§ Mr. Eden
moved, that the order of the day, for taking into consideration the matter of the Complaint made to the House, that Mr. Campbell being summoned to attend the Committee appointed to enquire into the manner in which Sentences of Transportation have been executed, and into the effects which have been produced by that mode of punishment, had been arrested by a Sheriff's Officer yesterday, on his way to the House, be now read.
§ The order being read, Mr. Campbell was called to the bar, and interrogated by the Speaker.
§ Q,. Your name, sir, is Campbell?—A. Yes, Robert Campbell.
§ Did you receive an order to attend a Committee of the House of Commons yesterday?—Yes, I did.
§ In writing?—In writing.
§ [The Order was here put in and read. It was signed by Mr. Eden, as Chairman of the Committee, and ordered Mr. Campbell to attend.]
§ Were you prevented from attending by any circumstance, and what?—I was.
§ By what?—By an arrest.
§ Where?—In my own house. I had been out in the morning, and a little past twelve o'clock returned home for some papers which might assist me in answering questions which might be put to me by the Committee, and which I had forgotten found there three sheriff's offi- 158 cers, and was immediately served with a writ by one of them. I staled to him my situation in regard to the order of the Committee, and shewed him the order, as my protection, but all to no purpose. He said I must go with him, and after going up stairs to speak to my family, who were much distressed, I went with him accordingly to a lock-up-house in Black-friars-road.
§ Did you shew him the order before he took you from your house—I did.
§ What is the officer's name?—I have since understood it to be Hindson.
§ At what o'clock were you arrested?—At about a quarter past twelve.
§ Where is your house?—No. 1, Walcot-place, Lambeth.
§ How long had you been absent from home before the time of your return?—From about half past nine o'clock—[and here the witness mentioned the various places he called at, and transacted business, till the period of his return, in consequence of having forgotten the papers before mentioned.]
was ordered to remain at the bar, and Mr. Hindson to be called; but on Mr. Wilson, a Member, rising to ask information from the Speaker, as to the proper course of proceeding, the witness was ordered to withdraw.
§ The Speaker
said, it was the established course of the House first to ascertain, by evidence, the nature of the facts, and then it was competent for any hon. gentleman to propose what course he thought fit to be adopted.
The parties were then called in, and Hindson, the officer, examined:
Your name is Hindson?—Yes.
You are a sheriff's officer?—I am.
Did you arrest Mr. Campbell yesterday?—I did.
Where, and at what time? At No. 1, Wacot-place, Lambeth, about 12 o'clock. On what process, a civil or criminal action?—On a special Capias for debt.
Did he at the time allege any reason why the arrest should not take place?—Yes, he did. He stated that he was called on to attend a Committee of the House of Commons, and produced a written paper to that effect, such as I had never seen before. My writ included two persons of the name of Campbell (John and Robert), and the order did not specify the christian name.
159 What did you do accordingly?—We walked together to Blackfriars-road, where I procured a special messenger to go to Mr. Campbell's attorney, to desire him to attend the Chairman of the Committee. I went myself to Messrs. Dan and Crossland, the solicitors, who employed me, and stated the case to Mr. Dan, whom I saw, and shewed him the order which I had procured from Mr. Campbell for that purpose; Mr. Dan said he did not think it was a; legal protection, and directed me not to discharge my prisoner till a proper enquiry should be made. From him I went to Mr. James, the under-sheriff of Surrey, who informed me, that no similar case had occurred during the time he had been in office, and requested to go for information to Mr. Burchell, the under sheriff of Middlesex. I saw Mr. Burchell, who gave his opinion, that being in Surrey, it did not come within the jurisdiction of the House; and that I ought to wait till a new order was made, which would probably be this day. I then went back and saw Mr. Campbell. I told him that Mr. Dan refused to grant the discharge, and, also what had passed between me and the under-sheriffs.
Did you take any steps to ascertain if Mr. Campbell was the person summoned by the Committee?—I never was in the House of Commons before, or nearer to it than the court of King's-bench, in Westminster-hall. I did not enquire into this, as my time was occupied, as I have stated, and I was served with the notice to attend here today, soon after I got home.
What is the amount of the debt?—6,960l. and upwards. If it had fallen on me, it would have been utter ruin to myself and family.
The parties being withdrawn,
§ Mr. Wilson
did not think him entitled to this, as the case did not come exactly within their privileges, which he was as anxious to preserve as any man. He then stated the facts as disclosed in the preceding evidence, and contended, that Mr. Campbell being at that hour returning to his own house, could not be said to be in progress to the Committee of the House of Commons.
