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had made the difficulty of executing the that down to twenty-four hours before the warrant greater, and which caused the ne- warrant was executed, they did not know cessity of employing, for that purpose, a whether they were entitled to break open force of a different description from that the door! He asked, then, what confidence which would otherwise have been suffi- was to be placed in their industry, their cient. Those who had to advise the Ser- judgment, their knowledge, or their de. jeant on the subject, it appeared, did not termination? It was for the purpose of know the effect of the warrant! How then making these observations on the conduct was it possible to exculpate them when of ministers in this transaction, that he they had not before considered what was He had no personal animosity the law upon this point, notwithstanding against any of the gentlemen on the other the ample opportunities afforded them? side, and he trusted there was no part of Were they not bound to suppose, under his conduct which indicated any such all the circumstances, that it was possible feeling. With several of them he had the person to be apprehended might be lived for a long time on terms of friendfound only in his house, from which he ship. But in the discharge of a public could not be taken without an act of force? duty, these things were to be forgotten. an act which did at last become necessary, He was bound to declare that he had no and which, though not greater than the doubt of the effect of the warrant, and occasion then required, was greater than that the delay in the execution was imwould have been required, if proper steps putable to the ignorance of the indivihad been previously taken.- Persons com- duals, and not to the defect of the power. bining all the characters to which he had | He was bound to say, that the privileges adverted ought surely to have known the of the House were as undisputed as if the effect of the warrant. But their ignorance warrant had been executed in the manner of that effect had, besides other unfortu- prescribed by a just view of these privinate consequences, occasioned a doubt of leges, and trusted the ignorance of those the validity of the warrant. These doubts who had taken upon themselves to procould not but have generally existed, mote a judgment of imprisonment would when it was observed that persons high in only affect ihemselves, and not the rights the law, and in other departments, did not of the House, which had existed, for the know how it was to be executed. As to purpose of enabling the House to mainthe effect of the warrant, he himself had iain its station in the constitution, and to no doubt whatever. It was not an after protect the liberty of the subject, of which thought. This was a warrant in execu- that House was the guardian. tion, not in mean process (a term inap
Sir John Anstruther next rose to state, plicable to a parliamentary warrant), is- what he conceived to be the duty of the sued for an offence which that House de. members of that House, merely as such, clared to have been committed. They were without looking either to the one side or not to go to courts of law for their infor- 1o the other. He never had any doubt mation. They stood on the law of par- to the privilege of the House, and liament, which was part of the law of the the mode in which the warrant ought to land, and founded on reason. They were have been executed ; and he could not entitled to every assistance that might be but blame the ministers, who had not requisite-to that of sheriffs, magistrates, before-hand made up their minds on that police officers, not only in Middlesex, but subject. But was he to give up the goin Surrey, nay to the whole posse comitatus vernment of the country altogether beof the whole kingdom, to enforce obe- cause it happened to be in the hands of dience to a warrant of apprehension, for incapable or bad ministers? Those who an act which the House of Commons had had marked his conduct through life could pronounced to be a crime. He blamed not, he thought, imagine that he would, those whose officiai duty bound them to for a moment, entertain the idea of beprotect the public peace, for not being traying the government in a period of sufficiently informed upon the steps which such difficulty, whatever might be his might become necessary in consequence opinion of those by whom it was conof a decision which they themselves, as ducted. Whether the administrators members of parliament, intended to in- were fit for their duties or not, they still duce the House to adopt. Instead of any formed the government, and must be such vigilance, the House had on its mi-supported. Whatever therefore might be butes, an account, from which it appeared, his opinion of the ministers, he could not
hesitate about the part he ought to take sheriffs was proclaiming that the interferwhen the question came to be, whether ence of the military was unconstitutional, the country was to have a government or
the ministers had taken the warrant out not. Whenever matters came to that of the hands of the proper officer, who pass, it was the highest privilege of a hesitated, and executed it themselves? If member of parliament to support the go. they had done this, and blood had been vernment. The constitution was not to shed and murder had ensued, before there be sacrificed for the sake of getting the was any proof that the proper officers had ministers into a difficulty with a view been unable to execute the warrant, and to turn them out of office. Even if they consequently before there was any evihad an hereditary title to their seats in the dence of the necessity of their interfercabinet, he would support them in such a ence-what then would have been the crisis, rather than sufier the constitution opinion of the gentlemen on the other sido to be subverted. He had never disguised -what would have been the just judghis opinion, that his Majesty had been ment of that House upon such conduct? advised to place the governinent in the But, whatever they might say about the hands of men unfit to conduct it in times imbecility of ministers in the execu. of difficulty and danger. For the minis- tion of a plain duty, he was conscious that ters, individually, he had a great respect. the imputation was not justly cast upon They had competent talents to a certain him. He was sensible that no man was extent; but, as a body, they were not the fit for the office he had the honour to fill, men who ought to have the adıninistration or any public situation who, seeing the of the government in these times. But line of his duty clear could be deterred though they were not the best qualified from its execution by any personal consifor the discharge of these duties, he could deration. He had at first taken the line not agree to give up the constitution which he thought his duty prescribed. He either to the crown or to a mob. As to had seen that that had already happened, the letter, under the circumstances in which the gentlemen opposite only saw which it had been written, and consider approaching. He had seen in the former ing the motives which dictated it, he letter every thing which appeared in that thought the best way of dealing with it now under consideration-he had seen would be to pass it over in silent con- that the object of the writer was to revile tempt.
