The Marquis of Chandos,
in rising to make a Motion on this subject, said, that the Committee appointed by the House had unseated the Members that were returned, on the ground of bribery; arid with this charge before the House, he certainly thought that they were bound to consider whether a new election should be allowed to take place. The evidence before the committee had not yet been printed; but, at all events, it was known that that committee had decided against the two Members on the ground of corruption; and this, he contended, was enough to call for the interference of the House, when it was proposed to intrust the borough again with the right of returning Members. All that he at present asked was, that a short time should be allowed for the printing of the evidence, in order that the House might judge for itself; and he should therefore move, that the Speaker do issue his warrant to the Clerk of the Crown, to make out a supersedeas to the Writ that had been issued for the election of two Members for the borough of Evesham.
§ Lord George Lennox
seconded the Motion, and called the attention of the House to a paper signed Edward Protheroe, jun., in which that gentleman made the following statement:—"I plainly acknowledge my desire to renew our connection. There is no inconsistency in this. With you, gentlemen, I never had the slightest cause of dissatisfaction: it was with the 1218 old system of your borough, with that unjust system which, after faithful and diligent services, accompanied by manly independence and disinterestedness in every speech and every vote, left me no hope of being re-elected, unless I condescended to traffic for my seat with those who bartered your privileges."—When such a declaration as this was made by a gentleman who was well acquainted with the transactions of the borough, he thought that the House had pretty good evidence before it of what was the real state of the case; and he therefore trusted, that Evesham would be disfranchised, and the representation given to some more worthy place. He begged, however, to say, that he himself personally knew nothing of Evesham, nor had he any acquaintance with the two gentlemen against whom the committee had decided.
Mr. Bolton Clive
considered, that as the committee had not reported the whole borough as guilty of bribery, a case could not be made out for disfranchising it. If the question were, whether the franchise should be transferred from a small to a large town, he knew how he should vote, but the case was different. There were 426 voters for the borough, of whom only 141 were resident; 235 were living at a distance of twenty miles from the borough, a great many of whom were very respectable persons; only twenty-two were proved to have been bribed. In moving the writ, he did what he conceived was his duty, and hoped he had not acted irregularly. It was not regular, he believed, to allude to the manner in which individuals had voted in the committee, and therefore he would not say on what occasion he had given the casting vote to which an allusion had formerly been made. He did not rise to offer any opposition to the motion before the House, but he did not think that a case could be made out for the disfranchisement of this borough.
§ Mr. Littleton
said, that he had always been a friend to the disfranchisement of corrupt boroughs, and in some cases had even taken an active part; he must, however, confess, that in this instance he was far surpassed by the noble Marquis, whose new-born zeal for Parliamentary Reform had induced him to make this motion. He was, however, bound to say, that with respect to the present case, he thought that they would be acting unwisely if they established such a precedent; for the report did not contain an accusation 1219 of general bribery, but only against the two Members that had been returned.
§ Mr. Ross
said, that it was one thing to deal with the question what should be done with respect to a report relating chiefly to the sitting Members, and another as to what should be done with the borough. He would take the liberty of citing some precedents, which he considered would justify the House in adopting the Motion which had been introduced. The first case was that of the borough of Barnstaple. In that borough there were 460 voters; five individuals of whom received bribes, and the House thought proper to investigate that case. In the case of Penryn, eight individuals were reported to have received bribes, and the House proceeded to examine into that. But the hon. Gentleman had stated, that in no instance had the House investigated a case unless the committee had reported against a borough, and recommended the House to inquire as to the manner in which the elections had been conducted in it. The case of Penryn, in 1819, was very similar to the one now brought before the House. The committee reported, that one of the sitting Members had been guilty of bribery; and a similar charge was brought against the Members returned for Evesham, and the report of the committee; therefore, assumed the character of a special report, so far as respected that part of it. In the case of Camelford, the committee reported, that Mr. Stewart had acted in violation of the Bribery Act, and then merely stated, that six individuals had corruptly endeavoured to procure the return of a Member for Camelford. In both these cases, the writs were suspended, and an inquiry instituted, and therefore it did not appear necessary that a report should be presented against the borough of Evesham, in order to afford sufficient grounds for the House to investigate the case. In the instances he had referred to, the House was called on, not only to suspend the writs, but to disfranchise the boroughs. In Evesham there were 426 voters, and of course they did not all vote for the sitting Members; but it had been proved that every one of the non-resident voters who did vote were bribed. Every one of them actually received a bribe. On these grounds he would support the Motion of his noble friend for superseding the writ, which would give the House an opportunity to inquire.
