§ Sir James Mackintosh
rose, not to oppose the question that the Speaker do now leave the chair, nor yet to enter into any discussion on the general merits of the bill then before the House. He had expressed his opinions upon that question so frequently upon former occasions, that he felt himself perfectly justified in not repeating them at present. He had another motive, of a much more powerful 325 nature, for not entering into any general discussion on this bill upon the present evening, which he should take the liberty of shortly stating to the House. The last time that this bill was brought before the attention of parliament was in 1818, and it was then proposed by his majesty's ministers because there happened to be thirty-eight French exiles and three French newspapers established in the; Netherlands. That was thought to be a sufficient reason for withdrawing the protection of the law from 22,000 individuals who were then living under it. But at present not even such a pretext as was then employed had been brought forward. His majesty's ministers, from a confidence arising out of their former success, now proposed the renewal of this bill, not only without any reason, but without even the allegation, intimation, or insinuation, of any reason. The House had heard the bill introduced, and had heard it also recommended by three or four ambiguous phrases, which applied as much to it as they did to any other subject which had been introduced into that House since the era of its first foundation. That might be well enough on the first reading of the bill; but what occurred on the second, when those who were hostile to it came down to the House in expectation of hearing arguments advanced in favour of it, and prepared, if such arguments were advanced, to refute them in every particular? Why, that ministers were equally silent upon that occasion also; and thus evinced their determination of proposing a bill for the partial suspension of the constitution, without urging a single argument to show the necessity of it. Upon that occasion a speech had been delivered against the measure, which was not less distinguished by its solidity than its brilliancy, and which proved the power of a superior mind to give novelty to an exhausted subject. A most lame and impotent reply to that speech had indeed been attempted, and it was contended that the bill was necessary, because by possibility our domestic tranquillity might be disturbed by foreign incendiaries. He would not dwell upon the absurdity of supposing, that, under existing circumstances, incendiaries from Seville, or Berlin, or Paris, were likely to avail themselves of tumults at Glasgow or Manchester. This miserable interest for continuing the measure had been exposed by all the powers of wit and reason, and 326 had been justly held up to the scorn and derision of the House. He should not, therefore, on the present occasion, do any thing so needless as to repeat the arguments which had been already urged against this measure; nor any thing so hopeless as to endeavour to obtain an answer to them from his majesty's ministers. Indeed, it appeared to him as if their design was to have this bill renewed, time after time, without giving a single reason why it should be renewed, until they obliged those who opposed it to relinquish their opposition out of mere lassitude; and then, when they had produced that effect, to make it permanent, as if it were a mere matter of course that it should become so. However paradoxical it might appear, this bill was likely to creep on till it became part of the law of the land; merely because the objections to it were never answered. No lawyer had ever yet proved it to be consistent with the law of this country, and no statesman had ever yet shown it to be at all necessary to the tranquillity of the empire: and the House had been called upon to register this ministerial edict, simply because it was the will and pleasure of ministers that it should do so. He should not at present employ more words upon this tyrannical and execrable bill, which he always would call tyrannical and execrable so long as the liberty of speech was left to him. His only object in obtruding himself at that moment upon the House, was to propose that certain instructions should be given to the committee before the bill was submitted to its consideration. It was requisite that such instructions should be given, since he could not otherwise propose, in the committee, certain clauses which appeared to him to be expedient, the title of the bill not being an act to "amend and continue" the act of the 56th of the late king, but only "to continue" it. The instructions which he proposed that the House should give to the committee were, to receive and consider three clauses, which he should hereafter propose as amendments to the bill; and if it were consistent with the forms and proceedings of the House, he should move also that the words of the amendments be put upon the Journals of the House, as an appeal to posterity against this most unconstitutional measure. The first of these clauses related to the appeal to be made to the privy council. By the bill of 1814 a sort 327 of appeal was given to the alien; for the privy council were empowered to consider any reasons which the alien might urge against his being sent out of the kingdom. That clause might have afforded a sufficient relief to the alien, if it had been understood and acted upon in the same spirit with that in which it was passed. But as it was now construed, it gave to the alien no right to demand what was the specific charge against him, no right to call witnesses to disprove that charge, and no right to employ counsel to defend him against it; it was therefore nothing else than a bitter insult and a cruel mockery upon him. A case had even occurred in which, another difficulty had been thrown in the way of the alien by a petty fogging magistrate, who had refused to hear his appeal because the act stated that it was to be made, not to a magistrate, but to the privy council. There were thus four clear and distinct grounds on which the act, as at present worded, required amendment. First of all it called upon an individual who might not understand our language to defend himself, and did not allow him the benefit of counsel; secondly, it did not enable him to call for an explanation of the charges on which he was to be sent out of the country; thirdly, it did not enable him to call witnesses in his own defence; and fourthly, it did not allow him that appeal to the privy council through a magistrate. To remedy this crying injustice, he should propose a clause authorizing the privy council to give the alien, on his being arrested, a general summary of the charges exhibited against him; and giving to the alien the power of calling witnesses to refute those charges, and the right of being heard in his defence, either in his own person or by counsel. He did not ask that the alien should know who were his accusers, much less that he should have the right to be confronted with them; he only asked for such an extension of the fair principles of English law to him as was requisite to procure him justice. The second clause which he had to propose was one which he thought would put the sincerity of his majesty's ministers to the test, and would show whether they were really in earnest in the professions which they had so frequently made to the country. They had said that this bill was introduced to protect the public peace against foreign agitators, and did not extend to individuals who followed 328 a civil or industrious profession, or who gave a pledge of their tranquillity to government by placing their families, their property and every other tie which binds man to man in society, under its protection. He should, therefore, propose, that all aliens who had been settled in this country previously to the 1st of January, 1814, should be exempted from the operation of this act. The period which he had chosen was before the first peace of Paris, which was not made till May in the same year; and therefore this clause exempted no Napoleonist, no Jacobin, and indeed no other class of men who were likely to disturb the peace of civilized Europe. If it did not exempt such characters from the operation of the law, whom did it protect against it? Merchants and their families—men of letters and ingenious artists—useful and peaceable artisans, who came to this country, not for their own private advantage only, but also for the general benefit of the community of which they formed a part, and which they enriched by their talents and ingenuity. After the manner in which ministers had treated the admirable speech which had been made upon a former evening—and which he supposed that they had allowed to remain unanswered because they found it to be unanswerable-he could not expect that they would show more attention to any thing which fell from so humble an individual as himself. But if they would allow