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Jol. per cent. they divided on the capital. some statement to make regarding the He concluded by expressing his regret at service of a Process in an action at finding himself unable in the present in- law against you by sir Francis Burdett, is stance to support the Company.
desirous of knowing what statement on Mr. Barham, in reply, stated his readi- this subject you have to make.” ness to adopt that mode of proceeding The Serjeunt at Arms informed the House, most agreeable to the House.
that a person yesterday delivered to him Mr. W. Smith thought the advantages a Paper, which he now held in his hand; arising to the country from the Company and that the same person came to bim was incidental, and that the income tax some time since, and required of him a ought to be paid on the 10l. per cent. copy of the Warrant of the commitment of they divided on their capital.
sir Francis Burdett: řhe Solicitor General spoke in praise of And the said Paper was thereupon the Company, but concurred with the delivered in, and read ; and is as fol. Attorney General in his construction of loweth : the act, as involving a question of pri- • Middlesex to wit. The sheriff is com vate right, he hoped the resolution would “ manded to take Francis John Colman, be but a preparatory step leading to a “ esq. and Richard Roe, if they be found measure on which both Houses could give “ in his Bailiwick, and that he keep then their opinion and set the question at rest. “ safely ; so that he may hare their bo.
Mr. J. Smith descanted on the advan- “ dies before the lord the king at Weste tages arising to the public from the com- “ minster on Wednesday next after 13 pany. He had understood they had a days of Easter, to answer to sir Francis right to share 10l. per cent. on their ca- • Burdett, bart. in a plea of trespass on pital without any deduction for the pro. " the case ; and that he then have there perty tax.
" this precept. By Bill, Mr. Johnson expressed his hope that no
Markham and Le Blanc." proceeding might be adopted by any re
« Francis John Colman, esq.-You are solution of the House, but that the ques- " served with this Process, to the intent tion should be tried by a court of law. " that you may, by your attorney, appear
Mr. Barhan said, that if the Company in his Majesty's court of King's-bench at ahould continue thus to divide it would “ the return thereof, being the 9th day shen be the duty of ihe House to order an “ of May instant, in order to your defence information to be entered against them. " in this action. (Endorsed) Ellis, Gray's
The Chancellor of the Erchequer was of " Inn Square, May 7th, 1810.” opinion that it would not be inconvenient Mr. Calcraft asked, what was the Ser. for the House to express its sense by a jeant's answer to this request ? resolution. It would be extremely diffi- The Serjeant answered, he had shew cult to try the question in any way, and him a copy of the warrant. at the same time keep the arrears out of The Speaker thought it proper to state, sight, which necessarily embraces the in. that he had desired the Serjeant to act as terests of the West India merchants. he had done in this respect, not conceiving
The question was then put, and the it to be proper that any person who inAmendment was negatived, and the ori- quired for a sight of the warrant issuing ginal question was carried without a di. from that House, should be kept in ignovision.
rance of it.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved,
“ That the matters stated by the Serjeant HOUSE OF COMMONS.
at Arms attending this House, and the Wednesday, May 9.
Paper delivered in by him, be referred to (StR FRANCIS Burdett's Process the Committee appointed to consider of AGAINST THE SERJEANT AT ARMS.) The the Proceedings in the matter of sir Francis Chancellor of the Exchequer having moved Burdett." that the Serjeant at Arms be called in to Sir T. Turton contended that if any state the circumstances connected with the thing on the face of the paper in question service of the Process, in an action at law | affected the privileges of the House, the against hila by sir Francis Burdett; the best mode of vindicating their dignity Serjeant was accordingly called in. would be to find the person by whom the
The Speaker then said to him, “ The Process had been served, and to take the House being informed that you have proper steps for punishing him.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer thought their pursuits and engagements, might not it much more wise to refer the service of bave had the means of inquiry : and they Process to the Committee, previous to the had a right to be satisfied. He had, howadoption of the idea thrown out by the ever, a most serious objection, one that hon. baronet.