§ Mr. Tennyson
thought no case to justify the Motion had been made out, either by the noble Mover or the hon. Member who spoke last. He put it to the House whether the case, as it stood, could justify suspending the writ. In the other cases referred to, the Chairman of the Committee had been instructed to move for the suspension of the writ; but that had never been done, unless at the instance of a committee. As the hon. Member had observed, that was not the case with the present committee. The House, too, had agreed the other evening to issue the writ; and it would not be very judicious now to suspend its own order. All the persons convicted of taking bribes amounted only to twenty-two out of 426 voters; they were all out-voters, and formed a very small minority. In the case of East Retford, it was proved, that a very large majority of the electors complained of were corrupt. They were proved to be corrupt, not at the last election, immediately before the investigation, but at several former elections, and it was proved that they were a great mass of corruption. The House in that case suspended the writ, and entertained a bill to disfranchise the borough. In the case of East Retford, it was not a single act of bribery and corruption at one election which was proved, but a gross case extending through several elections, and not proved to exist at the last. There was long-continued corruption. Here there was nothing like that. He should object, however, to the Motion, because now there was an Administration formed which had given a distinct and positive pledge to investigate the state of the representation, with a view to amend it. He was disposed to place full confidence in that pledge, and to believe that the Ministers would persevere in that course. If the borough of Evesham required correction and excision, he would leave it to the Ministers to inquire and correct it. When he saw whence the present Motion proceeded, and recollected that the Gentlemen who supported it had last Session supported the motion respecting Bassetlaw, he could not avoid suspecting their motives. The hon. Gentleman who spoke last had always opposed the motion for disfranchising East Retford, and therefore he must have some doubts as to the consistency of his present opinions. If the hon. Member wanted to establish another Bassetlaw, that itself would be with him a reason for objecting 1221 to the Motion, and would operate, he hoped, with the House to refuse the Motion of his noble friend. He trusted that one of the first measures of the new Government would be, to rescind the bill for transferring the franchise to Bassetlaw. He did not know any measure by which the House of Commons had so disgraced and degraded itself in the eyes of the country as by its conduct on that occasion. He could now speak of that Mouse in the manner it deserved, for it was, he thanked God, gone Even the right hon. Baronet opposite obtained no credit for his conduct on that occasion, and it contributed, he believed, to the overthrow of his Administration. There was now a prospect of general Reform, and he, therefore, was not disposed to angle with the noble Lord for his minima of reform, and he hoped the House would reject the measure.
§ Sir George Staunton
said, that he had' been a member of the committee, and contended that a gross case had bean made out, which called for the severest censure of the House. The Report of the Committee had turned out the Members on account of corruption. At least, the writ ought to be superseded to enable the House to inquire. He had good reason to believe that corruption was common at Evesham, and the present opportunity should be embraced to bring to a test the opinions of the House on Reform. In common, he believed, with almost all men, (nobody objecting to punish a case of delinquency, not even the most violent opponents of general Reform,) he was disposed to disfranchise every sinning borough, and transfer its privileges to some one of the large unrepresented towns of the country. He could not agree with the hon. Member who spoke last, that this subject ought to be deferred, because the general question of Reform was to be discussed; for they knew neither when the Government would bring forward the subject, nor what measure it would propose.