him to speak to them as legislators, he would ask them to specify what class of men would be exempted from the law as it would stand if his clauses were agreed to? Would they tell him that, in spite of its precautions, two or three dangerous characters would still be able to remain in this country, and to brood over their dark and wicked machinations in secret? If they should make him that answer, he would ask them to point out the case where laws were made against two or three individuals only; and the time when there had not been two or three individuals with mischievous and mistaken views in the country? He must, therefore, maintain that this clause ought to be added to the bill, if the House wished to preserve that character which England had hitherto always maintained for justice and humanity towards foreigners. The third clause which he had to submit to the House was one which it would not be necessary to propose on any other occasion than the 329 present, but to which, on that very account, he was anxious to draw the attention of every gentleman who heard him. There was at present before parliament one subject of the most delicate and deplorable nature, on which he had not as yet made a single observation for many reasons, and chiefly that he might preserve that temper, which, if judicial duties were to be imposed upon him against his wishes and without his consent, was so necessary to be preserved unimpaired, in order to the proper discharge of those duties. The only interests which he regarded in that transaction were the interests of public justice—the highest and most valuable of all. In furtherance of those interests, it was the duty, not only of himself, but of every other member of that House, to take care that the course of justice should not be disturbed, that its impartiality should not be questioned, that its character should not even be suspected, in a case the most painful and deplorable that had ever fallen under the notice of parliament. Honourable gentlemen would of course be aware that he was alluding to the case of the queen. It was his opinion—and he much doubted whether any member would be found bold enough to oppose it—that no party in that transaction ought to have any undue influence over the witnesses who might be called on to give evidence regarding it. He presumed that it was so obvious a truth as not to require him to say a word in illustration of it, that no party ought even to entertain a wish that any such influence should be exercised. He should, therefore, propose to the House, that it should give instructions to the committee to consider a clause to exempt from the operation of this bill any person or persons who might come from foreign parts to give evidence either for or against a bill of pains and penalties now pending against the queen of England. He said "witnesses who might come to give evidence either for or against;" for the reason which rendered this clause necessary to be applied to both parties. It was essential that ministers, who, in spite of their denial of it, were certainly the constitutional prosecutors of the queen, should not have the power of excluding the witnesses in favour of her majesty from this country, for such a power would tend to the lessening of justice; neither was it fit that they should have the liberty of banishing their own witnesses; for, if such power were to be 330 allowed them, parliament would grant to them the power of sending out of the country all those who were likely to give what they would deem disagreeable testimony. He must own that he, for one, did not expect that any such power would ever be exercised by the present ministers; he would not say, even for the sake of debate, that he thought any such violation of justice was likely to proceed from them; but still that formed no answer to his argument: for, would any man say that a number of witnesses, some of whom were, he understood, from the lowest classes in society, and therefore, in all probability, totally ignorant of our language and our laws, might not, on hearing that there was such an act in existence as the Alien act, take it into their heads to think that some power, in abuse of it, might be exercised against them? It was requisite to the purposes of justice that they should be released from all such fears; for, whilst they existed, it was impossible to suppose that some unfair bias would not influence their minds, calculated to produce a testimony not exactly according with the dictates of their conscience. Even if he could suppose that foreigners, in such a situation—entertaining, too, religious sentiments widely different from those of the majority of the country, and therefore likely to entertain more fear of every thing which could be urged in a hostile manner against them by its inhabitants—would not be actuated by any such dread as he had described; still he had another reason behind, which made him more anxious than any other that this clause should be adopted: it was the possibility that a report of such injustice being practised towards her majesty might prevail both in this country and upon the continent. It was to deprive the constant calumniators of parliament at home, and the irreconcileable enemies of our honour and our institutions abroad, of the opportunity of propagating so foul a slander, that he wished the House to adopt the instruction which he had proposed. He owned that he had no fear himself of any unjust or undue influence being exercised by ministers on this occasion; but he could not infuse that opinion into the minds of many thousands of ignorant persons, both in our own and in other countries, without the adoption of some such clause as he had just read to them. He should therefore move that it be the instruction of this House to the committee to con- 331 sider of three clauses, in order to their insertion in the present Alien bill. The first instruction which he should wish to be given to the committee was this—"That it be an instruction to the said committee, that they have power to provide that the lords of his majesty's privy council shall cause to be delivered in writing, a general summary of the matter alleged against any alien to such alien; and that it shall and may be lawful for him to summon, and examine upon oath, witnesses before the privy council, and to be heard before them, by himself or his counsel, in support of the excuse or reason by him alleged."
said, as he understood the hon. and learned gentleman to have commenced his speech by saying, that he would not enter into any discussion of the general merits of this bill, he should certainly imitate his example, and apply himself more to the consideration of the clauses which the hon. and learned gentleman had proposed than to the general observations into which he had digressed, notwithstanding his promise at the commencement of his speech. And here he could not help remarking, that it was easy for any hon. and learned gentleman to assume that nothing had been said on his (lord Castlereagh's) side of the House in support of the measure which was now before it; and if such an assumption were afterwards to be insisted on as a truth, it would be a convenient mode of arguing, and a cheap method of acquiring a victory. If, however, such a mode of arguing were to be held satisfactory, and if assertion were to be deemed equal to truth, he might meet the assertions of the hon. and learned gentleman opposite with others of his own, and might say, that the arguments formerly urged in defence of this bill had not only been satisfactory to his (lord Castlereagh's) mind, but also to those of former Houses of Parliament. It was from knowing how convincing those arguments had appeared to those who had sat in former parliaments, and also from knowing how widely those arguments had been discussed, and how generally approved by all who had attended to them, that he had deemed it unnecessary to inflict a repetition of them upon the House on present occasion, especially as no arguments had been advanced by the opponents of the measure, which had not been a thousand times advanced, and as often refuted; and therefore, if he had abstained 332 from entering into a long discussion upon the bill at present, it was not because he had nothing to advance in behalf of it, but because nothing new had been advanced against it. The clauses for which the hon. and learned gentleman had wished the House to give instructions to the committee were none of them new except the last; the other two had certainly been brought forward once before; and, if his memory did not fail him, more than once by the hon. and learned gentleman himself. The general feeling regarding those clauses, on their first introduction, was, that if the Alien bill were to be looked upon as a permanent measure, then it might be necessary to enact such clauses; but, as it was only proposed as a temporary measure, that such clauses were not requisite; for what, he would ask, was the nature of them? The