§ Mr. Eden
felt that there could be no doubt on the question before the House. As Mr. Campbell had been ordered to at- 160 tend the Committee at one, and was passing by the Horse-guards at five minutes after twelve, nothing could be more probable than that he had returned for the purpose he had forgotten.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said, if the witness had been bona-fide on his way to the House, its privilege ought unquestionably to be extended to him; but his being found at home might naturally enough lead the officer to suspect, when the order was produced, that it was some trick if the man was passing the Horse-guards at twelve o'clock, and went home, as he had stated, for a paper which he had forgotten; all this might be considered as in progress towards his attending the Committee, and the privilege of the House ought to be extended to him. He conceived it must be admitted, unless the veracity of the witness were questioned, that he was entitled to the privilege of the House.
§ Mr. Wilson
observed, he had been somewhere else all the morning previous to his passing the Horse-guards at twelve o'clock, on business not connected with the Committee.
thought, the order of the House, which was in his possession, ought of itself to have protected him from an arrest.
§ The question was then put and carried.
§ Mr. Eden
was of opinion that no censure was deserved by the unfortunate sheriff's officer, and he should therefore not propose to proceed with any severity against him; but he thought Mr. Dan, the attorney, ought to be ordered to attend to receive a reprimand for the language which he had held with respect to the order. He would therefore move that Mr. Dan he ordered to attend.
§ The Speaker
wished to know, if the hon. gentleman would pursue this motion before the House decided on giving an order for the attendance of Hindson again tomorrow.
§ Mr. Stephen,
before Mr. Dan was ordered to attend, wished to observe that there had appeared no intention on his part to infringe the privileges of the House. He would put it to them, if when the amount of the debt was considered, it could be expected that any man would take upon himself the heavy responsibility of ordering a discharge of the arrest, unless he was; certain that the order would justify his doing so.
§ Mr. Tierney
thought Mr. Dan ought at 161 any rate to be called to their bar, and told how the law stood in that respect.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said it was a question of fact, and was of opinion that no prima facie case was made against Mr. Dan, and that, as it did not appear he had any disposition to treat the privileges of the House with contempt, it was not necessary that he should be ordered to attend.
§ Mr. Tierney
thought if nothing farther were done, and it appeared on their Journals that no steps were taken in consequence of such a breach of privilege, attornies might hereafter refer to this case, and tell those offending in a similar manner, that it was of no consequence, and no notice would be taken of it by the House.
§ Mr. Owen,
when the responsibility of the man who discharged an arrest was considered, thought a fair excuse appeared for Mr. Dan. It seemed there was no christian name mentioned in the order, and therefore it might well be suspected that it was intended for another Mr. Campbell, and that the person arrested attempted improperly to take advantage of it. He thought enough had been done to assert the privileges of the House, and hoped they would give the parties concerned no farther trouble.
understood, that Mr. Dan had said "Don't mind the order of the House, but keep, your prisoner." He thought he could not say this in ignorance, and that consequently a farther enquiry was necessary. [The short-hand writer's notes of the evidence were here read.]
agreed that this was a question of fact, but thought the attendance of Mr. Dan necessary, as he had doubted whether or not an order of the House could legally protect a person from an arrest. If he should appear to have doubted not the effect of an order of the House, but whether the order produced were genuine, or if he had doubted whether Mr. Campbell was the person entitled to its protection; he thought there would be but one opinion in the House, that he should be discharged. Since, however, Mr. Dan had been stated to have doubts on the subject, it was proper that be should be ordered to attend to state on what those doubts were founded.
thought it appeared that Mr. Dan, considering the circumstances altogether, wished to have the opinion of counsel, before he discharged the person: but if it was thought neces- 162 sary to have an explanation from his own mouth, as to whether he disputed the authority of the House, or only the authenticity of the instrument, he should have no objection to his being called.
said, the act was a manifest breach of privilege, and those who would state the case most favourably for Mr. Dan, must own that there was at least great doubt in his expressions. If the motion before the House was, that he should be taken into custody, what had been stated by the gentlemen opposite would have great weight, but they did not go the length of disproving the propriety of an order for his attendance.
§ The motion was then agreed to, and Mr. Dan ordered to attend to-morrow. Mr. Hindson was also ordered to attend again.
§ Mr. Eden
said, he had received a letter from Mr. Palmer, a witness attending a Committee of that House, complaining of having been arrested, (a laugh.) He did not know that the case was marked by circumstances so aggravating as those which characterized the former one; however he should move, that John Palmer and Alexander Grace, sheriff's officers, do attend the House to-morrow.—The motion was agreed to.