the House of Commons, and to bring it, The Chancellor of the Exchequer then if possible, into universal contempt. He rose. After the severe observations which did not blame the hon. gent. (Mr. Curhad been made on the conduct of the mi. wen) who had thought bis proceeding on nisters, he trusted the House would think the former occasion, in the construction that he was called upon and bound to ad- he put upon the hon. bart.'s letter, un. vert to this most unjust attack which had candid. He trusted, however, he would been made upon them—an attack not only now confess, that the event had proved unjust but most impolitic, even in the that his former judgment was not uncanview which even the gentlemen them- did—and he had at last the satisfaction to selves entertained of the proceedings find that he and the hon. gent. agreed on which had taken place within the last this point, at least, in principle. He four days. That they should so far shut trusted, that it would always be the unaltheir eyes to what had passed as to ascribe tered principle of the government of this the unfortunate effects wbich had resulted country to leave the law to its course, from the delay in the execution of the taking care, however, that the public se. warrant, to the conduct of ministers, was curity should not be endangered (hear! he maintained as impolitic, upon their hear.) Gentlemen cheered at the expresown views, as it was unjust to the real me- sions “public security.” Did any one rits of the case. They laid to the charge say, considering the degree of liberty enof ministers the hesitation which had been joyed by the subjects in this country, that evinced in acting upon a warrant, the by any preparations that could have been execution of which depended not on made, disturbances of this kind could at them, but rested upon the discretion of all times be entirely prevented ? It was the proper officer, whose duty it was to utterly impossible that individual assassihave executed it at his peri!! What nation and tumults of this description would have been the opinion of these could be altogether prevented. The utgentlemen, if, at a time when one of the most that could be done was to be pre
pared to suppress them before they ar- terior severity was unnecessary, and would rived at an extent dangerous to the pub- be inexpedient. But he thought a middle lic security. He maintained therefore course would be better suited to the dig. that there had been no culpable negli- nity of the House. When such a letter gence on the part of ministers, but that as this was received, he thought the passing they had on the contrary been perfectly it over without notice, upon the ground of ready to suppress disturbances as soon as contempt, was and would appear very the circumstances called their power into equivocal. Although the House would action.
not suffer itself to be entrapped, yet it For his own part he had never, from would take care not to shrink from its duty. • these tumults, entertained any apprehen- Under all the circumstances however he sion about the safety of the government.