first of them was to enable the privy council to enter into a regular judicial investigation of any charge that might be instituted against an alien; and, in order that this point might be effected, it was proposed that the alien should be presented with an account of the charges on which he was considered to be dangerous to the state, and should be enabled to summon witnesses, and employ counsel in his defence; in short, every precaution was taken to ensure a regular investigation into every charge of a political or personal nature that could be preferred against him. Now, it was quite clear that, if there was any danger in allowing an alien to remain in the country, the charges against him could neither be framed with that preciseness, nor proved with that accuracy, which was necessary to a bill of indictment; for it would be evidently injurious, as the hon. and learned gentleman seemed himself inclined to admit, to call into court the witness on whose evidence the charges were first preferred. If the House was not inclined to pass the bill in its present shape, let them say so at once; but let them not continue it in such a manner as would introduce into the country a new and, as yet, an unheard of, tribunal. With regard to the 2nd clause proposed by the hon. and learned gentleman, he did not think that it was quite so clear as he appeared to think it to be, that no persons had come into the country, and were in it at the time which he had specified, who entertained views hostile to its tranquillity and freedom; and therefore, unless the hon. and learned gentleman could show 333 some better reason than that which he had just urged for this clause—as, for instance, tyranny or oppression in the execution of the present law—he must oppose it as unnecessary upon the present, as he had upon former occasions. He could not agree to the distinction of the hon. and learned gentleman, between foreigners who had resided in this country before or since any particular period; nor could that distinction furnish any criterion, whether they were or were not objects of suspicion and jealousy to the state. The only just distinction which could he recognized by the legislature was that between foreigners who were naturalized in this country, and those who owed no allegiance to it. He felt infinitely stronger objections to the third clause than he did to either of the two former ones, because he could not conceive how any greater libel or, any more unjust reproach could be devised against his majesty's ministers than that which it contained. For, what did it imply? That his majesty's ministers would use the powers intrusted to them by the law in preventing justice being done to a most illustrious individual. The hon. and learned gentleman had certainly done his majesty's ministers the justice of saying that he did not believe they would employ such powers to such improper purpose; and had further added, that he did not think that any government would have the assurance to do so. That was all very candid on the part of the hon, and learned gentleman; but he seemed not to have taken into consideration, that so far from endeavouring to retard any individual from coming to give evidence in favour of her majesty, he (lord Castlereagh) had even offered to use any influence which he might have abroad to obtain the evidence of any individual whose attendance might be deemed by her majesty essential to her defence. If this clause were added to the bill, it would be deemed abroad one of the grossest stains that could be inflicted on the present government, and would tend to disgrace it more in their eyes than any other measure which he could possibly devise. Such disgrace, however, he boldly asserted that ministers did not deserve; but if the hon. and learned gentleman had been really anxious to know who did deserve disgrace, he might have looked in quite a different direction, and there he would have found circumstances which were likely to entail lasting disho- 334 nour upon the country. He would have discovered that foreigners, who had come to this country to bear evidence, be would allow, against the queen, under the pledge of its hospitality and humanity being extended to them, had been insulted on reaching our shores, in the most gross and outrageous manner. In noticing that circumstance, the hon. and learned gentleman would have shown himself a supporter of practical, instead of merely theoretical humanity. For these reasons he trusted the House would not accede to this clause, but would repel with indignation the foul calumny which it tended to throw upon ministers; and that they would also show, in rejecting it, that, if there were individuals in this country who could disgrace themselves by participating in such outrages as those to which he had just alluded, there were none in that House who would raise up their voices in support either of the outrages themselves, or of those who had committed them.
§ Mr. Scarlett
felt considerable surprise at the very extraordinary speech which he had just heard from the noble lord. For, what was the argument of it? That the power given to ministers by this bill was so odious, that it was a gross libel and a wicked calumny upon them to suppose that they could ever employ it. Why, if this argument were to be allowed for a moment, the ministers might in a short time ask for the suspension of the Habeas Corpus act upon a similar principle. They might address parliament to the following effect—"For God's sake suspend the Habeas Corpus act—for God's sake give up your right to a trial by jury—for God's sake repeal all your most valuable laws. The power we shall gain by such measures will be so odious and abominable, that it will be a libel upon us to suppose that we shall abuse it, and therefore you will be in quite as good a condition as you are at present." But could any thing be more ridiculous than this line of argument? He, for one, thought not. The noble lord had misrepresented the arguments of his hon. and learned friend. His hon. and learned friend had not proposed these clauses for the purpose of insinuating any calumnies against his majesty's ministers; on the contrary, he had distinctly stated that his object was, to repel such calumnies. He (Mr. S.) could not believe that the noble lord would make any improper use of the powers conferred by this bill; yet it was extremely possible 335 that the noble lord might be suspected, and he would tell the noble lord why. He did not believe that the country at large entertained that opinion of the perfect integrity and freedom from all motive of his majesty's government, which the noble lord could not but entertain himself The very circumstance to which the noble lord had alluded to in proper terms of reproach, was a proof that the public opinion of his majesty's government was not what the noble lord thought it deserved. The noble lord had said, in answer to his hon. and learned friend, that he had satisfied the House on former occasions, and there was therefore no occasion to repeat his arguments. Now, he would ask the noble lord whether the existing circumstances of Europe might not render some arguments necessary to justify the renewal of this bill which were not necessary on its last adoption? Was there no change of circumstances in the last two years? Had nothing been clone to secure the safety of this empire? Were we still exposed to the danger of revolution from foreign incendiaries? Surely if it was necessary to renew this tyrannical bill it was necessary to accompany it with a statement of the circumstances which rendered it imperative upon government to continue it. If such a bill were to be carried at all, he rather wished that its provisions should be as odious and tyrannical as possible, because there would be the less chance of its becoming a permanent measure. He well knew that a great part of the House had such confidence in the integrity, talent, and eloquence of the noble lord, that, if he wished to make the Alien bill permanent, they would think it a matter of public expediency to accede to his wishes. The country might therefore consider it as an instance of the noble lord's moderation that he called for its renewal only for the space of two years. He, for one, thought it ought not to be renewed for a single moment. With respect to the constitutional grounds of the measure, he thought no man could do credit to himself or good to the country by looking back for precedents in its justification to the age of the Tudors. The practice of that age was inconsistent with the liberties of the country, and deserved to be held up to execration rather than example. He would look only for authorities to the time of the Revolution, and to subsequent periods, and he was prepared to contend that the Crown never had the prerogative 336 which enabled it in time of peace to dispose of the persons and liberties of aliens in the manner in which government was empowered to do by the provisions of this Bill.
