Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

tion, and the general character of firmed. At a later date, another these offences is evidenced by all the, question of this sort came before an language of similar proceedings, in election committee under the Grenour own time.

ville act, from the county of BerBut, Sir, beyond this:-practices wick, in 1781. The petition there of this description are not only of- stated that two of the cardidates, fences by the law of parliament; they had by themselves, and friends, comhave been long since adjudged to bined to controul the election, by be criminal by the common law of chusing first one of those two candithe realm.

dates, who should sit for a certain The bribery of votes was adjudg- number of years or sessions, and ed by the court of King's Bench, then the other should be elected to in the early part of the present succeed him. The election comreign, to have been a common law mittee before whom that case was offence, even though no precedents tried and proved, reported the agreecould be adduced to show it, and ment to be corrupt and illegal, and to have been punishable as such voided the election. long before its increased prevalence · What, therefore, it remains for us made parliament deem it necessary to do is plain. As to our ancestors, to restrain it by special statutes. when they found the censures of And in like manner any previous parliament, and the decisions of the agreement or compact to controul common law, were insufficient to the votes of electors (even although restrain the growing practice of brithe electors are not themselves bri- bery to voters, proceeded to superadd bed) has been adjudged to be illegal the cumulative penalties of the staupon general grounds of policy and tute law; so also it is for us, who jurisprudence.-Such was the case have before us such Aagrant proofs which arose in the burgh of Stirling that the traffic in seats has broken in the year 1773, where some of the through the existing checks, to put town council had entered into a cor- it down by a new prohibitory law. rupt agreement to divide the profits And now, Sir, we are brought to of the burgh, and what they were the last consideration—whether we also pleased to call the parliamen- can by any safe and practicable re. tary profits, and to bring no person medy suppress the mischief: and of into the magistracy but such as this I have no doubt, if with sinceshould vote with them upon all par- rity and diligence we apply ourselves liamentary elections; under this a- to the task. ' greement, elections were had, and According to my views of this passed unanimously: but when this subject, the committee will perceive, agreement was discovered and ques- that I must naturally desire in the tioned, although it was manifest that first place that our law should be in the other electors were neither party itself declaratory; lest we should nor privy to the agreement, nor had impair the principle which we are profited thereby, the court of session endeavouring to strengthen. The not only declared the agreement it- definition or description of the of. self to be illegal, unwarrantable, and fence should also be marked with contra bonos mores, but also that by a degree of precision that we may reason of the undue influence under not include in it things or consewhich such elections were had, all quences beyond our own intentions: those elections were void and null. and the prohibitory provisions should This judgment afterwards came by be such as are most analogous to appeal to the house of lords, and the rest of our election laws upon was there, in November 1775, af- corresponding casesa

[graphic]

Of course, the honourable mem- but should fall under the same disber who has brought in the present ability as that enacted by the act bill will not be surprised that I of William the III, which I think should think he has fallen short of would be improved also, if it excluthe true point, in not making it de- ded him not for that vacancy alone, claratory. As to the main part of but for the whole parliament. The his enactments, he will also be pre party who received the price of his prepared for my dissenting from the venality should also of course foruse of such lax and wide modes of feit it, with any further penalty expression as he has employed; a which it might be thought right to defect into which it is no peculiar superadd. reproach for him to have fallen, as And, beyond this, I would think our modern forms of legislation have it a proper course to declare it by. too much involved all our provisions positive law, what is implied by the in language so cumbrous, that it is judgments which I have already cigenerally difficult to discover their ted—that by such traffic each party. sense and substance, through the becomes guilty of a misdemeanor. multitude of words with which they · Upon the whole, Sir, that for are overcharged. But beyond this, which I am most anxious is the esit is quite impossible for me to con- tablishment of the principle; being sent to that part of his proposed en- firmly persuaded that honourable actment which makes the tenure of minds, which may have hitherto seats in this house dependent upon deviated from what I think wąs the judgments to be obtained in the straight path of their duty, or may courts below, or in any way puts have been made to vacillate by the the trial of our own rights out of our practices which they saw prevailing own accustomed jurisdiction. around them with impunity-will

