ly done by the Committee. Besides, the he considered the subject, the more serious Ilouse could not be so well enabled to form he thought it. He wished therefore that their judgment, upon what would be the the Committee should be required to remust advisable niode of proceeding, before port within a certain time. they had been furnished with the result of The Speaker apprehended that it was the Committee's deliberations. They not usual with the House to limit the de. would judge of the report made by the liberations of their Committees, by comCommittee, and act upon it'accordingly ; | pelling them to deliver in their. Reports but he thought that before they had re- upon a specific day. ceived the opinion of that Committee, Mr. Adams stateit, that it had so happenupon the course they would recommend ed, that in the course of that morning, in to be pursued, any discussion upon what searching for precedents, he had met with would be that best course, would be pre. the case of Mr. Hobart's servant: having mature, and defeat the very object of the been arrested for debt. The Committee motion he had made.
appointed upon that case were directed Mr. Adum rose, and objected to the to give in their Report-upon the following terms of the notion, as too general, vague, Wednesday. and undefined: that it adopted the words The motion then stood thus :-—"That a in which the communication was made, Select Committee be appointed to consider which were very proper as communica of the proceedings had and to be bad, in tion, but very untit as resolution. He ob. reference to the Notices communicated by served that the motion did not even con- Mr. Speaker, to examine into facts and precedents, with reference to the said consequence of a communication made to Notices, and to report the same, with their the House by their Speaker; the object opinion thereupon to the House."
of which communication was, he presumed, Mr. Whitbreud rose to oppose it. He to obtain the directions of the House in said that from the commencement of that the very important case to which it re. unhappy contest down to the present ferred. He did not think that the present stage of it, the right hon. the Chancellor motion was calculated to answer that obof the Exchequer bad gone on step by ject, and he bad serious doubts how far it step with equal ignorance of what ought would be right in that House to receive to be done, and equal improvidence as to instructions from a Select Committee upon the consequences of what was done. He the question of their own privileges. They first persuaded the House to commit itself would do well to consider, whether the apin such a contest, without foreseeing or pointment of a Committee would not tend providing against the consequences of his more to excite than to remove the doubts own rashness and precipitancy, and then, respecting their privileges, which unbap. as soon as it became involved in the em- pily existed at this moment. If they could harrassments they led to, the right hon. receive any communication from a Comgent. asked leave to take the Easter Re- mittee upon such a subject, he thought it cess to consider the best means of extri- should relate only to such facts as they cating them from the difficulties his coun- had examined inió, and upon which they cils had created-the Easter Recess passed, judged it necessary to report their opithe right hon. gent. came before them, nions; the business of such Comınittee, and proved in his very first proceeding however, would more properly relate to that he was as ignorant and as improvident facts than opinions. He, however, enteras ever. He did not know what to do, tained such 'serious doubts of the propriety but still he would be doing; and accord- of appointing a Committee to give the ingly he made a motion, which he (Mr. House information as to its privileges, that Whitbread) agreed with his learned friend he should beg leave to suggest the pro(Mr. Adam) would, if carried, have had priety of adjourning the present debate the effect of delegating to a Committee rather than appointing a Committee. the question of the House's privileges, of Mr. Secretary Ryder said, that what had which the House itself was the judge. If | fallen from the hon. gent. who spoke last the House thought proper to submit to be but one, was only a renewal of that geso led by the right hon. gent. from one neral abuse in which he was in the habit step to another, they would have them- of indulging, and which did not require an selves alone to blame if they found them- answer. But with respect to the observaselves guided from error to error. The tions of the right hon. gent. who spoke fact was, that throughout the whole busi. last, he would beg leave to observe, that ness the conduct of the right hon. gent. the mode recommended by his right. hon. had shewed that in his views of that ques- friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, tion he had been guided by no fixed prin- was that which was usually adopted by the ciple. He did not know what to propose House upon similar occasions. With reto the House; he had no advice to offer; spect to the objection of the Committee dicand not knowing what to do, he proposed (lating to the House, he did not think that that a Committee should be appointed to was a fair statement of the proposition; inform them what they were to do the opinion of the Committee was not obUnder such circumstances, it would be ligatory upon the House; they would use disgraceful, in his opinion, to transfer to a their own discretion ; and on the report Committee what was their own business. being made, it would be for them to folLet the House meet the question at once, low or not to follow whatever suggestions - and decide upon what 'proceedings, it it might submit to their final considerawould become them to pursue ; and not tion. He was sure that the House would resort to the appointment of a Committee, be able to decide after they had received as if it were designed as a pretence for pro- the report more satisfactorily and conclucrastination. For these reasons, and be- sively than they now could do after such cause no reason whatever was advanced a desoltory debale as might be expected by the right hon. gent. in support of the in the present stage of the business. motion, he should vote against it.
