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been the practice ; as most effectual to its |--he was confident that no authority, no ends; and at all events, a line of proceed- judge in the land, when he learned that it ing, which would show that the privileges was a question in which the privileges of of the House were asserted : whereas the the House of Commons were implicated, m.ode pursued, of resolving in the first in- would determine upon it. He entertained stance to plead to the action, was a virtual no apprehension, therefore, that either the abandonment of them.

dignity or privilege of the House of ComThe Chancellor of the Erchequer declared, mons was endangered. The law prescribed that the general tenor of the eloquent the course which the House ought to pur, speech of the right hon. gent. opposite was sue, and which they might therefore tread such that he should be sorry by recurring without danger. After alluding to the to any irritating subject, to interrupt the precedent of sir F. Pemberton and sir T. impression which thai speech must neces. Jones, he adverted to the statement made sarily have made on the House. He could by his hon. friend, namely, that a letter not refrain from repeating his regret, that might be written by the Speaker to the in a case in which the right hon. gent. Lord Chancellor, on which the Chancellor himself conceived that the rights and pri- would necessarily issue a writ of supersedas. vileges of the House were at stake, he ab. Although he could not admit that this al. stained from lending his assistance to the ternative of his hon. friend was so absurd, Committee in order that they might ar- as it was asserted to be, yet as such a mea. rive at a right conclusion. The righ:hon. sure would be effective only during the gent: had talked of the unfortunate situa- session, he must allow, that the proceeding tion in which the House stood. What un- would be of too limitted a nature for the fortunate situation ? Only that situation House to adopt. He, and those who acted to which it must be necessarily exposed with hiin, had been thought deficient in on every exercise of its privileges, how their duty for not having recommended ever moderate. The mere temporary im- the commitment of the solicitor. For his prisonment of a member, for the purpose part, he thought it wise in the House not of bringing him to the bar to receive a to avail itself for that purpose of the unreprimand, would form as good a ground precedented and unnecessary notice which for an action as the rash step (as the right had been sent to the Speaker. If tire hon. gent. termed it) which he had advised House had committed the solicitor by the House to adopt with respect to sir F. whom that notice was sent, which they Burdett. Besides, could any one who had an unquestionable right to do, was it had observed the subsequent conduct of not probable that another solicitor would that hon. bart. doubt, that if he had been have been appointed, who would not have brought to the bar to be reprimanded, in- sent a notice, but would have brought an stead of having been sent to the Tower, action? Would the House have committed he would have preferred an action against him for that? How could they distinguish the Speaker for ordering him into custody, whether that action was preferred against or that he would, when at the bar, have so the Speaker in his public or in his private insulted the dignity of the House, as to capacity. If they had asked the solicitor, drive them to the adoption of the severer he would probably have answered that the measure ? With what justice, therefore, interests of his client required secrecy. could it be said that the House had been Would the House have committed him on brought into unheard of and unspeakable that statement ? If they had done so, he calamity and distress? If there were any thought they would have acted rashly. It imbecility in their privileges, he did not was in the anticipation therefore of all regret that that imbecility had been dis. those difficulties, that the commitnient of covered at a time when they would have the solicitor had not been recommended. ample opportunity either to consider the Those who had told him that he was mode of protecting the rights which they wrong in advising the commitment of sir had, or the constitutional means of ac- F. Burdett without foreseeing that he would quiring the power to protect them. He resist the warrant, could surely not censure deprecated, therefore, such an emphasis on him for not having advised the commitment the difficulty of the situation in which the of the solicitor. Besides, in that case the House was placed, confident that the House would have to commit the barrister. House had not exercised a right which If one barrister was committed another they did not possess he was confident might be found; for nothing need be done thaithey had not exceeded their privileges by the parties, but to wait till the end of the