With regard to the oath proposed shrink from them with abhorrence, by the hon gentleman, it is such in when they find them condemned by its present form as I should entirely a specific law : and other men, if object to. I do not know that a pro- actuated by motives less honourable, per oath for a proper purpose is in will be restrained by fears not less itself an exceptionable provision by efficacious. law. Nor do I think that for so- I shall therefore listen with satislemnity or importance, so long as faction to any amendment that goes any oaths are used in election laws, this length, accompanied by such that any occassion for it could be brief and distinct provisions as may more suitable; agreeing as I do ve- give a reasonable security that its ry much with Sir William Black- execution will be accomplished. stone in opinion, that the oath, if And I shall be contented to lay administered to the elected, would aside for the present all questions be far more effectual than when gi- of doubtful policy or difficult ex. ven to the elector. Nevertheless, pressions; thinking it better to reknowing that to many persons any serve them for future experience, form of oath whatever upon this and, if necessary, for future legis. subject would be highly obnoxious, lation. and not thinking it indispensably I would presume also to recoma necessary to the efficacy of the bill, mend this course to the house, as

should not be disposed to insist the most prudent and most likely to upon it.

contribute to the further progress What I should require would be, of this bill, and its ultimate passing that the party who purchased should into a law; on my own part most not reap the profit of his bargain, cordially and earnestly hoping for

VOL. VI.

[graphic]
[ocr errors][merged small]

с

its success, as a measure which might be supposed, and he had no has now become indispensable to doubt that it would be supposed out the honour of this house, and of the of the house, that what he said on country.

this subject proceeded from a wish Mr. Perceval declared it to be his to retain his own influence. He opinion, that the bill before the concluded, by proposing an amendcommittee did not properly and suf- ment of considerable length, in ficiently define the offence against which all the inconveniences comwhich it was directed. The offence plained of by him, as existing in the ought to be so defined as not to bill, were obviated. make that conduct, which it was Mr. Curwen paid a compliment not desirable to prohibit,' a subject to the right hon. gentleman in whom of the prohibition of the bill. In the discussion had originated, and this view of the subject, it was bet- trusted, that, after what had fallen ter even to fall short of the object from such high authority, there than to go beyond it. It was ne- could no longer be any difference cessary to provide, not only against of opinion in the house, as to the those who possessed the sole power necessity of soms measure similar over an clection, but also against to that which he had the honour to those who, having a minor influence, propose. might yet use that influence in a Mr. Ponsonby 'characterized the decisive manner. To such indivi- amendment introduced by Mr. Perduals it would be necessary to try ceval as a new and superseding bill; to make the bill reach.—He thought, and declared, as far as he underwith the right hon. gentleman near stood it, it by no means met his him, that the person who received approbation. Without any party money should be subject to penal- feeling, he was bound to recommend ties; perhaps, a forfeiture of the to the house to consider what was sum received, and a fine of 500l. to due to their own character. If they be given to the informer. As to meant sincerely and conscientiously that part of the bill which related to do good, he could not persuade to the giving of offices, if it were himself but that they had the power duly considered, he was sure that, to put an end to the practice comunder such an enactment, it would plained of, not only on the part of be impossible for any individual individuals, but on the part of the whatever to hold a place with secu- treasury also ; and to define the of

rity, which place entitled them to fence in a manner so precise, as to · the nomination to offices. Offices enable any honest man to swear he

must exist, and the officers must be had not violated the law. nominated by somebody. In this Sir J. Anstruther congratulated country the nomination was in the the house on the advance they had crown. If a provision existed, that made in this necessary measure, and any person who, for the considerá- the excellent effects likely to ensue tion of procuring the return of a from the clear mode in which the member, received an office, and that law had been this night laid down, any individual by whom that office from high authority (Mr. Abbot). might be given should be subjected Mr. Tierney considered this as to punishment for a misdemeanor, one of the most pressing occasions he put it to any person who ever in which an oath was rendered nehad the power of giving an office, cessary, and said that he attached whether he could be quite sure that so much importance to it that be it was possible to keep completely could be contented were there noclear of such considerations. It thing in the bill but the oath, which

Perceval.

in his opinion, would alone act as did not frame a law to encourago an effectual guardian to the purity false accusation, which would nineof parliament. .

teen times out of twenty be fatal, Mr. Rose objected strongly to the to the honest and legal representa- . application of an oath, not upon a tive. matter of fact, but upon the con- Mr. Hutchinson eulogised the construction of a law. He generally duct of the Speaker in warm terms, supported the amendment of Mr. and expressed his hopes that the

constitutional principles he had laid Mr. W. Wynne thought the ef- down would be attended to during fects of the bill would be more mis- the progress of the bill. chievous than salutary, unless its Mr. W. Smith was rather inclined provisions were extended to the ex- to retain the oath as a thing that change of government offices, as would powerfully operate in howell as giving money, for seats in nourable minds. But his chief obparliament. If the part of the bill jections were to what the bill negrelative to offices was struck out, it lected to provide against. Were would be to declare that the house peers prevented from interfering in authorised this traffic, particularly elections ? There was no doubt a after their attention had been turned standing order of that house against to this subject on a recent occasion. such interference; but was it strict