Mr. C. W. Wynn thought that the objec. Mr. Ponsonby said, that he understood tion that had been marle to delegating the that the present motion had been made in authority of that House, on the question of
their privileges, to a Select Committee, had that an individual commenced proceedings great weight. He knew of no way of ob at law against their Speaker for issuing his viating that objection, but by referring the warrant in obedience to the vote of that case to the Committee of Privileges, instead House ; yet unprecedented as was this of that which it was proposed to appoint. circumstance, happening too at a period
Mr. Tierney complained of the difficul- teeming with those monstrous and unheard ties into which the House had been led of novelties, which are at once the pecu. step by step by the ignorance of the right liar characteristic and disgrace of the hon. gent.; at their breaking up for the present times, his Majesty's ministers pass recess he had set them a sort of Easter over the whole business as an ordinary octask, and so well in the interim had the currence; the Notices are ordered to be gentleman himself learned the lesson he entered upon the Journals, and nothing was to teach, that he now called
more is heard of them till three weeks House to appoint a Select Committee to after; till within a day of the term; the give him and them the necessary instruc- day after to morrow would be the first tions. The right hon. gent. had pledged day of term, and the month would soon be himself to consider the subject. Had he expired. Was there, he would ask, nothing done so ? and if he had, what was the re- in that impertinent paper, calling itself a sult? that he neither knew what to do or Notice, to awaken the attention of miniswhat to advise; if this was not the case, ters? Ought they to have slept upon it so why appoint the Committee; or even if it long? Or ought they not rather to have was, why call upon any Select Committee seized the earliest opportunity of bringing to teach the House their privileges? The the question to final issue? In expressing right hon. gent. was bound to consider the his opinions openly and frankly upon this consequences of the rash proceedings he question, he believed himself to be dishad been so earnest with the House to charging a great public duty, because in adopt. Suppose the Select Committee doing so, he did all that lay in his power should be for pleading and that that House (limited as was that power, and humble as should be against pleading, would not a was his influence) to counteract a great schism of that kind tend to strengthen all public delusion, by which the honest, the the growing prejudices against their privi- undesigning, and unwary, were made the leges ? He did not think it right that the pliant dupes and tools of artful men. Committee should give an opinion, for he Such a crisis did not admit of negligence could not consent that the question should or delay. Why had nothing been done in be prejudged before it came under the consequence of those notices till that day, consideration of the House in general. when the day after to-morrow would be He concluded with moving, to leave out the last day of term ?--Did not ministers the words “ with their opinion thereupon,” know that this action was threatened, and so as to confine the Committee merely to what excuse had they in delaying to take report precedents and facts.
any steps, until the day.but one before Mr. R. Dundas could not see with what term? If they were ignorant of the proper justice ministers were chargeable with ig-course for the House to follow, why did norance and rashness; was it to be con- | they not, at first recommend the same step tended that those who voted for punishing which they now propose? The delay that an attack upon the privileges of that occurred was highly reprehensible upon a House, and for calling forth its authority question involving such important consiin detence of its privileges, were criminal, derationsa question attended with the because they did not foresee that that au. most perilous difficulties-a question, thority tvould be resisted ?