§ Mr. Wellesley Pole
said, he should not trouble the House at any length upon the merits of this question, but he could not forbear making some observations upon what had fallen from the hon. and learned gentleman who had just sat down. That hon. and learned gentleman had intimated that a suspicion existed in the country that the ministers did not intend to act with the utmost justice and delicacy towards her majesty. The hon. and learned gentleman who had proposed these clauses, and whose talents, eloquence, and candour, he admired upon all occasions, had however stated, that no such suspicion existed in his mind. The hon. and learned gentleman who had just sat down asserted in round terms that a proof of the suspicions which the public entertained of his majesty's ministers was to be found in the outrageous violence which had been exhibited at Dover towards certain individuals who landed there, because it was supposed that they came for the purpose of giving evidence on the approaching important state proceeding. Did the hon. and learned gentleman call that act the expression of public opinion? It was the act of a rabble. He (Mr. W. P.) readily allowed that the rabble were hostile to the present administration. He hoped they always would be so. It was a proof that the present administration had acted with energy, and had successfully supported the dignity of the Crown and the interests of the country. But, on account of this abominable and scandalous outrage which the hon. and learned gentleman chose to consider the expression of public opinion, the House of Commons were called upon to throw a slur on government, in the face of the public and the world, by indicating such a suspicion of government as to withhold from them the powers with which they had formerly been entrusted. He wholly subscribed to the declaration of his noble friend, that if his majesty's ministers were found attempting, what — not the hon. and learned gentleman himself, but, according to him, the public suspected they would attempt—if they not only did not take no means to prevent persons from coming forward to give evidence for her majesty in the pending proceeding, but if they did not give 337 every possible facility, at home and a broad, for the production of such witnesses, they would deserve to be driven from their offices with degradation and disgrace. He feared that he was intruding on the patience of this House. It was his apprehension alone which induced him to remain silent on former occasions, when the hon. and learned gentleman, and: other honourable gentlemen accused ministers, as if they were the vilest, lowest, and most incompetent of human beings. The hon. and earned gentleman had, night after night, called his majesty's ministers, a weak, vacillating, disjointed, wretched administration, incapable of conducting the affairs of the country, enjoying no confidence any where [Mr. Scarlett appeared to deny having used those terms],—The hon. and learned gentleman had a short memory. Did he say that he had not meant to describe ministers as a wretched, miserable, vacillating set of men? He should be happy to hear the hon. and learned gentleman disavow it.
§ Mr. Wellesley Pole
observed, that he had a right then to consider the hon. and learned gentleman as avowing it.
§ Mr. Scarlett
allowed that his meaning had the tendency supposed by the right hon. gentleman, but trusted that he was incapable of using some of the words imputed to him. He had called the right hon. gentleman's colleagues weak, vacillating, and incapable of administering the affairs of the country in the present crisis. Their acts and measures fully justified his having so characterised them, and he would so characterise them still. He said this without intending personal disrespect to any of the individuals of whom the administration was composed: but as a member of parliament, he was entitled boldly to declare his opinion of their conduct as a body.
§ Mr. Wellesley Pole
was proceeding to make some further remarks on what had fallen from the hon. and learned gentleman, when
§ The Speaker
interfered, and reminded the right hon. gentleman of the great inconvenience that might arise, were the rules of the House to permit any hon. member to refer to particular expressions used in former debates.
§ Mr. Wellesley Pole
replied, that he should always bow to the chair with that respect which was due to it when it was 338 filled as it was at the present moment— Without, however, referring to former debates, he would advert to what the hon. and learned gentleman had pretty boldly stated in the present discussion. According to the hon. and learned gentleman, he (Mr. W. Pole) and his colleagues were now a vacillating administration, they were now an incompetent administration, they were now a disjointed administration. His majesty's present government were charged with wanting the confidence of the House and of the country. Who were they who so charged them? Had ministers never appealed to the House or to the people, that this absence of confidence on the part of both were so loudly asserted? He would state it hypothetically; if it had so happened that they had during the last few years made three or four appeals to the people, and had gained strength in every appeal—if such had been the case, with what grace could they be accused, after such an ordeal, of wanting the public confidence? If it had happened that, on a great question in the last session—a question which the leader of an adverse party had declared in a plain, open, country-gentleman-like manner, was a question whether ministers should stay in or go out, that wretched administration had beat their opponents three to one, would they then have been told that they wanted the confidence of the House of Commons? He had long wished for an opportunity of touching on these things. He would say nothing of the conduct of the gentlemen opposite during the late war. He would say nothing of their prediction, that not one of our soldiers would land in the Peninsula who would not remain there as a prisoner. He would say nothing of their unvaried anticipations of the triumph of Buonaparté. The public plainly saw that these men of genius— these animadverters upon the conduct of others, with all their talents and all their confidence, were eternally foiled, as he trusted to God they always would be; and that when they came to the point, they were wholly ineffective and feeble. He was sorry to see that what he had said had agitated the hon. and learned gentleman. He truly and conscientiously declared, that the only question for the House to determine simply was, if, by adopting the proposed clause, they would throw a slur on his majesty's government, which had not been cast upon them by any former House of Commons?
§ Mr. Scarlett
rose to explain. With respect to the conduct of the populace at Dover, he had not intended to adduce it as the expression of the public feeling, he had merely mentioned it as having been first alluded to by the noble lord, with whom he would unite in condemning it as highly reprehensible and improper. What he had observed was, that a great many persons out of doors might entertain suspicions of the intentions of government, which certainly were not entertained by himself. He no more considered the sentiments of such persons to express the public opinion, than he considered the votes of that House to express the public opinion.
§ Mr. Wellesley Pole
said, he understood the hon. and learned gentleman to say, that what passed at Dover was a manifestation of public opinion.
§ Mr. Abercromby
declared, that if an opinion were to be formed of the talents, judgment, and discretion of the administration from the speech of the right hon. gentleman, those who opposed the administration could not wish that question should be put on a better issue. It appeared to him that his hon. and learned friend's proposition deserved to be received by the House of Commons with a far different temper than had been displayed by the right hon. gentleman. The object of the clauses proposed by his hon. and learned friend was, to secure to foreigners on coming to this country, ignorant as they must be of the nature of the constitution, of the feelings of the people, of the securities on which they were to depend, not only for their case and comfort, but for their personal safety while in the country, such a certainty of being protected as would place them beyond all fear and doubt on that head. If the members of the House of Commons, satisfied with the knowledge of the British constitution, felt assured that there would be no danger attendant on the arrival of those witnesses, who would undertake to aver that similar feelings prevailed in the bosoms of men coming from a far distant country, to a nation which they looked upon with prejudices, to a people of which they entertained strange notions? That House might know that the power entrusted by the bill to government would not be abused; but how could that knowledge be conveyed to foreigners? On the recent landing of some foreigners the people of the place where they landed, with 340 a feeling which he trusted was only local, took a course with respect to those persons that was in defiance of all law. How was it possible that those persons could find out that there were powers in the hands of the government which might justify them in discharging all apprehension of further outrage? If ever there was a circumstance which rendered necessary some additional legislative protection for aliens, it was the occurrence to which he alluded —an occurrence which he was persuaded no individual in that House or in the country, of a right way of thinking, could view otherwise than with detestation and horror. Of that occurrence no man with feelings of an Englishman but must wish that all trace could be blotted out. While he was speaking on this subject he begged leave to observe, that it was a pity that such persons as those of whom he had been speaking were left exposed to popular indignation; and that he conceived a better arrangement ought to be made with respect to them than to allow them to be driving about the streets of London at midnight seeking a place of shelter.