was insuperable, viz. that the Committee Lord Folkestone was of opinion that this should have power to report opinions. was altogether an improper proceeding. To delegate to them such a power was, in Either the steps they might adopt were, his opinion, an abandonment of the prior were not, intended to have some weight vileges of that House. He thought the
with the courts below. If it was ex- House had the privileges sought to be :pected that the expression of their de- called in question. It was necessary for
termination on the subject was to have its own safety it should have them, and, if any weight with these courts, what so, it must also have the means of enforcwould this be but to interfere with the ing those privileges. He said he would ordinary course of law? It appeared to shortly illustrate what were his ideas on him that it would be infinitely more sa- the subject from what passed previous to tisfactory to the feelings of the public, the year 1770, when members and their and must in the long-run be also infinite- servants, who had formerly enjoyed the ly more gratifying to the feelings of the privilege of immunity from action, were House, that the matter were entirely left deprived of that right, when all which was to the decision of the courts of law, with declared to remain with members was the out the intervention of any resolutions of personal privilege of freedom from arrest. their own. On these grounds he should This was done by the act of the 10th Geo. object to referring the matter to the Com-3. c. 50, brought in by the present lord mittee,
Onslow. Previous to this period, not a Mr. Adam said, that he had throughout session passed without its being shewn taken infinite pains to be correct in all what the warrant of the Speaker by order the parts of this proceeding; he had con- of the House could do. When a member, sidered every step in it most coolly, and or even the servant of a member of that had acted in all the stages of it to the best House, was served with notice of action, of his judgment. In no part had he felt and complaint made, the person who more anxiety to be right ihan in the mea- served the action was brought to the bar, sure of appointing a Committee, which it was examined whether he was the person was proposed now to charge with the who served the writ; and if he confessed inatter respecting the Serjeant, as well as he was, or if it was on his denial proved that which related to Mr. Speaker. He otherwise, the matter was either referred sincerely wished that no such step had to a Committee of privileges, or the perbeen taken.-But he was particularly son was at once ordered into custody. averse to its existing with its present That privilege being taken away, the repower, and he had, after due reflection, maining personal privileges were few. for that reason come to a determination Any instance of proceeding upon them not to attend the Committee, because it since that time were therefore very rare. seemed to him to counteract the course A return of precedents from that period, which he thought should be taken as the of commitment for serving legal process, only means of securing the privileges of would, he believed, be nihil. Few perthe House. He had satisfied himself, and sons now existing could have any actual he presumed to think that what he had to say experience of the mode of any proceed. would satisfy every gentleman who heard ing then adopted. Forty years disuse of him, that he had acted correctly. When a daily practice, made the mode of exethe Committee was moved for the other cuting the power, fall into oblivion, and day, he had come to the House determined might afford a reasonable apology for the to oppose it, from a cenviction that it was House not being at once alert in its course uonecessary, and that it was
of proceeding, when Mr. Ellis served the than unnecessary, by giving ground Speaker with notice. But it is to reason for implying that the House, by appoint- for not following a course, which, when ing a Committee, doubted of its owu clear considered, is the only course that can be and ascertained privileges. He had latterly followed, consistently with the privileges acquiesced in its appointment, however, of the House ; and that it was inconsistent under the impression that there were, or with those privileges to appoint acommittee might be, individual members, who, from vested with a power to recommend a dif
ferent course. His opinion was decidedly , tending the committee. As his reasons this, that, according to ancient invariable were likewise the same, he did not wish precedent, when legal process was served to occupy the attention of the House by upon a member, the person serving it was repeating them. His objections, bowever, brought to the bar, examined to the matter, would have been partly got over, if the and, according to the nature of the case, power of the committee was to be of a committed for the breach of privilege. I limited nature ; but when that power was On the present occasion that course should so generally granted, he thought the be followed with Mr. Ellis; he who in- House should keep it only in its own dorsed the notice, should be committed for hands. As he did not choose to give any the contempt, and the House should come advice or instruction to the committee, he to resolutions respecting this breach of bad of course a natural objection to any privilege, that there might be notice to interference. On every other point be all the world, that the act dore was a perfectly coincided with his lion, and breach of privilege, and that the acts of learned friend; he deemed the course he the House could not be questioned in any wished to be adopted the only old beaten court or place, in a legal proceeding out | track of the IIouse; it was first enacted of the flouse. In such a case as this, the 40 years ago. Since that, things of the House could not delegate its powers to present nature had been so rare, that the any Committee. They could not, con- knowledge of the track has been almost sistently with established rules, appoint lost, and indeed what has happened could them to deliberate when the case was not bave been expected. He agreed with clear; or refer to them a case in which his hon. and learned friend, that the only there was no question. He stated this, safe mode for the House to pursue, was to