Lord John Russell
meant, in the few words he should address to the House, to confine himself to the narrowest limits. He should not enter into the general question of Reform, nor assert that it would be improper to assent to the Motion, because the House had already ordered the writ to issue. There were many rights to be considered before the House resolved to suspend the writ. An inquiry should be instituted, and evidence 1222 received, to ascertain if the borough of Evesham were as corrupt as it was represented to be. There were many points which the House ought to investigate; for he had always been of opinion, that the Grenville Act, by the inquiries it instituted through committees, frequently screened cases of bribery, and prevented them from being so frequently brought before the House as they were before that Act was passed. The opinions of Election Committees were often, he thought, an obstacle to those inquiries which the House was bound to make into cases of corruption. The question, however, before the House, was not whether an inquiry should now take place into the corruption of the borough of Evesham, but whether the issuing of the writ should be suspended or not? The circumstances of the case were these:—That after an inquiry by a committee, that committee had not given the Chairman instructions to propose that no new writ should issue. The first thing the House had to look at must be its own precedents. He had looked at the precedents quoted by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Ross,) and that hon. Gentleman could not deny that there were numerous precedents of the allegation of bribery made against Members, and yet the writs for those places had issued. There was no instance of a committee reporting merely against the sitting Members, and on that report the House suspending the writ. To justify that, there must be some special report against the electors. It was only said by some of the Members who composed the election committee, that the case implied further corruption; but that must be made a matter of special report before the House could be able to act upon it. The precedents, then, were many in favour of issuing the writ. At the same time, he admitted, that the House was not to be slavishly bound by the precedents of former times, though it was proper and right that the House should always presume, unless something very strong could be urged against it, that the precedents of former times were founded in reason and justice. By the resolution of the committee it appeared, that corruption had been proved in the borough of Evesham; but, as his hon. friend had observed, it did not extend over the whole borough, though, whether it were confined to the twenty-two voters who had been convicted, or extended to more, it was impossible to say. 1223 The noble Lord who seconded the Motion thought the corruption was general, and seemed to argue that the House was bound to disfranchise the borough; but the Chairman of the committee seemed to think the corruption only partial, and not to deserve disfranchisement. He was at a loss to say, from the report before the House, whether the borough was so corrupt as to deserve disfranchisement or not. Till that was proved, he thought it was consistent with reason and precedent, that the House should not suspend the writ. The House had generally issued writs as a matter of course, they only conferring on the people the power of exercising their rights. That was due to the electors, and due to the House, which had generally proceeded on the principle that Representation ought to be as complete as possible. Principle, then, as well as precedent, was in favour of issuing the writ. To suspend the writ would be a strong measure, and one for which he did not yet see a sufficient reason; but if any stronger reasons than he had yet heard should be advanced, and it should appear to be due to the character of the House, neither he nor his noble friend, he believed, would oppose any obstacles to the Motion. He certainly wished to know accurately the state of the case, but he did not see how that would be promoted by the Motion. In the last Parliament the writ for East Retford was suspended for three years, and he recollected, that the right hon. Baronet opposite then stated, and he fully agreed in the statement, that such a course was not to be followed, but avoided. He recollected also that his noble friend, now the Lord Chancellor, felt, and stated, the strongest objection to that course of proceeding, and frequently supported a motion for the issuing of the writ. In general, it would be very inconvenient to withhold the issuing of a writ, even though an investigation was going on. He begged the House to pause at least, and not to act upon any impulse, but proceed with due deliberation. He meant to leave the question to be disposed of as the House thought fit.