§ Mr. R. Martin
said, with respect to the general question of continuing the Alien act, I vote for that proposition for those reasons that have been so ably urged by the noble lord. Now, as to the third resolution, which is supposed necessary to protect the witnesses of her majesty, I am compelled to give to that resolution not only my negative, but my hearty reprobation; and I do this more from motives of regard to the queen than of justice to the government. The object is not to prevent any foreigner in the interest of the queen from being sent away, for I am bold in this assertion, that her majesty the queen's defence will depend on those witnesses that are to be brought into the country through the exertions of the noble lord, and not on any now liable to the provisions of this act. Is there one man so lost to truth as to say, he doubts the assurance given, that my noble friend will exert every power, direct and indirect, to procure the presence of every person deemed necessary to the queen's defence. Again, is there a man who will not allow, that without such assistance it would be difficult at least for her majesty to be prepared for her trial. As the queen's friend (if I may be so bold), I do protest against this resolution, because' it would surrender the effectual pledge already given, and substitute an idle, in- 341 operative clause in its stead, and this for the purpose of maligning government. I have heard much from the hon. and learned member of vacillation and incapacity in the king's ministers. The hon. and learned member is too good a patriot to plot the subversion of the present (incapable as he considers them) administration, without being prepared to propose a government ready to accept their situations. He, no doubt, is fully prepared to take his share in these new arrangements. However the modesty of men may make them doubt on some subjects, almost every man thinks he is born to be a prime minister. I remember a French hackney coachman accosted me thus—"What do you think of our foolish king"—(and he added a more degrading epithet to the queen's name. She, sir, was the most unpopular of the two. She and her royal consort were known to live happily with each other, and this rendered both obnoxious to the Parisian mob.) I replied to the man of the people, that I did not think any gentleman would consent to be their king. "I will charge myself to find one—I will propose myself at the next meeting of my section." I shall never forget the figure of this fellow—nothing like the caricatures we see—he was a plump, round, well-fed citizen, and looked more like an abbot of a convent than a meagre coachman. Those who hint that the exalted individual requires this fence for her protection, know as well as I do, that the most guilty foreigner would find protection from the government he outraged, the moment the queen's solicitors hinted he might be found necessary to her cause. If the government acted otherwise, her acquittal would be certain, and then the trials of the corrupt ministers would begin with a certainty of their conviction and punishment. I vote, then, against this clause, with a view to protect the queen, and to vindicate the nation from the unjust calumny it would inflict if agreed to
§ Sir J. Mackintosh
said, that in the few observations which he was about to submit, he should confine himself to that clause which had been chiefly discussed, and which he considered by far the most important of the three —he meant that which was intended to afford protection to the foreign witnesses for and against the queen. It was not his intention to attempt to follow the right hon. gentleman opposite through the various points 342 of his speech—a speech distinguished by so much moderation, so strict an adherence to order, so complete an absence of unnecessary digression, so thorough a self-command, so abundant a portion of temper and discretion. As to the character of the present administration which had been given by his hon. and learned friend, of this he (sir J. Mackintosh) was certain, that if any man out of that House had been, during the last six weeks, asked that character, he must have replied, that it was a weak, vacillating, and disjointed administration. What else could be said of an administration that adopted an accusation against a high and distinguished individual one moment, and disclaimed it the next—that one day evinced a spirit of decided and unalterable hostility to that individual, and on the next willingly laid the majesty of parliament prostrate at her feet, in the hope, by conciliation, of effecting a compromise? — What else could be said of an administration that assembled the whole force of the House of Commons to sanction a proceeding unprecedented and dangerous—a proceeding which was as great an infraction of its principles as it was a degradation of its dignity—a proceeding which exposed it to the risk of a greater outrage than it had been exposed to during the six centuries which had elapsed since its institution?—Under those circumstances there was no man, in the capital at least, who could describe his majesty's present government in other terms than those to which he had alluded, without subjecting himself to instant and hearty laughter; and he could assure the noble lord that such was the feeling out of doors, no less of those who sincerely supported the general measures of himself and his colleagues, than of those who were their determined opponents. The noble lord and the right hon. gentleman had altogether passed unnoticed the main argument which he (sir J. Mackintosh) had urged in favour of the proposed clause, namely, the necessity of removing from the aliens, who were summoned as witnesses on the approaching solemn proceeding, all apprehension that the powers vested by the bill in his majesty's government would be exercised to their inconvenience or disadvantage. He appealed to the House if that argument had been so weak, so primâ facie absurd, as to deserve to be thus passed over in contemptuous silence? And if not passed 343 over on that ground, the inference was, that it was unanswerable. The noble lord had charged him with not having alluded to the late conduct of the mob at Dover—conduct which, unquestionably, was most infamous and disgraceful. But that conduct was punishable by the law as it stood. It was punishable by preferring a bill before a grand jury. The attorney general had sufficient means of prosecuting the perpetrators of that outrage. The interposition of the legislature was wholly unnecessary. If he (sir J. Mackintosh) were to meddle with the ordinary administration of the law in that case, he might be justly accused of needless, if not mischievous interference. And by whom had he nevertheless been called upon to interfere? By those who, in the last session, prevented parliament from inquiring into the most serious and important transactions, on the ground that it was inexpedient to interfere with the ordinary course of the law. He denied that the clauses which he proposed involved any reflection or insult towards government. Was there a single prerogative in the whole of our constitution against which our ancestors had not provided securities? Were those securities considered to be insults? According to the principle of the noble lord, the Habeas Corpus act, the Bill of Rights, and every other provision which parliament had made for the maintenance of the liberties of the people—nay, our liberties themselves, were so many insults to government. Such a principle was applicable only to such governments as those of Turkey and Algiers. Our most sacred and valuable laws were founded on jealousy of the Crown; but all these guards and securities of English liberty were proscribed and anathematised by the noble lord in a single sentence. So far from wishing to avoid such restrictions as those now proposed, it was honourable to every government to adopt them as a protection against their own weakness, and against the calumnies both of their malicious and of their just enemies. It was a false pride which, instead of taking that wise course, blustered and talked big of pledges to the public, and of insults sustained by the adoption of measures calculated to prevent the occurrence of abuses. The only sure way in which a government could show that it was determined not to abuse its power was, to submit to have that power restrained by the law. All other policy—all intimation of apprehended in- 344 sult from the restriction of power, was hypocrisy when it proceeded from tyrants, and weakness when it came from those who entertained no bad intentions.