whose issue went to affect the constitution Sir Arthur Pigott said that three weeks of parliament, and which was so seriously had already elapsed since the Speaker had expected by the public-a question upon communicated io the House the Notices in which he himself never had and never question. That communication had been could have a doubt, notwithstanding all made on the 17th of last month, and it was that was duly circulated by the persons , now the 7th of May; the proceeding was initiated in the new school of Privilege. entirely new; it bad never before occur- of the Privilege of that House to commit red; never in the times of the worst reigns, in all cases for offences against itself, be not when that House was contending for the only never had a doubt, but he was conliberties of the people in their assertion of vinced it could not part with it, without their own privileges; never was it known surrendering all its legislative, its inquisis
Lorial, and judicial functions. But it was y dered the best course in this stage to ap-. contended by the disciples of the new point such, he would only give it his assent school, that the power of the House did in the manner specified in the amendment not extend to libels. It extended to all of his right hon. friend, namely, that it offences committed against itself. It was should examine into facts and precedents contended that the libel should be tried without reporting any opinion of its own. by a court of law. How was the House The Solicitor General expressed his perin such a case to proceed ? It could insti- fect concurrence in every word uttered tute no process, nor bring any action in its by bis learned friend, respecting the exown proper character. It must suppli- tent of the privileges possessed by that cate the crown to take up such a prosecu
The impression of his speech tion. Whatever, under such circumstances, upon that point, he would not attempt to was the decision of a court of justice, it was weaken by a repetition of the same argu. open to the party prosecuted to appeal to ments; but he was conscious that every the House of Lords, and by such an act member of that House, if it was to exist the House of Commons was reduced to the at all as an estate of Parliament, must sem necessity of having its own privileges the utter impossibility of drawing any distried and determined upon by an estate of tinct line of difference in the exercise of parliament, with which it ever claimed a its power to commit for offences against co-eval and co-extensive authority. Con- its privileges. Adverting then to the temptible and shallow were these pre narrower part of the question, namely, tenders who ventured to deny this right, and what course ought to be adopted in conseto insult the crown by an affected regard for quence of the Notice of action served upon its dignity, which they considered was the Speaker, he could not subscribe to the impaired by the exercise of that privilege. inference drawn by gentlemen opposite, It was astonishing that the threat of action when they blamed ministers for having had not before been taken notice of; that suffered so much time to elapse without in this novel and unprecedented case, the pursuing the proper course. Why, when House had not taken some steps or agreed the House of Commons was attacked, to some resolutions expressive of its opi- were ministers to be considered the only nion and determination upon the subject. persons to recommend what ought to be Besides, when he considered the daily done in consequence ? Was it respectful trash circulated upon this subject, he was to the House itself to say that its privi. more deeply impressed with the necessity leges should only be protected by his of that House entering into resolutions Majesty's ministers? The threatened acwhich might prevent the progress of that tion was against the House, and it was delusion, which, though disregarded by equally the duty of all to propose the every reflecting mind, was calculated to proper means of defence. If also ther. deceive the ignorant and the unwary.
blame for the delay that had ocHad it before done so, the present emer- curred, it attached to one side as much as gency might have been avoided; not that to the other. But it was said, that the he thought the individual.who gave the proceedings which led to this state of Speaker the notice of his intention to bring things were the act of the ministers. Such an action, would be induced to desist, but language should never be received but that his instruments would be prevented with reprobation. It might, indeed, be a by the determination of that House. Sup- popular argument out of doors, but never pose that the Lord Chancellor, having ought to be sanctioned within the walls of committed an individual for contempt, bad that House. Those proceedings were been told, sitting on the bench, by an at- adopted by a majority, and the moment torney, that it was his intention to bring they were agreed to, they became the an action for false imprisonment on the acts of the House of Commons. With re
person committed ? What spect to the measures which the House course would his lordship in such circum- ought then to adopt, he was friendly to stances take? Was it not to be presumed the appointment of a limited Committee, that he would at once order the attorney which should search into all facts and to the care of one of his lordship's tip precedents, and report its opinion. From staffs? That the House had the power to that report the House would be able to act at once he was fully satisfied: nor did arrive at a conclusion, which being daly he see the necessity of appointing a Com- and fully considered, would be acted upon mittee at all; if, however, it was consi- with that determination which the case
rendered absolutely necessary.