did not think it necessary to propose any The government was now as safe and as further punishment. The punishment he firm as it had ever been. The ministers had before proposed was for a defiance of had always been ready to suppress the the authority of that House, and the prefirst appearance of violence. He trusted, sent letter was but a continuation of the therefore, that the House would pause be- same defiance and a proof of the same offore it pronounced that the ministers had fence. It was, however, no doubt a great been to blame, for not interfering with the aggravation to repeat it. What he would duties of the proper officer-one not re- therefore submit" was, that a resolution moveable at their pleasure, before the should be adopted to the following effect circumstances called upon them to do so. -" That the letter which sir Francis Bur. If the question had been put to him, when dett had written to the Speaker, was a high this matter was before under discussion, he aggravation of his offence; but it appearwould have at once stated his opinion, ing, from tbe report of the serjeant, that that the serjeant would have been justified the warrant for his commitment to the in breaking open the door. But when Tower had been executed, this House did ibe person whose duty it was to execute not think it necessary to proceed any farthe warrant, hesitated and doubted, wbe- ther on the said letter.” The considera. ther he might not be acting illegally, in a tion of that letter might be important at a case where the most serious consequences future opportunity; for instance, if an apmight have taken place, was it imbecility plication should be made for the discharge in him to tell what his own conduct would of ihe writer. As they were agreed as to have been under similar circumstances, the principle, he would, however, readily without presuming to controul, or even to come into the ideas of the gentlemen opadvise the officer in the discharge of his posite, if they could convince him that duty in such a critical case? The gentle their mode of proceeding was the best, men on the other side, he contended, had but he thought the course he proposed to taken a most unjust view of the conduct of follow, the best-most consistent with the ministers. If that conduct had been dif- dignity of the House, and at the same time ferent, their judgment would have been best calculated to avoid those consequences, directly the reverse. They ought to con- which the bon. gentlemen opposite, apo sider that they were giving their opinions prehended from any further proceeding. under different circumstances from those Mr. Whitbread could not upon principle on which the ministers had to decide. assent to the right hon. gent.'s motion, They now gave their judgment as if it had who now, be observed, professed to be inbeen on a point of science, free from all fluenced by considerations of expediency. responsibility. Their argument was, that He was glad to find that the right hon. the ministers had abstained from using a gent, was at length willing' to attend to force beyond the law-for if they had the dictates of expediency, that he and controuled an independent officer in the his friends were disposed to consider conexecution of his duty, it would have been sequences; that they were come to their an illegal act. What would they have senses, and that they were now of opinion said if ministers had, before the necessity that the sooner the matter could be laid at was proved, taken this upon themselves? rest the better. Though he approved the -Having stated thus much, in answer to motion of the hon. gent, for an adjournthe observations that had been made upon ment of the debate to this day six months, the conduct of ministers, he would now he could by no means agree with him in come to the letter. He agreed with the what he had said relative to rallying round gentlemen on the other side, that any ul- his Majesty's government in consequence of the unfortunate events which had so to the privileges of the House, he was as lately taken place. The sudden change ready as any to maintain them, and that in the hon. gent.'s opinion was rather the warrant of the Speaker was complete matter of surprise to him ; but he was --and of all others ought to be omnipotent much more surprised at that, which had --that if good for any thing it was good taken place in those of the right hon. for every thing, and that it authorized the gent. opposite to him. From the warmth breaking open of doors if necessary in with which the right hon. gent. who had order to entorce its execution. If it were just sat down, and his colleague who sat not invested with that authority, what, he by him, had expressed themselves on the would ask, was to become of the most imformer occasion, the House might very portant functions of that House ? how naturally have been led to suppose that were witnesses to be brought to the bar, they had done their duty; but he thought as in the recent investigation respecting quite otherwise, and with the leave of the the duke of York-how was the House to House he would endeavour to shew that come at various points of information mathey had most grosely failed in doing their terial to the performance of its first duties duty. The right hon. gent. had just told -in a word, if the Speaker's warrant were the House, that he foresaw all that conduct not omnipotent, what was to become of of sir F. Burdett which had since taken the inquisitorial character of that House? place, from the very first introduction of It was impossible that the people could be ihis business before the House; and yet so insensible to their own best interests when the Speaker's warrant came to be could be so besotted as to entertain a wish issued, he was not, nor were any of his col- of wrenching from the House a power so leagues, prepared with the proper means essential to all the good purposes of its inof carrying it into execution.