any future occasion, when the move in the marked tract of the House of question might be brought forward, he Commons-sture super rius antiquas. If it might stand rectus in curia. He had in his should then be found that the powers they absence been nominated a member of that possessed fell short of what was required Committee. He had taken till next morn- for the support of their privileges on the ing to consider how he ought to act, and present occasion, it could only arise from then he wrote to a learned friend, also aihe circumstance, that no such case as the member of it, begging that the members present had ever occurred. Still, bow. might not wait for him, as he was de- ever, it was the duty of that House to act termined not to attend. He felt it to be up to what had been done by their ancesinconsistent with his duty, to sanction, by turs. Ite only wished, in what he had attending the Committee, a proceeding said, to stand acquitted with the House, which cast so much doubt upon the con- and to declare that he had not refused fidence which the Ilouse oughi to have on acting on the committee, because he was the existence of its privileges. And now adverse to the hon. gentlemen opposite. when the question arose as to the mode of Sir J. Anstruther declared that be for their proceeding, he thought it becoming one entertained no doubt whatever of the in the House to shew that they knew and privileges of the House, and of the prohad confidence in their owi privileges. priety of pursuing the course adopted by Mr. Adam said, he would not make any their ancestors for their preservation. motion to this effect, because the conduct | There was no course but one for mainof the business was in other hands, but he taining those privileges, and no piace but earnestly called on the gentlemen oppo- one in which they ought to be mainsile, to move that the person who had tained; for it was impossible to think of served the writ in question should be referring tlie privileges of the House of brought to the bar of the House. What Commons to the courts of law in order to he had said he had urged with moderation. decide their validity and extent. ConHis only wish was the sustentation of the ceiving therefore that the appointment of rights and privileges of that House, as a committee to give an opinion on a subconsistent with the constitution of the ject to do no good, and might possibly do country. He had discharged his duty, and harm, he had declined attending upon it. had acied in such a way as was satisfactory The Attorney General agreed that the to his mind.
privileges of that House could not be ques. Mr. Windhum said, that he perfectly tioned before any tribunal whatever, but agreed with the objections his hon. and that they themselves were the sole judges learned friend had advanced for not at of their privileges. He wished it to be
generally known, that his hon. friends, of proceeding was passed by, he hoped it who had already spoken, concurred with would not be said hereafter, that there him and with those who sat on the same were persons present who had not yet side with him, or if it pleased them bet- suggested it to the House. He was inter, that they (the ministers) concurred clined at this moment to believe, that this with them (Mr. Adam, &c.) in this opi- was the first instance a process had been nion. It was not from any doubt on this served on an officer of this House, for an head that his hon. friends had been nomi- act proceeding from the House, in which nated to be members of the committee. the attorney who issued the process was This was a point on which he presumed not ordered to attend. He did not mean to think that no man could doubt. But to move this, but merely to suggest it; they had been put on the committee for and to bring to the recollection of the the purpose of lending their assistance in House, that they were now to consider suggesting the best mode in which the what was fit to be done with an attorney, privileges of the House could be enforced telling the House it was through his in. with the greatest safety to that cause strumentality that this process has been which they all joined in supporting. He served. If the House was now to pass it only rose for the purpose of expressing by, it was no fault of his. He only suge his regret that his hon. friends had de- gested to gentlemen opposite what was clined acting on the committee.
the regular and established mode of proThe Chancellor of the Exchequer felt the ceeding; and hoped he should not be sincerest regret at the view his hon. and told, if, after a lapse of six weeks, it should learned friends had taken of the obligation appear that the proper season of resorting by which they were precluded from be- to this proceeding bad been allowed to coming members of the committee. He pass over-that he and every other memgave them full credit for their inotives, ber of that House was to blame for the and acquitted them of any design to em omission, as much as the gentlemen opbarrass the committee in any report they posite who were in the service of governmight make. He thought, however, that ment.
. every argument they had used in support The motion was then 'put and carried. of the propriety of their declining to act, And on the motion of the Chancellor of proved directly the contrary; and if they the Exchequer, the names of the Lord had a clear view of the steps necessary to Advocate of Scotland, Mr. Wallace, Mr. be taken in such a proceeding, instead of Rose, and Mr. Stephen, were added to the being a reason for their declining to act, Committee already appointed. this should rather have operated as an in- [PetitiON FROM THE Livery or Lon.' ducement to them to impart to the com- DON-ADJOURNED DEBATE.] Mr. Aldermittee the clear view of the case which man Combe moved that the adjourned they themselves possessed. They might, debate on this subject (see p. 902) be reunfortunately, not have been able to in- umed, which being agreed to, spire others with the same clear view of Mr. Wallace said, that his opinion when the subject which they themselves had, he first read this petition was that it should but still if this had been the case, they not be received, and every subsequent recould easily have rescued themselves from flection he had made on the subject conany imputation which might have arisen firmed him in this opinion. He did not from their being members of a committee object to it because it did not convey the which had refused to be governed by their sentiments of the majority of the livery, wise counsel. On the other hand, if the for that would not be a sufficient reason committee had been unanimous, must not for rejecting it. Even if it could be supthe report bave possessed greater weight, posed to be the petition only of the twelve coming, as it must have done, from gen. persons by whom it was signed, still it was tlemen of every political sentiment in proper it should be received if couched in that House..