§ Mr. Canning
said, he found himself in a situation of considerable difficulty; for if it was the privilege of a member, on moving a clause, to conclude the debate by a reply, as in the case of a motion, then he was precluded by the practice of the House from offering any observations in answer to those of his hon. and learned friend. As his hon. and learned friend's proposition was in the shape of an amendment, and not of an original motion, it appeared to him (Mr. Canning) that what his han. and learned friend had just said could not be deemed a reply.
§ Sir J. Mackintosh
begged to consult the Chair on the subject, and to be informed whether the moving of an instruction to a committee entitled the mover to the privilege of a reply.
§ The Speaker
said, the original question before the House was, "that the Speaker do leave the chair;" and therefore, unless that motion were withdrawn, the proposed instruction must be considered an amendment.
§ Mr. Canning
said, he only desired to set himself right with the House on this point; and to show his hon. and learned friend that he had no wish to take advantage of the right which the forms of the House allowed him, he should wait till the first of the motions had passed.
§ The Speaker
said, that the question which he must first put was, "that the original words stand part of the motion;" and if, on that question, the House determined that he should leave the chair, the right hon. gentleman would have no opportunity of speaking on the question.
§ Mr. Canning
observed, that as that was the case he would proceed, with the intention, however, of limiting his remarks within a very small compass. His hon. and learned friend had abstained from answering that which was transcendantly the most important part of his noble friend's speech—namely, that the proposed clause, was to prevent an abuse of such a nature that if his majesty's present ministers were supposed capable of permitting it, they were unworthy to remain for a single hour in that capacity, and ought not merely to be restrained, but to be driven with scorn and indignation from their offices. His hon. and learned friend had said, that he had drawn this clause 345 without consulting any one. Certainly his hon. and learned friend could not have consulted the hon. and learned gentleman near him; for that hon. and learned gentleman found in the character of his majesty's government a necessity which his hon. and learned friend disclaimed, for the enactment. That opinion of the hon. and learned gentleman would inevitably appear to the world to be adopted by the House if they sanctioned the instructions now proposed; for it was not to be supposed that the House could add such clauses without creating a suspicion in the minds of all men, both in this country and in foreign countries, that parliament thought ministers capable of abusing the power which the bill at present gave them. To the argument of his hon. and learned friend, that all power was by our constitution attended with securities against its abuse, the answer was, that against ordinary abuses every guard ought to be established, but that the abuse which the proposed clause contemplated was of so detestable a nature, that no legislature in a civilised country ought for a moment to anticipate its perpetration, but should look at in the same point of view as that in which the ancient republic had regarded parricide. If the proposition were made in tenderness to his majesty's ministers they did not thank his hon. and learned friend. If it were meant as a precaution to guard them against temporary suspicion, it was a precaution that must prove ineffectual—If the clause were agreed to, and if, with other matters, the suspicion which cither existed out of doors, or was to be created by the speeches within those walls, were to be made matter of history, what defence could the present ministers have against the charge, that they were so notoriously unjust, that parliament found it necessary to add a clause to the Alien act to prevent them from sending out of the country the witnesses which the queen might find it necessary to call in her defence? Ministers could not hesitate between the two kinds of suspicion. They preferred the present, knowing that they could guard against its continuance by their conduct—knowing they could confound and act it down; and that it would be much better and easier to do that than to incur suspicion for all time to come. He would not be betrayed by the retrospective view which his hon and learned friend had taken of the proceedings respecting her majesty, into 346 any detailed remark on the subject. He had hoped that, the period having arrived, when the painful subject which had so long agitated the public mind, was in a course of being settled judicially, that House would not, on any occasion, be dragged into any farther notice of it, until it should come regularly before them. It was not calculated to farther the ends of public justice, to calm the existing effervescence of feeling, or to qualify that House to perform the duty which might eventually devolve upon them, to debate, by snatches, the most difficult and delicate points of the question, and thus to keep alive a constant and injurious irritation. He would therefore confine himself to one single remark in his hon. and learned friend's speech. His hon. and learned friend's great accusation against the ministers of the Crown was, that having thought it imperative upon themselves, in the performance of their duty, to bring forward the charges which they had brought forward, they nevertheless, in defiance (according to his hon. and learned friend) of the principles of justice, and at the risk (according to his hon. and learned friend) of incurring a greater blot than ever had been thrown on the House in the annals of the country, did yield to the opinion of that House, expressed, if not unanimously, by a most commanding and unprecedented majority. His hon. and learned friend thought it matter of blame, that his majesty's ministers, having found it necessary (although with great reluctance) to bring the matter in question under the consideration of parliament, had nevertheless what he was pleased to call the weakness and the inconsistency to persevere to the last in endeavouring to avert what they themselves, what parliament, and what the country considered to be a great national calamity. To himself, he could assure his hon. and learned friend, that he took no blame for his share of the transaction. Undoubtedly, had the resolution to which the House acceded, been drawn and worded by his colleagues and himself, there were some expressions, some awkwardnesses which they would probably have omitted. But from that fact let this fair inference be deduced— that the resolution in question had not been submitted to the approbation of ministers; but that considering it to embody the sentiments of the House, although the words were not theirs, they thought that, to have considered them with criti- 347 cal severity, would have shown fastidious delicacy at the expense of that which they were convinced was sincerity of intention. Whatever might have been the effect of that attempt at conciliation, no man could say that it had not been made with earnestness—no man could say that in the mode adopted for its attainment, a cold niggardly parsimony of language had been fallen into. If the proceeding could be charged with any error in that respect, it was error of excess. Would to God that excess had been tenfold, so that the result had been more fortunate! But as that was "past praying for," he had the satisfaction to know that, so far from shrinking from the accusation of his hon. and learned friend, that they had deviated from the straight-forward path, his colleagues and himself, and more especially himself, to the latest hour of their lives, and whatever might be the result of the melancholy transaction, would feel a consolation which they would not exchange for any earthly advantage; that the last hope and chance of avoiding the menaced evil had been most sincerely tried.
The first instruction was then negatived without a division. The second instruction, excluding from the operation of the bill aliens resident in this country previous to January 1814, was also negatived without a division.
