§ Mr. Brogden
rose, and addressed the House with a degree of agitation which rendered him almost inaudible. He begged to call the respectful attention of the House to a few observations. The House was aware that an hon. alderman, whom he now saw in his place, had threatened to bring his conduct, in respect to a certain company, of which he had been a director, under its consideration. He was placed in a peculiarly unfortunate situation, in not knowing, first of all, what charges were to be preferred against him, and next, at what time they were to be brought forward. He had applied on the subject to the hon. alderman, who had told him, that he did not yet know what course he should feel it expedient to pursue. He therefore thought it right to inform the House once again, that he was most anxious that an inquiry should be instituted into his conduct, not only with regard to the Arigna Mining Company, but with regard to every other company with which he had been connected.
Mr. Alderman Waithman
Said, that he had now made up his mind as to the course which he should pursue. That course was, to submit a motion to the House on the subject of Joint-stock companies generally, and without reference to the conduct of any individual in particular. In case it should be carried, he had made up his mind to inquire into the origin and progress of the Arigna Company; into the conduct of the directors of that company; and, indeed, into the conduct of the directors of all other companies. He now gave distinct notice, that, immediately after the recess, he would bring these Joint-stock companies under the notice of the House. It was not from any wish to consult his own convenience that he postponed his motion till after the holidays; but he had had com- 197 munications respecting it with several gentlemen, accustomed to take a leading part in the debates of the House, and they had told him, that from the number of members who were preparing to leave town, and from other circumstances, it would not be practicable for him to bring on such a motion before the holidays, with any chance of success. He would avail himself of the first Opportunity after the recess to bring it forward; and he hoped to be able to shape it in such a manner as would give the hon. member that opportunity for exculpation of which he appeared to be so desirous.
§ The Speaker
asked the hon. alderman, whether he wished to have his intended motion entered in the book of notices.
said, that if he understood rightly what the worthy alderman had said, when he first brought this subject under the notice of parliament, he declared his intention of bringing a specific charge of misconduct against the hon. member who had formerly filled the situation of chairman of their committees. Now, however, that the hon. member had declined to sit in that chair, so long as any charges were hanging over his head unrefuted, the worthy alderman shifted his ground, and said, that instead of bringing a specific motion against any individual member, he would bring forward a general motion against a large number of members who had also misconducted themselves. If there were any foundation for charges so materially affecting the honour of the House, he would ask the worthy alderman, why he did not bring them forward immediately? Were such calumnies against the House collectively, and its members individually, to go abroad for months uncontradicted and uhrefuted? Justice demanded that the worthy alderman should forthwith produce his charges against the directors of what he was pleased to call these fraudulent companies. The House ought not to forget, that many of those companies, fraudulent and ruinous as they were now termed, had been sanctioned by its approbation; that where a charter had not been obtained for them, it had given them leave to sue and be sued by their secretaries; and that it had also distinctly declared, that after having given them such power, it would not be responsible for the use to which the managers of the company might put it. He conceived that the insinuations which the 198 worthy alderman had thrown out against every member who had taken any part, however small, in these companies, ought to be followed up immediately by some motion. At any rate, the worthy alderman was bound to see that justice was done, and that speedily, to the hon. member, whose re-election to the chair he had opposed so warmly. If the worthy alderman did not institute without delay an inquiry into the conduct of that hon. gentleman, he should conceive the hon. gentleman to be very unfairly treated. He had himself never had any thing to do with these Joint-stock companies, and he therefore was hot afraid of any attack being made upon him for stating the opinion which he now had stated. But even if he had been engaged in some of these speculations, why was he bound to hold his tongue? Were members of parliament to be debarred from dealing in such matters? Were they to be prevented from applying their capital as they thought proper? If they were not, parliament ought to decide that it could have nothing to do with so general an investigation as the worthy alderman appeared to desire. He was aware that there was no motion before the House at present; but he thought the House was bound to answer this question—" shall we leave this gentleman, our late chairman, under the charges of the worthy alderman, till after the recess?" Something ought to be done to rescue him from the obloquy to which he had been exposed; and for his own part, he thought the worthy alderman, if he had any regard for the interests of justice, was bound to proceed immediately with his charges.
§ Mr. Brogden
said, it was undoubtedly out of order for him to address the House again; but he trusted to its indulgence, whilst he said a few words upon a point which so materially affected his character. He was surprised that the worthy alderman had so misunderstood the communication which had passed between them. The worthy alderman had told him, that on Monday last he would inform him of the course which he intended to pursue. He then stated, that he did not intend to bring forward his threatened motion, which would be of a general nature, until after the recess. "I told him," continued Mr. Brogden, "that such a proceeding was cruel to myself and unjust to the House; that his first motion was personal 199 to myself, as it intimated an intention to oppose my re-election to the chair, on the ground of my having misconducted myself as a director of the Arigna company; and that he therefore ought to pursue his original intention, in order to give me an opportunity of vindicating my character from the calumnies by which it has been assailed." I repeat in public the declaration which I made to the worthy alderman in private. I am not Quixote enough to suppose that I can defend all the proceedings of all the Joint-stock companies which have recently been formed. I am fortunately not called upon to do any such thing. I am only called upon to defend myself; and I have no doubt of doing that successfully. I will not recede from the investigation which I have challenged. I dare the worthy alderman to the inquiry. I will meet any charges which he may think right to prefer against me, and that at the earliest period he may think proper to select. I know that it will be difficult for me to encounter the storm which is abroad; but I am confident that my character will carry me through it uninjured, and that I shall be restored, at the termination of it, to the good opinion of the House, which I feel conscious that I neither have lost, nor have deserved to lose. I implore the worthy alderman to give me the investigation which I seek; and if he will not do it of his own accord, I call upon the House to press him to proceed with the inquiry which he has menaced.
Mr. Alderman Waithman
said, that he was now placed in a similar situation to that in which he had been placed the first time he had the honour of a seat in parliament. He had then brought forward a complaint against the constitution and management of the Court for the relief of Insolvent Debtors; and, in consequence of his exertions, that Court, as then constituted, was knocked up. He recollected, however, that after he had brought forward that complaint, the prosecution of it was taken out of his hands, and committed to the care of a select committee. He wished that some gentleman would now propose to do that which had been done to him on the former occasion, and would institute, by means of a committee, the inquiry which he had pointed out. He thought he had been very unfairly used on this question. He took it up, not on private, but on general grounds. [Cries 200 of "No."] He begged pardon of the hon. gentlemen, but he must repeat the assertion to which they had given a denial. He had said, on the occasion to which he alluded, that if it had been possible for the Speaker to have had the same connexion with Joint-stock companies as the hon. gentleman was known to have had, he should have felt it quite as much his duty to resist the re-election of the Speaker, as to resist the re-election of the hon. member. He wanted no pressing to proceed with his charge. He was ready to go on with it, either at that moment or at any other time which might be more convenient to the House. It was owing to a communication which he had had with the hon. member himself, that he had determined to bring on the whole of this great question immediately after the recess. He had stated to the hon. member the nature of the motion which he intended to make, and had promised to let him see it, after he had drawn it up; and the hon. member had then himself admitted, that nothing could be done in the business till after the recess. The worthy alderman then proceeded to advise the House to consider what its predecessors had done in the year 1720, and to contrast it with what they were then doing. It would then see, that it had an act of justice to perform towards the country. He knew that he stood in a particular situation in bringing forward this motion; he might, perhaps, stand alone in doing it; but whether he stood alone, or was surrounded by others, he was determined at all events to do his duty.