§ Mr. Barham
rose to make his promised motion for leave to bring in a bill to amend the present mode of Delivering Writs for the election of members of the house of commons. He stated the inconveniencies of the present mode, and lamented that by refusing to hear the Messenger of the Great Seal at the bar of the house, had prevented him from proving his statements. He declared that at every election the messenger received from the treasury a list of those to whom they recommended that the writs should be sent. He did not peculiarly charge the present administration with this practice; it had been the custom with antecedent administrations. He hoped, however, that now the case was brought before parliament, they would not object 1056 to the remedy being applied to it; and he doubted not that he should have the support of all those who were so warm on the sending of a private letter from a secretary of the treasury to his friend, in favour of a candidate. The plan he intended to introduce into his bill was as follows: that the writs as soon as issued should be delivered sealed by the messenger of the great seal to the secretary of the poet-office, who should be enjoined to forward them by the following mail to the postmaster of the county town of each county, and who should deliver a receipt for them to the messenger. The postmaster of each county town on the receipt of the writ should be enjoined to inform the sheriff of its arrival, and should return a receipt to the secretary of the post-office. On obtaining information of the arrival of the writ, the sheriff should be enjoined instantly to repair to the post-master, giving him a receipt on its delivery. By this plan three points would be gained; 1st, dispatch, for in 5 days a writ would reach the most distant part of the island; 2d, security, which would be provided for by the receipts given by the various parties through whose hands the writ passed; 3d, and above all, the utmost facility would be afforded to detection and remedy, if, either by accident or design, the writ should be diverted from its proper course. With regard to the perquisites which the messenger of the great seal had hitherto received on the delivery of writs he did not wish that they should be touched during the life of the person who at present held that office, for two reasons: 1st, because those perquisites had been regulated, at different periods, by authority; and, 2d, because the present officer had rectified many abuses, and had not put up the writs to a kind of public auction, in imitation of his predecessors. Should the house give him leave to bring in his bill, he should move for the appointment of a committee to examine into the fees and perquisites of the messenger of the great seal, for the purpose of introducing a clause into the bill in order to save the present officer from any loss. Alter his death, he was of opinion that these fees and perquisites might be abolished; at present they amounted, one year with another, to about 500l. a year. This might be charged on the consolidated fund, or put on the sheriffs' account. He concluded by moving for leave to bring in a bill to insure certainty and dispatch in the delivery of writs for the election of members of parliament.—Leave granted.