part of the
Mr. Windham said, that the question di- , doctrine of this new school of privilege vided itself into iwo branches. One as to would be beaten down, and the just right the conduct which had hitherto been pur- of iha House and the people unquestiona sued; the other as to what would be ex- bly established. Mri Adam said, he did pedient, under the present circumstances. not rise then, however, to detain the He complimented sir A. Pigott for the House with the repetition of opinions which broad constitutional doctrines which he he had already discussed at so nzuch length, laid down, and professed his agreement but merely to recommend such a modifi. with him in the narrower, as well as in cation of the original motion, as should the wider view of the question. The si insure that unanimity, which was most tuation of the House at present, was, in desirable in the step that the House was many respects, novel; but there did not adopting, and at the same time to secure appear to him to be that ground of doubt against the committee being empowered as to the proceedings they should adopt, to deliver opinions, which would convert to call for the appointment of a Committee. it into a committee of management or diIf, however, such an appointment was rection, and would embarrass the House thought necessary, the House should not in coming to a decision, on the only prindelegate its power to the Committee ; it ciple on which it can act, namely, by enmight happen, that, in case of difference forcing obedience to its privileges, acbetween the Committee and the House, cording to its power. Mr. Adam said, people would begin out of doors to dis- that it was to be recollected that the oripute as to the right of the House to differ ginal motion for the Committee was not from it. Time was also to be considered worded after due preparation (by its proof importance in the present stage of the poser, Mr. Perceval), so that it could nof basiness, and therefore, he was of opinion be supposed that he would be tenacious that the power of the Committee should in adhering to it. It was worded on the be limited to search into facts and prece- sudden, adopting the oral dictation of the dents, and that no report should be given. chair. The mover could have no desire,
Sir T. Turton severely censured minis- therefore, strenuously to support it against ters for having suffered this matter to be any modification. What he would redormant from the 12th of April to the 7th commend was, that the Committee should of May. It was disgraceful, that a notice search into precedents and examine into should have been suffered to be served on facts only; and by acceding to that motheir Speaker, and no discussion had on it dification, celerity, a most necessary obfor almost a month? They were told by ject, would be obtained; whereas, if the one hon. gent, that they ought to come House called for a report of their opinion to a decision as to their future proceed upon the question at large, in addition to ings, because the term began on an early the other embarrassment connected with day. What! were they to be afraid of a the power to give opinions, considerable court of law, or to think any court could delay must be the consequence; and the touch their rights? The very notice was, House be clogged with the opinion of the in his opinion, deserving of being treated committee. as one of the grossest breaches of their The Chancellor of the Exchequer was glad privilege. Would they allow process the hon. gentlemen over the way had at against their Speaker, and that he should last argued themselves jbto the opinion be ireated as a private individual? The that no party consideration ought to enter very discussion of such a question was an into this debate. When he first introduced insult. He did not mean to approve of the subject he had thought, that if ever the proceedings into which they had there was a question which ought not to lately been led, on the ground of expe- call forth party feelings, it was this; and diency, but he must defend them on the he was therefore the more surprised at the ground of privilege, on which it was im- warmth it excited in the hon. and right possible they could be censured.
hon. gentlemen opposite (Mr. Whitbread Mr. Adan expressed his coincidence in and Mr. Tierney). He was now called every argument and observation of sir A. on in candour to agree to an amendment, Pigott. He said, most truly had his for the sake of unanimity. Why, if he allearned friend shewn, that this great ques. lowed himself to be persuaded to this, antion affected the very constitution of other gentleman might start up, as the Parliament, and that, if the House did its hon. gent. had done, and accuse him of duty with fairness, the absurdities of the incapacity, vacillation, want of foresight,