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session, when they would be at liberty to | House with a high hand, would have been
proceed. By any such commitments inclined to proceed to extremities, which
therefore, the House would only have he was glad to find they did not propose.
shewn their resentment without being able Mr. Ponsonby explained. He should
to vindicate their privileges. The open always think that the right hon. gent., by
ness with which he found it necessary to inducing the House to exercise their pri-
speak on these subjects, induced him once vilege of commitment in a case which did
more to lament that the hon. gentlenen not call for it, had put the House in an
opposite felt such an alienation to an ap- | unfortunate situation. He could never
proach to their political adversaries, even think any situation so unfortunate as when
on a subject of such general interest, that a considerable portion of the people dis-
they would not join them in the commit- approved of their proceedings.
tee in which it could be so much better Mr. C. W. Wynn agreed most fully in
discussed. With respect to the proposi- every thing that had fallen from his right
tion recommended by his hon.. friend who hon. friend (Mr. Ponsonby). He held it
had immediately preceded him, he thought to be the duty of that House to follow up
that the House would do well to adopt the the steps which had been trodden by its
motion before them in preference to it; predecessors. He should be for commit.
and adverting to the assertion of the noble ting any solicitor, whom he could collect
lord who had spoken early in the debate, from circumstances to be apprised of his
that this course was novel in principle, he being engaged in bringing an action
positively denied that assertion. That the against the Speaker in violation of the
House did not always feel themselves privileges of that House. This was his
called upon to be vindicators of their own opinion; and, however unpopular it might
authority was established by numerous be, he should be ashamed if he could
precedents. It was a matter entirely of abandon his duty, or hesitate to declare it,
discretion. When a Habeas Corpus was Şir S. Romilly, after the part he had
moved the persons were brought up under taken in the former discussions upon this
it, because until the return made to the subject, could not suffer the present ques-
writ, the judges could not ascertain the tion to go to a vote without saying a few
cause of commitment. Such persons were words, to state shortly his opinion respect
however invariably remanded. If the ing certain doctrines which had been ad-
solicitor knew the cause of the commit- vanced in the course of that night's dis-
ment of his client, which he unquestion cussion. On the question he had no
ably must, he was subject to commitment doubt whatever; as, in his opinion, the
himself for the proceeding. There was Speaker and Serjeant ought to appear to
no instance, however, he believed, in the actions brought against thein. He
which such a commitment had taken was sensible that the question was of that
place, but there were many instances in kind which rendered unanimity in that
which it bad not taken place. He main. House most desirable. But it was not the
tained that there was no more reason for duty of any man, in order to obtain such
committing the solicitor in the case under unanimity, to sacrifice his opinions and
discussion, than there was for committing his conscience. It was not his intention
a solicitor who had sued out a writ of Ha- to go into the various topics which had
beas Corpus on an individual committed been so ably touched upon by his right
to his knowledge for a breach of the pri- hon. friend (Mr. Ponsonby) this night,
vileges of the House of Commons. In and by his hon. and learned friend (Mr.
both cases the Houses might if they chose Adam) in a former debate. Both differed
exercise the privilege of commitment, and from him in their opinions on this subject;
in both cases it was perfectly in their dis- and though he had considered himself
cretion to abstain from it. He congratu- called upon on a former night to state his
lated the House that on the present ques. sentiments more at large, in order to pre-
tion there appeared very little likelihood vent that House from coming to what he
of any difference of opinion. He rejoiced looked upon as a wrong decision, he did
particularly that on the part of the subject not think it necessary on that occasion to
upon which he had apprehended the great plead the cause of parties litigating a
est difference, there seemed a general question with that House. The present
concurrence of sentiments. He had feared question was different; and if he was dis-
that those who were impressed with the posed not to go into it, he could truly af
necessity of carrying the privileges of the firm, that it was not in consequence of the

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doctrines he had heard advanced, but be- / tioned in the courts of law. But he would cause the present state of the business did beg of gentlemen to remember what were not call for it. He would confess, how the privileges of the other House of parever, that he did not entertain the opinion liament; to bear in mind that they were that the privileges of that House ought not contending then for the privileges of anoto be brought into discussion in the courts ther branch of the legislature, which had of law. He would readily admit that the no common feeling or common interest privileges of parliament were a part of with the people, as much as for their own. the law of the land, and had been as such It was an extremely dangerous doctrine to recognised and acted upon in the courts of maintain that whatever was done against law. He would admit that that House had the privileges of either House of Parliapower to commit for a breach of its privi- ment was to be arbitrarily punished withleges, as he had before stated; but he enter- out appeal or legal investigation, because tained somedoubts as to the existence of cer- the privileges of neither House were to be tain legal rights, which had been construed questioned in a court of law. He would to flow from this right of commitment. repeat, that it was a most dangerous docAs to the question betore the House, there trine, and contrary to the principles of was in appearance a desire that something British law; and in proof of this, he would should be said as to the kind of plea which suppose an extreme case. He would sopshould be put in. But he could not collect pose either House to pass a resolution rewhat plea was intended to be set up, nor did stricting a man from the exercise of a he understand the House to have decided | legal right. If that individual were to be upon it. He conceived the objection gene- arbitrarily committed for acting upon a rally meant to be made against proceed right sanctioned by law, would gentlemen ing with the action to be, that the Speaker think such an exercise of privilege was to and Serjeant, because they had severally be defended? Yet, improbable as this case acted as Speaker and officer of that House, was, it was a case that actually had hapin execution of its order, could not be sued pened, and at no very distant period, in in an action consistently with the privi- the parliament of Ireland, now consolileges of that Homse. To him the possi- dated with the parliament of this country. bility of such a plea was very clear. He That parliament voted any man who could not easily see that the Speaker, act- should demand or be concerned in proing implicitly in conformity to the order secuting a suit for the recovery of tythes of that House, could very consistently in agistment, an enemy to his country; make use of such a plea; but he could not was such a resolution to be maintained equally satisfy himself that the Serjeant as a privilege, when it went directly to at Arms could avail himself of the same deprive the subject of his legal rights and plea. As well as he could collect from undoubted property? The case was an such information as gentlemen generally extreme one, and not likely to occur again; had