§ Sir J. Mackintosh,
in moving the third resolution, begged to make one or two observations, in answer to what had fallen from his right hon. friend First, it was remarkable how strictly his right hon. friend applied the proposed resolutions as personal to himself and his colleagues. He seemed to consider himself and his friends as the permanent immovable administration of the country, and that everything proposed was directed against them. Every measure which was brought forward, in opposition to their views or feelings, his right hon. friend appeared to consider as affecting them in a personal manner. Every measure which might even be thought to affect the hon. and right hon. gentlemen, however remotely, his right hon. friend seemed to think a personal affront, and a very ungentlemanly proceeding. The possible abuse of power generally seemed to be totally lost sight of. Among other things, his right hon. friend regretted that the subject respecting the queen should have been introduced into this question. From that discussion, however, he (sir J. Mackintosh) 348 had hitherto abstained, and was determined most studiously to abstain, until fit occasion occurred to render it incumbent upon him to express his sentiments on the subject. But his right hon. friend had indignantly denied the charge of inconsistency which had been stated against his majesty's ministers. This charge of fluctuation and vacillation on their part, as connected with their support of an address, pending the proceedings, was established, he should contend, not only by facts, but by the admission of his right hon. friend himself; for his right hon. friend did allow that they had deviated a little from the strictness of the law, and the regularity of proceedings in this case; and what was this deviation but inconsistency? Her majesty was threatened with the severest proceedings on her arrival, and in three days after the House of Commons was prostrate at her feet. He did not mean to cavil with the words of the address to the queen. His objection to it was made on constitutional grounds, and he would venture to say, that at no former period of parliament had there been an address of advice or opinion to a subject. The ancient usage in this respect, like all the other usages of parliament, was founded in the purest wisdom, and proceeded upon this principle and reason—that if parliament offered, in the usual form, its humble advice to the Crown, and that without any effect, they might take the necessary remedial measures by proceeding against the advisers of the Crown. But, on the other hand, it was evident that in the case of a subject, the advice of parliament was liable to the indignity of being rejected, in consequence of which its determination and wisdom might be exposed to contumely and contempt; and it must be remembered, high as was her rank, that the queen herself was but a subject. He would venture to state that, from the return of the earliest, the most ancient writ, to the parliament of this country, it had never proceeded to advise a subject. There had been various addresses of condolence and congratulation to princes at different periods, but never until June 1820 was parliament known to have presented an address of advice to a subject. These were the grounds by which his vote against that address was actuated, and upon those grounds he founded his censure of the conduct of ministers, whose duty it was to protect the dignity of par- 349 liament. His right hon. friend had indeed asserted that the resolution was not the resolution of ministers. It was their resolution: it was the resolution of all who voted for it. He disdained any minute investigation into the construction of its sentences, he looked only to the principle upon which it was brought forward. The next observation which occurred to him was this —that his right hon. friend seemed to argue that it was proper to provide securities against the ordinary abuses of power, but not against those which were of a more serious and alarming nature. Now he begged leave to ask him whether any thing could be more truly horrible than the murder of an innocent roan, and yet whether there was any thing which the laws of England had taken more jealous care to guard against than the putting to death an innocent person, under, the forms of law? So, in the case of high-treason, he would ask again, what other principle had caused those multiplied and vigilant securities which invested the life of the subject but this—that where the Crown was the prosecutor, there the greatest danger of abuse of power existed? It had been wisely supposed, and humanely provided for, that the time might come—the ministers might be in office—the king might reign—when such a danger might be seriously apprehended. His right hon. friend had said that the existing laws had provided against all ordinary abuses; but the tenour of his argument was, that it would be quite uncalled for and affronting to provide against the more alarming encroachments of power. According to his right hon. friend's proposition, the necessity of a remedy was exactly in an inverse ratio to the magnitude of the evil. His right hon. friend thought parliament had no right to suppose, that it would be uncandid in them to imagine an administration capable of such acts as those against which his (sir J. M.'s) resolutions went to provide. He would repeat that it was against acts of the most monstrous nature that the constitution most strongly provided. Let his right hon. friend recollect the year in which the act for regulating proceedings in cases of high treason was passed. It was passed in the reign of that great man who rescued this country from civil and religious tyranny. The ministers of king William, instead of resenting the introduction of that act as a personal attack, or suspicion against them, considered it as an additional security for 350 public liberty, and gave it their most cordial support. He would ask any one who had heard the arguments of his right hon. friend, however, whether the government of king William might not have advanced them with equal reason against the statute in question? Upon the same principle was the Habeas Corpus act introduced; it was introduced to prevent arbitrary imprisonment of the king's subjects, nor did the then ministers feel the introduction of such a measure as pointing suspiciously at them. His right hon. friend had urged, that if this instruction were not moved, his majesty's ministers would have an opportunity of vindicating themselves by abstaining from the exercise of the power vested in them. Now he denied that this would be the case. The evil of which he complained was not theoretical, it was certain. Foreigners came into this country with an impression that ministers had the power of removing them. They saw such a power daily exercised in their own countries, and naturally imagined that it would be similarly exercised here. This must produce a bias which would act in a hundred ways without any possibility of detecting it. On this ground it was that he felt it necessary to press the resolution, namely, "that it be an instruction to the said committee, that they have power to provide that nothing in this bill contained shall extend to any aliens who have come or who shall come into this kingdom, to give evidence for or against a bill of pains and penalties now pending against her majesty the queen."
§ Mr. Canning
said, that his hon. and learned friend, in alluding to the administration of king William, and to the ministers under whom the law of habeas corpus was enacted, had asked, whether they might not have met the great measures which had been alluded to in the same way as his hon. and learned friend's propositions had been met? whether the same arguments would not have been equally applicable in either case? He would answer no. But in the case of any measure directed virtually against a pending proceeding, and upon which the arguments (though not perhaps on the part of the mover himself, yet certainly on the part of those who supported him) were derived from the assumed character of the existing administration—for his own part, he could not think, that, in such a case, it was so monstrous for ministers to suppose (nor did he perceive how they could be accused of 351 being too sore, and too tenacious, or too much alive, either to their good or ill reputation, for supposing—for entertaining a little, a slight, passing, distant, shadowy suspicion)—that such a measure might, by possibility, be levelled against them. Another hon. and learned gentleman had spoken upon the question, with a peculiar confidence, as it were, of an approaching dissolution of the present administration; but, sanguine as that hon. and learned gentleman might be about the term of that dissolution, he could surely hardly expect that it was to take place by that day se'nnight. If his majesty's ministers were allowed liberty to act, they would have an opportunity of quelling suspicion; but if their hands were tied up, as they would be by the proposed clause, then they would have no opportunity of doing away with any insinuations thrown out against them.—There was another point in his hon. and learned friend's speech, to which he wished to advert. His hon. and learned friend seemed to think that he (Mr. Canning) had admitted some degree of vacillation and inconsistency to have been manifested in the conduct of ministers by reason of their having brought down a proposition of their own, and afterwards supported,—what? a motion of their own too?—No; but one originating in another quarter, and to which they could only be considered parties in so far as they formed a part of the majority by which the House had agreed to it. That support they gave, in the same spirit in which they had for months and months previously been acting. They had acted altogether, in the matter in question, under a necessity which seemed to them to be paramount and overwhelming. The course they had pursued, and in favour of which they so relinquished the discussion of their own proposition, was suggested, hon. gentlemen must well know, by the most respectable authority, and confirmed and sanctioned by a commanding majority of that House, to whose expressed and decided feeling upon the subject they had (not too much confiding in their own judgment, but finding it to be in unison with that of parliament) paid that deference and respect which it was proper for them in all possible cases to pay. The proposal which had been made was made in order, if possible, to avert the necessity of all painful inquiry; and would to God that that proposal had been attended with the desired success. He was sure that it 352 would have been much more conducive to the peace and tranquillity of the country than the measures now unhappily forced upon them.