-Really, he stiiution. Let it be recollected, that althought, that from the beginning the right though the House of Commons had erred hon. gen. ought to have seen reason to from its duty in many instances, it ought apprehend that the execution of the war- not to be deprived of those privileges rant would have been resisted. Sir F. which were indispensible to its utility and Burdeu's declared opinion of the character power, whenever it should become in its of the warrant was calculated to excite constitution and conduct more conformable that apprehension, and yet it appeared to the opinion and the interest of the peothat the right hon. gent. was quite unpre- ple. That it must become so conforınable pared for the event. This formed a seri- he could entertain little doubt. Indeed, ous ground of complaint against him; but he would venture to say, that the cause of there was another and a still stronger reform was making rapid progress-that ground of complaint. It would be recol- within the last month many, very many lected, that when ihe bon. baronet actually converts had been made to that cause. resisted the warrant, the case was referred Let it then be asked, in what state the to the consideration of the right hon. gent., House would be placed in the event of a and his answer was, that he knew not reform, if stripped of the power under diswhat advice to give, as there was no pre- cussion—if the Speaker’s warrant were not cedent whatever in which this warrant omnipotent? The crown was known to had been resisted. Now, he put it to the have a considerable influence in that right hon. gent. personally, professionally House and elsewhere; and what must the and officially, whether upon abandoning people expect to be the inclination of that the law to pursue politics, it did not be influence in the event of reform. Must come his duty to study parliamentary they not calculate upon its bostility, and history with somewhat more attention, what power could a reformed House of In point of fact, there was a precedent of Commons have of counteracting that hosthe Speaker's warrant having been resisted tility if its warrant were not effective long before that issued against șir F. Bur- Upon this ground therefore most particudett, whose manner of acting he was by larly, he ibought the Speaker's warno means disposed to justify, and that re- rant ought to be omnipotent. — But alsistance was accompanied by contempt. / though he maintained the power of But in thiş precedent how had the House this warrant, it did not follow that he proceeded why, they voted that the would vindicate an improper application party so resisting was sick. Such was the of that power, as in the instance of sir mode by which the House averted any Fraucis Burdett. At the same time, as it conflict upon that occasion. But yet, as was deemed proper to issue the warrant
against that hon. baronet, why should it, discreet advice of these gentlemen had be conceived necessary, so long after its been taken who voted for the reprimand issue, to consult the attorney general as on a former evening, there could not now to the mode of its execution. One should exist a doubt.—But while he deplored the suppose that an opinion upon this subject indiscretion and imbecility of ministers, should have been previously obtained, and and complained of their manner of providthat the city of Westminster should not ing for the execution of the Speaker's war. so long have been suffered to remain in a rant, he begged it to be understood, that state of tumult. The right hon. the Chan- he meant not to make any apology for cellor of the Exchequer, and his right the conduct of sir F. Burdett. On the hon. friend the secretary of state, took contrary, he thought ihat the honourable credit, it appeared, for the assistance they baronet, even upon his own principles, offered and the exertions they made upon ought not to have persisted in his resist. this occasion. But what said the zerjeant ance. After five days opposition he did at arms ? Did he not state at the bar, that yield to force, and he might as well have he couid not get a sight of the secretary so yielded, for his own view of trying the of state and also, that until Monday question within the first five minutes after morning he could not obtain adequate as- the warrant was presented to him. He sistance? (No, no, on the ministerial was, therefore, no apologist for the conbenches). He was in the recollection of duct of sir F. Burdett in his protracted rethe House, and the minutes, when printed, sistance. A noble lord had interpreted would serve to shew how far he was cor- the bon. baronet's letter to mean a reso, rect. The right hon. (the Chancellor of lution to resist the execution of the war. the Exchequer) attempted to excuse him. Then it was matter of just and seri. self by stating that he had no right to ous complaint that arrangements were not interpose with the execution of the promptly taken to enforce its execution. Speaker's warrant, unless specially ap- Why, in fact, was not the warrant exe. plied to for aid and where the circum- cuted, as it might have been, by two or stances of the case called for such inter- three constables within an hour or two position. But what did the right hon. after it was signed (hear! hear! on the gent. do when so applied to? why, the ministerial benches) ? Gentlemen on the serjeant at arms was referred to the Bow- opposite side meant no doubt, as indeed street officers. He begged the House to they had obviously enough endeavoured, remember the deposition of this officer, to throw the blame upon the serjeant at enfeebled as he was by so many sleepless arms, but in that they could not succeed. nights, and to consider the circumstances The House could never conceive blame of an individual so situated without any fairly imputable to an unlearned man, decisive advice, or adequate aid to in. with a mere military education, for doubt
orce the warrant with the execution of and ignorance upon a subject with regard which he was entrusted. The right hon. to which the learned lawyer, the first lord gent. claimed credit for not calling in the of the treasury, professed his inability to military prematurely. But why not call decide. Could the House be in the least in the civil power? That, in fact, did not degree surprised at the serjeant's hesitatat all make its appearance until Monday, ing to execute a warrant that he knew in conjunction with the military. He was would be resisted; in the doing which, if happy to hear it admitted by the right a death ensued, he rendered himself liable hon. gent., that the tumult which gave to an indictment for murder? when the rise to this discussion was not the result of learned late attorney general now first any deep laid plan, that there was nothing lord of the treasury, and the other learned more than an ordinary mob which could gentleman near him, who had quitted the be quieted by the ordinary means.--(No, law for political pursuits, as well as the no, on the ministerial benches.) The hon. learned secretary of state, were all so unmember deprecated these unparliamentary prepared as to the law of the subject, that interruptions, and repeated his conception the learned late attorney general, on the of the right hon. gentleman's admission, Saturday evening, advised the serjeant to that there was no apprehension of any take the opinion of the present attorney extended plot or conspiracy in the recent general, which was not given till Sunday disturbance. Such, indeed, was the ge- night; and yet they expected the serneral conviction, and that those disturb. jeant to know more law than all of them ances would never have occurred, if the put together. They might, however throw