§ Sir R. Peel
admitted, that the noble Lord had placed the question fairly before the House, and had discussed it with that same candour which always distinguished his parliamentary conduct; and he felt confident, from the candour of the noble Lord, that he should convince the noble Lord that a supersedeas of the writ ought 1224 to take place. He agreed with the noble Lord that the considerations urged by the hon. member for Blechingly should be put out of the question. The House ought not to allow any decision as to the general question of Reform, nor any discussion as to what was to be done, if the Borough were disfranchised, to interfere with the present Motion. The question was, whether the House had evidence before it sufficient to prevent the issuing of the writ, and whether they should call upon the people who had been corrupt at the last election to send two other Members to that House? That was the single question before the House, and the objections urged to it were threefold:—first, there was the objection of the hon. member for Staffordshire, that to suspend the issue of the writ would have a tendency to interfere with the provisions of the Grenville Act, and diminish the power of Election Committees. That argument had no foundation. The election committee had chiefly to decide between the sitting Members and the candidates; and as far as they were concerned, the decision of the committee was final. If the House were to interfere with the suspension of the writ, that would not be dealing with the decision of the election committee. The report of that committee related to the sitting Members, Lord Kennedy and Sir Charles Cockerell; but the committee had also made a special report, as the noble Lord had stated. The ordinary report was, that Lord Kennedy and Sir Charles Cockerell were not duly elected. That was the ordinary report, on which their exclusion was founded. Appended to that, however, was another report, which stated, that Sir Charles Cockerell, or his agent, had been guilty of bribery, and that several of the electors had suffered themselves to be bribed. That was the Special Report. The Grenville Act did not make the special report binding on the House; but it said, that if the committee which is appointed to determine the rights of sitting Members shall instruct its chairman to make a special report to the House, the House may conform to or disagree from the Resolution of the Committee, and make such an order as it liked. If the House adopted any Order, or refused to adopt it, contained in any special report, it would only be acting in conformity with the principle laid down by the House of Commons; 1225 and, therefore, he considered the objection, of the hon. Member of no force. The next argument was that of the noble Lord, who had referred to precedents, but stated, in which he agreed, that these precedents, though generally founded in reason, were not to be slavishly followed. He would put it to the noble Lord, if the precedents he should quote would not make the noble Lord admit that the writ ought not to issue. Two precedents might be referred to—those of Penryn and Camel ford, In the Penryn case, the special report stated, that John Goodeve, Henry Durnsford, and Abraham Winn had been guilty of corrupt practices, and Henry Parker, and seven other electors, had received bribes to induce them to give their votes. There was no imputation of general corruption. There were three persons accused of attempting bribery; and eight others accused of receiving bribes! and it was thought by the House of Commons, that it was sufficient to justify suspending the writ that only eight persons had been guilty of bribery; that was the Penryn precedent. In the case of Evesham, though there was no special report, it was stated, that twenty-two persons received bribes. If in Penryn there were only eight persons bribed, and if, as it could not be doubted, that twenty-two were bribed in Evesham, ought the House not to conclude that the issuing of the writ ought to be suspended in the case of Evesham as in the case of Penryn? The House should consider that the motion was not to suspend the writ indefinitely, but only till the evidence should be laid before the House. Would it be decent even, to give those who had been guilty of corrupt practices the power to renew them, till the House had read the evidence. In the ease of Camel ford, what was the special report? That John Stewart had acted in a corrupt manner, and been guilty of bribery, and was incapable of sitting; and that John Rounsevel, and four other electors, had corruptly endeavoured to procure the return of two Members to serve in Parliament for Camelford. In this case there were only five voters corrupt, and yet the House of Commons suspended the writ. There was no general allegation of corruption. Here, then, were two precedents of suspending the issue of the writ—clear cases; and would not the House, therefore, suspend issuing the writ for Evesham, in 1226 which twenty-two voters had been guilty of corrupt practices, and had accepted. bribes, only till the House had read the evidence? The noble Lord must see, that the precedents were not in his favour, and were in favour of withholding the writ. If the noble Lord would reject precedents, and try the case by the principles of common sense and reason, he would probably come to the conclusion, that the writ ought not to be issued. Could there, in fact, be any doubt on the subject? One hon. Gentleman had stated, that