Mr. Bathurst spoke in favour of ly enforced ? Not only was it true the principle of the bill, which as a that peers had the power of interfestep to the reform of an existing ring in elections, but he believed abuse he would be glad to receive that men were actually made peers in any way in which it might be mo- to enable them to interfere more efdified, though perhaps the clause of- fcctually. The Baron would go to fered by his right hon. friend might the minister, and holding out that not go so far as he could wish. . influence to him might say, make

Mr. Hawkins Browne, from all me an Earl, make me a Marquis, the arguments he had heard, con- and I will exert that influence in sidered it as very difficult to frame your support. How did the bill an oath which would not imply an provide against dealings of this deopinion on the construction of the scription} Thus it was the mem

bers, not the seats, that were sold ; Mr. Abbot (the speaker) thanked and his grand objection to the meathe committee for the flattering at- sure was, that it made no provision tention and deference that had been for such an abuse. The patron of paid to his sentiments. He had no the borough, made his bargain with hesitation in stating it distinctly as the minister, but the oath could his opinion that unless the bill ap- not reach him, while he sent two plied to the grant of offices in return men into that house, much less fit for seats in parliament it would be to sit in it than if they had purchamainly deficient,

sed their seats with their own money, Mr. Perceval coincided with this at any public auction.. : arrangement, He then repeated his Various amendments were then former arguments, and placed them proposed, and several discussions and in other and stronger points of view. explanations took place between It was his desire to extend the pro- different members on this important visions of the bill against the trans- subject. fer of seats for offices, but the house The Speaker then resumed the must pause to consider, that in enac- chair; the report was immediately ting against an illegal practice they received; the bill ordered to be prin

[ocr errors]

ted; and to be taken into further would be an expenditure to the consideration on Tuesday next. : amount of 49 millions, with which

The orders of the day were then we must meet our peace establishdisposed of, and the house adjourn- ment, without allowing for the wined at three o'clock in the morning. ding up of the war, and, to meet Friday, June 2.

this, there would be a deficiency of On the motion of Mr. Martin, upwards of 7,000,000). which must the house went into a committee be procured, either by a continuance upon the THIRD REPORT ON PUBLIC of the property tax at 5 per cent, OFFICES.

by having recourse to a loan, or by Mr. Martin then stated, that laying on some new taxation in the since this subject was last before place of the war taxes which should the house, nothing had occurred to expire. make him alter his opinion as to Mr. Rose said that Mr. Pitt had the resolutions he had suggested. made it his constant study to keep From the return made of the a- doun pensions, and to study economy! mount of the permanent taxes, con- Mr. Wilberforce said a few words trasted with the expenditure of the in support of what had fallen from country, it must be seen with con- the right honourable gentleman (Mr. cern, in order to pay the interest Rose). and charges of the additional debt Mr. Creevey entered into the hisincurred, the war taxes must be tory of the 4 per cent, duties, and permanently pledged, even in time contended that the crown had no of peace. He then entered into a right to grant pensions in the way financial statement, in order to shew it did. this necessity; and concluded with Sir J. Newport said, as Mr. Pitt's moving his first resolution, which economy with respect to England was,

had been so much panegyrised, he “That the present arduous situa- wished he had ground for the same tion of public affairs, the increasing panegyric with respect to Ireland. weight of taxes, together with the In that country, the number of pencharges incurred by the war, ab- sions which were attempted to be solutely require retrenchment in the regulated by the civil list act was larger branches of the public expen- so great, that a diminution of them diture.

was considered as absolutely necesMr. Huskisson entered into a com- sary. The diminution of them was parison of the amount of taxation frustrated by one of his Majesty's and revenue of this with preceding present cabinet ministers, in a way years, and endeavoured to shew which the house would be astonished that there was no occasion for de. to hear. In the year 1793, the spondency.

civil list act was wrung from his Lord Folkestone conceived there vice royalty, by which it was enacwas much fallacy in the arguments ted, that no more than 1200l. per · adduced to evince the prosperous annum should be granted in pen. state of the country.

sions,, until the pension list was reMr. Tierney observed, that the duced to 80,0001. per annum. This fair way of stating the circumstan- was enacted in the commencement ces of the country was, to estimate of July, and was not to be enforced what would probably be the result till the 25th of the ensuing March. of our financial establishment, were Strange to tell, in the interim, Lord peace to take place to-morrow morn- Westmoreland absolutely granted thiting. He had made a statement, teen thousand pounds per annum in from which it appeared that there pensions ! Thus giving in seven

« ZurückWeiter »