becoming language. As the House was Sir 4. Pigott conceived the course told, however, that it was likely to receive pointed out by his hon. and learned friend
a great many other petitions, it was ne. (Mr. Adam) to be the only means the ressary that they should know from what House had of asserting its own jurisdiction, descriptions of persons they came; that and the only means which had been in they were the petitions of the people of the use of being adopted when a summons England, and not the claims of a small set was served on that House, If this mode of disaffected persons ; even this, however,
should not operate as a complete exclu- , where a spirit of insult was manifest from sion. Neither was he of opinion that the the document itself, it ought to be rejected. petition should be rejected because it con- The reception of it would only render the tained doctrines to his mind unfounded; House an accomplice in its own degradabut because it was part of a complete sys- tion. The good sense of the people he tem of insult pursued out of doors to vilify hoped would teach them to respect the and degrade this House. He was for re- privileges of the House which existed for jecting it on account of the number of im- their own benefit. pertinent and extraneous topics introduced Sir T. Turton contended, that the pe. into it; and for the resemblance it bore to tition ought to be received. He saw do another petition which had been already expressions it contained that could warrant refused. There might be some minute its rejection. Had it been addressed to lines of distinction between the two, but the persons assembling in St. Stepben's, or they were obviously the offspring of the had it carried on the face of it a denial of same parents, and had the same objects in their existence as the House of Commons, view. Like the Middlesex Petition, it then indeed the arguments that had been contained a variety of most offensive pas used would have been admissible. But the sages; though it had the appearance of petition contained no such expressions. It being more respectful, it had none of the recognised their authority, and to that aureality; there might be a difference bethority the prayer of the petitioners was adtween them, but still the resemblance was dressed. Their difference of opinion could such-qualis decet esse sororum, and this be no insult to the House, as on that differ. likeness shewed that they had sprung from ence of opinion the petition was founded. If the same origin. The petition, in fact, they had acquiesced in the decision of the was founded on the resolutions passed at House, there would have been no occasion the same meeting, and these were such a for petitioning. Their right of petitioning set of such a nature, that in other times, was not attempted to be denied; and if the person who had dared to authenticate they had that right, they must be allowed them by his signature, would not have to differ from the House on the subject that been out of Newgate 24 hours after he had occasioned their complaints. It had been done so. Another reason for his rejecting stated, that whatever might be the language the petition was to be found in the cir- of the petition, or whatever the terms in cumstances which attended the meeting, which it was couched, the resolution passIt was there stated, that the petition was ed at the meeting of the livery clearly somewhat different from the resolutions, proved that the petition was intended as an but that this was done only with the view insult. But the House, he contended, had of getting the petition received. He then no right to look to those resolutions, whatread the two first resolutions, and asked, if ever might be their nature. The resoluit was possible had they formed part of the tions were not now before them; and if petition, that any man could be found who ever they should be brought before them would say that it ought to be received ?- it could only be by a specific motion, In their complaints against the vote on the when it would be for the House to conWalcheren expedition, they did not even sider whether those resolutions were a give credit to the minority; and even the breach of privilege or not. At present hon. gentleman (Mr. Whitbread) wbo they had only the petition before them, went farthest with ihem, was at one of their and he coutended that that petition could meetings called a decoy duck. The House not be rejected on the ground of any remust even sacrifice the privilege of com- solutions that were not regularly before mitting for libel producing obstruction them. It was the petition only they had before it could satisfy them; for the hon. to consider, and that petition was entitled gent. at another meeting, by venturing to stand or fall by its own merits. Bat to assert the privilege thus far, raised such even to these resolutions he did not see the a clamour, that he was obliged to stop it propriety of the objection that had been by giving the health of that distinguished made, and had they even been much patriot Mr. Waithman. But what they stronger, they would afford no justifiable aimed at was, the destruction of the pri- ground of rejecting the petition. He saw vileges of the House, that by this means nothing in the terms of the petition that they might wound the constitution. While could authorise them to reject it. It was he thought the House ought not to be cap- addressed to the House in due form, and tious in finding fault with petitions, yet the redress they claimed was merely