corruption had been the inveterate practice of the borough for fifty years. In his opinion, among the out-voters the practice was general. They had the testimony, too, of an hon. Member, who had stated, that he had relinquished his connexion with the borough, because he could not conscientiously consent to the demands for bribes made on him. That was in evidence before the House; and did not, then, good sense and reason say, that the writ ought to be suspended till the House could institute a full inquiry into all the circumstances? Was it, in fact, possible to hesitate under such circumstances? The hon. Gentleman indeed said, let the House consider that we have now an Administration pledged to Reform, and let it leave to that the task of inquiring. Admitting that we have such an Administration, he must deny that the Government was competent to inquire into all the peculiarities of resident and out voters. Was it fit that the House should delegate to the Ministers the propriety of deciding the elective franchise of this borough, and of determining, to use a phrase of the hon. Member, which he had well remarked and remembered, on the propriety of excising the borough itself? If it were to be done, let it be done by an inquiry instituted at that bar, and not done by a private inquiry instituted by his Majesty's Ministers. The Government was not fit to institute such an inquiry—it. could not receive evidence, and he did not know any plan more likely to be productive of injustice to the parties, than for the Government to undertake the inquiry. On the ground, then, of the Grenville Act—on the score of precedents, and on the principles of good sense, and reason, and justice, it would be wise to order a suspension of the writ till the evidence was before the House. With reference to the new-born zeal with which the hon. and learned Gentleman 1227 taunted him, he must state, he was not obnoxious to the hon. and learned Gentleman's remarks. The hon. and learned Gentleman's motion was not opposed by him; on the contrary, he supported that motion, and was satisfied with much less evidence than others, both in the cases of Penryn and that of East Retford, that the writ ought not to issue. He had always contended that the franchise was given for a public purpose, and that the House had a right to dispose of it when that would benefit the public. He had taken no part in any former Debate that should preclude him, on any fit occasion, from transferring a franchise from a corrupt borough to Birmingham or any other large unrepresented town. In the Penryn case, he had been willing to transfer that franchise to Manchester. Upon the former occasion he had been asked what course he would pursue in any future case of delinquency on the part of a borough. He had declined to answer that question, declaring that he would act on every occasion as the circumstances of the case required. He had reserved himself at full liberty to give the franchise to great towns on any fitting occasion. He was not, however, disposed to enter into the general question. He would only ask, whether it would be wise, after the allegation which had been made by the members of the Committee, to intrust again the franchise to a borough which had abused it? He did not call on the House to decide that it should not be intrusted —that was not the question—but to decide that it would not give the trust till it had seen the evidence.
§ Lord Althorp
agreed with his noble friend, and the right hon. Gentleman, that this question was to be decided on the narrow ground of precedent; but that precedents were not to be slavishly followed. The House must decide if precedents authorised the suspension of the writ, and it was a matter of some importance that the House should not make a mow precedent without due consideration. He did not think that the precedents quoted by the right hon. Gentleman justified the suspension of the writ. He differed from him, because, in the two precedents he had quoted, both the committees had reported against the electors. In the present case, the report of the committee was confined to censuring the Members. The right hon. Gentleman 1228 said, that members of the committee complained of the corruption being extended to the electors, but that was only the opinion of individual Members, as the committee decided against a special report. In the other cases quoted by the right hon. Gentleman, the Committees had made special reports; but in those cases where special reports were not made, and only the sitting members were unseated, the House had never thought proper to suspend the writ. It was not necessary for him to quote precedents of the kind from the Journals; they were so numerous, that every Member must know it was continually customary for sitting Members to be unseated by the report of a committee, without the writ being suspended. He did not, however, consider it of any consequence whether the writ were suspended or not; and if it was the opinion of the House that, it should be suspended, he for one would not oppose the suspension. In dome; this, certainly it was his opinion that they would act against precedents, and it. was neither desirable nor necessary that the House should make any new precedents. He did not. see any great necessity for issuing it, and he owned that he did not know that any injury would accrue if it were withheld for a short time. If, therefore, the House were disposed to withhold the writ, he should not oppose the measure.