§ Mr. Scarlett
confessed that he really did not know what expression of his had warranted the construction which the right hon. gentleman had put upon his words. He might be allowed to say that he had himself a little stake in the property, and could not therefore be indifferent to the welfare of the government of the country; but no man was ever less sanguine than himself in expecting, or thought any thing less likely to happen, than the dissolution of the present administration; for he thought they would not dissolve until the country did; and that the country would be dissolved by them; and no doubt had he but many persons would support them until it came to that crisis. He denied that any paramount necessity had been imposed upon ministers to adopt that course of proceeding on account of the mere circumstance of the queen's return, which the right hon. gentleman himself had so feelingly lamented, or to put the parties in that state which the whole country so deeply deplored. It was in this view that he had characterised the present as a weak administration. What other epithet could justly be applied to them? He contended, that the moment his majesty's ministers had admitted that great question to be one capable of negotiation, they had themselves given the lie to those who had maintained that a paramount necessity existed for following the course that had previously been taken. If any gentleman was of opinion that he, in the warmth of debate had shown any prejudice or party feeling on the subject, he wished to set himself right. He could assure the House, that he entertained no such feeling. He wished to see justice impartially done. He could not help stating, that he felt compassion, strong compassion for the situation of her majesty, but he also entertained a strong feeling, for the peace and tranquillity of the country, which he conceived were endangered by the proposed investigation.
§ Mr. Denman
observed, that when he entered the House, he had no idea that the resolutions now before the House were to be proposed. But he could not help stating the reasons urged in support of that clause, formed a strong ground against the existence of such a bill, and unless the 353 paramount necessity of such a measure, from 1792 down to 1820, could be shown, it ought not to be proposed; at all events, at a period like the present. It was not, however, for this purpose that he rose. He rose for the purpose of entering his protest against the statements of the right hon. gentleman opposite, who contended that the proceeding now pending against her majesty was a necessary consequence of the failure of the address voted to her. He did not mean then to enter into the prudence or imprudence of the late address to her majesty, but he protested in the face of the House and the country, that it was proposed not out of regard to her majesty's interests, but because parliament had no taste for entering into a discussion where the Crown was a party, and when they believed in their consciences that the Crown was in the wrong. If it was fit for the queen to be advised on the subject of the liturgy at a time when she had no responsible advisers—indeed when she had none other than her own lofty and honourable mind—it was equally fit that the House, if it really believed that the expunging of her name from the Liturgy was a proceeding contrary to law—(and he had yet met no lawyer in either House who had attempted to say that it was legal)—if it thought it a proceeding contrary to the principles of Christianity, and to the feelings of a gentleman and a man it was equally fit that the House should pause, and refuse to proceed further in a course which he was sure its own feeling would not excuse. It became it to protest against the impropriety of proceeding upon the depositions contained in a sealed bag—depositions of witnesses whose names were not known, and of which some might not be signed. That inquiry had, however been entered into, in another place. He knew not what the House of Commons would have done had the inquiry been persisted in, but he did hope that there would not have been found among them any twenty-one gentlemen base enough voluntarily to offer themselves to enter into an examination of the disgusting statements contained in the green bag, into papers without a name, and unsupported by any authority. He was confident that the House would take it as a compliment from the noble lord that no such proposition had been made to it.
knew not what information the hon. and learned member possessed, upon what authority it was 354 that he founded his statements-respecting the contents of the sealed bag, or how he could so positively attest that that evidence was unfounded and unworthy the attention of the House. But he must observe, and the House and the country ought to feel, that whenever parliament entered upon that inquiry they ought to do so with unbiassed minds. It was strongly urged on the other side of the House, and he fully concurred in the observation, that the queen ought to have the full benefit of being presumed innocent until proved guilty; but on the other hand, he protested against the doctrine of declaring the queen innocent and her accusers guilty before any thing was known of the nature of the evidence against her. This was not the way to carry unbiassed minds to the investigation. His mind was perfectly free from any bias, yet he could not believe that the accusations had been made against her majesty without having any foundation for them. He must here observe, that a great deal of irrelevant matter had been introduced into the question before the House. The question before the House, and to which he begged to call their attention was, whether, on the renewal of this bill, a clause was to be introduced which showed that his majesty's ministers were viewed with suspicion by parliament—his hon. and learned friend might shake his head, but such was the impression which the clause would create in the public mind. He admired the reasoning of his hon. and learned friend. But were the Habeas Corpus act, and the other acts to which he alluded proposed, like the present resolution, at a period when the cases to which they referred were pending, or with the avowed purpose of marking a suspicion of ministers? On the second reading of the bill, however, it was conceded that the power of sending aliens out of the country should reside in the executive; and it was now too late to take an exception to its use as directed to a particular case. On this ground it was that he felt it necessary to oppose the instruction.
§ Mr. J. P. Grant
said, it appeared as if the ministers thought they were for ever to be continued as such; or, at all events, during the proceeding against her majesty. But whether that might be the case or not, of one thing, at all events, he was sure, that in conferring such a power on his majesty's ministers, they were con- 355 ferring a most monstrous power. On the subject of her majesty he had abstained from offering any opinion; when properly called on he should state that opinion impartially; but as to the improper conduct alluded to at Dover, he felt it was alien to the disposition of the English people to prevent the fair administration of justice, which must necessarily result if witnesses were to be ill treated, or deterred from giving their evidence on the points to which they might be called.
§ Sir James Mackintosh
said, he merely rose to disavow all personal suspicion of the ministers, while he begged leave explicitly to avow a constitutional jealousy of the power now vested in them.
The instruction was then put, and negatived without a division; and the bill went through a committee.