upon such subjects, the charge against but it had occurred once, and might again the Serjeant was not that, as an officer of in the variations of times and circumthat Horse, he had acted by its authority, stances. If their privileges were not to but ihat he had executed the warrant be discussed in courts of justice, how did committed to him in an unwarrantable it happen that persons committed by the manner. Though the execution of the House were brought up on a writ of Hawarrant simply might not be cognizable beas Corpus to the courts of law, wbere in a court of law, without a violation of the judge ascertained the authority for privilege, yet the manner of executing commitment, before he remanded the that warrant might. The warrant might party? What had been the opinion of lord be legal, and yet the officer legally re- Kenyon, a peer of the realm, when he made sponsible for the mode of executing it; as a long argument in his court on the subthere might be some doubts as to the le-ject? As to what had been said respectgality of executing it in a particular mode.ing the analogous practice of the courts It did not appear to him how it could be of law in commitments for contempts, be put on the record that he had acted as the could see nothing in that. When it was officer of that House, in bar of an action stated that a person imprisoned for a confor what he had done in executing its war- tempt could have no redress, he must say, rant. He felt all that had been urged in that if such were the case, there would be the doctrines advanced that day, that the an end of all jurisdiction. His right bon. privileges of that House could not be ques- friend (Mr. Ponsonby), for whose opinion

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he had the highest respect, and whose , learned friend to say, that he wished to
honest, manly, and independent public support the privileges of the House, yet
conduct entitled him to the gratitude of his argunents were employed not to up-
his country, had stated what he would have hold those privileges, but to subvert them.
done if a solicitor had brought an action The argument of his hon. and learned
against him for any judicial act, if he friend not only went this length, but it
were chancellor. When he considered went to the subverting of all co-ordinate
the situation which his right hon. friend jurisdictions, and of all uncontrouled
had filled, he must be disposed to defer to power. A respectable author (Dr. Paley)
his opinion; but they were all equalised had laid it down, that there could not be
in that House, and it was his duty to state a series of appeals. If there were, in the
his own opinion. He could state a num- end, they must do harm to the govern-
ber of cases wbere persons committed for ment. If there was no court or other ju-
contempt by one court had been brought risdiction uncontrouled, there could be no
up to another, who, upon consideration of human legislation. With certain limita-
their cases, had been liberated. He should tions this was a power which must exist.
more particularly allude to that case which He pressed on the House to be extremely
contributed more than any other to the guarded how it allowed any unusual in-
assertion and liberty of the subject in this rusion on its privileges to be committed
country, he meant the case of Penn and at such a moment. The only thing for
Mead, two Quakers, who had been tried in them to do, was simply to let the judges
the reign of Charles 2, for being present of the courts know that this was not plead-
at an illegal assembly, and were acquitteded to because it was founded on
by the jury against the direction of the proceeding from the House of Commons.
judge, the well-known judge Jeffery * He was originally averse to the mode of
The whole of the jury were committed proceeding proposed, but the speech of
for a contempt, in having acquitted the his right hon. friend (Mr. Ponsonby), had
prisoners contrary to the direction, and, reconciled him to it. He was now only
as it was said, against the evidence. They anxious that the House should not be mis-
were afterwards brought before Chief Jus- understood ; and that it should be mani.
tice Vanghan, who went into a long and fest to the courts of law that this was a
laboured argument to shew that he had ju- step taken by the House of Commons,
risdiction, and cited various cases in proof and therefore that the judges should not
of it, particularly the case of a man com- interfere. He was satisfied the learned
mitted by sir Nicholas Bacon for a con- judges now presiding had too much
tempt, who had been released by the knowledge of the law not to know that
King's Bench, because the commitment they could not interfere.
was for contempt generally, without spe- The Attorney General did not wish to de-
cifying the particular contempt t. There- tract any thing from the power and ju-
fore these analogies proved little for the risdiction of the courts of law; but still
argument in this case. But he was not when he considered the many cases in
desirous of saying much upon this occa- which the ablest judges of the courts of
sion. Though he knew that any opi- law allowed, that the privileges of parlia-
nion of his was of little value to that ment were above their jurisdiction, he
House, his opinion was of much value to could not believe that so many able and
himself. He knew that the privileges of learned judges were all mistaken about
that House were given and maintained for their jurisdiction; and he therefore thought
the benefit of the people. Undoubtedly that the privileges of that House had been
they were; but if the time should ever firmly recognized as the law of the land.
come when the people, instead of thinking As to the opinions which had been deli.
that they were used for their protection, vered by sir F. Pemberton and sir T.
should believe they were exercised for Jones, in the case which had been so
their oppression, he must say, that he often alluded to, he understood their opi-
should consider that a most calamitous nions to be entirely as to the form of the
situation for the House to be placed in. plea. They did not deny that the matter
Mr. Windham understood his hon. and of the plea would be a complete defence,