§ Mr. A. Duncombe,
who was a member of the Committee, explained, that the committee had agreed to make a report similar to that made by the East Retford committee. Subsequently, that decision was revised, and the committee were equally divided, when the Chairman gave his casting vote in favour of an ordinary report. There never was a special report resolved on without its leading to a suspension of the writ. He hoped that the House would see the evidence, and not give its sanction to Members being again returned by a place which had been guilty of such corrupt practices. The electors were as corrupt as the elected, and ought to be punished. He did not know why the hon. member for Blechingly should be so ready to attribute improper motives to other hon. Members, unless it was that the hon. Member had been much disappointed, because he was not the sitting Member for Birmingham. He was fully as independent and as upright as the hon. Member, and had no motives of which he 1229 was ashamed for his conduct. It was said that there were only twenty-two electors convicted of" bribery out of 426; but the reason was, that only twenty-two were brought forward. The object of those who opposed the Members was only to unseat them, and they brought forward no more evidence than was necessary for that purpose. All the electors who were brought forward were convicted of bribery and if more were not convicted, it was because more were not brought forward. That was sufficient to establish the case, and he should support the noble Lord's Motion.
§ Mr. Tennyson
explained, that what he meant respecting the hon. Gentlemen opposite was, that he suspected that it was their intention, of which he could not approve, not to transfer the franchise to a large town.
supported the motion for superseding the writ. He had resided long in the neighbourhood of Evesham, and there could be no doubt that gross corruption had been very general in the borough.
§ Lord Morpeth,
following the course which his duty prescribed to him, could not, with the most sanguine wishes for reform, feel himself warranted in voting for the proposition of the noble Marquis. He had, in the course of the debate on the East Retford bill, shown the view which he took on questions of this nature; but there was this peculiarity in the present, case—that although the committee had reported the Members to be guilty of bribery and corruption, they made no report that the electors were also corrupt and unfit to exercise their rights. The report of the committee, did not inculpate the borough, although it declared the election void from bribery; and therefore he thought that they were not, as in the case of East Retford, called on to exercise that judicial part of their functions, which might have been called into exercise by a different species of report. The resolution of Supersedeas which the House was now called on to assert, was, as far as he could understand, produced by a division of opinion among the committee with respect to the Report. The committee, however, having reported as they did, he felt absolved from the necessity of adopting any ulterior measure; and he was the less dissatisfied with that resolution, because the great question of general 1230 reform would so soon be determined either in that Parliament or in the next, which would doubtless be immediately called together if the present refused its assent to the measures of reformation which would be proposed to it. For these reasons, and because he felt that the cause of staying the writ was not warranted by any precedent, or called for by any extraordinary circumstances, he should vote if the question went to a vote, for the immediate issue of the writ. If, however, it was the general opinion of the House, that the writ ought not to issue, he should not oppose his individual opinion to the opinion of the House.
said, that he could see no advantages they were likely to receive from suspending the issue of the writ, and he should certainly vote against the Motion. In a case of much the same kind —that of Stockbridge— he found opinions stated on the subject by a celebrated Member of the House of that day, Sir Phillip Francis, which so perfectly coincided with his own, and were, withal, so perfectly applicable to the case, that he should take leave, as they were very short, to read them to the House. "If," said that hon. Member, "I saw the candidate pay the money down on that table, and the electors take it up, yet I would not vote for the disfranchisement of the borough; for I ask you, how you can take the franchise away from one or two places, when you refuse every proposition for a general reform?" And he adds, that it is better the abuse should become so glaring that the House would be compelled to put an end to it. This was the language held thirty years ago on this subject, and he thought it still worthy of adoption as a principle. On these grounds he should vote against the Motion.
said, he thought the opinions embraced by the hon. member for Bridport so extraordinary, that they did not require much observation on his part. He would merely say, that if generally adopted, they would go to the extension and encouragement of every conceivable abuse in the system of representation. The noble Lords opposite had stated their opinions with great candour, and he concluded that they regarded the precedents as sufficient to justify the course proposed by the Motion. In his opinion, the arguments relating to the course to be pursued with respect to the borough of Evesham 1231 lay in a very narrow compass. They had been very happily stated by the right hon. Baronet; and his precedents of Camelford and Penryn seemed to be so consonant with common sense, that he should not venture to attempt to add any further reason for his agreeing with the Motion of the noble Marquis for staying the issue of the writ.
§ Sir G. Warrender
said, he was always happy to agree with the hon. member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Bankes); but, as an elector of the very borough the rights of which were under discussion, he felt himself called on to say a few words in its defence—in defence of the 141 electors against whom no imputation was laid— and in defence of more than 100 of the out-voters, comprehending a vast proportion of the respectable gentlemen in the neighbourhood, and in the county of Worcester, who, like himself, had taken no part in the late proceedings. He was a friend to reform; but he considered the present case offered no precedent for the suspension of the issue of the writ; because, as it had been already well observed by a noble Lord, in all cases where the report of the committee on the petition declared, that the Members were guilty of bribery, bat found no case to report on with respect to the electors, the writ immediately issued. In the present case it appeared that the committee had not, on the examination of the evidence, felt themselves warranted in declaring the corruption to be so general as to induce them to recommend the disfranchisement of the independent voters, in consequence of the offences of a few; and he trusted that, under such circumstances, the House would not sanction the adoption of a dangerous precedent.
§ Mr. Maberly
did not intend to take any part in the debate; but as he was connected with the borough of Evesham, through one of the candidates, he felt bound to say, that he would not have suggested that proceeding if he had been aware of there being any irregularity in the conduct of the electors.
§ Mr. G. Bankes
declared his determination to vote for the proposition of the noble Marquis, and defended himself from any imputation of inconsistency, in consequence of his having acted differently in the case of East Retford, by contending, that the committee had not in that case gone as far as they might have done, or 1232 should have done. In every case, however, if there was a briber, there must be a bribee, and it was therefore idle to argue on the difference between a report of the committee, attributing bribery to the Members, and not reporting corruption on the part of the electors.
The Marquis of Chandos
said, that before the House came to a decision on this question he wished to ask the hon. member for Blechingly (Mr. Tennyson) on what grounds he considered his (the Marquis of Chandos) conduct liable to suspicion? The House would do him the justice to recollect, that he had, on every occasion, endeavoured to preserve consistency in the course of politics which his judgment induced him to adopt; and he had at all times laboured to preserve it free from the suspicion of insincerity. He thought he was also entitled to some explanation from the hon. member for Staffordshire (Mr. Littleton), with respect to the charge of a new-born zeal in the cause of Reform. He (Lord Chandos) had always advocated the course which, to his mind, seemed the best, and he should be glad to know how long the hon. Member had himself exhibited a zeal for Reform
§ Mr. Tennyson
felt obliged to the noble Lord for allowing him an opportunity to explain any expression which might have given him cause of offence. He at all times entertained great respect for the noble Lord's conduct, both in the House and elsewhere; and he could assure the noble Lord, that nothing was more foreign to his wishes than to offer him any offence. What he had said was, not that the noble Lord's conduct was suspicious, but that he suspected the objects of those who wished for this delay, as being intended to administer the same remedy to the borough of Evesham as they had already adopted with regard to East Retford, and to make it another Bassetlaw.
§ Mr. Littleton
said, that as he also had been called on by the noble Lord to explain the meaning of his expressions, he begged to observe, that he did not intend to offend the feelings of the noble Lord, but he might be permitted to say, that during the eighteen years he had held a seat in that House, he had invariably assented to propositions for Reform, and 1233 had zealously supported the Motion of a noble Lord (Lord J. Russell) for giving Members to Leeds, Birmingham, and Manchester. He had also expressed his willingness to support the general Motion of the noble Lord on the same subject, if the noble Lord consented to make a slight alteration in his resolutions, and he regretted that the noble Lord was not present to confirm that statement. He could tell the noble Marquis that his zeal in the cause of Reform was not the birth of yesterday. He had merely expressed his surprise that the noble Marquis's opinions differed so much from those they had heard before on similar occasions; but he must again express his regret that his language had given the noble Marquis any offence.
§ Motion carried without opposition, and it was ordered that Mr. Speaker do issue his warrant to the Clerk of the Crown to make out a Supersedeas to the Writ for electing two Members to serve in the present Parliament for the borough of Evesham, in the room of Sir Charles Cockerell and Lord Kennedy. The consideration of the Special Report of the Committee on the Evesham Election was postponed to Feb. 17th.