but they conceived that the plea had * See Cobbett's State Trials, vol. 6, not been put in as the form of the law re

quired. He could not agree with his hon. + Ibid, vol. 6; p. 999.

and learned friend (sir S. Romilly) that

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p. 951.

the courts of law could ever take into be entertained in a court of law. He was their consideration and judgment the ex. desirous instead of employing the attorney istence of the privileges claimed by the general that it should be left to the Speaker House. They were the only judges of himself to put in the plea, without ihe intheir own privileges, and their decision tervention of any counsel. upon them was binding in a court of law. The question, That the Speaker and SerIn this manner the judges must have con- jeant be allowed to appear and plead to sidered the law in many cases where writs the action was then put and carried. of Habeas Corpus had been moved for the Mr. D. Giddy said he had one other discharge of persons committed for vio- motion to make, to which he thought lating the privileges of that House. In there could be no objection. Every genall those cases, when the cause of commit- tleman must know how safe their priviment was set forth, the prisoner was re- leges would remain in the hands of their manded. Lord chief justice De Grey Speaker, of whose zeal, experience, and gave his opinion most decidedly to that ability, they had already had such coneffect. If it were allowed that the House vincing proof; but, at the same time, in did possess the privileges which were such a case as the present, he presumed called in question, it must also be allowed the motion he had now to make would that they had the right of deciding on not be objected to. He then moved, That their privileges, aud their decision must the Attorney General be instructed to de be final and conclusive. It bad been tend the Speaker and Serjeant against the thrown out in the course of this debate, said action. Ordered. that there was a considerable difference Mr. C. W. Wynn asked, if it was to be between the cases of the Speaker and of held out by the House, that any person the Serjeant at Arms. As the defence was might commence such suits at law against committed to his hands, it would perhaps the privileges of the Commons of Great be expected that he should say something Britain, without suffering any punishment on the subject. He felt not a doubt but for their temerity; and that the House that the judge on reading the Speaker's was not now to act as it had done in all plea would refuse to listen to the action, former instances. He alluded to a case in but he could not feel the same assurance the only assembly which could bear any as to the plea of the Serjeant, because analogy to that House, the House of there might be a doubt whether he had or Peers, where no farther back than 28th had not overstepped his lawful authority November, 1708, in the case of Biggs in the manner of executing the warrant. against Hesse, an action was brought

Mr. W. Smith entertained great doubts against a person acting by the authority on what principle he could sanction the of the House of Lords, and the House oridea that there could be any power above dered the plaintiff and his solicitor to apthe law. If gentlemen said that they pear, and committed them to the custody were bound by the law, by an act of the of the usher of the black rod, till they three estates to that he agreed. But if executed a release of the action. This they contended that we were bound by was a case not so strong as the present, any thing short of that, he must demur to and he wished to know if the practice w23 the proposition. The change from trien- now to be discontinued ? nial to septennial parliaments he con- The Chancellor of the Exchequer was not ceived to be one of the greatest infringe prepared to give an opinion on a question ments on the liberty of the subject. 'If, of the kind, taking it as a general rule. therefore, that House had the power of The point would be open for the discreprotracting its own existence, and then of tion of the House at any time when the determining on its own privileges, the case should again occur. As circunpowers of parliament were more extensive stances stood, such a step did not appear than he had conceived them. Having to him to be at present necessary. said so much, he, however, agreed that Mr. Windham thought it would be proit was fair that that House should enjoy per to call the solicitor in this case to the the privileges they had had for ages past. bar, lest, on any future occasion, if they

Lord Milton wished that the plea given acted up to the old practice, the person in should be that which was calculated to suing out the process might think he was hold the privileges of the House at the treated with unbecoming barshoess. highest possible point, so as to make it ob- Here the matter dropt, there being no vious, that no question as to them could question before the House.

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